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Wreck Report for 'Ida', 1885

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Unique ID:14971
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Ida', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2737.)

"IDA" (S.S.)

The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Town Hall, North Shields, on the 21st and 23rd days of November 1885, before JOSEPH GREEN and GEORGE CLEUGH, Esquires, assisted by Captains WARD and FRENCH, into the circumstances attending the damage sustained by the S.S. "IDA," on the 15th day of September 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 stranding of the S.S. "Ida" was caused by negligent navigation, and the Court finds the master, John Steel, in default, and suspends his certificate, No. 22,527, for the space of six calendar months from the date hereof.

Dated this 24th day of November 1885.






We concur in the above report.






Annex to the Report.

This is an investigation held at the Town Hall, North Shields, into the circumstances attending the material damage sustained by the S.S. "Ida," of Newcastle, through striking a rock or wreck about 10 miles S.W. of Lebau, on the 15th of September last, before Joseph Green and George Cleugh, Esquires, two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace, assisted by Captains Ward and French (Nautical Assessors). Mr. L. de Hamel appeared on behalf of the Board of Trade, and Mr. W. O. Forster represented the master and owners. The "Ida," official number 88,741, is an iron screw steamer, built at Aberdeen in 1883 by A. Hall and Co., of the following dimensions:-Length, 239.9; breadth, 34 ft.; and depth, 16.1. She is fitted with two compound inverted surface condensing engines of 120 horse power (combined), and is of 1304.62 gross and 832.80 registered tonnage. She is owned by Mr. Thomas Bell of Newcastle-on-Tyne and several others, Mr. Bell having been appointed managing owner on the 23rd of March 1885. The "Ida" left the Tyne on the 9th of September last with a cargo of 1,300 tons of coal, having a crew of 18 hands all told under the command of John Steel, who holds a certificate of competency, number 22,527, drawing 15 feet 9 inches on an even keel, bound to Libau. She was fitted with three compasses, the pole, one in the wheelhouse on the bridge, and one aft. On the 13th of September about noon land was seen, which the master estimated to be about 14 to 15 miles to the southward of Libau. The wind being strong from W. to W.S.W. with a heavy sea, the master did not consider it prudent to continue, as it would be dangerous to anchor in the roads in the then state of the weather. The vessel was kept dodging off and on under easy steam. At 7.15 p.m. on the 14th Libau Light was seen bearing N.E. easterly at an estimated distance of 17 miles. This, however, was a wrong estimate, as the light has a range of only 12 miles. The vessel was then steered off the land, heading W.S.W. under easy steam, making 2 to 2 1/2 knots an hour, and at 4 a.m. on the 15th she was steered in for the land on an E.N.E. course, still under easy steam, but making 3 to 3 1/2 knots an hour. At 5 the engines were put to half speed and to full speed at 5.30. At 6 a.m. land was seen on the starboard bow, the weather at this time was fine, but there was a haze over the land. The course was continued at full speed until 7 o'clock, when it was altered to N.E. At 8 o'clock the engines were stopped and a cast of the lead taken in 7 fathoms, the master estimating the land to be about 4 miles distant and Libau 14 to 15 miles. The course was now altered to N. by W., and the engines put to full speed, which was continued till 8.45, when it was altered to north. At 9. a.m. Lebau Lighthouse was seen 4 points on the starboard bow, when the course was altered to N. by E. It was estimated that at that time the lighthouse was distant 9 to 10 miles, and the vessel 4 miles from the land. At 9.10 the vessel struck something hard three successive times, but passed over. The engines were stopped and soundings were taken n 4 1/2 fathoms, and immediately after in 6 3/4 fathoms. The vessel continued on her course under easy steam, and at 10 a.m. a pilot went on board and took the vessel to Libau Roads, where she anchored at 11. A diver was employed to examine the bottom, and reported a hole under the fore ballast tank on the port side about one foot square, which he repaired temporarily. The vessel was lightened by discharging part cargo, and was afterwards anchored in Libau Harbour, where cargo was discharged and the hole in the bottom temporarily repaired from inside. Subsequently a cargo of wood was shipped and the vessel returned to the Tyne, where she was placed on a slip, when it was found that in addition to the hole mentioned above, one plate was cracked and several others dented, also several stringers broken and 30 feet of the keel damaged. The master stated that, in his opinion, the vessel struck on a sunken wreck or on a rock that is not marked on any chart, but it is evident to the Court that the master was wrong in all his estimates of distances, and that when he judged that the vessel was 4 miles from the land at 8 a.m., she was in reality close to the bank which lines the shore. He stated that he saw the land at 6 a.m., and that at 8 a.m., after running towards it at full speed a distance of at least 16 miles, the vessel was still 4 miles from it. Now, considering that the land is very low and that there was a haze over it, the Court thinks that it could not have been seen at 6 a.m. if as the master stated it was 20 miles distant. Had the lead been constantly used after 8 a.m., the master would probably soon have discovered his error, but having obtained one cast in 7 fathoms he appears to have been satisfied that the vessel was 4 miles from the land, whereas had he consulted his chart he would have found there is a depth of 7 fathoms very close to the shore. The theory that the vessel struck on an unknown rock is not tenable. Had the master thought so at the time it was his duty to report it to the British Consul at Libau as well as to the authorities at home. With regard to the question as to the sufficiency of the charts on board, while the Court consider that the chart the master used is sufficient for making the port of Libau, the assessors are of opinion that all vessels should be supplied by the owners, as part of the outfit, with the Admiralty charts, and that it should not be left to the masters to supply charts at their own expense as in this case.

At the conclusion of the evidence the following questions were submitted to the Court on behalf of the Board of Trade:-

1. What was the cause of the stranding of the "Ida" off Libau on the 15th September?

2. Whether the vessel was supplied with proper and sufficient charts for the voyage?

3. Whether the master was justified in assuming his vessel to be 20 miles off Libau at about 8 p.m. on the 14th September?

4. Whether safe and proper courses were set after 7 a.m. on the 15th September?

5. Whether proper measures were taken to verify the assumed position of the vessel at and after that hour?

6. Whether the lead was used with sufficient frequency?

7. What was the object on which the vessel struck?

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

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

Dated this 23rd November 1885.




For the Board of Trade.


1. The stranding of the S.S. "Ida" was caused by negligent navigation.

2. The vessel was supplied with sufficient charts to enable the master to reach the port of his destination (Libau) had he used proper caution.

3. The master was not justified in assuming his vessel to be 20 miles off Libau at about 8 p.m. of the 14th September.

4. Safe and proper courses were not set after 7 a.m. of the 15th September.

5. Proper measures were not taken to verify the vessel's position after 7 a.m. of the 15th September.

6. The lead was not sufficiently used.

7. The Court is of opinion that the vessel struck on the bank close to the shore.

8. The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care.

The Court finds the master, John Steel, in default and suspends his certificate, No. 22527, for the space of six calendar months from the date hereof.






We concur in the above judgment.






L 367. 2514. 180.-12/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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