THE BURNING OF THE 'VOLTURNO' - PAGE 17
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF TRADE INQUIRY
INTO THE DISASTER

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 01. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

To search for specific text on this page, just press 'CTRL + F' & then enter your search term. Test.


Here is another page of data, which I put on site BEFORE the actual Board of Trade Report into the Volturno disaster of 1913 was located. Here.

Absent the report itself, I tried to locate a 1913 or 1914 publication that would have reported in its news coverage upon the issue of the Report & of its summary findings. I do know that the Inquiry commenced in London, England, on Nov. 26th 1913. Under the Chairmanship of Lord Desart. I know that date from the article at left which is from page 18 of the  'Calgary Herald' newspaper of Nov. 27, 1913 (Calgary, Alberta, Canada). And I now know that the 'Wreck Inquiry' was held at Caxton Hall, in Westminster.

And we know that the inquiry extended through to the early months of 1914 from 'Tales of SOS and TTT', by B. Copplestone, the text of which is on page 8 of this site (at the page bottom). 'The Volturno was lost in the autumn of 1913, and all through the early part of 1914 the Board of Trade was kept busy ascertaining the facts by public inquiry, and apportioning thanks and friendly awards to the officers and men of the International Fleet who had pulled the Volturno's survivors out of the fire.'

Stay tuned! Hopefully in the future we will have the actual report. 

The webmaster does now know what was reported in the London Times throughout the period of the Inquiry's sitting. It is hoped to get all of that text on site in due course, when time permits the webmaster to both access the microfilm records & transcribe all the data. But it seems desirable for the reader to start the 'coverage' at the end, if you will, with the conclusion of the Court. Since that is of the greatest importance. So I first will tell you what was reported in the London Times - in one full column on Saturday Jan. 17, 1914 - as to the judgment of the Court issued the day before.

The other articles will hopefully get transcribed and will be placed lower on the page in date sequence. For ease of reading on this page, I have introduced paragraphs into all of the texts.

The report re the Inquiry's conclusions read as follows:

January 17, 1914, page 3 - JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF INQUIRY


THE LOSS OF THE VOLTURNO.
----------------------
JUDGMENT OF THE COURT OF INQUIRY.
----------------------

THE CAPTAIN EXONERATED FROM BLAME.

  Judgment was delivered yesterday by Lord Desart, Wreck Commissioner, in the inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last, with the loss of about 133 lives. Commander W. F. Caborne, C.B., R.N.R., Vice-Admiral Wintz, R.N., Captain J. F. Ruthven, and Mr. E. C. Chaston, R.N.R., were the Assessors.

  The formal report was that "the abandonment of the Volturno was due to fire which occurred among the cargo and resulted, directly and indirectly, in loss of life. No blame attaches to the master or officers in relation to the fire, the loss of life, or the abandonment of the vessel.

  Sir R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  LORD DESART in the course of his judgment said that the Volturno carried 19 boats, all provided with  proper equipment, 1,511 lifejackets, and 23 lifebuoys, all in good condition. Having loaded a general cargo at Rotterdam and also embarked 22 cabin and 539 steerage passengers, she left on October 2, bound to Canadian and North American ports. She was manned by a crew of 93 under the command of Mr. F. J. D. Inch, who held a certificate of competency as master. She was visited by the Dutch Emigration Commissioners, who granted the requisite certificate for clearance testifying that she complied with the provisions of the law. She had also a British passenger certificate. On the Saturday (the 4th), the crew were exercised at boat and fire drill. The boats' covers were stripped off, and the equipment of each boat checked by the person in charge of such boat. Owing to the rolling of the ship, it was deemed inadvisable to swing out any of the boats. The crew were exercised at fire stations, the hoses being connected up in the best positions for fighting imaginary fires in various parts of the ship. This was the practice on every voyage, and was always the subject of a report by the master on the return of the vessel to her home port. The arrangements made for assigning members of the crew to the different boats and placing lists of the boats and their crews in various parts of the ship where they could be seen by those concerned were, in the opinion of the Court, sufficient, and seemed to have been effective when the moment came for them to be tested. The boat drill itself was probably all that was practicable in the circumstances, but it could not be said to have been very complete, or to have been sufficient to teach men without previous experience in working boat gear, how best to do so under difficulties less than those which actually arose in this case. It was difficult to say in the conditions under which trade afloat was usually carried on how really effective training in this respect could be secured.

THE USE OF THE BOATS.

  LORD DESART then described the circumstances in which the fire broke out and the steps taken to quench it. Referring to the attempts to save the passengers by the use of the boats, he said that they turned out to be disastrous, and, as in fact the ship remained afloat and sufficiently free from fire aft to enable its occupants to remain on board till the following morning, such attempts were unnecessary, while they were the principal cause of the loss of life which occurred. The Court did not, however, desire in any way to suggest that the master was open to criticism for the action he took. In the circumstances the order he gave was that which any man in his position would have given. He had good reason to think that at any moment all persons on board might perish with the ship, and the use of the boats was the only means of escaping that peril.

  From the time when the fire was reported till the aerial was destroyed by the last explosion, about 10 p.m. on October 9, the two Marconi operators, Mr. Seddon and Mr. Pennington, were engaged in sending and receiving wireless messages and reporting them to the master. The vessels receiving messages were communicating with other vessels, and the ultimate result was the assembling of 12 steam ships to afford such assistance as was possible.

THE USE OF OIL.

  There was some evidence from the rescuing boats as to the use of oil, which was of interest and indicated that, had the Volturno been able to make use of suitable oil it might have facilitated the getting away of her own boats and made the work of the rescuing boats easier when about 10 p.m. and after, they were working round her and endeavouring to get alongside. The main cause of disaster to the Volturno's boats was the heavy rolling of the ship, apart from the breaking of the seas, and equally it was this which, till the weather moderated, prevented the boats of the rescuing ship from getting alongside her. The effect of oil was to create a smooth surface on the water, but it did not, as the Court understood, affect the actual size of the wave, and thus would not materially affect the rolling of a vessel, though to some extent it might assist the boat work. The Court did not think that the case of the Volturno added much to what was already known as to the effect of oil, but it confirmed and illustrated the view officially taken by the Admiralty and by the Board of Trade as to its value.

THE CONDUCT OF OFFICERS AND MEN.

   The officers and the crew of the Volturno did all they could to fight and keep down the fire, to save life, and to provide, so far as it was possible, for the comfort of the passengers during their long period of mental anxiety and physical suffering. The orders given by the master and officers were carried out as well as might be, in circumstances of great difficulty, and the Court had the gratification of being able to commend the conduct of those belonging to the ship, from the master and officers downwards.

  Of the master, Captain Inch, it would perhaps be sufficient to say that he did his duty. To the best of his judgment he did all he could to save the passengers and to preserve or prolong the life of the ship. He was in the course of the day nearly blinded by a wave of heat. His eyes had to be treated to enable him to carry on, and after the fire, when on board the Kroonland, he was practically blind for several days.

  The Court felt it to be its duty to refer shortly to an omission in the measures taken by Captain Inch to endeavour to limit the progress of the fire - namely, forgetting to throw overboard the magazine, which blew up about 9.45 p.m. The destruction of the aerial was at that time not of any serious importance, as the rescuing ships had already been summoned. Captain Inch frankly stated that he did not think of throwing the magazine overboard, and, considering all he did during the day, the numerous dangers he had to foresee and to provide against and the demands made on his fortitude, the Court did not consider this one instance of forgetfulness ought to lessen the force of the commendation which it was able to bestow on him in circumstances as trying as any in which a commander could be placed.

  The Court expressed its special appreciation of the action of Mr. Lloyd, the second officer, in volunteering to take a boat to one of the other ships, and of his skill and gallantry, and that of his boat's crew. The chief engineer, Mr. Dewar, and his staff, zealously and efficiently, wherever they were most required on deck and below, performed their duties. To the Marconi operators much credit was due.

  The stewards were prompt in warning and controlling the passengers and getting them aft and as far as possible out of danger, and many of them took an active share in the work of fighting the fire, assisting at the boats, and carrying out generally the orders of their officers. Special credit was due to the bakers and those in the galley who worked steadily and without intermission to provide the comfort for the passengers. The Court expressed its appreciation of the devotion, gallantry, and skill displayed by the officers and crews of those vessels who took part in the operations by which so many of those on board the Volturno were saved.

CAUSE OF FIRE.

  The Court considered the possibility that the superoxide of barium in the cargo might have been exposed to friction and might have ignited the cargo near it. They agreed with Sir R. B. D. Acland that it was quite possible that the drums of barium might have been injured through shifting with the heavy rolling of the ship. In this way some of the powder might have escaped and been subjected to friction so as to produce flame. The most probable explanation of the fire was that it arose from the superoxide of barium. Since the hearing the Court had received from the Board of Trade reports of the cases of the Rialto and the Cygnet, lost in 1897 and 1903. In each of those cases there was in the cargo a quantity of oxide of barium ; the cause of the fire was uncertain in both cases. The fact of the presence of this substance in the three cases was significant.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

And next, what the London Times said about the Board of Trade Inquiry during the period it was in session. From what I have seen, the Court was in fact in session for 13 days, i.e. November 26, 27, 28 and 29, December 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13, 1913. I have 13 articles so far completely transcribed and on site. I think that there should, however, be one more article, probably dated December 13, 1913, but must return to the microfilms to confirm that that is truly so.

1 November 21, 1913, page 8 Date of the Inquiry.
2 November 27, 1913, page 4 Board of Trade Inquiry.
3 November 28, 1913, page 4 Stories of the Devonian's Rescue Work. Lifeboat accommodation.
4 November 29, 1913, page 12 Captain Inch's efforts to save his ship.
5 December 1, 1913, page 64 Accounts of the rescue work. Evidence of Captain Inch.
6 December 2, 1913, page 21 Conduct of the ship's firemen. The engineer's evidence.
7 December 3, 1913, page 21 Launching of the ship's boats. The boatswain's story.
8 December 5, 1913, page 6 Fine work of the rescuing ships. Captain Caussin's story.
9 December 6, 1913, page 6 Evidence of the wireless operators. The scene on deck.
10 December 9, 1913, page 23 Further stories of the rescue work. Captain Inch and his dog.
11 December 10, 1913, page 4 Captain Barr's story of the Carmania's services. Possible cause of fire.
12 December 12, 1913, page 4 Addresses of counsel.
13 December 15, 1913, page 15 A great story of resource and courage.


This is as good a place as any to say a few words about Lord Desart, Aug. 30, 1848 / Nov. 4, 1934, (image of unknown date at right), who presided over the Volturno Board of Trade Inquiry. He died in late 1934 at the age of 86 after a long & most distinguished career. He was born Hamilton John Agmondesham Cuffe, the second son of the third Earl of Desart, in the peerages of Ireland. How times have changed! At the age of 12 he became a midshipman in the Royal Navy! He married & had two daughters. In 1898 he succeeded his brother as the fifth Earl of Desart but 'He had no son or heir presumptive so that his peerages now become extinct.' An obituary was published in the London Times on Nov. 5, 1934, page 17, (from which the above data originates) & there was an 'Appreciation' column on the next day, i.e. Nov. 6, 1934, page 9.

