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Wreck Report for 'Kenilworth', 1885

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Unique ID:14983
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Kenilworth', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2545.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Town Hall, Belfast, on the 12th, 13th, and 14th days of May 1885, before the Hon. W. FORBES, Stipendiary Magistrate, assisted by Captains C. Y. WARD and THOMAS BEASLEY, into the circumstances attending the loss of the British sailing ship "KENILWORTH," of Liverpool, official number 51,538, in latitude 21° north, longitude 83° 12' west, whilst on a voyage from Barbadoes to Florida, on or about the Second day of March 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 loss of the vessel was due to her having sprung a sudden leak, and afterwards having taken fire from the portside light exploding, which set fire to the mizzen rigging and ultimately to the hull of the vessel. The Court did not find either the master or mate in default.

The Court made no order as to costs.

Dated this Fourteenth day of May 1885.



W. FORBES, R.M., Judge.

We concur in the above report.






Annex to Report.

The "Kenilworth," of Liverpool, official No. 51,538, was a ship-rigged wooden vessel of 860.11 tons register, and was built at Quebec in 1865. She was owned by Henry Swift, senior, Paul Rodgers, and James McCalmont in equal shares, and was purchased by them in March 1882, for 1,750l., when Mr. Rodgers was appointed managing owner, and Mr. McCalmont, who holds a certificate of service as master, was appointed to the command, which position he held at the time of the casualty under inquiry. At the time of purchase she was docked for examination, when the hull was found to be in good condition, and the gear was put into seaworthy condition. She made sundry voyages, and in June 1884 she was docked at Quebec, when she was thoroughly overhauled, and was caulked, remetalled, and several faulty fastenings and treenails made good, at a cost of 761l. 17s. 0d. This was effected under the inspection of the surveyor of the Record of American and Foreign Shipping, and she was re-classed A 1 1/2 (red) for four years, from August 1883, in the books of that society. The vessel was fitted with two patent double-acting fly-wheel pumps, and a windmill pump, all of which appear to have been in good working condition. The vessel then proceeded to Montreal, where she took in 160 tons of stone ballast, and loaded a full cargo of one-inch pine boards, there being 61,000 superficial feet of boards on the deck and 6,000 to 7,000 feet under the poop. She left Montreal on the 12th July 1884, bound to Buenos Ayres. On proceeding down the river she was found to be so crank that sail could not be carried. On arriving at Quebec, part of the deck cargo (28,000 feet of boards) was discharged and sold; her draught of water was then about 16 feet aft and 15 ft. 6 in. forward (in fresh water). On the 22nd July the vessel left Quebec and proceeded on her voyage, at which time she appears to have been in good condition, and she had a crew of 15 hands all told. During the passage the vessel was so crank that the remainder of the deck cargo had to be jettisoned, and on the 6th November she arrived off Buenos Ayres; having experienced fine weather, with light winds, she made but little water, it being necessary to pump for five minutes only every four hours. She was afterwards taken to the Boca to be discharged, where, before the discharge was commenced, she frequently laid on the ground, which is soft mud, but at the discharging berth she was always afloat. When the cargo was discharged, 250 tons of mud and sand was taken on board from the river as ballast, and was put on the stone ballast already on board, planks being placed between. This mud was in a wet condition, and was put in the centre of the vessel in bulk, being allowed to settle down in the natural slopes. There were then 410 tons of ballast on board, and with this the vessel's draught was about 12 feet (in fresh water). On 1st January 1885 she left Buenos Ayres with a crew of 14 hands; the mate, John Lang, having been shipped in place of the former mate, who was discharged at Buenos Ayres, bound to Barbadoes for orders, where she arrived on 17th February. Head winds were experienced for the first ten days, but the weather was fine and the vessel did not make more water than previously. Having received orders she proceeded to Appalachicola, from which place she was chartered to take a cargo of timber to the United Kingdom. She left Barbadoes on the 18th February. Nothing of consequence occurred, fine weather, with light variable winds, being experienced until the 1st March. At 8 p.m. on that day the vessel was pumped dry and the mate took charge of the watch. The master was also on deck, and remained until between 10 and 11 p.m., when he retired to his cabin. The weather was fine, the wind light and variable, and sea smooth, all plain sail being set. A schooner was in company, and had been so for two days. At 11.30 p.m. the vessel was pumped, as was customary at the end of the watch. As the pumps did not suck the mate called the second mate and all hands to assist in pumping, and took off the main hatch, when it was discovered that there was about nine feet of water in the vessel, and she took a heavy list to starboard. The master was then called, who went on deck and ordered sail to be taken in and the vessel to be put before the wind, altering the course about four points. Blue lights were burned as signals of distress. The two after boats were then hoisted out, and the whole of the officers and crew, who were apparently panic stricken, got into them, at about 12.30 a.m. on 2nd March, taking a part only of their effects with them. The master took nothing with him except the ship's papers. The boats were kept within a short distance of the vessel, and in about half an hour she was observed to be on fire at or about the mizzen mast. The schooner which was in company, and which proved to be the "Sarah Eaton," came to the boat, and at about 2 a.m. the crew of the "Kenilworth" went on board. The fire was observed to increase, and shortly after the vessel was in flames, fore and aft, and the masts were observed to fall. She was last seen about 5 a.m. The position of the vessel when abandoned was latitude 21 N., longitude 83.12 W., about 45 miles south of Pina Island. The "Sarah Eaton" proceeded and landed the crew at Key West on the 9th March.

