Heraclides (1)

BOT Wreck Report for 'Heraclides', 1908

"HERACLIDES" (S.S.).

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.

IN the matter of a Formal Investigation held at the Magistrates' Room, Liverpool, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th days of January, 1908, before W. J. STEWART, Esq., assisted by Capt. JENKIN THOMAS and Lieut. J. L. LEFTWICH, R.N.R., into the circumstances attending the stranding and abandonment of the British s.s. "HERACLIDES" of Liverpool on Hottentot Point, South West Coast of Africa, on October 26, 1907.

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 and abandonment of the said vessel were due to an error of judgment on the part of the master, Mr. Edwin Albert Castle.

Dated this 17th day of January, 1908.

W. J. STEWART,

Judge.

We concur in the above Report.

J. THOMAS,

J. L. LEFTWICH,

Assessors.

Annex to the Report.

This inquiry was heard at the Magistrates' Room, Dale Street. Liverpool, on the 15th, 16th, and 17th days of January, 1908. Mr. Paxton (Avison & Co.), appeared as solicitor for the Board of Trade, Mr. Maxwell, instructed by Messrs. Simpson & North, for the owners, and Mr. Miller for the master.

The "Heraclides" was an iron screw steamship, built at Sunderland in 1886 by Messrs. Boolds, Shaver, & Co., her official number being 93689, and her port of registry, Liverpool. She was of the following dimensions: Length 320 feet, breadth 40.4 feet, and depth of hold 27.2 feet. She had tri-compound surface condensing engines of 450 nominal horsepower, made by Thomas Richardson & Sons, Hartlepool. She was of gross tonnage 2976.91, and 1881.23 nett, and was owned by the British and South American Steam Navigation Co., Ltd., the manager on behalf of the owners being Mr. Herbert Charles Rowlands, of 10, Dale Street, Liverpool. She was fully equipped with lifeboats and other life saving appliances in accordance with the Act. There were 3 compasses on board, hereinafter described.

The "Heraclides" sailed from Swakopmind Road, German S.W. Africa, on the 25th October, 1907, about 2.30 p.m., under the command of Mr. Edwin Albert Castle, whose certificate of competency as master is No. 023009, with a crew of 37 hands and 22 passengers. She had a part cargo of 2000 tons of coal. A departure was taken when Pelican Point was abeam S. 67° E. distant about 2 miles at 4 p.m. on the 25th, the course steered being S. 23° W. true. At 4.30 p.m. the course was altered to South true, the ship's speed being about 10 knots. This course was continued until 4 a.m. of the 26th when it was altered to S. 17° E. true, which course the master estimated would take him 7 to 8 miles off Hottentot Point, then distant about 86 miles.

It may be noted here that the ship's log was lost, as hereinafter described, so that the times of altering course, the courses steered, the distance run, and soundings obtained, are all given by the witnesses from memory.

Towards 10 a.m. the weather commenced to become hazy. At 11 a.m. the engines were eased down to three-quarter speed, and a man placed on the look-out. At 12.15 p.m. as the weather was getting thicker, the engines were put to half speed. At 12.40 p.m. a sounding of 60 fathoms was obtained by the Sir Wm. Thomson patent sounding machine. At 12.55 p.m. another sounding was taken and 30 fathoms obtained. The vessel continued on the same course and at the same speed.

At 1.15 p.m., in the act of taking a third cast of the lead, the wire parted from some unknown cause. Hands were sent immediately to get the deep sea lead ready, but at that moment, at about 1.25 p.m., something was seen from the bridge on the starboard bow, which was supposed to be a rock, and at the same time, the man on the look-out reported breakers ahead. The engines were put full speed astern, and the helm hard-a-starboard, but without avail. The vessel grounded on Hottentot Point and remained there. Nos. 1 and 2 holds began to fill rapidly, and the engine room pumps were set going, but the water still gained.

A stream anchor was run out with a 3" wire attached, and this was hove taut and the engines kept going, but the vessel did not move. At about 4 p.m. the passengers were landed in the lifeboats and the chief officer was sent away to walk to Angra Pequena, a distance of about 40 miles for assistance, which was obtained. The vessel was eventually abandoned at 2 a.m. on the 29th October, the captain of the Port of Angra Pequena agreeing with the master that nothing further could be done. No lives were lost.

The master made a fatal mistake in not stopping the ship or putting her head to sea when a 30 fathoms sounding was obtained; but this error would not have entailed such serious consequences had not the wire of the patent sounding machine carried away at a critical moment, as the master might have had time to avoid danger if he had received the information which the third cast would no doubt have conveyed to him.

