Tongariro 1916

Tongariro 1916

TONGARIRO, steamer : The vessel was en route from Auckland to Wellington when, on the evening of August 30, 1916, she struck on Bull Rock, off Portland Island, and became a total wreck. Several large cracks soon appeared in the steamer’s hull. The crew, numbering 96, all told, were rescued by several steamers and conveyed to Napier.

Captain Harry Makepeace, master of the vessel, was on the bridge when, at about 7 p.m., the Tongariro struck. The steamer appeared to have struck the rock at the stern, and this forced the bow into deep water. Some time later the ship’s lights went out, but those on board could see that the vessel had listed considerably. Owing to this list considerable difficulty was experienced in lowering the boats from the port side, which was high in the air. Two boats were apparently

smashed and two were successfully launched. The crews were picked up from the boats, and the remainder taken off the Tongariro to the coasta steamer Koatunui. Several members of the crew sustained minor injuries when the boats wer( being launched. The Tongariro was steaming at a fair speed when she struck with a terrific crash The vessel broke in two, right across No. 3 hold and the hull and cargo were soon completel} destroyed.

The Court of Inquiry found that the loss of the ship was primarily caused by the default of the chief officer in failing to take ordinary precaution! to verify the position of the ship when off Table Cape. The court also found that under the fine weather conditions then prevailing, with a calm see and landmarks visible throughout the day, tht course set by the master was a safe one if the vessel’: position had been ascertained at Table Cape b3 cross bearings. That considering the master wa: responsible for the safe navigation of the ship and with his knowledge of the coast, and the danger of approaching and passing Bull Rock it the darkness, a duty lay upon him to ascertain after passing Table Cape, whether the vessel wa! on the course laid off, and in only making general inquiry from the chief officer at 6.45 p.m (ten minutes before she struck) as to the vessel’! position, he failed to discharge that duty and thu: contributed to the loss of the vessel. The cour suspended the master’s certificate for six months and that of the chief officer for three months, an( they were ordered to pay the costs of the inquiry as follows: The master £10, and the chief offices £3.

The Tongariro, No. 111,356, was a steel, twin screw steamer of 8,073 tons gross and 5,220 ton: net register, built at Newcastle-on-Tyne in Febru ary, 1901, by Messrs. Hawthorn, Leslie and Com pany, and her dimensions were : length 457 ft. beam 58 ft., depth 30.5 ft. Her engines were o: 883 h.p., nominal. The steamer was owned by th( New Zealand Shipping Company. The loss of the Tongariro, which would be unfortunate at an3 time, was rendered doubly regrettable at that par. ticular period by the great shortage of shippint for the conveyance of the world’s merchandise caused by the German unrestricted submarine war fare. (See plate 77.)

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