British Whale Fleet Stronger Than Ever

1809

British whaleship numbers in the South Seas continue to grow. During the last two years, the fleet has almost doubled in size to meet the demand for high quality whale products. Even during the recent conflicts with France, the whaling fleet has continued to bring home these valuable cargoes. The Royal Navy has increased patrols to the protect the whaling fleet, particularly from the attentions of privateers.

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British South Seas Whale Fleet Thrives

South Seas Whale Fisheries

1790

The expeditions of Captain Cook have brought back new charts of the South Seas including his recent discoveries. Captain Cook encountered many British ships sailing the South Seas and an artist with his expedition has captured the scene of British whalers engaged in this most important industry.

There are now more than 80 British whaleships operating in the South Seas. London alone has a fleet of sixty vessels. The South Seas are becoming more important than the Northern Seas for the hunting of whales. Demand for whale products has never been higher.

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New Nation For New World

Benjamin West’s painting of the delegations at the Treaty of Paris: John Jay, John Adams,

Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin. The British delegation

refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

May 12, 1784

The Treaty of Paris came into force today on the exchange of ratified versions between the signatory nations. This marks the recognition by Great Britain of the independence of the United States of America.

The American Central East Coast British colonies had been engaged in a bitter revolt. The Northern colonies, the Caribbean and the Southern colonies remained loyal to Britain and contributed troops to fight the rebels.

The consequence of the Treaty of Paris is that the New World now has a new nation, formed from the revolting colonies. This will bring many changes for all concerned.

In the conflict now building within the European nations, the newly independent United States will be courted by France to fight again against Britain.

Within the new nation it will be necessary to develop industry to replace the dependence on Britain for manufactured goods. One new industry set to expand is the shipbuilding industry which will have to construct warships and commercial vessels to establish the independent economy of the new nation.

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South Seas Fisheries established

Cape Horn - Gateway to the New Fisheries

1776

The first whaleships have been sent to the South Seas to hunt for whale. British merchants in the American colonies have spent several years planning these expeditions and most of the expeditions have used American crews and ships. Hopes of developing these new fisheries are risked by the increasing tensions in the American colonies as merchants and slave owners hope to avoid British taxes.

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The New Oil Rush

1751

[Before the first mineral oil was extracted, the Industrial Revolution depended on oil extracted from whales. Whale bone served in many applications that are now provided for by plastic – itself most frequently produced from mineral oil product. Whale oil also lit the lamps at home and at work for hundreds of years.

21st Century Editorial update]

At first whales were caught close to shore in small numbers, or whales that had become stranded were killed. The amount of oil produced was small and used mostly within the fishing community, the whale meat used as food.

As the Industrial Revolution begins in England, whale oil is recognized as an effective lubricant, superior to all known alternatives, beginning to replace alternative animal fat and vegetable oils that have been used for centuries to grease wheels and simple machines.

To obtain the whale oil sailors have to venture out into the oceans to hunt the whales. Sailing ships from Europe and North America venture to the polar regions where whales exist in great numbers, promising an endless supply of whale product. It is a highly profitable trade where the cost of building a ship and sending out on its first voyage could be recovered in that first voyage and still produce profit.

Squared rigged ships, as large as 350 tons, serve as mother ships to the small open boats that are used to hunt and kill the whales. Harpoons, attached to the whaleboat by rope, much like a fish hook, are thrown at a whale . When the whale has tired, the boat crew have to come alongside the whale, making the kill with a lance. Then the whaleboat crew have the long row back to the mother ship, now some distance away, towing the dead whale behind them. It is a hard and dangerous trade where the whaleboat crews are always at great risk during the hunt and during the long row back to the mother ship.

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New Bounty Welcomed

1733

The British Government has introduced a ‘bounty’ of £1.00 per ship ton on whale p[roduct landed in British ports.

This new ‘bounty’ together with the strengthening prices for whale bone and whale oil have been welcomed by the companies funding whaling expeditions. It has been noted that the South Sea Company failed to return a profit on 172 expeditions that it funded from London’s Howland Dock between 1725 and last year.

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Spitsbergen Factories Abandoned

More Danger - Greater Profit

1653

The last Spitsbergen factory has been abandoned. Since whaling began in the bays of the Spitsbergen Islands, whale carcasses have been processed ashore and the whale product packed for loading to ships returning to their home ports. The Muscovy Company considered this to be the most profitable use of men and ships, with each ship returning fully laden at the earliest time.

The increasing popularity of deep sea whaling has meant that whaleships make their final catches some distance from Spitsbergen and find it more convenient to return home for the final processing of whale product. During the last twenty years the Spitsbergen factories have struggled to survive and the last factory was abandoned this year.

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Deep Sea Whaling Begins

Spitsbergen Factories Still Busy

1630

It has been reported that deep sea whaling is becoming popular. This may end the conflict between whalers. Since whaling began in the bays of the Spitsbergen Islands, there has been conflict between nations and between whaleships from different ports with the Royal Navy sending warships to maintain the peace in these islands which are English sovereignty. The Muscovy company has established factories to process whale product at the main ports of the islands and His Majesty King James has endorsed the agreement between the Muscovy Company and Dutch whalers to permit the establishment of factories to the North and South of the main ports subject to English sovereignty. This has not stopped the conflict between whalers.

The new practice of deep sea whaling is opening new whaling grounds in the Northern seas and dispersing the fleets. The main occupation now is in hunting whales and not in fighting other whalers for control of the Spitsbergen Bays.

The Muscovy Company reports that their factories are still in great demand although it is noted that whaleships are now bringing their rough cargoes back to their home ports for final processing.

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