The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
IN the matter of a formal investigation, held at the Board Room of the Sunderland School Board Offices, John Street, in the County Borough of Sunderland, on the 22nd and 23rd days of January, 1901, before ROBERT APPLEBY BARTRAM and ROBERT BATHORN PARRY, Esquires, two of the Justices of the Peace acting in and for the said Borough, assisted by CAPTAINS EDWARDS and SINCLAIR LOUTIT, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steam ship "ARCHTOR," of London, on the Carphie Rock, near Anstruther, on the 17th day of December, 1901.
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 careless and improper navigation.
The Court finds the master, Thomas John Holman, in default for such stranding, but, taking into consideration his previous good character and conduct after the stranding, does not deal with his certificate but severely reprimand, and caution him to be more careful in future.
Dated this 23rd day of January, 1901.
R. A. BARTRAM,
R. B. PARRY,
We concur in the above Report.
T. T. EDWARDS,
W. H. SINCLAIR LOUTIT,
Annex to the Report.
The "Archtor" is a British steam ship, built of steel, at Sunderland, in the year 1895, her official number 106,402, and she is registered at the Port of London, her dimensions as per Register being, length 348 feet, breadth 45.1 feet, and depth in hold 24.75 feet.
She is fitted with two compound inverted direct-acting surface-condensing engines of 300 horse power combined, the diameter of the cylinders being 24 1/2, 40, and 66 inches respectively, with a length of stroke of 45 inches, her indicated speed being 10 knots, and her registered tonnage, after deducting 1221.25 tons for crew and propelling space, is 2192.82 tons, and she is owned by Mr. Francis Arthur Holman and others, Mr. Francis Arthur Holman, of 50, Lime Street, in the City of London, being the designated managing owner, and at the time of the casualty she was under the command of Thomas John Holman, who holds a certificate of competency as master, numbered 012,687.
This vessel appears to have been well found and in good condition, and at the time of leaving Philadelphia, on the 28th November last, bound for Leith, with a crew of twenty-four hands all told, and a general cargo of 4500 tons, her draft of water being 21 feet 11 inches forward and 22 feet 2 inches aft in fresh water. She had four compasses on board. One of these compasses, the Standard, by which the courses were set and steered, was on the top of the wheelhouse, one in the wheelhouse, one on the forepart of the bridgehouse, and one on the poop deck; but the compass on the poop deck was carried away by a sea whilst on the passage. The vessel was steered by steam-steering gear. There is no evidence before the Court to show when these compasses were last adjusted or by whom.
They were made by Mr. Wilson, of Sunderland, and supplied when the ship was launched. The master stated that he had the deviation cards on board, which were supplied when the ship was new, but he stated to the Court that his experience was that these cards were useless, and that he had not made any use of them. The master also stated that he used Ainsley's adjuster to ascertain the deviation of his compasses from time to time, and that he kept a compass deviation book (which he was unable to produce), but he was satisfied that the Standard compass was very reliable. He was out of the ship from June to November, and when he rejoined her he made verbal inquiries, only, of the master whom he relieved as to the accuracy of the Standard compass, and was informed that it was very reliable and satisfactory, but he received no notes or other information as to the compasses, he relying on his past experience of the ship.
The master took an observation about three hours before the stranding, the vessel then being between Girdleness and the Bell Rock, and on a S.S.W. course, magnetic, the result showing no deviation.
On the 17th December the Bell Rock was passed at about 4.45 p.m. to the westward, and the North Carr Light Vessel was abeam at 5.45 p.m. at an estimated distance of three quarters of a mile to one mile. The master was not on the bridge at the time, he and the chief officer having gone down to their tea, the vessel being in charge of the third officer. This distance from the North Carr Light Vessel was estimated by the third officer by running a four-point bearing, but the Court is of opinion that the distance so obtained was incorrect owing to the speed of the ship not having been correctly ascertained, and no allowance appears to have been made for tide and current. At 5.50 p.m. or thereabouts the master returned to the bridge, and the third officer informed him that the North Carr Light Vessel had been passed at the above-mentioned estimated distance, the light then being in sight abaft the beam, and the vessel then being on a S.W. 1/4 W. magnetic course.
The weather at that time was very dark but quite clear, with a moderate gale from the W.S.W., with the sea slight to moderate.
The following shore lights were then all visible, namely, the North Carr Light Vessel, the May Island Light, Fidra Light, and the Anstruther Light. At 5.55 p.m. the master altered the course to S.W. by W., allowing a full quarter of a point for easterly deviation, and this course was continued for about ten minutes, when he again altered the course to W.S.W. by compass, and continued on this course for five minutes, when the vessel stranded on the Carphie Rock, which she struck under her forefoot. The vessel was not stopped but rose slightly forward and listed over to port, her way being checked to the extent of about a knot and a half. The master then starboarded the helm and ordered the tanks to be sounded fore and aft, with the result that the ship was found to be making water so much that it was not possible, on account of pressure of the air in the sounding pipes, to sound the forehold and foretank, and within an hour the engine room bilges began to fill. After standing out for some three quarters of a mile, the master determined to continue on his course for Inch Keith Light, the vessel at this time, being down by the head and the propeller partly out of the water, was able to steam only from four to five knots. The pumps were all set on and succeeded in keeping the water under in No. 2 hold and the engine room, but not in No. 1 hold, or the collision compartment and the forepeak. At 11 p.m. the same night the vessel arrived off the pier heads of Leith Harbour and was there beached, it then being the top of high water. The vessel remained on the mud for five days, and after being lightened was taken (under her own steam) into Leith Harbour and ultimately brought round to Sunderland and there docked, and it was then found that she had sustained material damage which will necessitate an outlay of about £4000 to repair.
The Court considers that the master is to be commended for his promptness in deciding to take the steamer on to Leith in her then disabled and sinking condition instead of beaching her on the nearer land.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the solicitor acting for the Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court upon 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?—This vessel had four compasses on board when she left Philadelphia, one of which was lost on the voyage. They were in good order, and were sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel. There is no evidence to show when or by whom they were 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?—The master stated to the Court that he did ascertain the deviation of the compasses by observation from time to time, and that the errors were correctly ascertained and the proper corrections to the courses applied.
3. Were proper measures taken at or about 5.45 p.m. of the 17th December to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel, was a safe and proper course thereafter steered, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?—Measures were taken by a four-point bearing at 5.45 p.m. of the 17th December to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel, but the Court is not prepared to say that proper measures were taken, inasmuch as the speed of the ship was not ascertained. A safe and proper course was not thereafter steered, and no allowance was made for tide and currents.
4. Were safe and proper alterations made in the course at or about 5.55 p.m. and 6.5 p.m. of the 17th December, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?—The alterations made in the course at or about 5.55 p.m. and again at 6.5 p.m. of the 17th December were not safe and proper, and no allowance was made for tide and currents.
5. Was a good and proper look-out kept?—A good and proper look-out was kept.
6. Where and on what did the vessel strike at or about 6.10 p.m. of the 17th December, and was she seriously damaged?—The vessel struck on the eastern edge of the Carphie Rock at or about 6.10 p.m. of the 17th December, and she was seriously damaged.
7. Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike car?—The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care.
8. Was serious damage to the S.S. "Archtor" caused by the wrongful act or default of the master, chief and third officers, or of any of them?—The serious damage to the S.S. "Archtor" was caused by the default of the master alone.
R. A. BARTRAM,
R. B. PARRY,
We concur in the above Report and Judgment.
T. T. EDWARDS,
W. H. SINCLAIR LOUTIT,
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the
8th day of February, 1901.)
7829—180—1/1901 Wt 92 D & S—1