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Wreck Report for 'Donegal', 1885

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Unique ID:14932
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Donegal', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Date:1885
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown

Transcription

(No. 2664.)

"DONEGAL" (S.S.)

The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Town Hall, Barrow in Furness, on the 1st and 2nd days of September 1885, before WILLIAM PARK and AUGUSTUS HORACE STRONGITHARM, Esquires, assisted by Captain WILSON and Captain COMYN, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the steam paddle ship "DONEGAL."

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 vessel "Donegal" was caused through an error of judgment on the part of the master in his estimating the distance of his vessel from the Point of Ayre Light when abreast of it at 1.10 a.m. on the 13th August 1885, and through a violent and dense squall occurring at the same time, which obscured all objects whereby he could have verified his position, but that neither the master nor any of the officers were in default, therefore the Court do not deal with their certificates.

Dated this 2nd day of September 1885.

 

(Signed)

WM. PARK.

 

 

AUGUSTUS H. STRONGITHARM.

We concur in the above report.

 

(Signed)

R. WILSON,

Assessors.

 

 

D. R. COMYN,

 

Annex to the Report.

Mr. R. B. D. Bradshaw appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. Wm. Williams appeared for the owners, Mr McLean appeared for Captain Woolonghan.

The "Donegal" (official No. 52,619) is a paddle steamer built of iron in the year 1865 by Messrs. Caird and Co., of Greenock. Her length is 241 feet 1-tenth, breadth 26 feet 3-tenths, depth 13 feet 4-tenths; is schooner-rigged, and is registered at Barrow-in-Furness; gross tonnage 618.94, nett tonnage 306.23. She has compound direct-acting engines of 290 horsepower combined, and is owned by Messrs. James William Little and others, of Barrow, J. W. Little being the managing owner. She has four compasses, which were adjusted in the year 1883, and has five boats, all in good order, and at the time of leaving Belfast the vessel appeared to have been well found in all respects. She left Belfast at 8.30 p.m. on the 12th August 1885 in command of James Henry Woolonghan, whose certificate is No. 23,714, with a crew of 28 all told, bound for Barrow-in-Furness with a general cargo and 23 passengers; draught of water 10 feet 6 inches aft, and 9 feet 10 inches forward. At about 10 p.m. she passed the Copeland Light, the wind being fresh from N.W. with squalls of rain. Engines going at full speed, 12 knots, and course set S.E. 1/2 S. At midnight the Point of Ayre Light was sighted bearing S.E. by S. 1/2 S. at about 13 miles distant. The wind had then increased to a fresh gale from N.W. with strong squalls, vessel going at full speed and on the same course. At 1.10 a.m. of the 13th the Point of Ayre Light bore W. by S. at a supposed distance of a 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile. The course was then altered to S.S.E., and immediately afterwards a violent and dense squall of wind, rain, and sleet came on, which obscured all objects from being seen. The engines were immediately slowed; the tide was now on the first of the ebb, and the wind changed to north. In a few seconds (about 1.25) breakers were reported ahead, and the helm was immediately put hard a-starboard, but unfortunately the vessel took the ground before the helm could be answered. The engines were immediately reversed full speed, but finding the vessel would not come off, owing to the tide ebbing, the engines were stopped. At 1.35 a.m. the squall cleared off, and it was found the Point of Ayre Light bore west, and that the vessel had taken the ground on the extreme point of Ayre. The master finding that the vessel would not come off commenced to discharge cargo and passengers, and their luggage, and succeeded in landing the passengers safely, and 91 cases of salmon; and no lives were lost. The vessel lay ashore about 12 hours, and at high water about 1 p.m. on the 13th, under her own steam and with the assistance of one of the company's steamers, the "Herald," the vessel was towed off and went into Ramsey Harbour, where the master reshipped the cargo and passengers and proceeded at 1 a.m. on the 14th August to Barrow-in-Furness, and at 7 a.m. the passengers and perishable cargo were landed in a tug.

The "Donegal" arrived in Barrow Docks at 11 a.m. on the 14th August, where she is now being repaired, and Captain Woolonghan is still commander in Messrs. J. W. Little and Co.'s employ. On the vessel being put upon the pontoon stage, it was found that she had received material damage, and it was stated that the repairs would cost between 2,000l. and 3,000l.

The Court cannot conclude this Report without bringing to the notice of the Board of Trade the evidence that was given by Captain Woolonghan, who has been in the Belfast and Barrow trade for the last 19 years, and also several other masters of similar experience, and the owner of this vessel, who stated that the Point of Ayre Light is placed about 1/4 of a mile back from the extreme point, and they consider that as it is usual to navigate the Channel between the point of Ayre and the Whitstone Shoal, which is only 3/4 of a mile wide, it is absolutely necessary to place another small light upon the extreme point of Ayre, so that they might better distinguish the point, and that there should also be a fog signal upon it.

The assessors having been on the enquiry as to the stranding of the S.S. "Bear" on the Point of Ayre in August last, where similar if not stronger opinions were given as to the necessity of such a light, consider that some steps should immediately be taken to erect a lighthouse upon the extreme point.

On the close of the evidence the solicitor for the Board of Trade submitted the following questions to the Court:—

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

2. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept, and whether when breakers were seen ahead prompt and proper measures were taken to prevent the vessel stranding?

3. Whether when the weather became thick the speed of the vessel was properly and sufficiently reduced?

4. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel when she was off Point Ayre Light on the morning of the 13th August?

5. Whether a safe and proper alteration was made in the course at 1.10 a.m., and whether the master was justified in taking a course so near the land as that taken?

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

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

The Court were of opinion—

1. That the stranding of the vessel "Donegal" was caused through an error of judgment on the part of the master in his estimating the distance of his vessel from the Point of Ayre Light when abreast of it at 1.10 a.m. on the 13th August 1885, and through a violent and dense squall occurring at the same time which obscured all objects whereby he could have verified his position.

2. A good and proper look-out was kept. All possible measures appear to have been taken to prevent the vessel stranding when the breakers wore discovered.

3. Yes.

4. Owing to the dense and violent squall, which appears to have lasted about 20 minutes, and all objects being obscured, there were no opportunities of verifying the position of the vessel.

5. Had the vessel been in the position which the master supposed she was, the alteration in his course at 1.10 a.m. would have been a safe and proper one, it being customary to go between the Point of Ayre and the Whitstone Shoal.

6. The master was on the bridge and attending to his duties, and excepting the error of judgment the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care.

7. Neither the master nor any of the officers were in default; therefore the Court do not deal with their certificates.

 

(Signed)

WM. PARK,

Judges.

 

 

AUGUSTUS H. STRONGITHARM,

 

We concur in the above report.

 

(Signed)

R. WILSON,

Assessors.

 

 

D. R. COMYN,

 

L 367. 2441. 180.—9/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.

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