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THE JUBILEE'S LAST VOYAGE.

A SENSATIONAL PASSAGE. [Abridged from the 'Sydney Star.'] The s.s. Dnpleix (registered now as the Jubilee) left Duncdin at 3 p.m. on July 2G, calling at Lyttelton and Wellington. She left the wharf at Wellington at 1.30 p.m. on July 'J9, clearing the Heads at 2.15 p.m. the fame day. She had on board a full cargo and a larj.'c number of passengers, the total number of souls aboard being, as far as can he ascertained, 150. Nothing extraordinary occurred until tho steamer got into Cook Strait. Though a somewhat unusual course was followed, the skipper being credited with a thorough knowledge of New Zealand waters, no uneasiness was manifested until the vessel entered Pelorus Sound. Approaching this place the fears of some of the passengers became aroused by the alarming proximity of the vessel to the shore. Their senso of the danger to which they were exposed became terribly intensified when they became aware that the captain's condition was such that he could not with safety be left in charge of the vessel, on the safety of which 150 lives depended. Promptaction was demanded. Iu the interest of life and property something should be done, and that instantly. In such waters, where rocks stud the sea like stars in the sky, a few minutes on a wrong courso would have wrecked the ship and sent her crew and passengers into the merciless sea, where even the strongest swimmer could hardly hope to find his way ashore. The passengers resolved on action at once, and signed a petition to the chief officer (Captain Franklin) requesting him to take charge of the vessel. All this happened on the night of July 29, when the vessel was somo hours out of Wellington. Thcchief officer, recognising the peril in which all were placed, immediately assumed command of the steamer, and took measures to alter her to the proper course. It was apparent to the most inexperienced passengers that tho erratic—to use a mild word—courso which Captain Hansby was following could not bo explained away, except by the supposition that he was not aware of what he was doing. To the chief officer, then, those on board looked for safety, aud not in vain. He took the vessel out of the strait in safety, and as it was comparatively smooth sailing thenceforth all on board breathed more freely. Captain Hansby was, of course, still tacitly regarded as in command, and on resuming, when the danger-ously-navigable part of the trip had been passed, he gave his orders as usual, and all went well until the vessel steamed into Port Jackson on the morning of Saturday, August 3. Now comes the most inexplicable and strange part of the whole proceedings. Bearing in mind the terribly imminent danger in which the vessel was on that eventful night, the developments on the arrival of the ship at Sydney were, to say tho least, very remarkable. The passengers were fully alive to the debt which every soul of them owed to the chief officer, and in undeniable proof of this fact started a movement to present a purse of sovereigns as a testimonial to the chief officer. In view, however, of the subsequent revelations, the chief officer declined to be the recipient of the testimonial. Ono lady, who resides near Sydney, offered to head tho list with a subscription of L 5. Captain Hansby, we understand, interviewed tho owner of the vessel on arrival. What transpired, of course, we can only surmise from tho subsequent course of events. The chief officer was at once discharged. What reason was assigned for this action we are not aware; in fact, we do not know if any excuse was given. The passengers and crew, with the exception of the chief engineer, who was, we believe, the only ono who refused to sign tho petition to the chief officer to take charge of the vessel when she was in a critical position, regard the chief officer as the man to whom they owe their safety. . . . Those who were on board state, and state clearly and emphatically, their belief that had not the chief officer taken charge of the vessel at such a critical time the Duplcix would undoubtedly have run ashore. The statements of those who saw the perilous position of the vessel go to show that she was as near disaster as she possibly could be. As another proof of the correctness of our statement, the action of the crew on the arrival of the vessel at Sydney is sufficiently convincing ; they declined to do the return

