HC Deb 26 July 1938 vol 338 cc2882-3
15. Mr. Benjamin Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the circumstances of a recent voyage of the steamship "Knowlgrove" from Sunderland to Lerwick; that this vessel, with a load of coal, took six days over a passage which normally occupies from 36 to 40 hours and was out of communication when anxiety arose as to its safety and during bad weather and fog had been steaming around for four days with no definite knowledge of its bearings, which were only established after contact had been made with a German trawler: and that Lerwick was eventually reached after directional assistance had been given by two other vessels; and whether, in the interests of maritime efficiency and safety, he will state whether the ship in question was commanded by a certificated officer or otherwise?

Mr. Stanley

I understand that the facts are generally as stated. The master of the vessel has been in the employ of his present company for 25 years and has acted as master for 10 years. He is not certificated. The delay was caused through the master not securing charts to cover the whole of the voyage. Being unable to fix his position, partly owing to fog, he preferred not to risk his vessel and consequently lost a good deal of time in reaching his destination safety.

Mr. Smith

Is the Minister aware of the fact that he accosted three other ships and asked for directional assistance before he got to Lerwick, and will the right hon. Gentleman insist that all coast-wise ships shall carry certificated masters?

Mr. Stanley

I do not know whether the word "accost" is a correct term; but the fact is that this delay occurred because the master acted in the interests of safety, and there was nothing to lead one to believe that because he was not certificated he endangered the safety of his vessel.

Commander Marsden

Is it not the case that in the weather which is described in the question it would not have made the slightest difference whether a certificated officer had been there or not?