The master attributed the casualty to the vessel being set to the eastward by the influence of a current of greater strength than he expected to experience. But as he was aware of the existence of a current and when the weather became thick as the vessel was gradually drawing closer to the land, it would obviously have been more prudent for the master to have stopped the vessel or hauled her out to sea when the 30 fathom sounding was obtained. The master very candidly admitted that such a course would have been wiser.

With this exception the master showed himself fully alive to his responsibilities, and was on the bridge from 9 a.m. until the vessel struck, personally superintending the navigation of his vessel.

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

(1) What number of compasses had the vessel, were they in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel, and when and by whom were they last adjusted?

(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) Was the vessel provided with proper and sufficient charts and sailing directions?

(4) Were the boats and life-saving appliances in good condition and ready for use?

(5) Were proper measures taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at or about 4 p.m. of the 25th October last, was a safe and proper course thereafter steered and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?

(6) Were safe and proper alterations made in the course at or about 4.30 p.m. of the 25th and 4 a.m. of the 26th October, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?

(7) Were any alterations made in the course after 4 a.m. of the 26th October? If so, what courses were steered, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?

(8) Having regard to the state of the weather after 7 a.m. of the 26th October last?

(a) Was the vessel navigated at too great a rate of speed?

(b) Was the lead used with sufficient frequency and accuracy?

(c) When a sounding of 30 fathoms was obtained, was the master justified in continuing his course?

(9) What was the cause of the wire attached to the patent sounding machine breaking at or about 1.15 p.m. of the 26th October last? Were prompt measures taken to get the deep sea lead ready?

(10) Was a good and proper look out kept?

(11) What were the circumstances in which the mate's log book was lost?

(12) What was the cause of the stranding of the vessel, and was she seriously damaged thereby? Was she prematurely abandoned?

(13) Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike care?

(14) Was serious damage to and/or the abandonment of the s.s. "Heraclides" caused by the wrongful act or default of the master?

Mr. Maxwell, having addressed the Court on behalf of the owners, and Mr. Miller 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 vessel had three compasses, one on the saloon deck, one on the upper bridge, and one aft. They were last adjusted by Captain Johnson, at Cape Town, in May, 1907. They were in good order, and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel.

(2) The master ascertained the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, the errors were correctly ascertained and the proper corrections to the courses were applied.

(3) The vessel was provided with sufficient charts and sailing directions.

(4) The boats and life-saving appliances were in good condition, and ready for use.

(5) Proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at or about 4 p.m. of the 25th October last. A safe and proper course thereafter was steered, and due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents.

(6) Safe and proper alterations were made in the course at or about 4.30 p.m. of the 25th and 4 a.m. of the 26th October, and due and proper allowance made for tide and currents. The latter course should not have been continued after the weather became thick.

(7) No alterations were made in the course after 4 a.m. of the 26th October.

(8)

(a) After 11 a.m. the vessel was navigated at too great a rate of speed;

(b) The lead was used with sufficient frequency and accuracy;

(c) The master was not justified in continuing his course when a sounding of 30 fathoms was obtained.

(9) There is no evidence to show what was the cause of the wire parting. Prompt measures were taken to get the deep sea lead ready.

(10) A good and proper look-out was kept.

(11) The mate's log book, together with the ship's papers, had been placed in one of the lifeboats ready to be taken ashore. It was then found that this boat, which had already made several trips to shore, was making water. To ascertain the cause of the leak and remedy it, the boat was being hoisted up when one of the davits gave way and smashed the boat, which fell into the water and sank with the log book on board.

(12) The stranding of the vessel was caused by the master steering too fine a course in thick weather, and by not hauling his vessel out to sea or stopping when he obtained a sounding of 30 fathoms. She was seriously damaged thereby. She was not prematurely abandoned.

(13) The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care after 11 a.m.

(14) The damage to and the abandonment of the said vessel were due to an error of judgment on the part of the master.

W. J. STEWART,

Judge.

We concur in the above Report.

J. THOMAS,

J. L. LEFTWICH,

Assessors.

Liverpool,

21st January, 1908.

(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 11th day of February, 1908.)

BOT Wreck Report for 'Heraclides', 1902

"HERACLIDES" (S.S.).

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.

IN the matter of a formal investigation held at the Magistrate's Room, Liverpool, on the 11th, 12th, and 13th days of November, 1902, before W. J. STEWART, Esquire, assisted by Captain SINCLAIR LOUTIT and Captain W. G. B. MELVILLE, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British s.s. "HERACLIDES," of Liverpool, on Taylor's Bank, River Mersey, on 15th October, 1902.

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 her drifting on to Taylor's Bank, in the River Mersey, owing to her becoming unmanageable during a heavy squall, which she, being light and in her then trim, was not in a fit state to encounter.

Dated this 13th day of November, 1902.