You might access those records should you wish to read about his career which is perhaps a little 'off topic' for this Volturno related site.

November 21, 1913, page 8 - DATE OF THE INQUIRY


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
DATE OF THE INQUIRY.

  We are informed by the Board of Trade that the official inquiry into the circumstances connected with the casualty to the London steamer Volturno, including the loss of life that occurred, is fixed for November 26 at 11 a.m., at Caxton Hall, Westminster.

November 27, 1913, page 8 - BOARD OF TRADE INQUIRY


THE BURNING OF THE VOLTURNO.
----------------------
BOARD OF TRADE INQUIRY.

  An inquiry into the burning of the steamship Volturno, of London, with loss of life, was begun yesterday in Caxton Hall, Westminster, before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner. Commander W. F. Caborne, C.B., R.N.R., Vice-Admiral Wintz, R.N., Captain J. F. Ruthven, and Mr. E. C. Chaston, R.N.R., were the Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers.

   Mr. Lewis Noad was for the underwriters and owners of the cargo. As representing the Standard Protection and Indemnity Association and others he was granted leave to appear.

  Mr. ACLAND, in opening, said that the Volturno was built in 1906 at Fairfield ; her length was 342ft., breadth 43.2ft., and depth 32.15ft. She had twin screws, her gross tonnage was 3,602.2, net 2222 tons. She was owned by the Canadian Northern Steamship Company (Limited). On April 4, 1910, she was chartered to the Uranium Steamship Company for one year and the charter seemed to have continued on the terms of the original charter without a formal renewal. On October 2 she left Rotterdam with 93 hands and 561 passengers. In Channel on October 5 there arose a strong wind and heavy beam sea. On the 9th it was blowing a gale and the Volturno was found to be on fire. On the 10th between 8 and 8.30 in the morning she was finally abandoned in latitude 48.30 N., longitude 34.57 W. Thirty of the officers and crew and 103 passengers were lost. The Volturno was not, as she was plying between Rotterdam and Canada and the United States, a British emigrant ship so as to be amenable to the British law of emigrant ships, but she had life-saving apparatus in excess of what would have been necessary when her certificate was granted according to the English law for passenger ships. One of the consequences of the Titanic disaster was that in March of this year there was a new rule made and she might possibly have been required to have other apparatus, and probably would have had, if she had been surveyed again or perhaps if she had come back to a British port.

  LORD DESART. - Suppose the Volturno while trading from Rotterdam touched at a British port, would that bring her within the jurisdiction of the Board of Trade ? - She probably would not get her clearance till she had complied with the rules.

  Continuing, counsel said that although her equipment did not comply completely with the rules to-day laid down, yet the circumstances of this particular voyage were such that she could have got exemption. She had 19 boats capable of carrying 809 people, whereas she only had 654 on board. Of these 19 boats 15 were lifeboats of Section A, one was a boat of Section D ; she had two Engelhardt boats, six life-rafts, and one Berthon collapsible boat. Ten boats were directly under davits. 

THE USE OF OIL.

  Each one of the boats had apparatus for spreading oil on the water. In this case, entirely apart from the Narragansett, which came up quite late in the proceedings, the Carmania was pumping or sending out oil quite early in the evening of the 9th, and some of the other ships also.

  On September 29-30 and October 1 a general cargo was loaded at Rotterdam. In hold No. 1, forward, in the lower hold, there were stowed drums and barrels of various chemicals, tar oil, and other oil ; above them there were stowed rags, above the rags there was peat moss, above that were stowed straw bottle covers, so that when the fires did start there was material there for making the astonishing blaze which appeared when the hatch blew off. In the upper part of No. 1 hold there were two drums of rapeseed oil and other drums of chemicals. Under the hatchway on the main deck there were 24 boxes of trees, and the emigrants' baggage was stowed exactly forward of the boxes of trees. In No. 2 hold the lower part was bunker coal, in the upper part were barrels of wine, rags, peat moss, and straw bottle covers. There were 490 cases of straw covers and 60 cases of straw mats, 1,189 bales of peat moss, besides, large quantities of wine and spirits in those two holds. These were the holds forward of the steel bulkhead. If the steel bulkhead was really effective it would seem that the fire could not have gone from forward to the after hold unless it passed through the bunkers and the engine-room. The final sight of the Volturno, which was gained a week after this disaster by Captain Schmidt, of the Charlois, showed that the engine-room was intact, but it was undoubted that before the ship was abandoned the fire was burning in No. 3 hold (aft of the bulkhead), and one wanted to know how it got there.

THE OUTBREAK OF FIRE.

  Counsel then described the outbreak of the fire and the efforts made to check its progress. He said that the foremast, which was right in the centre of the fire, had become insecure ; the " aerial " of the Marconi apparatus was fixed to this. The second officer managed to secure the mast, and the Marconi operator remained at his post without coming outside his house, and was the means of communicating with the vessels which came to the rescue. The Volturno then fell into the trough of the sea and that caused great difficulty to the boats coming alongside. At 3 o'clock p.m. the captain had been working on the fire since 7 a.m., and his eyes were so bad that he had to go away to the doctor ; he then returned to the fire till it was obvious there was nothing more to be done. Eventually the pumps stopped for want of steam and the fires were drawn. The wireless telegraph was switched on to the emergency set. At 9,30 there was an explosion apparently due to the rockets and cartridges, &c., in the chartroom. The wireless apparatus was blown away altogether, but there were other ships in attendance.

  There was no boat drill before the vessel started on October 2, but there had been on the 6th, without the boats being lowered. As soon as the fire was discovered the S.O.S. signal was sent out, the captain thinking the ship would not last for an hour. He accordingly, notwithstanding the weather, ordered the boats to be got out. It was blowing a gale and there was a very heavy sea. The chief steward gave orders for provisioning the boats. At that time some of the emigrants, a number of whom were extremely ignorant, jumped overboard in their terror and were drowned. When the bats were ordered out a number of emigrants attempted to get into them before they left the chocks, and had to be driven out with sticks. The lifebelts were in the berths, and the more sensible among the emigrants had put them on. There were 1,500 such belts - plenty for all. It was remarkable that if there had been no boats in the Volturno the loss of life would not have been so great. There was not a single passenger saved by the Volturno's boats. It appeared that 10 of the crew were in the first boat and only some 12 passengers. It was a matter for enquiry how it was that there were so many of the crew and so few passengers.

  Counsel then described the rescue work done by the Carmania and other vessels and told how the captain of the Volturno told his engineers to jump, and show the emigrants how to jump, into the sea. Many jumped into the sea and were picked up by the boats of the other vessels. The baker and his assistant were worth mention. They remained in the bakery all day and all night baking bread and making coffee, which were handed round to the emigrants. Eventually the captain was the last to leave the ship, having first gone all round to see if anyone was there.

  Counsel took the opportunity of tendering the sincerest thanks to the officers and men who performed such gallant services in the rescue of unfortunate people.

  Mr. ASPINALL, K.C., associated himself and his clients with that expression of gratitude.

  LORD DESART said that those who had heard the story would recognize in it the best traditions of the sea. Such brave deeds had been done and would be again.

EVIDENCE OF CAPTAIN HARWOOD.

  Captain Charles Edward Harwood, who was called as an early witness because he has to leave this country immediately, said, in answer to Mr. RAEBURN, that he was master of the Narragansett, belonging to the Anglo-American Oil Company, an oil-tank steamer. On October 9 he received the S.O.S. message from the Carmania. The Carmania reported the Volturno on fire and gave her position, 230 odd miles to the southward and westward. There was a very heavy sea. He at once altered his course and sent a message to the Carmania that he was coming at full speed, and he suggested pumping lubricating oil round the Volturno. He sighted the Volturno at 5.30 a.m. ship's time on the 10th, roughly 7.40 a.m. Greenwich time. The Carmania advised him to get on the leeward of the Volturno, which was drifting in the trough of the sea. He at first pumped oil on the Volturno from windward, and afterwards manœuvred round to leeward. The oil was heavy lubricating oil, pumped from two four-inch hoses ; it had a marvellous effect, converting a breaking sea into a swell. After the oil got to the Volturno the boats from the rescuing ships were able to get alongside much quicker.

  LORD DESART. - Would you have produced about the same effect with a less quantity of oil than was actually used on this occasion ? - I believe I could.

  Have you had experience of oil being used from the bows of ships ? - I have used it 15 or 16 years.

  Are there not cases in which a relatively small quantity of oil with a very small flow will have the effect of breaking the force of the waves ? - I have only used it when the ship has been running. Dripping from the bows it had very good effect in smoothing heavy seas.

QUESTIONS FOR THE COURT.

  Mr. RAEBURN then read the questions submitted by the Board of Trade.

  This inquiry was adjourned until to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

November 28, 1913, page 4 - STORIES OF THE DEVONIAN'S RESCUE WORK


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
STORIES OF THE DEVONIAN'S RESCUE WORK.

-------------
LIFEBOAT ACCOMMODATION

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors. The disaster to the Volturno occurred on October 9 and 10 last and 103 passengers and 30 of the officers and crew lost their lives.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Captain Alfred W. V. Trant said, in answer to Mr. ACLAND, that he was master of the Leyland steamship Devonian, and left Boston for Liverpool on October 4. On October 9 at about 2.30 he inquired by wireless as to rumours the wireless operator had heard on his instrument about a vessel in distress and the Marconi operator got into communication with the Carmania.  He inquired what was the matter with the Volturno and was told that she was on fire, that the Carmania was standing by, and that two boats were adrift with passengers. The Devonian was then about 120 miles distant from the position given by the Carmania, and he informed the Carmania that he was coming at full speed. At about 12.30 a.m. on the 10th, he arrived at the Volturno. He got his vessel as close as he could under the lee of the burning ship and lowered a boat. While turning his vessel round the Volturno he heard cries from a man in the water, and an ordinary seaman named Price went down a ladder into the water and put a rope round the man, who was hauled on board. His boat afterwards returned with one man who had lowered himself over the side of the Volturno and had been picked out of the water. While the crew were being taken back on board the boat was capsized, but the crew were hauled on board ; the boat was lost. He got close enough to the Volturno to hear the women moaning. He thought the Volturno would last till daylight, when there was more chance to save the people on board. At daylight his boats managed to get alongside the Volturno and proceeded to take off women and children. The women slid down ropes into the boat, while the children were thrown down and caught by the men. One child was only caught by the feet and its head struck upon the thwarts. " We thought it was dead," said the witness, " but fortunately we managed to revive it." The rescued people were drawn up to the Devonian in coal baskets. He saw the Narragansett and that the oil she discharged left a smooth wake on the water. He did not think the use of oil earlier would have been of any assistance as it would not stop the violent rolling of the Volturno which prevented the boats from getting alongside.

  LORD DESART thanked the witness for the great services rendered by him and his officers. Captain Trant, in thanking Lord Desart, said that he had forgotten to mention the conduct of one of his crew, named Leslie who dived into the sea and rescued a child who had fallen between the Volturno and the boat. "The man acted very well indeed," commented the witness.

