Clallam Disaster
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THE CLALLAM DISASTER
editorial from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 18 Feb 1904, pg.4

Both in Seattle and Victoria there is much dissatisfaction at the result of the investigation held in Seattle on the causes of the foundering of the steamship 'Clallam' last month with its terrible loss of life. From the opening of the inquiry until its close it was impossible for those who followed the proceedings to rid themselves of the belief that the intention of those conducting the investigation was to clear the commander of the ill-fated vessel of the heavier charges which seemed to rest upon him. That aim required that the chief blame for the disaster should be placed on someone else, and a scape-goat was found in the person of the engineer of the vessel. The decision of the board of inquiry will deprive him of the opportunity of continuing to follow his occupation, while his superior officer gets off with a suspension of his certificate for twelve months. It seems to us that the relative responsibility of these men has been entirely ignored in the decision of the board of inquiry. Granted that the engineer did not in some respects at the time of peril do all that a man with his experience and training might have been expected to do, the commander of the vessel failed to utterly display those qualities that a person in his position should have shown. It is almost incomprehensible that he should not have thought it his business to know how things were going on below by personal investigation. A commander's responsibility is not confined, like that of an engineer, to one department in the operation of his vessel, and it would cause much uneasiness to travelers by steamers were it supposed that their commanders followed such methods as the captain of the unfortunate 'Clallam' has been shown to have done. While it would seem that he was only concerned on saving the vessel, and that at the smallest expense for assistance or salvage, his conduct, as shown be evidence of the witness at the inquiries here and at Seattle did not indicate that he was equal to the responsibility which his position entailed. The result of the inquiry is most unsatisfactory from every point of view.