Kinfauns Castle (2)
IN the matter of a formal investigation held at Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the 3rd and 4th days of July, 1902, before R. H. B. MARSHAM, Esquire, assisted by Captains RONALDSON and CABORNE, R.N.R., C.B., into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "KINFAUNS CASTLE" on or near Ship Ledge, Isle of Wight, on or about the 12th April last.
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 stranding of the vessel was that she was set 9 or 10 miles to the southward and eastward of her course by an abnormally strong tide, that the distance of the vessel from St. Catherine's Light was over-estimated, and that the lead was not used when getting near the land.
Dated this 8th day of July, 1902.
R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.
We concur in the above Report.
W. F. CABORNE,
Annex to the Report.
This was an inquiry held at the Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the 3rd and 4th July, 1902, when Mr. Mansel Jones appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. Scrutton, K.C., and Mr. R. H. Ballock for the Union Castle Mail Steamship Company, Limited; and Mr. Baden-Powell, K.C., for the master. The chief, second, third, and fourth officers were unrepresented.
The "Kinfauns Castle," official number 110,173, is a twin screw steamer, built of steel by the Fairfield Ship Building and Engineering Co., Limited, Govan, Glasgow, in the year 1899, and registered at the Port of London.
Her dimensions are as follows: Length, 515.3 ft.; breadth, 59.25 ft.; depth of hold from top of beam amidships to top of keel 40 ft.
Her tonnage is 9664.27 tons gross and 5063.33 tons net.
She has three masts and is fore and aft rigged.
She is fitted with eight quadruple expansion direct acting inverted cylinders of the following dimensions: Two of 28 ins., two of 39 3/4 ins., two of 57 1/2 ins., and two of 82 ins.; the length of stroke being 60 ins.
She has six steel boilers tested to a pressure of 210 lbs., and her nominal horse power is 1550, indicated horse power 10,500, estimated to give a speed of 18 3/4 knots.
The boilers and engines were made by the builders of the steamer.
At the time of the casualty she was the property of the Union Castle Mail Steamship Co., Limited, as per certificate of Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, dated 8th March, 1900. Sir Donald Currie, G.C.M.G., M.P., and Sir Francis Evans, K.C.M.G., M.P., both of 3 and 4, Fenchurch Street, City of London, were designated managers, advice received 24th May, 1900, under the seal of the said Company. The "Kinfauns Castle" is employed in the mail service between England and the Cape, and has a passengers' certificate enabling her to carry 872 passengers. She was fitted with 12 lifeboats, capable of carrying 628 persons, and with four other boats. capable of carrying 188 persons, and had on board 920 lifebelts and 50 life buoys. She had four compasses, one right aft on the hurricane deck, one in the wheelhouse, one outside the wheel-house, and the standard compass on the top of the wheel-house, which is a Lord Kelvin's patent compass, and by it the vessel was navigated. They were last adjusted in January, 1900, by Messrs. Lilley & Sons, in the Downs.
She was furnished with Lord Kelvin's patent sounding appliances and Walker's Neptune high-speed patent log.
On March 26th last the "Kinfauns Castle" left Cape Town for Southampton with a crew of 253 hands all told, 334 passengers, and about 100 tons of general cargo, under the command of Mr. Robert Duncan (who has been 31 years a master in the same employment) and four officers, each holding a master's certificate.
She arrived off Ushant on the 11th April, and at 2.10 p.m. the Ushant West Lighthouse bore S. 22 W. magnetic, 1 3/4 miles distant, and the Stiff Point Lighthouse S. 24 E. magnetic.
The course was then set N. 64 E. by compass and the log was re-set. The wind was fresh from E.N.E. with a heavy sea and misty rain. The average speed was calculated to be 15.5.
She continued on that course until 6 p.m., when the course was altered to N. 62 E. to allow for the tide. At 8 p.m., the log registered 93 knots. At this time the third officer verified the ship's position by dead reckoning, allowing a speed of 15 1/2 knots and a course of N. 49 E. true.
At midnight, the second and fourth officers took charge, the log showing the distance from Ushant as 159 miles. On the third officer now going below, though during his watch from 8 p.m. he had observed the lights of passing vessels, he noticed for the first time that the mast head light was slightly hazy.
At 12.50 a.m. of the 12th, the weather being very dark and hazy, with occasional slight rain, the second officer saw a light dead ahead and reported it to the master. It was also reported from the crow's nest.
