HC Deb 13 June 1895 vol 34 cc1042-4

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the excursion steamer Davwar, with 700 passengers aboard, mostly ladies and children, from Campbeltown to Belfast, ran ashore during a fog on Briggs Reef at Groomsport, near Donaghadee, on the morning of the 7th instant; whether, seeing that Briggs Reef is within a few miles of Mew Island, which the steamer had to pass, he will direct the attention of the Irish Lights Commissioners to the fact that if a proper fog signal had been on Mew Island, the lives of these passengers would not have been so endangered; and whether anything has yet been done by the Commissioners since the Treasury grant, in the way of making the long-promised tests as to the best signals to be used on Mew Island? Also, whether his attention has been called to the loss of the Belfast steam tug Ranger, when going to the assistance of the stranded steamer Davwar on the 7th instant; and whether he will inquire if the loss was due to collision with a submerged vessel wrecked there some time ago; and, if so, will he consider the desirability of taking some means to have this wreck marked in order to warn mariners of the danger?


I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade—(1) whether he is aware that the tug Ranger, while assisting the steamer Davwar, stranded on the Briggs Reef in Belfast Lough on Saturday last, struck upon the stern-post of the steamer Emily, which was wrecked on the reef some years ago and foundered; (2) whether this is the same wreck on which the smack Betsy struck and was lost during the winter of 1893–94, and which the Board of Irish Lights then refused to remove, asserting that it did not constitute a danger to navigation; (3) whether he is aware that the managers of the Groomsport Lifeboat have frequently called attention to the risk which would be incurred by their crew if called upon to assist a vessel in distress in that part of the lough from this invisible danger; and (4) whether, in view of the proof now given that this wreck does constitute a serious danger to life and property, he will take immediate steps to compel the Board of Irish Lights to remove it?


; The Board of Trade have ordered an inquiry into the casualty to the Davwar, and, pending the result of such inquiry, I can express no opinion as to the cause of the casualty. The experiments referred to in respect of the Mew Island siren have now been completed (not, however, under a Treasury grant, but at the expense of the Mercantile Marine Fund). A report of the result is before the Trinity House in accordance with the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. As regards the question of the hon. Member for North Down, I had better not express an opinion on the point raised in paragraphs 2 and 3 till I see the report of the inquiry. If it should appear that a wreck does exist, the Irish Lights Board will, doubtless, remove it; should they fail to do so it would clearly be the duty of the Board of Trade to call their attention to the need of doing so. An official inquiry has been ordered into the loss of the steam tug Ranger, and until the report of the inquiry is received, I am unable to express any opinion as to the cause of the casualty.


asked whether the Irish Board of Lights had refused to remove this obstacle.


I am not aware of that, but I will inquire. If they have refused, it must have been because they thought it was not a danger to navigation. If it should turn out from this inquiry that it is a danger to navigation, they will not then, I take it, persist in their view.


said, the fact that two vessels had been lost at this place within the past year proved the danger.