The  Success is arguably the most famous sailing ship in history. During an extraordinary 106 years afloat she served as a merchant ship, emigrant ship, prison or penal hulk, boy’s reformatory, women’s prison, and defense store before touring the world on exhibition. When she was falsely advertised as a “convict ship” the Australian government tried unsuccessfully to have her stopped. Convict Ship Success, Prison Ship Success, Prison Hulk Success, Penal Hulk Success, Exhibition Ship Success, Floating Hell, World’s Most Hated Ship, Wax Figures, teak, teakwood, Moulmein, Burma, show ship, oldest ship afloat, Houdini, D.H. Smith, Joseph C. Harvie, E.W. Nottingham, Frederick Mangles, Cockerell & Co., Phillipps & Tiplady, emigrant ship, immigrant ship, Swan River, ship wreck, Lake Erie, Port Clinton, Sandusky


Welcome to the Sailing Ship ‘Success’ web site, devoted to the life and legend of one of the most remarkable vessels in the annals of the sea. In a career spanning 106 years, the Success served as a merchant ship, emigrant ship, penal hulk housing men, women, and boys, explosives and store hulk, and finally, exhibition ship. In her latter role she sailed to the U.S. where she was touted as the only remaining “convict ship” to have transported convicts from the England to Australia - a claim that was utterly false. She was also claimed to be the oldest ship afloat, built in 1790 - also untrue. These claims were resented by Australians. Investigations were conducted and complaints filed with officials in the U.S., with little effect, and she toured the world for the most part successfully for fifty years.

    As a sailing vessel her career is unparalleled. For an incredible span of 106 years she voyaged the world’s oceans and waterways. There are no truly reliable figures, but it is believed that tens of millions of people trod her decks. She has witnessed scenes of both immense happiness, and unspeakable suffering and death. On board her men, women, and even children have been imprisoned, couples have been married, and U.S. Marines recruited. She has transported indentured servants to work on sugar plantations and poor farmers to a new life across thousands of miles of ocean. She has seen wild parties and beauty contests. Her visitors have included royalty, movie actors, politicians, and numerous other celebrities. She has been both praised by politicians and preachers as example of “man’s inhumanity to man” and an object lesson in prison reform, and vilified as a fraud and a hoax. She’s even been called “The World’s Most Hated Ship”! She has been sunk, grounded, rammed and burned, and until time finally caught up with her one fateful day in 1946, her nearly indestructible teak hull always survived.

    I have researched this unique vessel for over forty years and am currently writing the definitive book about her and times, tentatively titled ‘Heart of Teak.’ I have assembled this website for the benefit of those who wish to learn a little more about this remarkable ship. Since beginning this adventure, and with the growth of the web, many others have taken an interest in the Success and so there is a lot of information that is out, though not all of it is accurate or reliable. My desire, with this website and with my forthcoming book, is to preserve her legacy for others to study and enjoy.

    Use the links at the top of this page to explore the site. I have posted a great deal of information here, acquired through my own careful research over many years, for the benefit and enlightenment of the public. I allow anyone to download this information for their own private use. However, those who would use the information for any kind of public or commercial use should know that they need to obtain my permission before doing so. When asked, I am generally happy to grant such requests. I am saddened to say that a certain author lifted information from this web site for use in a chapter of their book without my permission and without proper credit. When my information is used, I expect that, in keeping with accepted standards of professional scholarship, I will be duly credited.

    If you have any information to share about the Success, or simply have a questions about the ship, I encourage you to contact me and welcome your suggestions and comments. Enjoy!

Copyright Richard J. Norgard 2010. Do not use any text or photos found on this website with prior permission. Thank you!

Welcome Aboard!