Clan Drummond


2,922 gross tons, length 330.3ft x beam 40.1ft, single screw, speed 10 knots, accomodation for 40-1st class passengers.

Launched by A. McMillan & Co., Dumbarton on 14th (or 24th) May 1882 and entered service for Clan Line (Cayzer, Irvine & Co.) in July 1882.

Used on the Glasgow - Liverpool / Birkenhead - Suez Canal - Bombay / Calcutta service.

10th Jan.1891 coming upstream to Calcutta she was caught by the current in the River Hooghli and the tugs could not hold her, She collided with the 4-master barque SIR ROBERT FERNIE and the steamer ANDORRA before running aground, but was refloated and repaired.

IN the matter of a formal investigation held at Glasgow, on the 12th and 14th days of January, 1899, before THOMAS ALEXANDER FYFE, Esquire, Sheriff Substitute of Lanarkshire, assisted by Captains J. KIDDLE, R.N., KENNETT HORE, and ALEXANDER WOOD, into the circumstances attending the loss of the British Steamship "CLAN DRUMMOND," in the Bay of Biscay, on 28th November, 1898, whereby loss of life ensued.

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 (1) That the "Clan Drummond" foundered in lat. about 45º 30' N., and long. about 8º 40' W. on 28th November, 1898, about 1.30 p.m. (2) That the cause of the casualty was that No. 2 hatch and the adjacent deck were burst in by a sudden and exceptionally heavy sea falling on board and filling the hold, causing the vessel to founder and 37 lives to be lost.

Dated this Fourteenth day of January, 1899.

T. A. FYFE, Judge.

Annex to the Report.

This was an inquiry into the circumstances attending the foundering and loss of the British steamship "Clan Drummond," in the Bay of Biscay, on 28th November, 1898, whereby loss of life occurred.

Mr. Alexander McGrigor, writer, Glasgow, appeared for the Board of Trade, Mr. H. A. Roxburgh, writer, Glasgow, for the managing owner, and Mr. James R. Tait, writer, Glasgow, for the representatives of the late Captain Crockett.

The "Clan Drummond" was a British screw steamship, built of iron, at Dumbarton, in 1882. She was schooner rigged, and registered at the Port of Glasgow, her official number being 86,669. Her dimensions, as per register, were as follows: Length, 330.3 ft.; breadth, 40.15 ft.; depth of hold, 26.3 ft. She was fitted with one set of triple expansion engines by the Naval Construction and Armaments Co., Ltd., of Barrow, of 2,100 indicated horse power. These engines, with new boilers, were put into her in 1893, after she had been running for about eleven years, and her registered tonnage (which had been 1,865.71 tons originally) was, on 8th February, 1898, altered to 1,845.98 tons, and this, with the allowance for crew space and propelling power, &c., made her gross tonnage 2,908.44 tons. She was owned by Sir Charles. William Cayzer, James Mackenzie, and David Rennie, Esquires, Sir Charles William Cayzer, of 109, Hope Street, Glasgow, being designated the managing owner, under date 9th October, 1897.

The "Clan Drummond" carried four boats, two of which were life-boats surveyed and passed to carry 41 persons each, the other two were jolly-boats, also passed to carry 22 persons in each boat, and hence the total accommodation as far as the boats were concerned, was sufficient for 126 persons. The life-boats were carried on the bridge amidships, and the two jolly-boats in the davits aft on the poop. They were properly found and fitted and ready for use. Boat drill was held weekly. Everyone on board was properly supplied with a life-belt, numbered and conveniently placed, and a certificate signed by the captain and chief officer, was put in to show that the life-saving appliances required by the statute, life-buoys, life-belts, boats, and distress signals, &c., were all in good order when the vessel left Liverpool.

Mr. Joss, a member of the firm of Cayzer, Irvine & Co., stated that the hull and machinery were insured with the London and Glasgow Underwriters for  £9,000, and with Cayzer, Irvine & Co., also underwriters, for  £3,000. The vessel was valued at  £30,000, and the balance of  £18,000 was at the owner's risk. Coal shipped, exclusive of bunkers, was insured for  £420. Freight unpaid and freight stores, &c., were also insured for  £143. The bunker coal and ship's store were uninsured.

