By the end of the nineteenth century Glasgow had become one of the world’s centres of naval and marine engineering. Engineers on the Clyde had managed to establish a culture of scientific engineering, drawing on both theory and experimentation. When in 1909 the newly established Australian Navy commissioned five torpedo-boat destroyers, it was not surprising that shipbuilders from the Clyde successfully tendered for the contract. However, the Australian Navy did not simply want to acquire modern warships; they also wanted to learn how to build them. Therefore, two destroyers were built in Glasgow, one, the HMAS Warrego, was built, taken apart and rebuilt in Sydney, and two more were built in Sydney, using the experience acquired from reconstructing HMAS Warrego. This first part of the paper looks at shipbuilding on the Clyde and tries to understand the Australian Navy’s reasoning behind the rebuilding of HMAS Warrego; a second part, which will be forthcoming, aims to examine the shipbuilding and yard practices and their appropriation in Australia.
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