The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894.
IN the matter of a formal investigation held at the Moot Hall, Newcastle-on-Tyne, on the 16th and 17th days of December, 1897, before HUGH MORTON and JOHN BEATTIE, Esquires, two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace, acting in and for the City and County of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, assisted by Captains PARFITT and HORE (Nautical Assessors), into the circumstances attending the loss of the British steamship "BUTESHIRE," of South Shields, about 8 miles E.N.E. from HÃ¤fringe Light, Sweden, on 15th November, 1897.
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 loss of the vessel was caused through the master making no allowance for current. The Court does not find the master, William Harroway, in default, but considers he committed a grave error of judgment.
Dated this 17th day of December, 1897.
We concur in the above report.
Annex to Report.
This was an inquiry into the circumstances attending the loss of the British steamship "Buteshire," and was held at the Moot Hall, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on the 16th and 17th days of December, 1897, before Hugh Morton and John Beattie, Esquires, assisted by Captains Parfitt and Hore (Nautical Assessors).
Mr. Dendy appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. Temperley represented the owners and master, and the first and second officers appeared in person.
The "Buteshire." official No. 78558, was an iron screw steamship, built at Port Glasgow, in the County of Renfrew, in the year 1877, by Messrs. W. Hamilton & Co. She was of the following dimensions: length, 260.3 ft.; breadth, 32.3 ft.; and depth of hold, 22.75 ft., and was schooner-rigged, fitted with two compound surface condensing engines of 140 horse-power combined, constructed in the year 1877 by Messrs. Walker, Henderson & Co., of Glasgow. She was of 1367.92 gross and 862.70 net registered amended tonnage, and was owned by the South Shields Steam Shipping Company, Limited. Mr. Walter Runciman, of Dean Street, South Shields, being appointed managing owner on 5th April, 1890.
The "Buteshire" was, on the voyage in question, in good condition and well-found and fully-equipped with life-boats and life-saving appliances in accordance with the Act.
There were four compasses on board, as hereinafter particularly described, two of which were in use, and the master was supplied with Ismay's Blueback 1895 Chart, corrected to 1897, and also a set of Swedish Admiralty Charts.
The "Buteshire" left Swinemunde at 8 p.m. on the 13th November last, in water-ballast for Oxelosund, in Sweden, her draught of water on leaving being 7 feet 6 inches forward and 12 feet 6 inches aft.
She carried a crew of 20 hands all told, under the command of Mr. William Harroway, who held a certificate of competency as master No. 015114. The pilot was discharged at 8.30, the patent log streamed at 8.40, and a course set N.E. by compass, which was continued for 13 miles. The course was then altered to N.E. 3/4 N., and was continued till 6.30 a.m. of the 14th, when it was altered to N.E. by N. At noon observations were taken, and the ship was found to be in latitude by meridian altitude 55º 54' N., and longitude by chronometer 16º 47' E. These observations shewed that the vessel was at this time. 9 1/2 miles farther east and 8 miles ahead of her position by dead-reckoning and patent log. The weather had been fine, with moderate breeze from the south-west, and it is evident that the current had been setting to the north-east at the rate of three-quarters of a knot per hour.
The course was then altered to N. by E. 1/4 E.
Soundings were taken in 32 fathoms at 4 p.m., and again at 8 p.m. in 38 fathoms. At 10.0 the course was again altered to N. 1/4 E., with the intention of steering up direct for Hafringe Island Light.
At 11.55 a dense fog came on; the engines were slowed, and the whistle sounded. At 3.30 the weather cleared, with strong breeze from the southward, and the engines were put "full speed" ahead. At 4 a.m. soundings were taken in 39 fathoms, and the same rate of speed was continued till 6.12, when the engines were put at half-speed, and at 6.15 slowed, the master stating that he thought he would then be within the range of the Light, and was thinking of turning the vessel round. She continued on the same course and at the same speed till 6.30, when she struck on an outlying patch of rock about 8 miles E.N.E. from Hafringe Light. The engines were put "full speed" astern, but the rudder being unshipped, the vessel swung broadside on to the rocks and remained fast, when the engines were stopped.
She immediately filled with water, and the fires were drowned out.
The lifeboats were got ready, and at 10 a.m. they finally abandoned the ship and landed on a small island, whence they proceeded to the pilot station, and were subsequently conveyed in a salvage tug to Oxelosund.
The vessel became a total wreck.
No lives were lost.
At the time of stranding the patent log shewed 288 miles from 8.40 p.m. of the 13th, but the distance run by the ship was 314 miles, thus proving that in a 34 hours' run she had overrun her distance 26 miles, giving a current of about three-quarters of a knot per hour, for which no allowance whatever had been made by the master. Captain Harroway, who bore an exceptionally high character, and had held a master's certificate for nearly forty years, had made several similar voyages without experiencing any current whatever, and on that account failed to take advantage of the warning supplied by the observations taken at noon of the 14th.
The Court wishes to animadvert on the way in which the log was kept by the chief officer.
The log and lead were entered as having been "noted and attended to," but no distances or depths were recorded.
At the conclusion of the evidence the following questions were submitted on behalf of the Board of Trade. Mr. Temperley addressed the Court for his clients, and Mr. Dendy replied.
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. Whether safe and proper courses were set and steered after leaving Swinemunde on the 13th November last, and whether due and proper allowance was made for currents?
4. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel from time to time, especially on the morning of the 15th November last?
5. Whether, having regard to the state of the weather on the morning of the 15th November last, the vessel was navigated at too great a speed, and was the lead hove with sufficient frequency?
6. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept?
7. What was the cause of the casualty?
8. Whether the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care?
9. Whether the loss of the s.s. "Buteshire" was caused by the wrongful act or default of the master, chief and second officers, or any of them?
To which the Court replied as follows:
1. There were four compasses on board, two of which were in use, viz.: a standard compass on the upper bridge by which the courses were set and steered, and a pole-compass above the upper bridge. They were in good order, and sufficient for the safe navigation of the vessel, but there was no evidence to shew when or by whom they were last adjusted the master stating, he believed they were adjusted in Stockholm, some sixteen months ago, before he joined the vessel. The others were spare compasses, not adjusted, and were kept in the chart room.
2. The master stated he ascertained the deviation of his compasses by observation from time to time, and that the errors were correctly ascertained and the proper corrections to the courses applied.
As the compass-books were lost with the vessel the Court had no means to verify the statement.
3. Safe and proper courses were set and steered after leaving Swinemunde on the 13th November last. At noon of the 14th observations were taken by which the vessel's position was correctly ascertained, and it was then found that she had been set 9 1/2 miles to the eastward of the course steered, and had overrun the distance shewn by the log 8 miles. Although safe and proper courses were continued from this position no attention was paid or allowance made for the current which was setting the vessel up to the N.N.E.
4 & 5. Proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel by casts of the lead on the 14th, soundings giving at 4 and 8 p.m. 32 and 38 fathoms respectively, and at 4 a.m. of the 15th 39 fathoms. No farther soundings were taken, but had the master used the lead at 6.10 a.m. of the 15th, when he slowed down with the object of turning round, he would have discovered he was in danger. Having regard to the proved existence of a current setting the vessel ahead of her reckoning, speed should have been reduced and the ship turned round when she had run 270 miles.
6. A good and proper look-out was kept.
7. The casualty was caused by the master making no allowance for current.
8. With the foregoing exception the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care.
9. The loss of the vessel was caused by the master alone. The Court, however, does not find him in default, but considers he committed a grave error of judgment in relying upon his dead reckoning rather than on the warning as to the existence of a current afforded by the observation taken at noon of the 14th November.
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 31st day of December, 1897.)