Portcities Southampton
UK * Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton
You are here: PortCities Southampton > [14314] 'Kate Kellock', 1878
* Text only * About this site * Site Map * Feedback
Explore this site
Start Here
About Us
Partners And Collections
Get Interactive!
Image galleries
The Docks
River Itchen
Southampton at war
Flying Boats
Finding Out More
Southampton speaks
Street Directories
Historic Buildings Survey
Registers and Records
Lloyd's Register
Official Sources
Other Records
Finding Out More
Wrecks and Accidents
Why accidents happen
Improving Safety at Sea
Finding Out More
Wreck Reports
Life of a Port
How a port comes to life
At work in a port
Ports at play
Trade - lifeblood of a port
Finding Out More
On the Line
Company growth and development
Shipping lines
Transatlantic travel
Preparing a liner
Finding Out More
Sea People
Life at sea
Jobs at sea
Travelling by sea
Starting a new life by sea
Women and the sea
Finding Out More
Diversity of Ships
The variety of ships
What drives the ship?
Ships of ancient times
Ships in the age of sail
Ships of the steam age
Ships of today

Wreck Report for 'Kate Kellock', 1878

PDF file

This resource is available to view as a PDF document.

Click here to view 'Wreck Report for 'Kate Kellock', 1878'.

You will need a PDF viewer to view this document. Tell me more...

Unique ID:14314
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Kate Kellock', 1878
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 328.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of the formal investigation held at the Chancery Court, St.

George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 7th, 8th, and 9th days of January 1879, before

H. C. ROTHERY, Esquire, Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Commander KNOX, R.N.,

and Captain WILSON, as Assessors, into the circumstances attending the material

damage sustained by the sailing ship "KATE KELLOCK," of Liverpool, off Cape

Horn, on or about the 18th day of June 1878.

Report of Court.

The Court, having caréfully inquired into the circumstances of the

above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons annexed,—

(1.) That it has not been proved that Charles Ricker, the master of the "Kate

Kellock," proceeded to sea with his boats in a damaged condition.

(2.) That it has not been shown that proper and seamanlike measures were not

taken for saving the ship when she was pooped on the 18th of June 1878 and


(3.) That the master was not justified in allowing his chronometers to run down.

(4.) That the master did on the 2nd of July 1878, give up charge of his ship to

the second mate, and that he was not justified in so doing.

(5.) That the master was not justified in failing or neglecting to keep the

ship's log-book after the 17th of June 1878, the first mate being disabled, and

no orders having been given by him to the second mate to do so.

(6.) That the damage to the said ship was caused by the great severity of the

weather, and not by any misconduct or want of skill on the part of the master or

other officer of the ship.

(7.) That the damage to the ship was not occasioned by the wrongful act or

default of the master, or of anyone else on board the vessel.

The Court is of opinion that the said Charles Ricker was guilty of gross acts of

negligence in having allowed his chronometers to run down, in having given up

the charge of his ship to the second mate on the 2nd of July 1878, when she was

in the most imminent danger and in having neglected to keep the log-book

properly from and after the 17th of June 1878, but that as none of these acts

contributed either directly or indirectly to the casualty in question it has no

power to deal with his certificate.

The Court makes no order as to costs.

Dated the 9th day of January 1879.

       (Signed)H. C. ROTHERY,

        Wreck Commissioner.

We concur in the above report.

       (Signed)HENRY KNOX,

        Commander, R.N.,Assessors.

       "J. P. WILSON,


The Commissioner.—The "Kate Kellock" is an iron ship belonging to the Port of

Liverpool, of the burthen of 1,175 tons, built at Sunderland in the year 1865,

and at the time of the casualty which forms the subject of the present inquiry

she was the property of Mr. Charles W. Kellock, of Walmer Buildings, Water

Street, Liverpool, and two other gentlemen, Mr. Kellock being the managing

owner. On Tuesday, the 16th day of April last, she left San Francisco with a

cargo of 1,400 to 1,500 tons of grain and flour, and a crew of 26 hands all

told, and having on board besides the master's wife and child. She seems to have

been in every respect a good vessel, as the result has shown, and we were told

that until after the casualty on the 18th of June she had not made any water

either on the outward or homeward voyages, I beheve the carpenter said not more

than an inch and a half. And she had five boats, as to which I shall presently

have occasion to speak.

