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The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Praevalebit. SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 1881. The Tararua Enquiry.

TOWN EDITION. {lssued at 430 p.m.]

Yesterday we published the judgment given by the Court of Enquiry into the wreck - of this ill-fated vessel. The finding of the Court was, after all, nothing more than any ordinary mind could surmise from the first accounts of the disaster as given by the survivors to the press representatives, and which were so fully made public through the various journals throughout the colony. That the wreck and loss of life was primarily caused through the negligence of Captain Garrard in not ascertaining the correct position of the ship, especially when he was told by his second officer that the vessel was off Slope Point, is a very just conclusion for the Court to come to on the evidfence adddeed. But unfortunately, there is no Captain Garrard to give evidence, and we cannot possibly believe that a reputably careful officer could have shown such negligence as has been imputed to him. Our own

opinion '.is that the compasses were magnetically incorrect, and with a heavy swell and ebb-tide, and a dense mist, the ill-fated Tararua was steered for some length of time, straight on to destruction. We are. borne out in this statement by the fact that both the captain and the second officer thought there was no imminent danger at 4.35 a.m. on the morning of the 29th April. It was only fancy on the part of the latter, when he told the captain that he heard breakers ahead. If it was anything else, than fancy, surely he would not have allowed his captain a moment’s hesitation as to the proper examination of the ship’s course! When an examination of the course was made, the captain believed his vessel to be off Waipapa Point. The orders given to the second officer by Captain Garrard, that he.was not to send anyone to his cabin when a report had tq be made, but to come personally, was an imprudent course. Had that officer exercised the power which he possessed to stop the engines, instead of raising the captain at the time he did, probably the result would have been very different. We certainly think that when he knew danger was so near, his not

doing so was a very negligent omission. It was perfectly right for this officer to obey his captain’s orders, but in this instance his zeal outran his discretion to a very remarkable degree. It is impossible to believe that if any intelligent officer heard, or even; fancied he heard the sound of breakers, he would not act on his own judgment, and without first hunting up the captain ! Discipline, of course, is the all important object with a zealous captain, and given a good ship, he wishes nothing more. But when discipline exacts fatal delay, discretion and prompt action should intervene. That leaving the bridge of the steamer for a single moment on a treacherous part of the coast as that which the Tararua was known to be nearing, was fraught with the greatest danger to the ship and every soul on board, no one will for one moment dispute. Then we find that the Court gives the immediate cause of the wreck and loss of life to the negligence of the seaman on the look-out. There can be no possibility of doubt as to the justice of the finding (as there was no evidence given that the man .was at his post.) It is a most difficult thing to decide as to whether any error was made by Captain Garrard in not placing the passengers in the boats directly after the vessel struck. We are inclined to think that there was very great delay ; but, from our own knowledge of the brave young captain, we imagine that /or some time, at least, he evidently considered the vessel much the safest, and so would not allow the passengers to leave it. The Court thought that one of the boats was very badly managed, and they are quite right; but that assistance from the Bluff or Invercargill was not rendered earlier than it was, no one could be blamed, as we fully believe that had a more urgent and explanatory telegram been sent when the first intimation of the Wreck*

reached the Fortrose telegraph station, there would have been assistance rendered to the shipwrecked ones long before the final destruction of the steamer. The Court, in conclusion, made several worthy recommendations, which we hope the present Government will have effectually carried out. These are that a light on Waipapa Point is urgently required, that all passenger vessels trading in the New Zealand waters be compelled to carry life-belts for the maximum number of the passengers and crew, and that a regulation be made compelling certain exercise in the management of boats on board the vessels at stated intervals.

In a former article we pointed out the necessity of Government supervision in the matter of a proper supply of life belts in each passenger vessel, as also the existing necessity of a light off Waipapa Point, or some other part of the neighboring coast in order to prevent another disaster of the kind under notice. We believe the boat drill is still regularly gone through in the large steamers belonging to the Union Company, once a week, but that is desirable it should be made compulsory in large as well as small steamers or vessels, no one will, we think, deny. There are several other matters in reference to this terrible disaster which we have not touched upon in this article, but we may express a hope, that, although we have all felt more or less its sad effects, our eyes have been opened to the apparent need there exists for improving the means of safety for life at sea, and we trust good results will follow the necessity of Government intervention—now made so apparent.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18810604.2.9

Bibliographic details

The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Praevalebit. SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 1881. The Tararua Enquiry., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 362, 4 June 1881

Word Count
997

The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas, et Praevalebit. SATURDAY, JUNE 4, 1881. The Tararua Enquiry. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 362, 4 June 1881

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