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Wreck Report for 'Grassendale', 1885

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Unique ID:14959
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Grassendale', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2532.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, on the 25th and 27th days of April 1885, before THOS. STAMFORD RAFFLES, Esquire, Stipendiary Magistrate, assisted by Captains DAVIES and KIDDLE, R.N., Nautical Assessors, into the circumstances attending the supposed loss of the British sailing ship "GRASSENDALE," of Liverpool, whilst on a voyage from New York to Shanghai.

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 ship was lost in the China Sea, about 360 miles from Shanghai, to judge from the reports of the wreckage picked up, but the evidence threw no light upon the cause of her loss.

Dated this 27th day of April 1885.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in the above report.





Capt. R.N.,


Annex to the Report.

The "Grassendale," official No. 84,192, was an iron sailing ship, built at Workington, in 1882, for her late owners, and registered by them at Liverpool, of 1799.52 tons, as the property of the sailing ship "Grassendale" Company (Limited), Mr. Ralph Watts Leyland being appointed manager. She was classed A 100* at Lloyd's, being built under their special superintendence. She cost 23,000l. Up to her last voyage she had never met with any casualty. In April 1883 she took in a cargo of 2,800 tons of salt in bulk for Calcutta, and sailed from the River Mersey, drawing 20 ft. 8 in., and arrived safely at Calcutta in July following, discharging 2,642 tons. Thence she went with a general cargo to New York, drawing 21 ft. 3 in. in fresh water, arriving there at the end of March 1884. She loaded there a cargo of petroleum oil in cases. The deposition of Augustus Fraser, stevedore of New York, who loaded her, was put in evidence. His statement was as follows:—"The cargo consisted " entirely of oil in cases, say, 70,500 cases, and " counting at the rate of 27 cases to the ton, " would give a dead weight, say, of 2,600 tons " about. The cases were 15 inches high, 11 inches " wide, and 21 inches long; each case containing " 2 cans, holding 5 gallons each case, and weighing " about 85 lbs. gross each case. The cargo was stowed " in the 'tween decks, and in the lower hold from the " bulk-head in the fore part of the ship all the way " aft, excepting two vacant spaces about a case deep; " which are shewn in the accompanying sketch marked " A, by the letters B and C. The cases were all well " and compactly stowed in both 'tween decks and " lower hold, so that it was impossible for them to " shift. In the 'tween decks, at the points marked " B and C, were 3 inch planks placed crosswise against " the stanchions, and shored off in the wings against " the beams. After the vessel was fully loaded, I " measured the freeboard of the vessel; she was two " inches, that is to say, her Plimsoll mark was two " inches out of water. The vessel was seven inches " deeper by the stern than the head; her general " appearance, trim, and condition were good, and in " my opinion she was s good and seaworthy a vessel " as ever left the port of New York."

The deposition of the pilot, Joseph H. Nelson, was also put in. He said—"I was engaged to take charge " of the ship 'Grassendale,' and pilot her to sea, " and did so on the 17th of May last; found the " ship at anchor in North River, went on board, " took her to sea, and left her on her voyage out " at Sandy Hook, wind N.W., fresh breeze, and fine " fair weather;" adding further, "I left her in " good trim and condition, the vessel being an unusually " well appointed one—her draught was, forward 2 Oft. 4ft., " aft 20 ft. 10 in., with a considerable freeboard, being " well above her Plimsoll mark—to the best of my " recollection and belief the centre of the Plimsoll " mark was fully three inches out of the water. The " master, officers, and crew were all prefectly sober " and attentive to their duties during the time I was on " board." A letter was also produced to the Court from Messrs. Hogan & Sons, of New York, the master stevedores, who loaded her, which said "that the cargo " was properly stowed and secured, and in our opinion " the ship was thoroughly stiff and seaworthy, having " on board, in addition to her cargo of 72,500 cases, oil " which will weigh say 2,718 tons, 140 tons stone " ballast," though from a bill produced 100 tons only were paid for as put on board, and that amount is mentioned in two letters from Messrs. Bowring, the ship's agents in New York, and the mean draft of the ship when loaded was 28 ft. 8 1/2 in. Three letters were put in from the unfortunate master to his owner giving the amount of cargo as stated in the letter of Messrs. Hogan & Sons. The last letter was dated 17th May 1884, 3 p.m., and brought away by the pilot when he left the ship. Nothing has since been heard of the ship, but a letter from the owners' agents at Shanghai, dated 29th October 1884, and another, dated 2nd December 1884, from Messrs. Bowring, of New York, enclosed newspaper slips to the effect that some cases and tins of petroleum oil were passed, and three were picked up in lat. 29 N., and long. 127.14 E., and identified by the marks as being part of the cargo of the ill-fated ship "Grassendale."

On the close of the evidence, Mr. Paxton asked the following questions:—

1. Whether, when the vessel left New York, she was in a good and seaworthy condition?

2. Whether she was overladen?

3. Whether as laden she had sufficient stability?

4. Whether she was properly and sufficiently manned?

5. What, in the opinion of the Court from the evidence before them, is the cause of the probable loss of this vessel?

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

7. What was the value of the vessel when she last left New York?

8. What were the insurances effected, and how were they apportioned?

And Mr. Lightbound, for the owners, addressed the Court.

The Court gave judgment as follows:—

1. The vessel when she left New York was apparently in a good and seaworthy condition. She had been docked there, some repairs done to her rudder, and her hull painted and examined.

2. The mean draft on leaving New York was 20ft. 7in., the height of side was 26 ft. 1 in., which would give a freeboord of 5 ft. 6 in., consequently the Court did not think she was overladen.

3. There was some doubt as to the amount of ballast put on board. One statement, that of Messrs. Hogan and Sons, of New York, said that 140 tons were on board; another, the bill of the ballast master, Terence O'Brien, signed by the captain, went to shew that 100 tons only were paid for. The master appeared to have been satisfied. It should be added that the vessel was launched with masts and yards atanding without ballast, and after being launched stood securely during a strong breeze.

4. The Court thought that she was properly and sufficiently manned. For some reason which did not appear she left New York with one man less than she had on leaving Liverpool, making 29 hands all told.

5. The Court could not, from the evidence before it, form any opinion of the cause of the loss of this vessel.

6 & 7. The vessel cost her owners 23,000l., and she did not appear in any appreciable degree to have deteriorated in value at the time she sailed from New York.

8. The vessel which had originally been insured for 25,000l. was insured on her last voyage for 23,000l., and 4,300l. were insured for freight at risk.



T. S. RAFFLES, Judge.

We concur in this report.





Capt. R.N.


Liverpool, 27th April 1885.

L 367. 2307. 180.—5/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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