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Colonial Cases

The MA Dixon, 1885


The MA Dixon

Naval Court, Takow
8 August 1885
Source: North China Herald, 11 September 1885

 Finding and order of a Naval Court held at Her Majesty's Consulate, Takow, on the 8th day of August, 1885, to investigate the circumstances attending the wreck of the British sailing ship M. A. Dixon, of the port pf Shanghai, and the cause of such wreck; and to enquire into the conduct of the Master, certificated mate, and second mate, and crew of the said vessel.
  The M. A. Dixon was a composite built vessel, bark-rigged, of 415 registered tonnage, official number 54,988, built at Seacombe, Cheshire, in 1866, belonging to the port of Shanghai.
  That upon the evidence given, the vessel appears to have been well-founded, sufficiently manned, and seaworthy at the time she was anchored at Takow.
  That she remained at anchor for eighteen days in the roadstead, which is perfectly open to the west; and southwest - he season being one when typhoon and monsoon gales are prevalent; there being only five days on which cargo could have been worked.
  That on the night of the 2nd August, the Master being absent on shore, while at anchor at Takow in a heavy sea, she parted her cable, and drove on to Saracen's Head, becoming a total wreck.
  That the mate, C. B. Aasted, in charge; and the second mate, H. Nolting, did everything in their power to avert the calamity; and when it became inevitable, exerted themselves to the utmost to save the lives of the crew.
  That, in spite of the high sea breaking round the precipitous rocks, by the efforts of the European residents in Takow, gallantly assisted by several Chinese, including the local officials, all the crew, and mates, were safely landed within three hours of the ship striking.
  That during the eighteen days on which the vessel lay at ancho at Takow. the Master, with full knowledge of the dangers of anchorage, and the season, lived on shore, and never slept once on board his ship, that he left the charge and control of the ship during the time to the mate, although the weather was at times dangerous; that owing to his sleeping on shore he was at various times unable to get on board for days on end.
  That on wo occasions, when there were barometric and other indications of a typhoon, he did not return to his ship when it was in his power  to do so, and that he was not on board his ship after Thursday, the 31st July.
  That having heard and carefully considered the evidence given before the Court in the presence of the Master, the Court find him guilty of culpable negligence in the charge of the ship, and, although it is impossible to say that his negligence caused the wreck of his sip, they find it to be so grave as to call for punishment. They therefore order his certificate, issued by the Government of Victoria, N. 28, to be suspended for the period of six (6) calendar months.
  They recommend, however, that a certificate as first mate should be granted him during such time.
  That no blame of any kind in respect of the loss of the ship attaches either to C. B. Aasted, first mate, or H. Nolting,  second mate.
  They behaved in a totally sea-manlike manner, and the Court orders that a fresh certificate, in lieu of that lost on board the wreck, be issued to him, the said C. B. Aasted, first mate.
That the expenses of the Court, amounting to 6.4.0 Pounds, be paid by the Board of Trade.  That the Court specially desires to direct the attention of the Board of Trade to the active and spontaneous assistance rendered by Chen and Yang, the local military and civil officials, in saving the lives of the crew; and in subsequently protecting the wreck.
WM. DONALD SPENCE, Acting Consul, President.
JAS. EDWARDS, Master of British Bark, Chateaubriand.
OSCAR OLIN, Master of British Schooner, Willie.
W. WYKEHAM MYERS, M.B., Clerk of Court.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School