The flagship of the First Fleet, HMS Sirius was fitted out as an armed storeship with 20 guns. It was required to carry personnel for the penal settlement, embarking some 136 seamen, marines and officers, as well as her share of provisions and stores for Botany Bay. Sirius was selected over other purpose-built warships because of its storage capacity.
From the beginning of the voyage Sirius was so heavily loaded with provisions for the long voyage that it sailed poorly. It carried, among other things, four boats and even the ship’s surgeon’s piano. In a letter to his mother midshipman, Daniel Southwell (1787) described the extra provisions that were added to Sirius at the Cape of Good Hope:
'Were you to take a view of our ship below you would be apt to take it for a livery stable of note … Among the stock are many of the feathered kind, and also plants of various sorts. These all together will take up much room, and the ship is lumber’d. The people, considering the number, are much crouded, for the cattle are to occupy a deck which till now was theirs…'
It made only one successful voyage after the First Fleet, travelling to the Cape of Good Hope for supplies in October 1788. After being wrecked on a reef off Norfolk Island on 19 March 1790, the remnants of Sirius’s hull finally disappeared beneath the ocean two years later.