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Wreck Report for 'Corisco', 1885

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Unique ID:14917
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Corisco', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2669.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 11th and 12th days of September 1885, before THOMAS STAMFORD RAFFLES, Esquire, Stipendiary Magistrate, assisted by Captains ANDERSON and HARLAND, Nautical Assessors, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "CORISCO" off the coast of Liberia, west coast of Africa, on the 23rd July 1885.

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 said steamship stranded upon a rock apparently not marked in the latest Admiralty charts, owing to an unusual current setting in to E.S.E. Neither master nor officers were to blame.

Dated this 12th day of September 1885.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in the above report.






Annex to Report.

This was an inquiry into the stranding of the steamship "Corisco" off the coast of Liberia on the 23rd day of July last. Mr. Paxton appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. Lightbound for the master, and Mr. Bateson for the owners. The "Corisco" was a screw steamer, built of iron in 1876 at Govan, near Glasgow, of 1855'97 tons gross and 1181.82 tons registered at Glasgow and of 280 horses-power combined. She was the property of the British and African Steam Navigation Company, Limited, and Mr. Charles Gibson, of Glasgow, was appointed manager. She was commanded by Mr. Edward Porter, who holds a certificate of competency No. 91,625, dated 23rd December 1869, who had been her master for 2 1/2 years and a master in the same service for 8 years, and employed in the African trade. The vessel left Liverpool in good order and condition on her usual voyage on the 8th July last with a crew of 38 hands all told, 21 passengers, among whom was King Oko Jumbo, returning to his own country, and a general cargo of 1,400 tons, drawing 21 feet 6 inches aft, and 19 feet 6 inches forward. She arrived off Sierra Leone on the 21st, but did not enter the port, and left again on the same day at 4.45 p.m. When well clear of the harbour the master set a course S.W. by W. magnetic, setting the patent log at the same time. They kept this course till 10.20 p.m., when they had run 48 miles. The course was then altered to S. by W. 1/2 W. magnetic, till 11.30 p.m., when they had run 58 miles. it was then altered to S. 36 E. by steering compass, being S. 39 E. magnetic. This had been the master's usual course, not going within 10 fathoms soundings. The vessel was making 8 3/4 to 9 knots. The hand lead was kept going every quarter of an hour till daylight. The weather being overcast they got no observation at noon on the 22nd, but their position by account was latitude 6.46 N. and longitude 12.10 W., and at 9.20 p.m. their dead reckoning placed them in latitude 6.2 N. and longitude 11 W., as calculated by master and chief officer independently. According to this latter position, the master said that Cape Mesurado bore N.E., distant 20 miles. At this time the master altered the course to S. 32 E. by steering compass, being S. 35° magnetic, and the log shewed 84 miles. The master turned in at 11 p.m., leaving the third officer on watch, the night being fine though dark, and the wind light and variable. At 4 a.m. the master turned out, but while he was dressing the vessel struck. He went on the bridge at once, and found the chief officer in charge, who, as well as the second and third officers, had a master's certificate. He had already stopped the engines and put the helm hard a port. The vessel again struck heavily amidships immediately after the master got on deck. He ordered soundings to be taken all round, and found 2 1/2 fathoms on the port side, 3 1/2 fathoms on the starboard side, 13 fathoms over the bows, and 14 fathoms over the stern. They sounded the well and found that there were 2 feet 6 inches in the fore hold and 4 feet 6 inches in the main hold. The boats were quickly got out and the passengers put into them, and they lay alongside. The master, chief officer, third officer, and chief engineor remained till 4.30 a.m., when the vessel slipped off the rock and fell over to port, and began to settle down fast, when they also left her, having saved 20 bags of mails. The vessel went down by the head about 6.30 a.m. leaving her masts visible. The shipwrecked passengers and crew pulled ashore, and landed in safety, being hospitably received at the Dutch factory.

On the conclusion of the evidence Mr. Paxton asked the following questions:-

1. Were the courses set and steered on leaving Sierra Leone safe and proper courses, and were the alterations made in such courses safe and proper?

2. Was due and proper allowance made for currents?

3. Having regard to the state of the weather, was the vessel navigated at too great a rate of speed?

4. Was the lead used with sufficient frequency and care?

5. Was a good and proper look-out kept?

6. What was the cause of the stranding of the vessel?

7. Did the vessel strike upon a rock not marked upon the Admiralty charts, and if so, the Court are requested to indicate as far as possible from the evidence before them the exact position thereof?

8. Were the master and 1st and 2nd officers, or either of them, in default in regard to any of the above matters?

And Mr. Lightbound for the master addressed the Court.

The Court gave judgment as follows:-

1. The courses set and steered after leaving Sierra Leone and the alterations made therein were safe and proper, but were not made good.

2. The normal current appears to set down the African coast at the rate of about one knot per hour, and the master made due allowance for such current. It appeared from the evidence of Captain Thompson, who was called by the master's advocate, and who had had a very large experience of the navigation on this coast and had been along it the week previous to this casualty, that an unusual current then prevailed setting to E.S.E., and the Court were of opinion that at that season of the year during the height of the S.W. monsoons a current of this description might be looked for.

3. The vessel was not navigated at too great a rate of speed.

4. The lead was used with sufficient frequency, but as they had not been able to get an observation at noon on the 22nd and no land was seen it would have been desirable had the master stopped his vessel and taken a cast of the deep sea lead occasionally during the night of the 22nd.

5. A good and proper look-out seemed to have been kept.

6. The unusual current setting to E.S.E. in the opinion of the Court was the cause of the stranding of this vessel.

7. There would certainly appear from the evidence in this case as to the soundings round the vessel after she struck to be some ground for thinking that she did strike upon a rock not marked in the last Admiralty Chart. There does not seem to have been any survey later than 1838. If such a rock does exist it would seem to be outside and in the vicinity of Spence Rock.

8. Neither master nor officers were in default.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in this report.






Liverpool, 12th September 1885.

L 367. 2446. 180.-9/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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