Clan Alpine (2)
9.6.1917 torpedoed and sunk 40 miles N.E. ½ E. from Muckle Flugga by the German submarine U60 whilst on a voyage from the River Tyne to Archangel.
Eight members of the crew were lost.
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894.
IN the matter of a Formal Investigation held at Glasgow on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 12th days of April, 1911, before THOMAS ALEXANDER FYFE, Esq., Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire, assisted by Admiral WILLIAM MARRACK, Commander C. K. MCINTOSH, and Captain W. L. MAIN, into the circumstances attending the collision in the Firth of Clyde on the 12th November, 1910, between the steamship "HUNGARIAN," of Glasgow, and the ketch "NUGGET," of Glasgow, and the consequent loss of the "NUGGET" with three lives.
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 casualty was that the "Hungarian" was navigated down channel in foggy weather at too great a speed; that the master of the "Hungarian" was in default. The Court suspends the certificate of William Philip Hains, the master of the "Hungarian," for the period of three months. The Court recommends that during the period of suspension he be granted a first officer's certificate.
Dated this 12th day of April, 1911.
T. A. FYFE,
We concur in the above Report.
WM. L. MAIN,
C. K. MCINTOSH
Annex to the Report.
This was an Inquiry into the circumstances attending the collision that occurred between the British sailing vessel "Nugget," of Glasgow, and the British steamships "Hungarian" and "Clan Alpine," both of Glasgow, near the Cloch Light, Firth of Clyde, on the 12th November, 1910, whereby the "Nugget" was sunk and loss of life ensued. The Inquiry was held at the County Buildings, Glasgow, on the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 12th days of April, 1911, before Sheriff Fyfe, assisted by Admiral Marrack, Captain William L. Main, and Commander C. K. McIntosh, R.N.R. Mr. James Morton, writer, Glasgow, appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. John A. Spens, writer, for the master of the Allan liner" Hungarian," Mr. Thomas Stout, writer, for the master of the steamer Clan Alpine," and Mr. T. G. Wright, writer, for the owners of the "Clan Alpine."
The "Nugget," Official No. 76718, was a British sailing vessel built of wood at Ayr, in the County of Ayr, in November, 1876. She had two masts, and was schooner rigged. Her length was 63 feet, breadth 18-3 feet, depth of hold 7.5 feet, and her amended registered tonnage (dated Whitehaven, 27th February, 1891) was 37.30 tons. She was owned by Rose Legg or Reason, of Glynn, near Belfast, and was managed by Charles Reason, of Glynn by Belfast, County Antrim, appointed ship's husband advice under the hand of the registered owner received 5th January, 1906. She was well found with lifebuoys and lifebelts, and carried a boat of the usual description, which was stowed on her main hatch. The "Nugget" left Larne on the 10th November, 1910, with a crew of three hands all told, and no passengers, under the command of Charles Reason. She was bound for Glasgow with a cargo of lime shell. On Saturday, the 12th November, at about 6 p.m., the weather was thick with rain and patches of fog, and the wind was from the eastward and blowing a light breeze with smooth sea. The vessel was under sail proceeding up the Firth of Clyde, and according to the evidence was sounding her fog-horn, when she came into collision with the s.s. "Hungarian." She was afterwards struck by the propeller of the s.s. "Clan Alpine," and then foundered some distance from the Cloch Lighthouse, the whole crew being drowned.