Very soon after leaving San Francisco a leak was discovered in the fore peak,

owing to a pipe having given way close to the ship's side. Fortunately the fore

peak was separated from the vessel's hold by a water-light bulkhead, so that the

water did not get to the cargo, but as it was coming in very fast it was deemed

expedient to return to San Francisco, where the damages were repaired, and she

let again on the 23rd April. From that time all went well until about 2 a.m. of

the 18th of June, when she was nearing Cape Horn; it was the chief officer's

watch; the vessel was under two lower topsails, close-reefed foresail and

foretop staysail, steering south-east and by east, with the wind from the

westward, and therefore a little on the starboard quarter. We are also told that

she had a hawser towing astern, with both ends on board forming a bight, for the

purpose it is said of breaking the sea; but the assessors are unable to see how

it could do this, and are inclined to think that such an arrangement was rather

injurious than otherwise. At this time a wave broke over her stern, washing the

two men away from the wheel, and carrying the chief officer, who was on the

quarter deck, into the lee main chains and breaking his leg. All the woodwork of

the wheel was carried away, the cabin partly wrecked, the skylights carried

away, and the ship then broached to and fell off into the trough of the sea. On

the captain coming on deck he ordered the yards to be braced up, but the lower

main topsail was immediately blown away. About a couple of hours afterwards

another sea struck her, which carried away all her compasses, besides doing

other damage, and between that time and soon after daylight the three after

boats had been smashed, and the two forward boats carried away. An attempt was

made to get her head to wind by paying out a hawser with a piece of wood at the

end of it from the bows, but without success, for she continued in the trough of

the sea. During the day the main mast went overboard tearing up with it a

portion of the deck, and through the hole caused thereby a, good deal of water

got down into the hold, until the hole had been covered over with tarpaulins

securely battened down. Finding that the ship was labouring very heavily, orders

were given to cut away the fore and inizen topmasts, and subsequently the lower

masts also, and in place thereof a jury mast formed out of a studding sail boom

was rigged up. That night the crew were set to work to jettison the cargo, and

so heavy was the sea, that the only way to get at the cargo was through the

hatch in the forecastle, in which, I should state, the captain with his wife and

child had taken refuge, the habitable portion of the cabin being occupied by the

chief officer, whose leg, as I have said, had been broken.

In this state they continued to drift about almost helpless from that time until

Tuesday 25th June, when land was observed, and after a time they came to anchor

in 37 fathoms under the lee of what proved to be Noir Island. There they

remained until the 28th, when the weather having moderated the vessel was got

under weigh in the hope of finding a better anchorage, but they soon found that

they were again out in the open sea; and whilst endeavouring to get under

shelter of some islands to the northward, the wind failed them, and as the

weather was coming on thick they were obliged to anchor in a very exposed

situation in 37 fathoms, and with 105 fathoms of chain out. There they lay until

the 2nd July, when between 2 and 3 o'clock in the morning the port anchor, or

the chain by which she was riding, parted. Some discussion then ensued between

the master and the second mate, to which I shall presently have occasion to

refer; but in the end the chain was slipped, two men were sent to the wheel,

sail was made, and she was steered for an opening, the bearings of which had

been taken on the previous day, and most fortunately succeeded in getting safely

into Melville Sound, and in the afternoon came to an anchor to avoid running on

the rocks; so close indeed was she to the rocks that her stern at one time

struck upon it, but by shortening the cable they were able to drag her clear.

Finding themselves in this position, completely out of the way of passing

vessels, and all their boats lost, the carpenter was set to work to build a new

boat. On the 13th July, the weather being moderate, and the wind favourable, the

vessel was shifted to the opposite side of the bay, where she lay in a more

secure berth. And on the 14th, the new boat having then been finished, Mr. Trim,

the second mate, with two A.B.'s, and an apprentice, volunteers, left in her for

a place called Puntas Arenas, or Sandy Point, in the Straits of Magellan, for

the purpose of obtaining assistance. The voyage was attended with great

difficulty and danger, it being midwinter, but it was the only hope of safety

for the lives of all on board. After being out several days they fell in very

fortunately, on passing Cape San Isidro, with a steamer called the "Potosi,"

which took them on board and carried them on to Sandy Point. There they obtained

the assistance of a Chilian man-of-war called the "Magellan," with which they

returned to the "Kate Kellock," accompanied by the British Vice-Consul, and

arrived alongside of her on Sunday 28th July. During their absence the carpenter

had been set to work to make other boats, in case the second mate and those who

were with him should be lost; and with the assistance of the rest of the crew he

had succeeded in finishing one, and partly making another boat. On the following

day the "Magellan" took them in tow, and after several days brought her safely

to Sandy Point, arriving there on the 3rd August.

