ABERDEEN BUILT SHIPS


Name
BENACHIE
Type
STEAMER, CARGO
Date
1872
Official Number
65089
Description
Yard Number: 181
Iron Screw Steamer, schooner rigged

Registered 12 March 1872

Description: 2 decks, 2 masts, schooner rigged, round stern, clencher built, no galleries or figurehead, iron frame.
Engines; 2 inverted direct acting compound, estimated horse power 64.
Crew space; upper forecastle, officer's mess, engineers' mess, cabins for 1st mate, 2nd mate, 1st, 2nd & 3rd engineers, carpenter & boatswain.

Initial owners - Thomas Adam, John Birnie Adam, Thomas Adam Jnr., Alexander Chivas Adam. Subsequent smaller shares (mostly 2 or 4 /64) sold to George Harley, James Wiliam Barclay, Thomas Alexander Wiliam Andrew Youngson, Alexander Dunbar Milne; all either merchants or advocates in Aberdeen.

1872 master Fentie, port of survey Aberdeen, destined voyage Mediterranean. Vessel lost in Straits of Gibraltar 3rd August 1873.

Derby Mercury, 31/7/1872:
50 Russian cattle on board steamer BENACHIE, in Leith roads, were slaughtered & carcasses thrown into sea. Privy Council has issued order prohibiting import of cattle from Russia.

Glasgow Herald, 28/8/1873:
HMS LORD WARDEN, on passage Gibraltar-Cadiz, picked up the crew of 23 of British steamer BENACHIE, Capt. Fentie, of Aberdeen which foundered head first off Tarifa (near Cadiz). Vessel suddenly opened out forward & sank so rapidly the crew had only time to save their lives by taking to the boats, the compressed air causing an explosion in the after part as she went down. She had sprung a leak 6 hours before, but they were in hopes of overcoming it with the pumps so as to fetch her to Gibraltar, before reaching which the disaster occurred. BENACHIE was of 1150 tons burthen and had on board 1300 tons coal to Leghorn (Liverno). Crew being totally destitute of everything but what they stood in, officers & men of LORD WARDEN made a subscription for the shipwrecked seamen & they were treated with the greatest kindness & sent by the HELICAN to Gibraltar.

The Times November 25, 1873:
'We also have the report by the Court of Inquiry held as to the loss of the steamship Benachie, at Aberdeen, on the 6th inst. The Benachie left Newcastle on the 26th of July last, with a cargo of 1,150-tons of coal, exclusive of "50 tons which she carried in her bunkers. All went well till 5a.m. of August 3, about 14 miles from Tarifa, in the Straits of Gibraltar, when the chief officer noticed she was much by the head. On sounding 5ft. 6in. of water was found in the forehold and 15in of water in the main ballast tanks. The pumps were set to work, but the water rapidly gained upon them, and about 10:30 the crew were ordered into the boats, which had been previously lowered in view of this emergency. Three minutes after being left, the ship went down by the head. The crew were picked up about three quarters of an hour afterwards by Her Majesty's ship Lord Warden. 'The wind at the time was from the S.E., with a slight chopping sea, but altogether moderate. In ascertaining the probable causes of the disaster, were found that they naturally limited themselves to three points for our investigation:-1. Had the Benachie received any previous injury 'by stranding or striking any floating object: The evidence is quite conclusive as to her never having received injury of any kind. 2. Whether she had been well and strongly built; whether her form was adapted for heavy cargoes; and whether the sluice valves, pumping arrangements, &c., were good and serviceable fitting. As to construction, &r., the evidence is most conclusive as to the care with which she was built and surveyed. With regard to the form of the Benachie, she was designed, and certainly adapted, for carrying large general cargoes with a good rate of speed, the entrance and run being line, with a very full body. The floor was very flat, with a quick bilge, the radius being only five feet, a form, or opinion, ill adapted for heavy cargoes, such as iron ore. Mr, Wilson, the manager to Messrs. Hall, Russell, and Co., of Aberdeen, stated that the Benachie to have been adapted for the ore trade would have required additional strength. The master appears to have represented to one or other of the superintendents that if continued in the ore trade she would require to be strengthened an opinion which appears to have been arrived at from his noticing the vibration of the forecastle. 3. Whether she was overladen on this voyage, or whether she had been previously overladen to such an extent as to severely strain her frame and shake the rivets. Some of the witnesses stated that they had observed the boiler moving; others observed the forecastle head twisting; the master noticed much more vibration in the Benachie than in any other steamer. Mr. Hill, the then chief officer, often spoke of the straining of the ship, attributing it to the heavy cargo it was also stated that the ship was generally more uncomfortable in wet and heavy weather than other ships. The firemen in rough weather elected to remain in the engine-room rather than risk going to their berths in the forecastle. Captain 'Taylor, the superintendent, admitted having beard the crew, after some of the voyages, talking about the straining in a manner intended for him to hear, and yet he states that he never considered it his duty to ascertain if there was any ground for their observations. There can be no doubt that this staining was aggravated by the speed the Benachie would appear to have been driven at when loaded with such heavy cargoes. Upon a careful review of the whole evidence, we can come to no other conclusion than that the ship was generally on her homeward voyages overladen. The cargoes of iron are not only much in excess of the coal cargoes, but, stowed as they were, without trunkways, must have brought excessive strain on every part of the ship, and we have no doubt whatever that the cause of the foundering was from the starting of a butt or plate which had been previously overstrained by the excessive weight of the cargo she had carried on her former voyages. We are further of opinion that, taking into consideration the cargo the Benachie had onboard at the time of her loss, her clear side was far too small. This, it is true, was not the direct cause of her loss; but it is our duty to point out that to sail with so low a freeboard was unquestionably hazardous. Captain Taylor asserted that the master, G.E. Fentie was responsible for the homeward cargo. and Captain Fentie himself assumed that responsibility. At the same time it is manifest to all who have had much experience in shipping matters that an energetic master has a strong temptation to bring home such cargoes as will make his vessel as remunerative to his employers as possible. It also appears that Captain Fentie was not discouraged in bringing home such cargoes as were, in our opinion, excessive. There is no evidence to show that Messrs. Adams and Co. were directly aware of the effect of the ore cargoes in their ships, but we do think that the very large cargoes their ship carried should have caused them to make proper inquiries as to her capability of carrying them.. But we can easily understand, judging from the extraordinary evidence given by Captain Taylor, their superintendent, how they may have been misled. The absurdity of his opinion that two feet of clear side was quite safe must be apparent even to non-nautical minds when sending a ship to encounter the heavy seas of Bay of Biscay, which are frequently as high as 20 feet. We have little reason to doubt that the witnesses were correct in saying that many vessels engaged in the coal and iron ore trades are to be seen as deeply laden as the Benachie but that circumstance renders it all the more important that we should point out the danger attending such a practices, and unhesitatingly pronounce our condemnation of it. SHIPPING DISASTERS.'

Owner
Adam & Company, Aberdeen
Shipbuilder
Hall, Russell & Company, Limited
Dimensions
length 230 7/12' x breadth 30 1/12' x depth 17 1/12'
Gross Tonnage: 1065 ton

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