  LORD DESART added that he would like to express his appreciation of the work done by the captain of the Narragansett, which he had omitted to do yesterday.

VENTILATION AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS.

  Mr. Robert Rae, superintendent engineer at Rotterdam to the Uranium Steamship Company, gave evidence as to the construction and equipment of the Volturno, and plans were put in showing where the emigrants were berthed. With regard to the Thermo system of ventilation installed in the ship, he did not think it possible that matches, cigarettes &c., if put down the pipes would reach the cargo holds, as the pipes did not run vertically down, but spread out to each side. There were 14 Minimax patent fire-extinguishers at different positions.

  LORD DESART. - Do the chemicals require to be renewed from time to time ? - They last for some time ; some were used at every fire drill, and they were, therefore, frequently renewed. Five or six were renewed before they left Rotterdam on this voyage.

  Describing the patent disengaging gear used in some of the boats, the witness said a lever was pulled over and the falls were instantaneously freed. In answer to LORD DESART, he said that if for any reason the lever did not work the only way was to knock the pin out of the shackle and so release the falls. That operation would take a little longer. When the Volturno left Rotterdam she was, so far as her machinery, boats, life-saving equipment, &c., were concerned, in perfectly good condition.

  Mr. H. W. Harding said in answer to Mr. ACLAND that he was the registered manager of the Volturno as representing the Canadian Northern Steamship Company (Limited). The Volturno was chartered for a year certain to the Uranium Steamship Company by a charter dated April 4, 1910. That charter had never been formally renewed.

  By Mr. ASPINALL. - She was a profit-earning ship and in 27 voyages made a profit of £30,588.

  Mr. ACLAND said it was proposed to take all possible evidence about the stowage of the cargo, the emigrants' quarters, and the position of the equipment before going to the story of the fire.

  Mr. Robert Dewar, chief engineer of the Volturno, said in answer to Mr. ACLAND that there was a fire-main laid along the upper deck supplied with water from pumps on the starboard side of the engine-room. There were connexions for hoses at a number of points in the cargo spaces, emigrants' quarters, bridge-deck, and saloon passages. In order to get a fire hose into the ship's hospital the hose would be connected to the connexion against the saloon and carried down through the hospital entrance. That connexion was for the purpose of this case called No. 1. The steel bulkhead was watertight up as high as the upper deck, and at the lower part was the coal bunker. There were three large watertight doors which screwed up or down as wanted ; When the watertight doors were closed no coals could be got out. The doors were under the control of the master.

  By COMMANDER CABORNE. - He thought there were nine lengths of fire hose 50ft. each.

  Mr. F. D. Malcolmson, second engineer, in answer to Mr. RAEBURN, produced a sketch plan explaining the steam fire-extinguishing apparatus, which was operated through a valve-box connected to the main boiler by a 2in. pipe. From the valve box it could be turned into a number of 1½in. pipes. He had never had occasion to use the steam fire-extinguisher.

THE NUMBER OF LIFEBOATS.

  Mr. William Wallace, Board of Trade surveyor, said that when he surveyed the Volturno in 1912 she had 19 boats in all, very much more than she was bound to carry under the regulations in force at that time. There was an excess of nine boats over the number required to give her the stipulated cubic capacity, and, excluding the Engelhardt boats, the total capacity was 3,039 cubic feet of boat space in excess of what was required.

  Mr. ACLAND, - The new statutory rules and orders which came into effect on March 1, 1913, provided (rule 8) that a ship of this class should carry lifeboats in such number and of such capacity as shall be sufficient to accommodate all on board or all whom the ship is certified to carry, whichever number is the greater. The Volturno was certified to carry 1,426 passengers and a crew of 78, total 1,504. Under that rule she would require to carry almost twice the number of boats she had on board. The master of a vessel claiming to carry on any voyage fewer lifeboats than those required under the section just quoted must declare before the collector or other officer of Customs before the time of clearance that the life-boats actually carried are sufficient to accommodate all persons who would be carried at any time during the voyage to a foreign port and on the voyage back to the United Kingdom. The Volturno had 654 persons on board and boat capacity for 809, and the master would have carried out these provisions if he had declared before the collector of Customs that he had sufficient to accommodate those actually on board. Supposing the 1913 rules had applied to the Volturno, did she substantially fulfil the requirements ? She did so far as this, that the number of passengers and crew she could carry under the rules were limited to 809 in all. As she only had 654 on board she was in excess.

  The Court adjourned till to-day at 10.30.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

November 29, 1913, page 12 - CAPTAIN INCH'S EFFORTS TO SAVE HIS SHIP


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
CAPTAIN INCH'S EFFORTS TO SAVE HIS SHIP.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, with the loss of 133 lives, on October 9 and 10, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Mr. R. B. D. Tinsley stated, in answer to Mr. RAEBURN, that he was the manager at Rotterdam of the Uranium Steamship Company. The Volturno was chartered by the company in 1910 for one year, and had been running under that charter ever since. She was engaged in carrying passengers and cargo between Rotterdam and Canada and the United States. She held a British passenger certificate, granted in December 1912, and valid up to December 13, 1913. Since 1910, upwards of £8,000 had been spent on her general equipment and upkeep. The crew were 93 all told ; a certain number was British, and the others were of various nationalities, but there were no Belgians.

  Mr. RAEBURN said he asked as to Belgians because at the time of the disaster there were certain statements in the Press with regard to the behaviour of " the Belgian seamen." As a fact there was not a single Belgian seaman on board. Of the crew of the Volturno 19 were British, and of these 13 were saved.

  Mr. Tinsley, continuing his evidence, said the crew included the captain, four officers, six able seamen, six ordinary seamen, six engineers, 18 other members of the engine-room staff, 41 stewards, two Marconi operators, surgeon, two pursers, carpenter and carpenter's mate, boatswain and his mate, and two boys. Sixty-three out of 93 were saved. The ordinary seamen were really able seamen. The captain had to report as to boat drills and fire-station practices at the end of every voyage. The Volturno was entitled to carry 24 cabin passengers, and there were 22 on the last voyage. There were 539 emigrants, of which 452 were adults, 74 " halves," and 13 children (under one year). " Halves " were children from one to 12 years of age. The numbers rescued by the vessels standing by were :- Seydlitz, 30: Rappahannock, 19 : Narragansett, 27 ; La Touraine, 39 ; Czar, 97 ; Devonian, 59 ; Minneapolis, 30 ; Grosser Kurfürst, 83 ; Kroonland, 74 - total, 458.

  Mr. RAEBURN. - Have you, or has your company, any authentic information as to the cause of the fire? - No.

  Suggestions have appeared in the Press, I think the Continental Press, as to the possibility of foul play. In your belief is there any foundation for any such suggestion ? - None whatever.

  Suggestions also appeared that the crew were discontented and mutinous. - That is absolutely untrue.

  Mr. Tinsley further said that there had been two previous fires on the Volturno before the final disaster - one, which he thought was at sea, when defective electric wiring caused a fire in the deck over the bakehouse, and the other a small fire in the cargo when the vessel was at New York in February, 1913. That was extinguished by the crew. Stowaways at Rotterdam were quite a common occurrence. They were clerks, barbers, and stewards who wanted to get to the United States. If a stowaway wished to hide on board the Volturno he would be among the passengers' bagagge in No. 1 lower 'tween-deck. The baggage destined for the United States was inspected at Rotterdam by the United States Consul's deputy, who opened it all and examined it. No stowaways were reported in the vessel on her last voyage.

THE CARGO AND ITS STOWAGE.

  Mr. H. F. Flückiger, general manager of Messrs. Van Es and Co., Rotterdam, freight agent, stated that the cargo on this voyage included straw envelopes and bales of peat moss. Then there was some barium super-oxide and nitrate of barium, and various kinds of oil, examples of which had been supplied and were being examined by Dr. Dupré.

  Mr. W. J. Offers, manager to Messrs. Van Es and Co., produced stowage plans showing the disposition of the cargo. As to 19 drums of tetrachloride, he did not know what it was, but in answer to his enquiries he did not get any information that it was dangerous or explosive. He had heard of spontaneous combustion in rags shipped in a wet condition. They were always pressed before being shipped. The men had orders not to ship wet rags and to make an examination of all rags.

  By Mr. ASPINALL. - If the bales of rags had all been packed in September last, he did not think it possible for spontaneous combustion to have occurred.

  Mr. L. J. Mol, foreman stevedore in the employ of P. A. Van Koeveren and Co., of Rotterdam, said his firm were engaged to load the ships of the Uranium Company, and he superintended the loading of the Volturno on her last voyage. The chief officer gave directions where to stow the goods. Electric lights, and no naked lights, were used. He produced a plan of the stowage, made from memory the day after the vessel sailed. In No. 1 hold there were barrels of tar oil, salted hides, drums of chemicals, and wooden barrels of chemicals. He did not examine all the bags of rags, but those he did examine were dry and he saw no signs of oil or grease. On top were straw covers for bottles in bundles. The hold also contained peat-moss in sacking, and wooden barrels.

  Mr. RAEBURN said the plan described these as barrels of nitrate of strontia.

  The witness said that in No. 1 lower 'tween-deck there were iron drums (which the plan showed to contain barium super-oxide), cases of plants and trees, and barrels of rape-seed oil. There was also luggage intended for New York. No. 2 lower hold contained coal ; No 2 lower 'tween-deck barrels of wine, 309 cases of straw covers, which reached right up under the deck, peat-moss, kegs of herrings, and bales of rags.

  By CAPTAIN RUTHVEN. - He did not see any of the men smoking during the loading. Smoking was not allowed.

  In reply to COMMANDER CABORNE, the witness said he did not remember where the case of celluloid mentioned in the manifesto was stowed.

  Mr. C. Cousward, who assisted the last witness, confirmed his statement that there was no smoking while the loading was going on.

EVIDENCE OF CAPTAIN INCH.

  Captain Francis G. D. Inch was then called. He said in answer to Mr. ACLAND, that he obtained his master's certificate in 1903. He had been temporarily in charge of the Volturno before, then had command of the Uranium, and was permanently appointed captain of the Volturno on January 20, 1913. There was no time for boat-drill before they left Rotterdam on October 2, but they had it on the Saturday after. When they left, the weather was fine and continued fine till they reached the Bishop on October 4, when it changed. By the evening of the 5th it was blowing a gale. On the 4th the men were mustered, each man appointed to his boat, covers of the boats stripped, and the gear examined. As the ship was rolling it was not safe to swing a boat out. Fire drill also was held. On Monday the 6th, the chief officer inspected No. 1 lower hold with an electric torch and reported that the cargo had not shifted. The next day the weather was worse, the wind having got to north-west. At midnight it was blowing very hard, and the ship was rolling heavily.

  Mr. ACLAND. - Was the Volturno a very heavy roller ? - Yes. And in your experience you have never been able to swing the boats out. - That is so.

