|Description:||Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Tharsis', 1891|
|Creator:||Board of Trade|
|Copyright:||Out of copyright|
The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1887.
In the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Athenæum, West Hartlepool, in the County of Durham, on the 20th and 21st days of May 1891, before WILLIAM HUNTON FISHER and ROBERT IRVINE, Esquires, two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Durham, assisted by Captains CASTLE and BRAGG and Mr. HALLETT, C.E., into the circumstances attending the abandonment of the British steamship "THARSIS," of West Hartlepool, off the Lizard, on or about the 23rd day of April 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 vessel was abandoned in consequence of her making so much water as to render it dangerous for the crew to remain in her; that the cause of her doing so was primarily the breaking of the propeller shaft, by which the stern tube was fractured, thus allowing the after peak to be filled with water, and ultimately the tank top giving way, allowing the water to find its way into the cabin and after-hold.
The Court does not find the master or the engineers in default.
Dated this 22nd day of May 1891.
W. H. FISHER,
Justices of the
We concur in the above report.
JOHN S. CASTLE,
J. W. HALLETT, C.E.,
J. THRELFALL BRAGG,
Annex to the Report.
This inquiry was held at the Athenæm, West Hartlepool, on the 20th and 21st days of May 1891.
Mr. F. W. Dendy, solicitor, represented the Board of Trade, and Mr. Tilly, solicitor, appeared for the master and owners. The chief engineer, Thomas Owens, being a party to this case, appeared in person.
The "Tharsis," official number 80,563, was an iron screw steamship, built at Sunderland in 1880. She was of the following dimensions:-Length 236 ft., breadth 33.5 ft., and depth 15 ft., her tonnage being 1150.04 tons gross and 738.41 tons net. She was schooner-rigged, and fitted with two compound surface-condensing engines of 115 horse-power combined. At the time of her loss she was owned by John Wood and several others whose names appear on the transcript of register, Mr. Wood, of West Hartlepool, at which port she was registered, being managing owner. She appears to have been well found and fitted in every respect, having five deck pumps workable by hand and the usual steam pumps, her ballast donkey pump being capable of discharging sixty tons of water per hour. She had three boats, two of which were life-boats fully equipped in compliance with the Board of Trade regulations, and ready for lowering. She had three compasses, viz.: a pole, standard, and one steering compass aft.
It appears that in 1886 her tail shaft was drawn in and found defective near the coupling. This, however, was remedied, the defective portion being cut off and a new piece twelve feet long welded on to the old coupling. About the end of 1888 the tail shaft was again drawn in for the inspection of Lloyd's, for the purpose of obtaining re-classification under No. 2 survey, a piece of the after brass liner being cut away to make a closer inspection. In October 1890 a new propeller was put on, and at that time no defect was discovered in the tail shaft.
The "Tharsis" loaded a cargo in the Tyne docks, consisting of 1,400 tons of coals, her draught of water being 16 ft. 9 in. aft, and 16 ft. 1 in. forward. She left the Tyne on the 18th of April 1891, bound to St. Nazaire, under command of Edward Brown Sanderson, whose certificate of competency as master is numbered 08,206, with a crew of 19 hands all told. She appears to have had moderate easterly winds and fine weather going down Channel, and at 1.20 a.m. of the 22nd April, being in a position about 8 miles north of Ushant,. the weather being fine, sea smooth, and the vessel going about 8 knots per hour, a tremendous vibration and afterwards a shock were felt, and the engines. commenced to race, but the steam was at once shut off, and they were stopped. The chief engineer, suspecting something wrong, went into the tunnel, accompanied by the third engineer, to examine, and found the stern gland started and water passing freely into the ship, and they surmised the tail shaft had carried away, fracturing the stern tube. A cast of the lead was taken and no bottom was obtained. The vessel was drifted about by the tides until about 2 a.m., when bottom was found at 60 fathoms, and the vessel was brought to an anchor with 105 fathoms of cable. A light was lowered over the stern, and it was then discovered that the propeller was laying hard against the rudder post. The donkey-pump had been started as soon as the water was discovered running into the ship, and had been capable of keeping the water under. About 8 a.m. the s.s. "Altyre," of Aberdeen, bore down to them, when the master of the "Tharsis" went on board of her with his boat, and arranged that the "Altyre" should tow the "Tharsis" to Falmouth, the remuneration to be settled by arbitration. The hawser was then passed, and the cable of the "Tharsis" was slipped, owing to inability to weigh the anchor in such deep water. The vessels now proceeded, the weather being fine and water smooth. About 5 p.m. the breeze commenced to freshen from E.S.E. and the sea to rise, and by midnight a fresh gale was blowing, with a high sea, and the "Tharsis" was shipping large quantities of water over all fore and aft. Water was now discovered on the cabin floor, and the watch was sent down to bail the water out; but as. it continued to increase, the master of the. "Tharsis" came to the conclusion that the top of the after-peak tank (which had been filled by the damage) had started. About 7 a.m. on the 23rd the water in the cabin increased, and all hands had to be sent below to bale. Soon afterwards the chief engineer reported that the water was dripping through the top of the tunnel, thus showing that there must be a large quantity of water in the after hold. About 8 a.m. signals were made to the "Altyre," and the course was changed for Penzance, as being the easiest port to make for under the circumstances. At 9 a.m. the water in the cabin had increased so much that the hands could not remain below to bale. About 11 a.m., after a consultation with the chief officer, the master decided to abandon the vessel, as she would no longer steer. The mate left in the port lifeboat at 11 a.m. with ten of the crew, and in attempting to get clear of the vessel, a sea struck the boat, and rolled her completely over, leaving two of the men in the water, and losing all the gear, with the exception of the sea anchor, by which she rode head to wind and sea. The two men were rescued by their companions. At 11.45 a.m. the master left the vessel with the remainder of the crew in the starboard lifeboat, and they got on board the "Altyre" about 12.20 p.m. The tow-rope was then cut, and the "Altyre" bore down and picked up the men in the boat which had first left the vessel. The position in which the "Tharsis" was abandoned was 15 to 20 miles south of the Lizard. The "Altyre" arrived off Dover on the 25th April, and landed the whole of the crew of the "Tharsis." No lives were lost, but the ship's papers and all the effects of the crew went down with the vessel.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Dendy submitted the following questions to the Court:-
1. Whether the tail shaft was properly repaired in 1886; what was the necessity for the examination in 1888; whether it was then in good condition, and was a further examination necessary or desirable between that time and April 1891?
2. Whether, when the vessel left the Tyne in April last, the shaft, so far as could be ascertained, was in good and seaworthy condition?
3. Whether the manhole in the tank was properly secured, and whether the tank, after bulkhead, and shaft tunnel were in good condition and water-tight?
4. What was the cause of the shaft breaking on the morning of the 22nd April last?
5. Did the master thereafter take proper and sufficient measures to reach a port?
6. What was the cause of the vessel making so much water on the 22nd and 23rd April, and whether every possible effort was made to keep it under?
7. Whether she was prematurely abandoned?
8. Whether the master and engineers, or either of them, is in default?
9. What was the cost of the vessel to her owner?
10. What was her value when she last left the Tyne?
11. What were the insurances effected, and how were they apportioned?
Mr. Tilly addressed the Court for the master and owners, and the chief engineer, Thomas Owen, on being asked if he wished to say anything, replied that he did not.
Mr. Dendy having replied on behalf of the Board of Trade,
The Court replied to the questions as follows:-
1. The Court has every reason to believe that the tail shaft was properly repaired in 1886. The necessity for drawing in the tail shaft in 1888 was for the purpose of changing the propeller and for survey for classification. The Court does not think that further examination was necessary in April 1891 as there was no indication of any defect in the shaft when last examined for Lloyd's survey in January 1889.
2. So far as could be ascertained, the shaft was in good and seaworthy condition when the vessel left the Tyne in April last.
3. The manhole in the tank was properly secured. The tank, after bulkhead and shaft tunnel were in good condition and practically watertight.
4. The Court is unable to determine the cause of the shaft breaking on the morning of the 22nd April last.
5. The master took all proper and sufficient measures to reach port after the breaking of the shaft.
6. The Court is of opinion, that the cause of the vessel making so much water on the 22nd and 23rd April was primarily the breaking of the shaft, this fracturing the stern tube, thus allowing the after peak tank to be filled with water, and ultimately the tank top giving way, allowing the water to find its way into the cabin and after hold. Every possible effort was made to keep the water under.
7. The Court does not think the vessel was prematurely abandoned.
8. The Court does not find the master or the engineers in default.
9. The cost of the vessel, according to the statement of the owners, was 16,800l. in 1883.
10. The owners valued the vessel when she left the Tyne at 14,500l.
11. The vessel was insured for 12,000l., viz. 6,000l. at Lloyd's, and 6,000l. in the local clubs. The freight was also insured for 1,000l., and the disbursements for 500l.
The Court does not deal with the master's certificate.
W. H. FISHER,
Justices of the
JOHN S. CASTLE,
J. H. HALLETT, C.E.,
J. THRELFALL BRAGG,
66626-52. 180.-5/91. Wt. 30. E. & S.