|Launched||1 June 1840|
|Builders measure||358 tons|
|Note||1869.03.29 wrecked off Dover pier|
|Snippets concerning this vessels career|
|1 December 1841||Commanded by Commander Josiah Oake, coast of Africa|
|3 February 1846|
- 8 September 1848
|Commanded (from commissioning at Sheerness until paying off at Plymouth) by Commander George Sprigg, west coast of Africa (In January 1849 Sprigg was court-martialled after being charged by commodore Sir Charles Hotham, Penelope, of putting 11 men from the crew of the captured Brazilian schooner Castro III into a boat without adequate provisions "in a cruel and oppressive manner, unbecoming the character of an officer in Her Majesty's navy". The charge was considered only partially proved and Sprigg was "reprimanded and admonished to be more circumspect in future".|
|15 June 1852|
- 3 February 1855
|Commanded by Commander Reginald John James George Macdonald, west coast of Africa|
|20 October 1854|
- 4 February 1856
|Commanded (until paying off) by Commander Charles Taylor Leckie, west coast of Africa|
|7 May 1859||Commanded by Commander William Edward Fisher, Queenstown|
|16 March 1860||Commanded by Lieutenant Robert Mansel, Queenstown, tender to Sans Pareil.|
|1 July 1863||Commanded by Lieutenant Robert Mansel, Queenstown, tender to Hastings|
|14 June 1864||Commanded by Lieutenant Robert Mansel, Southampton Water, tender to Boscawen|
|2 January 1866|
- 6 June 1869
|Commanded by Lieutenant Hilary Mansell Carré, tender to Boscawen, training ship, Portland|
|Extracts from the Times newspaper|
|Tu 30 March 1869|
THE EASTER REVIEW AT DOVER.
As was stated in our communication from Dover on Sunday, the weather throughout the morning and afternoon of that day was extremely threatening. There was a cold and piercing atmosphere, the clouds had a lowering appearance, and there was some wind. The Castle heights were covered with a thick layer of snow; so that everything indicated that a genial Spring day was not to be expected on the morrow. Late in the evening there was a heavy fall of rain; but up to midnight nothing like a gale blew on the coast. Soon after 7 o'clock yesterday morning special trains with Volunteers from London began to arrive by both the South-Eastern and the London, Chatham, and Dover lines. Among the first corps which came in were the 3d London, the 37th, the 40th, and the 48th Middlesex. The 3d Middlesex Artillery was also among the early arrivals. The men of the Hon. Artillery Company came down in the course of the morning, their guns having been brought down on Saturday. By 9 o'clock bands were playing in all directions, and some fifteen or sixteen thousand Volunteers were already preparing for the muster on the various points of rendezvous along the beach. But at 9 o'clock the aspect of the clouds became more than threatening, and in another quarter of an hour rain and sleet were falling, and the wind had risen to a hurricane. The tide, too, was then rapidly rising, and an alarm from the Admiralty pier caused every one to run in that direction, where a grand but sad spectacle was witnessed in the total destruction of Her Majesty's ship Ferret. The Ferret and the Marten, companion training brigs, had come round from Portsmouth on Saturday to take part in the naval operations at yesterday's Review. They were moored to buoys on the east side of, and not far from, the Admiralty pier. The Ferret carried eight guns, and had a crew of 17 men, seven or eight stewards, and 86 boys. She was commanded by Lieutenant Carre. Soon after midnight of Sunday the wind, which had gone round from south-east to east north-east, began to blow with much fury. The Breeze, one of the Dover and Calais mail boats, was despatched from the latter port at half-past 1 with passengers, of whom there was a large number, principally excursionists, another steamer waiting behind to carry the mails. All across the Channel the Breeze experienced very bad weather, and before arriving at Dover, which she did about half-past 3, a considerable portion of one of her paddleboxes and some of her stern bulwarks had been carried away. The Breeze brought up on the west side of the pier, where she made fast, her crew - most providentially for the officers, men, and boys of the Ferret - remaining on board. Both the training brigs rolled heavily during the gale, and at 20 minutes past 4 o'clock the Ferret was driven inward with such violence that her moorings were carried away, and, escaping from the Admiralty buoy, she was borne rapidly towards the pier, the water being then very low. The Commander at once gave orders for her anchor to be let go. She, however, fell astern, and was brought up against the pier. The boys were at once called up and told to lose not an instant in preparing to get out of the ship. Many of them were, of course, in their hammocks, and some of those who had been suddenly awakened from sleep raised a cry on finding in