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SAILORS MAGAZINE.

NEW SERIES.

FOR SEPTEMBER, 1836.

REPORT OF THE SELECT COMMITTEE OF THE

HOUSE OF COMMONS ON SHIPWRECKS.

BRITISH commerce, how vast soever it may be, and immensely surpassing that of all other nations, has not been improved to that extent, and in those particulars, which are essential to the reputation and honour of a professedly Christian people. Religious principle has fearfully been sacrificed for the sake of gain, by many connected with the shipping interests of our country; and the consequences of such policy have been awfully ruinous to life and property

High human authority has declared, “what is morally wrong cannot be politically," and we may add commercially,

right.” And Divine authority has pronounced, “ Godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and also of that which is to come.'

Shipowners, merchants, colonial proprietors, and all connected with our maritime commerce in Great Britain, seem increasingly alive to their interests, which, the more they are investigated, appear to be secured and promoted by all their policies being based and conducted upon the principles of the gospel of God our Saviour.

Illustrations of these remarks are most amply furnished by the deeply interesting “Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Shipwrecks,” presented to the House on Monday, August 15th. The whole of it must be regarded as an invaluable document to those connected with our maritime affairs ; and the following paragraphs cannot fail to be regarded with lively interest

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by all the readers of the Pilot; as the mass of evidence from various facts, proves the high importance of the religious labours of the British and Foreign Sailors' Society.

Having examined the matters referred to them, the Committed agreed to forty-six Resolutions, which contained their Report; and some of these are given entire.

“ I. EXTENT OF LOSS IN PROPERTY AND LIVES AT SEA.

“1. That the number of ships and vessels belonging to the United Kingdom which were wrecked or lost in the periods specified below, appears, by a return made to the committee from the books of Lloyd's, to be as follows:

Number of Vessels Stranded or Wrecked.
1816
343 1833

-595
1817
362 1834

454
1818
409 1835

524

1,114 |

1, 573
Number of Vessels Missing or Lost.
1816
19 1833

56
1817
40 1834

43
1818
30 | 1835

30

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89

129 Making a total of 1,203 ships or vessels wrecked and missing in the first period of three years, and a total of 1,702 wrecked and missing in the second period of three years.

“2. That taking the number of vessels wrecked and lost in the two periods named above at the assumed value of 5,0001, for each ship and cargo, on the average of the whole, the loss of property occasioned by these wrecks would amount, in the first three years, to 6,015,0001. being an average of 2,005,0001. per annum; and in the last three years to 8,510,0001. being an average of 2,836,6661. per annum. “3. That the number of ships in each of the years

above specified of which the entire crews were drowned, though the exact number of each crew is not stated, appears, by the same return made to your committee, from the books of Lloyd's, to have been as follows :

Number of Vessels in each Year, of which the entire

Crews were drowned.
1816
15 1833

38
1817
19 1834

24
1818
15 1835

19

66

49

81 Making a total of 49 in the first period of three years, and a total of 81 in the second period of three years.

4. That the number of persons drowned in each of the years specified, in addition to the above, and of which the number drowned belonging to each vessel is distinctly known, appears, by the same return from Lloyd's books, to be as follows:Number of Persons drowned in each Year by Ships

named.
1816
945 | 1833

572
1817
499 1834

578
1818
256 | 1835

564

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....

1,700

1,714 5. That assuming the average number of persons in each of the vessels of which the entire crews were lost to consist of ten individuals, including officers, seamen, and passengers, it would appear, that in the first three years the number of persons drowned were 588 in the forty-nine vessels whose crews were entirely lost, and 1,700 in the vessels of which the exact number in each was known, making a total of 2,228 lives, or -763 per annum; and that in the last three years the number of persons

drowned was 972 in the eighty-one vessels whose crews were entirely lost, and 1,710 in the vessels of which the exact number in each was known, making a total of 2,682 lives, or 894 per annum.

