Bartholomew Sulivan was appointed to command the Arrow in order to survey the Falkland Islands. His wife accompanied him, and the Christian name of Falkland, given to his eldest son, marked the belief of the family that he was the first British subject born in the islands. The Arrow came home in 1839, and on 14 May 1841 Sulivan was promoted to the rank of commander.
In April 1842 Sulivan was appointed to the brig Philomel, in which he was sent out to continue the survey of the Falklands during the summer months, and to return each winter to the River Plate. There, however, the disturbed state of the country rendered it necessary to consider the Philomel a warship rather than a surveying vessel, although such surveys of the river as were practicable were made, and proved afterwards of extreme value. In August 1845, when the English and French squadrons were obliged to undertake hostile operations against Paraguay, the Philomel formed part of the squadron, under Captain Charles Hotham, which forced the passage of the Parana at Obligado on 20 November 1845. Sulivan acted as the pilot of the squadron, charting or correcting the charts of the river.
In the early spring of 1846 Sulivan returned to England but in 1848 he obtained three years' leave, and went with his whole family back to the Falkland Islands, where he remained until 1851. During his journey home in a merchant ship, the crew mutinied, and until they were starved into submission the captain, the mate, and Sulivan worked the ship.
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