Hupeh ( TSR )

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Hupeh (TSR)
ID /IMO No.1099024.
Type Cargo.
Gross Registered Tonnage 2,819 tons
Builder Gray, West Hartlepool. Yard No. 428.
Delivery date Dec. 1891.
Length 304 ft.
Width 41 ft
Propulsion mode Single screw.
Power Steam.
Fuel Coal.
Launched Oct. 19th. 1891


December 1891. Delivered as "Hupeh" for the Taikoo Sugar Refinery.

November 20th. 1899. Foundered position 14.10 N 118.13 E. Approximately 200 miles to the west of Manila


Events / Stories


Report from the Otago Daily Times - 25th January 1900

A thrilling tale of the sea was brought by the steamer Chingtu, from China, to Sydney.  The steamer Hupeh, which sank in midocean, was the vessel concerned.  The Hupeh left Pasveroean, in Java, on the 8th November, with crew of 60 men all told, and one passenger, a Mr Reville. She had a cargo of sugar.  All went well until the Island of Cabra was passed, on November 14, and then bad weather set in; the wind increased to a gale, and a heavy sea got up.  The Hupeh began to roll tremendously, and gradually listed until, on the 18th, she had a list of 55deg, and afterwards the end approached rapidly. The water was quickly increasing in her hold, the fires had been extinguished, and she was gradually sinking by the stern.  The boats had all been smashed up by the seas which had all the time been washing over her, with the exception of one, which was very much damaged, so the rafts were got out, and the crew and officers got down on them and floated off clear of the steamer.

Their experience during that night was terrible. The boatswain reported that another raft, which had been quite close to them at one period during the night, had been capsized, and had then sunk, whilst the crew had been torn to pieces by the sharks, which had rent them limb from limb, fighting madly amongst themselves for the bodies of the writhing victims as they struggled in a sea of blood. The sharks were in swarms; a large shoal had in fact been following the Hupeh for several days before the hideous finale, evidently anticipating a red harvest, and they seemed maddened with blood, even rushing the rafts and endeavouring to snatch the occupants from their refuge.  Then the raft containing the Europeans capsized, and the officers were all precipitated into the water.  Fortunately for them, the raft remained afloat, and the sharks were just at that moment not in close proximity, and after a wild scramble they managed to get back again before the sharks, who were instantly attracted by the splashing, managed to reach them.  The last man was just drawn in as the advance guard rushed the position, making a vicious snap as he flashed past.  Their provisions were, of course, washed away and snapped up by the voracious monsters, and their raft seemed to be on the verge of sinking, so they strained every nerve to get back to the ship, and, shortly after daylight on the 19th, succeeded in doing so.  During the day and night they had been on board the raft they had been very lightly clad, and many of them had been terribly sunburnt, and their condition was truly pitiable.

Captain Pennefather decided to endeavour to reach the Island of Lubang, and accordingly, stepping the boat’s mast, they set sail, and on the 22nd sighted that island, and landed at a place called Monok.  During her run those on board had been put on very short rations; in fact, the allowance was about two biscuits and a soda water bottle of water per diem for each man, and, as can be imagined, they were nearly starving when they landed on the island. The natives treated them very well, giving them food and drink, and finally took them to a place called Look. The head man of this village sent them to Manila in the schooner Andreas, a vessel belonging to some of the rebels.  This schooner entered Manila under a flag of truce, landed the shipwrecked mariners, and was then permitted to return unmolested.  Captain Pennefather and his officers were then given passages to Hong Kong.


"HUPEH" (S.S.)

REPORT of a Marine Court of Inquiry held at the Office of the Harbour Master, in the City of Victoria, in the Colony of Hong Kong, on the 19th day of December, 1899, under the provisions of Section 13 of Ordinance No. 26 of 1891.

