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REAR-ADMIRAL THE LORD WALTER KERR IN THE CHAIR. Sir COURTENAY BOYLE, K.C.B.
C. CECIL TREVOR, Esq., C.B. Sir Evan MacGREGOR, K.C.B.
Captain W. J. L. WHARTON, R.N., F.R.S. Vice-Admiral Sir GEORGE NARES, K.C.B., F.R.S.
J. WADDON MARTYN, Esq., Secretary.
John CUMMING MACDONA, M.P., called and examined.
Macdona, 1. (Chairman.) We understand that you have taker were seen in the Atlantic, so that you have that M.P. a great deal of interest in the subject of the danger to evidence such as it is in your own records here. The ocean navigation from floating derelicts ?-Yes.
only thing that occurred to me that I should do now in 30 April 1894.
the matter of putting evidence before you, was to give 2. Can you give the Committee any information that would assist them in carrying out their inquiry on the
a list, as far as I could gather it, of some of the cases of subject ?–First of all, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I
derelicts that have been published in different places, must beg to thank the President of the Board of Trade
notably (and I expect that you have records of this for the part he has taken in the matter of the con
yourselves here) evidence by the Hydrographer's Office sideration of these floating derelicts and bringing it to
in Washington. A chart has been published each the issue at which it has arrived. I am rather in
month in Washington, which I believe you have a copy an awkward position in the matter of giving evidence
of, in which are given most accurately, at least as far on the subject, and for this reason, that most of the
as possible, such positions of derelicts as can by evidence that has been gathered so far has been in the
accurately placed by taking observations in the Atlantic. hands of gentlemen who primarily took the greatest
That is the position of these derelicts as they float about possible interest in the matter of derelicts. Since I
in the Atlantic. These positions are, I understand, got a communication from the Board of Trade I have
telegraphed to the central office of the Hydrographer's
Office in Washington as soon as any vessel reaches a communicated with my friend, Mr. Saffe, but he being away on the Continent I did not get bis reply till
port from which communication can be held with that
office. As to the printed list of derelicts, in case you yesterday. I understand he also is summoned to give evidence before this Committee. But I have no
have not a copy of it I have got the chart here with doubt that most of his evidence will be the same or
me, though I think you have the charts. to a large extent similar to what I have myself to 3. We have got them --The positions of these present. Of course, not having been actually in contact derelicts are clearly indicated on that chart. The with these derelicts myself, I have to refer to the evi. object of my impressing the matter upon our Governdence of other people who have seen derelicts, and I ment was to see, inasmuch as our mercantile marine have to refer to cases that have been reported in the is more than that I believe of the whole world papers at different times. The Board of Trade and the put together, that we should not be behindhand or Admiralty will have had a number of cases that I behind other nations at any rate in looking after the brought, in my position of Member of Parliament, interests of our marino, whether it be our navy or before the House of Commons in the form of Questions, our mercantile servic: in which our passengers and they will have the answers that have been given to or seamen go across t'e Atlantic every day in the those questions. In most of those questions, if not all, year. I have therefore in my Questions in the I have given the exact position where these derelicts House only had one end in view, not by any means that
of harassing any part of Her Majesty's Government, which would be given scope to by such a ship as I have Macdona, but I have acted from a purely conscientious view suggested being iitted out. I believe there would be M.P.
