|The Mid-Victorian Royal Navy William Loney R.N. Fun||Search this site|
The loss of HMS Orpheus in 1863
|► The Royal Navy|
On 7 February 1863 the unarmoured wooden corvette HMS Orpheus was wrecked on the bar of Manukau harbour (Google map), on the west coast of New Zealand, with the loss of 189 lives (including that of Commodore William Farquharson Burnett). The sandbanks at the mouth of the harbour had moved since the Admiralty chart was drawn up in 1853, and although a notice to this effect was included in Orpheus's collection of charts, this was apparently overlooked by those on the bridge at the time.
Two of the few surviving officers, Lieutenant Charles Hill and Midshiman Bernal W. Fielding, lost their lives in separate incidents the next year.
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Fr 3 April 1863|
MELBOURNE, FEB. 23.Intelligence received here from New Zealand announces the total wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus on Manakau Bar. Commodore Burnett and Commander Burton, together with 188 men, officers and crew, were drowned.
|Sa 4 April 1863||The Secretary of the Admiralty begs to acquaint the Editor of The Times that the following intelligence has been received at this office:-|
"Suez, April 2.
"Her Majesty's ship Orpheus was a total wreck on Manakaou Bar, New Zealand, on tbe 7th of February, 1863, with loss of Commodore Burnett, 22 officers, and 167 men. Nothing saved. Survivors, 8 officers and 62 men- Officers, C. Hill, lieutenant; Yonge (supposed to be D.D. Yonge), lieutenant; Amphlett, paymaster; Hund (supposed to be C.G. Hunt, midshipman); Filding (supposed to be B.W. Fielding), midshipman; H.M Barkly, naval cadet; W. Mason, boatswain; J. Beer, carpenter."Further information will be given respecting the seamen who survive, but, owing to the incorrect spelling of the telegram, it is impossible to give the names with any hope of accuracy until they have been compared with the Records in office.
|Ma 6 April 1863||THE WRECK OF THE ORPHEUS.- The following list of seamen saved from the wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus has been received by telegraph at the Admiralty: - H. Brown, Henry Brown, quartermaster; Bales, probably W.E. Bayliss, painter; Morley, John Morley, capt. Forecastle; J. Wilson, there are two men of the name (one Josh. W. Wilson, capt. Hold the other Jas. Wilson, capt. Foretop); Finnis, John Finnis, capt. Maintop; Stupple, Henry Stupple, boatswain's mate; Oliert, Wm. Oliert (alias Alex. Hills), signalman; Weir, Chas. Weir, capt. Mast; Kennedy, James Kennedy, ditto; Carpenter, Robt. Carpenter, cox., cutter; Wm. Johnson, Wm. Johnson, capt. mizen top; J. Russell, J.J. Russell (there is a Thos. Russell. A.B.); W. Russell, Wm. Russell, ordinary second class; Ward, George Ward, A.B.; Mayes, Wm. Mayes, A.B.; Walker, Hen. J. Walker, A.B.; J. Hall, there are two men of this name, John Hall (1), ordinary, and James Hall, ordinary; Quinton, John Quinton; captain foretop; Walsh, Edward Walsh, ordinary; Parson, James Parsons, ordinary; Horrigan, John Horrigan, commodore's servant; Nicholso, John Nicholson, carpenter's crew; Brigg, Edward Briggs, carpenter's crew; Partbury, Henry Portbury, A.B.; Doly, Patrick Daley, A.B.; Koop, probably Henry Corps, quartermaster; no man of the name of Koop; Taylor, James Taylor, stoker; Clus, William Clews, stoker, ran awav on the 14th of September, 1862; nothing to show that he returned to the ship; Crierson, R.M., Joseph Crouson, drummer, R.M.; Rolf, R.M., no such name (there is a R. Roe, private R.M.); Betortelp, probably Henry Bentlett, boy first class; Izers, cannot be identified; no name resembling this on the books; Banuister, no such name on the books to December 31,1862, latest returns; Hunt, probably John Higham, A.B.; Hudosted, probably George Hurlstone, boy first class; Burton, Thomas H. Burton, boy first class; Hubert, no man of the name (there are two men of the name of Herbert, viz., T. Herbert, A.B., and W. Herbert, boy second class); Ideson, John D. Ideson, boy second class; Butler, no such name on the books to 31st of December, 1862, the latest returns received; R. Young, no R. Young - there are John Young, ordinary, and George Young, A.B.; Palin, William Palin. A.B.; Geary, Thomas Geary, A.B.; Fisked, probably William Fisher, A.B.; James, no man of this name; Brown, no James Brown, there is an Alfred Brown, stoker; Snudden, Thomas Snudden, A.B.; Hubert, probably one of the Herberts mentioned above; Caland, probably James Boland, ordinary; Sparshott, William Sparshott, ordinary second class; Wells, Noah Wells, ordinary second class; Ankell, Alfred Ankelt, ordinary second class; Cochine, J.G. Cochrane, ordinary second class; Roberts, George Roberts, ordinary; Quille, probably George Turtle, ordinary; Sul, probably John G. Seale, ordinary; Newman, Henry Newman, ordinary second class; Pilbrow, probably Alfred Pilbeam, ordinary; Hahrg, probably Arthur Haggis, captain Cox.; Laryish, probably William Langush, ordinary; Tilley, Arthur S. Tilley, ordinary; Jordan, Joseph Jordan; Graann, probably Henry J. Graham, ordinary; J. Graam, Jomes Graham, ordinary.|
