hartlepool history logo

Melita - Board of Trade inquiry

Hartlepool Northern Daily Mail - Thursday 27 May 1886:

THE LOSS OF THE S.S. MELITA, OF WEST HARTLEPOOL. BOARD OF TRADE INQUIRY. A Board of Trade inquiry was opened at Middlesbrough to-day respecting the loss of the s.s. Melita, of West Hartlepool, off Point Blanca, in the Straits of Gibraltar, the April. Mr (J. J. Coleman sat as judge, assisted Captains Curling and Hariand as nautical assessors. L. V. de Ham el appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr B. Wilson, Sunderland, appeared for the master. Mr Haniel said the vessel was built at West Hartlepool in 1877, and registered at that port. Her gross tonnage was 1,389 tons, and her register tonnage 81KJ tons. She was owned by Messrs Win. Gray and Co., West Hartlepool. The vessel left Benisaf on the 28th April with a crew of 19 hands all told, and a cargo of 1,630 tons of iron ore, bound for Newport (Mon.) A little before 3 p.m. on the 29th she passed Ceuta Point, and from that time she steered by the laml. Blanca Point was passed, and the master, in steering for Leona Point, about four o'clock, struck on some rocks to the westward of Cape Blanca, where she remained fast and rapidly filled. It was evident practically from the first that she could not get off, and she had since sunk. Wm. Johnson, master the Melita, said he did not set any courses, but steered by the eye. The current was running very strong, and carried him in so far towards the shore, and he determined to run between the land and the Susan Hock, knowing there was a passage between. The vessel was nearly got through when she struck. He sounded soon the vessel struck, and found seven fathoms on both sides. The vessel had struck on the pinnacle of the rock, and run up to just before the bridge. He skirted the shore to escape the current. He had been on the same route for fourteen months, and had made nine voyages to the same port. He always skirted the shore. He made only a quarter of a point allowance for current. Afterwards he thought he had not made sufficient allowance. They abandoned the vessel about eight p.m., and she was then just on the point of going down at the stern. No attempt was made to keep the vessel clear the pumps. He knew that she was doomed by the force of the air coming out of the tanks. The current was setting to the eastward, he noticed, when they were fast on the rocks. Thomas Webster, chief officer; R. W. B. Blacklin, second mate; John Todd and James Dunn, A.B.'s ; John Scott Davy, third engineer ; having given evidence, the usual questions were put, and the Court in the result found that the captain was to blame, and suspended his certificate for three months.

Related items :