what imminent danger all hands were placed; but, after the first surprise, all the young fellows appear to have acted with a courage worthy of their profession. The shouts of the officers and the cry of the lads were heard on board the Breeze, and the crew of the steam packet, on running across the pier, and finding how matters stood with the Ferret, brought all the line and ropes they could lay hold of, and lowered them down to the deck of the training brig, which was then, some 20ft. or 25ft. below the level of the pier. Some of the lads mounted the rigging, and from the yards got on to the pier; but the greater number of them and the men were hauled up by the crew of the Breeze. They were all taken to the Sailors' Home. For some time it had been feared that one of the 86 lads had perished, but on the muster roll being called over all of them answered to their names. It had been hoped that with the rising tide the vessel would right herself and float, but unfortunately she had received serious damages when driven against the granite, and still more unfortunately the wind increased in violence with the rise of the tide, so that at the time when every one was rushing to the pier the Ferret was fast becoming a total wreck. A dreadful sea was rushing in from the north-east, and the waves made terrific sport of the brig. She lay, or rather was spun about, on her beam ends. The waters rushed into and over her every other instant. For a second or two occasionally, as the waves receded, she appeared to be making a desperate effort to right herself, and her two masts rose high above the pier in a nearly perpendicular position; but in another instant the muzzles of her guns on one side were pointed to the sky and her masts were almost dipping into the raging waters. To stand on the landing pier was now impossible. The waves washed clean over it, and the spray drenched the hundreds or people who stood on the second or promenade pier 10ft. higher up. A piercing shower of hail was descending at the same time. The wind carried it across the pier laterally, and with such force that those into whose faces it was driven felt as if every hailstone were a pellet. The battle between the sea and the Ferret lay close at hand, but the whole of Dover Roads was one scene of struggle and excitement. Homeward and outward bound steamers were being tossed about as if made of cork instead of iron, and the great turret-ships, the Royal Sovereign and the Scorpion, were only holding their own by force of steam power. The smaller craft seemed to be at the mercy of the sea, and of the Annie Sharpe, the bark which went aground near Shakespeare's Cliff on Sunday morning, only the masts were visible above water. The Ferret was still a ship up to 10 o'clock, though she had over and over again been thrown with tremendous force against the pier-wall; but at about 10 o'clock her mainmast smashed near the deck and went clean overboard with an appalling crash. In a few minutes more about 20 feet of her remaining mast were carried away, and portions of her hull were shivered to atoms against the solid granite with which it was every second coming into contact. Drifting in under the landing-stage, all that remained of her seemed to be sinking, when the remnant of the mast got fixed in a crane and extended for some distance across the pier railway, just as a passenger train was arriving at the spot. The crane, however, gave way, and carried all that was left of the mast with it without doing damage to life or limb. This was the last struggle of the Ferret. Her guns sank to the bottom, and her hull was broken into fragments, most of which were not larger than firewood. For the next hour the waters all along the pier and the beach were covered with spars and other portions of the wreck. Perhaps no shipwreck was ever viewed by such numbers of people, or under circumstances more extraordinary. Not only was the upper pier covered with men and women, but men rushed out on the lower ground near the Lord Warden Hotel in their anxiety to see and secure bits of the wreck, and were not only wetted to the skin, but sometimes washed off their legs by the waves which constantly dashed in. By this time two long trains were drawn up on the pier. Ladies and gentlemen entered them and viewed the scene from the windows of the carriages, while Volunteers of various corps and in numerous varieties of uniform mounted the roofs and stood on this vantage ground to witness the scene. Not only were the windows of the Lord Warden filled with spectators, but numbers stood behind its lofty parapet, and for the time if really seemed as if all thoughts of the Volunteer Review had given place to the interest which the fate of the Ferret had excited in the minds of the people of Dover and the thousands of strangers then in the town. Indeed, it was believed that no more would be heard of the great Volunteer field day of 1869.
