|Description:||Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Knowsley Hall', 1880|
|Creator:||Board of Trade|
|Copyright:||Out of copyright|
The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.
IN the matter of the formal investigation held at Westminster on the 6th of April and the 13th of July 1880, before H. C. ROTHERY, Esquire, Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Rear Admiral APLIN, R.N., and Captain BEASLEY, as Assessors, into the circumstances attending the supposed loss of the sailing ship "KNOWSLEY HAIL," of Liverpool, whilst on a voyage from London to New Zealand.
Report of Court.
The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances of the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons annexed,-
1. That the "Knowsley Hall," at the time she left London, was in good condition and well found.
2. That her cargo was properly stowed, and that there is nothing to shew that she had not, as laden, sufficient stability.
3. That there is nothing to shew to what cause her loss is to be attributed.
The Court makes no order as to costs.
Dated this 13th day of July 1880.
H. C. ROTHERY,
We concur in the above report.
Annex to the Report.
This case first came before the Court on the 6th of April last, when Mr. Potter appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. Bucknill for the owners and for the representatives of the master and officers of the "Knowsley Hall." Six witnesses having been examined, the Court was asked to adjourn the further hearing of the case to see whether any information could be obtained, which would throw light upon the casualty. The case again came before the Court on the 13th of July instant, when Mr. Muir Mackenzie appeared for the Board of Trade in place of Mr. Potter, Mr. Bucknill appearing as before for the owners and the representatives of the officers. Mr. Mackenzie then stated that no further information had been obtained, and there being no more witnesses to produce, he asked for the opinion of the Court upon the following questions:-
"1. Was the "Knowsley Hall," at the time she left " London, in good condition and well found?
"2. Was the cargo properly stowed, and, as laden, had " the vessel sufficient stability?
" 3. What, in the opinion of the Court upon the evi- " dence before it, was the cause of the vessel not having " been heard of, since she left London on the 4th of " June 1879?"
The circumstances of the case are as follow:-The "Knowsley Hall" was an iron ship of 1,860 tons gross and 1,773 tons net register, built at Liverpool in the year 1873 by the firm of R. & J. Evans & Co., and at the time of her loss was the property of Mr. William Herron, of 22, Mellor's Buildings, Exchange Street East, Liverpool, and others, Mr. William Herron being the principal and the managing owner. She left London on the 30th of May 1879 with a general cargo, consisting chiefly of iron rails and agricultural machines, some vine, spirits, cement, and a few explosives, the total being about 2.650 tons; and she bad a crew of 35 hands and 54, passengers. From that time nothing more has been heard of her, and we may now fairly conclude that she is lost.
Now the first question, upon which our opinion has been asked, is "Was the 'Knowsley Hall,' at the time " she left London, in good condition and well found?" According to Mr. Evans, the builder, the "Knowsley Hall" was a thoroughly good substantial vessel, built in accordance with Lloyd's then requirements; and just before she was sold to Mr. Herron, he had put into her two inter-costal kelsons at a cost of 550l. It further appears that in April 1879 she was put into Messrs. Green's dry dock, and according to Mr. Lee, the foreman shipwright in that yard, she then underwent a thorough overhaul. We are told that externally she was scraped up to the load-line, and was painted with two coats of paint and one of tallow; above the load-line she was chipped, that is to say, scraped bright and fair to the iron, and was painted with two or three coats. Inside the cement was examined and found to be in perfect order; the whole of the portable ceiling was lifted and replaced, the openings between the frames thoroughly examined, the whole of the cargo and dunnage battens taken down, and the whole surface of the iron exposed. He also told us that she was, in his opinion, a thoroughly good vessel and well built, and that, when she left their yard, she had been well and efficiently repaired. After such evidence it is impossible for us to say that she was not in good condition and well found, and that she was not a good seaworthy ship, when she left on her last voyage.
The second question, upon which our opinion is asked, is, "Was the cargo properly stowed, and, as laden, " had the vessel sufficient stability?" And, first, was the cargo properly stowed? Herbert Cockhead, the foreman stevedore, has told us that the iron rails, of which there were about 400 tons on board, were stowed from the after part of the fore mast to the fore part of the mizen mast; and that they were dunnaged with pieces of wood, one to two inches thick; that the wine and spirits were in the after hold, immediately forward of which were casks of cement; and that the miscellaneous goods were stowed from the fore part of the fore hatch to the after part of the main hatch, the machinery being in the main hatch blocked off with deals from the side. The matches, we are told, were just abaft the foremast; and the percussion caps were in the mate's charge, and were placed by him in his cabin. She drew, we are told, 20 feet 3 forward and 20 feet 2 aft, owing to the coals for the use of the passengers being stowed forward, which brought her down slightly by the head; a usual practice, we are told, in passenger ships, the vessel lightening forwards, as the coals are consumed. So far therefore, as appears, she was well and properly stowed.
