Falie is a 46-metre (151 ft) ketch that traded for many years in Australian waters. Originally built in 1919 as the motor schooner collier Hollands Trouw, she was purchased by the Spencer's Gulf Transport Company, renamed, and used for coastal trading in South Australia. The vessel was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) as HMAS Falie during World War II, serving first as an inspection vessel primarily patrolling the Port of Sydney, Australia, then as a stores ship.
Returned to her owners in 1946, Falie was used to transport explosives around Australia before resuming the South Australian coastal trade to Kangaroo Island and on occasion carrying bulk gypsum from Stenhouse Bay from 1968. She was retired in 1982, then purchased by the South Australian government for preservation. Although initially used for day and overnight sails, by 2005 the ship had fallen into disrepair.
Design and construction
She was built in Maassluis, Netherlands by W. Richter as a gaff rigged motor schooner in 1919 and named Hollands Trouw. At the time she was built as a speculation by the builder, in the hope of selling her to a prospective buyer. As a result, she sat idle after her launch in 1919 until purchased by Spencer's Gulf Transport Company in 1922.
She was bought by the Spencer's Gulf Transport Company Limited in 1922. In 1923, she sailed to South Australia, where she was renamed Falie and participated in the extensive ketch trade to isolated towns along the coast of South Australia. Later she was converted from her original configuration to a ketch.
During World War II, the Royal Australian Navy requisitioned Falie, renaming her HMAS Falie. Initially she was used as an inspection vessel. On the night of 31 May, she was acting as a watchdog outside Sydney Harbour when she struck a Japanese midget submarine trying to infiltrate the harbour. Falie was converted in 1943 to a stores vessel, and was deployed to Papua New Guinea, where she saw action landing troops in enemy territory by night.
In 1946, she was paid off and returned to her owners. For the next 15 years, she carried explosives around the Australian coast. In 1968, she returned to South Australian waters where she continued to operate as a trading vessel until she retired in 1982, the last ketch to operate commercially in South Australian waters, and the last sail powered trading vessel in Australian waters.
Operating as an overnight charter vessel between 1986 and 2005, Falie supported fishing and diving tours around the South Australian coastline. Between 1990 and 2005, Falie was the primary vessel used for Rodney Fox Shark Expeditions. Here she featured in many international nature documentaries, filming and photographing great white sharks off South Australia's coast, and entertaining tourists from Australia and around the world on shark cage diving adventures.
Falie was then purchased by the Government of South Australia for preservation as a community and educational resource. The ship was restored for the state's sesquicentenary celebrations in 1986, with re-masting, new sails, and the fitting of accommodation and a galley. With this arrangement, she could carry up to 70 passengers on day trips, or 20 passengers plus nine crew overnight.
In 2005, a survey revealed that her hull plates had corroded to the point where she was unseaworthy. She was not returned to seaworthiness as no sponsor could be found to cover the cost of repairs, estimated to be more than a million dollars.
In 2007, it was proposed to move Falie to the wharf at American River, Kangaroo Island as an interpretive maritime museum, but by 2009, this had not been acted on. It was suggested that the South Australian government was looking to divest itself of Falie, and that the estimated cost of repairs to the hull was in excess of $3 million. Falie is currently owned by the SA Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (formerly DTEI).
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