The long line of the Esplanade, extending from the harbour in the direction of the East Cliff, had been set apart as the halting point and general place of assembly for the different battalions on their way from the railway stations to the Heights. With praiseworthy obedience to orders many of the regiments marched to their prescribed stations, indicated by notice-boards set up facing the houses on the Esplanade, but on reaching the places so assigned they found themselves exposed not only to the driving snow but to columns of spray from the waves as they broke upon the beach. To subject men long to adverse influences of this kind, in the name either of pleasure or of military training, would have been manifestly impossible. Upon the other hand, the state of matters on the hills was such that, in the opinion of competent judges, it would have been no easy matter just then even to stand upright against the blasts. A. hasty military council was held of all the commanders of brigades who could be got together, and it was determined to submit to what then looked like necessity, and to abandon the review altogether. With the double object, however, of collecting the men for the return journey, and of taking advantage of a gleam of fine weather, if any such should present itself, it was announced that the Volunteers were to reassemble at 3 o'clock, and to march past the commanding officer, weather permitting. Meanwhile the men were dismissed, and left to their own resources. No sooner was the word given than regiments, red, green, and gray, resolved themselves into their original elements. Not even the Ferret went more suddenly and completely to pieces than did the solid military array of a few minutes previously. Every house of entertainment in every part of the town was thronged with applicants for food or shelter. Uniforms were to be seen in all the windows; Dover was literally in the hands of the Volunteers, and the satisfaction of the inhabitants at the unlooked-for openings for business thus created was proportionate.
In little more than halt an hour, however, the weather, though still threatening, moderated, and his Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge arrived at the Lord Warden Hotel [Prince George, a male-line grandson of King George III, commander-in-chief of the British Army from 1856 to 1895; succeeded to title of Duke of Cambridge in 1850]. With the Commander-in-Chief came his Royal Highness Prince Arthur, his Serene Highness Prince Teck, Lord Granville, and a mounted escort. They had ridden across from Walmer Castle, encountering the storm on their way, and the first inquiry of the Duke was as to the cause of the scene which met his eyes - Volunteers not under arms or in formation, but wandering about in all directions. Explanations were offered; he was assured that the step taken had not been adopted without consideration, and apparently had met with general approval. The Duke, however, was plainly of opinion that the Review ought not to be postponed, and eliciting corroborative expressions from those whom he addressed, he issued peremptory instructions to his Staff to cause the brigades to be reformed. Doubts were not unnaturally expressed by some of the commanding officers, and even by General Lindsay himself, as to the feasibility of getting the men, so recently dismissed, together again. "Nonsense," was the Duke's reply. "Sound the Assembly at once, and let the men be marched to the field." Earnestness and decision produced their usual effects; the crowd of bystanders and Volunteers loudly cheered the remark, and greeted the Royal party with renewed welcomes. And while mounted officers hurried hither and thither, as well as the crowded state of the. streets would permit, the Commander-in-Chief himself cleared the vicinity of the South-Eastern Railway terminus, almost single-handed, sending men right and left to "fall in." Any one who has assisted at an excursion, or pic-nic, where members of the party have strayed off in different directions and lost sight of each other can form some notion of the difficulty of getting the Volunteers together again. Moreover, though "the Assembly" was sounded in front of every hotel, in all the leading thoroughfares, and almost at every street corner, there were reasons - or at least excuses - for its not being obeyed with alacrity in all cases. Many bad been wet