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Wreck Report for 'Jeddah', 1881

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Unique ID:14642
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Jeddah', 1881
Creator:Board of Trade
Date:1881
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown

Transcription

(No. 896.)

"JEDDAH." (S.S.)

REPORT of a Court of Inquiry held at Aden into the cause of the abandonment of the steamship "JEDDAH."

The steamship "Jeddah," of Singapore, official number 67,990, under British colours, of 993 44/101 tons register, and owned by the Singapore Steamship Company, Limited, Joseph Lucas Clark, master, left Singapore on the 17th July 1880, for Penang.

On arrival at Penang she filled up with pilgrims, making a total complement of 953 as adult passengers, and proceeded on her voyage on the 19th idem for Jeddah direct; she had 600 tons of cargo on board, principally sugar, garron-wood, and general merchandise. Her crew consisted of 50 souls all told, which number included the master, first and second mates, and third engineer, who were Europeans, and with the captain's wife, the only Europeans on board.

The "Jeddah" appears to have experienced heavy weather for the most part of her voyage. On the 3rd August 1880, the wind increased almost to a hurricane, with high breaking sea.

On this date the boilers started from their fastenings and began to work, and steps were subsequently taken to secure them with wedges.

The weather increased in severity until the 6th August; on that day, about 9.30 p.m., the feed valve of the port boiler broke, and the ship had to be stopped for repairs, and the vessel then, it was considered, commenced to leak considerably, having shipped much water previously. As soon as repairs were executed, at 1.30 p.m., the vessel again proceeded under steam, when the feed valve on the starboard boiler also broke; and after again stopping for repair, the ship proceeded at 8.30 p.m. with one boiler only. All hands and passengers were then working at the pumps and baling. As the water appeared to increase, the bilge injection was utilized and the leak reduced; but as that became choked, and the vessel stopped to clear it, the leak increased, it is stated, so rapidly as to put out the fires. In consequence of the quantity of water in the stoke-hole, and from the temporary wedges and supports to the boilers having washed away, and the boilers working backwards and forwards owing to the rolling of the ship, every connection pipe was carried away, and the engine-rooms became untenable and a wreck.

Sail was apparently set as soon as the engines became useless, but these were blown away, and other sails subsequently set when the wind moderated.

In the meantime pumping and baling was resorted to, and the passengers appear to have given willing assistance after the evening of the 7th August. On that day the master ordered the boats to be got ready, provisioned, armed, and swung out.

Pumping continued on the part of the passengers up to 12 midnight, then apparently some diminution took place. Certain of the crew were then ordered shortly after to man a boat or boats; the bulk of the crew appear to have manned the boats.

At this time the passengers appear to have become partially disorganized, and to have entertained the idea that the boats were going to leave the ship. The master then appears to have decided to hang the starboard lifeboat astern, and to remain in it with his wife and the first engineer and a boat's crew until daylight, being, he states, afraid of his own and his wife's life being attempted if he remained on board. The starboard lifeboat was then about to be lowered, and the captain and his wife and chief engineer got into it. The captain's wife had to pass some 50 feet from the cabin to the boat. When the boat was lowered, the pilgrims commenced to throw boxes, pots and pans, and anything they could lay hands on, into the boat, and pulled the first officer, who was lowering the boat, off the rails; and seeing they could not prevent the lowering of the boat, they attempted to swamp it. The third engineer had in the meantime got into the boat, and the first officer found himself in the water, and was taken into it, and the boat was then cut adrift, and for about a couple of hours the boat's head was kept to the wind and sea, but after that allowed to drive and partially sail before the wind, until at 10 a.m. on the 8th August, it was sighted by the steamship "Scindia," and the persons in it rescued and brought to Aden, where they arrived on the 10th August. On arrival at Aden, the master and others rescued reported the foundering of the "Jeddah" with all on board, and also reported that the second officer and second engineer had been murdered.

After the master left the "Jeddah," it appears that the passengers tried to prevent the second officer leaving the ship, which he appears to have attempted, by leaving the captain's boats and going over to the portside to the boat to which he was appointed, and which was manned and ready for lowering. Two of the passengers, Lojis, and an Arab, appear also to have got into this boat. On the pilgrims ordering the people to come out of the boats, and on their refusal, some of the pilgrims (it cannot be ascertained who) cut the falls, and it fell into the sea bow first from the fore fall being cut first, and all in it appear to have perished.