The "Hungarian," Official No. 115298, is a British steamer 385 feet long, and of 50 feet beam, her depth of hold being 25.7 feet. She was built of steel in 1902 at Yoker by Messrs. Napier & Miller, Limited, and has six bulkheads, seven tanks containing 1,215 tons of water ballast, two decks, and two masts, and was fore-and-aft rigged. Her engines, which were made by Messrs. Dunsmuir & Jackson, Limited, of Govan, also in 1902, are triple expansion, direct acting, with three cranks, the indicated horse-power 2,200, and nominal 446, going at a speed of 11 knots. She has two steel boilers, made by the same firm at the same time, loaded to a pressure of 180 lbs. Her gross tonnage is 4,508.47 tons, and her registered tonnage is 2,873.37 tons. She is owned by the Allan Line Steamship Company, Limited, of 25, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, Mr. J. S. Park, M.V.O., of the same address, being appointed manager by advice received under the seal of the company, dated the 15th September, 1909. She was well found in every respect on the date in question, viz., the 12th November, 1910, and carried the statutory boats, life belts, and buoys, and her draft of water was fore 16 feet 10 inches, aft 18 feet 10 inches. The "Hungarian" left Glasgow bound for Portland, Maine, at 1 p.m. on the 12th November, 1910, under the command of Mr. William P. Hains, Whose certificate of competency is numbered 240 Bombay. She was partly laden with general cargo, and carried a crew of 43 hands all told, and one cattleman as passenger. She proceeded down the River Clyde, and at about 5.7 p.m. the pilot left, off Greenock. At about 5.30 p.m. the Cloch Light was rounded at an estimated distance of between quarter and half a mile, and a course was set S.W. 1/4 S. The weather now set in thick with fog, and the speed was reduced. After running some distance a red light was observed, broad on the port bow, which passed clear. At about 5.46 p.m. a green light was sighted about 2 1/2 points on the port bow, and close aboard. The engines were stopped and the helm starboarded. They were then reversed to full speed astern and again stopped, but these manoeuvres did not succeed in averting a collision, the starboard bow of the "Hungarian" striking the starboard quarter of the other vessel (which later proved to be the ketch "Nugget"), causing her to fall alongside the "Hungarian" with her bow pointing to the stern of the steamer. An attempt was made on the steamer to secure the ketch alongside with ropes, but before they could be obtained, the ketch had drifted apart too far for a rope to be thrown her, the bow of the ketch pointing towards the side of the steamer, and her stern swung off at about right angles. While in this position the "Clan Alpine," which had been following the "Hungarian," and was now passing the two vessels under the influence of strong port helm, struck the ketch with her propeller near the stern, and then passed clear. The "Hungarian" stopped and lowered a boat, which searched for nearly an hour, but saw nothing except some wreckage, which they secured, and which afterwards proved to belong to the ketch "Nugget," which had foundered. The "Hungarian" returned to an anchorage off the Tail of the Bank to report the occurrence.
The "Clan Alpine," Official No. 111232, is a British steamer 355 feet long and of 45.65 feet beam, her depth of hold being 24.7 feet. She was built of steel in 1899 at Sunderland, by Messrs. William Doxford & Sons, Limited, and has seven bulkheads and eight tanks containing 1,789 tons of water ballast. She had two decks, two masts, and was fore-and-aft schooner rigged, and of the turret-deck type of vessel. Her engines, which were made by the same firm which built her, also in 1899, are triple expansion, the nominal horse-power being 342 and the indicated horse-power 2,080, giving a speed of 11 knots. She has two steel boilers, made by Messrs. Doxford in 1899, loaded to a pressure of 180 lbs. Her gross tonnage is 3,586.37 tons, and her registered tonnage is 2,285.21 tons. She is owned by the Clan Line Steamers, Limited, Mr. Thomas Barr, of 109, Hope Street, Glasgow, being appointed manager by advice received the 1st day of December, 1899, under the hand of Sir Charles William Cayzer, of 109, Hope Street, steamship owners; David Rennie, of 3, Gordon Street, banker; and James Mackenzie, of 150, St. Vincent Street, solicitor, all of Glasgow (joint owners). She was well found in every respect on the date in question, viz., 12th November, 1910. The s.s. "Clan Alpine" left the dock at Glasgow on the 12th November, 1910, at 0.30 p.m., under the command of Mr. C. C. Shapland, who holds a Master's Certificate of Competency No. 024162, with a crew of 64 hands all told, most of whom were Asiatics. There was also on board on the bridge with the master a Liverpool pilot. She had part general cargo amounting to about 700 tons, and 1,700 tons water ballast, and her draft was, forward 14 feet 7 inches and 16 feet 3 inches aft. She proceeded down the Clyde under charge of the river pilot. At 3.27 p.m. the vessel arrived off Greenock, where the pilot landed. The voyage was continued, but subsequently, on account of fog, the vessel was turned back. After manoeuvring for some time, she eventually was turned round again and proceeded on her voyage, and at about 5.20 p.m., according to the time kept on this vessel, the Cloch Light was rounded at a distance of half a mile. Shortly after this the "Hungarian," which had been astern, drew up abreast on the port side of them. The engines of the "Clan Alpine" were slowed, and stopped for a moment to allow the "Hungarian" to pass more quickly, and were set ahead again as soon as the distance between the vessels appeared to the master of the "Clan Alpine" to be safe. The red light observed by the "Hungarian" was seen from the "Clan Alpine," and shortly after that had passed out of sight. The green light of the "Nugget" was also seen, and the collision which followed. The helm of the "Clan Alpine" was put hard-a-port, and the engines full speed ahead, in order to clear both vessels, but though these manoeuvres succeeded in carrying the vessel clear of the "Hungarian," the propeller struck the after part of the ketch, which then disappeared, and was not seen again by either steamer. After clearing the vessels, and being assured by the reports received from the second mate and chief engineer as to the safety of his vessel, the master consulted with these officers, and with the Liverpool pilot, as to whether any steps should be taken to ascertain whether assistance was required or could be rendered to the two vessels in collision; it was decided not to go back on account of the darkness and fog, so the vessel was put on her course, and shortly after the Skelmorlie buoy was seen close to and abeam at 6.16 p.m.
