The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
IN the matter of a formal investigation held at the Magistrates' Room, Liverpool, on the 18th and 21st days of October, 1901, before W. J. STEWART, Esq., assisted by Commander CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., and Rear-Admiral BOYES, into the circumstances attending the supposed loss of the British ship "CAPE WRATH," which left Callao for Astoria, Oregon, on November 2nd, 1900, and has not since been heard of.
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 owing to the absence of evidence it is unable to state what was the cause of the loss of the said vessel.
Dated this 21st day of October, 1901.
W. J. STEWART, Judge.
We concur in the above Report.
W. F. CABORNE,
G. T. H. BOYES,
Annex to the Report.
This inquiry was held at the Magistrates' Room, Dale Street, Liverpool, on the 18th and 21st days of October, 1901, when Mr. Paxton appeared on behalf of the Board of Trade, and Mr. Lightbound represented the owners.
The "Cape Wrath," official number 99,781, was a British sailing vessel, built of steel at Port Glasgow in 1892 by Messrs. Duncan & Co., and was registered at the port of Greenock. Her length was 280.3 ft., her breadth 42.1 ft., and her depth of hold 24.45 ft., her net registered tonnage being 1998.35 tons. She had a forecastle, poop, and fore, middle, and after deck houses. She had four masts, was barque rigged, had two decks, was provided with a collision bulkhead, and was owned by the Dominion Ship Company, Limited, of Liverpool, Mr. William Thomas, of 14, Water Street, Liverpool, being the manager. The "Cape Wrath" was purchased by the Dominion Ship Company, Limited, towards the end of 1899, and was classed 100 A1 at Lloyds'.
Mr. John Duncan, a member of the builders' firm, produced the curve of statical stability of the "Cape Wrath" as she left Port Glasgow in September, 1892, with about 600 tons of dirt ballast and about 66 tons of ships' stores and water on board, her metacentric height being 2.9 ft. He further produced two other curves of statical stability, one with 1000 tons of ballast, the draught being 11 ft. 9 ins., and G.M. 2.64 ft., and the other with 1400 tons of ballast, the draught being 13 ft. 4 ins., and G.M. 2.85 ft. He stated that the ship would have ample stability with 1000 tons of ballast, and that her co-efficient of fineness was .7. Mr. Duncan further informed the Court that the vessel was designed to carry 3580 tons of dead weight on a mean draught of 21 ft. 10 ins.
Mr. William Thomas, the registered manager, stated that the "Cape Wrath" sailed from Cardiff for Mauritius with a cargo of coal on January 3rd, 1900; that she sailed from Mauritius for Newcastle, New South Wales, in ballast (1000 tons) on April 26th, 1900; that she sailed from Newcastle, New South Wales, with a cargo of coal on July 6th, and arrived at Callao on August 24th, 1900, the master being Mr. Charles Lampshire, a trustworthy and experienced officer, who had been connected with his firm since 1894. He considered 1000 tons of ballast to be sufficient, and this was the quantity that had been previously carried by the ship. Mr. David Evans, a master mariner, who acted as marine superintendent at Cardiff for the owners prior to the departure of the "Cape Wrath," stated that she carried four boats (two of them being lifeboats), and the life-saving appliances required by the statute, was well supplied with sails, and generally properly equipped. He also described the labour-saving appliances with which she was fitted. After the arrival of the "Cape Wrath" at Callao on August 24th, 1900, she discharged her cargo of coal, with the exception of about 80 tons, and received instructions to proceed in ballast to Taltal, in Chili, and for that purpose 1000 Spanish tons of shingle were shipped, and the vessel was taken into the bay. Later on those instructions were cancelled, and the ship was directed to proceed in ballast to Portland, Oregon, to load a cargo of wheat for Europe. An additional 150 Spanish tons of shingle were then taken in, making a total of 1150 Spanish tons of ballast, equal to about 1035 English tons. To this must be added the 80 tons of coal above mentioned, which brought the total up to about 1115 tons. There were also 29 tons of fresh water and the ship's stores.
The amount of ballast to be carried was left entirely to the discretion of the master, and a copy of a letter written to Mr. Lampshire by the owners respecting the ballasting of the ship at Mauritius, where she took in 1000 tons of ballast, was produced, in which the following paragraph appears:—"If, however, you have to take ballast, try to get it as cheaply as you can, and do not fail to take sufficient to make the ship seaworthy, and see that it is properly trimmed, and your shifting boards placed in position." There is no doubt the ballast was properly stowed, trimmed, and levelled at Callao, but with regard to its being properly secured against shifting, there is a paucity of information.
