Aberaman Ship (official number 72516)

Aberaman Ship
Iron / cemented 2 decks
Built by Richardson, Duck & Co – Stockton, 1875.
Master S Chapmen
Owners: J. Shepherd & C.
Length 206.5, Breadth 35.1, Depth 21.8
Register tonnage net 1090
Register tonnage gross 1126
Under deck 1062
Forecastle 30 feet long
Port of register: Cardiff
Surveyed in Dublin

In January 1883, the British ship Aberaman delivered the replacement statue and the bronze plates, but it was now four years after the centennial celebration of Cook’s discovery of Hawaii. Gibson had been appointed King Kalakaua’s prime minister. It seemed a good idea to unveil the replica at Ali‘iolani hale in honour of the belated coronation of King Kalakaua. On February 14, 1883, the king pulled a wire to lift the Royal Standard and a Hawaiian flag from the impressive statue, while the Royal Hawaiian Band played Hawaii Ponoi.

Statue of King Kalakaua

King Kalakaua, Statue

Investigation in to missing ship (No. 2158.)
The Merchant Shipping Acts, 1854 to 1876,

In the matter of the formal Investigation, held at the Sessions House, Westminster, on the 25th day of April 1884, before H. C. Rorthery Esquire, Wreck Commissioner, assisted by Captains Curling and Kiddle R.N., as Assessors, into the circumstances attending the supposed loss of the sailing ship “Aberaman,” of Cardiff, with her crew of 20 hands, whilst on a voyage from San Francisco to Falmouth with a cargo of grain.

Report of Court.

The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances of the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons annexed, that the said vessel was in a good and seaworthy condition, so far as her hull and equipment’s were concerned, when she left San Francisco. In May last, but that she was too deeply laden; having regard to the season of the year, and to the voyage on which she was bound.

The Court is not asked to make any order as to costs.

Dated this 25th day of April 1884.
(Signed) H. C. Rorthery

Wreck Commissioner.

We concur in the above report.
(Signed) William Curling R.N.R., Assessors.
James Kiddle

Annexe to the Report.

This case was heard at Westminster on the 25th of April instant, when Mr. Mansel Jones appeared for the Board of Trade, and Mr. Baden Powell for the owners of ‘the “Aberaman.” Two witnesses having been produced by the Board, of Trade and examined, and the depositions of four witnesses taken at San Francisco having been put in and read, Mr. Mansel Jones handed in a statement of the questions upon which the Board of Trade desired the opinion of the Court. Mr. Baden Powell then addressed the Court on behalf of his parties, sad Mr. Mansel Jones having replied for the Board of Trade, the Court proceeded to give judgment on the questions on which its opinion had been asked. The circumstances of the case are as follow:

The “Aberaman” was an iron sailing ship,

The “Aberaman” was an iron sailing ship, belonging to the Port of Cardiff, of 1,126 tons gross, and 1,090 tons net register. She was built at South Stockton in the Year 1875, and at the time of her loss was the property of Mr. William Fraser, of Beale Place, Jeffrey’s Square, London, and others, Mr. William Fraser being the Managing owner. She left San Francisco on the 20th of May last, with a crew of 20 hands all told, and a Cargo of about 1,665 tons of wheat in bags bound to Falmouth for orders. The pilot left her at about 5 miles outside the entrance to the port, and from that time she has not been seen or heard of, and there can be no doubt that she has been lost with all hands; and the object of the present inquiry is to ascertain, if possible, the cause of the casualty.

Now the first question upon which our opinion has been asked is, “When the vessel last left the United Kingdom, was she in good and seaworthy condition?”

She was, as I have already said, built in the year 1875, was classed 100 Al at Lloyd’s. In August 1881, her late owners bought her for a sum of £13,0801 and having scraped and painted her bottom at an expense of £75, sent her to Port Adelaide, thence to Port Victoria, and back with a cargo of wheat to Dublin. Having there discharged her cargo, and a. sum of £106. Having been spent on her in repairs, she proceeded to Glasgow, whence she sailed with a general cargo to Honolulu and to San Francisco but before her departure she was surveyed by Lloyd’s, and was reported as fit to be continued on her class 100 A l. Under these circumstances, we have no reason to think that she was not, when she last left the United Kingdom, in a good and seaworthy condition.

