auxiliary schooner Fides was built in 1918 by Lindstol & Sons of Risor,
The wooden hulled vessel measured 141 feet (43 m) in length, 31 feet
(9.5 m) breadth, 14 feet (4.3 m) depth and 430 gross tons. It had
accommodation for up to 20 crew, was built at a cost of £35 000 and was
used in a variety of trades between the Baltic Region and England.
In 1927 Captain J. Olsen of Birkenhead, South Australia, purchased the
Fides, to carry timber between Port Adelaide and New Zealand. The
schooner's delivery voyage began from Gothenburgh, Sweden on 1.
September 1927, laden with Baltic timber for Port Adelaide.
During what became an epic 15 month journey, the vessel suffered storms,
a cyclone and calms; damage to masts and rigging; trouble with the
engines; and sickness among the crew.
Eventually, in late 1928, the Fides reached Port Adelaide and was
registered there in March 1929. Unfortunately the Depression had
crippled coastal shipping and the timber trade, and the schooner lay
idle for the next four years.
In 1930, Captain Olsen and the Reverend T. P. Willason, of the Port
Adelaide Central Methodist Mission, proposed a scheme which, if acted
upon, would have been the first of its kind in Australia. They suggested
that the Fides should be converted to a deep-sea fishing vessel, to
employ 30 men in fishing operations off the West Coast and the Great
Australian Bight, specifically between Streaky Bay and Denial Bay. This
scheme had the double effect of providing a livelihood for many Port
Adelaide unemployed (with a wealth of sea and fishing experience), and
developing an industry which was seen as sadly neglected in South
Reverend Willason and Captain Olsen hoped to raise finance by public
subscription and through government assistance. Prominent South
Australians, Sir Langdon Bonython and Tom Elder Barr Smith each pledged
£500 towards the project, but it did not proceed.
In 1932 the South Australian Harbors Board seized the Fides for
non-payment of harbour dues.
An attempt to sell the schooner was unsuccessful and so in November the
vessel was moved to Commercial Wharf and workmen began to break it up.
Two masts, the engine and fittings were removed and sold. In January
1933 Reverend Willason purchased the Fides on behalf of the Port
Adelaide Central Methodist Mission and had it moved to the Portland
Canal, where it was broken up by the unemployed for firewood.
The breaking-up process was slow, taking more than a year. During the
night of 2. January 1934 the Fides began to take on water and, after an
unsuccessful attempt to pump it out, was beached at Ethelton during the
early hours of the 4th. Two days later the remains were placed well up
onto the beach during an extra high tide and wreckers continued to
dismantle the hull.
Today, remains of the Fides are exposed in the silt on the western side
of Jervois Basin at low water, although they are generally covered by
the tide. Only about one third of the length of the vessel can be seen,
with the majority covered by reclamation and earthworks.