Monday, 27 June 2016


typepassenger ship
date built1882
tonnage1786  grt
dimensions86.9 x 11.1 x 7.2 m
engine1 x 2 cyl. compound engine, single shaft, 1 screw
power292  h.p. (rhp)
speed14  knots
yard no.259
IMO/Off. no.84478
about the loss
cause lostran aground (wrecked)
other reasonsfog
date lost28/10/1894  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties max.121rank: 533
about people
Denny W. & Bros. Ltd.,Dumbarton
engine by
Denny W. & Bros. Ltd.,Dumbarton
Union Steamship Co. Of New Zealand Ltd.London & Dunedin
captainMcintosh, John S.
no. of crew65
no. of passengers186

Barrier Miner, Wednesday 12 December, 1894.

Details of the Finding.
AUCKLAND, Tuesday.
The following is the detailed finding of
the court of inquiry into the wreck of the
Wairarapa :- The court finds that the
vessel was lost through Captain M'lntosh
and the first and second officers not
taking the correct point of departure
from the Three Kings and not allowing
for the current, which, they should have
been aware, was running east-south-east.
Why accurate bearings were not taken at
the Three Kings, and the ship's course
positively fixed is inexplicable. No
doubt the ship overran her distance on the
east-north quarter-north course when she
was supposed to be off Spirits Bay and
the land then seen was in reality North
Cape. Again she overran her distance on
the east-south east course. The officers
admit that they felt anxious, but nothing
was done, while the ship was driven full
speed in a dense fog. The captain was in
charge the whole time, never leaving the
deck and bridge, and he alone is to blame
for having lost the vessel. Though neglect
was shown, in the court's opinion, by the
chief officer subséquent to the wreck in
not utilising the available boats at his
disposal, the court does not think that
the degree of negligence was such that it
is entitled to cancel or suspend his certificate 
or that of any other officer. If the
captain were alive his certificate would be
cancelled. There was plenty of time to
get the boats out if orders had been
given promptly and obeyed.

It is evident that the crew did not
know their places in the different
boats, and the so-called boat drill was
only a farce. Mainly owing to want of
efficient knowledge in the handling of the
boats, many lives were lost. After the
mismanagement and smashing of the
boats occurred and there was no longer hope
of saving the passengers by the boats,
the ship's company remaining on the
vessel did not do what might have been
expected, and what always is expected,
from British seamen worthy of the name
when women and children are in peril.
The evidence showed that the chief officer
left the bridge for the rigging before the
engines were stopped and the electric
light was extinguished, and while there
was plenty of light for the ship's company
to have got the women and children into
the rigging. A grave error of judgment
was committed in not keeping the boats
that had been got afloat nearer the wreck.
For the chief officer's conduct in connection
with the raft which he saw floating near
the Needles with people on it, no censure
is severe enough. He knew that two
boats were available; but he made no
effort and gave no instructions that these
boats should be sent to see what became
of the raft and look for people who might
be floating about on the wreckage. No
examination appears to have been made
of the coast from the wreck till nearly
three days after the disaster, nor was any
attempt made to use the boats to pick up
the dead bodies until Thursday. This
conduct was inhuman and inexplicable.
The second officer's conduct was of a
negative character; and the third officer
was the only navigating officer who rose
to the occasion. He deserves to be
commended for his prompt and utter
disregard of self. The fourth officer
appears to have done all he could. The
engineers deserve great commendation.
All that can be said about the purser is
that he saved himself. The stewards did
their duty well, and the conduct of the
stewardess was beyond praise. Very little
can be said as to the crew. They
have not explained to the satisfaction
of the court how they came
in the only two boats that got away.
The court also expressed an opinion that
a steamer should have been sent to the
wreck immediately the news reached
Auckland, and the delay was unfeeling.

An example of how horribly wrong everything could go.....

"The only way to infallibility is to confess to one's fallibility.” 
― Vincent Marc Hoherz

And so through the learning curve of confronting human fallibility, could improvements be made in favour of progress and safety for all at sea......

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