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Wreck Report for 'Carmarthenshire', 1885

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Unique ID:14897
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Carmarthenshire', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Date:1885
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown

Transcription

(No. 2462.)

"CARMARTHENSHIRE."

The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of the formal Investigation held at the Sessions House, Westminster, on the 17th of February 1885, before H. C. ROTHERY, Esquire, Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Captain CASTLE and Captain HARLAND, as Assessors, into the circumstances attending the stranding and loss of the sailing ship "CARMARTHENSHIRE," on Terschelling Island on the 9th of January 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 stranding and loss of the said ship was due to the wrongful acts and defaults of Evan Owens, the master. The Court accordingly suspends his certificate for three months, but recommends that during the period of such suspension he be allowed a first mate's certificate.

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

Dated this 17th day of February 1885.

 

(Signed)

H. C. ROTHERY,

Wreck Commissioner.

We concur in the above report.

 

(Signed)

JOHN S. CASTLE,

ROBERT HARLAND,

Assessors.

Annex to the Report.

This case was heard at Westminster on the 17th of February 1885, when Mr. Howard Smith appeared for the Board of Trade, Dr. Raikes for the owners, and Mr. Hilbery for the master of the "Carmarthenshire." Four witnesses having been produced by the Board of Trade, and examined, Mr. Howard Smith handed in a statement of the questions upon which the Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court. A witness was then produced on behalf of the master, and Mr. Hilbery and Dr. Raikes having addressed the Court on behalf of their respective parties, and Mr. Howard Smith having been heard in reply, the Court proceeded to give judgment on the questions on which its opinion had been asked. The circumstances of the case are as follow:-

The "Carmarthenshire," which was a wooden sailing ship, belonging to the port of London, of 811 tons gross and register, was built at Pembroke Dock in the year 1865, and at the time of her loss was the property of Mr. David James Jenkins, of No. 17, Lime Street, in the city of London, who was likewise the managing owner. She left Bankok, in Siam, on the 27th of June last, with a crew of 19 hands all told and a cargo of 1,068 tons of rice, bound to Queenstown for orders. She arrived at Queenstown on the 31st of December following, and having there received orders to proceed to Bremerhaven, left again on the 5th of January with the same number of hands but with some changes in the crew, a certificated officer named Harrison having been taken in the place of the first mate, who had been left ill at Queenstown. At 9.30 p.m. of the 8th the Galloper Lightship bore W. by N. 1/2 N., distant about 6 miles, upon which the vessel was put upon a N.E. 1/2 E. course, to make Terschelling Lightship, which the master intended to pass at the distance of some 5 or 6 miles. At this time it was blowing a strong breeze from the S.W., and the vessel was under square sails and two jibs, but with the mainsail and fore and aft sails stowed, and was making about 7 1/2 knots an hour. On the following day the weather was cloudy and overcast, so that they were unable to obtain an observation; but having been obliged several times to alter the vessel's course to the eastward to avoid fishing vessels, the master put her at noon on a N. by E. 3/4 E. course till 4 p.m., when it was again altered to N.E. 1/2 E., and at 7 p.m. to N.E. by E. 1/2 E. It had been hazy during the day, and it was now very dark and misty, but the vessel continued her course N.E. by E. 1/2 E., still under all square sails except the fore topgallant sail, and with the mainsail hauled up, and making 7 1/2 knots an hour. At 7.45 p.m. a light was observed about 3 points on the port bow, which they took for the light of a fishing smack, and at 8 p.m. the master, believing that he was then past the Terschelling Lightship, altered the course to E. 1/2 N. to make the Borkum Lightvessel. Casts of the lead, we were told, were taken at 4, 6, 8, and 8.30 p.m., which gave, it is said, respectively 17, 16, 16, and 15 fathoms. Suddenly, between 9 and half-past, and whilst still on an E. 1/2 N. course, the vessel struck the ground; and finding that all their efforts to get her off were unavailing, orders were given to get the boats ready for lowering; and on sounding the well it was found that there were 2 feet of water in the well, which increased by 10 p.m. to 6 feet. Blue lights, rockets, and flare - ups were accordingly burnt, and the starboard anchor was let go to prevent her driving further up, but at midnight the chain parted, and they then dropped the port anchor. At daylight, finding that the ship was fast breaking up, the boats were lowered, and at about 9 a.m. they left her; but there was too much sea on the shore for them to land, and they therefore kept out to sea until 3 p.m,, when they were picked up by an Ostend fishing boat and taken to Ostend. The place where they had struck was on the outer edge of Terschelling Bank, the lightship bearing about N.W., distant between six and seven miles. No portion of either thevessel or cargo wassaved.

These being the facts of the case, the first question upon which our opinion is asked is, "Whether proper " measures were taken to ascertain and verify the " position of the vessel at 9.30 p.m. of the 8th of " January, and from time to time thereafter?" No doubt the vessel's position was accurately determined at 9.30 p.m. of the 8th of January, when she took her departure from the Galloper Lightship; but after that we do not see that any measures at all were taken to ascertain and verify her position. Owing to the hazy state of the atmosphere no observation could be obtained at noon of the 9th, and although four casts of the lead would seem to have been taken, they certainly did not assist to verify the vessel's position.

The second question which we are asked is, "Whether " safe and proper courses were steered thereafter?" The courses which the master says he steered would no doubt, if they had been made good, have taken him clear of the coast; but it is certain either that those courses were not steered, or at least that they were not made good, for he has shown us by laying his courses down on the chart, that they would have placed him at about 9 p.m. of the 9th some 35 miles north of Terschelling Lightship, whereas we know he was then ashore to the S.E. of the Lightship.