A day or two after their arrival the crew were taken on shore to the consul's

office, and were asked to sign a protest which had been prepared. What were the

contents of that protest we do not know, for it has not been given in; but one

and all of the crew, including the second mate and carpenter, refused to sign

it. They were thereupon discharged, and on the 6th August we e put on board a

steamship called the "Illimani" and sent to this country, the captain, his wife

and child and the chief officer alone remaining at Sandy Point. There these

latter remained until the 21st October last, when the captain gave up charge of

the vessel to Captain Stark, the underwriter's agent, who had been sent out from

England for the purpose; and they then returned to this country, an d as I am

informed arrived here only last week. The "Kate Kellock," I presume, is still at

Sandy Point.

On the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Tyndall, on behalf of the Board of Trade,

stated that he should ask the opinion of the Court upon the following


(1.) Was the master justified in proceeding to sea from San Francisco without

having the three damaged boats repaired?

(2.) Whether, when the ship was pooped on or about the 18th of June, and

afterwards, the master took proper and seamanlike measures for saving the ship

and the lives on board?

(3.) Was the master justified in letting the chronometers run down?

(4.) Did the master, on or about the 2nd day of July, give up charge of the ship

to Mr. Trim, the second mate, and if so, was he justified in so doing?

(5.) Was the master justified in failing or neglecting to keep the ship's log

during the time the ship was in distress after the 17th June?

(6.) Was the damage to the ship and cargo attributable to any misconduct or want

of skill on the part of the master or other officer of the ship?

(7.) Was the damage to the ship occasioned by the wrongful act or default of the

master, or of anyone else on board the vessel?

And evidence having been given that this master, although an American citizen,

holds a master's certificate issued by the Board of Trade and numbered 98,104,

and without which of course he could not have commanded this vessel, Mr. Tyndall

asked that this certificate should be dealt with.

The case comes before the Court under somewhat peculiar circumstances, for

although we have had the evidence of the second mate, the carpenter, and several

of the crew, and although I do not think that I ever before saw a better or

smarter set of seamen, or men who have given their evidence in a more clear and

straightforward manner, yet we are without the evidence of the two principal

persons on board, the master and the chief officer. The absence of the chief

officer indeed has been fully explained, he, poor fellow, having had his leg

broken at the time the vessel was pooped had had it set, I should imagine not

very skilfully, by the carpenter and the master's wife, and he is now nearly six

months after the accident lying in the hospital, and we are told to ill too be

examined. The master's absence however has not been so satisfactorily accounted

for. Mr. Coulson, the assisstant receiver of wreck, told us that on Thursday

last the 2nd January the master was with him at his office from half-past 3 or 4

till 6 o'clock giving his deposition, on which occasion he was served with a

notice of this inquiry. And Mr. Coulson told us that he then informed the master

that although the date on which the inquiry would take place was not stated in

the notice it would be held on Tuesday the 7th, and that he would have to

attend. To this intimation, however, it would seem that the master has paid no

attention whatever, for on the officer going on Saturday last to his lodgings

for the purpose of serving him with a subpœna to attend as a witness he was

informed that the master had gone. Mr. Carr, however, has appeared for him in

these proceedings, and has told us that he had been expressly authorised by the

master to appear for him, in case the solicitor for the owners of the "Kate

Kellock" should refuse to do so. And as Mr. Gray Hill, who has appeared for the

owners, as well as Mr. Weightman, who has appeared for the underwriters on the

ship and cargo, altogether refused to appear for him, Mr. Carr has intimated his

intention to do so. Now Mr. Carr has explained the master's absence by saying

that he had gone to Havre, on account of the illness of his wife, to attend upon

her, and that he (Mr. Carr) had telegraphed to him for instructions, but had

received no answer from him. This occurred on Tuesday last, on the opening of

the inquiry. Yesterday Mr. Carr told us that lie had received no answer from the

master, but stated that he was ready to proceed with the cross-examination of

the witnesses, and at the conclusion of the evidence, and on the charges being

given in by Mr. Tyndall, he asked that the case might be adjourned until to-day

at 12 o'clock for the purpose of enabling him again to telegraph to the master,

and to receive his instructions, and to that application I assented. Mr. Carr

has now appeared again to-day, and has told us that he had not received any

answer to his telegram, but that he was quite prepared to proceed with the case,

and did not ask for any further adjournment.

