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DESTRUCTION OF THE "OCEAN CHIEF" BY FIRE AT THE BLUFF HARBOUR.

TOTAL LOSS.

(From the Southern JVezos, Jan. 25.)

On Thursday morning a dense smoke was seen to arise from the Bluff Harbour. It continued throughout the day, and a resident observed to a friend, more in joke than in earnest, " There's a ship on fire at the Bluff"—little suspecting he spoke but too truly. About ten p.m., M. Thompson (ofthe firm of Thompson and Crispe, for whom the Ocean Chief had brought so large a cargo of sheep), accompanied by Capt. Howell of Jacob's River, arrived in Invercargill with the astounding intelligence that that noble vessel had been maliciously set on fire the previous night—that all efforts to extinguish the flames had been unavailing—and that she was burnt down to her copper.

That this was the act of an incendiary, or incendiaries —a deep laid conspiracy—was proved by the manner in which the force and other pumps and hose had been bored and cut so as to render them useless. This conviction is confirmed by the following- letter from Capt. Brown, the commander of the Ocean Chief, to Captain Elles:—

" Bluff Harbour, January 23, 18G2. "A. J. Elles, Esq., Collector of "Her Majesty's Customs, Invercargill.

" Dear Sir, —I have to inform you that my ship, the Ocean Chief, was set fire to by sonic of crew (proof still existing) about midnight last night. Her masts are over the side. She is rapidly burning to the water's edge. She has been scuttled, and her cables slipped, and thereby the harboursaved. Norte ofthe crew have yet left the Bluff, and it is possible, in my opinion, that by using- most strenuous exertions, tlie perpetrator of this wicked act may be caught and punished. I beg to leave it to your better judgment to assist me in any way you may devise ; better than I could possibly recommend. " I beg to remain, &c, "T. Brown." Mr. Thompson, accompanied by Capt. Morris and Mr. W. H. Pearson, waited upon the Superintendent at once, to inform him ot the disaster, and yesterday morning some additional policemen were despatched to the Bluff—making in all a body of eight useful men :so that, with"the proof to which Captain Brown alludes, there is reason to hope that some, if not all, the criminals may be arrested.

Mr. Price, Resident Magistrate, proceeded to the Bluff yesterday, to make an enquiiy into the case on the spot, but had not returned at the time of our going to press. Only some stores were saved from the ship. It is supposed that the cause of this wicked act was a desire on the part of some of the crew to desert; and it is a strange circumstance that the Ocean Chief should have been thus destroyed so soon after the occurrence of similar disasters to three other largo liners in the harbours of Port Jackson and Hobson's Bay.

We have not yet heard whether or to what amount the ship was insured, and what was her estimated value. These and all other particulars we sliall be able to publish in our next issue.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ODT18620128.2.4

Bibliographic details

DESTRUCTION OF THE "OCEAN CHIEF" BY FIRE AT THE BLUFF HARBOUR., Otago Daily Times, Issue 63, 28 January 1862

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523

DESTRUCTION OF THE "OCEAN CHIEF" BY FIRE AT THE BLUFF HARBOUR. Otago Daily Times, Issue 63, 28 January 1862

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