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Wreck Report for 'Vigilant', 1895

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Unique ID:16672
Description:BOT Wreck Report for 'Vigilant', 1895
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 5101.)


The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Magistrates' Room, Liverpool, on the 27th and 28th days of February and the 1st day of March 1895, before W. J. STEWART, Esquire, assisted by Captain RICHARDSON and Captain HUGHES, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "VIGILANT," on February 7th, 1895, in St. Mary's Bay, Isle of Man.

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 and material damage to the said vessel were due to the careless navigation of the master, Mr. Martin Dean, whose certificate, numbered 103,260, the Court suspends for a period of six months from the date hereof.

Dated this 1st day of March 1895.



W. J. STEWART, Judge.

We concur in the above report.









Annex to the Report.

The "Vigilant," official number 87,981, was a British screw steamer, of the port of Liverpol. She was built of iron at Low Benwell in 1884. She was 1524 ft. long, 23.55 ft. broad, and 12.2 ft. deep. She was fitted with two compound engines of 65 horsepower combined. Her registered tonnage was 263.23 tons. She was owned by John Bacon, Limited, of 14, Water Street, Liverpool.

The "Vigilant" left Barry Port at 1.45 a.m. on February 6th, bound for Belfast with a cargo of 425 tons of coal, and a crew of 12 hands all told. She was commanded by Mr. Martin Dean, who held a certificate of competency as master, numbered 103,260. At 8.30 a.m. the South Bishop was abeam, distant 1 miles, and the master put the vessel on a N.E. 1/2 N. course. At 3.30 p.m. Bardsey was abeam, according to a four-point bearing, seven to eight miles. The course was then altered to N.E. by N. 1/2 N. At 8.10 p.m. the South Stack was abeam, distant, according to a four-point bearing, seven miles. The course of the vessel was then altered to N.N.E., which course was continued until she went ashore. According to the deviation card produced by the master, the deviation of the standard compass upon these courses was very slight, and the master stated that his experience corroborated the deviation given on the card.

The master calculated that a N.N.E. course. if made good, would take the vessel one to one and a half miles to the west of the Chicken Light, which he expected to sight any moment after 12 midnight, but that allowing for the ebb tide, he expected to be set seven to eight miles to the westward of the Chicken Light. Off the Stack the wind began to increase, and at midnight it was blowing a strong gale from the southward and eastward, with very heavy snow showers at times. The master was on the upper bridge from 10.45 p.m. until the vessel struck, and stated that he saw the course was kept. The engines were kept at full speed, the ship making 7 1/2 knots an hour, and though at 1 a.m. a blinding snow blizzard came down which continued till the ship went ashore, the speed was not reduced. By 1 a.m. the Chicken Light had not been sighted, and though the master had expected to sight it before then, and though after 1 a.m. the chance of seeing it was hindered by the falling snow, the master made no use of the lead to verify his position. At 1.45 a.m. on February 7th the vessel, without any warning, ran ashore on the eastern side of St. Mary's Bay, Isle of Man. The engines were put full speed astern, and going for half an hour but without effect. The master ordered the boats to be got handy; blue lights were burnt and the whistle kept blowing. About 10.30 a.m. the crew were taken off, some by the life-boat from Port St. Mary, the rest by a boat from Castletown, and reached land in safety. When the vessel was left she was completely submerged except the forecastle head and lower bridge. She was afterwards raised by the Salvage Association, and brought to Liverpool, where she is now undergoing repairs. It is clear from the evidence that the vessel did not make good the N.N.E. course, and so far from going to the westward of the Chicken Light she went a considerable distance to the eastward of it, despite the westerly set of the ebb tide. It is clear also that this was due to no extraordinary error of the compass, and the Court therefore came to the conclusion that the vessel must have been badly steered. The man at the wheel from 10.30 p.m. to 12.30 a.m. though calling himself an A.B. had only been to sea nine months, and acted also as steward. He stated that he had a little difficulty in steering the vessel, as did also the man who relieved him, who said that the vessel steered pretty wild at times, and required care to make her keep her course. The Court also noticed that though the master admitted that he expected to make the Chicken Light any time after midnight, yet when that time had passed and no light was visible, no attempt was made to use the lead. Further, though no light had been seen or signal heard by 1 a.m., when the final snow storm came on, the vessel was kept going full speed, although the master must have known that, as he had not seen the light, he could not be certain as to his position. The Court is of opinion that he ought to have slowed down and brought the vessel head to wind, and taken a cast of the lead; if he had done this any time after 1 a.m., he must have found that he was out of his course, and the casualty must therefore be attributed to his over confidence and his neglect of ordinary precautions.

At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Paxton for the Board of Trade submitted the following questions for the opinion of the Court:—

1. Did the master know the errors of his compass and did he apply the proper corrections to the courses?

2. Were proper means taken to ascertain the position of the vessel when abeam of the South Stack?

3. Was a safe and proper course set and steered from that time, and due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?

4. Was a good and proper look-out kept?

5. Having regard to the state of the weather, ought the vessel to have been navigated at full speed after midnight?

6. Ought the lead to have been used?

7. What was the cause of the casualty?

8. Was the master in default in regard to any of the above matters?

The Board of Trade are of opinion that the master's certificate should be dealt with.

Mr. Collins having addressed the Court on behalf of the master, the Court gave judgment as above, and returned the following answers to the questions of the Board of Trade:—

1. The master knew the errors of his compasses, and applied the proper corrections to the courses.

2. Proper measures were taken to ascertain the position of the vessel when the South Stack was abeam.

3. The course set on leaving the South Stack was safe and proper if made good, and proper allowance was made for tide and currents.

4. A good and proper look-out was kept.

5. Having regard to Article 13 of the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, the vessel ought not to have been navigated at full speed during falling snow. The Court is also of opinion that, under the circumstances, the master ought to have reduced the speed of the vessel and brought her head to wind, and used means to verify his position after 1 a.m., the time at which he had expected to make the Chicken Light.

6. The lead ought to have been used after midnight.

7. The casualty was due to the fact that the course was not made good owing to bad steering, and to the negligence of the master in omitting to use the lead in order to verify his position.

8. The master was in default.

The Court suspends the certificate of the master for a period of six months.

On the request of the master, the Court consented to recommend the Board of Trade to grant him a first mate's certificate during the period of suspension.



W. J. STEWART, Judge.

We concur in the above report.









Liverpool, 2nd March 1895.

81564—223. 180.—3/95. Wt. 60. E. & S.


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