|We 8 April 1863||The screw corvette Orpheus, 21, 400-horse power, the news of the total wreck of which has been received, was one of the most recent of the corvette class of vessels built at Chatham dockyard, and was launched from that establishment on the 24th of June, 1860. She was considered the finest of that description of vessel ever constructed, and was built under the personal superintendence of Mr. O.W. Lang, the present master-shipbuilder at Chatham, from the designs of Sir Baldwin Walker, the then Controller of the Navy. Her dimensions were:- Extreme length, 226ft. 6in.; extreme breath, 40ft. 8in.; depth in hold, 24ft. 2in.; burden, 1,705 tons. She was fitted with a pair of 400-horse power engines by Messrs. Humphreys, Tennant, and Co. As this was her first voyage, the greatest interest was experienced for her success, and the news of her wreck was received with the deepest regret.|
|Ma 13 April 1863|
(From Our Own Correspondent.)
Melbourne, Feb 24.
I regret to say that I have to announce the wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus, on the bar of Manukau Harbour, on the west coast of New Zealand, with the loss of 189 lives, 70 only having been saved. The Orpheus left Sydney on the 1st day of this month.
|Ma 13 April 1863|
LOSS OF HER MAJESTY'S SHIP ORPHEUS.
ADMIRALTY, APRIL 12, 1863.
The Secretary of the Admiralty begs to acquaint the Editor of The Times that the intelligence contained in the accompanying document has been received at this office: -
"Her Majesty's ship Miranda, Auckland,
"My Lord,- In addition to my first letter from the scene of the wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus, dated the 8th inst., sent to their Lordships, to save the Southern Mail, by the Wonga Wonga, I have to enclose for their further information the detailed narrative of Lieutenant C. Hill, the second lieutenant, and the senior surviving officer. It is a clear and truthful account of the whole proceedings of this melancholy calamity, so far as he and the other officers that are saved are acquainted with them.
"2. According to my judgment on the spot, nothing can exceed the exertions of Lieutenant Hill, the other officers, and all the survivors of the crew, who, at the imminent peril of their own lives, continued to the last to make the utmost endeavours to save the lives of their shipmates.
"3. I am informed that the Wonga Wonga was at the time of the Orpheus striking steaming out of the south channel of the Manukau. She first steamed outside the bar to the entrance of the main channel, hut afterwards returned by the south channel, picking up the boats off Paratutai Point, and towing them to the wreck by the main channel.
"4. Their Lordships will observe from the narrative of Lieutenant Hill that from the time the steamer was first observed, at 2 o'clock, until she reached the wreck at 6, the most critical and invaluable time was unaccountably lost, but Captain Renner and all on board the Wonga Wonga were most kind and hospitable in the treatment of the sufferers when they reached his ship from the wreck.
"5. Mr. Wing, pilot, and in charge of the signal station at the Manukau, informed me that the wreck of the Orpheus is precisely on the bearings laid down in Captain Drury's chart and sailing directions, since the publication of which the middle banks and small shoal on which the ship first touched have shifted bodily and considerably to the north.
"6. With their Lordships, I deeply deplore the loss to Her Majesty's service of an officer so distinguished as Commodore Burnett; it appears he met his much-to-be-regretted death when, sitting in the mizen-futtock rigging, the mast fell over to port, and, the top striking him on the head when in the water. It is said he never made the least exertion to save himself.
"7. I have directed Mr. Sullivan to proceed in Her Majesty's ship Harrier to tho Manukau Heads, and to detach an officer and party as far as he may consider necessary along the shore, north and south, for the purpose of burying, with such honours as circumstances will admit, the bodies of any officers and men, late of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus, which may be found, and also to recover such remains of the wreck, public and private, as he may deem fit; so soon as he may consider it no longer necessary to continue on this service I have directed him to conduct the duties of senior naval officer in New Zealand.