  Captain Ince said he turned in at about 12.30. At 6.30 a.m. on the 8th he was awakened by the chief officer, who reported smoke coming out of No. 1 hatch. He tuned out and ordered the chief officer to slow the ship down, get all hands to stations, but not to tell the passengers. The chief officer replied that the passengers already knew of the fire. Before he had finished dressing the chief reported that the fore part of the ship was in flames. When he got on deck he found the ship was coming round very slowly on the starboard helm. He went along the deck. A quartermaster came along with his face all burnt. He asked him where he was from, and received the reply, "from the forecastle ; there are four men in there burning." There were two slight explosions and then a very violent explosion which seemed to shake everything. The chief officer reported that the compasses had been blown out of the binnacle and the steering gear and the engine-room telegraph jammed. Another such shock, he thought, would break the ship in two. He had given instructions to the Marconi man to make the "S.O.S." signal. Five or six minutes after he came on deck the flames were reaching back to the bridge and the life-rafts stowed alongside the foremast were on fire. The explosions appeared to come from No. 2 hold, right under where he was standing.

LOWERING THE BOATS.

  He had not heard from any other vessel by Marconi, and he gave orders to swing out and provision the boats. He assisted in getting out boat No. 2, and then No. 6. After swinging out No. 6, he went back to No. 2. About 30 passengers and ten of the crew and the stewardess were in her ready for lowering. Ten was the proper number of her crew. The chief officer said he was ready and the witness and the third officer lowered the boat. As it was passing the shelter deck two or three steerage passengers climbed in. The boat got safely down. Just before it touched the water he asked the third officer to watch and let go when told by him, and he did so. It was still blowing a gale and the ship was rolling very heavily.

  Mr. ACLAND. - Up to that time had you attempted to use any oil ? - No, I never thought of it. The oil we had for the purpose was burning in the stores in the forecastle.

  Captain Inch said they let the boat go, and the after-block fell off the hook on to the gunwale of the boat, which swung round and tipped over on her side, spilling everybody out, the stern of the boat going towards the bow of the ship. He saw the chief officer, the quartermaster, the chief steward, and another person get back into the boat. They got the boat's axe and started cutting the falls, which however, freed themselves. The ship, having way on her, went ahead, leaving the boat, and he did not see her again, though he heard it reported that the chief officer had got her head to the sea. He could do nothing to save the people in the water. The steering gear was disabled, the hand-gear was being fixed, and it was very awkward to steer, and had the vessel been brought round again the flames would have been blown further aft. The proper thing was to keep the ship before the wind. All the passengers and crew had lifebelts on. The last he saw of the people who had been in the boat was when they were floating about among the oars and gear.

FIGHTING THE FIRE.

  He saw no more boats got away, but went forward to the fire. Three hoses were connected and played on to the deckhouse and the life-rafts, and the flames were gradually got back to No. 1 hatch.

  Mr. ACLAND. - In an affidavit of an emigrant it is alleged that to one of the hoses there was no nozzle and that the metal connexions were covered with green mould and not in order. Is there any truth in that ? - No truth whatever.

  Captain Inch (continuing) said the flames were coming out of No. 1 hatch and he got on to the weather side with the hose, the chief engineer and a sailor assisting him. The smoke was so thick and the flames so hot that they had to turn their faces away as they played on the flames. Nothing could be seen in the hold but smoke, but after a time that got the flames under and turned the hose down the hold. He climbed to the forecastle head and played on the fire there as long as he could, when a sailor relieved him. He ordered the carpenter to saw derrick No. 1 down, as it was nearly burnt through and was dangerous. This was done and he went forward to the forecastle. Going along the alley-way he tripped over something on the floor and pushed it away with his foot. He then found two bodies lying close together in the forecastle, and went back to the object  he had kicked and found it was another body. Still another was lying on the deck where the forecastle table had been. The woodwork was all burnt away and the iron was red hot. The flames indicated that the fire had got forward of the collision bulkhead, and he thought that would be caused by the small hatch burning and falling. He could not give any time, as he had lost all count of time, but it was after he had been informed that the Carmania had answered - that would be about 7.30 a.m. He believed the names of those burnt in the forecastle were Matthews (a boy), Gunner, Nugent, and Lindberg.

  At this point the Court adjourned till to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

 

December 1, 1913, page 64 - ACCOUNTS OF THE RESCUE WORK. EVIDENCE OF CAPTAIN INCH


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
ACCOUNTS OF THE RESCUE WORK.
----------------------
EVIDENCE OF CAPTAIN INCH.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, with the loss of 133 lives, on October 9 and 10, was continued on Saturday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., CAPTAIN J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Captain Inch, continuing his evidence, in answer to Mr. ACLAND, that  a steward reported that a fire had broken out in the saloon. He went there with a hose and found the saloon wrecked, no doubt by the third explosion. It was still burning. He got the fire out and watched to see whence it came. He found the electric wires fused. They had " short-circuited " among the woodwork in the middle of the saloon. He went out and pulled all the fuses out of the fuse-box outside the saloon. The wire-casing in the saloon was of wood, but he was not sure whether the casing in the steerage, &c., was of wood or metal. He went forward again and found the nozzle of the hose playing down No. 1 hatch had been burnt off. There was a good pressure of water still. He connected another length of hose and a new nozzle.

  Mr. ACLAND. - There is an allegation that one of the hoses had no nozzle. - That was the one that the nozzle was burnt off. There were five nozzles in a box on the bridge.

  As to an allegation that the hoses were burst and unfit to use, the only cases of bursting were when the hoses touched the hot ventilators or deck ; they were renewed as soon as they burst. The hoses were brand new. He had 200ft. of new hose every voyage. A fire was seen in the hospital, and he found the staircase had been wrecked by the explosion. He climbed over the wreckage with a hose. The wooden bulkhead had collapsed and he could see right through. He got the fire out, but flames broke out at various times during the day. The fire was kept forward and was not coming aft ; passengers assisted in cutting a hole in the deck. At that time No. 2 hatch fell in and fire came up the hatchway. A hose was got down. It was too hot to remain near, but the flames were kept below deck. The pumps were pumping nine hours about 40 tons an hour. The vessel was getting by the head and 5ft. of water was reported in No. 1 hold. He had one hose in No. 1 hatch, one in No. 2, and one keeping the deck cool and to put out occasional fires in the hospital. The Carmania arrived about noon, ship's time, came across their stern, and lowered a boat. By that time the foremast had sagged into the next deck, tackles had been rigged to stay the mast, and it was wedged up. The burning deck-planks were being taken up and thrown overboard. The Volturno was still going slow, head to wind. The second officer cut the boats' falls to make ropes to assist the Carmania's boat if it got alongside. The suggestion that the falls had been cut earlier, letting the boats down, was wrong. The Carmania reported by wireless telegraphy that her boat could not get alongside. The Carmania suggested she should go and look for the missing boats, and when the Marconi operator reported that the Seydlitz and the Grosser Kurfürst were getting close he asked the Carmania to search. She said she would go 12 miles north-west and circle round. The Volturno had been drifting and steaming at 2
½ knots for about five hours. The Carmania returned about 3 or 4 o'clock and reported that she only passed some floating air-tanks out of the lifeboats and saw no boats. The Seydlitz had then arrived and dropped a boat, but the boat failed to reach the Volturno. The Carmania went to the southward of the Volturno, telegraphed that they had dropped six life-rafts over, and asked whether the Volturno had sufficient steam to go slow ahead. The engineer reported that there was not sufficient. The rafts floated by ahead of the Volturno.

  Mr. ACLAND. - Was it possible for the ships standing by to have done any more in the way of sending boats ? - I do not think so.

ATTEMPTS TO SAVE LIFE.

  The Carmania then got close up astern and attempts were made to pass a line. A rocket could not be fired to windward. Lines were attached to a life-buoy and also to an empty water-keg, but they were carried away. There was still steam on the pumps, but it was getting gradually less. Shortly after 5 o'clock the Kroonland arrived and came close to the stern. The passengers thought she was coming alongside, and shouted to her to come. When she steamed away there were cries and shrieks from the passengers. The Kroonland then sent a boat with experienced men, which made four attempts to get alongside but failed. The boat then got close to the stern and the witness tried to get some of the passengers to jump. No one would go, and the boat went away. The second officer suggested that he should get out No. 5 B boat (a lifeboat) as he thought if they went they would give a lead to the other ships to send their boats. The Grosser Kurfürst was just off the starboard bow about a quarter of a mile distant. The witness said that the attempt was foolhardy, but he said he would like to try, and the witness said if he could get volunteers he might go. The boat was swung out, but it could not be lowered right down, as the falls had been cut earlier when the Carmania's boat was near. It would have to be dropped into the water : the five men in the boat understood and were willing to take the risk. The Volturno was rolling so heavily that at times the shelter deck was level with the water, about 20 degrees of roll each way. The boat was dropped all right. He had intended to put passengers into her, but did not care to drop the boat with passengers into the water. The boat was found to be leaking, and the witness said that the men had better come out, but they preferred to go on, and he told them they could go at their own risk. It was an hour before he got word that the boat had got alongside the Grosser Kurfürst, and the men had been taken out and the boat lost.

  Mr. ACLAND. - What had been the behaviour of the passengers from the first ? When I was getting out No. 6 boat there were about three passengers standing on the boat deck watching. The rest were standing on the after deck ; there were cries and a little excitement, no panic.

  Continuing, the witness said the fires were drawn about 9 p.m. Between 9 and 10 he saw flames at the entrance to the saloon. He had a rocket in his hand and had been trying to get a line over the Kroonland's boat. He sent the rocket into the air, and with that the flames burst-out from the deckhouses. First the rockets which (being in use) were on the deck went off ; as the flames went up over the deck he went along by the funnel just as the magazine exploded. It contained the deck signals, gunpowder, and other explosives such as blue lights. With the explosion the " aerials " of the wireless went. He told the Marconi operators they need not stay in their house as they could do no more. The two operators had been at work since 7 a.m. without coming out, the junior carrying messages to the captain. The flames were then about 70ft. high for 20 minutes. The witness told the crew to jump as a boat came along and show the passengers how it was to be done. One or two of the crew jumped and the passengers then jumped also and were pulled into the boat. By 12.30 there were out of the crew only 10 left with the witness on board.

THE DEPARTURE OF THE CREW.

  Mr. ACLAND. - In your opinion were you justified in letting the crew leave the ship in the circumstances ? - I think that I was because I did not know at what minute the ship would go down ; the passengers would not go and I gave the crew a chance, also hoping that the passengers would follow. Some of the passengers did follow.

  The witness was afraid that the ship would not last till the morning, so he employed himself and the remaining crew in making small rafts in case it became necessary to put the passengers over the stern. The passengers were not aware that the fire was spreading under their feet. A lot of the women went to sleep with their children ; the men were smoking ; the Jews were on the port side having prayer meetings, and they were chanting all night. The Devonian came up close to the stern and was handy in case anything happened. The Carmania was outside the circle using her searchlight. She was a much larger ship than the others, and as she had turbines she was rather awkward to turn round. She was doing right in keeping outside and avoiding the risk of collisions. About 5 o'clock the sea had moderated a little ; the Devonian steamed abreast and dropped her boat. The men and women on the Volturno were then separated by a rope, the women to go first. Only two men made opposition. The first when the boat came alongside threw his child in the boat and it hit the thwart of the boat as he threw it. The witness knocked him down. He jumped up and jumped over the rope. The chief engineer tried to stop him, but he got into the boat, and the sailors down there gave him a hammering. A woman threw a child which fell between the boat and he ship. One of the Devonian's seamen at once dived over, the quickest thing the witness had ever seen. He got the child back. It was between the ship and the boat and might have been crushed at any minute. His name was Hazelwood.

