"The Cyprian"

The Times newspaper report on the inquiry into the wreck of the Cyprian

16th Nov 1881

The inquiry into the wreck of the steamer Cyprian was concluded at Liverpool yesterday, before Mr Rothery, Q.C. Wreck Commissioner. William Hughes, first class pilot. Said he piloted the Cyprian out on eight occasions and considered her a very good ship in every respect. On the last trip he left her outside the Bar Lightship. Both the captain and the chief officer were perfectly sober. Captain Strachan was a very temperate man. The first mate was also a sober man and rather religiously inclined. He did not see any liquor in the cabin. Mr Jeffrey secretary to the owners said the steamer cost £36.000 and was insured for £6.000. Since the wreck the owners had subscribed £250 to the Strachan fund and £100 to the general fund. Captain Strachan was always a very sober man. Other witnesses spoke to the general sobriety of the mate. Mrs Strachan, widow of the captain, said her husband was not in the habit of taking liquor, and none was ever kept in the house. When they married there was a compact that no spirits should be kept in their home. Mr Hill for the owners and second officer, and Mr Kennedy for the representatives of Captain Strachan, addressed the Court. Mr Squarey summed for the Board of Trade. The Commissioner then delivered judgment at some length. After a deliberate recital of the circumstances, Mr Rothey said that the Court found that the Cyprian had been fairly and properly kept up from the time of her being built in 1874, and that she was in a good and seaworthy condition, when she left Liverpool. She had sufficient sail to steady her, but not sufficient to navigate her in the event of her engines breaking down. At the same time, however, she had the usual equipment of a steam vessel of her class, which would be entitled to rank 100 A1 at Lloyd’s. There was no reason to suppose that she was not properly examined and overhauled before she sailed on her last voyage. The loss of the Cyprian, there was no doubt, was due to the great accumulation of water in the stokehole and engine room, which ultimately put out the fires, leaving her a mere log on the waves. It appeared that the fiddler gratings were sufficient in strength, but unfortunately the covers were not put on until after a large body of water came in through them. The next question was whether the alleyways on either side of the vessel were sufficiently protected from the sea, and on this point they were of the opinion that the vessel was not sufficiently protected in the alleyway from the sea, and if she had been the casualty might not have occurred.

The Court found that the master was sober, and that the sailors who spoke to the contrary mistook his excitement for drink. With regards to the chief officer, they thought he was under the influence of drink, but they made all due allowance for him under the circumstances.


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