"8. With the view to save the mail which will leave Sydney on the 20th inst., it is my intention to proceed at once under steam to that port with the six officers and 10 of the crew of the Orpheus who have been selected as the most able to give evidence relative to the loss of that ship. These I propose sending to England by the mail steamer; the remaining 51 men and boys I have detained for disposal on the station; the majority have already volunteered for the Miranda and Harrier. I have sent 25 to the Harrier, for about which number she has vacancies to complete her complement.
"Her Majesty's ship Miranda, Auckland,
"Sir,- In obedience to your directions. I have the honour to report for the information of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, that Her Majesty's Ship Orpheus sailed from Sydney on the 31st of January. After a fine passage to the coast of New Zealand, we sighted the land on the morning of the 7th inst.; it was my forenoon watch, at about eight miles from the bar of the Manukau. Steam was got up in two boilers; we had been condensing. The ship proceeded at 12 30, under all plain sail, with starboard foretopmast studsail set, towards Manukau, steering east till 1 o'clock, then N.E.E., being the courses laid down - so the master told me - in Captain Drury's sailing directions, keeping the Ninepin on with the end of Paratutai. The hands were on deck, the ropes manned for shortening sail, the commodore, commander, and master on the bridge; leadsmen in both chains; spare tiller shipped, with relieving tackles hooked, and six men stationed; gratings and hatchway covers were placed ready for battening down.
"The wind S.W. to S.S.W., force 5 to 6, with occasional slight squalls; high water at 12 20. As we approached the bar there was nothing more to see, in the shape of rollers or sea on, than I had been led to expect. The signal from the pilot station had been flying since 11 30 a.m, ' Take the bar;' the commodore and master were very attentive with the chart on the bridge, and very particular in the steerage of the ship, and in their orders to the engine-room, to keep the steam at command, the signal officer and signalman on the look out. At about 1 30 she touched slightly in the after part, when the commodore gave the order, 'Give her all the steam you can.' At about 1 40 the ship struck forward; order given, 'Astern full speed;' but the engines or screw never moved. At the same time the commodore ordered 'Hands shorten sail.' The ship broached to, with her head to the northward, lurching heavily to port, the rollers setting in from the westward, which immediately made a clean sweep of the upper deck, taking away port quarter boats (second cutter and jolly boat), netting, and bulwark. Sail was shortened as far as possible, the men not being able to keep the deck; immediately the ship took the ground the hatchways were battened down, which, however, proved perfectly useless, as the fastenings were thrown up by the bumping of the ship.
"The commodore then ordered the port guns to be thrown overboard (we succeeded in lightening the ship of four guns), and the starboard cutter to be manned and lowered, the paymaster and secretary to place in her his private signals, the public records, and the ship's books; but from the heavy lurching of the ship the men were unable to pass all the books they wanted; some were lost overboard. Mr. Fielding had orders to land what he had got and return. After great difficulty the cutter got clear of the ship. She was reported to be swamped two or three times. When seen on one occasion five hands were observed to be missing. It was about this time a steamer was seen coming out of the Heads. The commodore next ordered the pipe, 'Hands out boats,' yards and stays having previously been triced up. The pinnace was the first boat out. As I was returning from the maintop Commander Burton ordered me into the pinnace to go to the assistance of the cutter; the commodore then came to the starboard gangway, and on my telling him that I had seen the cutter all right when on the main yard he ordered me to take Mr. Amphlett, paymaster, who was well acquainted with the place on shore, for the purpose of getting assistance. Mr. Amphlett was then and there told to jump into the boat; this was at 2 30. We shoved off, and with great difficulty, from the strong ebb, cleared the ship. As we proceeded I observed the smoke of a steamer to the southward, going seaward. After a two hours' pull against a heavy rolling sea, we weared the Ninepin, when I spoke Mr. Wing in the pilot boat. We learnt from him that the steamer in sight (now seen coming up the South Channel) was the Wonga Wonga, returning to the Heads, that he had no boat to send to the Harrier to report our distress, that there was a lifeboat hauled up on shore, hut no hands or means to get her afloat; it would take 12 men a considerable time. The cutter now came up with us; Mr. Wing and his Maories came into the pinnace, while Mr. Amphlett, two sick men, and two boys, and two others started off in the whaler of the Harrier.
"We pushed on to the steamer, now between the Heads, waving, signalizing, and making every effort to gain her attention; after some delay she turned round and closed us, taking pinnace and cutter in tow, proceeding to the wreck, which we reached at 6 p.m. I found her very much lying over to port, the masts all standing, the crew in the rigging above the tops, the sea at times sweeping as high as the futtock rigging; the sails had been cut away from the yards, it being impossible to furl them. Taking, in addition the pilot's boatcrew, four young Maories, with the pinnace being to windward of the wreck, we dropped down to about 30 or 40 yards on her starboard bow, hailed the men on the bowsprit and jibboom to jump off and swim for it. I picked up seven or eight; having drifted to leeward, the steamer came and towed me to windward. I dropped down a second time with the cutter in company. This time three or four more men were taken in in the pinnace, and the boatswain and four or five in the cutter. It was now about 7 o'clock; the flood tide had made, the rollers soon became very high and dangerous on the change; the jibboom broke off short by the cap; it was quite impossible, with safety to the boats, to remain any longer by the wreck. As I was going back I shouted to the wreck to make a final attempt but none would venture.