Although much of the evidence heard was most conflicting, the Court was able to fix with fair accuracy the distance the steamers had covered after passing the Cloch Light. This distance of about 2 1/2 miles was run by the "Hungarian" in 19 minutes, which gives, after allowing for the tide against her, a speed of about eight knots through the water.
This estimate of the speed is also supported by the distance covered by the "Clan Alpine" between the Cloch Light, which was abeam of her at 5.20 p.m., and the Skelmorlie buoy, which was abeam at 6.16 p.m., the distance between these points being slightly over five miles. When the time which must have been lost manoeuvring and holding the consultation is considered, and also remembering that the vessel was steaming against a flood tide, the result of the evidence is that the speed must have been about eight knots through the water.
The evidence of the master of the schooner "Wyre" was that when he was standing out from the Skelmorlie shore he sighted the masthead and port lights of a steamer, which proved to be the "Hungarian." His own green light was at that time open to her, but after waiting to see if any action would be taken by her, he himself acted to avert a collision by luffing up and allowing the "Hungarian" to pass him port to port, which she did very close.
This witness was very positive that both his own foghorn and also the horn of the "Nugget," which was to leeward and a little behind him, was and had been sounding at regular intervals; but this witness alone spoke to this. No other evidence from the "Wyre" was called, and the Court upon the uncorroborated evidence of the master of the "Wyre" were not able to give a positive finding on this very important matter. Even assuming that both of the small sailing vessels were sounding a fog-horn, such as vessels of that class carry, the sound might not have been heard on board steamers under way. After the master of the "Wyre" had cleared the "Hungarian" and had filled on his vessel again, he stated that he caught a momentary glimpse of the green light of the "Nugget" close to the starboard bow of the "Hungarian." The other steamer, the "Clan Alpine," meanwhile appeared to him to be nearly abreast, and only a short distance away from the Hungarian."
Some time later, and when he had again tacked towards the Skelmorlie shore, the Cloch Light was sighted about two miles off, the weather now clearing.
The master of the "Hungarian" admits seeing the red light only of the "Wyre" on his port bow, and he therefore had no occasion to alter course to clear her.
Shortly after passing the "Wyre" a white light was sighted about two or three points on the "Hungarian's" port bow, which the master took to be the stern light of a vessel going the same way. This light suddenly disappeared, and a green light came in sight on the same bearing. The helm was put hard-a-starboard, and the engines stopped, then reversed, but these manoeuvres as before described failed to clear the sailing vessel, which proved to be the "Nugget."
The Court is of opinion that the white light seen by those on the "Hungarian" immediately before they saw the green light, was in fact a light carried somewhere about the deck of the "Nugget." According to the evidence for the "Hungarian" the fog-horn of the "Nugget" was not heard until immediately before the collision occurred.
The story of those on the "Hungarian" as to what happened after the collision is quite consistent, and there appears little doubt that the "Nugget" foundered almost at once, close to the two steamers, after being struck by the propeller of the "Clan Alpine," though the Court is of opinion that the "Nugget" was so severely injured by her collision with the "Hungarian" that she was already in a sinking condition before the Clan Alpine" struck her.
