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1893 to 1926
|01/31/2017 - 19:16||Bob Skipworth||
Account of a grounding of SS Clam from the notebook of Captain Thomas Black master of SS Clam 15th May 1899.
FROM THE NOTEBOOK OF CAPTAIN THOMAS BLACK
S/S Clam dated 15 May 1899
Ras Afia Light bare about SSW 18 miles. The weather being fine and clear sky occasionally cloudy with a light westerly wind. 11:30 pm I left the bridge in charge of 3'd Officer, the steamer course being S82 E by compass, or N84 E True allowing 14 Westerly Error. On leaving the bridge I told 3 Mate to tell the 2 Mate if he should happen to see the land before he saw Bougarone St to have her out at once and call me after writing up the night order book 11:50 pm informed 3 Mate I was going below. On the 16th about 1:30 am I woke up by hearing the ship struck heavily and made sure it was a collision immediately rushed on deck and found the ship had run ashore and had not quite stopped her way but in a few seconds she was fast and striking heavily and grinding on the rocks. The engines were not even stopped when I got on deck on arrival on bridge ship head by Compass was ENE we at once sounded the ship found 16ft in fore hold and No 5 No 4 and 3 we had ballast in and found they were running out from the starboard side which proved they were holed also No 2 on starboard side was filling up. No 1 was making no water and Engineer reported she was not making water in the engine room. At once made distress signals which was answered by a steamer in the offing. All boats was swung out and ready to lower. On daylight coming on I sent the 1 Mate away in a boat for assistance. A very heavy swell was on and ship sticking so heavily that I was afraid she would break in two. The S/S Waterloo sent her boat alongside which took part of the crew off and with our own boats as well as a French steamer called the Carmain eventually saved all hands. There not being the slightest hope of saving the steamer and no chance of getting ashore on account of heavy swell dashing on the rocks for any assistance if it come on to blow and the sea to rise there would be no chance of saving life there was two things I thought of. The first that I could do no good by stopping, and the other if I could get communicating there might be a chance of saving the steamer with salvage assistance. The Waterloo was bound to Hull, I consulted with her Captain found the S/S Clam was ashore about 5 miles to the West of Bougaroni. The Waterloo would not reach Bougaroni before dark and it being a small place I thought I should not be able to get much assistance there at night and would get to Algiers at daylight so I asked the Captain to land us there. Distance from Bengut to Cape Bougaroni 126 miles and she would be about 20 miles from Bougaroni when I went below. The first thing I done (sic) on getting ashore at Algiers was to send a wire to the owners as follows a??The ship is wrecked at 5 miles West of Bougaroni the holds are full of water all hands saved wiring later further particular.a?? I then went to Lloyds Agent and on entering his office he informed me he had wired the owners and had telegraphed to salvage boats at Marseilles and Gibraltar. I then went to the Consul made deposition had given full particulars of the Clam to Lloyds, the tanks that was full and Ct at the same time said unless the weather lvas exceptionally fine they would never get her off but a great deal could be saved from her. I called again at Lloyds in the afternoon to see if there was any news and found none on the 18th, I wired to owners as follows: a??Heard through Lloyds salvage boat arranged from Marseilles, do you require any of us to stay here?a?? During the day heard through Worms who had received telegram from owners that underwriter requested self and Chief Engineer to remain at Algiers until further notice to render such assistance as we could to salvage operations. I told Lloyds Agent this and was informed by him that he had telegraphed to the steamer Denmark to call here on his way to pick us up. During this time two small steamers left here for the wreck unknown to me, but I believe Lloyds knew about it, at the same time he said that he had wired to his sub/Agent in Philipdeville and guards were put on the steamer, and that nothing would be disturbed, nor anyone allowed on board as a strict watch was kept on her. On getting this news I was more easy. On the 19th called at Lloyds several times, on the 20th we were told that the Denmark was not going to call at Algiers, and as there was no chance of getting to the wreck by land in reasonable time, Lloyds wrote a letter, supposed to be written by me, saying as we were detained at Underwritera??s request to assist salvors it was time some means was made to take us there. This letter I signed as I quite approved of it, then he ordered the Engineer and self to be ready to leave Algiers. This was Saturday 20th, and we left at 7:30 pm. Arrived at the Clam about 2pm Sunday 21st. The Denmark was laying alongside the other French steamers at anchor, a little way off. On getting on board found the divers at work under the ship's bottom and one putting on a patch in No 4 tank starboard side. By this time No 4 was nearly pumped out and hoses were on board from the Denmark. I went in the Saloon found she had been properly pilfered, all locks busted and everything worth was gone. The Cabin being in a beast of a mess, empty bottles in dozens laying about, not a single knife or fork to be seen. I then had a look over the ship and saw that everything movable had disappeared, even the Compass was taken off the Bridge. I may mention that I found a good deal of the stores gone and should say about half of them was gone having a look around. Lloyds told me to tell the Engineer to take charge of the Engine Room, he himself acting as captain and kept me as a .....boy, but during the afternoon he insisted on me signing an agreement that he made between the French people interested, that they agreed to assist the Denmark in salvaging on the principle of no cure no pay, and that it was to be settled by Arbitrators in London. At one time it was settled to let things be until daylight, but as night was drawing the swell began to rise quickly and it was decided to try without loosing any time No 1 was filled up and the two French steamers made fast aft. Towing commenced, her stem shifted into deeper water and the steamer was nearly; borne at about midnight. The Denmark was rolling heavily and bumping against shipside, and as soon as possible after getting her hoses back, she hove up her anchor and passed a towing line on the Clam, with the assistance of the Carmain Charles, as well 4 steamers were towing for a considerable time before she made a move, but as the rollers came in it assisted very much. The Clam engines were set at full speed astern, and by degrees she floated at 1:45 am on the 22nd.
Passed at Liverpool 12 March 1875 No of Certificate 07066
Joined the Clam as Second Officer later end of February 1893 got command 28 June 1895 Died 12 August 1903 age 53