"The steamer picked up boats and anchored close to the north side of the South Spit; distant from wreck about three-quarters of a mile. This was at 8 o'clock. At 8 30 the masts went. Boats returned to the wreck. The Wonga Wonga kept burning blue lights, blowing her steam whistle and ringing her bell. The pinnace picked up six or eight and returned to the steamer with one or two in the last stage of exhaustion. On again nearing the wreck I found the ship completely broken up. It was a beautiful clear moonlight night, and masses of the wreck kept passing in with the flood, clinging to which Lieutenant Yonge and six or eight men were saved. The cutter got so far to leeward that she made for the land, the pinnace returning to the steamer. We remained on deck the whole night, keeping a sharp look-out. At daylight nothing could be seen of the ill-fated Orpheus but a stump of one mast and a few ribs.
"From the commencement and during the whole proceedings nothing could exceed the coolness and decision of Commodore Burnett, C.B., the commander, and the officers all in their stations, sentries on the spirit room and store rooms; while the good feeling and steadiness of the men was beyond all praise, remaining at their posts until ordered by the commodore to mount the rigging. Many were washed overboard in obeying orders.
"I must not forget to mention the gallant conduct of the Maori crew; they were first and foremost in saving lives. On going ashore in the cutter Mr. Hunt and Mr. Barkly (midshipmen) were picked up, one Maori taking Mr. Barkly on his back and carrying him along the beach to his hut. They afterwards gave them food and put them in their own beds for the night.
"William Johnson (captain of the mizentop) three times jumped out of the pinnace with a rope to the rescue, and was the means of saving three drowning men.
"On board the Woaga Wonga, which officers and men reached cold and naked, the greatest kindness and hospitality were shown and continued by all on board, until we were transferred to the Avon, where I had reported myself to you.
"I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
"LIST of SURVIVORS.
"Officers.- Lieutenant Charles Hill, Lieutenant Duke D. Yonge, Mr. E.A. Amphlett (paymaster), Mr. Bernal W. Fielding (midshipman), Mr. C. George Hunt (midshipman) Mr. H.M. Barkly (midshipman), Mr. W. Mason (boatswain), and Mr. James Beer (carpenter).
"Seamen.- Robert Carpenter, William Fisher, William Johnson, George Turtle, Charles Weir, W. Cooper, W. Clews, Alfred Pilbeam, Samuel Bannister, Noah Wells, John Quinton, James Parsons, Henry Walker, John Nicholson, Joseph Jordan, George Roberts, William Russell, James Summers, Henry Holmes, James Taylor, George Ward, James Kennedy, William Langrish, William Pasin, Patrick Daley, Edward Briggs, Arthur Tilly, Thomas Smedden, George Seal, Charles Fox, Thomas Burton, William Ollert, William Ball, Henry Graham, Joseph Boland, Henry Portbury, James J. Brown, James Wilson, Thomas Herbert, John Cochrane, Alfred Ankett, Henry Bentell, Henry Brown, Frederick Butter (belonging to Harrier), Henry Stuffle, James Graham, John Finnies, Edward Walsh, William Mayes, Henry Newman, Thomas Rusgell, George Young, John Hall, John Morby, William Geary, James Sparshott, George Hurlestone, Richard Roe (marine), Joseph Crowson (drummer), William Herbert,(boy second class), John Ideson (boy), William Horrigan (commissioner's servant), picked up at 1 o'clock on the 8th by a coaster off Peeponga.
"List of Men left behind at Sydney.- Sergeant Carter (Royal Marines), George Monday (gunner Royal Marine Artillery), Stephen Hodge (private Royal Marines), George Tarpler (boy first class), James Ashwood (boy first class), Thomas Rees (ablebodied seaman), William Barnes (boyfirst class)
(From the New Zealander, Feb. 9.)
(From the Wellington Spectator, Feb. 12.)
|Tu 14 April 1863||We have received the following letter from our Malta correspondent, dated Valetta, April 7:-|
"… Several officers and men who were saved from the wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus, on the coast of New Zealand, arrived this morning in the mail packet Ellora, on their way to England. They are Lieut. Hill, Lieut. Yonge, Paymaster Amphlett, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Fielding, and Mr. Barkly, midshipmen ; Mr. Mason and Mr. Beer, petty officers, and nine seamen".
|Sa 18 April 1863|
THE LOSS OF THE ORPHEUS.
