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Sister ship of the Chinkiang

ID /IMO No. 1108367.
Type cargo/passenger
Gross Registered Tonnage 2,002 grt. 1.240 nett.
Builder Scott & Co. CD. Yard No.351.
Delivery date July 1st. 1898.
Hull Steel, clincher construction.
Decks 2
Length 275.0 ft. F'c'sle 30.0 ft. bridge 70.0 ft. Poop 20.0 ft.
Width 38.0 ft.
Depth 22.5 ft.
Engine Builder Greenock Foundry Co.
Engine Type Steam, triple expansion.
Engine cylinders 3, 20 ins.dia. 32 ins.dia. 52 ins.dia.
Engine stroke 3.25 ft.
Engine Power 250 nhp, 1,100 ihp.
Propulsion mode Single screw.
Speed 10 kts.
Rigged Schooner.
Displacement 4,133 tons.
Deadweight 2,783 tons.
Bale capacity 129,650 cu.ft.
Block coefficient (Cb) 0.77
Power Steam.
Condenser cooling surface 1,750 sq.ft.
Steam expansion ratio 11.2
ratio_of_air_pump_capacity_to_lp_cylinder_volume 17.6
ratio_of_sw_circulating_pump_capacity_to_lp_cylinder_volume 17.3
Boiler 2, cylindrical (scotch).
Boiler pressure 180 psi.
Boiler dimensions (total) 14.5 ft. high, 10.25 ft. long.
Heating Surface (total) 3,362 sq. ft.
Grate Area (total) 126 sq.ft.
Steam space volume 886 cu.ft.
Fuel Coal.
Furnace 3 per boiler.
Furnace dimensions 3'6" dia. 7'0" long.
Draught Natural.
Propeller Right hand, 14.0 ft dia. 14.5 ft. pitch.
Propeller blades 4
Propeller formation Cast.
Propeller material Iron.
Launched April 25th. 1898.
Original owner China Navigation Co.
Delivered to owner July 1st. 1898.


October 21st. 1928. On a voyage from Swatow to Shanghai, the "Kwangse" was wrecked on Ping Rock (25.11 N. 119.10 E.) in the Southern Approach to the Haitan Straits. Graham Torrible in his book "Yangtze Reminiscences" states that:- "this was a true case of the new second mate thinking the spot on the chart was a fly-spek". The Court of Enquiry found that the main cause of the stranding was due to the brand-new second mate failing to arouse the Master, but also put the blame on the lack of a compass from which, at night, proper bearings could be taken. The binacle cover had to remain in place, in order to light the card for the helmsman, and only an experienced hand could get a reliable bearing under such conditions.


Built fror the China coast trade. A "beancaker".

Events / Stories

Board of Trade Wreck report for the "Kwangse"

Finding and Court Order of a Naval Court held at H.B.M. Consulate-General, Shanghai, on Monday and Tuesday, the 19th. and 20th. of November 1928 to investigate the circumstances attending the stranding of the British steamship "Kwangse" of the port of London official number 108367, when on voyage from Swatow to Shanghai on the 21st. October 1928, at the north east of Ping Rock, and to inquire into the conduct of the master, mates engineers and crew of the said vessel.

The S.S. "Kwangse" was a steam vessel of 1,228 tons, registered tonnage, official number 108367, built at Greenock in 1898 and belonging to the port of London. . It appears from the evidence given before the Court that she sailed from Swatow on or about 5.25 p.m. on 19th.October, 1928, bound for Shanghai.

On 21st. October 1928, the master Captain William Noon, having fixed the position of the ship at 1.30 a.m. by cross-bearings of Shot point, Sorrel Point and Meichen Island, shaped course north 47 degrees east, true, and at 1.40 a.m. left the bridge in the charge of the second officer, Mr. Leonard Frederick Garnet, giving verbal instructions to the second officer that he was to be called when the ship was approaching Ping Rock, but making no stipulation as to the time. The master further ordered that the second officer should exercise care that the ship was not set off her course. It was the master's intention to alter course when Ping Rock came abeam. He showed the second officer the fixed position which lie had plotted, and the posiions on the chart of Ping Rock and Ockseu Light.

The sea at the time was moderately rough, and the wind was dead ahead, fresh to strong. The night was dark but clear.

During the passage of the ship across the entrance of Pinghai Bay, the second officer took frequent bearings of the Okseu Light and at 03.30 had sighted and obtained a bearing of Ping Rock. He, at the same time, took a bearing of Ockseu Light, which however gave him no fix, because the ship was almost on the line joining Ping Rock and Ockseu Light.

He noted the time of Ping Rock abeam as 03.35 and made an entry in the deck log to this effect. This entry, subsequently to the stranding, he altered to 03.45.

The second officer then left the bridge to call the master.e found the master asleep, but fully dressed, on the settee in his cabin and called him. The master stirred but made no reply. The second officer took no further steps to ensure that he had awakened the master, but returned to the bridge.