  Mr. ACLAND. - You did not knock the woman down ? No, she caught hold of my arm and clung to me shrieking till the man had got the child back into the boat, and then she wanted to kiss me. Afterwards I noticed a man with an officer's coat on, and I knew there were no officers on board. The man tried to get over the rail into the boat. I knocked him down. He afterwards left the ship with me.

  Mr. ACLAND. - One second-class passenger alleged that you got a revolver during the night and were threatening some of the sailors because they were drinking the milk which was for the passengers ? I never thought of taking my revolver out of my room. During the night there were only two sailors left on board the ship, and they were making life-rafts for the passengers. I never had a revolver on me.

  By Mr. ASPINALL. - The chief officer, Mr. Miller, held an extra master's certificate and was a good and efficient officer in every way. The regulations about smoking were put up round the ship in five languages. Passengers were not allowed to smoke below deck.

  By COMMANDER CABORNE :- He did not think of throwing the magazine overboard during the fire. It might have saved the wireless apparatus, but there was a great deal to think about all the time.

  LORD DESART. - I gather that you suffered from your eyes ? - Yes, I was blind for three or four days.

  Mr. ACLAND. - There were 13 or 14 Minimax fire extinguishers on board. Why was no attempt made to use them ? They would have been of no use in a flame like that.

THE SECOND OFFICER'S EVIDENCE.

  Mr. E. L. Lloyd said, in answer to Mr. RAEBURN, that he held a second mate's certificate. He and other officers superintended the loading but knew nothing about the case of celluloid. On October 9 everything was right when he went round at 4 a.m., and there was no smell of tobacco smoke.

  The witness then went on to describe the rescue work. He said that the discipline among the crew very good. As to the passengers, a lot of men were praying, a lot of women were singing hymns, and others were weeping and wailing on the after deck. There was no struggling, but they all seemed ready for their doom, whatever it was. He had heard that some of the emigrants had jumped overboard in their terror, but did not see any.

  By Mr. BUCKNILL. :- He received a letter from the Council of Jewish Women, New York, dated October 17, expressing the appreciation of the Council for what they styled his magnificent and heroic deed.

  The Court adjourned till to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

December 2, 1913, page 21 - CONDUCT OF THE SHIP'S FIREMEN. THE ENGINEER'S EVIDENCE


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
CONDUCT OF THE SHIP'S FIREMEN.
----------------------
THE ENGINEER'S EVIDENCE.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last with the loss of 133 lives was continued yesterday before Lord Desart, Wreck Commissioner, and Commander W. F. Caborne, C.B., R.N.R., Vice-Admiral Wintz, R.N., Captain J. F. Ruthven, and Mr. E. C. Chaston, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  During the proceedings Mr. Acland handed in some photographs which had been received by the Board of Trade that morning from Captain Trant, of the Devonian. Some showed the progress of the fire at certain times and others the wake of the oil from the Narragansett.

  Mr. Robert Dewar, chief engineer of the Volturno, stated that after the outbreak of fire he assisted to ship the hand-gear, got the steam on the fire-extinguishing apparatus, and the pumps working. About 1½ hour after the outbreak of fire a small fire was reported in the bunkers. He ordered his men to get as much coal out on to the plates as they could as he knew a time would come when they could get no more. There was gas and smoke in the bunker and the men, though willing, were not able to remain, and only got out five or six tons. At 10.30 he reported to the captain that he would have to shut the water-tight doors of the bunkers or it would soon be impossible to work in the stoke-hold. When the doors were shut the fire was still burning in the bunker, and it was never completely got out, but water was coming down on the coal from a hose above. At 4 the steam began to go down. The main engines were stopped by the captain's orders about 2 p.m. The steam was sufficient to work the pumps slowly up to shortly after 9, when they failed altogether, and he gave orders to draw the fires. Then, as there was nothing more they could do, he asked the captain if the engine-room staff might  ave a chance with the passengers. They had worked very well, and there had been no shirking. The men then came up. The current from the dynamo gave out about 8 p.m., and the wireless was worked from accumulators till an explosion about 10 p.m. brought the aerials down. Those of the crew who were on board till the last were the captain, the witness, the chief Marconi operator, the second steward, two or three under-stewards, and two seamen.

JUMPING FOR THE BOATS.

  The engineers left between 11 and midnight. They had been trying to get the emigrants to jump for the boats, and he said some of the crew should show them how to do it. One of the fireman said, " Well, here goes." and jumped. He was a good swimmer, but could not get away from the ship which drifted down on him too fast. He caught a rope and was hauled up. They called through a megaphone for the boats to come nearer. They did so, and a lot of the passengers and some of the engineers then jumped. Two boats touched the side recklessly and were immediately filled with people. At the time the engineers left the vessel was burning so furiously that he thought she would go under before the morning. About 350 passengers were on board throughout that night. About 5.30 a.m. the boats of the rescuing ships returned, and all the passengers were passed down to them in safety, although the swell was still very heavy. When it became necessary to separate the men from the women, there was nothing in the nature of a rush. He assisted to put the women into the boats. One woman had a child lashed to her back. He took the child from her and adjusted her lifebelt. He handed the baby to a man standing by ; he did not know at the time that the man was the woman's husband. As the first boat approached, it missed the ladder but caught some tackle. The woman from whom he had taken the baby rushed to the davit, jumped to the rope and slid down. The boat swung away and the woman was dipped in the water two or three times. The boat got back alongside and took her in. The man then threw the baby into the boat. He believed that was the man the captain knocked down. The man's little girl was lowered by a bowline ; the man himself jumped to the rope and slid down before he could be stopped, and the men in the boat punched him. That was the only man who went down before the women were all clear. The Marconi operator was keeping the men back and had no difficulty in doing so. Everyone who stayed in the ship was saved.

  By CAPTAIN RUTHVEN. - He did not know whether the Westphalia coal was liable to overheat, but he had never had a fire in a bunker or any accumulation of gas.

  By LORD DESART. - He did not think the regulations against smoking by stevedores were always strictly observed. He did not think there was any danger of the passengers getting riotous ; they were easily appeased and did not seem inclined to be obstreperous. He had no theory as to the cause of the fire and knew of nothing in the cargo likely to explode.

  Mr. Acland said evidence as to that would be called after the facts had been submitted to an expert.

THE FIREMEN AND THE REVOLVER.

  Mr. F. D. Malcolmson, second engineer, said he was on watch with the fifth engineer when an explosion was heard.

  Mr. Acland. - It is suggested that the third engineer was threatening the fireman with a revolver ? - I do not know anything about it. I never saw a revolver the whole time. 

  Did the firemen at any time leave the stokehold ? - They naturally ran up at the first alarm. I went up and chased them down again.

  Did they need chasing ? - Not exactly. They came down quite willingly and I had no trouble with the men at all. I told them it was a matter of life and death for us all and it depended upon us. They said, " All right, Sir," and went and did their work well.

  After the fires were drawn (the witness continued) he assisted on deck trying to get the passengers to jump. To set them an example, some time after midnight, he jumped, and was picked up by the Kroonland.

  Mr. A. E. Pinch, third engineer, said he was awakened by the noise and went on deck. He could see flames 50ft. high and went below with the fourth engineer. He found the engine-room watch had gone on deck and he returned there. One of the men was on the boat-deck and he ordered him to go down below. The man said " No," and stood there looking very frightened. He ordered him down again, and, as he again refused, he drew a gun on him and thought he was justified in doing so. The man went below at once and afterwards worked well. The other men, who did not see the incident, went below without any trouble. He had slipped the revolver into his pocket as he left his berth ; the thought he might want it.

  Mr. Raeburn said a trimmer had stated that at 10 o'clock when a fireman had attempted to go on deck to get some fresh air the witness threatened to shoot him with his revolver.

  The witness replied that a man attempted to go up the ladder and he said the first man who attempted to go up he would shoot, but he did not show the revolver though the man knew he had it in his pocket. He was determined that the boilers should not fail, and they did not. He jumped into the sea about 11 p.m., and was picked up by the boat of the Grosser Kurfürst. The captain had told him to take a chance and show the passengers how to jump, but they were not inclined to jump.

  Captain Inch, recalled, said there was fire drill after boat drill on the first Saturday after leaving Rotterdam in every voyage. The carpenter and his mate were in charge of the fire axes and the boatswain and some of the crew of the hose. Others had instructions to put wet blankets over ventilators ; others were told off to keep a line across the deck to keep passengers back, and others again were in charge of the ladders. The fire signals to the engine-room were written up alongside the telegraph. After the boat and fire drill on the present voyage a seaman stood on the boat deck and showed the passengers how to put on a life-jacket.

  Mr. A. Schonstein, sixth engineer, whose evidence was interpreted, said he had a certificate as engineer granted by the Hungarian Government. During the fire he went about among the passengers telling them in various languages that the rescuing ships were coming. He also distributed life jackets and assisted in putting them on passengers.

  Mr. Raeburn, in reply to LORD DESART, said that, as far as was known, no women jumped from the Volturno.

TRAPPED IN THE FORECASTLE.

  Mr. V. Soderstrom, boatswain, said that at a quarter to 7 when the fire broke out he was aft. There were two quartermasters, two look-out men, and two boys in the forecastle. One of the boys who had been left behind to clear up the forecastle ran out and informed him that the forecastle was on fire. One of the quartermasters also escaped. The other four men were burnt to death. He did not hear of any emigrants being cut off by the fire in the forecastle. The stores contained paint, oil, brooms, and the cleaning gear of the ship. He used an electric portable lamp when in the stores, one with a long cable being used for both stores. The passage leading from the well-deck to the place where the four men were burnt was from 40ft. to 50ft. long. He smoked himself and his mate did also in the forecastle, but not in the stores. He had never used a match in the stores.

  The Court adjourned till to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.

December 3, 1913, page 21 - LAUNCHING OF THE SHIP'S BOATS


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
LAUNCHING OF THE SHIP'S BOATS.

--------------
THE BOATSWAIN'S STORY.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, with the loss of 133 lives, on October 9 and 10, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  LORD DESART asked to have one point cleared up. The rules which came into force on March 1, 1913, contained a provision that a sufficient proportion of the lifejackets should be of a size suitable for children, &c. Apparently in the present case it was considered that the rules were not applicable.

  Mr. Acland replied that there were in fact no lifejackets specially for children on board. As to the legal aspect of the matter he would like time to look into it.

  Mr. Soderstrom, boatswain, continuing his evidence, said that when the boy reported to him that there was a fire in No. 1 hold he got his men together to get the hose on, sent his mate to the engine-room to have the water put on, and reported to the chief officer. When he got to the forecastle he saw only black smoke. About 10 minutes later flames burst out. No. 1 hatch was still on, and the tarpaulin battened down. The ventilator on the forecastle head was plugged because in rough weather it might have been washed off and water might have got into the hold. Smoke was also coming from two booby hatches forward which led to the steerage quarters. Shortly afterwards flames burst out there, and soon after that the wooden No. 1 hatch was blown up by an explosion, which, though not loud, shook the ship. In 10 minutes the flames had reached as high as the foremast head. There were no fumes or peculiar coloured smoke. Later in the afternoon there was a strong smell of burning chemicals, but that was not noticeable in the early stages.

