The "D.Fernando II e Glória", was the last frigate under sail to serve in the Portuguese Navy and the last warship, on the "India run" . This run was a regular military route that linked Portugal to her former colony during more then three centuries, since the sixteen hundreds. She was the last big ship of the Navy to be built in the Damão shipyards, in this old Portuguese colony.
Her hull was of teak from Nagar-Aveli and, after her launching in 1843, she was towed to Goa where she was fitted out as a full-rigged ship.
The frigate was Christened "D.Fernando II e Glória" as a tribute not only to D.Fernando Saxe-Coburgo-Gotha, husband of Queen Maria II of Portugal, but also to Our Lady of Glory, a figure of special devotion among the inhabitants of Goa, to whom she was dedicated.
Her armament as from 1863/65 consisted of 50 guns, 28 on the gun-deck and 22 on the main deck. The crew varied, depending on the mission to be undertaken, from a minimum of 145 during her maiden voyage to a maximum of 379 when showing the flag.
The majority of the specialists who gave a considered opinion, mentioned her sea-worthiness, manoeuvrability and the spaciousness of the quarters, the latter being of the utmost importance at a time when three-month voyages were still made, with no intermediate port of call, and a complement of 650 souls, including passengers, on board.
The maiden voyage, from Goa to Lisbon, took place in 1845. She was then used for various missions until September, 1865, when she substituted the sailing ship Vasco da Gama as the School Artillery. In 1878, she also made a training voyage for ensigns. This was to the Azores and was her last mission at sea and it was during this voyage that she was able to rescue the crew of the American bark "Lawrence Boston" which caught fire off the archipelago.
During the 33 years that she sailed, the "D.Fernando", as she was known, proved to be a well-found and extremely useful ship, having made numerous voyages to India, Mozambique and Angola to transport military units of the Army and Navy to these former Portuguese territories, in addition to colonisers and exiles who were usually accompanied by their families.
The "D.Fernando" continued to serve as the Naval Artillery School until 1938, having been substantially remodelled in 1889, the better to carry out this new role. During the last part of her life, before the fire which partially destroyed her in 1963, she took on the role of headquarters of the Fragata D.Fernando Welfare Institution, where boys from poor families were given a general education as well as training in seamanship.
During this latter period, in 1957, she was visited by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on the occasion of the visit to Portugal made by Queen Elizabeth II of England.
This beautiful sailing ship, that during many years was the ex-libris of the Tagus and has been painted by many an artist, lay healed over to port on the mud-flats on the river during almost three decades, seemingly beseeching us not to let both natural decay and the forgetfulness of mankind take their toll of yet another portion of the world's heritage.