Service Record



Carisbrook Castle

3rd Officer


Grantully Castle

2nd Officer


Dromore Castle




Rothesay Castle




Ran aground

Certificate suspended





Aged 62

BOT Wreck Report - Rothesay Castle

Captain Furlong had served with the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. Ltd, for nearly 30 years. He had a clear record and had rendered good service. The Court has taken fully into consideration his record and reputation and has also fully recognised the difficulties and strain which War conditions impose upon those in charge of vessels. But the Court is of the opinion that in this case a valuable ship and cargo of food, both of vital importance to the Country, were needlessly thrown away by the Master's failure to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in the navigation of his vessel.

The conditions and necessities of war require the greatest care in navigation and make a failure to exercise care even more blameworthy than in normal times.

The main error in this case was, it would seem, an under estimation of the vessel's speed. But as the Master had himself ordered the engineers to keep to 90 revolutions so as to give a speed of 16½ knots and as the engines had exceeded these revolutions when conditions were adverse so as to maintain the speed, he was quite unjustified in working on the figures he did, even allowing for a zig-zagging course for part of the time. He failed to use the patent log and failed to have soundings taken. In explanation of the latter, he said it was unsafe to show a light and that a light was necessary.

The Court is of opinion that adequate precautions to shield a dimmed light could readily have been taken and that there was no excuse for not taking soundings which would have revealed the vessel's danger before it was too late.


In the matter of a Formal Investigation held at The Niblett Hall, Temple, London, on the 16th May 1940 and 7th, 8th, 15th days of June 1940 before F.A. Sellers, Esq., K.C., assisted by Captain P. de Legh and Commander J.R. Williams, R.D. into the circumstances attending the stranding of the motor vessel "ROTHESAY CASTLE" on the Island of Islay West Coast of Scotland on the 4th January, 1940.

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 motor vessel "ROTHESAY CASTLE" was the serious default of the master, Captain Ernest William Hyde Furlong, in the navigation of his vessel and, so finding, the Court suspends the Master’s certificate of Competency No. O.C. 039858 for twelve months from the date of the stranding.

Capt Ernest W H Furlong

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