At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. I. S. MacTear, solicitor, submitted the following questions, on which the Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court, after which Mr. McLean produced three witnesses, and addressed the Court on behalf of the master and mate.

1. Whether, when the vessel commenced her voyage from Montreal and Quebec, she was in all respects in good and seaworthy condition?

2. How was the vessel ladened? What quantities of the cargo were discharged at Quebec and jettisoned at sea? and why, and from what parts of the vessel were they taken?

3. Was the vessel properly ladened on leaving the St. Lawrence; and, if not, did that have any effect upon the leak which was afterwards sprung?

4. Had the grounding of the vessel at Buenos Ayres any effect upon her leakage, and, if so, was the master justified in proceeding on the voyage without first having the vessel examined and repaired?

5. When the vessel left Buenos Ayres was she in all respects in good and seaworthy condition?

6. What ballast had she on board, and was it properly trimmed and stowed?

7. Whether sand ballast, or sand and mud mixed, stowed in bulk was proper ballast, and should it have been stowed in bags or in some other manner, so as to be protected from being washed about in case of the vessel springing a leak.

8. If the sand, or the mixture of sand and mud, in bulk was proper ballast, ought it to have been put on board in the wet-condition described?

9. Whether the pumps were sufficient, and were they properly protected?

10. What were the quantities of water the vessel made after leaving Buenos Ayres?

11. Whether the vessel was in good and seaworthy condition upon arriving at and leaving Barbadoes, and, if not, whether the master was justified in leaving that port without having any examination made or repairs effected?

12. Whether the proper measures were taken to ascertain the quantity of water the vessel made from time to time, and whether at 8 p.m. on the 1st March the vessel was actually pumped dry, and, if so, how did it happen that at 11.30 p.m. nine feet of water, or thereabouts, was discovered in the hold?

13. What was the cause of the vessel going over on her beam ends?

14. Were there any, and if any sufficient means taken in endeavouring to right the vessel after the list?

15. Whether she was prematurely abandoned?

16. What was the cause of the vessel taking fire?

17. Whether the side lights used were proper and safe lights, and were they sufficiently secured?

18. Was the master or the mate justified in leaving these lights burning on quitting the vessel?

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

20. What was the original cost of the vessel to the present owners?

21. What was her value before the casualty?

22. In what amount was she insured?

And finally,

23. Whether the master and mate are, or either of them is, in default?

In the opinion of the Board of Trade, the certificates of the master and mate should be dealt with.