which actuates me strongly, and I have thought that such emulation amongst the sailors to get on board this this matter should be very earnestly gone into by the
ship for the sake of the diversity of occupation, and 20 April 1894. Government. I occupy rather an uniqne position in
for the sake of getting something to occupy their London commercially speaking–I have about three miles energies and minds, that there would be a rivalry of shipping and some of the largest docks, the Surrey amongst them as to who would do the most for their Commercial Docks—in my constituency, and therefore country. These vessels that I am suggesting might be I am personally interested in the welfare of sailors who used with profit to the nation by using them as experiBail from London to all parts of the world, and meet mental sbips in the first instance for practising any these derelicts. It is for that reason that I desire new gun which the Admiralty would like to try. It in my position in Parliament to urge upon the attention would be very easy, instead of going to such an enor. of the Government that we should at least not be behind- mous expense as the Admiralty does go to in providing hand with regard to other nations in taking measures new targets for ships, to send their ships out to places to destroy these derelicts, wherever they are found. where they know there is a derelict for it to practise To that end I have brought a very short Bill into on the derelict. It is very easy to find out where Parliament which comes on to-night, if I am allowed to they are, and therefore to practise on them. Then again bring it in, and that Bill provides that wherever these there is an advantage in this plan in giving to the derelicts are seen, wboever sees them, masters of British men themselves au occupation, and, if necessary, they vessels should report them, at the first port they come might be paid extra for it. There are many worthy to, to Lloyd's, with a view to their being instantly
sailors whý would like to be promoted to an office of telegraphed to Lloyd's in London, and I trust that the that sort where they could be doing some real good for Board of Trade or the Admiralty, whosever province it their country. Then, going on further still than that, falls within, will send forth an intimation to all the you might make these vessels adapted for this one mariners and masters of vessels that these derelicts special purpose of being a beacon, as it were, upon the have been seen. It is a very short Bill and I need not dark waters, to show vessels travelling at night any go into its provisions now. I candidly confess that it derelicts about by means of a large electric light from is simply a preliminary Bill, and it will be either for the foremast, so that vessels of all nations travelling me or somebody else afterwards—the Government I round about would know that that vessel was a British trust-to take up the matier and go further with it, and derelict searcher searching for derelicts on the great when they see the necessity of destroying these derelicts waters far from their own homes. I believe that passing to take immediate steps to devise some plan within their in the night many steamers and many vessels that heard own province and capability for carrying into effect the of derelicts would stop on their way, if it was sufficiently
We have this to go upon, that the Americans calm, and send out a boat to report to the search steamer have tried the experiment for some years. They have had lying by at night, which it would be advisable it should two vessels, the "Kearsage ” and the “ Vesuvius,” fitted do, with this large search light at the bow or maintop. I up prirposely for destroying these derelicts wherever an only going into these details because the Committee they meet with them. I am sorry to say that the represent the Board of Trade and the Admiralty, and I “Kenrsage" since then has been hoist with its own wish to show how feasible the thing is. I would go even petard, so to speak, it has run upon a derelict, I
further still. This search vessel would be a common believe, and been lost, and its place has not, I think, been communication between the sailors of all nations in filled up so far. But I feel strongly that it is beneath the matter of delivering letters and doing things of the dignity of a great nation like England, with so
that ind. I am I have wearied you, but I feel many interests in all parts of the world, and with so earnestly upon the point, and it may be the only many of our own people in all parts of the world having opportunity I shall have of appearing before you. If to travel backwards and forwards to and from England, you will allow me I will read these cases of vessels and with such an enormous commerce as we have at that are known to have been lost by collisions at sea sea, that we should be behind even such an enterprising with derelicts, or shall I leave them with you as read P nation as the Americans. We have the facilities, we
4. You can mention the names, at any rate - The have the wealth, we have the interest, we have every.
“ Chilian” is the first. thing concerned to make us most anxious to take such steps as will rid the Atlantic of these terrible risks, not 5. (Mr. Trevor.) Is that the ship that was stranded only to property, but to what I esteem much more the other day on Filey Brigg :--The“ Chilian'' struck valuable, the lives of our sailors and of our passengers, a derelict upon a voyage from Pernambuco to Philaand of our friends travelling backwards and forwards delphia. She is the tenth ship which has struck in between here and America. With these few remarks, seven years. She was examined in Philadelphia with stating, as I do now, that my Derelicts (Reports) Bill is the result that a dent was found in her bottom, and only a stepping-stone, as it were, to what I should like the blade of the propeller was broken. She put to sea to see achieved afterwards, I will say that if this first again, and had to be abandoned seven days after with Act is passed, and these derelicts are reported at the 5 feet of water in her. different ports where the masters of ships may touch, 6. Where does this information come from P--From then, I think, a very important step bas been taken in the
the Hydrographer's Office at Washington. Then there right direction, and one that I am sure the Board of
Naronic,” which was sunk.
