Clallam Disaster
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CLALLAM DISASTER
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 22 Sep 1904, pg.8

Decision of Inspectors Is Sustained Closing Case

Says the Seattle Daily Times:
John Bermingham, supervising inspector of the First district has sustained the decision of the United States Marine Inspectors Whitney and Turner in the case of Scott DeLaunay, chief engineer of the ill-fated steamer 'Clallam' when the vessel was wrecked in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, January 8th. The local inspectors revoked DeLaunay's licence and suspended that of Capt. Roberts for twelve months. Inspector Bermingham, in his decision, finds that DeLaunay was at fault for the manner in which the engine crew was handled. He refers to the neglect on the part of DeLaunay in not making more of an effort to plug-up the broken deadlight, and says that he should have stopped the water without assistance from the deck department. Inspector Bermingham finds that the 'Clallam' was a seaworthy boat, and that, judging from the evidence, the vessel was not steering badly.

DeLaunay made an effort to prove that the rudder was defective. In his report, which covers many typewritten pages, the inspector says in his opinion that the Puget Sound Navigation Company would have made repairs to the deadlight had the proper report been made. DeLaunay testified that he would have reported the detective light oftener but was afraid of losing his position. This Inspector Bermingham refers to as the merest twaddle.

Another important finding made by Inspector Bermingham was that the 'Clallam' was taking outside of what entered through the deadlight. He holds the same opinion as the local inspectors that the seacock must have been left open and the ship sunk by her own pumps.

DeLaunay appealed to inspector Bermingham last February, and was given two opportunities to introduce evidence on his own behalf. The inspector's decision is now said to be final.

There were several damage suits which would have been brought against the company had the 'Clallam' been found unseaworthy.