The second officer almost immediately satisfied himself that the light was St. Catherine's Light, and mentioned it to the fourth officer, who agreed with him.
The second officer then suggested to the master that the course should be altered to N. 14 E., which equalled true north. At the same time he agreed with the master that it was quite 20 miles off, though it could not have been more than nine miles distant.
Up to this time the vessel had been making 15 1/2 knots.
At 0.53 a.m. the engines were put to slow, and it was stated that the speed was then from 6 1/2 to 7 knots.
The master was much surprised to see St. Catherine's Light, and decided to keep on until he could make sure of the flashes.
He stated that he had never made St. Catherine's Light in any of his previous voyages, but was expecting to see Anvil Point Light.
At 1.12 a.m. the course was altered to north true, which had been suggested by the second officer at 0.50 a.m., when the light was first seen.
The log was hauled in and showed 178 miles; it was not put out again, as the master stated he was shortly going to heave to and wait for daylight to go through the Needles.
At this time the master ordered the chief officer to be called that he might verify the light; and he also declared it to be St. Catherine's Light. At 1.37 a.m. the second officer observed the red sector of St. Catherine's Light. He reported this to the chief officer, who remarked that she could not come in any farther.
The master now ordered the helm to be put hard a starboard, but after the ship's head had come round some eleven degrees, the quartermaster reported that she had stopped turning and must be ashore.
The vessel took the ground so quietly that none, save the man in the crow's nest, felt the stranding take place. Soundings were now taken and they gave 18 ft. forward and 24 ft. aft.
The lead had not been previously used. Had it been used after the course was altered to the northward, the casualty might have been averted, but the master having St. Catherine's Light in sight on a safe bearing at an estimated distance of about 17 miles, did not then consider this precaution necessary.
The engines were stopped and put at full speed astern without effect. No land was visible owing to the haze.
The vessel's draught was 24 ft. aft and 19 ft. forward.
The water ballast tanks were immediately ordered to be pumped out, which lightened the vessel by about 1700 tons.
Two small boilers were also emptied.
At daylight it was ascertained that the vessel had grounded about half a mile from the shore on Ship Ledge, near Grange Chine, Isle of Wight. The water at this time was as smooth as a mill-pond, and was so until and after she floated.
Four tugs were sent to her assistance, and all the passengers were conveyed to Southampton by the tender, and part of the cargo was discharged.
Two anchors were laid out astern with wire hawsers attached, and at about 1 a.m. of the 13th, the wire hawsers being hove on by the steam winches and the tugs also towing, she came off.
The hawsers were slipped and she proceeded to Southampton under her own steam, the tugs accompanying her.
She was afterwards placed in dry dock and surveyed by Mr. E. A. Laslett, Board of Trade surveyor, who found two of the port propeller blades bent and one cracked. These were taken off and replaced by new ones. There were also some scratches, and several butts on both sides at the turn of the bilge were slightly weeping; but she had made no water and repairs were not necessary.
All the damage looked recent.
The assistant keeper at the St. Catherine's lighthouse was called at the inquiry, and stated that it was quite clear at his station and apparently so at sea, and therefore the fog-horn had not been sounded, but that they could not see the Needles nor the Anvil Light.
The master and officers attributed the getting out of their course in the first instance to an abnormal floodtide caused by the sudden cessation of a strong easterly wind which bad previously been prevailing in the channel, and the atmospheric conditions which prevailed would seem to have considerably shortened the range of visibility of St. Catherine's Light, although that fact does not appear to have been apparent at the time to those on board the "Kinfauns Castle."
Mr. Duncan had sent in his resignation to the Company previous to this voyage, but, at his own request, had been permitted to make the present voyage so as to leave the sea in warm weather. Mr. Merrilies, one of the managers of the Company, spoke highly of his services during the thirty-one years he had been with them.
These were the facts of the case, and on the conclusion of the evidence Mr. Mansel Jones, on behalf of the Board of Trade, submitted the following questions to 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) With what description of patent log was the vessel supplied? Was it approximately accurate in recording the distance run from time to time?
(4) Were proper measures taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at or about 2.10 p.m. of the 11th April last? Was a safe and proper course then set and thereafter steered, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?
(5) Was an alteration made in the course at or about 6 p.m. of the 11th April? If so, was such alteration a safe and proper one, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?
(6) At what time in the morning of the 12th April was the St. Catherine's Light sighted? Were proper and sufficient measures taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at that time, and from time to time thereafter?
