|Description:||Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Clifton Grove', 1891|
|Creator:||Board of Trade|
|Copyright:||Out of copyright|
(No. 4246.) "CLIFTON GROVE" (S.S.) The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1887. IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 27th and 28th days of February 1891, before W. J. STEWART, Esq., assisted by Captains FRENCH and RICHARDSON, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British Steamship "CLIFTON GROVE," of Bristol, on or near Moss Bay Patch, near Workington, on or about the 12th February 1891. Report of Court. 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 was caused by the negligent navigation of Mr. Edward Morgans, the master of the "Clifton Grove," in that he allowed the vessel to proceed in thick weather in close proximity to the land without taking proper means to ascertain from time to time the exact position of the vessel, by taking soundings and by verifying the distance she had run. The Court finds the master in default, and suspend his certificate, No. 97,914, for six calendar months from this date. The Court also finds the managing owner, Mr. W. H. Butler, to blame, for the undermanning of the ship. Dated this 28th day of February 1891. (Signed) W. J. STEWART, Judge. We concur in the above report. (Signed) A. P. FRENCH, Assessors. GEO. RICHARDSON, Annex to the Report. This inquiry was held at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 27th and 28th February 1891, when Mr. Paxton appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. Wimshurst for the master and owners of the "Clifton Grove." The "Clifton Grove" is an iron screw steamship, of 249.37 tons gross, and 120.88 tons register. She was built at Bristol in the year 1883, and was registered at the port of Bristol, her official number being 85,810. Her dimensions are—length 134.7 ft., breadth 22.65 ft., depth in hold 11 ft. She is schooner-rigged, and is fitted with two direct-acting engines of 50 horse-power combined. She is owned by Mr. William Butler and others, Mr. William Henry Butler, of St. George's, in the County of Gloucester, being her managing owner, having been appointed to that office in succession to his father on February 9th, 1891. She was commanded by Mr. Edward Morgans, who holds a certificate of competency as master, numbered 97,914, and dated December 14th, 1877. Mr. Morgans had commanded her for three years and seven months; and after an interval of five months, again took command of her on February 8th, 1891. On the 10th February last the "Clifton Grove" left Burryport with a crew of 8 hands all told, and a cargo of 283 tons of anthracite coal, bound to Workington. About 8 p.m. on the 11th February 1891, the vessel passed the Skerries, and the master put her upon a N.E. 1/2 N. course by the bridge compass, with a view of making St. Bees Head. She had also a pole compass on board, and the master was supplied with deviation cards for each compass, which stated that the vessel had been swung on July 16th, 1890, and which the master stated he had found to be accurate, though he had not tested their accuracy by any astronomical observations. According to the deviation card, a N.E. 1/2 N. course by the bridge compass, by which the vessel was steered, would give a N.E. 3/4 N. magnetic course. About 4 a.m. on February l2th the master came on deck. At this time the weather was hazy, and though St. Bees Head Light was not then visible, the master was informed that it had been seen. The watch consisted of the master and David Johns, an able seaman, who was at the wheel from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m, when he was relieved by the master and went on the look-out. The N.E. 1/2 N. course was continued until 4.30 a.m., when the vessel was hauled in upon an E.N.E. course by the bridge compass, with a view of picking up the St. Bees Light, which became visible at 5 a.m., bearing cast. The vessel continued to proceed on the same course until 6 a.m., when St. Bees Light bore E.S.E., distant as the master guessed about 2 1/2 miles. The weather was still hazy, though not so thick as it had been, but the master took no measures to ascertain the accuracy of his conjecture as to his distance from the St. Bees Light. Relying however upon this conjecture, he again put the vessel upon a N.E. 1/2 N. course, which he expected would take him up to Workington. The tide at this time was rather more than threequarters ebb. It was high water at Workington at 1.4 a.m. on February 12th, and a 26 ft. 5 in. tide. The master expected to arrive outside Workington about dead low water, and intended to anchor there until the tide flowed sufficiently to enable him to enter the dock. The master admitted that the ordinary effect of the ebb tide would be to set the ship out towards the Solway Firth; but alleged that, feeling the vessel to be heavy on her starboard helm, he allowed 1/2 a point for the effect of what he believed to be the tide on her port bow. Shortly after 6 a.m. the weather became thicker and the engines were put to half-speed. But though the master said that he could only see to a distance of from 1/4 to 1/2 a mile, the steam whistle was not blown. The weather remained the same till the vessel got ashore. At half-speed the vessel, according to the master, would be making from four to five knots an hour, and consequently at 7.15 a.m. the master, judging that she