DEFENDER, steamer : On the morning of August 2, 1918, fire was discovered in the forehold of the steamer, lying at King’s Wharf, Wellington. The vessel was loaded with a cargo of benzine. Efforts to subdue the outbreak were unsuccessful, and for the safety of other vessels it was deemed advisable to tow the Defender into the harbour. At 1 p.m. the steamer drifted on to the rocks at the north end of Somes Island, where she burned furiously. At 1.30 p.m. there was a big explosion, and the Defender became a total loss. The Court of Inquiry found that the fire originated from a naked light in the stokehold while the cargo of benzine was being stowed in an adjoining hold.
The Defender, No. 112,520, was a wooden, screw steamer of 185 tons gross and 109 tons net register, built at Kincumber, N.S.W., in 1901, and her dimensions were : length 118.5 ft., beam 25.4 ft., depth 7.4 ft. Her engines were of. 36 h.p. The steamer was owned by the Westland Shipping Company Ltd., and was under the command of Captain Thomas Green. She was valued at Â£5,000. Apart from the loss of the steamer, which was a serious matter at that time, 1,132 cases of motor spirit were destroyed. (See plate 84.)
were : length 248.6 ft., beam 42.2 ft., depth 26.3 ft.