I will next take question No. 3, which is in these words, “When she left San Francisco, was she in a good and seaworthy condition? ” It does not appear that on the voyage out from Glasgow to Honolulu and San Francisco she sustained any damage, and., there is a deposition from left. Attwood, a surveyor at San Francisco; saying that he examined her previous to her departure from that place and found her to be “in” good condition and able to carry a dry and perishable “cargo to any part of the world.” We have likewise a deposition from the pilot, who took her out, and who says “that, so far as he was able to judge, the general appearance of the vessel, the condition of her sails, her trim, and every other indication as to seaworthiness, was excellent.” It is impossible, therefore, for no to say that she was not, when she left San Francisco, in a good and seaworthy condition.

I will now take question No. 2, which is as follows:

“Was the load-line so fixed as to give the vessel sufficient freeboard?” It was admitted by Mr. Fraser the managing owner, that the load line had been plated at 4 feet 7 below the deck; he said that his rule was to give 2 1/2 inches to every foot depth of hold and as the hold was 21.85 feet: deep; that would give us very nearly 4 feet 7. Now according to Mr. Carstens, the. Chief draughtsman to the builders Messrs. Richardson, Duck, and Company, of Stockton, 4 feet 7 would be a minimum freeboard for this vessel for a voyage round Cape Horn at that season of the year, and in that opinion the assessors are disposed to concur; they think that if that were the position of the load line and she was loaded down to it, she would be very deeply laden for such a voyage.

I will now take question No: 4, which is,” Was she then over laden?” ” that is, when she sailed from San Francisco. In the official notice left by the captain with the British Consul on the eve of his departure from San Francisco, it is stated that she then drew 19 feet 7 forward and 19 feet 5 aft, and that her freeboard was 4 feet 7; and that statement is confirmed by the deposition of lair. Attwood, who says that he “took her draught of water and found it to be 19 feet 6 inches even keel,” and that he “measured the side amidships, from water to deck mark, and found the same to be “4 feet 7 inches.” I may add that on the plane of the ship, which were brought in by Mr. Carstens, it is stated that the vessel’s moulded depth was 23 feet; adding to this, 8 inches for the depth of the keel, and 4 inches for the thickness of the deck, it gives us 24 feet, and deducting therefrom 19 feet 6, the mean draught, we get 4 feet 6 as the freeboard. amidships.

Mr. Carstens, however, tried to make out that with a draft of 19 feet 6 the vessel would have had a freeboard, not of 4 feet 6 or 4 feet 7, but of 4 feet 101/2; he said that he found from the copy register that the vessel’s hold was 21.85 feet deep, and adding to this 2/1/2 inches for the ceiling, 2 feet for the floors, 8 inches for the keel, and 4 inches for the thickness of the deck, it gives as a total height, from the bottom of the keel to the top of the deck amidships, at the centre line of the vessel, of 25 feet and 41/2inch; and deducting from this, 8 inches for the camber, leaves 24 feet 44 inches, he said, as the total depth at side amidships, which, with a mean draught of 19 feet 6, would give a freeboard of 4 feet 10 inches.

Mr. Carstens, I ought to say, was not in the yard when the “Aberaman” was being built,
and he speaks only from the plans; and they tell us that the moulded depth was 23 feet, which is quite inconsistent with Mr. Carstens’ statement of the total depth at side; and it may well be that Mr. Carstens has made an error in estimating the depth of the floors from the plans. But however, this may be, we can hardly accept the estimate of the freeboard which Mr. Carstens, who never saw the vessel, has made, in preference to the certificate of the master, and the deposition of Mr. Attwood, the surveyor at San Francisco, who says he measured it and found the mean draft to be 19 feet 6, and the freeboard 4 feet 7.

