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LIFEBOAT DISASTER. -

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LIFEBOAT DISASTER. Finding- of the Board of Trade Inquiry. Survivors Untrust-worthy Evidence. On Friday night the Board of Trade issued 'the leport of the court of inquiry held on JVbrimy 27th and 28th into the loss of the Mumbles hieboat James Stevens. The court •found thai the accident wa.s in no way tttri- but-able- lo ihc design, construction, or beha- viour of the boat. After dealing with the evidenor tendered, the couit proceeds to «u- wer the questions pUf as follows: — 1.—We have already detailed the eiretnn- stances m which the Jaine. Stevens left he;- station on tho afternoon of the l»t February, to go to Port Ta.1Ibot. The wind was then W.N.W., squally, fresh to strong, and the-ea was moderate. The lifeboat's assistance was not then n. cded by the s.s. Christina, but it might .suboeqiieivtly have been. andt we com- mend the action of Mr. Le Boulanger and (f Captain Allen in despatching her while there was daylight. 2.—The James Stevens was provided with ail her proper equipment, and her ciew were all provided with lifebelts. 3.—The James Stevens arrived off Port Talbot at about 4.30 p.m. An attempt was made to enter the harbour. The wind was W.N.W., squally, and rather strong, and tho sea. somewhat high, and as it was not then more than 2-j hours flood, there was broken water on that side th-3 breakwater. Before answering the last question we desire to say that in our judgment an attempt should not have been made to enter the harbour, and that the directions of Mr. Le Boulanger given to the coxswain should have been followed. There was nothing in the state of the weather -to have prevented the James Stevens from king anchored to seawards of the Christina, from whence she could have performed any service required of her, whereas, if she en- tered the harbour she would have been fur- ther off, and if the wind had freshened it was quite possible she might have been detained there, for Port Talbot was a lee shore and- there, was no tug available to tow her out. Having regard to the squally condition of the weather, the state of the tide, and, in conse- quence, the broken water, we think the more prudent course for the coxswain to -laA e adopted when he had determined to e-ntei the harbour, was to have taken in the sails and rowed the boat in. This we only advance as a matter of opinion, and we ought to state that Captain Nepean, whose- assistance during the course of the inquiry Ave beg to acknow- ledge, WM! of a different opinion, and thought that the entrance was best effected under sail. ■rc, therefore, do not condemn the conduct of the coxswain in this respect, although, hav- ing formed a definite, opinion on the subject, we desire to express it. There was, however, no serious risk in entering the harbour nndei sail if proper precautions were taken. In fact, in our judgment, any craft could lia\e done so at or about the top of the tide. 4.Ve find that the cau.se of the casualty and the loss of life was due to the neglect of the crew to make proper use of the drügup. Although the seas at the entrance of the hai- fbour were not verv heavv there Avas a g°°- (leal of swell and broken water, and it was of the greatest importance that the boat should not be allowed to run long on the crest ol the waves, otherwise it would be impossible to steer her. If the drogue had been acting, in our judgment, it was impossible for the James Stevens to have run on the crest of the wave for 100 or 50 yards or for any consider- able- distance, as described by the wdnesses, as the force exerted by the drogue would have checked her. We <ind that the drogue was put overboard on reaching the broken water, or perhaps shortly before, and., if we accept the evidence of HOAVCII as correct, we should ibe satisfied that it was acting or that some- thing aibnonnal had happened to prevent it from acting, for he has stated that the whole length of the drogue rope was out and that the tripping line, to which he was attending, was quite slack. We do not suggest that Howell has not told us what he honestly be- lieved to be true, but we are unable to trust to his recollection, for in one respect either his memory or observation was at fault, and we are not impressed with the manner in which he gave his evidence. Moreover, Ed- ley Davies, the only other witness who was nhl-e, to give us definite information on this subject, contradicted him, for he stated that the full length of the drogue was not out. We are therefore unable to believe Howell in this respect, and we find that no proper use was made of the drogue. The result was, as described by all the witnesses: the James Stevens could not be kept under control, and in consequence did not run true in the sea. but got athwart it, was struck on her star- board quarter, and capsized. The subsequent capsizing followed from the first, as tho boat was beyond all control, and they together caused the lamentable loss of life.

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