Shortly after this, the second engineer, who was awoke out of his sleep a little time before by the second officer, and told to go to his boat, proceeded to his boat, also on the port side. This boat was to have been commanded by the first officer, the Lojis, finding this boat also manned with the second engineer in it, got in, and threw all the men back from her into the ship, and would not allow them to leave. They then appear to have resumed pumping and baling, and continued doing so without intermission, gaining on the leak; and on the following morning, 8th August, finding themselves in smooth water, they sighted land and made for it, having had sail set all night. They hoisted signals of distress, and at 3 p.m., when about 7 or 8 miles from land, the wind died away. At about 4.30 p.m., the steamship "Antenor," seeing the signals, bore down on the disabled ship; and the master, after ascertaining the state of affairs, sent his chief mate on board, and took charge, and brought the "Jeddah" in tow to Aden, where both vessels arrived on the afternoon of the 11th August.

The water in the "Jeddah" was considerably reduced by the exertions of the passengers, under the direction of the chief officer of the "Antenor," and that officer on first boarding the ship, and seeing the quantity in her, came to the immediate conclusion that the vessel could be saved. Three sailors, one topman, one syrang, eleven firemen, and one clerk, one fireman working his passage, were all the crew on board the "Jeddah" when brought to Aden, together with the second engineer and supercargo, and 992 passengers—778 men, 147 women, and children 67, not counting infants in arms, were on board.

The above appear to the Court to be, as far as can be ascertained, the circumstances connected with this case; and in reviewing them, and after a patient and careful inquiry into all the details, the Court record the following opinion:—

It appears that the fastenings of the boilers, which are placed athwartships in the "Jeddah," were defective, and in consequence of the rolling of the ship and the heavy sea, these fastenings gave way, and caused a leak by the breaking of the connecting pipes with the ship's bottom. This leak, though serious in itself, was intensified by the vessel shipping large quantities of water, and the boilers having to be blown oft' or emptied into the ship's bilge on several occasions instead of into the sea, when repairs were being executed. With the rolling of the ship, the quantity of water in the stoke-hole appeared greater than it actually was, and from the engine and donkey-engine being useless, the vessel having water also in the after-hold through the sluice, the actual condition of affairs was thought more serious than was the case; the ship having a leak, and being in a heavy sea. It appears to the Court that sufficient notice was not at once taken of the movement of the boilers, and every available means adopted to secure them as much as possible, immediately it was ascertained that they had shifted and were working.

The chief engineer of the "Jeddah" appears to have treated this matter lightly, and is, in the Court's opinion, primarily responsible for his ignorance in not knowing the extent of the risk and danger run by the boilers moving, and not insisting on all available means being employed at once to stay them.

Had more energetic measures been taken at the outset, it appears just probable to the Court that subsequent events might have been averted. When steam power was no longer available on board the "Jeddah," it appears to the Court that no regular system of reducing the leak was organized by the master. He appears to have come to the conclusion early on the 7th August that the boats would probably be required, and they were prepared and swung out, and the crew engaged in attending to them rather than to the vessel's condition. The firemen, however, appear to have been steadily engaged in working the ash buckets up to midnight of the 7th August.

The master does not appear to have taken his passengers into his confidence or to have endeavoured in the least degree to raise their hopes in any way. On the contrary, it seems he informed them that if they would not pump the vessel would founder, thereby giving no hope. On this point, situated as he was, the Court consider he was wanting in simple judgment, for he had much in his favour to dispel fear and raise the hopes and energies of his passengers, who appeared ready and willing to assist. Land was not far distant, and yet by his act in ordering the boats he led the passengers to believe that the vessel would probably founder, and the boats would be lowered. Although there is conflicting evidence that the master was of this opinion before the Logis had their thoughts averted from the pumping, the master's action after being picked up by the "Scindia," and brought to Aden, and his report of the "Jeddah" having foundered, leads the Court to infer that the master considered the vessel would founder whether pumped and baled out or not. The Court consider he was under the impression from his acts that the "Jeddah" would founder under any circumstances, but, apart from his impressions, his action in ordering the boats to be prepared was an inducement to disturbance, as only about one quarter of the souls on board could have been accommodated in them.

The Court consider that in this the master showed a want of judgment and tact to a most serious extent, and that he caused disorganisation and discontent, not to say despair, at a time when none of these feelings should have been engendered.

