The SS Pericles, gross tonnage 10 925, length 500 ft. 5 in., depth 31 ft. 1 in., built by Harland Wolff (Belfast) was launched 21 December, 1907. She was powered by twin quadruple expansion engines giving 14 knots.
31 March, 1910, Pericles en-route Sydney to London, struck an uncharted rock 6 miles south of Cape Leeuwin. Captain Alexander Simpson oversaw the successful evacuation of 238 passengers and 163 crew onto life boats - no loss of life.
The following extracts give us an insight into passenger witness impressions vs. officers' responses to allegations of negligence.
Let us begin with the formal Inquiry conclusions:
The Court of Marine Inquiry at Fremantle.
In the matter of a Formal Inquiry held at Fremantle before E. P. DOWLEY, Esq., and W. A. G. WALTER, Esq. (Magistrates), assisted by Captain LAURIE and Captain F. L. PARKES (Assessors), into the circumstances attending the shipwreck of the steamship "PERICLES."
The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds:
(1) The s.s. "Pericles," while on a voyage from Melbourne to Fremantle, was, on the 31st March, 1910, rounding Cape Leeuwin, when, at about 3.30 p.m., she met with a disaster causing her to founder.
(2) Proper care and vigilance were exercised in the navigation of the vessel by the master and officers, and proper steps were taken to fix her position, and from time to time to verify such position.
(3) The vessel was kept on the course stated in the evidence given by the master.
(4) Such course, as set and steered, was one which, in all the circumstances of the occasion, the master was justified in considering a safe and proper one.
(5) While on such course, as stated in the evidence, the vessel struck a submerged obstruction, which is uncharted, and thereby foundered.
E. P. DOWLEY, R.M.
W. A. G. WALTER,
F. L. PARKES,
14th April, 1910.
(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 10th day of June 1910.)