§ MR. J. HAVELOCK WILSON (Middlesbrough)
I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been called to the inquiry into the loss of the British steamship Penarth, where the Court found, in their opinion, that if the lead had been used between the hours of 3.30 and 4.30 a.m. the master would have been informed of his proximity to the shore, and the disaster would no doubt have been averted; if he is aware that this vessel carried 4,490 tons of cargo, and only had a crow of 25 men; that only six out of the 25 men were A.B.'s, leaving three men in each watch; and that at the time of the vessel striking the shore there was one man at the wheel and one man on the look-out, thereby only leaving one man to take the cast of the lead, which is generally a duty performed by three men in heavy weather; if, under the circumstances, seeing the ship was undermanned and the captain thus prevented from navigating the ship with proper and seamanlike care, the Board of Trade will advise that the captain's certificate be returned; and whether he will give special instructions at all future inquiries that efforts be made to get definite evidence from the witnesses as to whether the smallness of the number of men on board ship was in any way responsible for loss of the same?
§ MR. BURT (who replied)
said: Yes, Sir. The circumstances of the case of 1001 the Penarth are before the Board of Trade, and will receive careful consideration, but it is doubtful whether the failure to use the lead in this instance can be accounted for by shortness of crew. In all cases of inquiry efforts are made to obtain reliable evidence with regard to the sufficiency or otherwise of the crews, and where thought desirable the special opinion of the Court is asked on the point. The facts of this case will be laid before the Committee appointed to inquire into the manning of merchant ships for its consideration.