ABERDEEN BUILT SHIPS


Name
AGNES BLAIKIE
Construction
WOOD
Type
BARQUE
Date
1841
Description
Port of registry: Aberdeen (1841), Swansea (1849), Bristol (1852), London (1855)

1 deck and a poop deck, 3 masts, barque rigged, standing bowsprit, square stern, carvel built, imitation galleries, female bust figurehead.

Subscribing Owners:
George Thompson Jnr. Shipowner, 12 shares; Alexander Jopp, Advocate, 11 shares; Henry Paterson, Banker, 10 shares; all Aberdeen.
Other Shareholders:
Thomas Blaikie, Plumber, 11 shares; Alexander Anderson, Advocate, 10 shares; Robert Shand, Advocate, 10 shares; all Aberdeen.
Master in 1841: Alexander Duthie
Registration cancelled 1st July 1850 in Aberdeen, now registered in Swansea.
(Source: Aberdeen Register of Shipping (Aberdeen City Archives))

1843-47: Master A. Duthie; Owner G. Thompson; Voyage Aberdeen - Cuba
1848-49: Master Bridgeford; Owner G. Thomspon; Voyage Swansea - Valparaiso
1849-50: Master A. Duthie; Owner G. Thompson; no voyage recorded
1850-52: Master W. Howey; Owner W. Jenkins; no voyage recorded
1852-53: Master not recorded; Owner H. Dobbin; Voyage Swansea - Australia
1855: No recorded in Lloyd's Registers
Notes:
1850: Some repairs.
1850: Registered in Swansea.
1853: Registered in Bristol.
(Source: Lloyd's Register of Shipping)

Shipowners:
George Thompson Jnr., Aberdeen Line (1841)
W. Jenkins and Co (1849)
John Richardson, John Crow Richardson, Swansea Wales (30/06/1852)
Henry Dobson, 81 Princess Street, Bristol (05/02/1853)
W. Dobbin (1852 (?)
Jordison (1855)

Name of the captain:
Alex Duthie (1841)
Thomas Thomas (1852)
Richard Pernam (December 1854 - March 1855)
Henry Hamden (March 1855 - May 1855)

Members of crew: 12 (1855)

Port of the first destination: Santiago de Cuba

Date of shipwreck: 5 May 1855
Place of shipwreck: the Black Sea, Crimea, near Balaklava

Sank off Balaklava after a collision with HMS MEDINA on 5th May 1855, having sailed from Woolwich to Malta with munitions for the Crimean war. Crew said to have survived.

The Times, Friday December 22nd 1854 - Naval and Military Intelligence:
'Yesterday the Oscar transport hauled out into the river from Woolwich Dockyard with 158 tons of ordnance stores, and the Agnes Blakey (sic), with 180 tons of shot and 250 of coke for the Crimea.'

Lloyd's Lists state:
22 January 1855: 'sailed Thames for Malta (Capt Perriam)'
16 February 1855: 'arrived Malta from Woolwich'.
15 April: 'sailed Malta for Balaklava (Capt 'Hamden')'
26-30 April: 'arrived Constantinople from Malta (Capt 'Harnden')'
21 May: 'The AGNES BLAIKIE from Malta to Balaklava was run down by HMS MEDINA
about 5 May off the latter port.'
(Lloyds List quoted with thanks to the Marine History Information Exchange Group)


"Agnes Blaikie which carried a governmental cargo from Malta to Balaklava sank with it off the latter port after a collision with the paddle steamer HMS Medina.
"The circumstances of this tragic accident have been found in the logbook of HMS Medina which is kept in the British National Archive.
ON HER MAJESTY'S SERVICE
HMS Vessel ' Medina ' Saturday 5th day of May 1855
PM 3.45 Came in collision with the Barque " Agnes Blaikie " cutting her down to the waters edge, immediately reversed engines.
3.50 Lowered cutter and sent her alongside to tender assistance to crew, and made every preparation for taking ship into tow she apparently being in a sinking state
4. Cutter returned with crew of Barque and their clothes.
4.30 Steamed towards the Barque for the purpose of taking her in tow, but could not proceed close to the ship, fearing jib boom and jib Bowsprit gear getting foul of paddle wheels. Therefore despatched cutter to bring hawsers, while clearing the wreck. But before cutter could reach, the vessel was observed to sink. Leaving only her Main and Mizzen mast heads in sight, and a little of Port Quarter above water.
4.45 Proceeded towards Balaklava.
6.00 Despatched a boat with Commander into Balaklava
7 Boat returned, proceeded full speed towards the wreck, and remained keeping her in sight until 8.30, when suddenly losing sight of her, it was supposed that she had entirely sunk, but remained outside the whole night under weigh for the purpose of leaving in the morning whether she had gone down or not
HMS Vessel ' Medina ' Sunday 6th Day of May 1855
AM Damages sustained by collision with the merchant Barque " Agnes Blaikie ", Bowsprit, Jib boom Head Rails and Cut water carried away, about 10 feet of stem splintered and wood ends on starboard side started. Oars ash... 2 Hooks Boat... in 2 x lost alongside wreck trying to take her in tow. 11 men from the Barque " Agnes Blaikie " victualed on board am 2/3
6 Despatched a boat into Balaklava harbour with Commander
9.40 Boat returned. Proceeded full speed towards Kayatch Bay.
11.45 Anchored."
(Source: www.wrecksite.eu (blackseadiving.ru))