The master states that on finding the pilgrims would not work the pumps, shortly after midnight on the 7th and 8th August, and that they appeared altered in demeanour and were some of them armed with knives, he feared that his wife's life and his own would be attempted, as he had been led to infer the same from what he had been told, and consequently very shortly after he found that this was the state of affairs, in place of resorting to measures to restore confidence or to organize any system of defence in case of need, for the protection of the lives of himself and the Europeans on board, which he could easily have done by keeping the bridge with the arms on board, he determined on lowering a boat, in which he intended, he states, first to place his wife and to remain in her himself, to hang astern of the ship until daylight. What the master's intentions were after daylight does not appear. He ordered the boat to be manned, and, after having his wife placed in it, he himself got in and others did also. Up to this time it is evident that no violence or even show of force had been made by the pilgrims to anyone on board; it was only when the boat was being lowered and they became aware of what was taking place, that they appear to have resorted to force, and then not such force as they might have utilized, armed with knives as they were. Failing in preventing the lowering of the boat, the pilgrims proceeded to endeavour to swamp her; two pistol shots were fired in the direction of the pilgrims from the boat by the first officer, and these appear to have prevented any further attempts to swamp the boat, which then was cast off and away from the ship. The passengers, finding other boats were manned, they proceeded to endeavour to prevent their leaving the ship, and, in the case of the second officer's boat, cut it adrift when its inmates would not return on board, and unceremoniously ejected those who had got into the third boat with the second engineer.

The Court consider that the action of the pilgrims tends to prove that they never intended to harm the master and his officers had they remained in the "Jeddah," that their demeanour is accounted for by the evidence that they had made up their minds that they should not be deserted by the only persons capable of protecting and helping them in the circumstances in which they were placed, and consequently they would prevent to the utmost the master or his officers leaving the ship. It is in the Court's opinion more than probable that the master was misled in regard to the real intentions of the pilgrims, but he has himself to blame for not making more certain of these intentions, or waiting for some more clear proof of these intentions than took place. It is to be regretted that the principal witness, Lezed Omar, on this point could not be examined, as he had left Aden for Jeddah the day after his arrival, and before the steamship "Jeddah" was towed in.

There is no evidence before the Court to show that the life of the captain's wife was in danger by reason of any threats made by the pilgrims, and this man, Lezed Omar, alone appears to be the authority of this report and he is stated to have been in dread himself and much frightened for his own safety.

Doubtless the master on hearing this report, as well as imperfectly understanding the threats actually made by the pilgrims, viz., "that they would not allow any " one to leave the ship, and would prevent them to the " extent of violence if necessary," the fact of the pilgrims having armed themselves to ascertain extent to carry out this threat if need arose, aided by the officious ill-advice of his chief officer, entirely forgot his first duty as a shipmaster, and proceeded to be one of the first instead of the last to leave his disabled vessel to her fate. This last act roused the pilgrims to violence in attempting to swamp his boat, and such the Court consider might naturally have been expected from any body of human beings, even Europeans, situated as the pilgrims were.

With every consideration for the master under the trying circumstances in which he and his crew found themselves placed, the Court is reluctantly compelled to state that they consider that Captain Clark has shown a painful want of nerve as well as the most ordinary judgment, and has allowed his feelings to master the sense of duty it is the pride of every British shipmaster to vaunt, and they consider that in the instances mentioned he has been guilty of gross misconduct in being indirectly the cause of the deaths of the second mate and ten natives, seven crew and three passengers, and in abandoning his disabled ship with nearly 1,000 souls on board to their fate, when by ordinary display of firmness, combined with very little tact in dealing with natives, with whom he is no stranger, he could have ensured their co-operation and gratitude, and saved considerable loss to his owners. The Court must here also remark on the want of anxiety shown by the master for the fate of the "Jeddah," in not doing all in his power to induce the "Scindia" to search for her, as there is little doubt but that a proper statement of facts and little persuasion would have induced the master of the "Scindia" under the circumstances to steam for an hour or so to windward, when the "Jeddah" would certainly have been sighted.

The Court feel compelled to mark their sense of the master, Joseph Lewis Clark's, conduct by ordering, subject to the confirmation of the Bombay Government, that his certificate of competency as master be suspended for a period of three years.

Before concluding, the Court consider it necessary to place on record their disapprobation of the conduct of the first officer of the "Jeddah," Mr. Williams, who may be said to have more than aided and abetted the master in the abandonment of his vessel. The Court consider it very probable that, but for Mr. Williams's officious behaviour and unseamanlike conduct, the master would (by the first mate's own showing) have probably done his duty by remaining on the ship.