Immediately prior to her leaving Glasgow to go round to Liverpool, about 26th November, she had been well overhauled at a cost of  £520, and in 1893 a large number of repairs and general alterations were made on the vessel by the Naval Construction Company at Barrow-in-Furness; the engines were tripled, new main boilers and donkey boilers were put in, and a new wooden deck constructed. These alterations to hull and machinery cost about  £14,600. Altogether, since 1893, considerably over  £20,000 had been spent on the vessel in keeping her up to a thorough state of efficiency, and there had been no disturbance or removal of the upper deck or upper beams since the ship was first built in 1882. During the time the vessel had been running, no weakness in her decks was observed, and the decks were considered strong and substantial.

Mr. James Kennedy, chief draughtsman with Messrs. Archibald McMillan & Sons, Ltd., submitted the original plans, showing the general construction of the ship. The main deck was iron, 7/16 in. thick, with a 4-in. wooden deck on the top of it; No. 2 hatchway, which was subsequently stove and smashed in by the shipping of a heavy sea, was a hatchway 28 ft. long by 11 ft. broad, and situated in the forebody of the ship in front of the bridge. The coamings were 2 ft. 9 1/2 ins. high, and fitted with two 'thwart ship web plate beams and three fore and afters. The hatches were pine, 3 ins. thick and 2 ft. broad. The coamings were supported in the line of the web plate beams by two iron stanchions on either side, 2 3/4 ins. diameter. These stanchions rested on the between deck coamings, which were also supported by 4-in. stanchions in the lower hold. On the midship line, there were stanchions fore and aft; and at the fore part of No. 2 hatch, was a split stanchion which served as a ladder to get up and down the hold. The hatches were covered with three tarpaulins, which were secured by iron bars and wedges to iron cleats riveted to the coamings.

According to the practice of the "Clan" line of steamers, the "Clan Drummond" partly loaded in Glasgow, and then left for Liverpool where she completed her loading, and, having taken in a full cargo, 3,910 tons, dead weight, including the bunker coal, she left Liverpool at 10 a.m. on the 26th of November, 1898, bound for Algoa Bay and India, with a crew of 59 all told and one passenger (the captain's son, a lad of about eight years of age). The "Clan Drummond" was under the command of Captain P. C. Crockett, who had been in the employment of the Clan Line Company for many years, having joined in March, 1882, as third officer, and having passed the grades of second and first officers, was appointed to the command of the "Clan Cameron" in 1888, since which time he had commanded the "Clan Mathieson," "Clan Fraser," "Clan Macnab" and "Clan Buchanan," and on the 22nd of August, 1894, to the "Clan Drummond," so that up to the time of leaving Liverpool he had been over four years in command of this vessel.

The crew consisted of 12 Europeans and 47 Lascars. The draught of water in the Alfred dock on leaving Liverpool, was 25 ft. 5 ins. forward and 24 ft. 7 ins. aft., and the vessel was estimated to rise 1 1/4 ins. in salt water, giving her a statutory freeboard of 6 ft. 1 1/2 ins. The cargo was a heavy cargo, but, from the evidence before the Court, it was securely and properly stowed and did not shift. The weather on the morning of the 26th of November was very unsettled, but it did not reach the height of a gale either on the Saturday or Sunday and good progress was made. On Monday morning, the 28th, the wind was. at N.N.W. and blowing a fresh breeze, which increased to a fresh gale by noon, with a heavy sea running, but not an exceptional sea for the force of the wind or the locality. At noon, the vessel was in latitude 45º 30' North and longitude 8º 40' West, and steaming about 11 1/4 knots, steering 189º. (True). About 12.30 p.m. (the wind still N.N.W.) the captain, who had just laid down the position of the vessel in the chart-room, went on to the bridge the second officer, who had been assisting with the navigation, going aft with his books. At this moment a tremendous sea broke on board just before the bridge deck, smashing in the starboard bulwarks gangway and falling with terrific force on to the main hatchway, completely crushing it in and the main deck abreast of the hatchway also, on the starboard side, an immense body of water rushing into the hold at the same time. The helm was at once put up and the ship kept before the wind, and the engines reduced to slow. All hands immediately endeavoured to cover the broke hatchway and deck with the spare sails and awnings, but their efforts were unsuccessful, the seas washed the sails away before they could be secured, and the hatch coamings being broken and carried down with the wreckage, rendered this work still more difficult to accomplish.