A preliminary objection was then taken by Mr. Carr that the paper of questions

given by Mr. Tyndall contained nothing which his client was called upon to

answer, and that it contained no charge. I am, however, disposed to think that

it does contain a good deal which the captain is called upon to answer. I think

that the statements that he left San Francisco with three of his boats damaged,

that he allowed the chronometers to run down, that he gave up charge of the

vessel to the second officer, and that when the chief officer was disabled he

failed to see that the log was properly kept up, are all matters which do

undoubtedly call for an answer from the master. It is also, in my opinion,

equally clear that the paper tendered by Mr. Tyndall does contain a charge

against the master. Mr. Tyndall has asked that the master's certificate shall be

dealt with; that is to say, shall be either cancelled or suspended, as the Court

should think proper, which is a clear intimation that in the opinion of the

Board of Trade the master has been guilty of misconduct in the matters specified

in these questions, and it is a sufficient notice to him of the acts of

misconduct with which he is charged, sufficient at all events to give him, in

the terms of the Act of Parliament, "an opportunity of making a defence."

Mr. Carr further contended that even if all these questions were answered

adversely to the master, inasmuch as they were not the cause of the casualty,

the Court has no authority to inquire into them at all, or to report whether the

master has or has not been guilty of any misconduct in these respects, and he

referred us to the case of ex parte Storey as an authority for that position.

But as I read that case, the only point decided by the Court of Queen's Bench

was, whether this Court had power to cancel or suspend the certificate of a

master by whose misconduct the ship had been stranded, but without sustaining

any serious or material damage, and the Court of Queen's Bench held that it had

not. But in this case there has been material, nay, most serious damage; it is

therefore a case in which, under the 432nd section of the Merchant Shipping Act

of 1854, this Court has power to inquire, and having done so, the Court is

bound, in the words of the 433rd section of that Act, "at the conclusion of the

case " to send a report of their or his opinion thereon, accom- " panied by such

a report of or extracts from the evidence, " and such observations, if any, as

they or he may think " fit." Whether we may go on and cancel or suspend the

master's certificate for acts of misconduct, even though those acts may not have

caused the casualty, is another and a totally different question, as to which I

shall presently have a word to say. All that I am now contending for is, that

there having been material damage, this is a case in which we are entitled to

inquire, and having done so we are bound to report to the Board of Trade as to

all the attendant circumstances, and as to the acts of the master and officers,

and whether those acts have or have not contributed to the casualty.

Now the first question upon which our opinion has been asked is, whether the

master was justified in proceeding to sea from San Francisco without having had

the three damaged boats repaired? No doubt those three boats were damaged in

rounding Cape Horn on the outward voyage, for there is an entry to that effect

in the log-book, under date of the 14th of November 1877; but the question is,

whether or not they were subsequently repaired? If they were not, no doubt the

master would be much to blame, for he is responsible for seeing that the boats

are in proper condition. But the carpenter's evidence on this point was not

altogether satisfactory. In the first place, in giving his evidence he showed a

strong animus against the master, which, although it might not compel us

altogether to disbelieve his evidence, would induce us to look at it very

narrowly. Moreover, he is not confirmed by any of the crew as to the state of

these boats; they could not say anything about them. When again he was asked why

he had not repaired them, he first told us that he had not any stuff on board,

then he said that he had had no orders from the captain to do so, and lastly he

told us that although on getting to San Francisco some stuff was obtained for

the purpose, the captain said to him on his asking whether he should repair

them, "What is the use " of repairing them; perhaps they will get smashed in a "

gale off the Cape;" and so, he added, "I did not mend " them." Now it seems to

us very unlikely that any captain would have told his carpenter when three of

his boats were smashed that it was not necessary to repair them because possibly

in rounding the Cape they might be damaged again. At all events it is a most

improbable statement. Moreover, if the carpenter had materials on board, as it

is clear he had when he was at San Francisco, it was his duty to have repaired

them if he had had time, and that he had plenty of time is clear from the fact

that the ship remained at San Francisco for three months, and that they were two

months from San Francisco before this accident happened. He was also quite

competent to do so, for in about 11 or 12 days he was able to make the boat with

which the second mate went to Puntas Arenas, and in the next 14 days, before the

steamer came to them, he had succeeded, with the assistance of the crew, in

building a second, and was well on with a third boat. We think, therefore, that

the statement that those boats were damaged when they left San Francisco,

resting as it does on the unsupported statement of the carpenter, has hardly

been proved to our satisfaction, at all events to the extent of our saying that

the captain has been guilty of negligence in this respect.

The second question upon which our opinion has been asked is, whether, when the

ship was pooped on or about the 18th June and afterwards, the master took proper

and seamanlike measures for saving the ship and the lives on board? This

resolves itself into two questions, first, who gave the orders? and secondly,

were they proper orders? Now according to the second mate the whole

responsibility, and the whole management of the vessel rested with him; he gave

all the orders, he said, because they could get nothing out of the master. And

no doubt, to a certain extent, he is confirmed by the carpenter and the rest of

the crew. So far as they knew, the orders came from the second mate, but whether

they had been previously given to him by the master, they of course could not

say. Mr. Carr told us that the captain was not a blustering kind of fellow going

about the deck, and that he probably gave his orders through the second mate in

a quiet gentlemanly way; and that he may have done so is to a certain extent

clear, for when the second mate was pressed upon the point he admitted that a

great many of the orders had emanated from the master. In the first place the

orders to brace the yards up were given by the master, so also were the orders

to cut away the masts. As to rigging a jury mast, the mate would not undertake

to say that it was not the master who had given that order. The mate too has

admitted that, except during the few hours when the vessel was given up to his

charge on the 2nd of July, as to which I shall presently speak, the ship

remained under the master's charge. No doubt the master did not appear to the

crew to take that special interest in the management of his ship which under the

circumstances might reasonably be expected of him; but except for the short time

to which I have referred, there is no evidence to show that he did not continue

to retain the command of his ship. But whether this be so or not let us next

proceed to inquire whether the orders that were given were proper and reasonable

orders; for if so, and even assuming that they emanated from the second mate, if

the master saw that they were proper and reasonable orders, there could have

been no reason why he should have interfered. Now the second mate has not

ventured to say that anything was done which ought not to have been done, or

that anything more could have been done than was done; except he said that he

thinks he should have set the reefed upper main topsail. But upon that the

assessors do not agree with him; they think that if an attempt had been made to

set that reefed upper main topsail in the state in which the main mast was it

would have been attended with very great danger to the men engaged, and that it

would not have been a proper step to take. There is, therefore, nothing whatever

to show that the orders that were given were not proper orders, and nothing to

show that, except during the short time of which I have spoken on the 2nd of

July, the master had not the full charge and command of this vessel.

The third question upon which our opinion is asked is, whether the master was

justified in letting ths chronometers run down? To this there can of course be

but one answer, if the master from negligence allowed his chronometers to run

down, he is of course very greatly to blame. As the evidence now stands the

chronometers had been allowed to run down before the vessel was pooped, they

were therefore not put out of order on that occasion. Now if there is any

explanation to offer upon this point the master has not thought fit to come

forward and give it, nor has his advocate offered any suggestion to account for

their having run down. As the matter then stands at present, we have no option

but to hold that the master has been guilty of great negligence for having:

allowed his chronometers to run down.

The fourth question on which our opinion is asked is, whether the master on or

about the 2nd July gave up charge of the ship to Mr. Trim, the second mate, and

if so, was he justified in so doing? Mr. Trim told us that when the port anchor

parted they were in a very exposed situation, within three-quarters of a mile of

a reef of rocks, on which the wind was setting them, that on seeing that they

had parted he immediately called the master, and on his coming on deck the

following conversation passed between them. "I asked him," says Mr. Trim, "what

" he was going to do with the ship, he said he could do nothing, we are lost,

that was his answer. I told him I " thought we had better try to do something,

the ship " was then dragging her port chain, she was dragging " towards a reef

of rocks, which was about three-quarters " of a mile distant under our lee. I

tried to get an " order out of him, but I could get nothing. I asked " him if I

should do anything, and he said yes, and " that he should go and pray with his

wife. I then " sent for the carpenter, and ordered him to slip the chain. " I

then asked for volunteers to go to the helm, and I got " two men, and I told

them to lash themselves first and " then put the helm hard-a-port and keep her

dead before " the wind, until I gave them other orders. There was a " spare

compass in the cabin, and having consulted it " I put her on a course N.E. by E.