through, or nearly so, and it calls for an effort, even on the part of strong-minded men, to struggle into damp boots or coats again at a moment's notice. Many had food or drink before them when the bugles began; some had actually left the town, or made other arrangements for the day; while, of course, there was a proportion -though happily a small one - of men who flatly avowed that they "felt themselves very comfortable, and did not mean to stir." Among the steadiest Volunteers also there were conflicting opinions; some held firmly to the "3 o'clock" order given in the first instance, discouraging as well meant but mistaken interference, the efforts of those who were endeavouring to bring about an immediate parade. Some whose rendezvous lay in the East had to go West in the first instance to get their rifles. As soon, however, as two or three bands had been got together, and the steady tramp of a battalion en route for the Heights was heard, indecision and conflicting currents came to an end, and three-fourths, or possibly four-fifths, of the Volunteers in Dover instinctively fell into their places. Taking all the circumstances into account, the weather and consequent state of the roads, the sudden dispersion and still more unforeseen recall, it is to the credit of the force, as military men cheerfully admitted, that within two hours and a half from the time the Duke of Cambridge issued his orders at the Lord Warden the head of the column - not taken indiscriminately in the order of arrival, but arranged as nearly as possible in accordance with the original distribution in the War-office returns - marched past the flagstaff in rear of the Castle-hill Fort, two miles and upwards away from the town.
On leaving the Esplanade the troops, headed by their bands, marched past the Obelisk, and on to the Castle Heights. The streets on their route were decorated with Venetian flags and other draperies, but the prospect which lay before the head of the column as it gained the summit of the hill was bleak in the extreme. Dotted along the crest of a distant ridge were the pieces of siege artillery, which the traction engines, also conspicuous against the sky-line, had dragged to their positions on Saturday. Further on lay the Lone Tree, with all the desolation that its name implies, and between and around were the lands under cultivation, for the damage done to which the farmers were guaranteed by anticipation. To the right, however, of the column, where the flagstaff was erected, a numerous company assembled to witness the march past, and further groups of spectators crested the Castle-hill Fort, which lay in the background. Notwithstanding the severity of the day and the sweeping wind to which the heights were exposed, many ladies in carriages, on horseback, or on foot were among the lookers-on. His Royal Highness the Commander-in-Chief took up his position at the saluting base, with his Royal Highness Prince Arthur on his right hand. Prince Teck rode past at the head of his own brigade of Surrey Artillery, and then joined the Royal circle at the flagstaff. General Sir Hope Grant and a brilliant staff were immediately in rear, and in striking contrast to the British scarlet were two Austrian uniforms. The passage of regiments before the Commander-in-Chief was sustained with as much regularity as circumstances permitted; but occasionally there were considerable intervals, and Lord Truro's Artillery Brigade had to make great exertions to bring up their 9-pounders in time to close the procession. The 4th, 91st, and 94th Regiments of the Line, which took part through representative companies in the day's proceedings, were loudly cheered, and their well-ordered lines stood out in relief against the looser array of the Volunteers. Many of these, however, acquitted themselves most creditably, and would have done even better if they could be induced to remember that in marching past their business is to be looked at, not to look at others. As already explained, men had come together very hastily on the Esplanade, with great coats, capes, &ec., in disorder, but advantage was taken of every little halt to achieve something resembling uniformity of appearance, and the corps undoubtedly were in much better form at the summit than they were at the beginning of the ascent. The 49th Middlesex (Post-office), if placed in trying circumstances by marching