Had there been any evidence, except the first mate's own statement, on this point, the Court would have felt constrained to have put him on his trial also, they cannot therefore refrain from remarking that they consider that in this instance he has shown himself unfitted for his position as first mate on a crowded pilgrim vessel.

The Court have to regret that, owing to the positive report made of the "Jeddah" having foundered, no steps were taken to detain or record the evidence of the master and officers of the steamship "Scindia," as to the reasons and causes for their not searching for the steamship "Jeddah" after picking up her master and others. The examination of these witnesses would have completed the evidence which otherwise is not as complete as it might, and very desirable that it should be in this case—the most extraordinary instance known to the Court of the abandonment of a disabled and leaking ship at sea by the master and Europeans, and almost all the crew, with close on 1.000 souls on board when no immediate danger existed of her foundering. The Court consider that it is due to the master of the "Antenor" to place on record their opinion of the contrast of his conduct to that of Captain Clark, and consider him worthy, with his chief officer, Mr. Campbell, of great commendation for their action, not only for rescuing those on board the "Jeddah" from a perilous position and shipwreck, but also for saving a valuable ship and her cargo from loss.

In conclusion the Court consider it is not out of place to remark, that in their estimation nearly 1,000 souls on board a vessel of the tonnage of the "Jeddah" was a greater number than should be allowed by any regulation, especially for a long sea voyage, as taken by the "Jeddah," and at a season when bad weather might naturally have been expected.

 

(Signed)

G. R. GOODFELLOW, Resident and Sessions Judge.

Aden, 20th August 1880.

I concur.

 

(Signed)

W. K. THYNNE, Assessor.

Confirmed.

 

(Signed)

JAMES FERGUSSON, Governor of Bombay.

The Merchant Shipping Act, in the case of a Board of Trade certificate, only requires the confirmation of the Local Government with reference to the regularity of the proceedings. Had I been advised that any option rested with it with reference to the details, I should have declined to confirm them, as I think the sentence inadequate to the offence committed by the master of the "Jeddah" as described by the Court.

Assuming that his abandonment of his ship, without necessity, and with the probable loss of an enormous number of helpless people for whose safety he was responsible, was the result rather of cowardice and want of resource than of inhumanity, his subsequent conduct in not doing his utmost to procure them succour showed that latter quality. But in either point of view, he has, in my judgment, shown himself entirely unfit to be entrusted with the charge of life and property at sea.

 

(Signed)

J. F.

ASSESSOR'S REPORT on the abandonment of the steamship "JEDDAH," of Singapore.

I consider the chief engineer of the "Jeddah" very much to blame for not taking the most active measures to secure the boilers when he first saw them move on the 3rd of August, more especially as the vessel was labouring heavily. When the matter was reported to the master is doubtful, but from the chief engineer's own statement, my opinion is that the engineer did not report to the master the moving of the boilers until the following day; the reason given by the engineer, viz., that the pipes in connection with the boiler were copper and could stand any strain caused by the moving of the boilers, the movement first observed being three-eighths of an inch, but which gradually increased to about two inches, before the boilers became totally useless by all the important pipes breaking, including the donkey engine steam-pipe. Before this happened, the vessel leaked a good deal in the engine-room, and as long as the engines could be worked the leak could be kept down. Had the chief engineer exercised a little judgment, he surely would have known that the movement of the boilers (which was of a jerky nature) was a most dangerous thing. and likely to become more and more dangerous with every heavy roll of the ship, and was a matter which required his most vigilant care from the first. I cannot understand how the engineer could make himself believe that the movement of the boilers (huge masses, each weighing probably not less than 30 tons when filled with water) was a matter of no consequence at first, merely because the movement was only three-eighths of an inch. Common sense might have taught him that the movement was likely to increase with every roll of the ship.

On the 6th August the engines and steam pumps became useless, the ship leaking, but not to any alarming extent. The bilge injection when working being able to keep the leak down; pumps were manned and baling started without any attempt being made to organise the Hadjees into working gangs, with regular reliefs, or replenishing the supply of buckets, by making canvas ones.

