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Wreck Report for 'Sea Swallow', 1895

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Unique ID:16844
Description:BOT Wreck Report for 'Sea Swallow', 1895
Creator:Board of Trade
Copyright:Out of copyright
Partner:SCC Libraries
Partner ID:Unknown


(No. 5123.)


FINDING and Order of a Naval Court held at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate General at Shanghai on Monday the 14th day of January 1895, and on Tuesday the 15th day of January 1895, to investigate the circumstances attending the wreck of the British sailing ship "SEA SWALLOW," of the port of Shanghai, official number 54,843, on the 10th of December 1894, when on a voyage from Amoy to Mozi, and the subsequent abandonment of the same on the 13th of December 1894, and the cause of such wreck and abandonment, and to inquire into the conduct of the master and crew of the said ship.

The "Sea Swallow" was a British sailing vessel, three-masted, square-rigged on her foremast, of 332 tons registered tonnage, official number 54,843, built at Sunderland in 1866, and belonging to the port of Shanghai.

It appears from the evidence given before this Court that she sailed from Amoy on the 1st day of December 1894 bound for Mozi, Japan, with a cargo of ballast 200 tons, and a crew of 12 hands all told.

From the 6th of December it blew a strong N.N.E. gale with a very high cross sea. At midnight on the 9th December, when about 24 miles from land, the ship was standing on the port tack, the master wore ship and stood in towards the land on the starboard tack.

The ship was then in about latitude 24° N., and longitude 122° E.

The mate, Kurt Rath, was then on watch. About half an hour after the ship was put on the starboard tack two of the foretopmast-backstay chain-plates and bolts broke. It was very dark, and the vessel was rolling heavily. The mate put a tackle on one of the shrouds and had it hauled taut, while the master and crew were standing by to wear ship; again a heavy sea struck the ship, causing her to roll very heavily, and the foretopmast carried away, while the foremast jumped out of its step and laid over the port rails, breaking open the deck, and the heel of it pressing hard against the ship's side. Within a few minutes the mainmast and mizzenmast carried away, as did also the jib-boom and bowsprit. The wreckage was cut away and floated to windward of the ship.

The ship made little water, and one of the pumps, which was in working order, was sufficient for keeping the ship dry.

Before the vessel was dismasted she was under the lower fore-topsail, fore-topmast-staysail, and single-reefed spanker.

A small jury-mast was rigged, it not being possible to rig the heavier spare mizzen-topmast owing to the very heavy rolling. The ship lay to under the jury-mast until the morning of the 13th December, when the British sailing vessel "Contest" hove in sight, to which the master and crew of the wreck were transferred with all available effects.

Before leaving the wreck the master attempted to set fire to her so as not to leave her as a derelict, and as such, a danger to shipping. Failing in this attempt he knocked out a ballast port and thus secured her foundering in the next heavy blow, which set in before 24 hours were ended.

The ship was insured for three thousand taels in the North China Insurance Office at Shanghai, which sum was not half her value, and she was not insured in any other office.

The Court, having regard to the circumstances above stated, finds as follows:—

Firstly. That the vessel "Sea Swallow" appears to have been well found and seaworthy and sufficiently manned at the time of her departure from Amoy.

Secondly. That the master, James Maher, appears to have navigated his vessel in a seamanlike and proper manner, and that when the casualty occurred the said master, James Maher, did everything in his power to save the ship.

Thirdly. That the master, James Maher, was justified in abandoning his ship, as otherwise the lives of those on board would have been endangered.

Fourthly. That the master, James Maher, was justified in sinking the wreck, as she would have been a danger to navigation if left as a derelict.

The expenses of this Court, fixed at 7l. 4s. 0d., are approved.

Dated at Her Britannic Majesty's Consulate-General at Shanghai this fifteenth day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five.




Lieutenant, Royal Navy,

H.M.S. "Caroline,"





Her Majesty's Vice-Consul

at Shanghai,





Master of the British ship

"Nanaimo," official number


Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 8th day of April 1895.

81564.—250. 110.—4/95. Wt. 60. E. & S.


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