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Wreck Report for 'Cartagena', 1885

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Unique ID:14898
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Cartagena', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2431.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Mayor's Court, Cardiff, on the 15th day of January 1885, before ROBERT OLIVER JONES, Esquire, Stipendiary Magistrate, assisted by Captain HYDE and Captain DAVIES, Nautical Assessors, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the steamship "CARTAGENA," of London, near Cape Finisterre, on the 24th day of August 1884.

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 the stranding of the said ship was caused by negligent navigation on the part of the master, William Holden.

The Court finds the said master in default, and suspends his certificate for three calendar months.

No order is made as to costs.

Dated this 15th day of January 1885.



R. O. JONES, Judge.

We concur in the above report.






Annex to the Report.

The "Cartagena" is an iron steam screw ship built at Sunderland in the year 1879, of 2,332 gross, and 1,532 registered tonnage, and fitted with two compound surface-condensing engines of 250 horse-power combined. She is registered at the port of London, and is the property of Mr. William McMurray, of London, her official number being 81,574. The "Cartagena" left Cardiff on a voyage to Genoa at 6 p.m. on the 21st August last, with a cargo of 2,550 tons of coal, her draught of water being 22ft. 4in. aft, and 22ft. 2 in. forward. Her crew consisted of 27 all told, and she was under the command of Mr. William Holden, who held a certificate of competency as master No. 29,114. She appears to have been in good condition and well found in every respect. She was provided with three compasses, viz., a standard compass placed on the bridge, and by which the ship was steered, and two others aft, one on each side of the wheel. The master stated that he was in the habit of correcting the compasses by observation whenever practicable, and had ascertained that on a S.W. course there was an easterly deviation of about 9 degrees, for which during the voyage he made due allowance. The weather on leaving Cardiff was fine, with a light wind and smooth sea. Between 10 and 11 a.m. on the 22nd the Wolf Rock was abeam, and distant between one and two miles. From that point a course was shaped S.W. by S. magnetic, and at the same time the patent log was set. The same course was continued until 12.30 p.m. on the following day. At noon on that day, the 23rd, the ship was found by observation to be in latitude 46.30 N., and longitude 7.46. W. At 12.30 the course was altered half a point, giving a course of S.W. by S. 1/2 S., which if made should have taken her some five miles to the westward of Cape Finisterre. At 9.30 a.m. on the 24th the patent log showed that the distance run from the position where the last observation was made was 191 miles. At this time a fog was observed ahead, the atmosphere all around remaining quite clear. The course was thereupon altered half a point to the westward. The vessel had been kept at full speed, and no reduction was made in consequence of the fog. As the ship entered the fog the patent log was again examined, and the distance run from the last departure by observation was found to be 207 miles. At that moment a steam whistle was heard on the port bow, and seemed to proceed from a vessel approaching them, and inside of the "Cartagena." The master accepted this as satisfactory evidence that he was well to the westward of his position, and clear of the land. He therefore made no alteration in his course or reduction in the speed of his vessel. He felt so secure that he did not think it necessary to use the lead, although the land (which if the weather had been clear he would have seen) was completely hidden by the fog. So he continued on his course until 10.30 a.m., when, being on the bridge, he saw the land, or rather rocks, four or five hundred yards distant on the port bow; but there were, he says, no breakers or rough water. He at once ordered the engines to go full speed astern, and the helm to be put hard-a-port. Just as she was losing her way the ship struck on a rock forward, stopping there a few minutes and then falling alongside with her head to the westward. Preparations were begun to heave cargo overboard, and a kedge was carried out astern. Soundings were taken showing deep water outside, and with the exception of the fore peak, which was full to the level of the sea outside, no water was found in any part of the ship. After remaining on the rock for about an hour, she was, by the combined action of the engines and the kedge, got off and proceeded on her voyage at full speed. The master is of opinion that she could have gone on with safety to her destination, but on the 25th upon the demand of the crew, who threatened to do no more duty if their wishes were not complied with, she was taken to Lisbon. There a diver was employed who reported a hole in the fore peak. On being taken to Genoa and docked the fore part of the vessel was found to have been torn off for a height of seven feet up the stem and to the extent of 18 or 20 feet along the keel. She remained in dock at Genoa for 35 days under repair. The total cost in which her owner was involved by the casualty is estimated by Captain Holden to be nearly 5,000l.

At the close of the inquiry a gentleman who represented the owner stated that Captain Holden had been in command of vessels belonging to Mr. McMurray for upwards of eight years, and was regarded as a capable and careful master.

The Solicitor for the Board of Trade submitted the following questions and stated that in the opinion of the Board the certificate of the master should be dealt with:-

1. What was the cause of the stranding of the vessel and whether she was materially damaged through such stranding.

2. What number of compasses had the vessel on board and where were they placed.

3. Did the master ascertain their deviation by observation from time to time.

4. Whether the errors in the compasses were correctly ascertained and the proper correction to the course applied.

5. Whether a safe and proper course was set and steered from the Wolf Rock, whether due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents, and whether proper measures were then and thereafter taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel.

6. Whether safe and proper alterations were made in the course at and after noon of the 23rd August and whether due and proper allowance was made for tides and currents.

7. Whether having regard to the foggy state of the weather on the morning of the 24th August the Master was justified in neglecting to reduce the speed of the vessel.

8. Whether the total neglect of the lead was justifiable.

9. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept.

10. What was the name of the rock upon which the vessel struck.

11. Whether the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care. And finally,

Whether the master and officers are, or either of them is, in default.

The following answers were made by the Court to the foregoing questions:-

1. The stranding of the vessel, which was thereby materially damaged, was caused by negligent navigation on the part of the master.

2. There were three compasses-one standard, by which the vessel was steered, on the bridge, and two compasses aft, one on each side of the wheel.

3 and 4. The deviation of, and errors in, the compasses were from time to time ascertained by the master, and the proper correction to the courses applied.

5. The course set would, in perfectly clear weather, have been a safe and proper one, but under the circumstances it was not so. No allowance was made for tides and currents, and no measures were taken after the fog set in to ascertain and verify the position of the ship.

6. The same reply is applicable to this question as was made as to the last.

7. He was not justified in neglecting to reduce the speed of the vessel when the fog set.

8. No.

9. No evidence was given the Board of Trade upon this point.

10. The master was unable to say where the ship struck.

11. She was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care.

12. The master, and the master alone, is in default.






L 367. 2206. 170.-1/85. Wt. 36. E. & S.


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