Secondly. Had she, as laden, sufficient stability? We have not before us any evidence which would enable us to say what was the amount of her stability, or what was the height of her metacentre above her centre of gravity. Judging, however, from the relation between her beam and the depth of her hold, 42.3 feet to 23.9 feet, which gives a co-efficient of .565, we should be disposed to say that she had a sufficient amount of stability, and certainly very much more than the class of vessels of which we have lately had so many before us. Let us see, however, what her freeboard was. Mr. Cummings, who superintended the stowing of the cargo for the charterers, the New Zealand Shipping Company, told us that she had a freeboard of 6 feet 6 inches, and that she drew 20 feet 3 forward, and 20 feet 2 aft, giving a mean of 20 feet 2 1/2 inches. But seeing that, according to her builder, Mr. Evans, her total depth, at the side, amidships was just 26 feet 3, a mean of 20 feet 2 1/2 would give her a freeboard of only 6 feet, and not of 6 feet 6. The ship's articles also were produced on the former occasion, and they seemed to shew that the load-line was placed at 4 feet 6 from the deck. We were also told that the disc was clear, but not, as it would seem, much above the water, so that this would make her freeboard only about 5 feet. The evidence is certainly not very satisfactory on the point. On the whole, however, I think that we must accept Mr. Cummings' evidence that she drew 20 feet 3 forward and 20 feet 2 aft when she left, and if so she would have had a freeboard of about 6 feet. Now seeing that the depth of her hold was 23'9 feet, or, say, 24 feet, a freeboard of 6 feet would give her 3 inches to every foot depth of hold, which, in the opinion of the assessors, would be a very fair allowance for her. There is therefore nothing to shew that, laden as she was, she had not a sufficient amount of stability.
Before however, I leave this part of the case I must refer to a portion of the evidence of Mr. Silas Martindale, one of Lloyd's surveyors. He was asked, "Can " you tell us, as a surveyor to Lloyd's, where her load- " line was marked? (A.) No, I cannot tell you that. " (Q.) Is that not part of your duty? (A.) No, we only " hive the load-line mark on spar deck ships, spar " deck vessels, and third deck vessels. (Q.) You have " the load-line marked on all vessels, have you not? " (A.) It is not compulsory, not in our Society."(He did not mean it was not compulsory by Act of Parliament, but that it was not required by Lloyd's.) "(Q.) " You do not concern yourself with the position of the " load-line at all? (A.) No. (Q.) And you do not " know at all where it was in this ship? (A.) No, I " do not." It certainly appears to us to be somewhat remarkable that whilst Lloyd's are very particular in requiring from owners a full detail of every part of the vessel, her midship section, the thickness of her plates, her pumping and other arrangements, all with the most minute particularity, before they will give her a certificate, they do not think it necessary to require the owner to state where he intends to put the load-line. Now, it is clear that the stability or instability of a vessel depends greatly upon the depth to which she is laden, and that a vessel, which would be perfectly safe with a freeboard of 7 feet might be quite unsafe with a freeboard of only 5 feet. If a first-class certificate means anything, it means that a vessel, which has one, is more likely to carry a cargo safely than a vessel which has not, and yet, if we are to believe Mr. Silas Martindale, an owner would be equally entitled to a first-class certificate for his vessel, whether it was his intention to load her to a safe or to an unsafe depth. It certainly appears to us that in order to decide whether a vessel is or is not entitled to a first-class certificate, it is just as important to know to what depth the owner claims to load her, as to know the thickness of the garboard strake, or the exact distances between the beams and frames of the vessel. An owner, too, who will undertake to load his vessel down to a safe depth, ought, it appears to us, to receive a higher class for her than one who claims to load her down to an unsafe depth; and, of course, if after having undertaken to put the load-line at a safe depth, he should afterwards raise it, without notice to the underwriters, it would vitiate his policy. This, it appears to me, is a matter well deserving the attention of Lloyd's.
The last question is, "What, in the opinion of the " Court upon the evidence before it, was the cause of " the vessel not having been heard of since she left " London on the 4th of June 1879?" in our opinion there is nothing to account for her loss. She was in good condition and well found; her cargo was properly stowed; she had a sufficient freeboard; and so far, as we are able to judge, she had sufficient stability. It would be idle for the Court to speculate upon the various causes which may have contributed to her loss; suffice it to say that there is nothing in the evidence before us to shew what has become of her.
In this case there are no certificates to be dealt with, nor is there any application before us for costs.
H. C. ROTHERY,
L 367. 443. 200.-7/80. Wt. 47. E. & S.