HC Deb 25 February 1924 vol 170 cc65-7W
Captain BENN

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether his attention has been drawn by the Imperial Merchant Service Guild to the loss of the s.s. "Loong Sang" during a typhoon at Hong Kong on the 18th August last; and whether, seeing that no adequate arrangements whatever are made at Hong Kong for the saving of life in such cases when, during the typhoon season, there is always imminent risk of the visitation of a typhoon, he will consider whether high-powered tugs or lifeboats and other means should be available with a view to saving life where possible during these typhoons, and obtain information from Hong Kong as to what, if any, steps are being taken in the matter?


A letter on the subject was received from the Guild in October last, and was referred to the Governor for his report. The gist of the report which has been received is as followsThe organisation of life-saving measures in Hong Kong harbour has received careful consideration on several occasions. The provisions of rocket and mortar life-saving apparatus was proposed in consequence of the typhoon of 1906, but after careful consideration and consultation with the naval authorities, it was decided that such apparatus would not serve a useful purpose. The conformation of the harbour of Hong Kong is such that vessels swept from their anchorage in typhoons are ordinarily stranded in positions from which there is direct access to the shore or where there is no danger of breaking up from the action of the sea. In a case such as that of the s.s. "Loong Sang," where a vessel drifts at a rapid pace and finally sinks, a rocket apparatus would be useless, as the ship must be stationary to allow of the hawser being set up. Proposals for the provision of a high powered lifeboat have also been considered on former occasions, and have been rejected. A committee, which considered the question in 1913, recorded the opinion that there was no work within the scope of a lifeboat which could not equally well be carried our by tugs and launches provided with life-lines. An arrangement was made in the year 1920 with the naval authorities whereby whenever there are immediate prospects of the weather conditions becoming so bad as to place native craft in danger of being unable to make shelter on their own account, two naval tugs are made available to assist to tow such craft to shelter. The Government of Hong Kong is giving further consideration to the question of the use of tugs for the purpose of saving life during a typhoon, and proposes to build a powerful rescue tug which will replace the present lighthouse tender, "Stanley," and perform the usual lighthouse reliefs and harbour work required, and will be available for rescue work after the height of a typhoon has passed. It must, it is feared, be recognised that during the height of a typhoon, such as that which occurred on 18th August, no life saving apparatus could be of any use.

Captain BENN

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the circumstances of the foundering of the s.s. "Loong Sang" during a typhoon at Hong Kong on 18th August last year, when 15 lives were lost, have been brought to his notice; whether he is aware that the vessel at the time of the typhoon had no rudder; that her cables were under standard, and that, according to the evidence at the official inquiry, into the circumstances of the disaster, of Mr. Robert Hall, Government marine surveyor, who surveyed the vessel in July of last year, the cables of the ship were not of the standard prescribed by Lloyds, and in some lengths were bad; that she had no steam raised owing to her boilers being opened up for survey, and that in this condition she was ordered out of the dock and placed at anchorage in Kowloon Bay when the typhoon warnings had already been hoisted; and whether the Board of Trade will take the necessary steps to prevent similar occurrences in future, whereby not only ships but officers and crews are exposed to great peril?


The circumstances attending the loss of the "Loong Sang" were investigated by a Marine Court of Inquiry in Hong Kong in September last, the Court including three masters of British merchant ships. The Court found that the moving of this vessel out to a typhoon anchorage with a sufficient crew on board to work her cables was a proper and practical procedure, and one customary to the port of Hong Kong when a ship is in the dockyard's hands and opened up for survey. The Court did not consider that the "Loong Sang's" cables were dangerously thin. They recommended that several heavy typhoon moorings should be laid in Kowloon Bay with sufficient chain attached for ships to lay with. The Board of Trade were informed in December that the Hong Kong Government was acting on these recommendations and that some 12 typhoon moorings would be laid in the harbour before the next typhoon season.