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The loss of HMS Osprey in 1867
|► The Royal Navy|
On 30 May 1867 the steam gunvessel HMS Osprey was wrecked off Cape St. Francis, Algoa Bay, South Africa (Google map). At two subsequent Courts-martial, Commander William Menzies, Navigating Lieutenant Francis Blueman Christian, and Lieutenant Robert Percival Moutray, the officer of the watch, were found guilty on counts of negligence, were severely reprimanded, and sentenced to lose seniority (go here for an interesting account of the naval career of Francis Blueman Christian, including an account of this Court-martial).
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Ma 8 July 1867|
Southampton, July 7The mail steamer Anglian, from the Cape of Good Hope on the 31st of May, arrived here today. Her Majesty's steamer Osprey was totally wrecked on the 30th of May, ten miles off Cape St. Frances, near Algoa Bay. Only one man was lost.
|Tu 9 July 1867|
THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
A telegram from the Civil Commissioner at Humansdorp was received on the morning of May 31 by the Colonial Secretary at the Cape, announcing that Her Majesty's gunboat Osprey was a total wreck, 10 miles to the west of Cape St. Francis, and all the crew saved but one. The Osprey, 4-guns, 682 tons burden, and 200-horse power, was commanded by Captain W. Menzies.
|We 10 July 1867||The screw steam gunboat Osprey, 4, wrecked near Algoa Bay, May 30, when homeward bound from China, was of 682 tons burden, and had engines of 200-horse power. She was commissioned on the 14th of December, 1864, by Commander William Menzies.|
|Th 25 July 1867||Her Majesty's troop ship Himalaya, Capt. Piers, arrived at Queenstown at 4 a.m. on Monday, with the 2d battalion 13th Light Infantry; Lieut.-Col. Macdonald, Commander Menzies, officers, and crew of the late Osprey, and a few naval and military invalids, and time expired men. She left Mauritius on the 8th of June, Algoa-bay the 17th of June, Simon's-bay the 22d of June, St. Vincent the 10th of July, and Madeira the 16th of July, making the voyage from Mauritius, including seven days' stoppage, in little more than 43 days. The Himalaya passed Her Majesty's ship Jumna on the morning of the 17th of July; also the Glen Aros, steering S.W.|
|Ma 5 August 1867||A Naval Court-Martial asembled on board Her Majesty's ship Victory at Portsmouth, on Wednesday last, and continued its sittings through Thursday and Friday, for the trial of Commander W.M. Menzies, and Navigating Lieut. Christian, for the loss of Her Majesty's screw gun vessel Osprey, off Cape St. Francis, on the S.E. Coast of Africa, on the morning of the 30th of May last. The Court was composed of Rear-Admiral F. Warden, C.B., president; Capts. F.B. Seymour, C.B., R.J.J.C. Macdonald, W.C. Chamberlain, E.W. Vansittart, M.N. Nollok, and Roderick Dew, C.B. Mr. E. Hoskins officiated as Deputy-Judge Advocate. The facts are sufficiently explained in the finding of the Court delivered in the subjoined terms:- After a deliberation of two hours and a half the Court was of opinion, that Commander Menzies and Navigating Lieutenant Christian were guilty of negligence in not using the lead, or in making any attempt to get soundings in approaching the land, and in not wearing the ship off the land during the night, if it were considered dangerous to sound; but, in consideration of the character for great carefulness which Commander Menzies had received, the Court thought such negligence arose from an error of judgment. They therefore adjudged him to lose four years' seniority, and to be severely reprimanded. Taking into consideration the high testimonials Lieut. Christian had received, the Court adjudged him to lose two years' seniority, and to be severely reprimanded. The Court could not separate without expressing its regret that the Osprey was not supplied with the edition of 1865 of the African Pilot.|
|Th 15 August 1867||On Tuesday morning a Court-martial assembled on board the Victory for the trial of Lieut. R.P. Moutray, of the Osprey, for having "on or about the 30th of May, 1867, negligently performed the duty imposed upon him, in that he, as officer of the morning watch, did not acquaint the commander of the change of wind or weather and increased speed of the ship, did not immediately acquaint the commander when the land was reported to be in sight, did not on the land being reported immediately put the ship's head off shore, and take steps to get a cast of the deep sea lead, and when the ship was entering the breakers did not in any way try to decrease the speed of the ship by shortening sail or even giving orders to reverse or stop the engines - in fact, did not, in any way, keep the ship from being stranded." The Court was composed of the following officers: - Capt. A.W.A. Hood (of the Excellent), president; Capt. Fellowes (of the Duke of Wellington); Capt. J.E. Commerell, C.B., V.C. (of the Terrible); Capt. H.T. Burgoyne, V.C. (of the Wivern); and Capt, J.C. Soady (of the Serapis). Mr. E. Hoskins officiated as Judge-Advocate. Commander Menzies prosecuted, and Mr. R.W. Ford appeared as the prisoner's "friend". The Court adjourned at the close of Tuesday's sitting until yesterday, when, after completing the evidence for the prosecutor and defence, the Court sentenced Lieut. Moutray to lose two years' seniority and to be severely reprimanded, further finding that the statement made against the prisoner by Commander Menzies was fully substantiated.|
|Fr 16 August 1867||In the brief notice given in The Times of yesterday of the trial by court-martial, on board Her Majesty's ship Victory, at Portsmouth, of Lieut. Moulttry, who was serving as senior lieut. on board Her Majesty's late ship Osprey, at the time of her recent loss near Algoa Bay, we stated that "the Court found the statements made against Lieut. Moultry were fully substantiated." It should have read - "Were not fully substantiated."|