News frm 1915: Runic II sinks Horst Martini

Not open for further replies.

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The Times, 20 May 1915


(Before the RIGHT HON. SIR SAMUEL EVANS, President, sitting with two of the
Elder Brethren of the Trinity House.)
This action was brought by "the owners of the steamship Horst Martini, and
her master and crew proceeding for their lost effects," against the owners
of the steamship Runic in respect of a collision between the two vessels
near Beachy Head in foggy weather on May 1 last.

The Horst Martini, which sank after the collision, was one of the German
vessels found in port at the beginning of hostilities and detained by order
of the Prize Court. It appeared that the "owners of the Horst Martini" were
the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of the
United Kingdom, as at the time of the collision she had been requisitioned
by the Admiralty and was carrying coals from Swansea to the Thames.

The Runic, a vessel of 12,490 tons, belonging to the White Star Line, had
been taken over by the Australian Government for transport work, but at the
time of the collision she was bound from London to Liverpool with cargo.

Mr. Bateson, K.C., and Mr. D. Stephens appeared for the plaintiffs; and Mr.
Laing, K.C., and Mr. C. R. Dunlop for the defendants, who, not being able to
counterclaim against the Admiralty, counterclaimed, by amendment allowed in
the course of the hearing, against the master of the Horst Martini.

The learned President said that both vessels must be found to blame. The
Horst Martini's speed was not excessive, but she mistook the position of the
Runic's signals. That in itself was sufficient to emphasize how important it
was to stop in order to localize sound signals in fog; and it was admitted
that the Horst Martini did not stop. Further, she ported considerably across
the bows of the Runic, and so contributed largely to the collision. The
Runic was also to blame. She was going much too fast---as was shown by the
fact that, although she had reversed her engines, her speed at the time of
collision was estimated to be 4 1/2 knots, and it might have been more. His
Lordship assessed the proportion of blame as to three-quarters to the Horst
Martini and one-quarter to the Runic.

Solicitors---Messrs. Hill, Dickinson, and Co.; Messrs Waltons and Co.

Not open for further replies.