The following despatch, addressed to the Duke of Newcastle, has been received from Sir G. Grey, Governor of New Zealand :-
"New Zealand.- No. 10.
"My Lord Duke,- I have the honour to report to your Grace the total loss of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus on the bar of the harbour of Manukau, on the west coast of the North Island, nearly opposite to the harbour of Auckland, which is on the east coast.
"2. Eight officers and 61 men have been saved from the wreck. The names of the officers who have been saved are given in the enclosure to this despatch. Twenty-three officers and 158 men, it is believed, have perished, as the vessel has entirely gone to pieces, and nothing has been seen of them. The names of the missing officers are also given in the list transmitted herewith.
"3. It is positively known that many of these officers and men have perished, as they were killed in the presence of the survivors by spars and ropes. There is but slight hope that any of them can be alive; they can only have escaped by having been first washed out to sea on some spar, and then washed up on some other part of the coast.
"4. The ship, as far as I can collect, was rather to the southward of the port, and was, at about half-past 1 o'clock in the day, with beautiful weather and a fair wind, making the harbour under steam and sail, going about 12 knots. Running thus from the southward, she was intending to make the passage across the bar as laid down in the chart of 1853. Since that time the bar has shifted about three-quarters of a mile to the northward. She was thus rather more than that distance too far to the southward, and touched first on a small shoal off the middle banks, and in a few minutes ran directly on to them, where there is always a very heavy sea, and where her position (about four miles out at sea) was hopeless.
"5. At between 4 and 5 o'clock a small coasting steamer, the Wonga Wonga, which was going out of the harbour, seeing her peril, went to her assistance, but, from the heavy sea and breakers, was unable to get very near her; but the boats of the Orpheus, and those of the men who were saved under the shelter of the steamer, managed from time to time to pick up others. They were aided in the most gallant and determined manner by three Maories from the pilot-station, who steered the boats.
"6. The conduct of Commodore Burnett, his officers, and men, was perfectly heroic. I have never heard instances of greater courage, carelessness of self, and efforts to save the ship and others than have been detailed to me. At about 9 at night the mainmast went overboard; the other two masts went in less than 20 minutes afterwards. Those of the crew (and they were a great number) who had not yet been washed overboard or killed by spars and ropes were on the masts and rigging, and the poor fellows, as these went, gave three parting cheers and then perished. I am told that not a murmur or cry was heard from the wounded and dying, and yet the manner of some of their deaths was terrible. Altogether it is one of the most affecting events that I have ever heard of, and yet one that excites admiration from the courage, self-devotion, and energetic resignation both of the many who perished and the few who were saved.
"I have, &c.,
|Ma 20 April 1863||The surviving officers and crew of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus arrived on board Her Majesty's ship Victory, at Portsmouth, on Friday evening. They arrived at Portsmouth by Southampton steampacket from the Peninsular and Oriental Mail Company's mail steamship Ellora, which arrived the same day at that port from Malta.|
|Tu 21 April 1863|
HOUSE OF LORDS, MONDAY, APRIL 20.
The Earl of ELLENBOROUGH said he wished to put a question to the noble duke at the head of the Admiralty respecting the loss of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus. In the official despatch on the subject it was stated that the Orpheus, with nearly 200 men, was lost by acting, not against, but in compliance with the directions on her chart. The telegraph flag was flying telling her to take the bar; she obeyed that instruction, and consequently was wrecked. Since the chart was issued in 1853 the sand at the mouthof the harbour of Manukau had shifted three quarters of a mile, and in consequence the Orpheus, instead of passing safely through the channel, ran directly on the sand itself. He wished to know what steps the Admiralty were in the habit of taking for the purpose of collecting information on foreign stations respecting those changes which occurred from time to time, affecting the navigation of the waters, and also what means they adopted for disseminating that information among the officers of the Royal Navy. Although it appeared, in this instance, that Her Majesty's officers were unacquainted with the changes which had occurred, the merchant service were not ignorant of them, for he had seen in the newspapers a letter from a gentleman commanding a vessel stating that they were perfectly well known.
