LAUNCH OF THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN GUN-
Yesterday, an event of more than usual significance and importance in these days of alarm and dread of hostile invasion, occurred in the hsitory of our colony being no less a matter than the launch of the first vessel of war built in these colonies. The event is important as indicative of the progress of colonial improvement in naval architecture ; and significant, as it may be con- sidered the advent of a period not far distant when New South Wales shall possess a flotilla of her own, capable of defending her sea-coast from all foreign invasion. Some time ago Mr. John Cuthbert, the enterprising ship-builder, accepted a Govern- ment contract to build a gun-boat that would carry one thirty-two pound swivel gun amidships, the gun itself weighing 230lbs. Mr. Cuthbert commenced his contract as soon as preliminaries were perfected, and with his usual alacrity he constructed the trim and staunch little vessel which was yesterday so successfully launched from his ship yard. The vessel in question is sixty-five tons measurement ; over all she measures fifty-one feet ; breadth of beam, she is sixteen feet and a half: in depth of hold, seven feet three inches; and draws, when properly rigged, five feet and a half of water. She is built of iron-bark and black butt, ketch rigged, and thoroughly copper fastened with twenty-inch copper plates. Her model promises that she will prove a swift sailer, while her entire build denotes strength and durability. In pur- suance of previous invitation, a large number of gentle- men assembled in the ship yard to witness the launch at the hour appointed, while at the same time the road leading to the adjacent ferry was crowded with specta- tors, as was also every spot from whence a view could be obtained. Exactly at half-past ten o'clock, it being then high water, and every other preparation made, the usual ceremony of christening the vessel by breaking a bottle of wine upon her bow, and pro- nouncing her name, was performed by Mrs. Cuth- bert, two or three rapid strokes followed and in one instant the Spitfire, decorated with flags and streamers, as if conscious where her proper element lay, forsook the dry land, and the next plunged into, and then bounded on the wave. Loud and enthusiastic cheers followed her from all present, which were again and again reiterated, as she glided swiftly through the water. It was expected that his Excellency the Governor-General would have been pre- sent, but a press of business previous to the departure of the Mail, prevented him. It is intended to practice the artillery corps, and water police in gun exercise, on board the Spitfire, so that an effective marine body may be available at at any moment.