immediately after the regulars, enjoyed an advantage in having their great coats -which they all wore - made upon one uniform pattern. The regiment bore itself well, and was among those which obtained merited applause. The 47th Lancashire were easily recognized by their knapsacks, and as visitors from a distance, and as well-drilled Volunteers, they, too, were warmly received. Oxford and Cambridge Universities together made a good strong company, but the regiment which claims a prescriptive right to recruit from the two University corps did not appear. Surely, it would be better for the Inns of Court to send even one or two companies on occasions of this kind than to sacrifice its old claims on public admiration? It was a gratifying feature of the day that there were comparatively few stragglers present on the ground. "The Volunteer unattached," who has been seen on so many occasions walking about in a purposeless manner, far from his own regiment, sometimes all over the field, and sometimes soliciting permission from a corps utterly unlike his own in point of uniform to march past with them, was on this occasion happily nowhere. He probably staid behind at Dover, and did not take the trouble of climbing the hill. On the other hand, it was necessary to read a somewhat sharp lesson to an officer of a Cinque Ports Corps, who, in defiance of rule, crossed the line of march close to the flagstaff, and did not yield readily to remonstrance. The carriages convoying the new telegraph, apparatus were regarded with much curiosity. Externally they are not unlike highly-finished ambulance wagons; in charge, however, of Engineers, instead of the Military Train. The march past concluded shortly before 4 o'clock, and most persons presumed that the different corps would be taken straight back to Dover with a. view to their speedy departure by railway. The Commander-in-Chief, however, was bent apparently upon adhering, as far as time permitted, to the original programme. Accordingly, as the various regiments passed the flagstaff orders were sent them to march upon the points indicated in the plans prepared beforehand, and long lines of many-coloured uniforms spread themselves, in compliance with the Duke's orders, over what appeared to be, and doubtless were, many miles of country. Of the artillery corps present, the majority were despatched to Dover Castle. The engagement was supposed to begin at some distance from the Castle between the rival lines of skirmishers, but it gradually drew nearer to the walls, and then the fortress took its part in the fray. To the general public this was the most attractive portion of the spectacle, for between the nondescript hue of the chalky soil and the kindred haze of the smoke from the guns the movements of the rival armies were followed with difficulty, and when, later on, the firing extended to the fleet the interest in this direction culminated. The Royal Sovereign and the Scorpion, for some time before they opened fire from their turrets, had lain broadside on to the Castle, with bulwarks lowered and the muzzles of the guns showing; but it was feared that the same cause which had prevented the other vessels from venturing out of harbour to fulfil their share in the programme might hinder the large ships from coming into action. The general mind, however, was reassured when, with a roar that shook the houses in the town, the guns of the Royal Sovereign and Scorpion opened.
The cannonade was briskly sustained both on land and at sea for a considerable time, and the shades of evening were falling when the final signal was given, and besiegers and besieged ended their differences amicably. '
All the special trains conveying Volunteers on their return to London left Dover by a quarter-past 8 in the evening. Mr. Eborall, Mr. Forbes, Mr. J.S. Martin, Mr. Knight, and other officers of the lines of railway were in attendance at the stations, and the trains were got off without accident.
In the course of the review and the field operations the following casualties occurred: - One of the 94th Foot fell dead on parade of heart disease; William Haghae, of the 9th Essex, sprained his knee; James Datson, of the 2d Surrey, sustained some, not serious, contusions of the head; and Robert Sheringham, of the 28th Kent, met with a similar accident. At night the Castle and the ships-of-war were illuminated with the magnesium light.
