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Wreck report for 'Hood', 1938

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Unique ID:14126
Description:Board of Trade wreck report for 'Hood', 1938.
Creator:GB Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


For Official Use

Crown Copyright Reserved

No. S. 396




In the matter of a Formal Investigation held at Aberdeen on the I5th and 19th days of November, 1938, before John Dewar Dallas, Esq., Advocate, Sheriff-Substitute of Aberdeen, Kincardine and Banff, assisted by Captain Joseph Snaith, Captain Clarence Arthur Wilson, and Walter Bates, Esq., Assessors, into the circumstances attending the s.t. "Hood" stranding and becoming a total loss, half a mile north of Johnshaven, on the 12th August, 1938.

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 of the s.t. "Hood" was due to the wrongful act and default of the skipper, Alexander Cowie, and the Court so finding suspends his certificate of competency (No. 5210A) for a period of six months from this date and directs that he be not allowed a certificate of a lower grade during the period of suspension.

Dated this nineteenth day of November, 1938.

J. D. DALLAS, Judge.

We concur in the above Report.

 C. A. WILSON,Assessors.

Annex to the Report.

This Inquiry was held at the Sheriff Court, Aberdeen, on the 15th and 19th days of November, 1938. Mr. C. D. Peterkin, Advocate, Aberdeen, appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. A. T. Whitehouse, Advocate, appeared for the skipper of the s.t. "Hood."

The s.t. "Hood," official number 143,791, was a single-screw vessel, ketch-rigged, built of steel by Messrs. Hawthorns & Company, Limited, Leith, in 1918. Her tonnage was gross 203.48, net 77.71. She was fitted with one inverted vertical direct acting triple expansion engine of 56.7 nominal H.P. and 430 I.H.P., and one steel boiler, loaded pressure 180 lbs. She was constructed with three bulkheads, and one water ballast tank of 19 tons capacity. Her registered dimensions were: length 115.4, breadth 22.2, and depth of hold 12.15.

She was owned by Messrs. John Craig, James Craig, Joseph Craig, William Craig, and Alexander Slater (joint owners).

On the voyage in question she carried a crew of 12 men including the skipper, Alexander Cowie, who holds a skipper's certificate, No. 5210A. No passengers were on board.

She carried the life-saving apparatus and boat usual in ships of her class. The steering compass was fixed in the roof of the wheelhouse and a spare compass was kept in the cabin. The wheelhouse compass was last adjusted by Messrs. Stevenson & Harris, Certified Compass Adjusters, Aberdeen, and deviation card supplied.

She left Granton at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday the 11th August, 1938, bound for Aberdeen, having a draught 14 feet aft and 8 feet forward. At that time weather conditions were normal and courses were steered which brought the vessel to a position off May Island, after which there was occasionally patches of fog. The vessel passed the North Carr Lightship at 11.50 p.m. on the 11th August, 1938, at a distance of about one mile. At this time the log was set and course N.E. by N. steered. Fog was increasing and visibility was becoming less; course and speed, however, were maintained.

The Bell Rock explosive fog signal was heard forward of the starboard beam at about 1 a.m. on Friday the 12th August, 1938. At this time the fog became dense, and bearing and distance were assumed to be about one mile bearing S.E. by E. at 1.10 a.m.

A. Grant, deck-hand, was at the wheel. George G. Geddes, second fisherman, who holds a certificate of competency as second-hand (No. 22344), was left in charge of the vessel with instruction from the skipper, Alexander Cowie, to call him if in any doubt and keep whistle and echometer going and not let the vessel get inside 26 fathoms. The skipper then went below at about 1.30 a.m.

At 3.25 a.m., William Geddes, who holds a skipper's certificate, No. 11051, took over the watch with deck-hand Alexander Murray at the wheel. Shortly afterwards he altered the course to N.E. ½ N. and put engine to slow speed.

At about 3.45 a.m. the mate, hearing an echo, immediately put the helm hard-a-starboard but the vessel at once stranded with her head swung N.E. by E. The Court considers that the mate was justified in altering the course of the vessel and that said alteration of the course in no way contributed to the stranding of the vessel.

Efforts were made to get vessel afloat but were unsuccessful and vessel became a total loss.

The vessel was supplied with an echo sounding machine. Those of the crew who used this machine assumed—and we consider they were entitled to assume—that its indication of depths was accurate and to be relied on. It was of the "Indicator" type and not of the "Recorder" type. No evidence was found as to the time this machine had been in use, or when it had been last tested in a known depth. It was not produced in Court.

This sounding machine, if working accurately, is undoubtedly reliable. None of the crew who took soundings from the time the vessel left the "Bell Rock" succeeded in getting a depth less than 20 fathoms. The last sounding before the vessel stranded was taken by the mate, William Geddes, about ten minutes before the vessel struck when the "echometer" showed a figure of 25 fathoms.