At noon of the 7th August, the ship's position was said to be in latitude 11° 55' north, and longititude 51° 55' east, "Abdul Kuri" bearing north-east 1/2 east, true distant about 28 miles. With this position, the bearing of Cape Guardafui would be nearly due west, distant about 35 miles. Shortly after the position of the ship had been ascertained, the order was given to get the boats made ready, which was done before sunset, and crews told off, the engineers and officers were informed what boats they were to go in should the boats leave the ship. Before midnight some of the passengers, it was said, had been heard to say they would kill the captain and his wife. This was reported to the captain. Again it stated that the passengers would use force to prevent the captain from leaving the ship; some of the passengers were observed about midnight to be armed with their knives, stated to be any number, from 20 up to 300. The second engineer went to bed at midnight; he did not see any man armed. The captain was warned by the first mate to be careful how he went about the decks, as the passengers might kill him. Up to the time the captain left the ship he was not molested, until he went into the starboard lifeboat, at 2.30 a.m. The first and second mates were at the lowering of this boat. The second mate left at once, called the second engineer, and got into his own boat on the port (i.e. weather) side, which was all ready for lowering. As the boat was being lowered the falls were cut by the Hadjees, which caused one end of the boat to fall first, and it is supposed threw the crew out, who were drowned.

Nothing was ever seen of this boat. The Hadjees did what they could to destroy her, they also did what they could to destroy the starboard lifeboat, and I believe knocked the first mate overboard. The distance from the captain's cabin to the starboard lifeboat is stated to be about 40 feet; the captain's wife was passed through one of the windows of the cabin, and either walked along or was carried and put into the boat without being molested, the first mate taking a prominent part in this proceeding.

The first mate of the "Jeddah," according to his own statement, is greatly to blame in doing what he could to demoralize the master, by advising him to leave the ship, telling him his life was in danger, also his wife's life; that he, the master, was sure to be killed if he remained on board; and that he, the first mate, did thrust the master into the boat. The mate worked on the fears of the master for the safety of his wife, and by so doing hurried the master into leaving the ship.

From noon of the 7th until the "Jeddah" was picked up by the "Antenor" she was on the port tack under short canvass, blowing hard from the south, steering west, every hour bringing the vessel nearer to a weather shore, where smooth water might be expected. When the master left the ship at 2.30. a.m. on the 8th August, he must have been distant from Cape Guardafui about 10 miles, judging from the position of the vessel at noon of the 7th of August, viz., latitude 11° 55' north, and longitude 51° 55' east; and her approximate position at 4.30. p.m. of the 8th August, viz., latitude 12° north, and longitude 51° 6' east, when the "Antenor" steered for her and picked her up.

When the "Scindia" picked up the starboard lifeboat the "Jeddah" would be distant about 22 miles, bearing from the "Scindia" about south-south-west.

The "Jeddah" having been towed into Aden harbour on the 11th instant, with the water reduced nearly two feet in the after-hold, proved there was nothing hopeless in the state of the ship when abandoned.

1. I am of opinion the master was not compelled to leave the "Jeddah."

2. That the master left the "Jeddah" against the will of his passengers.

3. That no disturbance took place until it became known that the master was leaving the ship, and that such disturbance was confined to damaging the boats and occupants when lowering and when lowered by throwing at and into the boats anything which first came to hand, and by cutting the boats' falls.

4. That by leaving the ship the master was the means of causing the loss of 11 lives, and the ship to be abandoned by the major portion of her crew, thereby greatly increasing the danger of the vessel being lost with all on board had she been leaking very badly. The master concluded she had foundered about three hours after he left her, as he was unable to see her at daylight.

5. The master of the "Jeddah," when picked up by the "Scindia," was guilty of great cruelty in not representing matters in such a way to the master of the "Scindia" as would have induced him to steam dead to windward, or in such a direction as might have been considered best to look for the "Jeddah," more especially as the master before leaving had no expectation of her foundering soon.

6. A vessel with upwards of 1,000 souls on board is a charge of great responsibility, and makes it more binding if possible on the master to remain on board to the very last, and by so doing tend to inspire his crew and passengers with courage and determination to save the ship if possible, and by so doing, their lives and property.

I am of opinion had the master's wife not been on board the master would not have deserted his ship.

I am of opinion had the master received proper assistance and advice from his first mate, he, the master, would not have left the ship.

I am of opinion had the master not left the "Jeddah" no lives would have been lost.

I am further of opinion that the first mate should not be permitted to go in the ship again.

The master of the "Antenor" states he passed Cape Guardafui about 3.30 p.m., 3' distant, and steered N. 62° W., true, until he sighted the "Jeddah" at 4.30, Cape Guardafui being distant about 14 miles, bearing S. 60° west. This bearing is wrong, and should be, according to the course sttered, about south 46° east.

Given under my hand at Aden, on this the 20th day of August 1880.

 

(Signed)

W. K. THYNNE, Assessor, Port Officer, Aden.

Q 5209. 50.—2/81. G 94. E. & S.

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