Taking then the vessel’s mean draft at 19 feet 6, and her freeboard at 4 feet 6 or 4 feet 7, when she left San Francisco, let us see how this compares with her loading on previous voyages. The official log-books for the voyages which the vessel made in the, years 1876, 1879, and 1880, before she came into the possession of her last owners, have been brought in, and on looking at them we find that her greatest draught of water then was from 19 feet to 19 feet 2. and once only did she draw as much as 19 feet 3; but on the first voyage after coming into the bands of Mr. Fraser and his partners, we find her loaded down’ to 19 feet 4, and on the next voyage, when she leaves San Francisco, she draws 19 feet 6, or 3 inches deeper than she had ever before been loaded by her former owners. On the whole the assessors are of opinion that the vessel was too deeply loaded; having regard to the nature of the voyage on which she was bound, and to the fact that she would in the ordinary
course have arrived off Cape Horn in the depth of winter.

The fifth question which we are asked is, “Was the cargo properly stowed and secured from shifting; and were all the regulations of the marine surveyors at San Francisco, as approved by the Board of Trade, complied with?” It is ‘stated in the depositions of the stevedore, and of Mr. Attwood, the surveyor, that the cargo was properly stowed and dunnaged, and secured from shifting by boards, secured ‘by lashings to the iron stanchions, and, that the regulations of the Board of Marine Surveyors of San Francisco, as approved by the Board of Trade in this country, were strictly complied with.

The sixth question ‘which we are asked is, “What was the cost of the vessel to ‘the owner?” We were told by Mr. Fraser that he and his partners purchased the vessel in August 1881 for £13,080. They then, he said scraped and painted her bottom at a cost of £75, and on her return from her first voyage they spent £106, more upon her for repairs, making a total up to the time of her loss of £13,261. This is, we are told, the total sum-which she has cost them from the commencement.
The seventh question which we are asked is, “What was the insurance on the vessel at the time of her loss and how was that sum made up?” At the time of her loss the vessel, Mr. Fraser had told us, was insured for the sum of £14,500, and the way in which he made up that amount was as follows: He took the total sum expended by them for the purchase and the subsequent repairs, amounting to £13,261, and to this he added 10 percent, making a total of £14,587. This, Mr. Fraser said, was a usual mercantile transaction, and this he conceived that he was entitled to insure her for £14,500. I should add that the freight agreed upon 45s. for delivery in the United Kingdom, and 50s. for delivery on the Continent, making on 1,665 tons £3,746. 5s. 0d. in the former case, and £4,162 10s 0d. in the latter case, and this had been insured for £4,200. Mr. Fraser told us that he had been paid the insurance both on the ship and on the freight, and he admitted that, had the vessel performed her voyage in safety, he would have had to pay the wages and expenses at the port of discharge, but which had been saved to him by her loss.

The eighth question which we are asked is, “What in the opinion of the Court was the value of the vessel at the time she sailed on her last voyage?” ‘It is of course extremely difficult for us to say what was her value at the time she sailed on her last voyage, by which Mr Mansel Jones tells us that he means when she sailed from San Francisco. Seeing, however, that she had, then been running almost continuously for nearly two years, during which time her rigging, sails ropes, &c., must have considerably deteriorated, the Assessors think that she could not then have been worth anything like the sum which they originally gave for her. They appear to have given for her about eleven guineas per ton on the gross tonnage; and the Assessors think that, when she, left San Francisco, ten pounds to ten guineas per ton would have been a full value for her.

The ninth question which we are asked is, “What in the opinion of the Court, from the evidence before them is the cause of this vessel not having been heard, of since she left San Francisco on the 20th of May last?” No one having been saved from her, it is impossible for us to say how she was lost. The Assessors, however, desire me to say that, laden as she was, she would have run great risk of foundering, if she experienced such weather as is often met with off Cape Morn in the winter. They think that she was much too deeply laden to go round the Cape, more especially at that season of the year.

The Court is not asked to make any order as to costs.

(Signed) M. C. Rorthery,
Wreck Commissioner.

We concur.

(Signed) William. Curling,
James Kiddle

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