The Duke of SOMERSET said he was very glad that the noble earl had put this question to him, as it enabled him to correct an error on the subject which was very generally prevalent, and into which it was not surprising that the noble earl had fallen, as it originated in the despatch of the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey. In that despatch it was stated that the Orpheus "was intending to make the passage across the bar, as laid down in the chart of 1853. Since that time the bar has shifted about three-quarters of a mile to the northward. She was thus rather more than that distance too far to the southward." The loss of this fine vessel and her gallant crew was, of course, a most painful calamity; but it would have been an additional source of deep affliction if it had been caused by any neglect on the part of the Admiralty in not communicating to the officers of the ship the changes which were known to have occurred in the harbour. So far, however, was this from being the case that the chart of 1853 was brought to the notice of the Hydrographer's office in October 1861, if not before. A notice was then drawn up, of which printed copies were sent to the senior officer on the Australian station to be distributed among the ships in that quarter. That notice contained the following observations:-
"It appears from the Remark Book of Her Majesty's Ship Niger, 1861, by Mr. A.J. Veitch, Master, that since the survey by Captain Drury in 1853 the main channel at the entrance of Manukau Harbour has shifted; as also, that the code of signals noticed in the New Zealand Pilot, 2d edition, 1859, established to assist the navigation of that port, has been altered and improved. The following directions will therefore supersede those heretofore in use; but from the shifting nature of the entrance of Manukau Harbour, as also of all the bar harbours on the west coast of the north island, the seaman is cautioned to pay strict attention to directions that may be given from pilot stations; and it has been recommended as a general rule, in the absence of direct information of changes in the channels, that that portion which has the smoothest water between the breakers should be taken, as experience has proved that it will be the deepest part. The north side of the middle banks forming the southern boundary of the main channel to Manukau, has extended to the northward since Captain Drury's survey in 1853; vessels, therefore, in crossing the bar of this harbour should bring the Nine Pinrock twice its base open to the southward of Paratutai, N.E. by E 1/2 E., which will lead about a cable northward of the breakers."
Thus seamen were first cautioned that the bar had shifted, and were also warned to pay attention to local information. When he first heard of the accident to the Orpheus he was anxious to learn whether the officers had ever received the notice he had referred to. He therefore sent for the issue book kept in the Hydrographic-office, from which it appeared that the New Zealand notice was sent to Portsmouth on the 13th of November, 1861, and placed in No. 5 Australian chart box. On the 23d of November the Orpheus drew this No. 5 box from the store at Portsmouth, and the receipt for it was in the Hydrographic-office at the Admiralty. Moreover, he had seen an officer on Saturday who was saved from the wreck, and he believed he was correct in stating that the master of the Orpheus had a copy of the very notice in question in his hand at the time when the ship was approaching the bar. He mentioned these circumstances only to justify the Admiralty, and to show that they were not chargeable with neglect of duty. He would not go any further into the subject. Their lordships were doubtless aware that the Orpheus, which drew about 20ft. Of water, was rather larger than most of the ships frequenting that coast, end he might observe that he had sent her out at the pressing instance of the Governor of New Zealand. The noble earl had also asked what were the general orders of the Admiralty in regard to correcting charts. Those orders were very complete. The master was directed to note all inaccuracies in any of the charts supplied to the ship, but especially in those published by the Admiralty, so that the requisite alterations might be presently made. If the position of the dangers was materially altered, or if he should discover any new dangers, or if the inaccuracies he might have detected in the charts were of importance, he was to report them immediately to the Admiralty by the very first opportunity, so that no time should be lost in applying the necessary corrections. Again when a hydrographic notice of a newly discovered shoal, or rock, or other danger, or a notice to mariners of a new or altered light, buoy, beacon, or land mark was received on board, the master was at once to insert it in red ink in all the charts to which it referred (these being always enumerated at the foot of the notice), and to note the same in the sailing directions, reporting to the captain that he had so done. Further, all masters of Her Majesty's ships were required to report to the Secretary of the Admiralty through their captain the discovery of any new rock or shoal. The governors of our colonies and. Consuls constantly sent information, and harbourmasters and merchant captains did the same. The Hydrographic-office was in constant correspondence with all parties who could furnish information in all parts of the world. As soon as it was received, if considered of fair authority, it was printed and circulated not only for the benefit of Her Majesty's ships, but of all navigators. He thought he had now shown that every care was taken to let the officers of the unfortunate vessel know the changes which had taken place in the harbour. He had only to add that there would of course be an inquiry into all the circumstances connected with the loss of the ship, and then probably it would be ascertained how the vessel came to be lost. He could not omit bearing testimony to the gallant bearing of all on board, and of the crew of the vessel, who, seeing death coming upon them in all directions, still remained steadfast in the execution of their duty. (Hear, hear.) Such conduct afforded a fine example of the courage and bravery of British seamen. (Hear, hear.)
