WRECK OF THE S.S. OTAGO.
OFFICIAL ENQUIRY, j An official enquiry into the recent wreck o' tho steamship Otago took place on the 11th, before Mr J. Bathgate, R.M., and Captains Thomson ami Logan, Nautical Assessors. Mr Hackworth, Collector of Customs, co 'ducted the examination of witnesses, and Mr B. C. Qaggitt appeateil on behalf of Captain OaMer. The evidence being oloied, sfter a short retirement. Mr Bathgate delivered the following decision : Tho facts of this case are few and simple. The steaimhip Otago loft Port Chalmers for Melbourne <■« the afternoon of Su d.iy, 3rd December. At 1.45 of themorniiisr of lionda.r, 4th Drcomber, the ve sel was off Lous; Poinv., whicli was abaft the ' beam about five or six mile?. The second mate, Thomtis Grierson Palmer was then in charge of the Otago. At the time mentioned, the master, George Caliler, was on. deck. The weather was fine, the sea calm, and the atmosphere was clear to seawards and hazy over th* and The m-tater ordered the second mate to keep the following course :— 3. W. by W.JW., by the stand jrd compass : and if fog came on he was to be called immediately. The captain then went to his cibin, and lay down in his clothes. The courso Riven w.mld hsve kept the vessel clear of the land if adheiol to. The fog becaae densi;, and in time-quarters of «n hour the vessel struck on the point called Cha*lainVs Mistake, and became a total wreck. The so-nml mate did not call the master at ordered, nor did he take the usual precautions of slackening the rate of speed, and heaving the lod when sailing in a fog. Hi* explanation in reference to the course taken by him is not satisfactory. The Court is of opinion that the loss of the ship is to bo attributed to the default of the second mate in not keepinp to the cour.-e ordered by the master, in hi< neglecting to check repeatedly the steoriug compass with the B'ane!ard compass, in neglecting als i to c*ll the mas er and to take the usual precautions in fujgy weather when so near ths land. The precautions which were neglected were : Slowing the speed, heaving tho lejd, and keeping the vessel's head more off the shore In this opinion fcoth Assessors concur. In returning the certificates of the other office's, it is right to ss.y that everything wlriVh prudence and good judgment could effect in regard to savin? property and life after the wreck seems to have been done. Captain Calder is to ba common ied for the way in which ho discharged h;s duty under the piinful circumstances in which he was thi>n placed There is one point that cannot be overlooked in the opinion o! the A-sc3'»rs aud fie Court, and it creates a little difficulty. It is I this: That the second mate being incompetent in the opinion of Captain Cal'ler, did not tlrot fact entail sonw responsibility upon the master during that mate's wat' h ? Yut the Court is of opinion that under all tho circumstances ho is in no way responsible for tho appointment of th.it officer or for iiis conttnunacc in the i situation in whHi tho owners hid placed him. So tint the Court does tn.t think that any farther remark on that point as regards Captain Calder is cilled for, | although it is a little difficulty. The question now is ; What decision shall tho Court now come to as regards the second ina'e ? I have advised with tho Assessors upon tint point, and they nreoi opinion that a suspension would meet the case—although it is with difficulty that Tcm bring- my mind to that. I think that really when a young man displays s.ich a careless tempera'neut as I see this youth possesses, it is doubtful whether he should ever bs pined in such a position of trust ng.iin. However, the final decision of the Court is that the second mate's certificate be suspended for two year3. The other certificatss will be roturned.
" The wreck of the s.s. Otago as she now lies at Chasland's Mistake," in the terms of the advertisement, was sold by public auction at the sale-rooms of Messrs Whitelaw and Co., Eattray street, on Monday afternoon. There was a Urge attendance of merchants and nautical men. The auctioneer read the conditions and particular of sale, which were cash payment at the fall of ths hammer. The hull »nd part c^irgo (that portion not withheld by the consignees), with sails and boats which had got adrift, wtre stated to comprise the wreck, and £10 b!ds were made up to £7f>, when £5 ones were nia'ie, and after a little competition, confined to a small number of snecnUtors, the hammer fell to that of Capt. Abbott at £125.