The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1887.
IN the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Town Hall, Hull, on the 6th and 7th days of October inst., before H. F. SMITH, Esq., and HY. TOOZES, two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the Borough of Hull, assisted by Captains METHVEN and DAVIES, into the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "MAGNETA," of Hull, at or near Sherringham, Norfolk, on or about the 22nd September alto.
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 the said vessel was caused by the skipper and pilot neglecting to make any allowances for tide, whereby (1) the ship was set in shore through the strength of the flood tide setting strongly. into the Wash; (2) by leeway owing to the wind being N.E.; (3) by the ship being somewhat closer to the shore than was estimated, and (4) by the vessel being steered half a point more to the southward than she should have been. The Court adjudges that the certificate of the skipper, Joseph Grimwood, No. 4,261, be suspended for three calendar months from this date, and that George Palmer, the pilot, be fined the sum of 10l., part of the costs of the inquiry.
Dated this 7th day of October 1892.
Annex to the Report.
This Inquiry was held at the Town Hall, Hull, on the 6th and 7th days of October 1892, when Mr. Saxelbye represented the Board of Trade; Mr. H. C. Lambert appeared on behalf of Mr. George Palmer, the pilot of the "Magneta"; Mr. A. M. Jackson attended on behalf of Messrs. F. and T. Ross, the owners of the vessel, and also for the Humber Mutual Steam Trawlers Insurance Association, Limited, and asked that they should be made parties to the inquiry, which was granted. Mr. Joseph Grimwood, the skipper, appeared personally.
The "Magneta" is an iron screw steamship, built in the year 1885, by Messrs. Cook, Welton, and Gemmell, of Hull. She was originally a sailing ship, but in the year 1888 she was lengthened, and converted from a sailing vessel to a screw steamship. Her official number is 91,421; she is registered at the port of Hull, and owned by Messrs. Francis and Thomas Ross, who are also registered as her managing owners. Her length is 95.7 ft., breadth 20.4 ft., and depth 9.5 ft. She is fitted with two compound direct-acting vertical-inverted engines of 40 horse-power combined. Her gross tonnage is 115.65 tons, and her registered tonnage 51.51 tons.
The "Magneta" left Hull on the 21st of September last, about 6.30 p.m., in ballast. Her draught was 7 ft. forward, but the draught aft could not be ascertained, but it was stated that she was much down by the stern. She was under the command of Mr. Joseph Grimwood, who holds a certificate of competency as skipper, No. 4,261, dated the 20th day of September 1892, with a crew of eleven hands all told. She was well found, and everything was in good order. She had two compasses on board, both of which were on the bridge; one was a pole compass and the other was in the binnacle. The vessel was steered and courses set by the pole compass. They were last adjusted in September 1890 by Messrs. Castle & Pagan, compass adjusters, Hull. There were two deviation cards on board; that belonging to the pole compass showed a quarter of a point westerly deviation on a S.E. by S. course.
