|Description:||BOT Wreck Report for 'Brinkburn', 1899|
|Creator:||Board of Trade|
|Copyright:||Out of copyright|
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
IN the matter of a formal investigation held at the Guildhall Westminster, on the twelfth day of January, 1899, before R. H. B. MARSHAM, Esquire, assisted by Captains RONALDSON and COSENS, into the circumstances attending the stranding and loss of the s.s. "BRINKBURN," on the 15th of December, 1898 off the coast of Scilly.
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 cause of the casualty was that the vessel did not make good the courses alleged to have been steered, and that in consequence of a fog her proximity to the land was not discovered in time to avert the disaster.
Dated this 17th day of January, 1899.
R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.
We concur in the above report.
Annex to the Report.
This inquiry was held at the Guildhall, Westminster, on the 12th day of January, 1899, when Mr. H. Stuart Moore appeared on behalf of the Board of Trade, Mr. Gibson on behalf of the owners of the "Brinkburn," whilst Mr. Nelson represented the master of the "Brinkburn."
The "Brinkburn," official number 102,849, was a British screw steamship built of steel, at Thornaby-on-Tees, by Messrs. Richardson, Duck, & Company in 1894, and registered at the Port of London. Her dimensions were as follows:—Length, 330 ft.; breadth, 43.1 ft.; and depth of hold from top of beam amidships to top of keel 29.5 ft.; whilst her tonnage was 3,228.85 tons gross and 2,096.01 tons net register. She was rigged as a schooner, and was fitted with three triple direct acting vertical inverted cylinders, viz., 23 1/2 ins., 39 ins., and 64 ins. (300 horse power), and two steel boilers, built by Messrs. Blair & Company, Limited, of Stockton-on-Tees.
At the time of her loss she was the property of the Century Shipping Company, Limited, Mr. Herbert Alfred Harris, of 31, Gracechurch Street, London, being the registered manager under advices received on the 19th July, 1898.
She was fitted with two lifeboats, a jolly boat, and a gig, with all the necessary life buoys and life belts, and was thoroughly equipped in every respect. She had three compasses, one of which was a Lord Kelvin's, on the upper bridge, by which the courses were set and steered, a spirit compass in the wheel-house, and another spirit compass aft; they were last adjusted by Alder, of Blyth, in June, 1898. She was fitted with steam steering gear, and had a deep sea lead, and a patent lead by Bassett, of Liverpool, and also a patent log.
The "Brinkburn" left Galveston, Texas, bound to Havre, on the 22nd November last, with a cargo of about 2,365 tons, consisting of about 8,900 bales of cotton and 300 bags of cotton seed meal. She was under the command of Mr. James William Martin, and had a crew of 39 all told, and no passengers.
On the 30th November she called at Norfolk, Virginia, where she took in some 160 tons of bunker coal, leaving again the same day. All appears to have gone on well up to the 12th December, on which day the master obtained his last celestial observation which placed the steamer 48º 40' north latitude, and 25º 40' west longitude. After this date the weather was more or less foggy, and no observations could be obtained. A course of S.E. by E. 3/4 E., magnetic, was set and steered with a few trifling alterations of some quarter of a point or so. The log book having been lost the Court is unable to state the exact courses steered or distances run. The speed was reduced according to the state of the fog and haze, and at 8 a.m. of the 15th December she was slowed down for the first time and stopped for the purpose of getting a cast of the lead which gave 60 fathoms. She proceeded on again, and at noon another cast of the lead was taken which gave 67 fathoms. The master then reckoned he was about 90 miles west of the Bishop lighthouse and that his course of S.E. by E. 3/4 E. would take him 10 miles south of the Bishop. At 4 p.m. the steamer was again stopped and a cast of the lead taken which gave 66 fathoms. At 8 p.m. another cast was taken which gave 61 fathoms, and the engines, under reduced pressure, were again set on at full speed or at slow, according to the state of the atmosphere.
At about 10 p.m. the fog lifted, and the master stated he could see about one mile ahead, and the engines were then put at full speed under reduced pressure, making some 8 1/2 knots.
