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The Evening Telegram, St. John's, NF, June 8, 1887
The finding of the Marine Court of Inquiry composed of Judge Conroy, Captain Robinson, R. N., and Captain Green, was made a subject of record to-day. We have space only for a summary of the principal points. The Trixie H., 84 tons, was on the 21st ultimo standing W.N.W. (across Trinity Bay) with the wind N.N.E. At 10 p.m. she sighted the masthead light of a steamer and at 10.20 the red light. She kept her course till she was close to the Plover, which was keeping a steady course S. 1/2 E., and then she put her helm up, running across the bow of the steamer, and being cut down fell over on her starboard side, filled, and in so doing drowned three men and two women.
It appears that the master of the S.S. Plover had gone below for a few minutes before the accident happened, the watch being in charge of Mr. Batterton, the second officer, who was not on the bridge when the vessel was struck and did not stop the ship or reverse the engines; he appears to have only seen the schooner a few moments before she was struck and either did not realise (sic) the position, or failed to act promptly, as the man on the lookout stopped and reversed the engines and gave the order hard-a-port. The schooner was evidently struck when the engines were stopped with full way on, going eight knots an hour.
Mr. Batterton saw no light on the schooner, but Patrick Smith saw a dim light he could not swear it was green; appeared to him that it might be seen twice the length of the Plover.
Thomas Walsh was on the forcastle (sic) with the man on the lookout; he saw nothing to resemble a light. The only light he saw was her binnacle light when he went to assist the man at the wheel.
These statements are corroborated in the main by other witnesses. A passenger on the Plover, Mr. Wm. Costigan, who was pacing the deck near the companion, testifies that he saw the schooner's lights for three minutes at least, it may have been ten before the collision, and thought the schooner was three miles away.
Robert Piercie, of the Trixie H., was standing abaft his own schooner, and swears that the green light was burning. In this he is borne out by Levi Williams and Jonas Seward, hands on board the schooner.
The Court were of opinion that the schooner's lights were visible, and that the steamer was at fault by failing to keep a sufficient look-out. The duty of the steamer was to avoid the schooner, which she failed to perform. Respecting the management of the Trixie H., the Court held that, though the steamer's lights were visible to her for twenty minutes, yet no precautionary measures were taken to avoid a collision; the schooner should ave been brought to the wind, and headed N.W. The steamer should have avoided the schooner, it is true, but the prudent course for the schooner to have pursued, when she saw the steamer drawing nearer and nearer, was to have gone round. Had the schooner kept her course she might have escaped with the loss of jib-boom and bowsprit by striking the steamer abeam or on counter, but it is quite possible she would have cleared the steamer's stern, and she certainly would have done so had the helm been put hard down.
Page transcribed by: James Butler, 2000
Page revised: Oct. 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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