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Wreck Report for 'Shotton', 1885

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Unique ID:15048
Description:Board of Trade Wreck Report for 'Shotton', 1885
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 2647.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Public Board Room, Post Office Chambers, Middlesbrough, on the 18th and 19th days of August 1885, before CHARLES JAMES COLEMAN, Esquire, Judge, assisted by Captains WARD and VAUX, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "SHOTTON," of West Hartlepool, on or near Raffness, Denmark, on or about the 21st June last.

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 said vessel was due to careless navigation on the part of the mate, Mr. Frederick Wells, who holds certificate of competency as master, No. 91,356.

The Court finds him in default, and suspends his certificate of competency as master for three calendar months from this date.

The Court also reprimands the master, Mr. George Walton, certificate of competency as master 29,597, for not having given sufficiently specific orders to the mate on leaving the deck.

Dated this 19th day of August 1885.





We concur in the above report.









Annex to the Report.

The "Shotton" is an iron screw steamer built at Hartlepool in 1870, of 754.27 tons gross, and 482.1 tons register, and she has engines of 96 horses power. She is owned by Mr. Thomas Appleby, of West Hartlepool, and others, Mr. Appleby being the manager.

She left Hartlepool on the 10th June last with a cargo of about 1,100 tons of coal, bound to Flensburg, under the command of Mr. George Walton (who holds a certificate of competency as master), and a crew of 7 hands all told, and one passenger (the captain's son).

Her draught of water on leaving was 16 feet 3 inches aft, and 16 feet 2 inches forward.

All went well until the 21st. At 4 a.m. on that day, the weather being fine and clear, with a moderate breeze at S.W., and a smooth sea, the lighthouse on Seiero Island was seen bearing south, the course at that time being S.S.W. magnetic, and the engines were at full speed, the vessel making eight knots an hour.

At 5.15 a.m. Seiero lighthouse bore E.S.E. at an estimated distance of 3 1/2 to 4 miles, when the course was altered to S.W. 1/2 S. magnetic. At 5.30 the master went below, leaving the mate in charge with orders to keep a good look-out, and to call him if he was required, and told him that there was a reef off the next point of land the vessel would make, with a beacon on it, but did not mention the name, nor did he tell him where the vessel was. The mate, although admitting he did not know where the vessel was, made no inquiries of the master. At this time the loom of the land was seen on the port bow.

The course was continued, and at 6.30 the beacon on Reefness reef was seen on the starboard bow, and the lighthouse on the port bow; and the mate not knowing where the vessel was, went below to consult the chart, and then concluded the lighthouse was on Seiero Island and the beacon on Munke Reef. The same course was steered, and at about 6.50 the vessel touched the ground. The mate sent a man to call the master, and put the helm to port. Shortly after the vessel again took the ground, when the engines were stopped and she remained fast.

Subsequently arrangements were made with the Svitzie Salvage Company for assistance, 300 tons of coal were jettisoned, and the vessel floated, and she was afterwards taken under her own steam to Kallanborg Bay, where the damage, which was under the fore ballast tank, which had filled with water, was temporarily repaired, and from thence she went to Copenhagen, where the remainder of the cargo was discharged and the damage made good, after which the vessel proceeded to her port of lading, viz., Uleaborg.

The Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court on the following questions:-

1. Were proper measures taken to ascertain and verify the position of the "Shotton" when off Seiero Island at about 5.15 a.m. on the 21st June?

2. Whether a safe and proper course was then set and steered?

3. Whether the master was on deck at a time when the safety of the vessel required his personal supervision?

4. Whether before going below he was justified in neglecting to acquaint the chief officer with the position of the ship?

5. Whether the chief officer was justified in neglecting to ascertain the position of the vessel when the master left the deck, and whether he had reasonable grounds for mistaking the light and beacon off Reefness for the light and beacon off Seiero Island?

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

In the opinion of the Board of Trade the certificates of the master and chief mate should have been dealt with.

To which the Court replies as follows:-

1. For all practical purposes proper measures were taken to ascertain the position of the ship when off Seiero Island at or about 5.15 a.m. on the 21st June.

2. A proper course was set and steered.

3. The Court is of opinion that the captain was not on deck at the time when his personal supervision was necessary for the safe and proper navigation of his vessel.

4 and 5. The captain was not justified in not giving the mate more particulars as to the position of the ship; but the failure of the captain to do so did not exonerate the mate from blame. He ought to have found out for himself the position of the ship, and not have run on a course which he could have seen would end in the stranding of the vessel. He told the Court distinctly that when he saw the lighthouse on Reefness and the beacon that he made up his mind to steam between them, a course which if attempted must have resulted in the loss of the vessel. He may at one time have had reasonable grounds for taking the lighthouse and beacon off Reefness for the lighthouse on Seiero Island and the beacon on Munke Reef, but when he neared the high land of Reefness all doubt ought to have been at an end, and he should have called the captain.

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

It is impossible that the captain's conduct can be passed over without some strong remarks being made upon it. He must have known the difficulties attending the navigation of his ship when nearing Reefness, and he would have discharged his duty more efficiently had he given an order to be called on deck before the vessel made Reefness. It may be that he thought he had imparted sufficient information to the mate to lead him to understand that the reef and beacon he mentioned were at Reefness; but such did not appear to be the case. We are far from saying that a captain is always to be in charge of his deck; but there are times when it is absolutely necessary that the captain should be on the bridge and navigate the ship himself. Had the captain been on the bridge at 6.30 the casualty in all probability would not have happened, as he might have altered his course so as to have kept himself clear of the Reefness Beacon. The order he gave, "If you " want me, send for me," was in the circumstances a very loose and careless one. The Court is of opinion that he deserves to be severely reprimanded for his carelessness, and he is reprimanded accordingly.

The conduct of the mate, who holds a certificate of competency as master, is difficult to understand. According to his own statement he saw the high land of Reefness and the lighthouse and beacon, and proceeded with a view to make a passage between the lighthouse and beacon without knowing where the vessel really was, and being in complete ignorance of the depth of water between them. He made no attempt to get the captain on deck, but steamed ahead and stranded the ship, and then sent for the captain. It is impossible to overlook such careless conduct as this in a seaman. The Court finds him in default, and suspends his certificate for three months from this date.

The Court makes no order as to costs.

Dated this 19th day of August 1885.





We concur in the above report.









L 367. 2424. 180.-8/85. Wt. 408. E. & S.


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