In the face of this appalling disaster and seeing that all chance of securing the hatchway and keeping the water out of the hold was hopeless, the captain ordered the boats to be got ready and the crew to put their life-belts on, and signals of distress to be hoisted to a steamer which was fortunately in sight to leeward to come to their assistance. This steamer, which proved to be the "Holbein," of Liverpool, at once complied with their signals by altering her course towards them. The "Clan Drummond" was now felt to be sinking and the captain ordered the starboard life-boat to be got out and lowered. This was done but the boat was stove in while putting her over the side. This mishap was hastily repaired with canvas and copper tacks, and the chief officer, the second and third engineers, the purser and 30 Lascars left the ship to pull towards the "Holbein," but, on account of the wind and sea, they found they could not do this, and therefore had to keep the boat head to sea and let her drift towards the "Holbein." In the meantime, all hands left on board were endeavouring to get out the port life-boat, but while they were hoisting her out of the chocks and getting her over the rail, a heavy sea drove them, boat and all, to the after part of the bridge, and then suddenly, without further warning, the sea rose over them and the "Clan Drummond" went down head first, leaving the remainder of the crew struggling on the surface with the few floating pieces of wreckage which had washed off the deck as she foundered. The "Holbein," which was about a mile off when the "Clan Drummond" sank, now steamed up to the spot where she foundered, and saved all they could. The "Holbein," however, stopped when she got up to the life-boat and threw some ropes to the boat, but, although they got hold of the ropes, they were not able to hold on and the life-boat drifted astern While they were drifting past the "Holbein," the second engineer (Robert Tweedly) jumped on to the rail of the "Holbein" and got on board her. The "Holbein" then proceeded to where the "Clan Drummond" had foundered as already described, and saved two or three lives. The life-boat, still keeping head to sea, managed to pick up the captain, the fourth officer, and two Lascars who were floating on some wreckage, and the "Holbein" having turned round again came alongside of them to get them on board, but when in the act, and while the "Holbein" was stopped, the sea rolled her so heavily that the rail moulding coming down on the gunwale of the life-boat immediately capsized her, throwing everybody into the sea, and although it seems the captain was got hold of by those on board of the "Holbein," he was dragged out of their hands by the sinking Lascars clinging to him. The fourth officer being partially insensible was washed off the deck of the "Holbein" at the same time. The "Holbein" then cruised about amidst the wreckage for some considerable time, and eventually picked up the second officer who, although he could not swim, had been in the water some three hours with a life-belt on, clinging to some wreckage but insensible. Altogether, 23 lies were saved and 37 lost, including the captain's son, who was last seen on the bridge when the ship went down holding the steward's hand.

The "Holbein" at 4.40 p.m., after cruising about for three hours in the vicinity of the disaster, then kept her course for Lisbon, having shipped a dangerous amonnt of water in her engine-room and stoke hold while carrying out the rescue of the crew of the "Clan Drummond." At 3.30 a.m. of the 1st of December, she reached Lisbon where the survivors from the "Clan Drummond" were safely landed and afterwards sent home. It is worthy of note that the discipline maintained on board the "Clan Drummond" under the trying circumstances in which they were so suddenly placed was creditable alike both to the European officers and the native crew. There was no disorder, no panic, and every man did his duty to the best of his ability to the last.

Two witnesses were called for the managing owner Captain Price and Captain Dawson who had both experienced, in the Atlantic, the force of similar heavy seas breaking on board their vessels, the "Idaho" and the "Forest Home," and bursting in the hatches and decks.

The following questions were submitted by the Board of Trade, to which the Court gave the answers appended:

1. Whether when the "Clan Drummond" left Birkenhead she was in all respects in good and seaworthy condition, and whether she had the freeboard required by the statute?

When the "Clan Drummond" left Birkenhead on 26th November, 1898, she was in all respects in good and seaworthy condition, and she had the freeboard required by the statute.

2. Whether the vessel carried the boats and life-saving appliances required by the statute, and were they so carried as to be at all times fit and ready for use?

