De Launay
previous page     BC Lists     Clallam Index     next page
DE LAUNAY TO GIVE EVIDENCE
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 24 Jan 1904, pg.2

Tells of Effort Being Made to Make Him the Scapegoat For the Wreck

He Resents the Efforts to Persecute Him Made By Seattle Inspectors

Says They Are "Trying to Put Him Over the Road" to Shield Roberts

Chief Engineer Scott DeLaunay of the lost steamer 'Clallam' arrived by the steamer 'Princess Beatrice' yesterday from Seattle and he will give evidence regarding the disaster at the coroner's inquest tomorrow. Mr. DeLaunay in an interview said that he was under the impression that an effort was being made by the inspectors holding the inquiry at Seattle to make him the scapegoat for the disaster and to whitewash Capt. Roberts. Mr. DeLaunay said: "Yes, I am under the impression that I am getting it thrown into me good and strong. The inspectors are undoubtedly trying their best to put me over the road and they are trying to shield Roberts. They seem to think that it is necessary to send me over to protect themselves, for if they don't put it on someone it might be thought some blame attached to the inspectors. What a law that is, anyway, where the men who inspect a steamer like the 'Clallam' sit as judges of an enquiry into her loss. To give you an idea of what the people in Seattle think of that court, I may tell you they call it "The Kangaroo Court."

"The inspectors seem to have considerable power. They ran a bluff on me and kept me out when Roberts was giving his evidence, but from what I gathered from newspaper reports, it looks as if they were trying to shove the blame for this affair on me to, and I am not going to stand for it. It looks as though they are to persecute me. I wasn't allowed to tell my story of the wreck. The inspectors asked questions and I had to answer the questions they put. They seemed to have been framed for the purpose of trying to make me the scapegoat for the wreck.

"When I told Turner this he threatened me. He asked me regarding the opinion I held of the manner in which he was getting the testimony introduced, and I told him then that I didn't want to talk to him. He said, 'Maybe you might want to talk to me.' I told him I'd use my own judgment about that, and then he replied, 'And in future I'll use my own judgment, too.' It was practically a threat. I may be recalled, I hope so; for I would like to tell some things and not be restricted to the questions they frame for the purpose of getting answers of their own. As I said, it looks to me as though they were framing it up to try to put me over the road and to whitewash Roberts.

"I notice that the inspectors have given it as their assumption that a seacock was left open and the water poured in through her pumps. They have no reason to believe that. The water came in through a deadlight. That's where it came in. She may have opened up somewhere, but it was through the deadlight that the stream poured in. The list put the broken deadlight under water and a steady eight-inch stream poured into the vessel. We tried all we could to shore it up and block it but we couldn't.

"If the rudder of the 'Clallam' had not been in the condition it was Roberts would have been able to get the steamer around and get the list on the other side to bring the broke deadlight out of water, but the rudder was known to have been in bad condition for some time. The rudder was put in green, and the twenty-eight foot post, only ten inches in diameter ran through the galley, the heat of which warped it. It was not only springy because of its thinness and length, but the warping had caused the lag screw to split it until it looked like a bunch of straw, and it was well known that when the tiller was put hard over the rudder only turned a short way. What I claim is that if that rudder had been in good condition the steamer could have been brought around.

"Capt. Roberts has said he was not notified until there was four feet of water in the hold. This is not true. I notified him between 1:30 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. by going to the bridge. I had already whistled to him from the engine room several times, but with the noise of the storm and other noises I was not sure whether he had heard and went to the bridge to make sure. There was about a foot of water on the engine room floor when I notified Capt. Roberts, the sea pouring in with an eight-inch stream through the broken deadlight.

"When I went to the bridge I said to Capt. Roberts, "You'll have to turn the steamer around, or she'll sink. I could not hear his reply, but from his action in trying to get the wheel hard over, I know he took in what I had said. I hurried back below. I was too busy to spend much time talking, and I didn't go back to the bridge. The Capt. came down about 2 o'clock or afterward. The water, pouring through the deadlight, had gained quickly and there was three or four feet in the engine room. The steamer was away over to starboard.

"The captain has testified that the reason he could not get the steamer around then was because there was no steam, the engine having stopped. As a matter of fact the engines were working then. The vessel had steam but she had no rudder. I have noticed throughout that there has been much discrepancy in the statements regarding the depth of water in the engine room, the statements varying from six inches to six feet. As for the choking of the pumps t was the coal and ashes sucked into them after the water flooded the fire room and bunkers and the shavings that had been left in the skin when the steamer was built that choked the pumps and made them unworkable. They plugged up everything. As for that story that the seacock was left open and the steamer filled through the pumps, there is no truth in that. If that theory was correct she would have filled sooner. It was through the deadlight that she filled.

The steamer had been making some water, not enough to bother before the sea came in through the deadlight, but it was when it started to come through the deadlight that it gained quickly. We tried to plug up the broken port, but we couldn't. As Jensen has told you in his evidence the mate had come down when we were trying to plug it and Jensen has also told you how I got him to take a message to the captain to get the steamer's head to the wind. It was about 3:15 or 3:30 p.m. when the engine stopped.

"I am willing to tell all I know regarding the wreck, for I believe I will get a show to do so before this court. Over in Seattle, though, it looks to me as if they have got it fixed to try to send me over the road and to whitewash Captain Roberts.
previous page     BC Lists     Clallam Index     next page     Top