7. That has been satisfactorily accounted for, has it getting passed into law. As I said before, I would
not P-No, it has never been accounted for that I am like the Government to go even further. There is no
aware of. It has never been heard of. She was fitted use in adopting this notion about derelicts being dis
out with particularly strong bulkheads, too. covered in different places unless we go a step further. 8. (Chairman.) Would you give us the names of the It is little use telling the master of a ship that there is others ?--The Cragside" struck a derelict off Whitea derelict in such and such a latitude and longitude head, U.S.A. on the 20th of May last and foundered. when by the time he gets there it may or may not be Then the barque " Jan Pietersoon Koen,” in latitude there, and if it were there if he was passing it in the 24° 10' north, latitude 69° 28' west, on February 24th night there would be no possibility of his being able to 1892. The “ Orrie V. Drisco” was sunk by a derelict see it or guard against it. Therefore it is our bounden in the north of Mexico in 1891. The steamship “ Glen duty to take some steps to destroy them altogether. Rath” suruck a wreck and sunk on October 1st, 1890, A vessel might very easily be set aside--even chartered, Then there was the case of the “Seagull ” off the New and if not chartered, some of our cruising vessels Jersey coast. Then the Spanish guuboat “ Paez" fell that we have in the navy Inight be very well fitted in with a derelict at Tarifa and had a hole knocked in up expressly for that purpose without any very great her and foundered. Then there was the “ Francis L. expense, and they would add, I believe, to the efficiency Godfrey," the “ Joseph Baymore," and the · Baylesof our navy if it was known that we had two or
schooners which were all sunk by derelicts three ships engaged upon this very laudable work. From 1887 to 1893 14 ships, 4 of them steamers, were I believe also that there is a great feeling of chivalry badly hurt by derelicts, 7 slightly damaged, 12 amongst our naval men, and I believe that in our fleet damaged to an extent not ascertained. The steamer there are many sailors who, in these modern days of “Norman” on the 18th May last ran upon a sunken ironclads and that sort of thing, on different coasts, schooner-the “ Booth Brothers” which went ashore on more especially the warm coasts, feel it an in- Brigantine Shoals, New Jersey. They managed to exorably wearisome task to fulfil their duties without clear the hull with the loss of a few spars. The “ City something, I was going to say, in the way of what is of Dublin on November 1lth in latitude 39° 30' N., pleasurable or profitable to occupy all their faculties, long. 53° west, had a narrow escape when she struck
the deckhouse of a derelict but escaped the hull. Then the “Bahama” launched in 1893 at Glasgow was seen off the coast of Newfoundland abandoned. Then the “ Fanny E. Wolston” abandoned on the 15th October 1891 was last seen on the 15th December 1893 near where she was abandoned. At the end of 1892 she had travelled 3,460 miles in the tracks of vessels. Then there is the
Robert P. Chandler” which was abandoned at Key West on July 7th. She was seen at Christmas last having travelled 1,200 miles close to the Atlantic steamship route. Then the “Lady Lingar and the “ Helena Alma” and “Forrest ” and another Fessel on fire was reported not far from Fastnet.
9. (Captain Wharton.) These are all cases from the Cnited States records ?-Yes. Then in March last the steamship“ Vesta," from New Orleans to Liverpool, reported a derelict on fire in latitude 42° 46', longitude 16. In 1893 the Star of India," · Garibaldi," Bourgeois,"
Lakefield,” “Wyer G. Sargent" all disappeared. The last one was abandoned in March 1891, and was last seen at the end of 1892, having gone 5,500 miles in 615 days, and when last reported was off Bermuda. In 1888, the blizzard year, there were a great many derelicts ; 1889 was worse. In 1888 there were 22 reported; in 1889, 37; in 1890, 25; and in 1891 there were 23 reported as derelicts.
10. (Chairman.) Reported to whom P-Reported to Washington.
