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Wreck Report for 'Diana', 1895

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Unique ID:16714
Description:BOT Wreck Report for 'Diana', 1895
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 5173.)

"DIANA" (S.S.)

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.

IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at Westminster Town Hall on the 15th, 16th, and 18th days of July 1895, before R. H. B. MARSHAM, Esquire, assisted by Captains RONALDSON and ANDERSON, into the circumstances attending the stranding and total loss of the British steamship "DIANA" off Cape de la Hogue, France, on 21st June 1895.

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 cause of the casualty was that the master, Mr. Frank Edward Kemp, set a course at Grosnez Point too much to the east, and was absent from the bridge whilst the vessel was passing through a narrow and intricate channel where the tides run very strongly. The Court finds the master in default, and suspends his certificate as a master of a home trade passenger ship, No. 101,825, for six months.

Dated this 20th day of July 1895.



R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.

We concur in the above report.









Annex to Report.

This inquiry was held at the Town Hall, Westminster, on the 15th, 16th, and 18th days of July 1895, Mr. Arthur Russell appearing on behalf of the Board of Trade, Mr. Baden Powell for the master, Mr. Groser for the chief officer, and Mr. H. Aspinall for the owners of the "Diana"; whilst Mr. B. A. Cohen and Mr. Ringrose watched the proceedings on behalf of two passengers.

The "Diana," of Southampton, official number 72,370, was built of iron by Messrs. Aitken & Mancol, of Whiteinch, Glasgow, in the year 1877. Her gross tonnage was 778.92 tons, and registered tonnage 293.49 tons.

Her engines were triple-expansion, of 210 nominal horse-power, which, with her boilers, were put in by Messrs. Day, Summers, & Company, of Southampton, in 1892.

She was fitted with steam-steering gear, and had two lifeboats, two other boats, and two Berthon collapsible boats. These, and other life-saving appliances, were in accordance with the Act of Parliament.

The "Diana" was the property of the London and South-Western Railway Company, Mr. John Dixon, of Southampton, being the manager.

She had a Sir William Thompson's compass in the wheelhouse on the bridge, and two compasses aft.

She left St. Malo for Southampton on the 21st June last, about 6 p.m., under the command of Mr. F. E. Kemp, who held a certificate as master for the home trade passenger service, No. 101,825, with a crew of 28, all told, 16 passengers, and about 80 tons of general cargo. Her draught of water was 9 ft. 8 in. forward, and 12 ft. 4 in. aft, and the weather was clear, with a smooth sea. It was about one hour after high water.

It appears that the two steamers employed in this trade usually carry a pilot, but in the busy season, when a third steamer is employed, one of the senior captains in the service takes his steamer without a pilot.

Patches of thick fog occurred during the evening, but all appears to have gone well, and at about 9.10 p.m. Grosnez Point bore east.

The master observed the ripple of the water on the Rigdon Bank, and this enabled him to estimate the distance of the steamer from the Point at about 2 1/2 miles.

A course was then set N.E. 1/4 E. by compass, or N.E. magnetic, for Cape La Hogue, which, the master said, with the ebb tide, would place the vessel about 2 to 2 1/2 miles to the westward of that Cape, but without that tide, would put her ashore.

The chief mate informed the master that the course was too easterly, but no attention was paid to this. The "Diana" was kept at full speed—about 13 1/2 knots per hour—and at about 10.40 p.m. Cape La Hogue Light was seen, bearing about N.E. by E. (no compass bearing, however, was taken), distant about 10 or 12 miles off, but the patent log was not even looked at to verify the distance run.

About 10.55 p.m. the master went into his cabin on the bridge deck for a rest, leaving the chief mate and two A.B.'s on the look-out on the bridge. He stated to the Court that he distinctly told the chief mate that if he found the vessel was approaching near to the land or the light he was to keep her off, and that he was to call him if there were any alteration in the weather, or if he was required. These instructions the mate denied having received, and said that he did not even know the master was in his cabin.

About 11.25 p.m. the chief mate, who was on the bridge on the starboard side, thinking the light, which he estimated at about seven miles off, had not enough broadened on his starboard bow, altered the course to N.E.; shortly afterwards he thought the light was obscured by fog, and took his glasses up to look for it.

Not seeing it, he went to call the master, who was in his cabin, and when opening the door, the vessel, which was still going full speed—about 13 1/2 miles an hour—took the ground and remained fast.

He stated that the fog had been on during about six minutes, but the look-out man put the duration of the fog at about fifteen minutes.

