Liverpool Mercury, 14th Jan 1899

Inquiry into the loss of the CLAN DRUMMOND

On Thursday, Sheriff FYFE of Glasgow held a Board of Trade inquiry into the loss of the CLAN DRUMMOND, and 36 lives. Mr MC GREGOR of the Board of Trade said that, the CLAN DRUMMOND was built in Dumbarton in 1882, her length 330ft, her breadth 41ft, her depth 26ft and her tonnage was 1845. She was owned by, Sir Charles W. CAYZER of Glasgow and others.

She left Liverpool on Nov 26th last with a crew of 59, and 1 passenger and a general cargo for Algoa Bay, Cape Colony.

All went well till the 30th, when a moderate gale blew and the steamer was struck by a heavy sea, which smashed No 2 hatch in. The deck on the starboard side was also broken and sunk 4ft. Endeavours were made to avoid water, but it still found its way down No2 hold.

As the vessel was settling down to the head, signals were made to the steamer HOLBEIN, which was in sight and the starboard lifeboat was lowered.

Certain of the crew got into it and pulled to the HOLBEIN. Unsuccessful attempts were made to launch the port lifeboat. 10mins afterwards the steamer foundered, the total loss of life was 36, and total number saved 23.

Mr JOSS of CAYZER IRVINE and Co, said, the vessel was valued at £30,000, of which, £18,000 was at owners risk. Since 1893, £20,000 had been spent on repairs. The vessel on leaving Liverpool was fully efficient and had just secured Lloyd’s 100 A1 certificate. The owners had every confidence in Capt CROCKETT. The vessel had over 37ft of free space on each side, the Board of Trade requirement being 16ft on each side.

Robert Grieve BECKETT, 1st Mate, said, they had 4 boats, including 2 lifeboats and the ordinary life saving apparatus. The weather was settled till the Monday, when a fresh gale sprang up, N.N.W, 260 miles off Cape Finisterre, going full speed. He had gone to his cabin after seeing all was right, when he felt a severe shock to the vessel, he went on deck and found a foot of water in the saloon, and the main hatch stove in. A large amount of water was in No 2 hold and the gangway was washed away.

To keep the water out they got sails and awnings to cover the damage on deck, but they were of no use. The speed was reduced at once, to slow, and the ship kept before the wind.

It soon became apparent the ship was sinking and boats were got ready, buckets and provisions put in them. The starboard lifeboat was launched and 30 Lascars, the 2nd and 3rd engineers, the purser and witness got in it. Within 10minutes of leaving the vessel the ship foundered.

The HOLBEIN went to rescue some of the crew in the water, the witness was rescued, the Master, 4th Officer and two other men.

Being alongside the HOLBEIN they got under her bows and her mouldings struck the boat’s gunwale, crushing it and capsizing the boat. They were thrown in the water, less than half were rescued, the Master was amongst those drowned. 6 Europeans and 17 Lascars were saved.

At the time of the casualty the 3rd officer kept watch and the Captain was also on deck. None of the officers on deck at the time were saved.

Archibald LEITCH, 2nd Officer, corroborated, he was on the bridge when the accident happened, he could not swim and was in the water 3hrs before he was taken out insensible.

Robert TWEEDLY, 2nd Engineer said, all was in order when the accident occurred, the vessel was at once slowed and the pumps set into motion, in the engineering department every man was at his post.

The court adjourned till today when judgement will be given.

Liverpool Mercury, 21st Jan 1899

The court of inquiry into the loss of the CLAN DRUMMOND, found that the cause of the disaster was that the No2 hatch and a deck were smashed in by a heavy sea falling on board and filling the hold, causing the vessel to founder with the loss of 37 lives. The disaster occurred in the Bay of Biscay on November 28th last. The court also recorded the vessel was seaworthy in all respects and that a perfect discipline was maintained on board.


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