Inquest
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THE INQUEST
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 22 Jan 1904, pg.1

Appliances Borrowed by Steamers for Purposes of Inspections

Evidence was given before the coroner's inquest yesterday on instances where equipment, such as life rafts and life belts, buckets, lanterns, etc., have been borrowed by local steamers for purposes of inspection. A letter was read from Commodore Goodrich, in command of the navy, stating that he 'Clallam's' plight had not been made known at Esquimalt, and, if it had been known, the 'Grafton' could not have got steam up in less than six hours. Capt. Dan McIntosh, the boatman, gave evidence of the improper equipment of the 'Clallam's' boats and of the fact that the boat recovered and in his possession had been launched with the plug hole open and had filled and swamped, but not capsized, a fact shown by the rowlocks, unattached by lanyards, found in the boat with other things. Baynes Reed, weather observer, testified regarding the weather stating that a moderate southwesterly gale raged on the day of the disaster, and R. Collister, inspector of hulls, gave evidence of inspecting the 'Clallam' and finding her answer all requirements of the act. J.H. Lawson identified the remains of R.J. Campbell.

Wm. Tyson, the first witness called, had worked on the 'Amur', 'Danube' and other local vessels, and had known of equipment being borrowed by them for the inspection. In 1899 a bale of life belts and a roll of two inch hawser had been taken into the 'Danube' for inspection. and carried off afterward. In 1900 a life raft had been borrowed from the 'Rainbow' by the 'Amur' and returned afterward. The 'Clallam' had one lifeboat short, having five instead of six. The borrowing of life belts on the 'Amur' was previous to the Canadian and United States inspection. He believed this borrowing to be a common thing.

Capt. R. Collister, inspector of hulls, said he inspected the 'Clallam' at Seattle, previous to her commencing service on July 3rd, the steamer being in the water at the time of inspection. He gave her dimensions. The vessel had two decks and a pilot house. If the upper works were carried away there was nothing to prevent the water reaching the engine room. The steamer had two bulkheads, one in the bow, known as the collision bulkhead. He detailed the construction of the steamer and said he considered her a first-class craft. The deadlights had been installed in the usual way, and he was satisfied with them. They were eight inches in diameter, three inch glass in a brass frame without shutters. He detailed the equipment of the 'Clallam', and said she had more than the law required. He had not been required to go into the matter of signal flags, rockets, etc. He did not know of equipment being borrowed by any boat for inspection. If he had he would have cancelled the steamer's certificate. In answer to Mr. Lugrin, after detailing at length the construction of the 'Clallam', he said he had never seen shutters for deadlights, and considered it impossible for the water to break the three quarter inch glass. To Mr. McPhillips he said the 'Clallam' would have passed a Lloyds' inspection. If the anchors had been put over off Trial Island they would have brought her head to the wind if they did not hold.

Baynes Reed, of the meteorological bureau, testified that on the day of the disaster a moderate gale blew until 9 p.m. Between 2 and 3 p.m. it blew 47 miles an hour. On the Beamford scale it was seven degrees on a fresh gale. It decreased after 3 p.m. The maximum experienced here was a velocity of 60 and 61 miles an hour. The weather was not thick. He thought distress signals could have been made out for three or four miles in the Straits.

Capt. Dan McIntosh, said he had charge of No. 1 boat of the 'Clallam', which had been recovered with the body of Miss Harris in it, and turned over to him. A lady's purse and watch and two iron rowlocks were found in the bottom of the boat. The cup of the plug hole was not in place. The plug hole was open. One chock was broken and there were only places for three oars. It was a metallic lifeboat with two watertight compartments. The lifeline was inside, poorly fastened. There was a staple of less than an eighth inch in thickness, perhaps it was a wire nail with the head bent. If properly placed the boat should have carried fourteen people safely, and should have lived on the day of the accident. There were no lanyards on the oars or buckets, and, in his opinion, was not in a condition to be launched. The place where the boats were lowered was a bad place; there were bad tide rips there. The boat had a painter about fifteen feet long, and if a weight had been attached this would have made a sea anchor. The boat swamped. It did not capsize. Capt. Roberts had been running a schooner in those waters and he knew of many beaches and shelters near there where the steamer ought to have been beached if she had good sails even if her engines had stopped. He considered the 'Clallam's' tackle faulty. Telling of lowering the boats and the practice adopted he said that a man should be cool then and not running around with his hat off and his hair waving. He could have lowered boats that day. He had lowered a boat from a schooner at that place on a similar day and picked up a cow that had washed away. Captain Roberts was well acquainted there and knew of many beaches where he could have run the vessel. The deadlights of the 'Clallam', to him "looked like looking glasses with the silver off." They ought to have shutters in waters exposed to drift, as Puget Sound was. He told of an instance of equipment being borrowed for the inspection of a vessel called the 'Holybank' and returned to the ship chandlers after inspection.

Asked if the captain ought to have known by the way the steamer acted that everything was not right, he replied that it was the captain's place to know. He could have left the bridge, for it would not run away, and gone to look if he could not trust those with him. Asked about the vessel not being brought to the wind, he said there were a hundred ways, the gangway or even a few trucks on a hawser would have made a sea anchor; there wee many ways. There were also a hundred ways of stopping the deadlight, but the water seems to have come in from everywhere. He thought the clamps of the 'Clallam' were too weak for such a vessel.

The following communication from Commodore Goodrich was read by C.H. Lugrin:
H.M.S. Grafton
At Esquimalt
20th January 1901

    Sir, In reply to your letter of the 19th instant, I am directed by Commodore Goodrich, to inform you on the points raised, as follows:

    2. The 'Clallam' was not seen by the signalman on duty in His Majesty's ships at Esquimalt on the afternoon of the day she was wrecked.

    3. Nothing of the disaster, or of the peril to the 'Clallam' was known to anyone in authority at Esquimalt until the following day, when the news was, of course, common property.

    4.The only man-of-war ready for sea on the day in question was the flagship 'Grafton', but according to the custom of the service she had no steam available, and under those circumstances six hours would have been necessary to raise steam and get the engine ready. This having been done the 'Grafton' could have gone to sea.

    5. The Commodore is of opinion it would be most unwise for it to be supposed that a man-of-war lying in Esquimalt is available for service at short notice; it would be hardly too much to say that as a rule she is not, for the following reasons (among others):

    Esquimalt contains our only dockyard on the coast, and consequently H.M. ships lying there have to take advantage of their stay to thoroughly examine and overhaul the machinery and boilers for the purpose of making good defects and refitting the different parts when necessary. These examinations are rendered more numerous and unavoidable every year as the engines increase in number and the steam pressure is raised.
L BLACKLER,
Secretary
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