The Royal Navy petty officer on watch on board HMS Medina, and therefore committed suicide following the accident, although his name was not mentioned in press reports.

The wreck of the AGNES BLAIKIE has been discovered and is being dived by a Russian diving crew. Since 2006 the Underwater Heritage Department of Ukraine decided to take the shipwreck under its protection, to install a memorial tablet and to regulate dives on it.

Mystery of a British Sailer by Alexander Lyutenkov:
According to the Lloyd's Register, this was a merchant sailing vessel built in 1841 in Aberdeen on the Walter Hood shipyard. The Aberdeen Lines owned the sailboat until 1849, and her expedition to Cuba in 1843 is reflected in the archives. Her next owner was W. Jenkins & Co., and according to 1853 entry, the vessel was owned by a certain Mr. Dobbin of Bristol, who used it on the Australian lanes. In 1854 the Agnes Blaikie, as many other ships, was chartered by the British Government for servicing the Crimea military campaign. The route was as follows: England - Malta - the Crimea. The Agnes Blaikie left Britain for Malta with the war cargo on board. According to the information of British historians, the Agnes remained in Malta for two months. During that time the ship changed the captain and, most probably, the cargo. Accordingly, the vessel could leave for Balaklava with an unspecified cargo. To identify it was the main task of the divers who examined the holds. Most probably, it was stowed with some military equipment or provisions, because shipping of the food supplies from Malta was a routine practice. I can assure you that the Agnes Blaikie had nothing to do with the sunken gold, which was sought for on the Black Prince.
- In what circumstances was Agnes lost?
There was a collision in the Balaklava bay with the naval hydrographic ship Medina. It was a paddle-wheeled steam-boat, nearly 3 times as big as the sailer. Therefore the latter had very scanty chances of surviving. Recently we came across a news item in The Times, related to those events. There they say that immediately after the accident the watch officer of HMS Medina committed suicide. Such were the sense of responsibility and the professional honour obligations in the British navy 150 years ago. The circumstances of the tragedy are still unknown. The ship's journal of the Medina could cast some light on them, and our British helpmates have been actively involved in it. By the way, the steamer herself served Her Majesty Royal Navy for another 9 years.
-How long did the sailing last?
In January 1855 the Agnes Blaikie left the British Isles and by about early May reached Balaklava. Oh, yes, ships were not very fast as that time. But it should not be forgotten that it was a sailing vessel, which moved by the wind and fully depended on its strength and direction. However, that was the time, when the steam engine actively started to force the sail out from the sea, and the collision of the Agnes Blaikie brig with the Medina steamer became a tragic symbol of this process.
-They say the bell had a somewhat unusual shape?
Yes, the English fleet historian from Aberdeen, Mr. Stuart Rhiner, has marked on the pictures sent to him this non-characteristic peculiarity of the bell assembly lashing. Usually it was made of straight beams, and in this case it has a somewhat intricate and, I would say, artistically elaborated shape.
-What can you say with regard to the version that it was not ships, but a church bell?
You know, this is a very original version, but there is no support under it at all. It should be noted that divers in general are people with very rich imaginations. I repeat it once again: according to the expert comments, this is a standard ships bell with a somewhat unusual bracketry. And its position is standard for the sailing vessels of this type - at the bow, but not at the stern. The elements of an ornamentation and decoration are generally typical for the Agnes. Thus, for example, ornaments have been found at the stem and in the holds. Perhaps, it is just connected with the story of the vessel's name origination, or with the fact that it was cargo-and passenger vessel and for this reason required a certain gloss.
And one more interesting moment. There used to be a concept of the Aberdeen forecastle. At first it appeared on the Scottish Maid sailer in 1839 and since then this feature gradually spread throughout the world. The Aberdeen forecastle is a splayed stem. And the prehistory of this innovation is the following: at that time taxes in England depended on the holds dimensions. Thus, when they splayed the stem, the capacity of the holds decreased and the performance of the vessel improved. This innovation became widely spread on the famous tea clippers, for which speed was of the most importance. The Agnes Blaikie still had a standard stem. It could be explained by the fact that only two years had passed from the introduction of this configuration, and perhaps those who ordered the boat had some other reasons, to prefer a larger capacity to speed.