The "Magneta" proceeded down the Humber, bound for Milford Haven, in charge of the pilot, George Palmer, who holds a certificate of competency as master. He also holds a Hull Trinity House pilot's certificate. She passed the Spurn Lightship about 9.30 p.m. It was then 2 miles away on the port hand. The pilot set the course S.E. by S. 1/2 S., and the skipper set the second hand and deck hand as the first watch. At that time the weather was hazy, the wind N.E. and fresh, with a moderate sea. At midnight the watch was changed, when the boatswain, Samuel George Burbeck, and Thomas Howden, the third hand, took charge, the boatswain taking the wheel and the third hand on the look-out, but both being on the bridge. The Dudgeon was sighted about 12.45 a.m. the next morning, when the skipper went down to get his supper. He returned on deck between 1.15 and 1.30 a.m. for a few minutes when they were passing the Dudgeon, which was about half a mile off, abeam on the port side, and then went below, and turned in, where he remained until 4.10 a.m., when the vessel stranded, George Palmer, the pilot, stated he was engaged by Mr. Thomas Ross, one of the owners, to assist the skipper to go round to Milford Haven and set the courses. On going down the Humber, he corrected the compasses as far as he could by taking the bearings of Killingholme Lights. He found the pole compass varied 1/4 point westerly deviation, and agreed with the deviation card. He set the course about 9.30 p.m. from the Newsand Lightship, S.E. by S. 1/2 S., which, allowing for the 1/4 point westerly deviation, made the course S.E. by S. 1/4 S. After setting the course he stayed on deck until 10 o'clock. He then states that he said to the mate, "You are in a fairway now, there is nothing " to fear," and went below, leaving the skipper on deck. At 11.30 he came up again and took the bearings of the Inner Dowsing Lightship, which was 4 1/2 miles off, S.W. by W. Between 11.30 p.m. and midnight he went below, and came up again about 2 a.m. the next morning, and he states he asked the boatswain and third hand if they had sighted the Cromer Light. They said "No. He says he told them to be very particular, and not to go to the southward of the courseâ€”they were to go to the eastward rather than the southward, as they would be getting near the land. At that time the night was dull and a little hazy, and he did not expect to see the Cromer Light more than 8 or 10 miles off. He states he told the boatswain he would see the Cromer Light broad on his starboard bow almost directly, and he gave him instructions to call him as soon as he sighted it. At 2.25 he went below, where he remained until 4.10 a.m., when the vessel stranded. There is a conflict of evidence between the pilot on the one hand, and the boatswain and third hand on the other. The former says he came up at 2 a.m., and the latter that he was called at 1 a.m. when the Dudgeon was sighted, but did not come on deck until 2.30 a.m. There are also discrepancies in the conversations about the Cromer Light, and as to where it should be seen. The pilot states he told the boatswain and third hand it ought to be sighted on the starboard bow, but both the latter say he only told them to keep a good look-out for the Cromer Light, and he gave them no specific instructions as to where it should be seen.
At the time the casualty happened, both the skipper and pilot were asleep in their bunks, and were aroused by the vessel bumping. They both immediately ran on deck, and the pilot gave orders for the engines to be set full speed astern. The engineer had, just before this order was given, felt the vessel bump and stopped the engines. Directly the pilot got on deck, he states he noticed the vessel was heading south, and said to the boatswain "Dear-a-me, there's the compass-she's " heading south now, and the land high and bold right " ahead of us. Couldn't you see it before the ship " came to the ground?" to which the boatswain replied "We havn't seen anything." The pilot said "You surely cannot have been steering the course "I gave you." The boatswain and third hand both deny that any such conversation occurred, the latter stating that immediately the vessel stranded he went to arouse the remainder of the crew in the forecastle, and the boatswain says he rang the engine-room bell and jumped off the bridge immediately.
The pilot stated the boatswain ought to have seen the Cromer Light some considerable time before the vessel got ashore. He also ought to have seen the cliffs for at least two miles before the vessel stranded, and both seen and heard the breakers, as they could have been heard for some distance, the night being still. After the stranding, when it was found the vessel could not be backed off, the boat was launched. The breakers were coming over the stern of the ship and getting down the engine-room skylight. The boat was kept alongside for about half an hour, and the cook got in her, the crew throwing oil on the water to keep the surf down until they had used all their oil.
The boat, with the cook in it, then broke adrift, and was washed ashore. The whistle was blown, but no "flares" were shewn as there were none on board. Their signals were answered by a gun from Sherringham, and at 6 a.m. the rocket apparatus from Weybourne came to their assistance, and the whole of the remainder of the crew were landed by its means by 7 a.m. The skipper then found his vessel had stranded midway between Sherringham and Weybourne on the coast of Norfolk. The vessel lay about 50 yards from the cliff, and was dry at low water. Efforts were made to get her off by the next tide which were unsuccessful, but with some local assistance she was floated on Saturday, the 24th September, and brought to Hull the same day. She was placed in dry dock and surveyed, and it has been found that considerable damage has been done to her bottom. The Humber Mutual Steam Trawlers Insurance Association, Limited, estimate the total cost of the damage, and expenses consequent upon the stranding, will amount to 5001. or 6001.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Saxelbye submitted the following questions for the opinion of the Court:â€”
1. What number of compasses had the vessel on board, where were they placed, and were they in good order and sufficient for the safe navigation of the ship?
