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The Wreck of the Douglas, 1888







The s.s. "Douglas," of West Hartlepool, became stranded at or near Hantsholm, Jutland, on or about the 20th of April 1888.

The "Douglas," official number 67,539, was an iron screw steamer, built at Whitby, in the county of York, in 1873, by Thomas Turnbull and Son, of the following dimensions: length, 225 ft. 3; breadth, 30 ft. 1; depth, 16 ft. 7; of 1021.90 gross, and 648.37 registered tonnage. She was fitted with two inverted compound direct-acting engines of 99 horse-power (combined), and owned by Mr. Thomas Bell, of 5, Quayside, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and several others,

It appears that the s.s. "Douglas" left Liban on April 17th 1888, at 10 a.m. with a cargo of 9,945 quarters, or about 920 tons of oats in bulk, having a crew of 18 hands all told, under the command of John Franks, who holds a certificate of competency No. 06081, bound for Antwerp, the vessel drawing 13 feet 7 inches forward and 16 feet 2 inches aft, being well found and in good condition.

At noon the log showed 180 miles from K├╝ln, wind N.E. and N.E. by N., weather having cleared, but not sufficiently for an observation, and the master then altered the course to S.W., thinking he might see the land. At 12.30 p m. the weather became thick, and got thicker and thicker, and the vessel was then hauled off to S.W. by W. and the engines eased to half-speed, about 6 knots. About 2 p m. the master noticed discoloured water, and immediately afterwards the vessel struck on the mainland near Hantsholm Lighthouse, which, when the weather cleared, was found to bear S W. by S., distant about 3/4 of a mile. Soundings were taken round the vessel, giving 12 feet forward and 17 feet aft, with chalk bottom. An anchor was got out aft, but they were unable to move the vessel, as the hawser parted.

On the 21st a salvage boat arrived, but the weather was too bad to discharge any cargo. At 7 a.m. of that day the vessel commenced to make water, and the pumps were set going, but the water gained, and the wind and sea increasing, the crew left her and landed at 8 a.m., the master leaving her at noon in the lifeboat, the engine-room at that time being full of water. On Monday the 23rd the crew went on board and saved their clothes, and with the assistance of some fishermen, about 600 quarters of oats were salved; but on the 28th the vessel became a total wreck, no lives being lost.

Board of Trade Wreck Report judgment was that the stranding of the s.s. "Douglas" was caused by the master's gross carelessness in navigating the vessel. From the evidence it appears that a safe and proper course was set and steered up to noon of the 20th of April, but not afterwards, and no allowance was made for current. The vessel was navigated at too great a rate of speed after noon of the 20th of April. There was not a sufficient look-out considering the very thick weather and the uncertainty of the position of the vessel. The vessel was not navigated with proper and seamanlike care. The master is in default, and the Court suspends his certificate, No. 06081, for a period of twelve calendar months from the date hereof.


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  • Ships named Douglas

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    Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024