11. (Mr. Trevor.) With their latitude and longitude given ?—Yes, in most cases,
12. And, of course, with the date of observation ?Yes, I can give some more with the actual position of those that were
The “ W. L. White abandoned on March 13th, 1888, 80 miles from New York. On January 23rd, 1889, she went ashore off the Hebrides, having gone 5,900 miles in 370 days, and was recognised by 45 vessels. In November 1888 two American schooners, Ethel M. Davis ” and “ David W. Hunt,” were abandoned in the same gale. The latter travelled 4,800 miles in 347 days; the former 440 miles in 370 days. On October 13th, 1887, the barque “ Telemaque" was abandoned in latitude 37° N., longitude 39° W., having been seen the last time on April 15th, 1889, in latitude 35° 50' N., longitude 56° 5' W., having travelled 3,150 miles in 551 days. The “Vincenzo Peratta” was abandoned in the same place a month earlier. She went ashore on Watling's Island on the 4th of April 1889 after a run of 2,950 miles in 536 days. Then there was the schooner
Manantico," which did 2,600 miles in 164 days. The “Dagmar” did 1,400 miles in 1., 7 days. The “ Petty did 1,700 miles in 97 days. The James B. Dravy”. did 1,720 miles in 367 days. The “ Carrier Dove” did 2,210 miles in 152 days. The barque “Carricks did 2,420 miles in 314 days, and the “Vesta Linden travelled 2,230 miles in 151 days. Then the “Countess Dufferin " did 1,300 miles in 90 days.
13. (Chairman.) Are these derelicts P-Yes. 14. (Mr. Trevor.) Abandoned P-Yes, and travelling about.
15. (Captain Wharton.) How many years is that PThese I have given you have been since 1887–7 years.
16. (Mr. Trevor.) The time of drifting is calculated from the latitude and longitude of the different posi
It gives the nnmber of miles of travelling, and the days P-The objeco of that is, I presume, to show what a risk vessels cruizing in the Atlantic run in encountering one of these derelicts ?Yes.
17. (Chairman.) As far as I understand at the present moment, your main object is to take some steps to obtain legislation, that all floating derelicts should be reported P-Yes.
18. And published ?-- Yes-in the first instance sent of course to the Board of Trade, to the Admiralty, and to Lloyd's, and then of course immediately published, steps being taken that every one of these positions are indicated to the masters leaving harbour. And I would suggest that envelopes might be sent out by the Board of Trade to all these masters, directed to the Board of Trade, so that no matter what port they called at, they might at once put a letter into the post office and have It seni direct to the Board of Trade.
19. (Mr. Trevor.) Your Bill proposes that the report shall be made to Lloyd's, and that Lloyd's shall forth with communicate such information as it contains to the
Board of Trade P-Yes. I do that as a double security,
Macdona, because Lloyd's is a business concern, and even sup
M.P. posing one should not fail, it will make assurance doubly sure. If the Admiralty issue envelopes directed to themselves they would get the information required.
20 April 1894. 20. (Chairman.) I see you have mentioned Lloyd's, and I suppose it would be satisfactory to you and your point would be equally met, if the information was obtained in whatever was the best way ?--In any way that was best.
21. But especially by the Government P-By the Government-but Government takes such a long time to move in matters of that sort, and Lloyd's being a business concern it might be taken up at once by Lloyd's as far as the Bill is concerned, but it is to the interest of the Board of Trade to have the information themselves as soon as they could get it. Another point that occurred to me was that they should be reported to the Consuls abroad-to the nearest British Consul—but then I found on inquiry that Lloyd's generally appoint, in fact invariably appoint, the British Consuls all over the world as their agents; but in many cases where there are are no British Consuls there are Lloyd's representatives, and they might be made the persons to be reported to. Immediately after landing every sailor has to go to Lloyd's, and it occurred to me that Lloyd's agent being on the spot the information could be sent more quickly and much more direct to headquarters, but at any rate it would be a safeguard and additional security if the Board of Trade were to issue envelopes directed to themselves so that every master at once could forward any information as to a derelict having been seen.
22. Then I will not ask you any further questions on the individual cases you bring forward as I quite nnderstand that you are simply informing us of the information you received from other sources ?— Yes.
23. Could you give the Conimittee any idea of where they conld best get information from personal experience P-I think the best information I could suggest would be that which could be obtained direct from the Hydrographer's Office at Washington. Then I think you will find when you have Mr. Jaffe before you that he has a large amount of original information, because he took great pains when the subject was before the Belfast Chamber of Commerce to give them all the information he could, and he has that with him. That is the reason I have not got that information.