Beyond the fact that centre shifting boards 2 1/2 ins. to 3 ins. thick were placed in position and fastened to the stanchions, there is no sworn evidence as to how the ballast was secured. But the solicitor for the owners put in the following extract from a letter written by Mr. Drew, of the firm of Messrs. Shute & Co., of Callao, to a relative in Liverpool, under date of 10th January, 1901:—"I am very sorry to hear this morning that the "Cape Wrath" has not turned up. The ballast was well stowed and tommed down. She took 1000 tons inside the Darsena, and when she got orders for the north she took 150 tons in the Bay. This was pat in the main and after hatches, and she had, as I told you before, 60 tons to 80 tons of coal on board. The ship was in good trim and seaworthy when she sailed. 1 was on board when the ballast was going in, and was on board when she sailed. The vessel had a good mate and second mate, and a good crew and some good young fellows. Every thing was in first-rate order when she left Callao." From this letter the only information respecting the tomming down of the cargo is derived.
The "Cape Wrath" left Callao on 2nd November, 1900, bound for Portland, Oregon, and ballasted as above described, under the command of Mr. Charles Lamp-shire, who held a certificate of competency as master, No. 020,086, and with a crew consisting of 30 hands all told. At the time of leaving, her draught is stated to have been 12 ft. 4 ins. forward and 12 ft. 8 ins. aft. Since the date of leaving Callao the "Cape Wrath" has not been heard of.
From a deposition made by the master of the British s.s. "Worfield," bound to San Francisco from British Columbia, it appears that a southerly gale, described as the heaviest experienced for years, accompanied by a very high confused sea, prevailed off the coast of Oregon, about the middle of December, 1900, a fact which is confirmed by the master of the British barque, "Eaton Hall." As the ordinary voyage from Callao to Portland, Oregon, is estimated to occupy from 40 to 50 days, it is probable that the "Cape Wrath" encountered the weather above described.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Paxton, on behalf of the Board of Trade, submitted the following questions for the opinion of the Court:—
(1) Was the vessel in good and seaworthy condition as regards hull and equipments when she left Callao in November, 1900, and did she carry the boats and lifesaving appliances required by the statute?
(2) Was the ballast sufficient in quantity, and was it properly stowed and secured from shifting?
(3) Was the vessel properly and sufficiently manned?
(4) What is the cause of the vessel not being heard of since she left Callao on or about the 2nd November, 1900, bound for Portland, Oregon?
(5) What was the value of the vessel, and for what amount was she insured?
(6) What is the nature of the ballast shipped at Callao, and what steps should be taken in order to prevent it from shifting?
The Court returned the following answers to the questions of the Board of Trade:—
(1) The "Cape Wrath" was in good and seaworthy condition as regards hull and equipments when she left Callao in November, 1900, and she carried the boats and life-saving appliances required by the statute.
(2) The vessel appears to have had on board when she left Callao about 1035 tons of shingle ballast, and about 80 tons of coal which formed a portion of her former cargo not discharged, the whole making a total of 1115 tons. This quantity, the Court after hearing expert evidence as to the stability of the ship, and evidence as to the amount of ballast carried on previous voyages, considers to have been sufficient. The ballast was properly stowed, but with regard to the question as to whether it was properly secured against shifting, the evidence is not sufficient to enable the Court to form a positive opinion.
(3) The vessel was properly and sufficiently manned.
(4) From the evidence, the Court is unable to express a definite opinion as to the cause of the vessel not having been heard of since she left Callao on or about the 2nd November, 1900. The depositions show that very bad weather prevailed off the coast of Oregon about the time that the "Cape Wrath" should in the ordinary course of events have been in the vicinity. If the large amount of shingle ballast carried by the vessel had not been thoroughly well secured, it would be liable in such weather to shift, and the loss of the vessel would thus be accounted for.
(5) The vessel was valued in the policy at £15,000, and she was insured for £15,000 against all risks, and against total loss for £1,000 more. Her market value was stated to have been £18,000.
(6) The ballast shipped at Callao is shingle, and very liable to shift. Accordingly with such a dangerous description of ballast as this, special measures should be taken to secure it. Centre shifting boards should invariably be used, also wing shifting boards when practicable. All shifting boards should be thoroughly well secured in position. Further, bulkheads should be built at the forward and after ends of the ballast, and be brought up to the same height as the ballast, in order to prevent the ballast moving forward or aft. Finally, the ballast should be securely tommed down.
The following is a list of the officers and crew of the missing barque "Cape Wrath" as taken from the records of H.B.M.. Consulate at Callao:—
R. J. Abbott
Cook and steward.
W. T. Jones
H. L. Thomas
H. J. Derrick
E. O. James
W. J. Riley
W. T. L. Jones
E. J. Pottle
H. O. Stove
F. G. J. Brandreth
W. J. STEWART, Judge.
We concur in the above Report.
W. F. CABORNE,
G. T. H. BOYES,
Liverpool, 21st October, 1901.
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the
8th day of November, 1901.)
10181—180—10/1901 Wt 99 D & S—1