The evidence given by the master of the "Clan Alpine," his officers, and two of his crew, was not very satisfactory. The latter, being Asiatics, were useless, though the services of an interpreter were put at the disposal of the Court. The master of the "Clan Alpine" stated that he was confident his vessel had not fouled the "Nugget"; but his action in first sending the second officer aft to see if all was clear there, and then to the engine-room to inquire whether the engineers had felt any shock, and also his subsequent questioning of the chief engineer, proves that he was by no means so sure as his statements in Court would imply.
The second officer stated that when he left the bridge, in obedience to the order received from the master to "go aft and see whether all was clear," the ketch was in plain view between the two steamers, but that he then lost sight of her, in spite of the fact that he would have a clear view all the way aft. The Court was not favourably impressed with this witness.
When the "Clan Alpine" arrived at Liverpool, an examination was at once made of her hull near the stern, and it was discovered that one of her propeller blades was damaged, showing that it had been in violent contact with some floating object. This, with the other circumstances, is in the opinion of the Court sufficient to establish that in fact the propeller of the "Clan Alpine" did strike the "Nugget."
The failure of the "Clan Alpine" to stand by the vessels in collision has been fully dealt with in answer to question 6.
The persons on board the "Nugget" who were drowned were:
1. The master, Charles Reason, aged 72.
2. The mate, James Mulvenna, aged 27.
3. An A.B., Thomas Reason, aged 36.
At the conclusion of the evidence, Mr. Morton, on behalf of the Board of Trade, submitted the following questions for the opinion of the Court:
(1) At or about 6 p.m. of the 12th November last, was the state of the weather such as to call into operation the provisions of Articles 15 and 16 of the Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea? If so, were the s. "Nugget" and the s.s. "Hungarian" navigated at a moderate speed, and did they comply with Article 16?
Did the vessels properly sound their fog-horn and whistle respectively, and comply with Article 15 of the said Regulations? If, in the opinion of the Court, the provisions of Articles 20, 21, 22, and 23 also apply, at or about 6 p.m. of the 12th November last, were the s. "Nugget" and the s.s. "Hungarian" proceeding in such directions as to involve risk of collision? If so Did the "Hungarian" comply with Articles 20, 22 and 23, and did the "Nugget" comply with Article 21 of the said Regulations?
(2) When those on board the "Clan Alpine" witnessed the collision between the "Nugget" and the "Hungarian," were prompt and proper measures taken to keep out of the way of both vessels? Did the "Clan Alpine" strike the "Nugget"?
(3) Was a good and proper look-out kept on board the s.s. "Hungarian" and s.s. "Clan Alpine"?
(4) Was every possible effort made by those on board the s.s. "Hungarian" and s.s. "Clan Alpine" to render assistance and save life?
(5) Were the s.s. "Hungarian" and the s.s. "Clan Alpine" navigated with proper and seamanlike care?
(6) Was the loss of the s. "Nugget" and the loss of life caused by the wrongful act or default of the master of the s.s. "Hungarian" and the master of the s.s. "Clan Alpine," or of either of them?
The Court returned the following answers:
(1) About 6 p.m. on 12th November last, the state of the weather was such as to make Articles 15 and 16 of the Regulations applicable. The "Hungarian" was not navigated at a sufficiently moderate speed in the weather conditions. The evidence does not disclose at what speed the" "Nugget" was sailing; nor does the evidence enable the Court to say whether any sound signals were made by the "Nugget," beyond her fog-horn being sounded just before the collision. The "Hungarian" made the sound signals prescribed by Articles 15 of the Regulations. At about 6 p.m. the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget" were in fact proceeding in such directions as to involve risk of collision. The Court considers that Articles 20 to 23 are applicable. The "Hungarian" unsuccessfully endeavoured to comply with Articles 20 and 22, and did comply with Article 23. The "Nugget" complied with Article 21.
(2) The "Clan Alpine" took prompt measures to keep out of the way of the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget," when she got close to them; but it was imprudent for her to be so close to the "Hungarian." The "Clan Alpine" also had come down channel at too great a speed, but, as she was the following vessel, her speed did not cause or contribute to the collision between the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget." The evidence is most conflicting as to whether the "Clan Alpine" struck the "Nugget"; but the Court is of opinion that the "Nugget," then most probably in a sinking condition, was struck by the propeller of the "Clan Alpine" as she swung round on her port helm to clear the "Hungarian."
