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Tom Crean’s two years on HMS Wild Swan

After the Corinto incident, Tom Crean was re-assigned back for a second term of service aboard HMS Wild Swan on 1st October 1895.

Tom Crean's two years on HMS Wild Swan Tom Crean Book

For a man whose fame was founded upon his expeditions to the freezing climes of Antarctica, this was a time Crean would be exposed on many occasions, to the heat of the tropics,

To cope with the heat, sailors would swap their traditional navy blues to don the lighter white combinations and a straw hat as shown here. Visits to Hawaii, Acapulco, Tahiti and many other hotspots of the South Pacific were among the many missions Crean would play a part of during his spell onboard Wild Swan.

The ship travelled out of the Pacific Squadron’s base of Esquimalt in Canada.and her missions covered the entire coast of the Americas along 133 lines of latitude from the Arctic Circle to beyond Cape Horn in the south.

It was though far from being a cushy period for Tom Crean and rebellions that called for the presence of a Royal Navy ship to oversee British interests, were frequent in the countries that made up the Americas. Disputes of one kind or another, whether they be revolutions in Chile or Ecuador or the rush to profit from the Northern fur seal trade in the Bering Sea to the north, were the order of the day for Wild Swan and Crean and his shipmates would bear witness to man’s inhumanity to man and to wildlife – the Northern fur seal was hunted close to extinction until laws passed in the early 20th century protected the species.

Among the ports Crean would visit while serving on Wild Swan were San Diego and, on 4th July Independence Day 1897, Crean was aboard the ship as she lay moored alongside USS Oregon, one of the USA’s first modern battleships. Both ships provided a spectacle for the city of Seattle as visitors to the harbour celebrated the holiday.

In late December 1897 with Wild Swan’s tenure in the Pacific at an end, she headed back to England reaching Plymouth on 19th March 1898.

For the following period of almost two years Tom Crean would continue his training in various disciplines and at a variety of shore based training venues, all the time building up his arsenal of skills as a sailor.