At about 11.20 p.m., the fog having increased, the speed was reduced to slow. The master and first mate were on the bridge, and at about 11.45 p.m. they sighted two rocks on her bows, about 50 feet off, and breakers ahead. The engines were reversed, but the steamer took the ground forward, bumping heavily, and remained fast, when the engines were stopped. At this time it was about low water. The master ordered all hands to get the boats out, and the crew got into them, but remained near the vessel. Distress signals having been sent up, about one and a half hours afterwards boats arrived from Bryer Island and piloted the ship's boats there, and all were safely landed.
Early on the next morning, the 16th December, the master went out to look at his vessel, when he ascertained that she was on the Maiden Bower rocks, Scilly, and that she was full of water. Some of the cargo had been washed out of her and they had passed it floating about on the way from the shore to the vessel. The vessel had sunk aft in about 15 fathoms, the fore-part up, and the fore-hatch just awash at low water. No fog signals were heard from the Bishop rock lighthouse, although the wind was light from the southward, until after the crew were ashore.
Assuming that the position by dead reckoning at noon of the 15th December was as stated, namely, 49º 34' N. and 8º 46' W., about 90 to 100 miles from the Bishop, and that the courses said to have been set were steered, the Court is at a loss to account for the vessel stranding so far to the north of where it was expected she would be. With reference to the soundings it will be observed that the master had been taking a cast of the lead every four hours during the day. He states he was just about to take another cast when she struck. Had he taken one a half an hour previously the vessel would probably not have been stranded. But, looking at the fact that the chart shows almost similar soundings to the west and the south of the islands, a more frequent use of the lead would not have indicated her exact position.
These were the facts of the case, and, on the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. H. Stuart Moore, on behalf of the Board of Trade, put the following questions:—
1. What number of compasses had the vessel, were they in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel, and when and by whom were they last adjusted?
2. Did the master ascertain the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, were the errors correctly ascertained and the proper corrections to the courses applied?
3. Whether safe and proper courses were steered after leaving Norfolk, Virgin a, on or about the 30th November last, and whether due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents?
4. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel from time to time, after leaving Norfolk, Virginia, on the 30th November, and especially after noon of the 15th December last?
5. Whether, having regard to the state of the weather on the 15th December last, the vessel was navigated at too great a rate of speed?
6. Whether the lead was used with sufficient frequency?
7. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept?
8. What was the cause of the casualty?
9. Whether the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care?
10. Whether the loss of the s.s. "Brinkburn" was caused by the wrongful act or default of the master and officers, or any of them?
Mr. Gibson, Mr. Nelson, and Mr. H. Stuart Moore, then addressed the Court, and judgment was given as follows:—
1. The vessel had three compasses, they were in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel, and they were last adjusted by Alder, of Blyth, in June, 1898.
2. The master ascertained the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, the errors were correctly ascertained, and the proper corrections to the courses applied.
3. Safe and proper courses were steered after leaving Norfolk, Virginia, on the 30th November last until noon of the 12th December last, when the last possible celestial observation was taken.
After noon of the 12th December the courses stated to have been set and steered were safe and proper, though somewhat fine, considering the state of the weather. They were not made good. The master stated he made some allowance for currents on the 14th December, when he altered the course.
4. After leaving Norfolk on the 30th November last proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel from time to time up till the 12th December last. After that the only means that could be taken were by soundings and dead reckoning, and these measures appear to have been taken up to 8 p.m. of the 15th December last.
5. Having regard to the state of the weather on the 15th December last the vessel was not navigated at too great a rate of speed.
6. The Court is of opinion that the lead was not used with sufficient frequency after 8 p.m. of the 15th December. But the Court is not prepared to say that, looking to the similarity of the soundings south of the Bishop to those near the vessel's actual position, the casualty would have been avoided if the master had used the lead more frequently.
7. A good and proper look-out appears to have been kept.
8. The cause of the casualty was that the vessel did not make good the courses alleged to have been steered. and that in consequence of a fog her proximity to the land was not discovered in time to avert the disaster.
9. The Court is not prepared to say the vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care, though it considers that blame attaches to the master for not using his lead more frequently, considering the weather was thick and that he had set a fine course for passing the Scilly Islands.
10. The loss of the s.s. "Brinkburn" was not caused by the wrongful act nor default of the master, nor of any of the officers.
R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 3rd day of February, 1899.)
1594—180—1/99 Wt 8 D & S 1