-How definite can it be asserted that the Agnes lying near Balaklava is compatible with the documents you have found? Perhaps could there possibly be two vessels with the same name?
You know, there are too many coincidences. Of course, in the merchant fleets, unlike in the navy, there were examples when two vessels had identical names at the same time. But according to the Lloyd's register, in the period under consideration no vessels with such a name were registered, except the above mentioned one. There were some other Agnes’s, but no Blaikie!
It is interesting to note that at the end of December, 1854 The Times published a report about the loading in the Royal Arsenal docks of a chartered Agnes Blakey. She was to ship to the Crimea 180 tons of cannon-balls and 250 tons of coal. At first we were confused by the weight of the cargo, which did not keep in line with the Agnes Blaikie 381 tons displacement, and by the name spelling difference. But when in other sources we found information on the dates of sailing of our sailer and studied different British systems of calculating the tonnage and carrying capacity, we became convinced that it is the same boat! And the distorted name, most likely, appeared because the reporter wrote it down as he had heard it.
But there is one more interesting thing: according to the same Lloyd's register, up to 1853 the Agnes was registered as a bark, but here we clearly have a brig. The principal difference lies in the fact that a bark has three masts, while a brig - two. According to comments of British experts, the vessel could be re-equipped in the course of its exploitation. For a well trained crew it presented no particular problem even in sailing, and there was no necessity to go to a dock for it. The rig was adapted to the sailing conditions.
-And what can you say about the ships name origin?
Agnes Blaikie is a real name, it belonged to the wife of Sir Thomas Blaikie, then the Mayor of Aberdeen. His daughter had that name, too. Though it might be a mere coincidence, it is difficult to assert anything for sure, because there are no supporting documents.
-How many people suffered in the ships wreck?
As far as we know, no one of the crew was lost. There is a report saying that the crew got their wages in full and joined another ship. There was no explosion, but the vessel received the hole; while the hull was gradually filling with water, the crew had the time to abandon it. The initial version asserting that the Agnes sank during the storm in November 1854 has not been confirmed. The date of the vessels wreck is 5th or 8th of May, 1855. The post factum report of 1856 testifies to the fact that all vessels documents were lost in the wreck. A persistent tendency has been obvious; the military both now and then do their best to conceal accidents, and for this reason there are so few materials concerning investigation of the vessels wreck. Besides, should the Agnes had sunk in the waters under the British control, then the investigation of circumstances and reasons would have been conducted by Lloyd as the principal insurer; but in the Crimea in that time nobody considered it serious enough - a war is a war.
In the conclusion I would like to note that Agnes Blaikie is probably the only sailer in its class which has been so well-preserved in its primeval appearance. Probably, this is due to the fact that it was made of highly quality wood species - mainly of oak - and therefore had 9A1 classification, the highest for that moment.
-And what is the case with a Maltese brig?
There are reports about the ships, which sank in the Crimea near Balaklava, Kacha and Yevpatoria during the storm of November 14, 1854. There we found one more interesting artefact; in a number of lists a certain Maltese merchant brig is mentioned. It is not a name but the identity of the country. That made me glad and I began to search. I found a great-great-grandson of the ship-owner, he is an Englishman and lives on Corfu. His great-great-grandfather lived in Malta, and his father was a prominent businessman. And this young man of 14 - George Moor, Jnr. graduated from a college and went to the Crimean was; he performed a clerk's duty on a British naval ship. he borrowed from his father 5,000 pounds (presently is it about 3 million pounds), bought or rented a merchant ship, loaded it with some goods and shipped to the Crimea. According to the family legend, this vessel sank, but it is unknown when and how. Some letters of relatives telling of this sad story have been preserved. But it is not the established fact that this wreck took place exactly during the 1854 storm. It is quite possible that it is this brig that is lying on the bottom of the Balaklava bay. Then the story of the Agnes Blaikie will have to be continued!
(From: Underwater Archaeology; 2006 Digest)
Shipbuilder
HOOD
Shipowner
Aberdeen White Star Line (George Thompson & Co)
Dimensions
length 116 3/6' x breadth 23 7/12' x depth 17'
registered tonnage: 385 ton

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