|Th 1 April 1869||The Royal Sovereign, turret-ship, Capt. A.A. Hood, C.B., arrived at Spithead at 7 p.m. on Tuesday from Dover, and yesterday morning went into Portsmouth Harbour to take up her usual moorings, and transfer her officers and crew back to the gunnery ship Excellent. The Royal Sovereign was officered and manned from the Excellent on Wednesday, the 24th inst., Capt. Hood hoisting his broad pendant on board pro tem., as commanding officer of the Review Squadron. The turret-ship left Spithead the next morning at 7 o'clock under steam, the smaller craft having started some hours before. At about 2 p.m. the Stork gunboat was sighted under Beachy Head, utterly unable to steam against a strong north-easterly breeze which had sprung up, and with a signal flying asking for assistance. The Royal Sovereign soon had the Stork secured to her stern, by stout hawsers, and steamed on for Dover, where both anchored the next morning. No land was seen during the night or the early part of the morning owing to the thickness of the weather, until a sudden rift in the fog enabled the officers of the watch to discern the light on the Foreland on the turret-ship's port bow, when the Stork was cast off and both, vessels ran in to an anchorage berth off Dover. The floating steam gun-carriage Staunch, which had left Portsmouth on Wednesday evening, was safely navigated round by Lieut. Hall (Her Majesty's ship Excellent) into the inner harbour at Dover before the stormy weather came on. Friday afternoon, off Dover, was fine, and nothing of importance occurred connected with the squadron; but on Saturday the wind sprung up strong from the N.E., and continued increasing in strength, until it culminated in the gale of Sunday night and the early part of Monday morning. The small vessels of the squadron took shelter in the inner harbour, but those in the outer roadstead were exposed to the full violence of the long heavy seas which rolled round the Foreland from the North Sea. The Royal Sovereign rolled heavily, and for a time dragged her anchors, but steam being up, her screw was set working sufficiently to take the greater part of the strain off the cables, and thenceforward the heavy, broad-beamed, old craft rode out the weather bravely. The vessel, however, in her then exposed position, in one of the most unreliable anchorages on the coasts of the United Kingdom, required unremitting care and attention, and as no protection can be found on the upper deck from the violence of the weather or the tons of water that "skeet" over her fore and aft, under such circumstances officers and men suffered considerably during the night and the early part of the following day. At 3 p.m. the anchor was weighed and the ship took part in the attack upon the Dover defences, 55 rounds being fired from her turret-guns. The conduct of the officer commanding the late training brig Ferret, Lieutenant Carré, after his vessel broke adrift from the Admiralty buoy and struck on the pier, is spoken of in the highest terms by officers and others who witnessed the wreck. He is stated to have given his orders from the deck of his stranded vessel as deliberately as if he were carrying on the usual evening drill, and this exhibition of cool execution of duty under such unexpectedly trying circumstances did more than anything else possibly could to allay the terror of the boys on board, nit one of whom had ever been at sea before. When the Ferret first went in alongside the pier her hammock netting on the rise of the waves would be above the level of the pier, and on the fall of the sea the latter would be touched by the brig's yardarm. This fact will tell what difficulty there must have been in getting the 86 boys and the 27 seamen and officers out of the brig. All were fortunately got out safe, and were taken round to Portsmouth from Dover in the Royal Sovereign.|
|Tu 6 April 1869||THE SEAMANSHIP OF THE ADMIRALTY. - The following is, we believe, an authentic anecdote of the late review at Dover. When the Ferret had, shortly after drifting against Dover Pier, become a complete wreck, signals were made from the shore to the Royal Sovereign, the flagship of the senior officer in command, informing him of the fact, as well as of the safety of the crew, with the exception of one boy. Captain Hood at once telegraphed the information to the Admiralty in London, and received in reply orders from that body to take the Royal Sovereign into Dover Harbour. Now, inasmuch as the entrance to the harbour is too narrow to admit the Royal Sovereign, and as, until after the half-tide, even the packet boats have often a difficulty in finding enough water to float them, the task was a difficult as well as a dangerous one to perform. Luckily, Captain Hood thought it best to act on his own responsibility. - Pall Mall Gazette.|
|We 7 April 1869||THE DOVER SAILORS' HOME. - One of the least noticed, but certainly not least noteworthy, of the incidents connected with the late Volunteer Review at Dover was the great service rendered by an institution which, itself the result of voluntary efforts, remains a permanent source of help and comfort to a most deserving class of men in their direst need. The Sailors' Home at Dover, established, like its kindred institutions in other ports, for the relief of distressed and shipwrecked mariners, this Easter season extended its hospitality to other travellers, who, but for its shelter, would have found difficulty in lodging themselves at that particular juncture. On the Saturday preceding the Review upwards of 90 Volunteers were received into the Home, and ample accommodation still remained, it was hoped, for all the legitimate claimants of its hospitality who might reasonably be expected to present themselves. Its resources, however, were taxed to the uttermost. On the Sunday a large Liverpool ship was wrecked under Shakespeare's Cliff, and the crew, numbering 14, were rescued and lodged in the Home. On the Monday morning Her Majesty's brig Ferret was driven against the pier and broken up. The crew of some 20 men, besides 86 boys, were saved, and all were sent to the truly named Sailors' Home, and this addition to the previous inmates brought up the total to nearly 250 - the destitute of whom were supplied with good and ample food, some 30 being boarded at the chaplain's private house. Two men were brought to the Home apparently dead, but by diligent and careful attention they recovered. The value of such an institution, and its adaptation to its purpose, could hardly be submitted to a rougher test, its successful endurance of which is its strongest recommendation to public support.|
|Fr 23 April 1869|
LOSS OF HER MAJESTY'S SHIP FERRET.