voyage while Captain Hansby was in charge. John M'Carthy, A.8., who was at the wheel when leaving Wellington, says: " Coming through the Heads I was at the wheel, the second officer being for'ard with the men making sail, and the captain on the bridge. The latter ordered me to go for'ard and lend a hand to set tho jib. I left the wheel and went for'ard, and was about lending a hand to set the jib when the second mato ordered me back to the wheel again, because the ship was drifting into a dangerous posicion. I at once left tho fo'o'ale and went to tho wheel, and when 1 got to the wheel I saw that the vessel was going into a dangerous position. lat once put the helm to starboard to bring her head to the wind again to take her out of danger. After that I went off watch. Mr Franklin was requested to take charge of the vessel later on that nighfi It was between The Brothers and Stephen Island that Mr Franklin was asked to take charge." The remainder of M'Carthy's statement, not having reference to the central incident, is not of much interest, but he confirms what has been written. Francis J. Aird, A.8., said : " I went to the wheel at 6 p.m. on July 29 in Cook Strait. It was the chief officer's watch, but as ho was at dinner the third officer was in charge. The course received from the previous helmsman was I\l.\V. by N. At GlO p.m. the captain came on the bridge and asked me ho v I was steeiing. I told him N. W, by N. He then said: 'That is not the course.' I said: 1 That is the course I received.' The captain asked the third officer whero was Mr Franklin, aud he replied: 'At dinner.' The captain then told him to go and tell him to come on to the bridge—that he wanted him. The captain told me to put the helm hard a port, through which the ship's head was brought round to the east. The chief officer came on to tho bridge, and the captain told him that the compasses were wrong. The mate asked how I wa3 steering, and I told him that I had no course, as I was steering to the captain's orders. Tho captain ordered the topsail and foresail to be clewed up, and the chief officer left the bridge to see the order carried out. The captain then ordered me to put the helm hard a starboard, and the vessel's head was then brought round to the west. The captain asked me where the I was going to. I told him I would like to take her to Sydney if I could. He told me to port helm, then steady helm, and get a star to steer by. The ship's head was north by tho compass. He then told me to put hard to starboard, and asked me where the star was. I told him it was astern of the ship now. He said : ' You are a fine follow; you can't steer.' He then turned the binnacle round so that I could not see the compass. I asked him to let me see it, and he said ' You do not want to see it, she will be fast enough in a minute.' Mr Franklin, tho chief officer, then came on to tho bridgo and asked the captain to keep the ship before the wind, so that the men could get the sails off her. The captain told him she would be all right directly, and sent him to see how the ship's head was by the standard compass. The captain slewed the binnacle round again, and I saw by it that tho ship's head was north by east. He told me to port below—starboard—portsteady—starboard—port—and steady, The chief officer then came down and asked me why I was giving her so much helm. I told him I was steering to the captain's orders. The captain said to him : ' Send another man to the wheel, as this man can't steer.' The mate left the bridge and went to assist with the sails again. Another man came, and the captain said : 'Take hold of the wheel, Mick.' The man asked the captain ' What for 1 This man can steer as good as any man aboard.' Tho captain said : ' Never mind ; take hold of it; it's all up with her.' Mick left the bridge and sent the chief oflioer up again. The captain told the mato to send another man to the wheel, and oue came at a quarter past the same evening. I am of opinion that the captain was cither drunk or mad. I signed the petition drawn up by the passengers and crew requestingthechief officerto take charge of. the vessel of my own accord, as I considered the vessel was in a dangerous position. The wiud was fresh from the southcast, and tho land was lying east and west. I also left the vessel of my own accord. I consider the chief officer did his duty both towards the master and crew.

