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Colonial Cases

Loss of SS Madras, 1886


Loss of SS Madras

Court of Enquiry, Hong Kong
Source: North China Herald, 10 September 1886

The following is the finding of the Court of Enquiry into the loss of this steamer held at Hongkong on the 30th August last:-
That the British steamer Madras, official No. 70,626, of London, 1,097 tons register, with a full cargo of coal for Hongkong of which Henry Plenge, No. of whose certificate of competency is 29,952 was master, became a total wreck on the 15th August, at 2.515 p.m. on a rock in the bay within the west side of the Tai Chow Islands.
We find that the ship experienced a severe typhoon on the 12th and 13th August, causing great loss of boats, &c., and the ship was hove to, and the wheel chains carried away, but were secured; the chief mate, Mr. Keating, received severe injuries.  On the morning of the 15th the weather was more moderate.  It was then found that the ship was making water, and that the pumps and bilges were choked with small coals.  The captain determined to put into the Tai Chow Island, and steered for them.  The vessel was anchored off the west wide of the northern Tai Chow Island, but remained there only ten minutes, as the anchorage was not considered a safe one.  The vessel weighed anchor, and made for the regular anchorage, but struck a rock said to be near the place on the chart indicating good anchorage.
We are of opinion that Captain Plenge, and the Carpenter (Edward Engblow) were washed over board and drowned.
In the absence of the captain, and the chief mate's injures having incapacitated him from performing his duties, the court has had but meagre evidence on which to come to an conclusion as to the exact position of the rock on which the Madras struck.  The evidence, however, bears out the fact that Captain Plenge was navigating his ship in a careful and seamanlike manner, and they much regret that they can come to no other decision than they have as regards his and the carpenter's safety.
The master of the Chinese steamer Chinting, and of the British steamer Taku, gave most ready and valuable assistance, and are deserving of all praise.
Given under our hands this 30th August, 1886.
H. G. THOMSETT, Stipendiary Magistrate.
J. H. THOMPSON, T. ROWIN, F. GRANDIN, Masters Mercantile Marine.

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