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I was at the time of the circumstances hereinafter mentioned the Master of the ss NETHERMOOR of and belonging to South Shields of which Mr A J Hutchins of Cardiff is the Managing Owner.
The NETHERMOOR was chartered under an 1890 Black Sea form of Charter Party dated 12 January 1903 by M Ortenzato of Nicolaieff. In pursuance of the terms thereof we proceeded in and with the said vessel from Constantinople for Nicolaieff our draft on leaving being about 9'6" forward and 11'6" aft in salt water. At noon on the 17th January 1903 we arrived in Otachkoff. The vessel was fast in the ice and we were unable to leave until the following day, the icebreaker not being available to clear a passage for us.
At 7am on the 18th we hove up anchor and steamed ahead after the icebreaker. At 8am we entered the ice field. The ice being very thick, the ship made very little progress and at 5pm we stopped the engines being unable to proceed further without assistance of the icebreaker which had steamed ahead and left us.
At 8am on the 19th the icebreaker returned and cut us adrift out of the ice and we steamed ahead close after her owing to the ice being so thick and strong. We made very little progress and stuck frequently. A.t 1230pm we stopped the engines. the ice breaker having steamed away and we remained fast in the ice throughout the night and all the following day. The engines were worked for about an hour but the vessel was hard in the ice and progress impossible.
At noon on the 21st the icebreaker again cut the ship adrift out of the ice and at 4pm we steamed ahead for 10miles after which we again became fast. Several efforts ere made to forge ahead by backing astern and the going full speed ahead bu by 9pm we gave up the attempt.
On the following day we made renewed efforts in the same manner as before to make head way. At 11am the engines were brought up for a second or so and then suddenly ran away. upon examination it was found that two or more blades of the propeller had broken off.
At 7.30am on the following day the icebreaker took us in tow. The main engines being worked to assist. and she towed away until 1pm when our 3.1/2" steel wire carried away. At 3pm the ice breaker having cleared the track again took our wire to which a 12" grass rope had been made fast to act as a spring, and she towed away until 5.15pm when the wire again carried away.
At 10pm on the 24th January the icebreaker again took our grass rope but was unable to start the ship and the rope carried away. She then steamed around us and cut us out of the ice and at 1pm got us alongside the wharf,
Prior to the vessel being tipped by the head and while she was so tipped the crew were standing on board on the ice chipping and painting the vessels hull and I frequently went to see how the work was progressing. I saw no plate or rivets started and no defect in the hull and no defect was reported to me.
During the 17 days the vessel was tipped by the head I was daily in No1 hold as were also other members of the crew and had any water been leaking in through the hull the this plate was submerged it would have certainly been seen , the hatches being off and the hold quite light. but I saw no leak nor was one reported to me.
On the 15th February there was a strong Northerly gale and great floes of ice came down upon the ship striking her heavily on the bows along the side and heavily against the rudder, but on the following day the gale abated.
On 24th February the new propeller had been fitted and I requested the British Consul to order a survey on the repairs effected
On the afternoon of the 25th the Master and Chief Engineer of the ss PINEDENE of Aberystwyth who had been appointed as surveyors by the British Vice Consul came on board. The examined the propeller and found that it was properly fitted and that all the damaged parts of the pumps had been temporarily repaired. The master of the PINEDENE and I went round the ship in a boat and carefully examined the hull. there were no leading edges ope and no rivets broken or started. Outside she was apparently quite seaworthy.
He went into No.1 hold and found the hold in every way seaworthy and fit to receive cargo..
The vessel was at that time tipped by the head and there was water in No.1 hold. There was about 5 feet close to the watertight bulkhead running off to nothing. The indented plate that was found at Sharpness to be started and leaking was the 5th plate below the shear plate and abreast of the 5th rib abaft the watertight bulkhead on the port side, This plate was at that time under water and if it had been leaking both the master of the PINEDENE and I would have bound to have seen it. but there was no water coming in through the hull of the vessel int No1 hold. The master of the PINEDENE and I examined the riveting of the landing edges inside and none of the rivets were started or broken. We went along the sides of the ship and up and down the stringers we also had the other holds examined and found to be in perfectly seaworthy condition. The survey occupied fully three hours.
The master and chief engineer of the PINEDENE both informed me that the vessel was perfectly seaworthy and fit to proceed on her voyage as regards hull and machinery.
We got several plates out of the stokehold and built fires on them to dry the holds day and night on the 26/27/28 and 1 March and the ships skin with had been in contact with the water was painted with lime and on 2 March the Nos 1and 2 holds were thoroughly dry and in a fit state to receive cargo,
On3 March we shifted the vessel to the elevator and commenced loading a cargo of wheat in bulk.
Loading complete on 6 March loaded draft in fresh water being 29'6" forward and 20'10" aft.
art 0630 on 7th March we cast off the shore moorings and steamed out of Nocolaieff Harbour. As we proceeded down the river the ship was labouring and straining through heavy drift ice which frequently struck her heavily and the propeller was constantly striking ice or wreckage causing heavy shocks to the shafting. Going down the river to Otchakoff we encountered heavy floes of ice some of which as much as 10 to 20 feet in length and the whole of them below watt and the action of the steam going ahead caused the to sink and strike the ship very heavily.
We arrive off Otchakoff at noon and soon after left for Odessa Bay where we arrived at 4.30pm and at 6.30pm we proceeded for Gibraltar for orders.
On the afternoon of th 8th March we experienced a heavy gale from the N.E. with a high sea and this weather continued until we arrived at Constantinople at noon on the 9th. at 5pm we left Constantinople and proceeded on our voyage,
On the 12th March there was a gale from the N W with tremendously high seas running which were breaking on board and constantly
flooding the decks and the ship was straining and labouring heavily , bu t at midnight the gale moderated.
Variable winds and weather were experience until after we had passed Algiers but on the 17th there was a strong N.W gale and high seas and the ship was continually labouring heavily and decks flooded, at 6pm a heavy sea broke over the ship carrying away two small ventilators belonging to the fireman forecastle and damaging the ventilator of the engine room on the starboard side and exhaust pipes of 1 2 and 3
winches were washed away. On the following ay the wind and sea were decreasing.
On the 19thwe arrived Gibraltar and received orders for Sharpness and at 6pm proceeded therefor.
At 7pm on the 22nd there was a strong wind and heavy swell and the ship was rolling and straining terribly and at midnight there was a gale from the S.W. and a heavy sea
On 23rd there was a furious gale raging and huge seas swept the decks foe and aft and the ship labouring and straining heavily and this weather continued until 4am the following day,
On 25th we came to anchor at King Roads and we waited there for sufficient water until the 27th on which we proceeded tp Sharpness. and at 7am moored the ship at her discharge berth,
On 2 April it was found that there was a quantity os damaged grain on the port side in No 1 hold . on examination it was found that there was a leak in an indented plate The rivets of this indented fifth plate were found to be started and the Landing edge to the extent of 1/8: . It would have been impossible for the defect to have existed at Nicolaieff without my seeing it. End
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