For Official Use
Crown Copyright Reserved
No. S. 396
STEAM TRAWLER "HOOD"
THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT,
REPORT OF COURT
In the matter of a Formal Investigation held at Aberdeen on the
I5th and 19th days of November, 1938, before John Dewar Dallas,
Esq., Advocate, Sheriff-Substitute of Aberdeen, Kincardine and
Banff, assisted by Captain Joseph Snaith, Captain Clarence Arthur
Wilson, and Walter Bates, Esq., Assessors, into the circumstances
attending the s.t. "Hood" stranding and becoming a total loss, half
a mile north of Johnshaven, on the 12th August, 1938.
The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances
attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the
reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the stranding of the s.t.
"Hood" was due to the wrongful act and default of the skipper,
Alexander Cowie, and the Court so finding suspends his certificate
of competency (No. 5210A) for a period of six months from this date
and directs that he be not allowed a certificate of a lower grade
during the period of suspension.
Dated this nineteenth day of November, 1938.
J. D. DALLAS, Judge.
We concur in the above Report.
| ||J. SNAITH,|| |
| ||C. A. WILSON,||Assessors.|
| ||W. BATES,|| |
Annex to the Report.
This Inquiry was held at the Sheriff Court, Aberdeen, on the
15th and 19th days of November, 1938. Mr. C. D. Peterkin, Advocate,
Aberdeen, appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. A. T.
Whitehouse, Advocate, appeared for the skipper of the s.t.
The s.t. "Hood," official number 143,791, was a single-screw
vessel, ketch-rigged, built of steel by Messrs. Hawthorns &
Company, Limited, Leith, in 1918. Her tonnage was gross 203.48, net
77.71. She was fitted with one inverted vertical direct acting
triple expansion engine of 56.7 nominal H.P. and 430 I.H.P., and
one steel boiler, loaded pressure 180 lbs. She was constructed with
three bulkheads, and one water ballast tank of 19 tons capacity.
Her registered dimensions were: length 115.4, breadth 22.2, and
depth of hold 12.15.
She was owned by Messrs. John Craig, James Craig, Joseph Craig,
William Craig, and Alexander Slater (joint owners).
On the voyage in question she carried a crew of 12 men including
the skipper, Alexander Cowie, who holds a skipper's certificate,
No. 5210A. No passengers were on board.
She carried the life-saving apparatus and boat usual in ships of
her class. The steering compass was fixed in the roof of the
wheelhouse and a spare compass was kept in the cabin. The
wheelhouse compass was last adjusted by Messrs. Stevenson &
Harris, Certified Compass Adjusters, Aberdeen, and deviation card
She left Granton at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday the 11th August, 1938,
bound for Aberdeen, having a draught 14 feet aft and 8 feet
forward. At that time weather conditions were normal and courses
were steered which brought the vessel to a position off May Island,
after which there was occasionally patches of fog. The vessel
passed the North Carr Lightship at 11.50 p.m. on the 11th August,
1938, at a distance of about one mile. At this time the log was set
and course N.E. by N. steered. Fog was increasing and visibility
was becoming less; course and speed, however, were maintained.
The Bell Rock explosive fog signal was heard forward of the
starboard beam at about 1 a.m. on Friday the 12th August, 1938. At
this time the fog became dense, and bearing and distance were
assumed to be about one mile bearing S.E. by E. at 1.10 a.m.
A. Grant, deck-hand, was at the wheel. George G. Geddes, second
fisherman, who holds a certificate of competency as second-hand
(No. 22344), was left in charge of the vessel with instruction from
the skipper, Alexander Cowie, to call him if in any doubt and keep
whistle and echometer going and not let the vessel get inside 26
fathoms. The skipper then went below at about 1.30 a.m.
At 3.25 a.m., William Geddes, who holds a skipper's certificate,
No. 11051, took over the watch with deck-hand Alexander Murray at
the wheel. Shortly afterwards he altered the course to N.E. ˝ N.
and put engine to slow speed.
At about 3.45 a.m. the mate, hearing an echo, immediately put
the helm hard-a-starboard but the vessel at once stranded with her
head swung N.E. by E. The Court considers that the mate was
justified in altering the course of the vessel and that said
alteration of the course in no way contributed to the stranding of
Efforts were made to get vessel afloat but were unsuccessful and
vessel became a total loss.
The vessel was supplied with an echo sounding machine. Those of
the crew who used this machine assumed—and we consider they were
entitled to assume—that its indication of depths was accurate and
to be relied on. It was of the "Indicator" type and not of the
"Recorder" type. No evidence was found as to the time this machine
had been in use, or when it had been last tested in a known depth.
It was not produced in Court.
This sounding machine, if working accurately, is undoubtedly
reliable. None of the crew who took soundings from the time the
vessel left the "Bell Rock" succeeded in getting a depth less than
20 fathoms. The last sounding before the vessel stranded was taken
by the mate, William Geddes, about ten minutes before the vessel
struck when the "echometer" showed a figure of 25 fathoms.