24. Mr. Jaffe will be able to give us that?-I think he will be sure to be able to give you that. Then again at a moment's notice yesterday. I sent down to the East End of London, where I could amongst the sailors there, to try to get any direct information of men who hail seen derelicts, so that they might report to your Committee here not only where they saw them and the like, but that they might give you an idea of the terror derelicts seem to convey to sailors on board a ship. Sailors are very superstitions, and the least danger of that sort, although very brave men in an emergency, affects them greatly. An unseen danger that they cannot guard against causes them an amount of terror which is very painful.
2.). You cannot give us any direct information of loss of life from collisions with derelicts can you ?-1 am afraid I cannot. There are so many vessels that have gone down and that one has never heard of, that the only presumption is that the loss cannot be accounted for otherwise than by their having run against a derelict.
26. That of course must be more or less hypothetical ? -Yes.
27. Have your informants given full value to the danger from floating ice in the North Atlantic P-Yes, but the great difference is that ice can be guarded against. There are indications from the difference of temperature that icebergs are near.
28. (Sir George Nares.) That is an exploded idea altogether. In the Arctic Expedition of 1875-76 it nerer warned me of my approach to ice P--When you are always in the Arctic regions it cannot make the same difforence, but if you are in a warm climate and the ice comes upon you then you feel the difference.
29. When commanding the “ Challenger” in the south seas the thermometer was useless in that respect.
30. (Chairman ) One more question. As far as I gather at present, your proposal with regard to the destruction of derelicts refers to the North Atlantic routes only P_Te are exposed to the danger of derelicts
tions, 1 suppose.
J. C. in all parts of the world. I should be glad to try the Macdona, North Atlantic first. But there are a tremendous M.P. number of derelicts with which English commerce is
jeopardised in the Chinese seas, and the Baltic, and 99 April 1894. other seas; and wherever our commerce takes us to we
are liable to meet with them.
31. There is naturally some difference between derelicts that are in territorial waters and those that are in mid ocean ?-Certainly, and I should agree with your opinion as I take it to be, and the opinion of a great many others, that the greater risk is on the Atlantic coast, because the greater passenger traffic goes across it, and the routes are defined routes, and if one of these things gets in the way of a passenger steamer the risk is something awful. It would be a terrible thing to find out the power of a derelict after a collision if anybody ever survived to tell the tale, and of course there should be steps taken against it, and to provide a way of escape. In the China trade and the Australia trade routes there is a great number of them, and I had a long letter and a very interesting, one
-a copy of which I sent to the “Times”—which I have with me, from the captain of a ship in the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, saying that he had, since this question of the derelicts was raised in the House of Commons, geen reports from American papersChicago and other papers—of it, and he has now written saying that although he did not know me, and had no personal motive in it, he had gathered together no less than 30 captains of ships in Galveston who happened to be there at the time, and they held an impromptu moeting, and banded themselves together to thank me for having taken the matter up, and in one instance offering to gather all along the coast as many cases of evidence to support this movement as it was possible to do, and these 30 captains signed this letter and sent it on to me to the House of Commons. I only mention that as indicating how our English sailors abroad feel in the matter.
32. Those were Englishmen, were they p— Yes, Englishmen.
33. (Mr. Trevor.) ng the American coast P— Yes, along the American coast.
34. Why did not they send it to the American Government instead of to the British Government P-I do not know.
35. Or both P-I do not know. They did not do so, but they started from England, and they happened to be out there, and they naturally felt that we would have much more interest in them tban the American Government would have.
36. (Sir George Nares.) Are the cases you have mentioned cases in which the vessels have struck a derelict or cases of a ship being a derelict?--All those cases I gave are cases of absolute derelicts.
37. How many cases have you in which within the last few years a vessel has certainly struck a derelict ?
- There is one case I have not mentioned there, but which I mentioned in the House of Commons a short time ago, of a Southampton steamer, a Royal Mail steamer, striking a derelict.
38. An actual floating ship P-An actual floating ship. It was floating matter of a ship, whether the whole ship or not I cannot tell. It is very hard to prove when you have struck an actual derelict, but there is one case in the list which I gave of a vessel from Pernambuco which put in at Philadelphia with an indentation in her bottom, but she put out again after being repaired and had to be abandoned afterwards with 5 feet of water inside of her.
39. Do you remember whether you have given us the case of the “Glenrath” or the “Cragside "P_Yes.
40. Do you know that at the Board of Trade Inquiry it was found she had not struck a derelict at all, but the South-west Bull Rock?_No, I do not know that. That was a case which happened on the 20th May last.