W. J. STEWART,

Judge.

We concur in the above Report.

W. H. SINCLAIR LOUTIT,

Assessors.

WM. G. B. MELVILLE,

Annex to the Report.

This inquiry was held in the Magistrate's Room, Dale Street, on the 11th, 12th, and 13th days of November, 1902, when Mr. Paxton appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. A. Miller for the master, Mr. W. Bateson for the pilot, and Mr. F. E. Smith, of Counsel, for the owners.

The "Heraclides," official number 93689, is a British steamship, registered at Liverpool, and built of iron by Messrs. Boolds, Sharer & Co., of Sunderland, her dimensions being, length, 320 ft.; breadth, 40.4 ft.; and depth of hold, from tonnage deck to ceiling amidships, 27.2 ft.; she was fitted with 3 tri-compound surface condensing engines of 450 horse power, and at the time of the casualty, which forms the subject of this investigation, was the property of the British and South American Steam Navigation Company, Limited, Herbert Charles Rowlands, of 10, Dale Street, Liverpool, being designated the person to whom the management of the vessel is intrusted by and on behalf of the owners, advice received 12th December, 1899. Her gross tonnage is 2976.91 tons, and after deducting 1095.68 tons for engine-room and crew spaces, her register tonnage is 1881.23 tons. She was supplied with all the necessary boat and life-saving appliances in accordance with the Act, and was in good order and well found in every respect.

The "Heraclides" left the dock at 9 p.m. on 15th October, under the command of Mr. David Hamilton Blellock, who holds a master's certificate of competency, and under the pilotage charge of Mr. Thomas Owen, a duly licensed first class Liverpool pilot. She was on a voyage to Glasgow to load a full cargo, and had a crew of 34 hands all told, and one passenger. She was ballasted with about 900 tons of dead weight, distributed as follows: Coal in side bunkers, 350 tons; in main tank, 130 tons; water in fore after tank, 120 tons; in after tank, 48 tons; in after peak, 12 tons; in all, 660 tons; added to which there were insulation fittings in the lower hold, extending from the after end of the engine room bulkhead to the stern, estimated to weigh some 250 tons; her draught of water being 17 ft. 6 ins. aft, and 9 ft. 4 ins. forward, 8 ft. 2 ins. by the stern. The weather, at the time the vessel left the dock, was fine, with a strong S.W. breeze, and the barometer reading 29.30 ins. On starting down the river, all went well, the vessel showing no signs of being tender and answering her helm promptly. On passing No. 8 Gas buoy, the weather became squally, and the pilot, it is to be noted, pursued the unusual course of taking the ship down the river on the port or wrong side of the channel, thus contravening Article No. 25, which expressly states that "In narrow channels every steam vessel shall, when it is " safe and practicable, keep to that side of the fairway, " or mid channel, which lies on the starboard side of such " vessel." According to his evidence, he acted thus on account of the strong wind then prevailing, so as to maintain a more weatherly position. He continued on the port side of the channel till nearing No. 4 buoy, the tide then being 3/4 of an hour ebb. The Crosby lightship was then on his starboard bow, lying head to wind (W.S.W.) athwart the channel. The squall then coming down proving a heavy one, the pilot decided to pass on the weather side of the lightship, but finding that the vessel was making considerable leeway, he feared colliding with her, and judged it safer to port his helm and thus pass under the lightship's stern. He succeeded in doing this, but on his starboarding the helm to bring the vessel round into the fairway channel, he found that she would not answer her helm, and was fast drifting on to Taylor Bank. He then ordered the engines full speed astern, and the starboard anchor to be let go, but, before either order could be executed, the vessel struck the bank, and continued driving further on it, despite the engines working astern, till she reached its highest point, where she remained, bumping till 11.10 p.m., at which time the engines were finally stopped. Rockets were sent up for assistance and the two starboard boats were lowered. At 12.30 a.m. on the 16th October, the New Brighton lifeboat came alongside and some of the crew went on board of her. At about 1.30 a.m. the master went into the engine-room, and with the chief engineer found the following damage, which led him to believe that the vessel's back was broken: the main steam pipe leaking badly, the boiler shifted 2 ins., the stokehold plates opening out, the bulkheads buckled, stanchions bent, and shafting out of line. Under these circumstances the master, pilot, and chief engineer considered it unsafe and useless to remain on board, as the vessel showed every sign of breaking up, and they, therefore, left the vessel with the crew at 5.30 a.m. on the 16th October, and all arrived in safety at Liverpool.

The vessel, after drifting across the Taylor Bank, eventually remained fast on the Formby Bank, and was salved from there some weeks later, very seriously damaged.