(3) A good and proper look-out was kept on both vessels.
(4) Every effort to save life was made by the "Hungarian." The "Clan Alpine" made no effort.
(5) With the exception of the excessive speed at which both vessels went down channel, and the error of judgment on the part of the master of the "Clan Alpine" in keeping closer to the vessel in front of him than was prudent under the weather conditions, both vessels were navigated with proper and seamanlike care.
(6) The Court does not feel warranted in the circumstances in characterising the conduct of the master of the "Clan Alpine" as wrongful act or default, but it is unable to absolve him from all blame for the casualty, for it considers that the master of the "Clan Alpine" committed a grave error of judgment in steering a course and maintaining a speed which brought him so close upon the "Hungarian" that, when she became entangled with the "Nugget," the "Clan Alpine" bad to pass these two vessels at a considerable speed and at a short distance. In the emergency which arose the "Clan Alpine" made proper efforts to clear the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget," but the emergency need not have arisen had the "Clan Alpine" given the vessel in front of her a wider berth as they proceeded down channel.
The Court is further of opinion that the determination of the master of the "Clan Alpine" to refrain from returning to the scene of the casualty, so as to be available to render assistance if necessary, was a grave error of judgment, which is only saved from being regarded as a wrongful act or default, by the fact that the master did not act entirely on his own initiative in this matter, but acted after conference with, and with the concurrence of, his officers and an experienced pilot, who was with him on the bridge.
The Court is, however, of opinion that the determination which was come to at the conference on the bridge of the "Clan Alpine" was not in accordance with the best traditions of the mercantile marine. The master evidently entertained a suspicion that he had struck something. He at any rate knew that there had been a collision between the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget," in which one or both of these vessels might have been seriously damaged. The master of the "Clan Alpine" appears to have assumed that the "Hungarian" was looking after the "Nugget"; but he was not entitled to rely upon what others were doing. His plain duty, both humanitarian and statutory, was to stand by to render assistance, irrespective of what any other vessel in the neighbourhood might do, and there were no existent weather conditions to prevent him lowering a boat, as the "Hungarian" did.
The Court cannot too emphatically condemn the theory that the master of any ship, which happens to be upon the scene of a casualty, is absolved from his obligation to stand by to render assistance, merely because he has a belief however well founded that some other ship is in a position to render all necessary assistance to save life.
The Court accordingly severely censures the master of the "Clan Alpine" for his errors of judgment in the matters referred to, and particularly for his failure to stand by the two vessels which had been in collision; but in the circumstances they do not feel warranted in dealing with his certificate.
The Court regret that they are constrained to deal with the certificate of a ship master of high character and long experience, but they find that the master of the "Hungarian" was in default, and they do not feel justified in refraining from dealing with the certificate of the master of the "Hungarian." Under the existing weather conditions, he was going down channel at too great a rate of speed, and in consequence he was unable to clear the "Nugget" when he sighted her green light. He also failed to make the sound signal, warning the "Clan Alpine" behind him that he was reversing, which might have enabled the "Clan Alpine" to remain behind, or at least, in passing, to have given the "Hungarian" and the "Nugget" a wider berth.
The Court suspends the certificate of the master of the "Hungarian" for the period of three months.
T. A. FYFE,
WM. L. MAIN,
C. K. MCINTOSH
IN APPEAL WILLIAM P. HAINS, lately Master of "Hungarian," against BOARD OF TRADE Inquiry Judgment.
Edinburgh, 16th June, 1911.
The Lords, with the assistance of two of the Elder Brethren of Trinity House, as nautical assessors, having heard counsel for the parties on the appeal against the judgment of the Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire, dated 12th April, 1911. Sustain the appeal and recall the judgment appealed against; Find that the cause of the casualty was not that the "Hungarian" was navigated at too great a speed; Further find that the appellant who was master of the "Hungarian" was not in fault; Therefore order that his Certificate No. 30 of Process be returned to him; Find the Board of Trade liable to the appellant in the expenses of his appeal, and remit the account thereof to the auditor to tax and report; Further direct that this judgment be reported to the Board of Trade and decern.
J. H. A. MACDONALD,
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 11th day of July, 1911.)
The following names are listed at the
Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill