ss. Fortunatus Inquiry

Description: BOT Wreck Report for 'Fortunatus', 1907
Creator: Board of Trade
Date: 1907
Copyright: Out of copyright
Partner: SCC Libraries
Partner ID: Unknown


(No. 7118.)


REPORT of a Court of Inquiry held in the Marine Court of Port Louis, Mauritius, on the 23rd day of August, 1907, to investigate the circumstances connected with the loss of the s.s. "FORTUNATUS," of Melbourne, which was abandoned on fire at sea on 31st July, 1907.

On the 16th July, the s.s. "Fortunatus" left Calcutta for Melbourne, via Colombo, arriving at Colombo on July 23rd, completed loading general cargo, and left on the 26th July for Melbourne. On the 30th of July, at about 8.40 p.m., smoke was discovered issuing from a ventilator amidships on the bridge; also from the stoke hold door on the port side. The ship was then in lat. 6° 26' S., long. 90° 40' E. by account. Shortly after the alarm of fire had been given, alarm was given that a man was overboard. The ship was manœuvred and life buoys thrown over with lights attached, and the port-quarter boat was about to be lowered when it was reported that no man was overboard. The engines had been stopped in the meantime and were not started again, the ship lying stern to wind. Hoses were played wherever fire was seen, and everything possible was done to arrest the progress of the fire, both by water and by breaking out cargo. The work continued during the whole of the night, till about 8.30 a.m. when the flames having enveloped the ship and the boats beginning to be scorched, it was decided to abandon the ship, as the position had become absolutely untenable. The ship was accordingly abandoned, the last boat leaving with the master at about 8.40 a.m. The boats remained near the ship the whole of the day and night of the 31st, and finally left from alongside the ship on the morning of the 1st August, having decided to make for the nearest land, which was Sumatra. On the 3rd August, the 1st boat was picked up by the sailing ship "Forth," bound from Calcutta to West Indies, at about 7.30 p.m.; the 2nd boat was picked up at 10 p.m. on the same night; the 3rd boat was picked up in the afternoon of the 4th of August, and the 4th and last boat at about 11 p.m of the same night. On mustering the crew on board the "Forth," an Indian coaltrimmer was found missing. On the 17th August, the "Forth" arrived off Port Louis, and the officers and crew of the s.s. "Fortunatus" were landed in Mauritius.

Taking into consideration the evidence before us, we are unanimously of opinion that the s.s. "Fortunatus" left Colombo in thorough sea-going condition and well equipped with fire - extinguishing appliances, that the abandoning of the ship was caused by the ship being enveloped in flames, also by the danger of the boats being destroyed by fire.

We are further unanimously of opinion that the master, officers, engineers, and crew did all in their power to save the ship, and that the abandonment was not premature. There is no evidence to show how the fire occurred; but we are of opinion that it was not due to any fault or negligence on the part of the master, officers, engineers, and crew. There appears to have been no panic or want of discipline, and we are of opinion that this reflects great credit on the master, officers, engineers, and crew that only one life was lost.

Dated this twenty-third day of August, one thousand nine hundred and seven.



District Magistrate of

Port Louis,

I Division.




s.s. "Rahmani."




s.s. "Santhia."

[NOTE. The Board of Trade have received a report from H.M. Consul-General at Port Said, stating that a lascar seaman was found alone on the "Fortunatus," then completely gutted, on 9th August, 1907, and taken off by the master of the s.s. "Jura, of Liverpool. This seaman appears to be the Indian coal trimmer referred to as missing in the above report.]

(Issued in London by the Board of Trade on the 12th day of November, 1907.)


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