In reviewing the circumstances attendant on the stranding of the "Heraclides," the Court desires to draw attention to the condition of this vessel, as regards her seaworthiness when she left the port. As the evidence shows, she was perfectly unmanageable on her encountering a heavy squall in smooth water, within two hours of her departure from dock. This is mainly attributable to her light condition, and her trim; it is to be noted in this particular that the main ballast tank, though constructed to carry 400 tons of water, had only on this occasion some 128 tons of coal in it, and it is open to question whether the insulation, which was very roughly estimated to weigh 250 tons, did actually weigh as much; but giving full credit to the figures quoted, the Court holds (as indeed the result shows) that 900 tons of weight did not prove to be sufficient to adequately ballast this vessel of 2,977 tons gross register.

The Court cannot attach any blame to the master, he had only been 48 hours in Liverpool with his vessel, during which time he had to ship a fresh crew and attend to various other matters, he vessel was, therefore, during her short stay in port under the direct charge of her owners' representative, in this case, Captain Noal, who assumed full responsibility for her ballasting.

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

(1) Was the vessel supplied with proper and sufficient anchors and cables? Were the anchors on board ready for us?

(2) When she left Liverpool on the evening of the 15th October last, was the vessel (a) sufficiently ballasted, (b) in proper trim for a voyage to Glasgow?

(3) Having regard to the state of the weather and the manner in which the vessel was ballasted and trimmed, was the master justified in proceeding to sea on the night of the 15th October last?

(4) What was the cause of the vessel refusing to answer her starboard helm when approaching the Crosby lightship at or about 10.40 p.m. on the 15th October last? Were prompt and proper measures then taken to keep her out of danger?

(5) What was the cause of the stranding of the vessel?

(6) Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike care?

(7) Was serious damage to the s.s "Heraclides" caused by the wrongful act or default of the master, or was it caused by the neglect of Mr. Thomas Owen, pilot, and Mr. Richard John Noal, assistant marine superintendent, or of either of them?

Mr. F. E. Smith and Mr. A. Miller having addressed the Court, the Court gave judgment as above, and returned the following answers to the questions submitted by the Board of Trade:

(1) The vessel was supplied with proper and sufficient anchors and cables. From the evidence adduced, the Court is not prepared to say that they were ready for instant use, inasmuch as the port anchor was on the chocks with the crane tackle hooked on, and the starboard anchor (a stockless one) when the order was given "to let go," was arrested in its descent by the cable jamming on the windless after six or seven fathoms had run out. The carpenter was endeavouring to clear it when the order was given "to hold on."

(2) (a) The Court is not prepared to say that the vessel was sufficiently ballasted. (b) The vessel was not in proper trim for a voyage to Glasgow.

(3) Having regard to the state of the weather as then indicated by the barometrical readings, shown at the principal stations in Liverpool, and to the manner in which the vessel was ballasted and trimmed, the Court is of opinion that it would have been more prudent if the master had not proceeded to sea on the night of the 15th October last.

(4) The primary cause of the vessel refusing to answer her starboard helm on approaching the Crosby lightship, at 10.40 p.m. of the 15th October last, was her encountering a heavy squall from the W.S.W. This, owing to her trim, had such an effect on her steering, that she refused to answer her helm, and thus drifted into dangerous proximity to the lightship. Prompt and proper measures were not then or thereafter taken by the pilot, Mr. Thomas Owen, to keep the vessel out of danger.

(5) The Court is of opinion that the vessel stranded owing to her being so light, to her trim, and to an error of judgment on the part of the pilot, Mr. Thomas Owen, in endeavouring to take the vessel to the eastward of the Crosby lightship, when he found it impracticable to pass to the westward, on account of the heavy W.S.W. squall, which was setting the vessel across the bows of the lightship. In failing to recover herself under starboard helm the vessel drifted on to the Taylor Bank.

(6) The vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care up to about 10.40 p.m. on the 15th October last, but, subsequent to that time, the Court is not prepared to say that sufficient care was exercised.

(7) Serious damage to the s.s. "Heraclides" was not caused by the wrongful act or default of the master, or of Mr. Richard John Noal, the assistant marine superintendent. It was caused to some extent, when the vessel became unmanageable, by an error of judgment on the part of the pilot, Mr. Thomas Owen, as detailed in Answer No. 4; but that the vessel became unmanageable was due to the fact that she was so light, and in such a trim, that she was not in a fit state to encounter (at all events in narrow waters), the sudden squall which struck her when nearing the Crosby lightship.

W. J. STEWART,

Judge.

We concur in the above Report.

W. H. SINCLAIR LOUTIT,

Assessors.

WM. G. B. MELVILLE,

Liverpool, 13th November, 1902.

(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 2nd day of December, 1902.)

Builders Blue Print of Heraclides General Arrangement 1886

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