John Purcell, another A.8., said: "I was on deck from six to eight on the night of July 29. About 6.10 the captain started to steer one way and fien another, veering the ship about, causing the sails to flap and shake on both sides. About twenty minutes to eight I went to tho wheel. The chief officer was on the bridge at the time I took the wheel from the captain. Ido not think that the captain was in a fit state or in hia proper senses to have charge of the ship. The mato told me not to take orders from the captain. I had signed lhe petition requesting the chief officer to take charge of the ship." M. Tyrell, another A.8,, said: "The captain called me on the bridge and told me that the man at the wheel could not steer the ship. I said that the man could steer all right. The captain said: 'lt is too late j it is all up with us now.' I said: 'No; I will seo about it.' I called to the chief officer : ' For God's sake take charge of the ship, or wo will be ashore.' I left the bridge to take in sail. I signed the petition for the chief officer to take charge of the ship, as I thought the captain either mad or drunk. After I went to the wheel at 8 p.m., the captain tried to take the wheel away from me, and wanted to starboard the helm and head the ship in-shore, and I refused to shift unless the chief officer ordered it." A. G. Barker, the third officer, said : "In Cook Strait, on night of July 29, Stephen Island bearing west by north, distance from four to five miles, strong S.E. wind, I was on the bridge with Captain Hansby. He ordered me to brace up the yards on the starboard tack, at the same time telling the man at the wheel to port, which he did, bringing the ship up to N.E. by N., saying to me: 'Now my trouble commences.' Ho then starboarded his helm and kept before the wind. Again squared the yard?. Shortly afterwards he put the helm hard a starboard, bringing the ship's head into the land. The firemeu and sailors then came aft in a body, requesting Mr Franklin to take charge of the ship, which he did, giving up charge on the following morning. The captain altered the ship's course from W. \ N. to W.N.W. magnetic. I myself think that Captain Hansby, at the time of Mr Franklin's taking charge, was in an unfit state to be in charge, and I therefore took orders from Mr Franklin."

Charles Vermulon and Samuel Manley, membsrs of the crew, also said: " When about forty miles out from Wellington Captain Hansby, when on deck in charge of tho bridge, behaved in a very extraordinary manner. He was first heading the ship for the land and then out again. Whilst we were setting sails the man at the wheel was John M'Arthur. W T o saw the captain send M'Arthur away from the wheel to help to set the sails. The captain was in charge of the bridge and no person at the wheel. The captain was yawing the ship about—first iushore and then out. At about 6 p.m. the same evening we were having tea, and had scarcely finished when I heard the sails flapping. Wo thought something strange had happened. I went on deck ; I saw the watch clewing up the sails; I gave them a hand ; I saw the chief officer coming along; I asked him to go on the bridge, as I thought tho captain was the worse for liquor. The Bhip at the time was head to the wind, and if she had been on her proper course the wind would have been dead aft. The answer the chief officer made was to be quiet and not let him hear me speak like that again. I believe tho captain was drunk on the bridge and totally unfit to manage the ship." Several otherß of the crew made statements to a similar effect. The petition to Captain Franklin asking him to take temporary command of the ship was signed by nearly seventy of the passengers and crew. The following statutory declaration speaks for itself : We, the undersignetl t having been passengers by th? Dupleix from £<ew Zealand to Sydney, hereby solemnly declare that during the said voyage we considered our lives in imminent danger, in consequence of the dangerous proximity we discovered ourselves to land in Cook Strait, and that, after the danger being pointed out to the captain, his orders were so unseamanliko that the dangers were increased, and it was at the criti-

cal juncture that we unitedly begged of the chief officer to take charge, or the vessel would have been wrecked, and probably lives lost. We further declare that at the time the captain was under the influence of drink.—E. B. Qoine, Donald M'Donald, H. S. Hobdat, Uhos. Boqees John Ewhinbtone, Alfred jnnes, P. J. Wain, J. C. Wain, Wh. Brooks, E. B. Hughes. Declared at Sydney this, the sth day of August, 1889, before me. Thos. Thompson, J.P. From the foregoing facts the public will easily realise the pressing necessity for an official investigation, and as the Marine Board are the proper tribunal appointed for this purpose, it is to be hoped that the members of that body will awake to a sense of their duty and take the necessary steps to hold a searching inquiry.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890829.2.36

Bibliographic details

THE JUBILEE'S LAST VOYAGE., Issue 7998, 29 August 1889

Word Count
2,566

THE JUBILEE'S LAST VOYAGE. Issue 7998, 29 August 1889

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