There was no evidence of bad steering. The course set was steered without making any allowances for the set of the tide and the effect of steering only upon the starboard side of the wheel.

The vessel was in shoal water at least one hour before she struck, during which time soundings were frequently taken. It accordingly appears to the Court that the "echo sounding machine" was not functioning with any accuracy.

It is a matter of observation that no witness was adduced from the engineer staff of the vessel to speak to the speed or speeds of the vessel from, say, 1.30 a.m. till 3.45 a.m. on the 12th August, 1938. It is obvious from the distance travelled between the times stated, the vessel's speed was greater than the alleged speed, viz., 6 knots. The tide was flowing at this period and was about high tide when vessel struck.

The Court is of the opinion that the skipper, Alexander Cowie, gravely erred in that (1) he left the bridge, considering the condition of the weather prevailing at the time, (2) before leaving the bridge he did not give definite instructions to be called at a fixed time, and (3) he did not make any use of his chart throughout the run.

All courses stated are magnetic.

The Court's Answers to the Questions submitted by the Board of Trade are as follows:—

Q. 1. When the s.t. "Hood" left Granton on the 11th August, 1938, was she in good and seaworthy condition?

A. Yes.

Q. 2. What compasses did the vessel carry and where were they situated? When and by whom were they last professionally adjusted? Were deviation cards supplied to the ship after such adjustment?

A. Two—one overhead in wheelhouse on bridge and one in skipper's cabin. They were last adjusted on the 8th July, 1938, by Messrs. Stevenson & Harris, Aberdeen. Deviation cards were supplied after adjustment.

Q. 3. What sounding appliances were on board the vessel? Were they in good and efficient working order and condition?

A. Echo sounding machine and hand lead line. Hand lead line in order; echo sounding machine not in good and efficient order.

Q. 4. When the vessel left Granton on the 11th August, 1938, for where was she bound?

A. Bound for Aberdeen.

Q. 5. Was the skipper provided with adequate charts and publications for the safe navigation of his vessel on this voyage? If so, did he make proper use of them?

A. Yes. With the exception of the North Sea Pilot, Part II, the skipper was provided with a Close's North Sea fishing chart customary for vessels of her class, and Mariner's Almanac, 1938. No.

Q. 6. At what time did the vessel reach the North Carr Light? How far off the Light was the vessel when it was abeam? What course was set at this time? Was there any, and if so what, alteration in the course between the time when the vessel was abeam of North Carr Light and the time of the casualty? If so, what was it and when was it made?

A. The vessel was abeam the North Carr Light at 11.50 p.m. on the 11th August, 1938. The distance off North Carr Light when abeam was approximately one mile. The course set was N.E. by N. The course was altered to N.E. ½ N. at 3.25 a.m.

Q. 7. What was the state of (a) the weather; (b) the visibility when the vessel was off North Carr Light? Were there any, and if so what, alterations in (a) or (b) between this time and the time of the casualty?

A. The state of the (a) weather, calm, (b) visibility, moderate when off North Carr Light. (a) None. (b) Visibility became bad after passing North Carr Light and became dense fog after passing Bell Rock continuing until time of casualty.

Q. 8. Did those on board hear the syren at the Bell Rock? If so, when did they hear it?

A. Yes, the fog signal was heard at the Bell Rock; the explosive fog signal at Bell Rock was heard at approximately 1 a.m.

Q. 9. Were those on board able to estimate with reasonable accuracy the distance of the vessel off the Bell Rock at this time? If so, what was it?

A. No, those on board were not able with accuracy to estimate the distance off the Bell Rock. Estimated approximately one mile off.

Q. 10. Were soundings taken at any time during the voyage? If so, when and what depths were recorded?

A. Yes, regular and adequate soundings were taken by the echo sounding machine from the time when vessel was off the Bell Rock to time of casualty. Depths recorded from 20 to 27 fathoms.

Q. 11. Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike care?

A. The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care.

Q. 12. When and where did the vessel strand?

A. Stranded at 3.50 a.m. on the 12th August, 1938, about half a mile north of Johnshaven.

Q. 13. What was the cause of the stranding of the s.t. "Hood"?

A. The stranding of the s.t. "Hood" was caused by the skipper, Alexander Cowie, (1) keeping too fine a course (N.E. by N.) after leaving the Bell Rock so as to clear Tod Head considering that visibility was practically nil, (2) failing to make proper use of the ship's log during the run, and (3) not allowing for the indrift on the flood tide.

Q. 14. Was the stranding of the s.t. "Hood" caused or contributed to by the wrongful act or default of her skipper, Alexander Cowie.

A. Yes, the stranding of the s.t. "Hood" was caused by the wrongful act and default of the skipper, Alexander Cowie, for reasons stated in Answer 13.

J. D. DALLAS, Judge.

 C. A. WILSON,Assessors.

(Issued by the Board of Trade in London

on Tuesday, the 20th day of December, 1938)



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