HC Deb 28 February 1882 vol 266 cc1835-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If his attention has been called to a paragraph in the "Daily News," February 25th, under the heading of "Telegraphic News from New York," that the agents of the steamship 'City of Limerick,' forty-seven days out, believe she is lost. She belonged to the" Centaur Line, as did the 'City of London,' and, like her, was a lengthened iron steamer; and, whether he is aware that the "City of London" is also lost, and if, since two lengthened steamers belonging to the same owners have been lost on the same route within a short time, he will direct a Board of Trade survey to be made upon any other steamers of this Line which may have been lengthened since built?


My attention has been called to the paragraph stating that the agents of the steamship City of Limerick, 47 days out, believe she is lost. My attention has long been directed to this ship. She is, or was, an iron steamer, was lengthened and otherwise altered by Messrs. Inman, in 1870, and a spar deck added. She was sold by them in 1880 to a Mr. Thompson, of New York. In his hands she was altered for the carriage of cattle, and a superstructure added above the spar deck. The Board of Trade were advised that after these alterations her peculiar proportions and structure rendered her an unsafe ship. A passenger certificate was refused to her, and ultimately the Board of Trade detained her at Sunderland in May last, in order to have the question of her safety determined by a Court of Survey. The owner appealed to a Court of Survey, and this Court, consisting of the Wreck Commissioner and two Assessors, after hearing the Board of Trade evidence, and without hearing the other side, pronounced her to be safe, and released her unconditionally. The owner brought an action against the Board of Trade under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1876, for having detained the ship without reasonable and probable cause. The case was tried at Liverpool before the Lord Chief Justice, and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiff, with full damages. The Board of Trade applied for a rule for a new trial, which was refused by the Divisional Court. The Board then appealed, and the Court of Appeal has granted a rule nisi, which now stands for argument. On the 8th of January last the City of Limerick left New York for London with a full crew and cargo, besides 275 head of cattle. I have inquired at Lloyd's, and she is not insured there, nor is she yet posted as "missing;" but she has not been heard of since she sailed, and it is feared she has gone to the bottom with all hands. I have communicated with the registered owner, both at Liverpool and New York, but have not yet heard from him. The City of London has not been heard of since the 14th of November, 1881, and is supposed to have been lost. I do not know, from any official records, whether the ownership or management of the City of Limerick is the same as that of the City of London. Both are lengthened ships. If any ships similar in construction to the City of Limerick are known to be sailing from ports in this country, I shall, notwithstanding the decision of the Wreck Court, and of the Assize Court already referred to, feel it my duty to order a survey upon them.