The vessel carried the boats and life-saving appliances required by the statute, and they were so carried as to be at all times fit and ready for use.

3 and 5. (3) What was the nature of the deck cargo carried, and was it properly secured? (5) Did the deck cargo at any time 'break adrift, and was the hatchway thereby damaged?

The cargo carried on deck consisted of 10 pitch pine logs, measuring 1,387 cubic feet and weighing 29 tons 6 cwt. They were stowed upon 6 in. beds on either side of the ship, four on the starboard side and six on the port. They were properly lashed and secured. According to the evidence, these logs never started and their presence did not in any way contribute to the casualty.

4. Were the shifting beams and fore and afters shipped in No. 2 hatchway; was the hatchway properly covered, and were the hatches properly secured?

The shifting beams and fore and afters were shipped in No. 2 hatchway and properly covered, and the hatches were properly secured

6. What was the cause of the damage the vessel sustained on the 28th November last, and were prompt and proper measures taken to cover the broken hatchway to prevent water getting into the hold, and to keep the water under?

The damage the vessel sustained on 28th November last, was caused by an isolated heavy sea suddenly falling on board with excessive force carrying away the starboard bulwarks, crushing in No. 2 hatch, parting the fore and aft coamings, and breaking down the deck adjacent to the hatchway on the starboard side. Prompt and proper measures were taken to cover the broken hatchway to prevent the water getting into the hold, and to keep the water under, but, owing to the nature and extent of the damage and to the state of the weather, these measures proved ineffectual.

7. Was proper discipline maintained, and were the boats promptly launched?

Perfect discipline was maintained on board. Immediately after the damage was done the efforts of the crew were directed towards preventing the water getting below; and when this was found impossible, attempts were made to get the boats into the water. Under the weather conditions this was a difficult operation, but the starboard life-boat although damaged in the process was got out. By the master's order the first officer took command of this boat, and took off the second and third engineers, the purser and 30 Lascars. Whilst the port life-boat was being got out the vessel went down.

8. What was the cause of the foundering of the vessel?

The foundering of the "Clan Drummond" was due to No. 2 hatch and the adjacent deck being burst in by an exceptionally heavy sea, and the water thereby filling the hold.

9. What were the circumstances in which so many lives were lost?

The circumstances under which so many lives were lost, were the condition of the wind and sea rendering it difficult to get the boats safely into the water, combined with the sudden foundering of the vessel. The loss of life amongst those who got safely away from the vessel in the starboard life-boat, was due to that boat being capsized when alongside the steamer "Holbein" through the boat coming in contact with the moulding of that vessel as she was labouring in the heavy sea.

10. What was the value of the vessel to her owners, and for what amount was she insured?

The value of the vessel to her owners was £30,000, and she was insured for  £12,000.

T. A. FYFE, Judge.

(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 3rd day of February, 1899.)

REPORT of a Marine Court of Inquiry, held under Section 7 of Act V. of 1883 (the Indian Merchant Shipping Act), at the instance of the Government of Bengal, for the purpose of investigating the cause of the collisions between the S.S. "CLAN DRUMMOND," of Glasgow, 1,904 tons, and the ship "ANDORA," of Liverpool, 1,670 tons, and between the ships "SIR ROBERT FERNIE," of London, 2,410 tons, and "ANDORA," on the 10th January 1891, off the Botanical Gardens.

This is an inquiry into the facts attending a collision between the sailing vessel "Andora," at anchor near the Garden Steps in t he river Hooghly, and the steamer "Clan Drummond," and also a collision between the "Andora" and the sailing vessel "Sir Robert Fernie."

It appears that on the 10th January the "Clan Drummond" was at anchor a short distance above the "Andora." Mr. Collingwood, the pilot in charge of the "Clan Drummond," was anxious to proceed to sea as soon as possible. He waited until past 8 a.m., and seeing that the "Andora" below him showed no signs of moving he made up his mind to pass her. He says that the "Andora" was almost in the middle of the river, but there was a space of about 465 ft. between her and the bank which was navigable; his own vessel measured 330 ft. The "Loch Torridon" had dropped past the "Andora" half an hour before the "Clan Drummond" started. Mr Collingwood got the head of the "Clan Drummond" two-thirds round and drifted down. He misjudged his distance by two or three feet, and his starboard ports caught the "Andora" on her starboard side. Two of the starboard ports of the "Clan Drummond" were damaged, and some slight damage done to the "Andora," but the damage was considered so trifling that the "Clan Drummond" proceeded on her homeward voyage. Mr. Collingwood says that there was nothing to prevent the "Andora" weighing her anchor and dropping down the river at 7 o'clock; three ships had already started. Mr. Collingwood was naturally anxious to get away and not miss the tide, but we think it was imprudent on his part to attempt to pass the "Andora" with so little to spare. It was an error of judgment, which we do not consider calls for further notice.