THE SHIP'S BOATS SMASHED.

  On the captain's orders he went round the deck getting the boat covers off and then to his own boat, No. 7. Some of the boat's crew were there. He was the only seaman in the crew, but he knew three others could pull, and expected the others could. Some passengers were already in the boat and he ordered them out while it was swung. Some had to be pulled out ; they were very frightened. As the boat passed the shelter deck passengers jumped in and filled it up. He had a steward on that deck to keep the passengers back, but the steward was the first to jump in himself. There were about 50 passengers and six of the crew in the boat when it was lowered to the water. He went down the after tackle, and had just got his foot on the stern sheets, with his hands still on the tackle, when the Volturno rolled. The boat got under her stern and the Volturno's counter came down on the boat and smashed it to pieces. He climbed up the tackle on board again and was followed by quartermaster Schmidt. The others were, he supposed, all drowned. After that he saw No. 8 boat smashed while being swung out. No. 12 had already gone ; that would be difficult to lower being near the propeller. He did not try to lower any more boats. While assisting to put the hand-gear in, he saw one of the Volturno's boats astern on the top of the waves, full of people. It was No. 2 or No. 6, and looked alright then. He assisted with the hoses, taking turns. They could not stand the heat and smoke for more than five or six minutes at a time. About midnight the captain told the men to show the passengers how to jump for the boats. He jumped and got to the boat of the Grosser Kurfürst. About 21 passengers followed, and he helped them in. Other boats were waiting, but the passengers would not jump. At about 9, when the magazine exploded, he saw six or eight passengers jump overboard through fright.

  By CAPTAIN RUTHVEN. - Boat No. 7 had not been released from the falls when she was smashed. He was going down the tackle to release it, as there was no one in the boat who could.

  Mr. G. Schmidt, quartermaster, gave confirmatory evidence.

  A. Saarinen, a Finn, able seaman, said he left the forecastle  about 6 a.m. There was no smoke or smell of fire then. After the outbreak he assisted with the hose and then went to the boats. His boat was No. 6. It was lowered to the water, and got away all right with 25 or 30 passengers, and some of the crew. He saw a quartermaster in the boat, and thought one deck man was enough, so he did not go. The quartermaster did not belong to that boat.

  Mr. Raeburn. - It was the quartermaster who had managed to escape from the forecastle, although burnt? - No, that one went in No. 2. Thos one's name was Lister. He was drowned. The one who was burnt was named Oller.

  LORD DESART. - About 10 did you hear any orders or permission given by the captain about men jumping overboard? Did you see people jump?  - Oh, yes, Sir.

  Did you hear of the captain giving any orders or permission about that time? - No, Sir.

  O. Gunderson, a Norwegian, able seaman, said he only assisted in one boat, one on the saloon deck. It was full of passengers and crew and the chief officer was in her. It was hard to tell whether she got to the water or not before she was smashed.

"EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF."

  He saw men jumping over ; some got to the boats and some had to come back as they could not get far enough.

  Mr. Acland.- Did you hear the captain say anything to the crew about jumping ? - Yes. He said " Every man for himself now." Then they jumped and tried to save their lives.

  You did not jump? - No, Sir.

  Why not ? - Oh (the witness laughed). I thought it was better to stay where I was, because I did not think there was much chance for me to get on any boat.

  The witness said he assisted the captain and others to make small rafts, as it was very hard to say what the ship would do after the explosions. In the morning he assisted to put the women and children into the boats. He went away in the " second last boat." There was plenty of bread given out during the night ; that was the only thing they could get to eat. There was also some water. He had been 46 years at sea and did not think the boats could have got alongside sooner than they did. The sea was too high and the ship rolling too much. They did not dare to come near till daylight.

  A. Lyngquist, able seaman, said that when the fire was reported, he went to his boat, No. 8. Passengers had crowded into her and had to be got out. They crowded in again, but were eventually got out. The boat was swung out, but was smashed against the ship's side when the vessel rolled. In the afternoon he got orders from some of the officers to get out boat 5 A. He heard a call for volunteers and went. Beside the second officer and himself there were Able Seaman Olsen, a trimmer, and a steward, five in all. The object was to get to the Grosser Kurfürst, and induce them to send their boats again to the Volturno. The boat got away. It was injured and leaking. There was a very heavy sea and they took three-quarters of an hour to get to the Grosser Kurfürst. When they got there their boat was nearly full of water and sank. They all got aboard and he heard the second officer ask the captain of the Grosser Kurfürst to send his boats to the Volturno.

THE ALARM OF FIRE.

  A. Kalving, carpenter, said at 6 on the morning of October 9 he was in the sailors' forecastle and there was no smell of fire or smoke there at that time. He finished sounding the tanks and bilges at 7.40 and entered the results in the captain's book. He the heard shouting, " Fire in No. 1 hold." He went to No. 1 hatch and saw smoke coming from the entrance to the steerage under the forecastle. He heard an explosion and saw Quartermaster Oller run out of the forecastle, his face was blackened and his skin burnt. He said, " There are four men burnt " - not that the men were dead. He saw No. 12 boat being lowered to the water filled with passengers when someone let go one of the falls and the occupants were all thrown into the water and drowned. The boat was afterwards cut adrift.

  J. Arends, a Dutchman, second carpenter, said the boy who ran out of the forecastle with the news of the fire was Dutch.

  LORD DESART said the evidence of the boy who discovered the fire would appear to be very material. It was desirable that he should be called, if possible.

  Mr. Acland said that efforts were being made to trace the boy.

  The witness added that he jumped into the sea and got on board one of the boats of the Seydlitz. There were 16 others of the crew in that boat and two passengers.

  The Court adjourned till to-morrow morning.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 5, 1913, page 6 - FINE WORK OF THE RESCUING SHIPS


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
FINE WORK OF THE RESCUING SHIPS.

--------------
CAPTAIN CAUSSIN'S STORY.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, with the loss of 133 lives, on October 9 and 10, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Abraham Dobbelaar, examined through a Dutch interpreter, said he was 16 years old and was deck-boy on the Volturno, having joined her on that voyage. On the 9th he got up at 6 a.m., cleared up the forecastle, and finished about 6.30. After that the chief steward came upstairs from under the steerage and cried out "Fire." He was a German steward, who was saved on the Kroonland. He came out of a thick smoke. There were two sailors and two quartermasters (who were in their bunks), and another deck boy in the forecastle. He told the cook in the galley and the boatswain, who was at work with a sailor, of the fire, and then went back. He sang out to the men in the forecastle, but he did not see what they did because he ran away at once. He had to run through thick smoke on the starboard side, but was not burnt or hurt. When he went back he only got as far as the saloon deck. Smoke was still coming up then from the starboard steerage entrance, but not yet out of the hatch. There was an explosion, and after the explosion flames, sometimes yellow and at other times red.

TWO WOMEN THROWN OVERBOARD.

  Michael Reidy, trimmer, said he was in his bunk and heard an alarm, but was going to sleep again when he smelt smoke and then he got up. He saw the smoke and flames, but was unable to get into the firemen's forecastle for his shoes. He went into the galley to warm himself and was asked to take bread round to the emigrants. He did so. He went on the deck and saw a man on the shelter deck with two women. The man lifted first one and then the other woman over the rail, threw them into the sea, and then jumped over himself. At that time the boats were being got out on the saloon deck, and there was no one near the three people.

  Mr. Acland. - The man would have to lift these women over the rail? - Yes. He was a big man, 6ft. tall.

  Had they lifebelts on ? - No.

  The witness, continuing, said an able seaman named Hearty, about 60 years of age, went over the side between 7 a.m. and 7.30. He said he did not want to be burnt and jumped over. He had no lifebelt.

  Mr. Acland. - Was he acting as if he had lost his head? - No, like as if a notion had just occurred to him, and he just climbed over.

  By LORD DESART. - At the time when Hearty jumped over, most of the officers and crew were either forward at the fire or at the boats.

  Mr. W. D. Brown, purser, said that after the alarm of fire he forced the lock of the place where the spare lifebelts were kept, and, after everyone had been supplied, there were still some lying about. The emigrants were supplied with coffee, bread, and hash ; the women and children had some milk, and everything possible was done for the comfort of the passengers.

RESCUE WORK OF THE CZAR AND LA TOURAINE.

  He left at 3 a.m. on the 10th, in a boat from the Czar, which came alongside. The Czar's boat made five trips from 1 a.m. onwards, and he went on the second or third trip of the boat, having been told some time before to take what chance he could, as it was no use him stopping.

  By Mr. Aspinall.- The passengers were obedient to the orders and directions given to them, and were very quiet.

  Mr. Acland said that if the witness's times were correct it would appear that the boat from the Czar was doing an extremely difficult piece of work.

  LORD DESART said the moon had sunk about midnight, and an hour later they still had this boat getting passengers off.

  Mr. Acland said the Czar seemed to have sent a boat which, arriving after the other boats had suspended work, made five trips in the pitch dark.

  Captain Charles Caussin, who gave evidence partly through a French interpreter and partly in English, said he was the captain of La Touraine. At 8 a.m. on October 9 he received the "S.O.S." signal from the Volturno. The Volturno was then 205 miles distant. His vessel was on its way from New York to Havre. He at once made for the Volturno and reached her at 10:30 p.m. There was a very heavy sea and wind. It was just possible to launch a boat. A boat was launched and got to the Volturno but could not get alongside. The Volturno was drifting very fast and would have drifted down quickly upon a boat on the lee side, so the officer took the boat round to the weather side. The officer put out lifebelts on ropes and shouted to the people to jump. Three jumped and were saved. The others would not jump. The boat returned and then made another trip to the Volturno with the same officer and a different crew. She got up to the lee side of the Volturno, where there were then tackles hanging down, and the boat got alongside right under some boat's tackles. Passengers jumped into her in large numbers, and the boat almost foundered. A second boat was sent and saved five persons on her first trip. She got alongside on her second trip at the same time as the first boat and seven men were transferred from the first boat to the second. They then returned to La Touraine. A large lifeboat was also sent, but was not handy enough to get near the Volturno, and she went back with the other two boats. It was then 3.30 a.m. His boats had been going between La Touraine and the Volturno since 10.30 the night before. The vessels were 1 ½ mile apart. At 3.30 a.m. he stopped sending boats, as he thought the sea was too rough, and decided to wait till daylight. At daybreak he sent the whale-boats again, but not the large boat. One brought back two women and 10 children, the other had eight men. He then received signals that there was no one left on board the Volturno.

  Mr. Dunlop asked the witness to accept the thanks of the owners of the Volturno for what he did to save life.

  LORD DESART said the Court appreciated the efforts he and his crew made and congratulated them on the lives they saved.

  Mr. Acland, on behalf of the Board of Trade, associated himself with Lord Desart's observations.