To which the Court replied as follows:-

1. The vessel was in good and seaworthy condition as regards hull and equipments, but she was so loaded as to be dangerous.

2. She was loaded with pine planks 1 inch and 12 inch, 61,000 feet being stowed on deck, and 6,000 feet in the poop cabin. 28,000 feet of the deck cargo were discharged at Quebec, and 39,000 feet were jettisoned at sea.

3. She was not properly loaded, not having sufficient ballast, but this had no effect on the leak afterwards sprung.

4. The grounding of the vessel at Buenos Ayres did not affect the leakage; the master was justified in leaving without having her examined.

5. The vessel was apparently in good and seaworthy condition on leaving Buenos Ayres.

6, 7, and 8. There were 160 tons of stone ballast on board on leaving Quebec, and 250 tons of wet mud and sand in bulk were taken on board at Buenos Ayres, and placed in the middle of the hold on top of the stones. It appears that this is the only kind of ballast to be procured at Buenos Ayres. It is usual to stow such ballast in bulk; but in the opinion of the Court it is desirable it should be stowed in bags or in some way secured from shifting.

9. The pumps were sufficient, but there was no evidence as to whether they were properly protected.

10. About two inches of water per hour was made after leaving Buenos Ayres until 8 p.m. on the 1st March.

11. The vessel was apparently in good and seaworthy condition on arriving at and leaving Barbadoes, and the master was justified in leaving that port without having her examined.

12. No measures were taken to ascertain the quantity of water made from time to time. According to the evidence the vessel was pumped dry at 8 p.m. on the 1st March, and it was in consequence of the pumps not sucking when being used at 11.30 p.m. that examination was made, and the water in the hold was discovered to be over the sand ballast, according to the evidence, about 9 feet in depth.

13 and 14. There is no reason assignable as to the cause of the vessel taking a list, but presumably the sand and mud ballast must have shifted in consequence of the great quantity of water in the hold. The only means taken to right the vessel was putting her before the wind which evidently was not sufficient.

15. From the paucity of the evidence before it the Court cannot say the vessel was prematurely abandoned, but it does appear that undue haste was exercised, no endeavour being made to ascertain the cause of the sudden inflow of water. Indeed the master and crew seem to have been stricken with fear and their only idea was to get clear of her.

16. There is no evidence as to the cause of the vessel taking fire, the only ostensible cause was that the paraffin oil in the side-light lamps, which were left burning, exploded and set fire to the mizzen rigging.

17. The side-lights were, according to the evidence, safe and proper, and sufficiently secured.

18. The master was not justified in leaving the sidelights burning; by so doing he neglected to observe the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

19. With the above exception the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care.

20. The original cost of the vessel in March 1882 to the late owner was 1,750l.

21. In the present depressed state of the shipping trade it is difficult to place a value on any vessel. Mr. Rodgers, the managing owner, stated that he valued the vessel at 3,440l., but the Court are inclined to consider that sum as far in excess of her real value.

22. The insurances effected on the vessel were, on hull 1,500l., freight 1,080l., on repairs and advances 400l., and 400l. on disbursements and advances at Buenos Ayres. Total 3,380l.

23. The Court do not find either the master or mate in default.

The evidence before the Court in this case was very meagre and confined solely to the master and mate who were the interested parties. The Court was therefore compelled to give its judgment in accordance. At the same time it considered it remarkable that without any warning the vessel should suddenly in fine weather and a smooth sea have 9 feet of water in her, and that with such a serious leak in her she should still be afloat five hours after. The Court cannot help thinking that undue haste was exercised in leaving the vessel and can only attribute the abandonment to panic; it considers that some attempt should have been made to ascertain the cause of the sudden inflow of water, and that due precaution should have been taken by substituting a bright light for the side-lights so as to prevent danger to other vessels.



W. FORBES, R.M., Judge.

We concur.





BEASLEY, Assessors.

L 367. 2320. 180.-5/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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