6. That among the special cases of loss by shipwreck on particular parts of the coast, it has been stated, that during the last four years 272 ships were lost belonging to the port of Tyne, averaging 68 vessels per annum; the whole number of vessels registered in that port being about 1,000 sail ; that these 272 vessels measured 60,489 tons ; and assuming these to have been total losses, and the average value of the whole to be 101. per ton, the loss of property from this single port would be 604,8901. in four years, or 151,2221. per annum, while the number of lives

lost in these 272 vessels during the same period was 682 ; the number of widows and orphans left for relief 147; and the amount of money paid out of the funds of the Seaman's Association at Shields, for relief of members of that society only, amounted to 1,9351. 15s. 9d. ; the ships employed from this port being principally colliers, which perform eight or nine voyages in each year, and are continued in occupation during winter as well as summer along a dangerous coast.

7. That during a period of 16 months, from January 1, 1833, to May 1, 1834, the number of vessels reported in Lloyd's books as missing or lost, and which have never since been heard of, antounted to 95 in number; and these ships being principally engaged in foreign "voyages, the calculation made on their value, and the number of their crews, including officers, seamen, and passengers, assuming 8,0001. as the lowest average value of ship and cargo throughout, and 15 persons as the average number of persons on board the whole, gives a total loss in these missing ships only, within the short period of 16 months, of 760,0001. sterling in property, and 1,425 lives.

“8. That these results do not embrace the whole extent of loss in property or lives, occasioned by shipwrecks, even among those vessels only which belong to the United Kingdom, inasmuch as these returns include only the losses entered in Lloyd's books, from which the returns adverted to were made out; whereas it is well known that many vessels and lives are lost by wreck or foundering at sea, of which no entry is made in Lloyd's books, and of which, as no record is kept, no return can be produced.

“9. That the whole loss of property in British shipping wrecked or foundered at sea, may therefore be assumed as amounting to nearly three millions sterling per annum ; the value of which property, though covered by insurance to certain parties, is not the less absolutely lost to the nation, and its cost paid for by the British public, on whom its loss must ultimately fall.

“ 10. That the annual loss of life, occasioned by the wreck or foundering of British vessels at sea, may, on the same grounds, be fairly estimated at not less than one thousand persons in each year, which loss is also attended with increased pecuniary burdens to the British public, on whom the support of many of the widows and orphans left destitute by such losses must ultimately fall.

“ PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF SHIPWRECKS.

surance.

"11. That among the various causes of shipwreck, which appear susceptible of removal or diminution, the following appear to be the most frequent and the most generally admitted :1. Defective construction of 7. Drunkenness of officers ships.

and men. 2. Inadequacy of equipment. 8. Operation of marine in3. Imperfect state of repair. 4. Improper or excessive 9. Want of harbours of reloading

fuge. 5. Inappropriateness of form. 10. Imperfection of charts. 6. Incompetency of masters

and officers. .“ 18. Incompetency of Masters and Officers.—That the frequent incompetency of masters and officers appears to be admitted on all hands, this incompetency sometimes arising from the want of skill and knowledge in seamanship, but more frequently from the want of an adequate knowledge of navigation; it being proved that some masters of merchant vessels have been appointed to command after having been for a very short time at sea; that others have hardly known how to trace a ship’s course on the chart, or how to ascertain the latitude by a meridian altitude of the sun; that many are unacquainted with the use of the chronometer, and that very few indeed are competent to ascertain the longitude by lunar observations ; while some are appointed to command merchant vessels at periods of such extreme youth (one instance is given of a boy of 14, all of whose apprentices were older than himself), and others so wholly destitute of maritime experience (another instance being given of a porter from a shipowner's warehouse who was made a captain of one of his ships), that vessels have been met with at sea who were out of their - reckoning by several hundreds of miles, and others have been wrecked on coasts from which they believed themselves to have been hundreds of miles distant at the time.

“ 19. Drunkenness and Use of Spirits.--That drunkenness, either in the masters, officers, or men, is a frequent cause of ships being wrecked, leading often to improper and contradictory orders and directions on the part of the officers; sleeping on the look-out or at the helm among

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