A naval court-martial assembled yesterday morning on board Her Majesty's ship Duke of Wellington, in Portsmouth harbour, for the trial of Lieutenant Hilary Carre, and the officers and crew of Her Majesty's late training brig Ferret, for the loss of that vessel off Dover on the 29th of March last. The court was composed of Captain R.W. Courtney, Her Majesty's ship Duke of Wellington, President; Captains S.H. Henderson, Her Majesty's ship Urgent; T.B. Lethbridge, Her Majesty's ship Simoom; J.C. Soady, Her Majesty's ship Serapis; and S.A. Wilmshurst, Her Majesty's ship Flora.
Mr. Martin, paymaster of Her Majesty's yacht, barrister-at-law, officiated as Deputy Judge Advocate.
On the opening of the court, and after the members had been sworn in and the customary preliminary documents read, the Court proceeded to receive evidence. The written statement by Lieutenant H. Carré to Captain A.H. Hood, C.B., the senior officer commanding the flotilla despatched to Dover to take part in the Volunteer Review there last Easter, was read to the Court and received as evidence. This document apparently exhausts the entire subject of the loss of the Ferret, and we therefore give it in extenso:-
"Sailors' Home, Dover, March 29, 1869."Sir, - In compliance with your orders of the 24th inst., on arriving at Dover on the 26th I proceeded to the Admiralty buoy and secured the Ferret to it with her starboard bower chain.
"We remained at the buoy safely all Saturday and Sunday, though it blew at times with great violence from the N.E. and S.E. There was every reason to believe that the moorings were quite capable of holding the brig even in aheavy gale.
"About 8 p.m. on Sunday, finding the barometer falling, I sent the topgallantmasts down, pointed yards to the wind and placed the anchor watch, as a precaution, the weather being then fine. On going below for the night I left orders to be called if the wind freshened.
"About 10 a.m. on Monday, as I was making my way on deck, a heavy squall struck the brig and parted the mooring chain under the buoy. The port anchor was let go by the anchor watch, but the wind and heavy sea caused the anchor to drag, and shortly after the brig struck the Admiralty pier with her port broadside, her head being towards the town.
"In a very few minutes the port quarter boat, with the brig's quarter and chains, were smashed to pieces against the pier, as the waves lifted the ship up and down, and occasionally threw her with great violence against the pier.
"It was evident that the brig could not stand this for long, so I ordered a bluelight to be burnt, and directed the boys to leave the brig at once, at the same time ordering Navigating Sub-Lieutenant Drake to see all the boys off the lower deck. Navigating Sub-Lieutenant Roe, with some of the men, were assisting the boys (who were perfectly panicstricken) to scale the side of the pier, it being nearly low water. With a few hands I squared the mainyard and sent some of the boys out of the ship that way.