1/2 E., for I had observed " that there was a small opening between the islands

in " that direction. I had on the previous day taken the bear- " ings of it, and

had called the master's attention to it, and " told him that it would be well to

take the bearings of " it in case we parted, but he had said that if the ship "

parted then she would be lost. We succeeded in getting " round the point, and

continued going ahead, but could " find no bottom. In the afternoon I came to an

anchor " in 37 fathoms. I did not know what time it was, as there " was no clock

going, we had two chronometers in the " ship, but they were both run down. I

never knew it " till after they were run down." He also said, "when " we came to

anchor, I said to the captain, Captain Ricker " there is your ship, take charge

of her. I forget whether " he said anything in reply, but he seemed very much "

ashamed of himself." This evidence was confirmed by the carpenter, who told us

that after the anchor had parted the captain gave up charge to the mate, and

that the mate then told him to get his tools ready to unshackle the chain. What

passed is thus described by the carpenter, he said, " the second mate was

standing by, and said to the captain, " captain what are you going to do with

the ship, and the " captain said nothing. Then the second mate said, for " God's

sake give us some orders to do something to save " our lives, but the captain

said nothing. Then the second " mate asked him a third time, and the captain

then said, " I cannot do nothing, act yourself. The second mate " then gave me

orders to unshackle the chain and let slip, " and he then ordered sail to be

made," Now if it rested simply on the evidence of the second mate and the

carpenter, seeing the very strong animosity which they entertained against the

master, and which they took no pains to conceal, we might perhaps have hesitated

before placing implicit reliance on them, but their testimony has been fully

confirmed by the rest of the crew who have been examined before us, and who have

given their evidence in a clear straightforward manner, and apparently without

any strong feeling against the master. They told us that as soon as the anchor

had parted they all assembled round the master and mate, where they were

standing under the brake of the forecastle, and were waiting to execute any

orders which they might receive, that the second mate asked the captain what he

was going to do, and they all told us that they heard the captain give up charge

of the vessel to the second mate. That a captain should, under the

circumstances, have given up the charge of his vessel to the second mate, his

first mate being disabled, is almost inconceivable, and yet there can be no

doubt whatever of the fact, it is sworn to over and over again, and is not


Let us consider for one moment what the position of this vessel was at the time

in the South American Pilot I find, when speaking of Noir Island, the following

caution: " Between Cape Schomberg on London Isle and Noir " Island there are

many large reefs, and a great number " of detached outlying rocks, which render

this part of the " coast extremely dangerous and unfit for vessels. No " chart

could guide them; they must trust to daylight " and clear weather, with a good

look-out if necessary to " enter or leave Barbara Channel." Further on it says:

" The large space between Noir Island and Agnes Island " is extremely dangerous

for shipping, being scattered with " rocks, some just awash, some showing

themselves several " feet above, and others under the water." Then it goes on:

"The Milky Way is the name given to the space " between Kempe and Noir Islands,

as in every part of it " rocks are seen just awash or a few feet above the

water. " On them the sea continually breaks. The 'Beagle' " passed inshore of

them all close to Fury, Kempe, and " Agnes Islands, but no vessel should follow

her track, " nor is there any probability of its ever being attempted. " This

part of the coast only requires to be known to be " avoided." Lastly, we have a

description of Melville Sound, into which this vessel was obliged to run when

her anchor parted: "Melville Sound is completely filled with " islands, some of

which are large, and all are of the most " ragged and desolate character." Now I

will ask after this whether it is right to say, as Mr. Carr has done, that any

Liverpool boatman for 5s. would have undertaken to navigate this vessel from the

position in which she was when her anchor parted until she was again brought to

anchor, passing, as she must necessarily do, through the Milky Way and between

Kempe and Fury Islands and up into Melville Sound. To us it seems marvellous

that she escaped all the dangers to which she was exposed, and it surely

demanded that all on board should give their best assistance to save her from

what was almost certain destruction, and the captain above all. And yet this man

takes this opportunity to go into the forecastle to pray with his wife, leaving

the whole charge of the vessel to the second mate, the chief officer at the time

being disabled with a broken leg, No doubt the captain has received a good

character from his former owners, the Messrs. Grimshaw, but, in our opinion, it

weighs nothing against such conduct as this, when the vessel and the lives of

all on board were in most imminent peril. It is not as if the second mate was

intimately acquainted with the locality; he had never been there before, and

knew nothing of the navigation.