The third question which we are asked is, "Whether " the weather was thick? and, if so, whether the speed " of the vessel was sufficiently reduced?" That the weather was thick is not denied by the master; indeed, his counsel, Mr. Hilbery, has contended that it was so thick, that it was not possible to see the lights, and that it is to this that the casualty was due. But, if so, had the master any right to be going at the speed at which he was. The master told us that, the wind being nearly aft, he had all his square sails set, except the mainsail and the fore topgallant sail, and was making about 7 1/2 knots. He told us that he knew the speed of the vessel by heaving the log every two hours; but, if so, he must have known that if he had made the course which he intended to make, namely, to pass about 6 miles to the north of Terschelling Lightship, he would by that time have run his distance, and he had no right to continue his course until after he had made out the light, and thus ascertained his true position, the more so as it was so dark that it was not possible to see the lights. He should have lain to until daylight, or until he had ascertained where he was.

The fourth question which we are asked is, " Whether the master was justified in mistaking the " Terschelling Light for the light of a fishing smack?" It seems that, when they first saw the light, they had some doubt as to what it was, for the master, as well as the second officer, went up into the mizen-top to try to make it out, but failed to do so. Under these circumstances, what they should have done, was to go nearer to it, and they would then have seen that it was the Terschelling Lightship, and could then have shaped a safe course for the Borkum. They were not justified in mistaking it for the light of a fishing smack, and in continuing their course as they did.

The fifth question which we are asked is, "Whether " a safe and proper alteration was made in the course " at or about 8 p.m. on the 9th of January?" The alteration that was then made was from N.E. by E. 1/2 E. to E. 1/2 N., being two points more to the east. It was made under the impression that they were to the north of Terschelling Lightship, but, being as they were to the south of it, it was neither a safe nor a proper alteration to make.

The sixth question which we are asked is, "Whether " the lead was used with sufficient frequency?" We were told that the lead was used at 4, 6, 8, and 8.30 p.m., and that they then got 17, 16, 16, and 15 fathoms respectively. It is difficult to understand how they could have got 16 and 15 fathoms at 8, and at 8.30, seeing that on the course which they were steering during that time, namely E. 1/2 N., they could hardly have got more than 10 fathoms. Either then those soundings were taken with extreme carelessness, or the vessel was not brought to preparatory to taking them, for in no other way can we account for their getting 16 and 15 fathoms. If the soundings had then been taken carefully, it would have shown them that they were in 10 fathoms of water, and were running on the coast.

The seventh question which we are asked is, "Whether a good and proper look out was kept?" We have no reason to think that a good and proper look out was not being kept; the whole of the watch was on deck, and there was a look out man stationed forward, and the fact that they did not see the lights of the floating ship, as well as those on shore, only shews how foggy the night must have been.

The eighth question which we are asked is, "Whether " the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike " care?" The master told us that he intended to pass some five or six miles to the northward of the Terschelling Lightship, and knowing that he must have run his distance, he had no right, not seeing the light, and with the weather so hazy as it was, to continue his course; he should have shortened sail, and lain to until daylight, or until he had made out his true position. In our opinion the vessel was navigated in a very improper and unseamanlike manner.

The ninth question which we are asked is, "What " was the cause of the stranding of the vessel?" The cause of the stranding of the vessel was, that the master altered from N.E. by E. 1/3 E. to E. 1/2 N., being two points more to the eastward, under the impression that he had got to the north of Terschelling Lightship, whereas in fact he was to the southward of it, which necessarily put the vessel ashore.

The tenth question which we are asked is, "Having " regard to the above questions, was the loss of the " vessel caused by any wrongful act or default on the " part of Evan Owens, her master? "It was contended by Mr. Hilbery that the casualty was caused, not by any default or neglect on the part of the master, but that it was owing to the fog; he said that if there had been no fog, the lights on the coast would have been visible, and the master would on seeing them have altered his course, and there would have been no casualty; the blame therefore was, he said, not with the master, but with the fog. No doubt the casualty was to a certain extent due to the fog; but the question is, whether the master was justified in continuing his course, with the wind nearly dead aft, and with nearly all his square sails set, making about 7 1/2 knots an hour, and with the weather so foggy that he could not see the lights, and when he knew that the flood tide would, if he were near the coast, be setting him directly upon it, he being also at the time in entire ignorance of his true position. Captain Hawkesley, the owner's superintendent, who came forward to speak in the master's favour, has admitted that he was not, and in that opinion we entirely concur. But Dr. Raikes has strongly urged us to say that, admitting there may have been error of judgment more or less on the master's part, it yet did not amount to negligence; for he said that in the event of its being found that it was due to negligence on the master's part, it might seriously affect the interests of his parties, the owners; as, in that case, they would be open to an action by the owners of the cargo, and being wholly uninsured themselves they would be very heavy losers. I fear, however, that this is not a matter with which we can deal; all that we have to do is to say whether the casualty was or was not due to the negligence of the master, and in our opinion it was.

Under these circumstances it only remains for us to consider whether we shall accede to the application of the Board of Trade that the certificate of the master should be dealt with. Here is a valuable ship, laden with a very valuable cargo, which has been thrown away by the negligence of this master; and for which the master can make no compensation whatever to the owner, who we are told is entirely uninsured. The master has been in command of this vessel for more than five years, during which we are told that he has not met with any accident; and he has produced certificates of good conduct from former owners. Under these circumstances we are disposed to take a more lenient view of the case than we should otherwise have done, and shall suspend his certificate for only three months. The Court, however, at the application of his counsel, agreed to recommend that during the suspension of his master's certificate he be allowed a first mate's.

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

 

(Signed)

H. C. ROTHERY,

Wreck Commissioner.

We concur.

 

(Signed)

JOHN S. CASTLE,

ROBERT HARLAND,

Assessors.

L 367. 2237. 170.-2/85. Wt. 36. E. & S.

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