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Wreck Report for 'Cobden', 1885

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Unique ID:14909
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Cobden', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2463.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Public Board Room, Post Office Chambers, Middlesbrough, on the 17th, 18th, and 19th days of February 1885, before CHARLES JAMES COLEMAN, Esq., Judge, assisted by Captains BEASLEY and MURDOCH, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "COBDEN," of Middlesbrough, in Robin Hood's Bay, on or about the 23rd day of January last.

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 was caused in all probability by the stowage of 200 casks of paraffin oil, bound with iron hoops, between the forecastle and the bridge, where the steering compass was situated.

Dated this 19th day of February 1885.




We concur in the above report.






Annex to the Report.

The "Cobden," official number, 53,015, is an iron screw steamer, built at South Stockton, in. the county of York, in the year 1866.

She was originally built with a short poop and forecastle, and a deck-house amidships, but in 1871 she was lengthened amidships 30 feet, when the poop was brought out to the deck-house, the forecastle was lengthened, and she was made into a well decked vessel, and fitted with compound engines, after which she was registered at Middlesbrough of 790.90 ?? 997 gross and 617.61 registered tonnage.

She was fitted with two engines of 110 horse power nominal, and was rigged as a schooner. She was the property of Messrs. Joseph Whitwell Pease, Joseph Richardson, and Joseph Cradock, who appointed Mr. James Taylor, of Middlesbrough, manager, on the 27th October 1881. She had three boats, one of which was a lifeboat. She had two compasses, one on the bridge before the wheel and one on the quarter deck. She was last swung for adjustment of compasses in May 1883, and deviation cards were produced by the master, which showed that on the bridge compass, by which all the courses were set, there was no local deviation on the courses from N. to N.W.

She left Free Trade Wharf, Ratcliff, London, on 22nd January of the present year, under the command of Mr. John Battrum, who holds certificate of competency, 87,365, and a crew of twenty hands all told, and three deck passengers, bound for Middlesbrough with a general cargo of 396 tons. Part of the cargo was 200 casks of paraffin oil, which were stowed on the deck on their ends between the forecastle and the poop, the casks reaching to the fore part of the poop under the bridge from which she was steered and on which the steering compass was placed.

The weather at the time of her leaving was hazy, with a light breeze from the southward and eastward, and the tide about high water. The same sort of weather continued till the 23rd, on the morning of which day, at 3.45 o'clock, they made Flamborough Head, bearing N.N.W., the course at the time being N. by W. 1/4 W., and the weather hazy, the vessel going nine knots.

She was hauled out to N., and at 4 a.m. when they had brought the light to bear W. by S. they set the course N. by W. 1/4 W., which was continued till 6.45 a.m. when the look-out man reported "breakers ahead." The master ordered the helm to be ported and the engines stopped, and shortly after he reversed full speed, but while in the act of coming round she struck the ground heavily, and remained fast on what afterwards proved to be the north cheek of Robin Hood's Bay. Finding she would not come off they got a kedge out with fifty fathoms of steel hawser with the help of a coble which. came alongside. They jettisoned the paraffin oil which was stowed on deck, and commenced to get the cargo out of the hold ready to throw over, and one of the ship's boats was sent ashore to telegraph for assistance, and Mr. Taylor himself came down with some men at once, and after being on shore some 14 hours she was got off by her own engines and the assistance of two tugs, and taken safely to Middlesbro' where she now is, and is undergoing repairs. Mr. Taylor told us that the boilers are 14 years old, but that they are in very good order, and he was surprised when they were lifted after the vessel was put into dock to find them in so good a state.

The master told us that he judged his distance off Flamborough Head, while passing there to be over three miles, but on taking the two bearings he gave us, N.N.W. and W. by S., with the time elapsed during the alteration of bearings, quarter of an hour, and the vessel going nine knots, we find she must have passed considerably closer inshore than that.

It appeared that the lead had not been used by the master to verify his position when off Flamborough Head; in fact it was not used during the voyage.

The Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court on the following questions:-

1. What was the cause of the stranding of the British steamship "Cobden" in Robin Hood's Bay on the 23rd day of January 1885?

2. Whether the vessel and equipments, and especially the boilers were in good condition when she left London on the 22nd January 1885?

3. What number of compasses had the vessel on board, and where were they placed?

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

5. Whether the errors of the compasses were correctly ascertained, and the proper corrections to the courses applied?

6. Whether the vessel was in good trim when she left London on the 22nd of January 1885?

7. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel when the Flamborough Lights were sighted, and afterwards on the 23rd January 1885?

8. Whether a safe and proper course was then and thereafter steered, and due and proper allowance made for tide and current?

9. Whether a safe and proper alteration was made in the course when the vessel was abreast Flamborough Head, and whether safe and proper alterations were thereafter made, and at all times due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?

10. Whether the master consulted the log as frequently as necessary?

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

12. Whether, having regard to the hazy state of the weather, the master was justified in neglecting to reduce the speed of the vessel?

13. Whether the master was justified in totally neglecting to use the lead, especially when he believed that fog would affect the compasses?

14. What were the number of deck hands and were they sufficient for the purpose?

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

16. What was the cost of the vessel to her owners?

17. What was her value when she last left London?

18. Whether the vessel sustained material damage by reason of the stranding?

19. What were the insurances effected and how were they apportioned?

In the opinion of the Board of Trade the certificate of the master should be dealt with.

To which the Court replies as follows:-

1. We think it very probable that the compasses were affected, owing to the casks with iron hoops on them being stowed between the forecastle and the bridge on which the steering compass was placed.

2. The vessel and equipments and boilers were in good order when she left London.

3. Two compasses; one on the bridge and one aft on the quarter-deck.

4 and 5. The compasses were correct on the courses set.

6. Her trim when she left London was 14 ft. 7 ins. aft and 9 ft. 6 ins. forward.

7, 8, and 9. No proper measures appear to have been taken to ascertain the distance off Flamborough Head. Had a cast of the lead or a four point bearing been taken she would have been found to have been much closer to the land.

10. The evidence shows that the master consulted the log but once, and that was off Flamborough Head.

11. Yes.

12. If the weather was as hazy as reported, then the vessel ought not to have been driven at full speed.

13. He was not justified in not using the lead.

14. There were sufficient hands for the navigation of the ship.

15. Sufficient caution was not exercised in the navigation of the vessel.

16. She cost 20,000l. when first built.

17. According to the evidence of Mr. Taylor, she was for all working purposes worth what she cost to her owners.

18. Yes.

19. The ship was insured at Lloyd's for 13,000l., at a premium of eight guineas on a yearly policy. The freight and outfit were insured for 300l.

The Court cannot acquit the master of all blame. The not using of the lead was in our opinion unjustifiable. But taking into consideration the captain's long service with his present employers, and the high character he appears to bear as a careful seaman, the Court is not disposed to deal with his certificate.

The Court makes no order as to costs.

Dated this Nineteenth day of February 1885.




We concur in the above report.






L 367. 2238. 170.-2/85. Wt. 36. E. & S.


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