  Mr. Berkemeyer, steward, said he left the Volturno at 11 p.m. He jumped because the captain said " Everyone for himself. "

  LORD DESART. - Did he shout it out? Every man says it as if it was said personally him. - The captain was close to me, and I heard him say it.

  Mr. Raeburn.- Did he say it as if he was giving an order ? - Yes.

PASSENGERS FALL OVERBOARD.

  Robert Schlieblitz said he was a steam-cook. He heard the fire reported, and assisted to send the passengers aft. He then went to the boat deck, and tried to force the passengers from that deck. As the ship rolled the passengers were falling backwards, and many of them fell overboard. He could not say how many.

  By LORD DESART. - It was 8 a.m. when he saw the people fall from the boat deck. There were no rails on the boat deck, and those who tried to save themselves from falling clung to others and  pulled them down also. One boat had been launched.

  Mr. Acland said the plan showed that there was a rail forward of the boat.

  By LORD DESART. - He did not report the incident to any one, but others of the crew witnessed it.

  The Court adjourned till to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 6, 1913, page 6 - EVIDENCE OF THE WIRELESS OPERATORS


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
EVIDENCE OF THE WIRELESS OPERATORS.

--------------
THE SCENE ON DECK.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last, with the loss of 133 lives, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Otto Unger, steerage steward, who gave evidence in English, said that while going to the kitchen he saw numbers of the passengers and crew rushing aft and heard there was a fire. He went to the hospital, to persuade the women to come up, but some of them seemed crazy and were crying. He helped them up the ladder at last, and got them all out of the hospital. He then went to the boat deck. The crew were lowering a boat, and the passengers were trying to get into it. There were about 200 people on that deck, and the three or four men of the crew were unable to restrain them, so they took sticks and used them, and also punched and pushed the passengers back. He saw a Frenchman, who was quite crazy, take his daughter and throw her into the water, then his wife, and finally jumped overboard himself. There was no boat there, and they were all drowned. He tried to keep the people off the boat deck at the place where the boat had been and where there was no railing, but did not see any passengers fall off. One of the boats was lowered and was already full, but a number of passengers jumped down from the boat deck on to the other people. The boat was smashed in three pieces, and most of the people were drowned. There were plenty of lifebelts, and he put them on the children. He thought 80 people were drowned from the two boats he saw lowered. He saw 100 to 120 jump for the boats ; some were drowned. He had talked over the cause of the fire, and his opinion was that it was " self-combustion." There were rags in the cargo.

  He had seen emigrants smoking on this voyage ; it was impossible to stop it. Every time he went down he would find men with cigarettes. He had taken them away and thrown them overboard, but the next minute they would be smoking again. The emigrants would put their lighted cigarettes into the bed behind them when the stewards appeared. On the night before the fire there was no smoking among the passengers. No one slept ; it was a very bad night.

  By Mr. Bucknill. - There were notices against smoking in six languages.

  By LORD DESART. - He did not know before the fire that one of the passengers had cartridges in his baggage.

  E. Hause, a Dutch steward, said he assisted to keep the passengers back on the boat deck, but saw none fall overboard. He had seen emigrants smoking below, but not very often. On this voyage he had seen smoking on about three occasions.

SUMMONING THE RESCUE SHIPS.

  Mr. Walter Seddon said, in answer to Mr. Raeburn, that he was the senior Marconi operator on the Volturno, and Pennington was his assistant. He was awakened when the fire broke out. His assistant was on duty and at 7.15 when the witness reached the room he had just got the Seydlitz, which was 90 miles away, and was giving the Seydlitz the position of the Volturno, which had been written down on a piece of cardboard. He took over the receivers, sent the " S.O.S." out again, and immediately got the Carmania. All messages sent and received were entered in a log and made up into a procès-verbal, but on this occasion all papers and records were lost. Soon after, he got the Grosser Kurfürst, which had got the " S.O.S." from some other vessel. He requested the Carmania to look for the Volturno's missing boats, but when the Carmania came up she reported she had seen nothing of them. Other vessels arrived, and they reported what they were doing to the Volturno. He heard the Carmania send out a message to the other vessels that she could not do anything to help the Volturno and if anybody else had any suggestions she would stand by. About 9 p.m. he sent out one urgent message to the ships to do their best to get the passengers off as they were in a bad way.

  Mr. Dunlop said he had a copy of a message which read ; " Please come at once, urgent, as I must get all off. I must abandon ship, she's opening upper plates. - INCH."

  The witness said that about 7.45, ship's time, they had to change to the emergency gear. At 9.45 an explosion brought the aerials down and nothing more could be done, so he left the Marconi house. He stayed on board all night and left in the last boat. He assisted the passengers into the boats and went with the captain when he searched the vessel. He thought no one was left in the ship.

  Mr. Dunlop said he was requested by the owners to take this opportunity of publicly thanking the witness for his plucky services.

  C. J. Pennington, the junior Marconi operator, said he was on duty when the fire was reported. The captain told him to call for assistance and he sent the " S.O.S." The captain came again and gave him the position, and by that time he had got the Seydlitz and reported it to the captain. Later at night he heard the captain say, " Well, the passengers refuse to jump, you must give them a lead ; those who are not really required on board give them a start to go." He at first hesitated, but finally jumped and was picked up by the Kroonland's boat.

  Mr. Dunlop thanked the witness on behalf of the owners for his services on board.

  John Neil, engine-room storekeeper, said he slept amidships with the firemen. At 7.15 a.m. he found smoke in the room. It smelt like burning rags and came from a ventilator.

  Mr. Goodliffe, inspector of the Marconi Company, stated that at the request of the Board of Trade he had collected all the Marconi messages from the different ships which assisted the Volturno except the Czar, which was not under the control of the Marconi Company. He handed in copies of the messages.

  M. Larsovick, a Russian Jew, a third-class emigrant, said he saw some of the passengers cut the ropes off a boat and let it into the water. There was none of the crew there. He did not jump from the ship because, he said, " I would rather stop on the ship and die naturally, as God wished me to die, than go into the water and drown myself." When the boats came he went down a ladder into a boat. Asked if he had any complaints to make against any one in the Volturno, he said he had not, " unless it be of God."

  The Court adjourned till Monday.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 9, 1913, page 23 - FURTHER STORIES OF THE RESCUE WORK


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
FURTHER STORIES OF THE RESCUE WORK.

--------------
CAPTAIN INCH AND HIS DOG.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last, with the loss of 133 lives, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Louis Barbieux, a steerage passenger, said that he had about 30 cartridges in his baggage in his cabin, and told Unger, the steward, of them. They were not burnt in the fire ; he threw them overboard.

  Captain Kreibohm, master of the Kroonland, Red Star Line, said he picked up a message sent by the Carmania about the Volturno when he was about 120 miles from the indicated position, and reached the Volturno about 5.30 p.m. His first boat went away about 7 p.m. and came back at 9 without saving any of the passengers, though she tried on both sides of the Volturno. Two boats went at 10 o'clock, and one brought back 10 and the other three passengers about 1 a.m. Between then and 6 a.m., the moon having set, it was very dark. All the boats could go by was the Carmania's searchlight, which was more irritating than useful. It was, in his opinion, a nuisance. The fire was apparently not making progress and it was decided to await daylight. At 6 a.m. the boats went again ; one saved 28, another 24, and a third 23 passengers.

THE USE OF OIL.

  He saw the Narragansett pumping out oil, which was of assistance to that vessel's own boats as it made a convenient track, but he did not think it assisted his boats to any extent. He used oil from his own ship on the weather side of the Volturno, before his first boat left. It took the white caps off the waves, which was an advantage, but still left a heavy swell. It was fish oil, thick and sticky. His boats saved 75 passengers and 13 of the crew. Captain Inch came last with his dog in his arms. Captain Inch gave him the dog in gratitude for what he had done.

  Mr. Aspinall, on behalf of his clients, thanked Captain Kreibohm for his efforts.

  LORD DESART said the Court appreciated the services of the witness, his officers, and the crew, and thought they might well be congratulated.

  Captain Frederick John Harnden, captain of the Rappahannock, said he was 160 miles away when he got the Volturno's position from the Carmania. He arrived at the burning vessel, and a quarter of an hour after midnight he launched a boat in charge of his chief officer with eight men, all volunteers. It came back at 3.30 a.m., the chief officer reporting that he could not get within 50ft. of the Volturno, which was drifting before the wind and sea, and really there was no lee side. A little before 6 a.m. the boat went again and got alongside. She brought back 15 women and four children. The boat went again, but there were so many boats round the Volturno that she could not get near, nor was she then required.

  Mr. Aspinall expressed the thanks of the owners and their appreciation of what the witness and his crew had done to save life.

  By CAPTAIN RUTHVEN. - He did not think the oil from the Narragansett was of assistance to his boat.

  By COMMANDER CABORNE. - The Volturno was driving as fast as the oil. He agreed that the oil would, by taking the caps off the waves, have been of inestimable assistance, but the sea was going down.

  By LORD DESART, - The flames of the Volturno could be seen 20 miles off. He would not express any opinion as to whether oil from the lifeboats themselves, when they were lying close to the Volturno, would have been of assistance.

  LORD DESART expressed the Court's appreciation of the services rendered by the witness and his crew.

  Mr. Acland read several affidavits which had been made by passengers and members of the ship's company. He had, he said, rejected some which made certain charges against officers. These did not seem to be substantiated, and, on his own responsibility, he refused to put them before the Court.

  The PRESIDENT agreed, and said it would be obviously unfair to make a charge against any officer who was not given an opportunity of cross-examining his accuser.

A SUSPICIOUS SMELL OF SMOKE.

  Solomon Wechler deposed that he was a third-class passenger. About 9 p.m. on Wednesday he was standing near his sleeping quarters aft of No. 1 hatch when he and some other passengers noticed a slight smell of smoke. That attracted attention because no one was smoking at the place at the time. The next morning the fire broke out.

  Mr. Acland said unfortunately they had not been able to get that witness to attend. He was at New York when he made his deposition, and was the only person who spoke as to the smell of smoke.

  W. Reisewitz, second steerage steward, stated, in the course of his deposition, that, while fighting the fire, he noticed that neither the hose he had nor the one which the chief engineer had had any nozzle on. The metal connexions were covered with green mildew and the hoses leaked badly.

  Mr. Acland said that had been denied by Captain Inch.

  Hendrik Meunema, second cook, deposed that smoking downstairs was not forbidden, and the emigrants smoked. The fire might have been caused by the end of a cigarette thrown carelessly and blown into the hold.

  Joseph Burns, able seaman, deposed that new fire hose was taken on at Rotterdam.

  Mr. Acland said it had been arranged that Captain Barr should not be called before 2.15 today as he had encountered rough weather and had been up all night and did not wish to travel during the night.

  The Court adjourned till to-day.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 10, 1913, page 4 - CAPTAIN BARR'S STORY OF THE CARMANIA'S SERVICES


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
CAPTAIN BARR'S STORY OF THE CARMANIA'S SERVICES.