The fifth question on which our opinion is asked is, whether the master was

justified in failing or neglecting to keep the ship's log during the time the

ship was in distress after the 17th June. No doubt it is the duty of the chief

officer of every ship to keep the log-book, but the chief officer had been

disabled on the 18th, and from that time, therefore, he was unable to keep it. I

may observe that I have examined the log-book very carefully, and I find that

until the chief officer was disabled it was very well kept, and it makes us

regret the more that it has not been possible to produce him as a witness, as

his evidence would have been of great value. The chief officer, however, being

disabled, it would no doubt ordinarily devolve upon the second officer to

discharge his duties, but it would be for the master to inform the second

officer that he wished him to do so, for if he undertook the first officer's

duties he would also be entitled to the first officer's pay. If, however, the

master chooses to retain the second mate in his original position, and to take

upon himself the duties of the first officer, there is no reason why he should

not do so. Now it is not pretended that the master ever told the second mate

that he wished him to undertake the duties of first officer, and among those

duties that of entering up the log. We think, therefore, that the master is

responsible for the log not having been properly kept up, as it evidently was

not, from and after the 17th June.

The sixth question on which our opinion is asked is, whether the damage to the

ship and cargo was attributable to any misconduct or want of skill on the part

of the master or other officer of the ship? And the seventhis very like it,

namely, whether the damage to the ship was occasioned by the wrongful act or

default of the master or of anyone else on board the vessel? Now although the.

captain has, in our opinion, been guilty of gross misconduct in the management

of this vessel we cannot say that there is any one act done by him which can be

said to have directly or indirectly caused this casualty. The fact, if it be

one, that the boats were in a damaged state in no way conduced to the casualty.

The fact, if it be one, that the master gave no orders for the management of the

vessel, but left it entirely to the second mate in no way contributed to the

casualty; for the orders that were given were, in our opinion, very proper

orders, whether they emanated from the master or the second mate. The fact that

the master allowed the chronometers to run down did not, in our opinion, in any

way conduce to the casualty. The fact, and a most reprehensible fact it is, that

the master did on the 2nd July give up charge of the vessel to the second mate,

also in no way conduced to the casualty, nor the fact that the master neglected

to keep the log or to see that it was properly kept.

How then stands the case? Here is a master guilty of as grave acts of misconduct

as any master could commit, and yet none of those acts, so far as we can see, in

any way contributed to the casualty, which was due entirely to the extreme

severity of the weather, and to the ship having been pooped when the first

officer was in command, and, so far as we can see, without any fault on his

part. But can we go on to do what the Board of Trade have asked us to do,

namely, cancel or suspend this man's certificate? for that it is that we are

called upon to do when we are asked to deal with his certificate. I have already

stated that I consider that under the 432nd and 433rd sections of the Act of

1854 we are entitled to inquire into the facts of this case, and to report upon

them; but can we go on and cancel or suspend the master's certificate? Now there

is a section of that same Act to which no reference was made either by Mr.

Tyndall or by Mr. Carr, but of which the Court is bound to take cognizance, for

it is under that section, if under any, that it has power to deal with this

person's certificate. I refer to the 242nd section of the Act of 1854,

sub-section 2 of which alone applies to this case. The words are as follows: "If

upon any investigation con- " ducted under the provisions contained in the

eighth part " of this Act it is reported that the loss or abandonment " or

serious damage to any ship, or loss of life has been " caused by his wrongful

act or default, then the Court " may cancel or suspend his certificate." in this

case the " master has been guilty of gross acts of negligence, but none of those

acts have contributed, so far as we can see, either directly or indirectly, to

this casualty, and under the circumstances it appears to me that we have no

power whatever to deal with this man's certificate, much as we regret it, and

unfit as we believe him to be to hold the position and to discharge the duties

of a master.

       (Signed)H. C. ROTHERY,

        Wreck Commissioner.

We concur.

       (Signed)HENRY KNOX,

        Commander, R.N.,Assessors.

       "J. P. WILSON,

I 101. 146. 70.—1/79. Wt. B 612. E. & S.


Advanced Search
Southampton City Council New Opportunities Fund Lloyd's Register London Metropolitan Archives National Maritime Museum World Ship Society  
Legal & Copyright * Partner sites: Bristol * Hartlepool * Liverpool * London * Southampton * Text only * About this site * Feedback