There was no evidence of bad steering. The course set was
steered without making any allowances for the set of the tide and
the effect of steering only upon the starboard side of the
The vessel was in shoal water at least one hour before she
struck, during which time soundings were frequently taken. It
accordingly appears to the Court that the "echo sounding machine"
was not functioning with any accuracy.
It is a matter of observation that no witness was adduced from
the engineer staff of the vessel to speak to the speed or speeds of
the vessel from, say, 1.30 a.m. till 3.45 a.m. on the 12th August,
1938. It is obvious from the distance travelled between the times
stated, the vessel's speed was greater than the alleged speed,
viz., 6 knots. The tide was flowing at this period and was about
high tide when vessel struck.
The Court is of the opinion that the skipper, Alexander Cowie,
gravely erred in that (1) he left the bridge, considering the
condition of the weather prevailing at the time, (2) before leaving
the bridge he did not give definite instructions to be called at a
fixed time, and (3) he did not make any use of his chart throughout
All courses stated are magnetic.
The Court's Answers to the Questions submitted by the Board of
Trade are as follows:—
Q. 1. When the s.t. "Hood" left Granton on the 11th August,
1938, was she in good and seaworthy condition?
Q. 2. What compasses did the vessel carry and where were they
situated? When and by whom were they last professionally adjusted?
Were deviation cards supplied to the ship after such
A. Two—one overhead in wheelhouse on bridge and one in skipper's
cabin. They were last adjusted on the 8th July, 1938, by Messrs.
Stevenson & Harris, Aberdeen. Deviation cards were supplied
Q. 3. What sounding appliances were on board the vessel? Were
they in good and efficient working order and condition?
A. Echo sounding machine and hand lead line. Hand lead line in
order; echo sounding machine not in good and efficient order.
Q. 4. When the vessel left Granton on the 11th August, 1938, for
where was she bound?
A. Bound for Aberdeen.
Q. 5. Was the skipper provided with adequate charts and
publications for the safe navigation of his vessel on this voyage?
If so, did he make proper use of them?
A. Yes. With the exception of the North Sea Pilot, Part II, the
skipper was provided with a Close's North Sea fishing chart
customary for vessels of her class, and Mariner's Almanac, 1938.
Q. 6. At what time did the vessel reach the North Carr Light?
How far off the Light was the vessel when it was abeam? What course
was set at this time? Was there any, and if so what, alteration in
the course between the time when the vessel was abeam of North Carr
Light and the time of the casualty? If so, what was it and when was
A. The vessel was abeam the North Carr Light at 11.50 p.m. on
the 11th August, 1938. The distance off North Carr Light when abeam
was approximately one mile. The course set was N.E. by N. The
course was altered to N.E. ˝ N. at 3.25 a.m.
Q. 7. What was the state of (a) the weather;
(b) the visibility when the vessel was off North Carr
Light? Were there any, and if so what, alterations in (a)
or (b) between this time and the time of the casualty?
A. The state of the (a) weather, calm, (b)
visibility, moderate when off North Carr Light. (a) None.
(b) Visibility became bad after passing North Carr Light
and became dense fog after passing Bell Rock continuing until time
Q. 8. Did those on board hear the syren at the Bell Rock? If so,
when did they hear it?
A. Yes, the fog signal was heard at the Bell Rock; the explosive
fog signal at Bell Rock was heard at approximately 1 a.m.
Q. 9. Were those on board able to estimate with reasonable
accuracy the distance of the vessel off the Bell Rock at this time?
If so, what was it?
A. No, those on board were not able with accuracy to estimate
the distance off the Bell Rock. Estimated approximately one mile
Q. 10. Were soundings taken at any time during the voyage? If
so, when and what depths were recorded?
A. Yes, regular and adequate soundings were taken by the echo
sounding machine from the time when vessel was off the Bell Rock to
time of casualty. Depths recorded from 20 to 27 fathoms.
Q. 11. Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike
A. The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike
Q. 12. When and where did the vessel strand?
A. Stranded at 3.50 a.m. on the 12th August, 1938, about half a
mile north of Johnshaven.
Q. 13. What was the cause of the stranding of the s.t.
A. The stranding of the s.t. "Hood" was caused by the skipper,
Alexander Cowie, (1) keeping too fine a course (N.E. by N.) after
leaving the Bell Rock so as to clear Tod Head considering that
visibility was practically nil, (2) failing to make proper use of
the ship's log during the run, and (3) not allowing for the indrift
on the flood tide.
Q. 14. Was the stranding of the s.t. "Hood" caused or
contributed to by the wrongful act or default of her skipper,
A. Yes, the stranding of the s.t. "Hood" was caused by the
wrongful act and default of the skipper, Alexander Cowie, for
reasons stated in Answer 13.
J. D. DALLAS, Judge.
| ||J. SNAITH,|| |
| ||C. A. WILSON,||Assessors.|
| ||W. BATES, J|| |
(Issued by the Board of Trade in London
on Tuesday, the 20th day of December, 1938)
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE
To be purchased directly from H.M. STATIONERY OFFICE at the
York House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2; 120 George Street, Edinburgh
26 York Street, Manchester 1; 1 St. Andrew's Crescent,
80 Chichester Street, Belfast;
or through any bookseller.
Price 2d. net