The Rockland Historical Society will launch its long awaited history of the clipper ship Red Jacket, by author Stephen Hopkins, at the Sail Power and Steam Museum, 75 Mechanic St., Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 4 p.m.

Red Jacket was the most famous ship ever constructed in Rockland. Built by Deacon George Thomas at his shipyard at the foot of Warren Street in the North End, she was launched Nov. 2, 1853. On her maiden voyage, she crossed the Atlantic, from New York to Liverpool, in 13 days, 1 hour, and 25 minutes, a record that has never been equaled by a large sailing vessel.

John Pilkington and Henry Wilson of Liverpool purchased Red Jacket for their White Star Line of packet ships carrying emigrants to Melbourne during the Australian Gold Rush. Red Jacket conveyed thousands of people from England to Australia and followed other commercial routes until the 1870s, when she transported lumber from Canada to England. Finally, Red Jacket became a coal hulk in Funchal Harbor, Madeira. She sank in December 1885, 11 months after Thomas died.

Hopkins is a great-great-nephew of Thomas and spent more than 30 years researching this history of his ancestor’s fast and beautiful ship. Hopkins studied shipbuilding as clerk of the works for the South Street Seaport in New York, and he wrote to maritime museums around the world to produce "Red Jacket: The Life and Times of a Maine Clipper Ship." He has donated his extensive research collection and his authentic model of Red Jacket to the Rockland Historical Society.

Members of the historical society worked on editing and illustrating the work, which covers all aspects of Red Jacket’s life in detail. Hopkins will be present at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum to sign books during the Wednesday event. Copies will then be available at the Rockland Historical Society, in the lower level of the Rockland Public Library, 80 Union St., and is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m., or by calling 594-6193.