|Th 23 April 1863||A meeting has been convened for this evening by the Mayor of Portsmouth to raise a public subscription for the relief of the widows and orphans of those who perished in the wreck of the Orpheus.|
|Tu 28 April 1863||A naval court assembled on board Her Majesty's ship Victory at Portsmouth yesterday, for the trial, pro forma, of Lieutenant Charles Hill, and the surviving officers and crew of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus at present in England, for the recent loss of that ship on the bar of Manukau harbour, New Zealand. The Court was composed of Captain Scott, Her Majesty's ship Victory, President; Captains Wainwright, Cumming, Phillimore, Chamberlain, and Seccombe. After hearing a mass of evidence the finding was read by the Deputy Judge-Advocate. It set forth that Her Majesty's ship Orpheus was lost by striking on the bar of Manukau harbour on the day named when going over it in the absence of pilot boats, that no blame whatever was attached to Commodore Burnett, C.B., or any of her officers and crew, that the conduct of every officer, seaman and marine, man and boy. On board was deserving of the very highest praise, and that Lieut. Hill and the officers and crew of Her Majesty's late ship Orpheus were therefore fully and honourably acquitted. Lieut. Hill was then called to the table and presented with, his sword. The President observed that the duly he had to perform was gratifying to him, and that he only expressed the feelings of the entire Court when he said they felt the sword could not be intrusted to better and more worthy hands.|
It gives us much pleasure to announce that Her Majesty has forwarded to Sir Michael Seymour, G.C.B., Admiral Commanding at Portsmouth, through Sir C. Phipps, the sum of 50 l. for the families of the crew of the Orpheus, with the expression of Her Majesty's deep sympathy with them in their affliction.
|Ma 4 May 1863||NO ONE TO BLAME!- The Court of Inquiry into the circumstances of the wreck of the Orpheus have found, as we are informed by the correspondent of The Times, "that Her Majesty's ship Orpheus was lost by striking on the bar of Manukau harbour when going over it in the absence of pilot boats, that no blame whatever was attached to Commodore Burnett, C.B., or any of her officers and crew, and that the conduct of every officer, seaman and marine, man and boy, on board was deserving of the very highest praise." This is an astounding verdict, excepting only the last award of praise, thoroughly merited, as regards the conduct of all after the stranding of the ship. The conclusion is that no one was to blame for the loss of a fine ship in broad day and moderate weather. It was all right that she should attempt to enter the Manukau when she had no particular business there; it was all right that she should make the attempt at the wrong tide-time; in short, it was right that she should be lost, for, if there was no wrong in the case, all was right and as it ought to be. It is unfortunately true that the officers to whom blame may have attached are not living to defend themselves, but surely the Court, without direct censure, might have adverted to the causes of the disaster with regret, and thus given a warning against the repetition of the same errors. As it is, the imprudences seem approved and sanctioned. The Court found that the ship was lost by striking on the bar when going over it in the absence of pilot boats. The bar is only a cable's length in breadth. The ship first touched according to lieutenant Hill's statement, at 1 30, and 10 minutes afterwards struck, where she went to pieces. Was she, then, with all plain sail set, a fair wind and steam power in aid, 10 minutes in traversing the distance of a cable's length? If not, she was clearly not lost on the bar, the passage over which could not have taken her two minutes, allowing for a strong adverse tide, As we have before explained, the ship was lost on the Middle-bank, inside the bar, and not at all in the position of a bar, which, as the name expresses, stretches across the entrance of a harbour or port; the Middle lies in the direction of the entrance, and its north side makes the south side of the channel. The Court find that the ship struck in the absence of pilot boats. Does it pretend that pilot boats could be expected? Is it not well known that the pilot boats do not go beyond the Heads, and in the Admiralty Sailing Directions is it not notified that "it is seldom possible for the pilot boat to board outside the bar?" And for this reason all necessary directions for guidance are given by signals from the pilot-station at the Paratutai Head. But if, notwithstanding information to the contrary, the ship expected a pilot and was disappointed, why did she not then give up the attempt and proceed to Auckland, with a leading wind round the north cape? It is quite clear that the disaster was referable to the culpable error of attempting the entrance at the wrong tide-time. The signal for water was made at 11 30, 50 minutes before high water, and if there was only water enough in the 50 minutes before high water, there would certainly not be more in the 50 minutes after high water; for wherever there is a great inlet like the Manukau the first of the ebb runs off quicker than the last of the flood runs in. But with only 50 minutes of tide time to be depended on the Orpheus did not even approach the bar till that time had expired, and might have passed it about an hour and ten minutes after high water, when the tide had fallen full half a fathom, and a rougher weather-tide had increased the sand, and by so much diminished the depth of water necessary to float the long-legged ship over the shoals. But there was nothing to blame in all this according to the view of the naval Court, and officers are free to follow the example of Commodore Burnett without fear of censure, living or dead. Certain we are that the unfortunate officer himself must in his last moments bitterly have reproached himself for the rash error by which he had thrown away the lives of so many brave men. No officer's character stood higher than that of Commodore Burnett, and inexplicable is the one fatal error closing his meritorious career. Perhaps it never occurred to the Court to inquire what the ship was doing from daybreak, when she made the land, to midday, when she ran her head against the shore, for the answer might give some clue to the cause of the disaster, and might not be reconcilable with the foregone conclusion that no one was to blame.- Examiner.|
|Fr 8 May 1863|
THE LOSS OF THE ORPHEUS.