---------
POSSIBLE CAUSE OF THE FIRE.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno, with the loss of 133 lives, on October 9 and 10, was continued yesterday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., Captain J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Johannes Schmidt, master of the Dutch steamer Charlois, of Rotterdam, deposed that on October 17 last, at 9 p.m., he sighted a derelict in latitude 45deg. 44min. N. and longitude 36deg. 44min. W. and sent a boat. The contents were reported still burning. At daybreak another boat went, and the derelict was found to be the Volturno. She was totally burnt out. The foremast was hanging over the side, the aftermast lying on the poop, and the deck and the bridge had caved in. Under the forecastle were several bodies, at least four, completely burnt and unrecognizable. The engine-room was in good condition. He decided to have the vessel sunk, as she was a danger to navigation. The chief engineer uncovered the inside injector, which let a 10in. stream of water in. When the vessel was left the water had already reached the platform of the engine-room.

  Mr. Alexander Trotter, electrical adviser to the Board of Trade, said the Volturno had a single wire electric light system, and he saw nothing in the electrical fittings which would account for the fire.

  Mr. Percy Vivian Dupré, analytical consulting chemist and adviser to the Home Office, stated the results of his examination of samples of chemicals which he had received from the Board of Trade. These included chloride of barium, nitrate of barium, nitrate of strontium, and oxide of barium (super-oxide). He thought it very unlikely that the fire was caused by people smoking, because the steerage passengers were nowhere near the inflammable part of the cargo. The possibility seemed rather remote, but in the very heavy rolling of the ship a barrel containing barium might have become injured, and if any of the stuff got out and there was friction with wood fire would undoubtedly be caused.

THE WORK OF THE CARMANIA.

  Captain James Barr, commander of the Carmania, stated that he received a wireless from the Volturno on October 9 that she was on fire in Nos. 1 and 2 holds, and at once made for the position. His vessel made about 16½ knots. He had lines put round the Carmania just about the level of the water line and ladders and group lights hung over the side. He told the doctor and purser to prepare, picked out two good boat's crews, and had six boats ready for immediate lowering. He arrived off the Volturno, got to leeward, lowered a boat, and then sheered out of the way. The boat could not reach the Volturno, the sea was so rough, and he picked it up after it had been away two hours. Life rafts were thrown over, but the Volturno could not pick them up. He then manœuvred his vessel so that his stem got within 100ft. of the Volturno's stern, but it was not practicable to get lines on board as they would have snapped like cotton. Other vessels were round the Volturno then and he took up the weather position as it was getting dark. He sent the following message to all the steamers round:- " Tried a boat and dropped rafts, cannot do more under existing conditions. This ship hard to manœuvre. If any suggestions or attempts will keep clear." He meant that he would keep out of the way and not hamper anything the other vessels did.

  At 9.30 p.m. or so he saw a great blaze on the Volturno and the Grosser Kurfürst started sending her boats. He did not send his own boats because from his position to windward it would have been difficult to reach the Volturno. His main idea was to keep his broadside clear to drift down on people in the water if the Volturno had to be abandoned. He never left the job and was on the bridge all night. During the night he picked up many boats. One was the boat from the Minneapolis which had been away from that vessel five hours. Her crew were exhausted and were taken on board the Carmania, the boat being abandoned. At daylight it was still difficult for him to send boats from his position. He thought then, and he still thought, that he did the best he could.

  Mr. Aspinall said he thought so too and, on behalf of the owners, thanked the witness for what he had done.

  LORD DESART said the Court were quite satisfied that in the circumstances Captain Barr used a very wise discretion in acting as he did.

  Mr. Francis Gardner, chief officer of the Carmania, who went in charge of the boat with a volunteer crew, stated that soon after he got clear a sea struck the boat and two oars were broken and one washed away. Shortly afterwards another sea carried away all the oars except three. He then threw out the sea-anchor and kept using oil.

  LORD DESART said every one could appreciate the witness's skill in seamanship - his bravery was a matter of course - in his efforts and those of his crew to save the lives of the Volturno's passengers.

  Mr. Aspinall associated himself with those remarks.

  The COURT adjourned till Thursday.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 12, 1913, page 4 - ADDRESSES OF COUNSEL


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
ADDRESSES OF COUNSEL.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last, with the loss of 133 lives, was continued yesterday before Lord Desart, Wreck Commissioner, and Commander W. F. Caborne, C.B., R.N.R., Vice-Admiral Wintz, R.N., Captain J. F. Ruthven, and Mr. E. C. Chaston, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Mr. ASPINALLL, addressing the Court, first expressed sympathy with the relatives of the unfortunate people who lost their lives. According to the evidence the Volturno had made a profit of about £30,000 in three years, and in that time about £10,000 had been spent on her upkeep. She had certificates from the American and Dutch authorities. There was also the passenger certificate of our Board of Trade. It was overwhelmingly proved that the vessel was in good seaworthy condition and her boat equipment considerably in excess of the Board of Trade requirements when she was surveyed. She was not an emigrant ship nor a foreign-going ship within the Acts. She was fitted with a Marconi installation, and but for that it was highly probable that the lives of all on board would have been lost. Mr. Aspinall drew a distinction between rules made under the Acts by the Board of Trade, and instructions issued by the Board to its own surveyors. The latter regulations would not bind shipowners. Assuming that, according to certain provisions not applying to the Volturno, the number of deck-hands should have been 28, and that the number in the Volturno was 23, there were still enough in the Volturno, and it might well be that some of the engineers and stewards had experience of the sea. As to the cause of the fire, the official of the Board of Trade said that it could not be traced to the electrical apparatus. Their chemical expert, Mr. Dupré, while saying that possibly it might have been caused by the friction of barium peroxide, did not attribute to that theory a high degree of probability. On the other hand, trustworthy witnesses spoke of the fire originating in the steerage, and there was the testimony of Unger and others as to the impossibility, with the class of passengers they had on board, of restraining the practice of smoking.

  Lastly, as to the efforts after fire had broken out. The chief responsibility was on the captain, and Captain Inch was not found wanting. The master and crew also showed remarkable grit, pluck, and endurance under the awful stress of the disaster. While it might have been better if the boats had not been lowered, and if all the energy of the maser and crew had been used in fighting the fire, the captain was justified in letting the boats go. The letter sent from the secretary of the Jewish Women's Association was a striking testimony to the behaviour of the officers and crew.

MR. ACLAND'S SPEECH.

  Mr. ACLAND said that since 1906 the number of fires at sea had risen from 11 total losses in 1906 to over 20 in 1912, having been higher in the interval, and the increase in cases of damage by fire was from 200 to over 300. As to the number of deck-hands, a Conference was now sitting in London to consider, among other things, the number of deck-hands to be carried, and there was an effort to provide two for each boat, which would have led to the Volturno carrying 38. The stewards called the attention of the emigrants in the Volturno to the fact that they were not allowed to smoke. Smoking nevertheless went on. When caught, the men put their lighted pipes, &c., into their beds. That was reported to the chief steward, who apparently did not inform the captain, and therefore no steps were taken by those below deck to enforce that necessary provision for the safety of all on board. With regard to the fire drill, there was no particular duty assigned to the captain, and the only criticism he would have to make of Captain Inch was that, when the fire broke out, he tried to do too much. Counsel paid a high tribute to the conduct of the two Marconi operators.

  Mr. Acland had not finished his speech at the rising of the Court, and the inquiry was adjourned till to-morrow.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


December 15, 1913, page 15 - A GREAT STORY OF RESOURCE AND COURAGE


THE VOLTURNO INQUIRY.
----------------------
A GREAT STORY OF RESOURCE AND COURAGE.

  The inquiry into the burning of the Volturno on October 9 and 10 last, with the loss of 133 lives, was continued on Saturday before LORD DESART, Wreck Commissioner, and COMMANDER W. F. CABORNE, C.B., R.N.R., VICE-ADMIRAL WINTZ, R.N., CAPTAIN J. F. RUTHVEN, and Mr. E. C. CHASTON, R.N.R., Assessors.

  Mr. R. B. D. Acland, K.C., and Mr. W. N. Raeburn appeared for the Board of Trade ; Mr. Aspinall, K.C., Mr. C. R. Dunlop, and Mr. A. Bucknill for the owners, officers and charterers ; and Mr. Lewis Noad for the underwriters and owners of the cargo.

  Mr. Acland, who resumed his speech, first discussed the evidence as to the appearance of smoke and the discovery of fire, and submitted that the proper conclusion seemed to be that the fire broke out underneath No. 1 steerage emigrants' quarters. He did not think a cigarette, cigar, or pipe-ash could have caused the fire because he could not see how it could have got into the hold under the steerage. It was possible that one of the barrels of barium oxide got damaged in the heavy rolling and spilt its contents on the wooden deck. He next dealt with the question whether it was right to lower the boats. It was known now that if the boats had not been lowered the loss of life would have been less, but that was not sufficient to condemn Captain Inch, who had to deal with the matter as it presented itself at the moment. As soon as he knew other vessels were coming he gave the order to lower no more boats. Apparently the order did not at once reach the after part of the ship, or 30 or 40 more lives might have been saved. The most important question was whether proper discipline was maintained. The passengers at first lost their heads and there was great want of discipline. It was clear, however, that proper measures were taken for the safety and comfort of the passengers during the fire and throughout the night. As to the crew, it was noticeable that there were 11 in the first boat that went away, and six in the second, making 17, which seemed more than a reasonable allocation. Of the officers, he could say nothing except what was greatly to their credit, except perhaps as to the third officer, Mr. Dusselmann, who had frankly stated that he did not know why he left the ship when he did. The firemen stuck to their task like men and the stewards also did their work well. A difficult question was whether the crew ought to have left after 9.30 p.m. the crew were 93 in number ; up to that time there were burnt or drowned about 30, and five had gallantly manned the second officer's boat to induce other ships to send help. That left 58, and the next morning there were only eight men to 200 or 300 passengers - 50 had jumped during the night. Captain Inch's explanation was that he could not induce the passengers to jump for the boats and requested the crew to jump, one or two at a time, to give them a lead. That would seem to be, not a breach of discipline, but an extremely courageous action. Referring to the services of the rescuing vessels, he said that what they did was on the whole a splendid piece of work, and that he was sure the captains who had not been able to attend the inquiry would have received the same commendation as those who had been present.

  It was a great story, Mr. Acland said in conclusion, and, whenever it was told, it must redound to the credit of Captain Inch and Mr. Dewar and those who stuck to them to the very last, that they were able to show that splendid resource in fighting the fire, that tenacity which never knew defeat, and that magnificent courage which brought them through to the end.

  LORD DESART said the thanks offered to the captains who gave evidence would have been extended also to those who could not come. Judgment, he added, might be delivered next Saturday.

  Solicitors. - The Solicitor to the Board of Trade (Sir R. Ellis Cunliffe) ; Messrs. Parker, Garrett, and Co. ; Messrs. W. A. Crump and Son.


If YOU have any new data about the Volturno, or in any way related to the Volturno, I would welcome your dropping me a line.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 01. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

To the Special Pages Index.

A SITE SEARCH FACILITY
Search for
Get a Free Search Engine for Your Web Site

THE GUEST BOOK - GO HERE

E-MAIL THIS LINK

Enter recipient's e-mail: