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Wreck Report for 'Ayrshire', 1885

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Unique ID:[14875
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Ayrshire', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2542.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of the formal Investigation held at Glasgow, on the 29th and 30th days of April 1885, before ALEXANDER ERSKINE MURRAY, Esquire, Advocate, Sheriff-Substitute of Lanarkshire, assisted by Vice-Admiral POWELL, C.B., Captain GEORGE HYDE and Captain J. L. PATTISON, as Assessors, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "AYRSHIRE," of Ardrossan, whilst on a voyage from Bilbao to Glasgow in April 1885.

Report of Court.

The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances of the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons annexed, that the S.S. "Ayrshire" was stranded at Ballyquinton Point after 11 p.m. on the 5th April 1885, whereby there was loss of life, and that the casualty occurred through the default of the master, John Orwin; and in the circumstances they adjudge that his certificate be suspended for the period of three calendar months from the date hereof; and on the application of the master, the Court recommend that he be allowed a first mate's certificate while his master's certificate is suspended.

The Court is not asked to make any order as to costs.

Dated the 30th April 1885.







Annex to the Report.

The "Ayrshire" was an iron screw ship, built in Dundee in 1882, and registered at the Port of Ardrossan, official number 86,06l. Her registered tonnage was 486 8/100, and she had two compound engines of 95 horse power combined. She was schooner-rigged, and carried three boats, all of which were in good condition and ready for use. She was well found in every respect.

The "Ayrshire" left Bilbao on the 30th March last with a crew of fifteen hands all told, five of whom were able seamen. She had a cargo of 920 tons of iron-ore, and was bound for Glasgow; her draft of water was 13 feet forward and 14 feet aft. During the voyage she encountered severe weather, and was obliged to put into Milford Haven for coals. On the 4th April, at 11.30 p.m., she left that port, and at 3 a.m. on the 5th April the South Bishop Light was abeam, distance about three miles. The master set the course N.E. by N. 1/4 N. magnetic; the wind at that time was from the S.E., and the ship going 7 1/2 knots full speed, all sail being set. At noon the master and chief officer took observations for latitude, which with the longitude by dead reckoning placed the ship in lat. 52° 57' N. and longitude 5° 18' W. The same course was continued, and the patent log was hauled in, and distance noted, every four hours. About 9 p.m. the weather became dark, with rain at times, and the mainsail and jib were taken in. About this time the master expected to see the Chickens Light, but not doing so, he continued on the same course, hoping to see the light on the South Rock. About 11 p.m. the look-out man was sent below to call all hands on deck to shorten sail, and round the ship to, for the purpose, as stated by the master, of dodging her off till daylight. No cast of the lead had been taken, and the master stated that he had no intention of taking one, as he was confident of his position. While in the act of shortening sail the ship struck on the rocks off Ballyquinton Point, on the coast of Ireland, the engines still going full-speed. The master, seeing no hope of saving the vessel, gave orders to clear away the boats; but, owing to the sea breaking over her, they were stove in and washed away. At this time the crew had to take to the rigging and the upper bridge. A boy, named John Steel, had been assisted up the fore-rigging by some of the crew, and was last seen clinging to the ratlings. At daylight this boy was missing, but none of the crew seem to know at what time he disappeared. His body was, however, found washed on shore. Shortly after daylight a boat came from Lough Strangford and took the rest of the crew off the wreck.

At the conclusion of the evidence the following questions were submitted to the Court by Mr. Fyfe, on behalf of the Board of Trade, and Mr. Kirkhope having addressed the Court for his clients, and Mr. Fyfe having replied, the Court proceeded to give judgment.

The Questions were—

1. What was the cost of the vessel to her owners; and what, in the opinion of the Court, was her value at the time she left Bilbao on her last voyage?

2. What were the insurances effected, and how were they apportioned?

3. Whether, when the vessel left Bilbao on her last voyage, on 31st March 1885, she was in good and seaworthy condition? and in particular

(a.) Whether she carried proper and sufficient boats, and were they ready for use?

(b.) Whether she was provided with proper and sufficient charts for the voyage?

(c.) Whether she was provided with proper and sufficient compasses, and with proper appliances to ascertain their deviation?

4. Whether, when she left Bilbao, the compasses were in proper condition, and whether proper measures were taken to adjust them and ascertain their deviation?

5. Whether the vessel was properly and sufficiently manned, and whether the watches on deck were sufficient to enable the deep sea lead to be passed along and watched at any time without calling up the watch below?

6. Whether, after leaving Milford Haven, safe and proper courses were set and steered, and whether due and proper allowance was made for leeway, tide, and currents?

7. Whether, after leaving Milford Haven, the distance run was correctly estimated, and whether proper measures were taken from time to time to ascertain and verify the vessel's position, especially at and after 3 a.m. of 5th April 1885?

8. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept?

9. Whether at and after 10 p.m. of 5th April the weather became thick, and if so, whether the speed of the vessel was promptly and sufficiently reduced?

10. Whether the total neglect of the use of the lead was justifiable?

11. Whether the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care?

12. What was the cause of the casualty?

13. What was the cause of the loss of life, and was every effort made to save life?

14. Whether the master and officers are, or any of them is, in default?

The answers are:

1 and 2. That, so far as appears from the evidence, the vessel, when built in 1882, cost 15,000l.; that after being stranded on the French coast, near Rochefort, in 1883, she was repaired at a cost of 16,000l.; and that she was insured on 20th February 1885, on a time policy, for 12,000l. on the hull and machinery, and 500l. in freight and stores. The 12,000l. was considered by her owners to be her value, allowing for the depreciation in shipping; and so far, as the Court can judge, the estimate is fair.

3. In so far as regards any circumstances that might affect the stranding of the vessel, the Court answer this question as a whole and in its parts in the affirmative.

4. The compasses were adjusted in the Gareloch on 10th March 1885, not long before the voyage in question, and so far, as appears from the evidence, they were in proper condition when the vessel left Bilbao, and proper measures were taken thereafter by the captain to ascertain their deviation.

5. The vessel had three able seamen in one watch, and only two in the other; and the Court are decidedly of opinion that she should have had at least three able seamen in each watch. According even to the captain's statement the watches as described were not sufficient to enable the deep sea lead to be passed along and watched at any time, without calling up the watch below.

6. The Court are of opinion that up to about 9 p.m. on the 5th April, when the vessel was assumed by the captain to be off the Chickens Light, the course said to have been set and steered was a safe and proper course; but that when he did not see the Chickens Light, measures should have been taken by him to ascertain the ship's true position. Proper allowance appears to have been made for tide, but not for leeway.

7. The captain stated in his evidence that he was unable to procure a sight for longitude, but that at noon on the 5th April he obtained his latitude by observation; with that latitude and the distance run by patent log from the Bishop Rock, he had taken all the measures he could up to noon of the 5th. From time to time thereafter the distance run by patent log was taken, but this was the only measure taken to verify the position of the vessel.

8. The Court are of opinion that a good and proper look-out was generally kept, but that shortly before the vessel stranded, the look-out man was sent below to call all hands to shorten sail, at a most critical moment, for immediately thereafter the vessel stranded at Ballyquinton Point.

9. The weather appears to have been dark, with showers, but not thick; and the speed of the vessel was never reduced.

10. The total neglect of the use of the lead was quite unjustifiable.

11. Not entirely for the reasons assigned in the answers to the other questions.

12. The apparent causes of the casualty were the "Ayrshire's" drifting to leeward to an extent which the captain had not allowed for, and his neglect to take measures after passing the neighbourhood of the Chickens Light, without seeing it, to ascertain the vessel's true position by means of the deep sea lead.

13. The cause of the loss of the boy's life was his being washed overboard after the stranding of the vessel, and no further effort than was made appears to have been possible in the circumstances.

14. The Court consider the master alone in default.







L 367. 2317. 180.—5/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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