Diana (ship)



Launched on 12 July 1823, the first Diana was constructed at Messrs Kyds & Co. Dockyard in Kidderpore, near Calcutta, India. The Diana was sent to the Irrawaddy River in 1825 during the Anglo-Burmese War (1824–26). After the war, the Diana saw service in the Tenasserim region of Burma before being sent back to Calcutta in 1835 to be broken up. The second Diana was built by J. A. Currie & Co. at Sulkea, near Calcutta. Launched in October 1836, the new Diana arrived in Singapore on 2 March 1837. The history of the latter Diana is closely linked to its shipmaster, Captain Samuel Congalton, who was instrumental in the fight against rampant piracy in the waters off Singapore during the 1830s.1

Origins
In June 1822, a pair of 16-horsepower engines was brought to Calcutta. They were equipped with a copper boiler and other requisites for a fast vessel of about 110 tonnes fitted with an English oak frame. The ship was offered up for sale to the government of India for Rs 65,000. However, they declined the offer, so the ship was bought over by a group of merchants instead. After replacing its English oak frame with teak at a cost of Rs 10,000, the ship was named Diana and launched on 12 July 1823 at Kyds Dock, Kidderpore. Shortly before the Anglo-Burmese War began, the British government purchased the ship for Rs 80,000 on April 1824. It had a tonnage of 160 and a speed of five knots. The Diana became one of the first steam vessels to participate in warfare.2


Far East service
After the Anglo-Burmese War ended, the Diana was sent to the Burmese city of Moulmein for alterations and repairs before being deployed off the Tenasserim coast of Burma. In 1831, it was sent back to Calcutta for a complete overhaul. Despite calls for the vessel to be stationed in the straits of Singapore and Malacca, Diana returned to service in the Tenasserim region before eventually being sent back to Calcutta in 1835 to be broken up.3


The engines of the Diana were salvaged and fitted into a new vessel of the same name and dimensions, built by J. A. Currie & Co. at Sulkea, near Calcutta. The new vessel was launched in October 1836 and arrived in Singapore on 2 March 1837.4 The vessel was advertised for sale by Johnston & Co. and eventually came under the care of Captain Samuel Congalton of the British East India Company. The Diana carried Congalton, two European officers and 30 Malays as crew. Besides policing against pirates, Diana also took the Recorder – the maker and keeper of official records – on a survey around the waters off Singapore.5

Encounter with pirates
In Charles Buckley’s book An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore, the author recounted the Diana’s first encounter with pirates in 1837, where it was aided by a sailing vessel, HMS Wolf. Pirates in six large prahu were attacking a Chinese junk when the steamer approached. Thinking that it was a sailing ship on fire and thus an easy prey, they turned to fire at it. However, the Diana sailed against the wind and continued to advance towards them before firing at each of their prahu.6


Captain Congalton
Congalton was born in Leith, Scotland, on 23 March 1796. His love for adventure and the sea was evident since his youth. His first attempt to run away in a collier failed when his brother found and brought him back. However, Congalton succeeded in his second attempt when he secured a position as a gunner on a ship bound for India. In Calcutta, the ship that he was in was sold off, so he boarded a country ship for the Straits Settlements and eventually arrived in Penang.7


Congalton was known to be a man of high principles who was blunt and honest in his ways. He is most remembered for his efforts in eradicating piracy in the Straits. He paved the way for future colonial administrators, such as James Brooke and Henry Keppel, to continue the battle in suppressing piracy. Congalton also worked with government surveyor John T. Thomson to create a chart of the Singapore Strait.8

When the East India Company’s steamer Hooghly arrived in Singapore on 2 January 1846 to relieve the Diana, Congalton declined the command of the larger steamer and chose to remain in the Straits. His salary was advanced to Rs 500 from Rs 350. In all, he dedicated 28-and-a-half years of service to the company, which included political missions to the native states. Congalton died in Penang in April 1850. Many people attended his funeral, and the flags were hoisted at half-mast.9

Famous passengers
James Meldrum, known as Dato Meldrum of Johore, arrived in Singapore from Calcutta on a steamer called Eliza Penelope on 27 May 1848. It was actually the Diana under a new name. The other passenger of the Eliza Penelope was E. A. Blundell, who had been appointed Resident Councillor of Malacca. On 1 June 1848, the steamer transported Blundell from Calcutta to Singapore, and then he left for Malacca for his swearing-in ceremony.10




Authors

Marsita Omar & Kartini Saparudin




References
1. Gibson-Hill, C. A. (1954, May). The steamers employed in Asian Waters, 1819—39. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(1), 120–162, pp. 129–131. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg
2. Gibson-Hill, C. A. (1954, May). The steamers employed in Asian waters, 1819—39. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(1), 120–162, pp.129–131. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

3. Gibson-Hill, C. A. (1954, May). The Steamers employed in Asian Waters, 1819–39. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(1), 120–162, pp. 129–131. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

4. Gibson-Hill, C. A. (1954, May). The Steamers employed in Asian Waters, 1819–39. Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 27(1), 120–162, pp. 129–131. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg

5. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 281, 308, 331. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
6. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 281. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
7. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 281–282. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
8. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 281–282. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
9. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 281–282. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])
10. Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore, 1819–1867. Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 486. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])



The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Commerce and Industry>>Transportation
Steamboats--India
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Transportation and logistics
Transportation
Steamboats--Singapore