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THE DUCO.

There can be no doubt whatever that the Wellington HarLor Ferries' Company's vessel, U:c J^uco, Has gone down m the mighty deep ; an f t "Truth" heartily wishes that it could hold out hopes that the tug, and those on board her, have not been overwhelmed by disaster.

Nobody seems to be sanguine of success attending the efforts of the search-ves-sels that have gone out ; while, during the absence of these vessels, anxiety will be only the more intensified. The Duco left Wellington about; 2 p.m. on September 7 last, on a blue-cod, line-fishing expedition to the Chatham islands, her direct destination boing Waitangi, the principal port of the Chathams. Her crew were comprised of : John Abram, master, CO years ; W'm. U'addilove, lirst mate, 50 years ; Caleb Williams, second mate, '44 years; A. J. Menard, chief engineer, 38 years ; John H. Watters, second engineer, 48 years ; J. Dahlberg, A.8., 29 years ; ,0. JSellstrom, A.8., 32 years ; Chas. Hansen, A.8., 55 years ; P. P. Holmegard. A.8., 31 years ; Wm. Mackay, A.8., 32 years ; Wm. Murdoch, A.li., 46 years; J. \V. Mutton, fireman, 2& years ; S. 'Anniss, fireman, -3& years ; J. Porter, cook, 2© years ; A. Uatneron, fisherman, 45 years. The Duco also carried ten bags of mai|l matter and ten hampers. Under moderate weather conditions, the trip to the Chathams would take about fifty hours. ■ • ■ Twenty-five days elapsed last Tuesday, during which, time no news had been heard of the vessel, and it was on the day mentioned that Captain Vickerman, of the Alexander, which left the Chathams on Saturday evening last, reported that, at the Uhathams, no signs had been seen of the aPparently ill-fated vessel. It might also be mentioned that-, the Alexander left: Westport at midnight, Tuesday, September ai, for the Chathams, carrying HuO tons of coal, which was intended for use on the Duco. As the Duco had. not arrived -there, the bulk of the coal was landed m sacks at Port Hutt, to establish a depot for $he Duco, while the Alexander waited with 50 tons, which would, have been transferred. When the Alexander arrived here, and announced the failure of the Duco to arrive at her destination, its skipper was asked il no could proffer any explanation of the Duco's non-appearance at either Port iiutt or Waitangi. He gave i<b as his belief that the Duco had come to grief at Pitt Island, a southern islet of the Chathams ; and, possibly, he suggested all hands would be safe there. o o o From other sources, ifc has been elicited that, previous to the Duco's departure, she was thoroughly inspected by Captain S. Stringer, of the Marine Department, who found her to be efficiently equipped, and that the regulations applying to a deep-sea-going vessel had been fully complied with. There were, on board, provisions consisting of fresh food, sufficient for from six to eight weeks ; two big lifeboats, properly provisioned, properly geared ; and a small dinghy. Her bunkers had a capacity of about twenty tons of coal, and were all filled. There was also four or five tons of coal, m sacks, on the deck, and some coal m the forehold. On the night after the Duco left Wellington, a heavy gale and mountainous seas '..set m, .and it has been stated, as the opinion of more than one experienced skipper, that the Duco has been 'overall -.'mod fey a heavy sea, and has gone down with all hands. V * ■ This, m as few words as possible, is a statement of neatly all that, so far, has been publish-ed-in the press concerning the Duco. Now, it hap been told to "Truth" by one experienced master mariner, that, when the Duco left Wellington, she presented the appearance of a sand-barge. Her decks were laden with bags of coal, and her appearance was such that seamen could hardly fail to: notice her./ There is no doubt that, when she was cleared by the Customs, everything was ia sea-going order, but , various statements have been made, which show that more than one who was on board the Duco on the occasion of her previous trip to the Chathams, were very unwilling again to accompany her on the voyage. The foundering of the Duco must, it seems, ever remain a mystery of the sea. It is cruel to realise that human life lias been sacrificed, m the sacred cause of commerce, or money-making, aid aJI "Truth" can hope is that the Duco's crew have reached a haven of safety ; a hope we hardly think likely tio be realised. There is no telegraphic communication between the Chathams and New Zealand. Indeed, it is not likely lihat telegraphic communication will ever be established, because the laying down of a cable' would never pay. The loss of the Duco is to be deplored ; but, more so, 4s the sacrifi.ee of the lives of the men who manned her.

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THE DUCO. NZ Truth, Issue 225, 16 October 1909

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