had made from six to seven miles since 6 a.m., ordered the engines to be slowed with a view of coming to an anchor. No steps had been taken by using the lead to ascertain the position of the vessel, nor by using the patent log to verify the distance the ship had travelled since 6 a.m. At 7 a.m. the mate was called, and he came on deck at 7.15 a.m. As he went forward to see that the anchor which the look-out man had been ordered to get ready, was ready to let go, the mate took a cast with the lead and got 3 1/2 fathoms, which he at once reported. The master who had expected to find 5 or 6 fathoms, thereupon put the helm hard-a-starboard, but the vessel had only got her head to the N.N.E. when she struck on a shoal known as the Moss Bay Patch, at a spot which was afterwards ascertained to be 1 mile to 1 1/2 miles distant from the pier at Workington, which bore N.E. 1/2 E. from the vessel. On the lead being used, the vessel was found to have 7 1/2 ft. of water at her stem, and 3 fathoms at her main rigging. When the vessel got aground she began to make water, but as she had a double bottom, the water did not gain access to her hold. The engines were put full speed astern, and were kept going till 9 a.m., when, with the rising tide, the vessel floated. By that time she had got a list to starboard, her deck being awash on the starboard side, with a freeboard of 3 in. on the port side; and she was drawing 11 ft. 6 in. forward, and 11 ft. aft. Her two boats had been got ready, but the master decided to stay by the vessel and to take her into Workington; and she was got into dock there at 2 p.m. She was subsequently put upon the slip, and it was found that five of her plates were broken, six plates dinted, and two floors broken. She has since been repaired at Workington. The mate, David Johns, and the engineer were also called, but their evidence did not differ materially from that of the master. The log kept by the mate was also put in, but as no logslate was kept on board, the mate had to depend for his entries upon information subsequently received, as he alleged, from David Johns, though the latter denied ever having given him any information; and certain alterations in the log suggested that the mate had corrected his original entries after consultation with someone. These were the facts of the case, and on the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Paxton submitted to the Court the following questions:— 1. Was the vessel supplied with a proper chart for the voyage 2. Was she sufficiently manned? 3. Were the errors of the compasses known to the master, and did he correctly apply them to the courses? 4. Was the position of the vessel correctly ascertained at 6 a.m.? 5. Was a proper course set and steered thereafter, and was due allowance made for tide? 6. Were proper means taken to ascertain the distance run? 7. Ought the lead to have been used? 8. What was the cause of the stranding, and was serious damage occasioned thereby? 9. Was the master in default in regard to any of the above matters? 10. Was the managing owner to blame in regard to any of the above matters? And stated that in the opinion of the Board of Trade the master's certificate should be dealt with. Mr. Wimshurst then called Mr. W. H. Butler, the managing owner, who stated that in his opinion, though he had no nautical experience, the vessel was sufficiently manned. He also said that the master had full authority to purchase any charts he might require, either to supplement or to replace those on board. Mr. Wimshurst having addressed the Court, and Mr. Paxton having replied, the Court gave judgment as follows:— 1. The chart supplied to the vessel was one by James Imray & Son, dated 1883. It was in a very dirty and torn condition. The Court therefore is of opinion that it was not a proper chart for the voyage. 2. The Court is of opinion that even a small coasting steamer should have at least three competent men in each watch, one to steer, one to keep a look-out, and a third to attend to the regulation lights, heave the lead, and carry messages. Therefore the "Clifton Grove" was not sufficiently manned with the crew she had. 3. The master produced deviation cards supplied by F. Martin, of Swansea, showing an adjustment to have been made on the 16th of, July 1890, which the master said he found correct, but he had never verified them by astronomical observations. As far as the Court could judge, the corrections were properly applied. 4. The position of the vessel at 6 a.m. was merely an assumed one, and no measures were taken to ascertain it correctly. 5. The master stated that he did make an allowance for the tide, but the course he steered being in the direction of the shoals became an improper and dangerous one when continued so long. 6. No means were taken to ascertain the distance run after 6 a.m. 7. The lead ought to have been constantly used after 6 a.m. 8. The cause of the stranding was the negligent navigation of the master, and serious damage was occasioned thereby. 9. The master was in default for the reasons given above. 10. The managing owner was to blame in respect of the under-manning of the vessel. The Court suspend the certificate of the master for six calendar months from this date. (Signed) W. J. STEWART, Judge. We concur in the above report. (Signed) A. P. FRENCH, Assessors. GEO. RICHARDSON, Liverpool, 28th February 1891. 62307—236. 180.—3/91. Wt. 22. E. & S.