"The boys being all out of the brig, and seeing there was no hope of doing anything, I ordered the men and officers to get on shore and shortly followed myself.
"The day was now breaking, and a tug came in and offered her assistance, which I at once accepted, wishing to save the brig if possible. Accompanied, therefore, by the navigating and sub-lieutenants, the boatswain, and the men, I regained with difficulty the deck of the brig. We succeeded in getting the tug's large hawser on board, and secured it round the foremast. The tug then commenced steaming, and the brig's port chain was slipped; but the tug could make no progress whatever, and the hawser being parted or let go, the brig drove along the pier with a tremendous sea astern of her, which occasionally broke in board, until she finally bilged and went down. This effort having failed, and all hope being now entirely at an end, I again ordered the brig to be cleared, and left her myself shortly afterwards.
"The gale continuing with much violence, the brig broke up and became a complete wreck at about 10 30 in the forenoon. No stores of any kind could be saved, for the seas were making a clean breach over them. Neither officers nor crew saved anything beyond what they stood in when they left the ship.
"On landing, the boys were taken on board the Breeze mail packet, on the lee side of the pier, out of the wet and cold. They were afterwards lodged and fed at the Dover Sailors' Home, although the Home at the time was full of Volunteers, and I take this opportunity of bringing to their Lordships' notice the great kindness and attention with which the boys and crew were cared for by the secretary and officers of the Home.
"We are greatly indebted to the captains and crews of the mail steamers Breeze and Maid of Kent for their very prompt assistance in throwing ropes from the top of the pier, by which a large portion of the crew of the Ferret were saved.
"The Coastguard, under the command of Navigating Sub-Lieutenant Morrison, were speedily on the spot with their lines and lifebelts, which fortunately were not required, as the crew were already on shore.
"In conclusion, I wish to bear favourable testimony to the behaviour of the officers and men under my command while they were engaged in carrying out my instructions, under these trying circumstances.
"I have the honour to be, &c.,
"HILARY CARRÉ. Lieutenant-Commander."
Lieutenant Carré, with his officers and ship's company, who kept watch while the brig lay off Dover, were next examined at some length by the COURT, but their evidence corroborated on all points the statement contained in the letter from Lieutenant Carré to Captain Hood. The only additional evidence of importance was to the effect that a heavy gale blew at the time of the wreck of the brig in the Dover outer roads, but where the Ferret lay it did not exceed 7 to 8 in force, a very heavy, high, running sea, however, accompanying it. Immediately the chain moorings of the Admiralty buoy parted, at which the brig was lying, the quartermaster of the watch stated that he had the brig's, anchor let go; but after about seven shackles of chain had run out and the anchor never "snubbed" the brig in her driving course, he had the compressor bowsed to to make the anchor bite the ground. This had no effect, and the brig was by that time too close in with the Admiralty pier to allow of more chain being veered out. All the witnesses spoke to the chain moorings of the buoy having been much larger than the brig's chain cable by which she was shackled on to the buoy, but no one could give any opinion why the buoy mooring chains broke under the buoy. On the other hand it was proved that the Ferret at the Volunteer Review held at Dover two years ago had rode out safely a very heavy gale at this very buoy.
At the conclusion of the evidence the Court adjourned for deliberation, and on its being reopened. the DEPUTY JUDGE-ADVOCATE announced its finding, to the effect that no blame was attached to Lieutenant-Commander Hilary M. Carré or any of the remaining officers and crew of Her Majesty's late brig Ferret for the loss of that vessel, the Court finding that the loss was caused by the chain of the Admiralty buoy at which she was lying unaccountably parting during a gale. The Court further desired to express before separating their approbation of the measures taken by Lieutenant Carré and of his officers after the brig struck, which was most probably the means of saving many lives; and also desired to express their approbation of the course subsequently followed by the officers and crew of the ship in returning to her a second time to endeavour to save her.
The Court then dissolved.