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Wreck Report for 'Fascadale', 1895

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Unique ID:16802
Description:BOT Wreck Report for 'Fascadale', 1895
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 5129.)


REPORT and Finding of the Court of Inquiry into the circumstances of the wreck of the British ship "FASCADALE" on the 7th February 1895, when four hands were drowned.

The British ship "Fascadale," of Glasgow, 1,976 tons, registered number 97,604, Robert James Gillespie, master, was wrecked on the coast of Natal near the Imperyati River, on the morning of the 7th February 1895. The Court of Inquiry assembled at the Alexandra Hotel on the 22nd February 1895, when the evidence of the following witnesses was taken, viz.: the master, first mate, second mate, H. Turnbull (the man at the wheel), and George Vibert. From the evidence before it, the Court considers it impossible to reconcile the position of the ship at noon on the 6th February, viz., in latitude 33.10 S. and 33.8 E. as stated by the master and first mate with the position when she ran on the coast some 14 1/2 hours after the reckoning had been made out, the ship sailing on a S. 73 W. true course about 90 miles in the interval, which would give the latitude at the time the vessel struck 33.36 deg. S., instead of 30.55 deg. S., or 161 deg. to the north of the assumed position, and can only conclude that the position at noon on the 6th February given from memory was erroneous.

That being unable to obtain observations for two days previous to the night of the disaster cannot be sufficient reason for the error in the latitude, the ship sailing in a locality where the current is well known, and which would set a vessel to the southward of her position by the reckoning, which current was actually experienced, as appears by the master's evidence when the last observations were obtained on the 4th February.

Had a proper use been made of the lead at the time the second officer stated that he took a cast, viz., between midnight and 1 a.m. of the 7th February, the master would have been warned of his near proximity to the land, as from that time until the ship struck at about 2.30 a.m. the wind was light, and the ship not making more than two or three knots. The evidence of the second officer appears to the Court to be conflicting, and quite unreliable, his statement that he ordered the helm to be put hard down when he saw the land being contradicted by the evidence of the man at the wheel.

The Court finds from the evidence that the ship was well and properly found in every respect, and that the compasses and chronometers were reliable.

Finding of the Court.

The Court, having carefully considered the evidence, arrived at the following conclusions:—

1. That the weather at the time of the wreck, and for two days previous to it, was thick and rainy.

2. That the position of the ship at noon on the 6th February was not the position stated by the master and first mate.

3. That the lead should have been used to more effect.

4. That we consider the second officer deserving of severe censure.

5. That the vessel was lost through the default of the master in navigating his ship in an unseamanlike manner in thick weather and when doubtful of his position, and suspend his certificate for twelve months, and recommend him for a certificate as first mate during that period.



G. A. LUCAS, R.M.,




Port Captain,









?? in London by the Board of Trade on the

23rd day of April 1895.

81564—258. 110.—4/95. Wt. 60. E. & S.


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