Her sailing days ended in 1893 and she was purchased by Southampton Corporation for use as a sanatorium and floating isolation hospital, following a cholera outbreak the previous year. She remained in Southampton until 1923 when she was sold to the Admiralty, towed to Irvine and converted and renamed HMS Carrick, to be used as the Drill Ship for the Clyde Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), being moored in Greenock. The change of name was necessary because the Royal Australian Navy already had a ship named 'Adelaide'. The opening ceremony as Drill Ship was attended by the Duke of Montrose, who had served in Devitt and Moore's training ship 'Hesperus' as a junior officer. During the Second World War she served as the administrative centre for the training of gunners for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS).
She was fitted with 6" guns but the training undertaken did not involve firing practice. However she had an anti-aircraft Oerlikon gun on her upper deck, which was used in defense during the Clydeside Blitz.
Following the war she was scheduled for breaking up, but the intervention of senior figures prevented this, and she was saved to be transferred to the RNVR for use as a Clubhouse. After some modification, and an opening ceremony carried out by Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, she served this purpose until 1990, being moored on the Clyde in central Glasgow.
In 1978 a very low tide caused her to be caught against the quay alongside which she was lying, resulting in her becoming trapped and heeled to 35 degrees, with consequent flooding of the interior (see picture right). In 1989 the ship was once again flooded and partly sunk, and the RNVR Club was unable to finance salvage, so the vessel was declared a Total Loss. At this time Glasgow City Council applied for Listed Building status to facilitate preservation of the ship, and this inspired move resulted in her being listed as Category A (i.e. of the highest importance).
She was purchased in 1990 by a maritime trust, and was towed to Prince's Dock where she sank in unexplained circumstances during the night preceding a planning inquiry appeal over a proposed development of the surrounding area. At this stage she was in grave danger of destruction, to the extent that even the Director of Planning of Glasgow City Council asked for her to be de-listed. However, her legal protection saved her, and she was subsequently acquired by the Scottish Maritime Museum (SMM), who organized the complex task of raising her, and towing her to Irvine, the site of the Museum, also the location of her previous conversion in 1923.
Regrettably, SMM is qas unable to obtain further funding to continue the restoration work, and the ship is a significant financial liability to the Museum. The Museum was forced into the appalling situation of having to apply for the vessel to be broken up, having been the instrument of her preservation only a few years beforehand. However, as the result of her listed status, press publicity, activity within the Scottish Parliament, and formal objections, the application was refused, a considered affirmation of the ship's status and importance.
The City of Adelaide was transported to Australia in 2014 and now resides in Port Adelaide's inner harbour.