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Craiglands - collision report 1881

Official No. 78425: Code Letters SMJL.

Owners: 1879 Hardy Wilson & Co, West Hartlepool.

Masters: 1879-81 William Smith: 1882 Holman: 1882-83 JM Beaver: 1884-89 Scott: 1892 Forbes: 1894 H Dettmer: 1895 P Granger.

Wreck Report Portcities, Southampton on collision in 1881:

‘In 1881 bound from Shanghai for Nagasaki she was in a collision on 21 January with the barque Chinaman which was bound from London to Shanghai. The Chinaman sunk at the mouth of the River Yangtze Kiang just outside Amhurst Rocks in 42 feet of water. Finding of a Naval Court assembled at Her Britannic Majesty’s Consulate at Shanghai on the 2nd day of February 1881 & continued by adjournment every day afterwards (Sunday excepted) to the 8th day of February 1881 to enquire into the collision between the steamship Craiglands of West Hartlepool & the barque Chinaman of London at the mouth of the River Yangtze Kiang on the 21st January 1881. Present; WR Carles, Esq., President HBM Act. Vice-Consul: Frederick GC Langdon, Esq., Lieutenant, HMS Pegasus: Charles H Bayly, Esq., Lieutenant, HMS Encounter: Mr Alfred Symons, Master P & O SS Zambesi: Mr James Pankhurst, British Ship Serapia.

The Court-pursuant to an order from Lawrence Ching, Esq., Acting Captain of HMS Encounter & Senior Naval Officer present at Shanghai, proceeded to investigate into the circumstances attending a collision between the steamship Craiglands Official No. 78,425 & the British barqua Chinaman Official No. 52,676, on the night of the 21st January 1881 at the mouth of the River Yangtze Kiang.

We find (1) That the British barque Chinaman was run down by the steamship Craiglands at 7.55pm or thereabouts, on the 21st January 1881 & sank in about two minutes. (2) That the Chinaman was lying at anchor in a broad sea channel, with her ship light burning brightly & that no blame attaches to her master or to any of her officers for the collision. (3) That her master, Allen McKenzie with his wife & Peter Petersen, AB, Robert Andersen, AB, & Ernest Turner, apprentice went down with the vessel. (4) That John Lamont Carpenter died of exposure while in the main, top of the barque. (5) That John St John, first mate, while himself suffering great pain, did good service in keeping up the spirits of those who were near him in the rigging of the wreck. (6) That William Potts, second mate, showed noble generosity in parting with some of his clothing to his companions in the main rigging on so cold a night. (7) That David Marshall, boatswain & Charles Willes, apprentice, showed great gallantry in volunteering to save those who were left on the wreck from which they themselves had barely escaped. (8) That, at the time of the collision the steamship Craiglandshad both anchors stowed, & was carrying square foresail, fore topsail, fore trysail, main trysail & main staysail. (9) That the master is responsible for both anchors being stowed & for the sail that was carried. (9a) That this responsibility remains the same even when a pilot is in charge of the vessel. (10) That the set of the fore trysail prevented an effective look, out being kept from the bridge. (11) That the collision was due to a defective look, out as there was nothing to prevent the ship’s light & hull being sighted. (12) That after the collision, the master, William Smith, did not assume the prominent position of command which is incumbent on a master in the execution of his duty. (13) That the master, William Smith, committed a serious error in not keeping the steamship Craiglands close to the wreck, either by dropping anchor or by using his engines. (14) That valuable lives were probably lost in consequence of the delay resulting from this error. (15) That George Scarlett, first mate, did not keep his proper watch between 6 & 8pm. (16) That after the collision he was absolutely unfit to take charge of the starboard lifeboat. (17) That the master, William Smith, failed on the 22nd of January 1881 to have a proper look-out kept for the missing boat, or to telegraph news of her loss to Shanghai. (18) That William Readman Burton, late first engineer, to our great regret, lost his life in a brave attempt to save life from the wreck. (19) That his companions, Francis Clarke, third engineer, & Peter Hallstrom, acting second mate, did their utmost to save life & deserve high praise. (20) That William Nottingham, boatswain, deserves great credit for the skill & courage with which he & four Chinamen succeeded in saving twelve men from the wreck by the jolly boat. (21) That James Tait, acting second engineer, deserves recognition of his management of the ship’s engines, unaided, for nearly 24 hours. (22) That the pilot, John Henry Wells, rendered valuable assistance to the master after the collision occurred. (23) That the steamship Craiglands was improperly officered, for though the master & first mate held proper certificates, the first engineer held a second engineer’s certificate only & no other certified officer or engineer was on board. (24) That the deckhands were insufficient to furnish two proper watches. (25) That with ample boatspace to have saved the entire crew, had the boats been swung out & seaworthy, at least one life was sacrificed for want of boats being ready on either vessel to render assistance. (26) That a grave responsibility rests upon the owners of Craiglands for permitting her to proceed to sea without sufficient hands for safe navigation. (27) The sentence of the Court is that the certificate of the master-William Smith, be suspended for nine months, but that he be allowed a certificate as first mate during that time. (28) That the certificate of George Scarlett, first mate, be suspended for four months, & that a certificate be given to him as second mate during that time. (29) That the costs of the Court be paid for by William Smith, master of the steamship Craiglands (30) The Court has great pleasure in recording the good treatment extended to the survivors of the lifeboat of Craiglands, by the Chinese of Elliott Island. (31) The Court further desires to call attention to the danger attendant on having no anchor ready in pilotage waters & to bring to the notice of the Board of Trade its strong opinion of the advisability of legislation to require steamers to carry at least one boat always swung out. To make an examination of the boats of ships in harbour obligatory on the Government Surveyor & to prevent the engagement in these waters of deck & engineer uncertified officers for posts held in home, trade ships by certified officers, as such a proceeding diminishes the chances of engagement held out to certified officers & encourages the working of ships on the cheapest terms without regard to efficiency. The Court would further recommend the addition of a ‘Report on Sobriety’ to the certificate of discharge given to seamen such addition to be made in the same form as ‘Report on Ability’ & that a recognised signal should be established to show on vessels carrying their pilot outside of pilotage waters when the pilot has handed over charge of the vessel to the captain or master. The contradictory evidence given on oath & the untrustworthy condition of the log books of the produced met with the Court’s severe reprobation.’

Voyages: from Sinno for London with a cargo of timber in September 1882 she stranded at Bjuroklubb in the Gulf of Bothnia: from Middlesbrough for Aarhuus she was stranded on the Isle of Hjela, Jutland on 25 September 1886.

In April 1892 when bound from Portland, Oregon with a cargo of wheat to Limerick she put into Shannon taking on water & having to man the pumps continually. In February off Cape Horn the 2nd officer had been killed on the deck by a heavy sea & one of the seamen had both his legs broken. A doctor from Shannon went on board to set the broken legs.

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