Before the "Andora" was struck, the pilot in charge, Mr. Turner, paid out about 12 fathoms of chain, and put her hard-a-starboard; he then brought her back and hove in about 8 fathoms of chain; he then saw the "Sir Robert Fernie" commencing to turn; it did not strike him that there was any chance of a collision at that time. The tug "Rescue" was lashed alongside the "Sir Robert Fernie," and we are of opinion that the lashings between the two vessels were sufficiently strong for the purposes of towing. The evidence as to what followed before the collision is conflicting.

Mr. Christie, the pilot in charge of the "Sir Robert Fernie," and Captain Betts in command, say that the wire hawser towing the "Sir Robert Fernie" broke, and that in consequence the vessel got no headway, and drifted on to the "Andora." Captain Sawers, of the tug "Rescue," says that the breaking of the hawser made no difference, and that the "Sir Robert Fernie" was going along with the other fastenings. Mr. Turner, in charge of the "Andora." says he saw the "Rescue" steaming alongside of the "Sir Robert Fernie, and knew at once that the hawser had parted, the "Sir Robert Fernie" still having stern way; the hawser has been examined by the witnesses, and they say it is a perfectly good hawser.

We think the collision was caused by the breaking of the hawser, and that it was an unforeseen accident. The "Sir Robert Fernie" drifted on to the "Andora," and the stern of the latter did considerable damage to the rigging of the "Sir Robert Fernie" and also to the hull. The bowsprit of the "Andora" was torn out, and other damage inflicted. Captain Betts says that towing alongside a vessel is the only proper way of towing in the river Hooghly, but we do not agree with him. We consider it dangerous and unsafe, and would recommend Mr. Christie for the future to avoid such a practice. In other respects, Mr. Christie handled his vessel in a proper and seamanlike manner.

The "Andora," being at anchor, was not to blame for either collision, but Mr. Turner ought to have shown more alacrity in getting his vessel under way. He was blocking up the channel and knew that all the vessels above him were anxious not to miss the tide. Some had already started, and we see no reason why he could not have started also. After the first collision in a dangerous place, which made it all the more incumbent on him to get away at once.

All these vessels were anchored in limits which are forbidden under Port Rule 34, but the pilots say that that rule only applies to vessels being anchored for a considerable time, and not to vessels which are only anchored temporarily whilst on their passage up and down the river.

Mr. Hough, Branch Pilot, member of this Court of Inquiry, agrees that that is the meaning of the Rule No. 34, and that these vessels were doing nothing wrong in anchoring in these forbidden limits on this occasion.


A. P. HANDLEY, Offg. Chief Presy. Magistrate.  

A. HOUGH, Branch Pilot.

W. V. GRAHAM, Master of the Ship "Zemindar."

Post Office, Calcutta, 27th January 1891

In 1895 she made Clan Line's first call at Manchester.

On 28th Nov.1898 while on voyage Liverpool to Port Elizabeth, she met severe weather in the Bay of Biscay and one huge wave swept away the whole bridge structure and the ship sank with the loss of 37 crew.

One lifeboat with 27 men was picked up by Lamport & Holt Line's HOLBEIN

BOT Wreck Report for Andora, Clan Drummond and Sir Robert Fernie - 1891

BOT Wreck Report for Clan Drummond - 1899





Clan Drummond


1891 Involved in collision in River Hooghli

1898 Foundered in heavy weather in Bay of Bascay


Official Number

Ship Builder

Engine Builder

Engine Type




Archibald MacMillan


David Rowan


Compound Steam

400 NHP





J Pratt



H Wilson



R Kewley



N Harrison



P C Crockett




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