(7) Was a safe and proper alteration made in the course at or about 1.12 a.m. of the 12th April, and was due and proper allowance made for tide and currents?
(8) Having regard to the state of the weather after midnight of the 11th and 12th April was the vessel navigated at too great a rate of speed?
(9) Was the lead used, and if not should it have been used?
(10) Was a good and proper look-out kept?
(11) What was the cause of the stranding of the vessel, and was she seriously damaged through such stranding?
(12) Was the vessel navigated with proper and seamanlike care?
(13) Was the stranding of, and, or serious damage to the s.s. "Kinfauns Castle" caused by the wrongful act or default of her master, chief, second, third, and fourth officers, or any of them?
Mr. Baden-Powell then addressed the Court on behalf of the master, Mr. Ballock for the owners, and Mr. Mansel Jones for the Board of Trade; and judgment was given as follows:
(1) The vessel had four compasses, they were in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel, and were last adjusted by Lilley & Son, of London, in January, 1900, in the Downs.
(2) The master did ascertain the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, the errors were correctly ascertained, and the proper corrections to the courses applied.
(3) The vessel was supplied with a Walker's Neptune high-speed patent log. It was in the habit of overrunning from about 6 to 9 per cent., which was known and allowed for.
(4) Proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel at or about 2.10 p.m. of the 11th of April last. A safe and proper course was then set, and thereafter steered, and due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents.
(5) An alteration was made in the course at or about 6 p.m. of the 11th April. The alteration was in the right direction, but sufficient allowance was not made for tide. The master had, however, no reason to suppose that there was anything abnormal in the tide.
(6) The St. Catherine's Light was sighted at 12.50 in the morning of the 12th April. No measures were available for him to ascertain the position of the vessel at that time, and none were taken subsequently, except that the vessel approached somewhat nearer to the light.
(7) A safe and proper alteration was not made in the course at or about 1.12 a.m. of the 12th April, though the alteration was in the right direction. But had the vessel been in her assumed position the alteration would have been a safe and proper one.
(8) Having regard to the state of the weather after midnight of the 11th and 12th April, the vessel was not navigated at too great a rate of speed.
(9) The lead was not used, and it would not have indicated the distance of the vessel from St. Catherine's Light, when it was sighted; but had the lead been used when she was approaching the land, it would have shown that the vessel was running into danger.
(10) A good and proper look-out was kept.
(11) The cause of the stranding of the vessel was that she was set 9 or 10 miles to the southward and eastward of her course by an abnormally strong tide, that the distance of the vessel from St. Catherine's Light was over-estimated, and that the lead was not used when getting near the land. The vessel was not seriously damaged through such stranding.
(12) The Court considers the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care, but it would have been more satisfactory if the lead had been used after 1.12 a.m., though the master was not aware of the proximity of the coast.
(13) The stranding of the s.s. "Kinfauns Castle" was not caused by the wrongful act nor default of the master; but by an error of judgment. The stranding was not caused by the wrongful act nor default of the chief, second, third, or fourth officer.
R. H. B. MARSHAM, Judge.
W. F. CABORNE,
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade an the 22nd day of July, 1902.)
KINFAUNS CASTLE (2) was built in 1899 by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. at Glasgow with a tonnage of 9664grt, a length of 533ft, a beam of 59ft 2in and a service speed of 17 knots. She was the first company ship with twin screws and her No.3 hold derricks were worked off the foremast and not the derrick posts.
Built for the mail run she entered service in September 1899 after a shake down cruise with guests.
In April 1902 she gently went aground on the Isle of Wight but was undamaged. On 4th August 1914 she was requisitioned by the Admiralty and converted into an Armed Merchant Cruiser for service in South African waters, she became HMS Kinfauns Castle.
In 1919 she returned to commercial employment on the mail service.
She carried the Duke of Connaught to South Africa as Governor General in 1919 and on 9th September 1922 rescued the crew of the Hammonia (Hamburg-Amerika Line) when she sank 75 miles east of Vigo after striking an unidentified object.
After trooping to the Far East she was laid up at Netley following substitution by the Arundel Castle. In October 1925 she was brought back into service with the Roman to carry the mail when the regular steamers were strike bound and on 17th November departed from Cape Town for the last time.
She was scrapped in Holland in September 1927 after being sold for £32,000
Departing from Southampton with a full complement of troops
Awaiting her launch at Fairfield Shipyard on the Clyde