HC Deb 27 June 1889 vol 337 cc873-4

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the officials of the Trinity Corporation towed a vessel of 1,400 tons on 3rd January, 1889, from the English Channel into Cowes Roads, and allowed her to sink there, and that a portion of the vessel with stone ballast in her, now remains in a position frequently occupied by trading vessels when anchored in the Roads; and, whether, taking into consideration the fact that mariners cannot anchor within 30 fathoms of the wreck, the extreme danger to vessels coming in at night, and the often crowded state of the Roads, he will at once give the necessary orders for its removal?


I have communicated with the Trinity House, who sent me the following statement, dated the 25th of June:— The duty of removing wrecks dangerous to navigation is laid on the Trinity House by an Act passed in 1877. The wreck Astracana was reported floating bottom up in the English Channel, a most serious danger to life and property. Trinity House vessels were sent in search, found it on December 30th, and tried to sink it in deep water, but being laden with oil in casks, the vessel would not sink. Waterlogged and unmanageable, it was with great difficulty and after several days' work towed out of the way of navigation on the 3rd of January into Cowes Roads, that being the nearest place suitable for operations of breaking up and salvage. These were carried on with all possible diligence, although under great difficulties, and it is now (June 25th) ascertained that nothing remains of the wreck which could occasion damage to passing navigation, there being 17 ft. clear all over her at low water spring tides, and nothing above the level of the sand. To remove the buried remains would be a very costly proceeding, and although for a time the anchorage for a space of about 70 ft. by 30 ft. will be to some extent foul, only small vessels could anchor there, and a buoy is placed to warn them. I can only add that in cases where, as in this case, the proceeds of the sale of the cargo are sufficient to meet all expenses incurred by the Trinity House, the Board of Trade have no authority or control in the matter.


Arising out of the question, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks it fair to the trading community that the Channel should be placed in this position in consequence of the action of the Trinity Corporation, and that the Corporation should be allowed to tow a vessel and sink it in the very spot at which trading vessels are constantly anchoring? Will the right hon. Gentleman cause further inquiry to be made?


I have been on the spot myself very recently, and I do not think that trading vessels will be interfered with. A few yachts may be interfered with, but they pay no Light Dues. The vessel was not towed to the spot and allowed to sink, but became unmanageable at the spot and sank there.