Maritime Depositions.

Report of Captain Charles Harty, of the Bruiser (s s), of and for London, 344 tons, from Hull, with general cargo and about 90 passengers, but I do not know the exact number, which foundered after collision with the Haswell (s s) (as before reported): -- Left Hull July 25, weather fine, wind variable, and calm. Proceeded, and on Aug. 19, at 2 30 A.M., weather fine, and clear, wind W., gentle, was steaming along off Aldborough, from three to four miles off the coast. At this time I was below, having left the deck in charge of the First Mate, Mr. John Scott. At the time I went below the masthead light and the side lights had just been trimmed before 12 o'clock, and were burning brightly. The First Mate took charge of the vessel at 12, and I went below about a quarter to 1. I was awoke by the screw stopping, and hearing the Mate call out "Starboard." I ran on deck, and as soon as I got to the top of the stairs the collision took place. I immediately went on the main deck, and found another vessel, a steamer, the Haswell, of London, had struck us amidships, her bows sticking fast in the vessel's side, striking the after compartments. It was at once ascertained, that my vessel was considerably staved below water mark, and the water rushing violently in. When I saw the water was rushing in in [sic] that way, I ran to the cabin and told the passengers to be as quick as they could on deck, as I was afraid the ship would sink. I told them to make haste and pass along the bridge to the bow of the other vessel, on which they might escape by means of a ladder that had been placed there by the Haswell, and likewise ropes that were thrown out. My lifeboat having been cut in two by the collision, this was the most ready way of escape. The jollyboat was lowered and placed by the side of the gangway for any person to get into; before I left the vessel I did not see any one on deck, and the Haswell having backed out the Bruiser sank immediately, and I had just slipped on the stern of the jollyboat when she disappeared. The Haswell's boats were now lowered to assist any one that might be endeavouring to save themselves. In consequence of the causalty about 11 passengers and three of the Crew lost their lives, the remainder being saved by getting on board the Haswell, and by the schooner Perseverance, that happened to be near the spot. The collision was caused, in my opinion, by the side lights not being visible on board the Haswell. The masthead light was seen, but no side lights were seen. The Chief Mate concluded that she was a vessel at anchor, and besides there must have been a bad look-out on board the Haswell.

Report of Captain John Chase, of the Schooner Screw Collier Steamer Haswell, of and from London, 560 tons, for Sunderland, in ballast, which was in contact with the Bruiser (s s), as before reported: -- Left London Aug. 18, weather fine, wind a gentle breeze from S.W. At 2 30 next morning, weather fine, wind S.W., gentle, was steaming along under canvas, portsail only being set, off Aldeburgh, about 5½ miles from the Suffolk coast. The two side lights and the masthead light were burning brightly at the time. I left the deck a few minutes to 12 o'clock to go below to rest. Vessel was then about 1½ mile above the Sunk Light-vessel. The Chief Mate was in charge until 12 o'clock, afterwards the Second Mate was in charge. I gave orders before going below that if there was any danger or difficulty I was to be called, and under any circumstances to call me when the vessel was off Lowestoft. The first thing I heard was the shock of the collision while in my berth. I immediately ran on deck, when I found another vessel, which proved to be the Bruiser, of London, athwart our bows. The first thing that I looked to then was that the bows of the Haswell should be kept fast in the Bruiser, so that I might save all the lives possible. To effect this, the engines were kept slowly ahead; every exertion was made to save life, by throwing out ropes, putting down a ladder, putting all the boats out, &c. By this means 75 passengers, the Master, and 20, of the Bruiser's Crew, were saved. I, after remaining in my position for about 10 minutes, saw it was necessary for the safety of the vessel, and lives we had saved, to back out of the Bruiser, which vessel, as soon as this had been done, went down stern foremost. I now overhauled my own vessel to ascertain what damage she had sustained. I found a large hole in the port bow, and the forepeak full of water, the watertight bulkhead being close to the hole and perfectly tight. After shoring the bulkhead, I considered the vessel quite safe. I remained on the spot for about three hours, to see if any one was floating about. After saving almost all the passengers' luggage, I then took the boats in, and returned to London with all speed, arriving at Victoria Dock at 5 P.M. same day. Three lives were saved by the schooner Perseverance, which happened to be on the spot at the time. No lives were lost of persons on board my ship. From the statement of my Second Mate, who holds a Master's certificate, granted him about 23 years ago, and who had charge of the vessel at the time of collision, I consider the Officers on board the Bruiser were entirely to blame, as that vessel had been coming up rather on the port bow since her lights were first seen, and then, when the vessel were near each other, the Bruiser starboarded her helm, which led to the collision.

The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, Friday, August 31, 1866. p 2.

Transcribed by Lars Bruzelius

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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.