The Secretary of the Admiralty presents his compliments to the Editor of The Times, and encloses herewith a return of the names of officers and men who perished in the wreck of Her Majesty's late ship Orpheus, at the entrance of the Manukau harbour, New Zealand, on the 7th. Of February last.
Admiralty, March 7.
|Th 14 May 1863||WRECK OF THE ORPHEUS.- In 1846, in Her Majesty's sloop Osprey, Captain Patten was wrecked off the same fatal bar. An interesting account of the encampment of her crew, and their march across the island of New Zealand, was written by the steward (Mr. H. Moon), and has been introduced by the Lords of the Admiralty into the seamen's libraries. The signal then was, "Take the bar, there is no danger."|
THE ORPHEUS RELIEF FUND.- The widows and relatives of the crew of Her Majesty's late ship Orpheus, who have been paid allotments for the month of April from the relief fund at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, are requested to attend at the college at 11 o'clock on Friday morning, the 29th of May, when they will be paid the allotments for the month of May. Any other applications for relief from the fund will be considered at the same time.
|Ma 14 March 1864|
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
MELBOURNE, JAN. 25.
… I may also mention in this place that since the disastrous wreck of the Orpheus the entrance into Manukau harbour has been re-surveyed, and carefully, and, I am informed, rather profusely buoyed, so that the steamers engaged in the inter-provincial trade, and those in communication with the General, pass into and out of that harbour with safety and with perfect confidence.
|Th 14 July 1864|
THE WAR IN NEW ZEALAND.
MELBOURNE, MAY 26.
The following is the list of killed and wounded. Where not described otherwise, the wounds are gunshot wounds:-
|Th 17 November 1864|
DREADFUL ACCIDENT AT TUNIS.
(From the Malta Times, November 10.) It is with feelings of the deepest sorrow that we have to announce in our columns to-day an awful calamity which has befallen a number of brave officers and men of Her Majesty's ship Orlando. The afflicting tidings reached us by the French steamer Du Trembly, arrived this morning from Tunis, that one of the boats of the above ship bad been upset in a squall, by which no less than eight of her officers, three scamen, and a marine lost their lives. All the men-of-war in port, including the French frigate Cacque, immediately hoisted their flags half-mast high, and a like testimony of regret and mourning was shown by many of the merchant ships in harbour as soon as the lamentable event became more generally known. The following are the particulars of this catastrophe, which will cast many families into mourning:-It appears that on the morning of the 3d inst. a cutter, having on board the following officers:- Lieutenant Still, Surgeon Wood, Captain Pritchard, Royal Marines, Midshipmen De Gama, Fielding, and Kemble, Master's-Assistant Hadrill, and Assistant-Paymaster Stratford, together with four seamen and one marine, left the ship on a picnic party, and while returning at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, under sail, a sudden squall struck the boat when about a thousand yards from the shore, and upset it. Seeing that all hope of assistance was impossible, one of the seamen struck out for the shore, and was the only man saved. Ha was found the next morning completely exhausted, and in a state of nudity, in an Arab hut, by another cutter of the Orlando, which, in tow of the French frigate Invincible's steamlaunch, had been sent in search of the missing boat. Up to the last accounts, nothing else had been found but a jacket belonging to Mr. Fielding and a portion of the mast of the boat, notwithstanding the Orlando and gunboat Tyrian had been searching under steam for the missing bodies. The Orlando is expected here at the end of the week. The sudden calamity has created universal sympathy in Tunis. All the foreign representatives displayed their flags half-mast, and waited upon the English Consul-General to express their condolence and respect for the memory of so many brave officers and men appertaining to Her Majesty's naval forces, whose untimely death has deprived their Sovereign and their country of their valuable service. The Commandant Chevalier of His Imperial Majesty's ship Inflexible, senior officer of the French Emperor's ships in those waters, also waited on Her Majesty's representative for the same purpose, and the French Consul-General wrote besides a very feeling letter of condolence on the melancholy occasion. His Highness the Bey also conveyed his sympathy and condolence, and gave strict order to the authorities on the coast to protect any of the bodies of the victims that might be washed ashore, and to report immediately any such occurrence to the Bey's Government. It is a circumstance of melancholy interest to know that Mr. Fielding, one of the unfortunate young officers who perished on this occasion, was one of the few survivors of the lamentable wreck of Her Majesty's ship Orpheus on the coast of New Zealand.