At 03.45 the second officer obtained another bearing of ping Rock, which by this time was on the quarter. He maintained the course and speed of the vessel, and at 04.01, at which time he was at the chart table marking off an 04.00 position on the chart, he was joined by the chief officer, who had come to take over the watch. The chief officer went straight to the chart table, and was shown the 04.00 position on the chart plotted by the second officer. Immediately, the chief officer realized that the ship had already passed Ping Rock. he noticed that the master was not on the bridge, and enquired of the second officer whether the master had left orders to be called, receiving a reply in the affirmative; the second officer also stating that he had called the master when off Ping Rock.

The chief officer had no cause to doubt the position plotted by the second officer, but observing that the ship had already passed Ping Rock, considered it his first duty to get the master up on the bridge forthwith, without delaying until his eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness, and he could confirm the position of the ship by taking bearings for himself.

The chief officer accordingly left the bridge still in charge of the second officer, and called the master, informing him that the ship had already passed Ping Rock. The master woke up at once, and immediately followed the chief officer on to the bridge.

The master went straight to the chart table, and while the second officer was showing him the plotted position, the ship struck. The n=master at once ordered "Full Astern" on the telegraph, but seeing immediately afterwards the rocks around the ship, ordered the engine to be stopped.

The wells and tanks were at once sounded, and the ship was found to be making water in No.1 hold and in the chain locker. The pumps were started and for a time kept the water in check. A general S.O.S., reporting the position and state of the ship was sent out by wireless. Boats were swung out, and life belts distributed, and steps taken tp seal down No.1 tween deck hatch.

The tide was falling, and as the ship settled, she became less and less water-borne. The ship was attached by wires to the rocks to keep here steady until assistance should arrive. About four hours after the ship had struck, the bottom of No.2 hold was observed to be set up, and on the tide again making, the water overcame the pumps, and rose in Nos. 1 and 2 holds to the full extent of the tidal range. this was responsible for the ship ultimately being abandoned, but not until steps had been taken to remove the cargo, the greater part of which was recovered intact.

The Court having regard to the circumstances above finds as follows:-

1. That the second officer improperly carried out the instructions given him by the master, to the effect that the latter was to be called when approaching Ping Rock.

2. That the second officer made no attempt to use the bearings he had obtained of Ockseu Light, while crossing Pinghai Bay, to arrive at an estimate of the speed of the vessel over the ground, before reaching Ping Rock.

3. That after passing Ping Rock, the fixes obtained by the second officer were consistently in error, so that he failed to appreciate the dangerous extent to which the ship had been set inshore, and so maintained his course and speed.

4. That in view of the comparative inexperience of the second officer, and the lack of suitable objects from which to determine, before reaching Ping Rock, whether the ship was maintaining her line, it would have been wiser for the master to have given written instructions in the night order book, to be called at a definite time earlier than that at which the ship could reach Ping Rock.

5. That although he had joined the ship so recently, the master should have taken steps to ensure that all his officers were acquainted with the standing orders of the company as laid down in the night order book.

6. That the Court sees no ground for blaming the conduct of the chief officer.

7. That the master lost no time in going up on the bridge when awakened by the chief officer, but did not arrive in time to take any action, whereby the stranding might have been averted. Subsequent to the stranding of the ship, adequate and seamanlike measures and precautions were taken to ensure the safety of life and property.

8. That, in order to facilitate the accurate taking of bearings by night, it is recommended that, in all coasting vessels, the compass which is employed for taking bearings, should be mounted in some type of binnacle which permits the illumination of the compass card front below.

9. That the Court finds the second officer to blame in that:-

(a) did fail to carry out properly his instructions to call the master when approaching Ping Rock.

(b) did negligently fail to ascertain the speed the vessel was making good over the ground when approaching Ping Rock, as it was in his power to do so.

(c) did, after passing Ping Rock, show a consistent error in fixing and plotting the position of the vessel therefrom deriving a false sense of security, which led directly to the stranding and loss of the ship.

(d) did deliberately erase an entry from the deck log and substitute a different entry in lieu.

The Court in Pursuance of the powers vested in it by section 470 (1)(a) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, therefore orders that, a copy of the report or a statement of the case upon which the investigation was ordered having been furnished to Mr.Leonard Frederick Garrett before the commencement of the investigation, his Certificate as First Mate, Steamship, Number 23854, issued by the Board of Trade and dated 11th. July 1928, be suspended for the period of six calendar months from this day, for the wrong full acts and defaults aforesaid. The Court recommends that he be granted a certificate as Second mate, Steamship, during the period of suspension of the certificate as First mate, Steamship.

Dated at Shanghai this Twentieth Day of November 1928. H.F.Lane. Lt Commander R.N., President D.H.Clarke, H.B.M. Vice-Consul. S. Findeison. Master , s.s. "Loongwoo" A,R.Williamson. Assistant Marine Superintendent, Indo China Steam Navigation Co., Ltd.

Issued by the Board of Trade in London, March 7th. 1929.