41. Do you know that in fact we must not take the charts furnished by the Hydrographer of the United States as being certain guides, because in analysing even one chart we found that there was a mistake in the case of two British ships. The “ Glenrath” was said to have been totally lost through having struck a wreck, but was found by the Court of Inquiry to have struck the Bilge shoal, and the “ Cragside” had struck the South. west Bull Rock probably ?- That is a matter of detai).
42. Are we to confine ourselves in the mattor of fitting up ships for this purpose to one or two men-of.
war f—I do not think a mun-of-war wouid be suitable at all for it,
43. One or two ships then ?-I think you will find after you try one or two ships that it would be so much to your advantage that you would be very glad to try others in other parts.
44. But we have to consider these things on financial grounds ?-I kncw.
45. However, that is about how far you propose to go now P_Two ships.
46. Then have you thought, with a possible sight of about eight miles on each side, and only being able to journey during the daytime, about what expanse of sea one could search P-I have not gone into those details, but I would suggest the proper steps to take would be to go on the tracks of our ocean-going steamers.
47. Still, we shall have to consider all those questions now in connexion with the case P-No doubt.
48. Are you aware of the decision that was come to by the delegates that attended the Washington Con. ference on the subject?-I have heard about it-that they were anxious to get the other Maritime Powers of the worid to joiu the Washington Gevernment, and take united action in the matter.
49. But you have never read this Blue Book, publishing the decision come to there by tbe delegates. I will read it. It is from a Blue Book entitled “Commercial, " 7 (1891). Protocols of Proceedings of the Inter“ national Marine Conference held in Washington, “ October 16th to December 31st, 1889.” This is at the Conference held at Washington on Tuesday, December 31st, 1889, on the subject of "Reporting, marking, “ and removing dangerous wrecks or obstructions to
navigation.” It says: “Marking other obstructions. At present it seems impracticable to mark shoals, reefs, &c., whether they be well known or only newly discovered, with the exception of those lying near the
coasts of countries having a maritime commerce, “ and we consider it unnecessary to press for their
being marked in other localities where they can be
readily avoided by the exercise of ordinary skill, and “ the usual precautions known to navigators. For this
reason the Committee have no proposition to submit to the Conference beyond the introduction, as far as possible, of a uniform system of buoyage. The
President: The subject before the Conference for dis“cussion is, “ Marking other obstructions.' The Chair “ hears no proposition with regard thereto. The Secre
tary will proceed to read the next division of the programme. The next division of the programme is as follows: (6.) The division of the labour, cost, and responsibility among theseveral maritime Nations,either
by geographical apportionment or otherwise, of the “ removal of dangerous derelicts; and of searching for “ doubtful dangers with a view of removing them from " the charts. 1. Derelicts, &c., on the high seas. A
geographical apportionment of the waters of the globe
amongst tbe different maritime Nations, in order to “ divide the labour and cost of removing wrecks and “ derelicts, or searching for doubtful dangers, cannot “ be recommended for a loption. In the open sea, with " the exception of a part of the North Atlantic, dere“ licts and dangerous wrecks are exceedingly rare, and
as these parts of the ocean are, comparatively speaking, not much frequented by vessels, the danger accruing from such obstructions is not one to warrant the expenditure of such sums of money as
would be necessary to institute a regular service, “ sufficient to ensure their removal from regions of " such enormous extent. The news of having sighted
a derelict, is often a week or inore old before it is “ received by the authorities; a rescuing steamer can
often not be on the spot for another week; the posi.
tion given is in many cases not accurate; and in “ most parts of the sea the drift of the derelict is ex.
ceedingly uncertain. It is, therefore, a most diffi“ cult task for a vessel sent out to search for a derelict “ to find it; and the expense incurred by such expedi“ tions may often be out of all proportion to the “ small chance of finding and removing one.
The geographical apportionment of the waters of the oceans might, besides this, easily lead to the supposition that the limits so defined would circumscribe, moreover, the sphere of political interest of the re
epective Governments. The President: The subject “ before the Conference for discussion is Derelicts, “ &c., on the high seas.' The Chair bears no proposi.
tion in regard to it. * The secretary will please read