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John Schank

1740 – 1823

John Schank (1740–1823), naval officer, joined the Royal Navy at age 17, having served in the merchant service as a boy. He rose to the rank of lieutenant in 1776; and in 1778, given his skill as an engineer, was appointed Commissioner of British naval dockyards in Canada. He returned to Britain in 1784; and in 1791 the Navy Board approved the construction of a number of ships incorporating the sliding keel, which Schank designed and which enabled the navigation of shallow waters. One of these ships, the Lady Nelson, under the command of James Grant, became in 1800 the first European ship to pass through Bass Strait from west to east. It was during this 1800 voyage along the Australian coast that Grant named Cape Schank and Mount Schank in honour of the ship’s designer. Thereafter, the Lady Nelson was in use in New South Wales for 25 years, sailing regularly between Sydney and Norfolk Island, Port Macquarie, Hobart and Port Dalrymple; and being engaged in an exploration of the Hunter River.

Updated 2018
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