The Court having for its members,

Commander R. MURRAY RUMSEY, R.N., Stipendiary Magistrate, &c.,

Lieutenant P. NELSON-WARD, R.N., H.M.S. "Barfleur,"

HARRY SMITH, Esquire, Master, British s.s. "Doric,"

SYDNEY DE BOHUN LOCKYER, Esquire, Master, British s.s. "Rohilla,"

JAMES WILLIAMSON, Esquire, Master, British s.s. "Chow Fa,"

to make inquiry respecting the circumstances connected with the foundering of the British steamship "Hupeh," official No. 99,024, of London; George Henry Pennefather, master, number of whose certificate of competency is 015,284, was master and commander.


We find that the British steamship "Hupeh," official No. 99,024, of London, of which George Henry Pennefather was master, the number of whose certificate as master was 015,284, issued at London, left Pasarang (Java) on the 6th November, with a full cargo of about 4,000 tons of raw sugar, bound for Hong Kong.

The "Hupeh " was a steel steamer of 1,846 register tons, built in 1891, having a cellular double bottom, two decks, four holds, and six watertight bulkheads. On the 14th November Cabra Island was passed, four miles off, the ship then experiencing strong northerly winds and high sea.

After passing Cabra Island a course was set for Hong Kong, the weather continuing stormy with a high sea.

On the 16th, at about 2 a.m., the master noticed an unaccountable list to port, which gradually increased until at about 8 a.m. it had reached 8°, the ship was then turned round and a course set for Manila, it being supposed that the cargo from some cause had shifted, but the list increasing, the hatches were taken off the No. 1 hold, that being the only one which, in the opinion of the master, it was safe to uncover, and cargo was then jettisoned until the ship became nearly upright. The holds were then sounded and in No. 2 only was there found about four feet of syrup or thick sugared water. The pumps were put on to this, but very shortly ceased to throw, and in a very short space of time the ship had fallen over to starboard, and in half an hour had a list of 27°, all the boats being swept away on that side as had previously happened to all but two boats on the port side; No. 1 hold was again opened and cargo jettisoned, but the ship continued to go over, and eventually capsized and foundered at about 7.30 a.m. on the 20th November. The officers and crew had left on the eight rafts the day before the ship foundered, but the master and the only passenger remained by her; two rafts returned the next morning, and their occupants went on board the ship, and when the ship went down all were floated off in the one remaining boat; the survivors being the master, three officers, three engineers, one European passenger; Chinese - one boatswain, three quartermasters, one lamptrimmer, and two sailors; (15 all told, eight Europeans and seven Chinese), leaving 46 Chinese missing.

All the ship's papers were lost. After carefully considering the evidence, the Court finds no little difficulty in forming any opinion as to the cause of the casualty, but it appears fairly conclusive that the ship sprung a leak in No. 2 hold, and the probability seems that, in an unusual roll, the water settled on the port side of the flat tank top on which the cargo was stowed; that when the ship became upright through the jettisoning of cargo, she only remained in that state till another unusual roll settled the water over to starboard, and that by this time the stowage had been so disturbed by the dissolving of the sugar that the whole cargo gradually fell over to the starboard side till it capsized the ship.

The Court does not find that any blame attaches to the master for the loss of the ship, and they are impressed with his conduct in electing to remain by her to the last, and by the conduct of his passenger, who remained with him; such conduct, in the Court's opinion, stands out in relief against that of the officers and crew, who appeared only too ready to get away, notwithstanding the fact that their captain remained; but seeing that it was not against the wishes of the captain that they pursued this course, the Court refrains from making more than a passing reference to their conduct.

The master's certificate is returned to him.

Given under our hands at Victoria, Hong Kong, the 19th day of December, 1899.


R. MURRAY RUMSEY, R. Com. R.N., President.


HARRY SMITH, Master, British s.s. "Doric."

S. DE B. LOCKYER, Master, British s.s. "Rohilla."

J. WILLIAMSON, Master, British s.s. "Chow Fa."

(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 13th day of February, 1900.)