2. When and by whom were they last adjusted?
3. Did the master ascertain the deviation of his compasses during the voyage; if so, were such errors correctly ascertained, and proper corrections to the courses applied?
4. Whether a safe and proper course was set after passing Spurn Lightship and thereafter steered, and whether due and proper allowance was made for tide and currents, particularly after passing the Dudgeon Light-vessel?
5. Whether proper measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel from time to time after passing Spurn?
6. Whether the skipper was on deck at a time, and from time to time, when the safety of his vessel required his personal supervision?
7. Whether George Palmer, the pilot, was on deck from time to time when the safety of the vessel required his personal supervision, and if not, was he, as pilot, justified in being below?
8. Whether a good and proper look-out was kept?
9. Whether the weather was thick with fog, and if not, how was it Cromer Light was not seen?
10. If the Court is of opinion that the weather was thick with fog, then was the vessel navigated at too great a rate of speed?
11. Whether the lead was used, and if not, was its neglect justifiable?
12. What was the cause of the casualty?
13. Whether the vessel was navigated with proper and seamanlike care?
14. Whether the skipper is in default, and whether blame attaches to the pilot, George Palmer?
The Board of Trade is of opinion that the certificate of the master should be dealt with.
Mr. A. M. Jackson having addressed the Court for the owners and the Humber Mutual Steam Trawlers Insurance Company, Limited, and Mr. H. C. Lambert for the pilot, the Court in giving judgment replied to the several questions as follows:â€”
1. The "Magneta" had two compasses on board, one on a pole, and the other in a binnacle, and both were on the bridge. They were sufficient for the safe navigation of the ship, but there was no evidence to shew whether they were in good order or not.
2. The compasses were last adjusted in September 1890 by Messrs. Castle & Pagan, Compass Adjusters, Hull.
3. No. He had no opportunity of doing so, as the vessel had only just left the port, and this was his first voyage in her.
4. A safe and proper course was set and steered from Spurn Lightship to the Dudgeon, but not thereafter Due and proper allowance was not made for tide and current after passing the Dudgeon.
5. No measures were taken to ascertain and verify the position of the vessel from time to time after passing Spurn.
6. The skipper was not on deck at a time, or from time to time, when the safety of his vessel required his personal supervision.
7. George Palmer, the pilot, was not on deck from time to time, when the safety of the vessel required his personal supervision, and was not justified in being so continuously below.
8. A good and proper look-out was not kept.
9. The weather was hazy at intervals until 3.55 a.m., when it came in thick. Cromer Light was not seen on account of the haze, and because it was shut in by the shore.
10. The weather was not sufficiently hazy to necessitate a reduction of the speed of the vessel.
11. The lead was not used, nor was its neglect justifiable.
12. The casualty was caused by the skipper and pilot neglecting to make any allowances, whereby (1) the ship was set in shore through the strength of the flood tide setting strongly into the wash, (2) by leeway owing to the wind being N.E., (3) by the ship being somewhat closer to the shore than was estimated, and (4) by the vessel being steered half a point more to the southward than she should have been.
13. The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care.
14. The skipper is in default by reason of his not having given proper supervision to his crew in the setting of his watches. Serious blame attaches to the pilot, George Palmer, by reason of his not having been on deck from time to time, when his presence was absolutely necessary.
The Court adjudges that the certificate of the skipper, Joseph Grimwood, No. 4,261, be suspended for three calendar months from this date, and that George Palmer, the pilot, be fined the sum of ten pounds, part of the costs of the inquiry.