The boats were immediately lowered down to the water's edge, and all the passengers and mails were put into them to wait for daylight; the steam whistle was blown some five or six times, and some five or six blue lights were burnt, but no rockets were used although they were on board.

Some time previous to the vessel stranding they had passed on their port side a steamer going the same way as themselves. The chief mate denied having ported for this steamer, and was confirmed by the man at the wheel, who stated that the course was. never altered from N.E.

The passengers and crew were at daylight transferred to a sailing boat, which had come off in response to their signals, and they were all eventually landed in safety, no lives being lost.

The steamer subsequently became a total wreck.

These were the facts of the case, and on the conclusion of the evidence Mr. Arthur Russell, on behalf of the Board of Trade, put to the Court the following questions:—

1. What number of compasses had the vessel on board, were they in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel?

2. Did the master ascertain the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, were the errors correctly ascertained and the proper corrections to the courses applied?

3. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at or about 9.10 p.m. of the 21st June last?

4. Whether a safe and proper course was set at or about 9.10 p.m. of the 21st June and thereafter steered, and whether due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents?

5. Whether, before leaving the bridge at or about 11 p.m. of the 21st June, the master gave proper and sufficient instructions to the chief officer?

6. Whether a safe and proper alteration was made in the course at or about 11.25 p.m., and whether due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents?

7. Did the chief officer carry out the instructions, if any, left with him by the master before going below?

8. Whether, having regard to the state of the weather from time to time on the 21st of June, the master and mate ought to have reduced the speed of the vessel?

9. Whether, and especially in the absence of a pilot, the master was justified in leaving the bridge when he did?

10. Whether any attention was paid to the Admiralty Sailing Directions for navigating a vessel at night through the Race of Alderney from the south-westward, and, if not, whether neglect to observe such directions was justifiable?

11. Whether the total neglect of the lead was justifiable?

12. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept?

13. What was the cause of the casualty?

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

15. Whether the master and chief officer are, or either of them is, in default?

Mr. Cohen, Mr. H. Aspinall, Mr. Groser, and Mr. Baden Powell then addressed the Court on behalf of their respective clients, and Mr. Arthur Russell having replied on behalf of the Board of Trade, judgment was given as follows:—

1. She had three compasses on board, one in the wheel-house and two aft. They were in good order, but the Court considers that there ought to have been a compass on the fore-part of the bridge, for the officers of the watch to take bearings and check the courses by,

2. The master stated that he ascertained the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, and correctly ascertained the errors and applied the proper corrections to the courses; and the Court has no reason to doubt his statement.

3. The only measure that could be taken at or about 9 p.m. of the 21st of June was by taking a bearing of and estimating the distance from Grosnez Point, and this the master did, supplementing his estimate of the distance by noticing the ripple on the Rigdon Bank.

4. A safe and proper course was not set at or about 9.10 p.m. of the 21st of June and thereafter steered; an improper allowance was made for tide.

5. The master did not give proper and sufficient instructions to the chief officer before leaving the bridge.

6. The alteration made in the course at 11.25 p.m. was in the right direction but not sufficient.

7. The chief officer did not carry out the instructions left by the master, inasmuch as he did not call the master as soon as he ought to have done.

8. The speed of the vessel ought to have been reduced when the weather became thick.

9. The navigation of the Race of Alderney is very difficult. There was intermittent fog, and the chief officer, though holding a master's certificate recently obtained, had never had a command, and had never been in charge of a vessel passing through the Race, and had been only three previous voyages with this master.

He had suggested to the master when setting the course from Grosnez Point that it was too much to the east, and the Court is clearly of opinion that the master ought not to have left the bridge before having passed through the Race.

10. The master was trusting to his local knowledge, which he had gained by many years' experience on this part of the coast. Had he remained on deck he would probably have safely navigated his vessel through the Race of Alderney on the night in question.

11. Cape de la Hogue light was in sight up to within a short time of the stranding. Had bearings of this been taken from time to time as they approached it there would have been no necessity to have used the lead.

The Court wishes to recommend that a light should be put on the eastern end of Alderney, which would greatly assist the navigation through the Race.

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

13. The cause of the casualty was that the master set a course at Grosnez Point too much to the east, and was absent from the bridge whilst the vessel was passing through a narrow and intricate channel where the tides always run very strongly.

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

15. The master is in default, and the Court suspends his certificate for six months. The chief officer is not in default; but the Court greatly blames him for not calling the master as soon as he lost Cape de la Hogue Light.



R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.

We concur.









Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 30th day of July 1895.

87089—37. 180.—7/95. Wt. 165. E. & S.


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