BIGGEST MARINE DISASTER IN YEARS ON ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
Occurred This Morning in a Fog When Freighter, Keystorm, Sank in Deep
Water -- Crew all Rescued -- Cargo of 2400 Tons of Soft Coal Went to
Bottom -- The Boat was Valued at $120,000, and Looks Like a Total Loss.
The greatest marine accident for perhaps half a century occurred this
morning shortly after four o'clock, at a point about twelve miles west
of Brockville on the American side of the river, and at what is termed
in marine charts as Scotch Island shoal. The name apparently is from
a small islet in that vicinity, and bears a significance owing to the
fact that a buoy of demarcation for channel navigation is situated on
A Steal Freighter.
The boat meeting the disaster was the Keystorm, a splendid steel freighter,
the property of the Keystone Transit Company, of Montreal, and was engaged
in the coal carrying trade on its eventful trip, having taken on a cargo
of soft coal of 2,400 tons at Charlotte, for the Montreal Heat Light
and Power Company. The craft left Charlotte yesterday, and proceeded
east all rightly until meeting with disaster.
A Big Boat.
The boat was 245 feet long, with a beam of 33 feet. It was in charge
of a crew of 20 men, with Captain Daignault, of Beauharnoic, the Chief
Engineer Robinson, of Glasgow, Scotland.
The Cause and Where.
The point of the occurrence was about two miles west of Alan's dock
on the American side of the river and the mishap entails a loss of $120,000.
The cause of the accident so far as can be learned was owing to a heavy
fog developing at a difficult place, and the craft got out of its course.
It struck a shoal on its starboard side, the impact being so great as
to tear away several feet of the hull to such
an extent that she sank quickly. So , as the shock was felt the engines
were stopped, and the pumps speedily put to work. The latter were of
no avail as the big freighter speedily filled and the crew had to take
to the life boats for a place of safety. Two yawls were quickly lowered,
and the crew landed safely on an island nearby. For a time they anchored
at the black buoy in the vicinity, and were able to visit the boat again
for personal effects, which all obtained. The accident as has been said,
occurred at 4:15, and was due, according to the statements of the crew
to a fog suddenly rising and beclouding the vision of the officer in
charge. The crew from their point of vantage saw the magnificent steamer
go to the bottom at 9 o'clock, five hours after the accident occurred.
Owing to the wind and fog and the heavy cargo she was badly impounded
against the rocks, and when disappearing from view did so in a great
burst of swell, which fairly enveloped her completely, and the big steamer
shorn of her beauty and strength went to a depth variously estimated
at from 120 to 150 feet. The company owning the lost craft has also
three others still in the trade. They are the Key West, Key Port and
The Crew Here.
The news of the disaster caused almost consternation in Brockville,
as many reports were in circulation as it was thought that the crew
were lost. Happily such was not the case, and they were rescued from
their moored position, and conveyed here in a motorboat, the property
of Hon. Clifford Sifton. They left here this afternoon for Montreal.
Among the crew was the chef, James Sperro, of Prescott.
Other accidents in that vicinity were the burning of the old steamer
Kingston, now the Cornwall of the Calvin Company, was burned near Corn
Island with a loss of two lives. Some years later the Ocean, a popular
propellor, was sunk near Dark Island without loss of life.
Nov. 4, 1912
Loss of Keystorm in Montreal Wreck Commissioner's Court
In order to hear a witness who wished to leave for Scotland the inquiry
into the recent loss of the steambarge Keystorm, 12 miles west of here,
was opened in the Wreck Commissioner's Court at Montreal, Friday, and
the evidence of the witness having been taken, was then adjourned. The
assessors were Captains Nash, Thompson and McGrath.
Nov. 9, 1912
The sounding of the water where the steamer Keystorm sank shows that
instead of being in 150 feet of water, as at first thought, she is covered
by 26 feet forward and 36 feet aft. The steamer turned over on her side,
which accounts for her masts not being visible above water. It was because
the masts were not to be seen that it was thought the boat had slid
off the shoal into deep water. It is probable that work will soon be
started at raising the steamer.
Nov. 9, 1912
CAPTAIN AND MATE ARE SUSPENDED
Inquiry Into Loss of Steamer Keystorm.
ARE GUILTY OF NEGLIGENCE
In the Locality Where Craft Went Down Captain Should Have Been in Full
The following judgment was given in the Keystorm case yesterday in the
wreck commissioner's court at Montreal, which had inquired into the
loss of the Keystorm on October 26, near Cippewa Point, 12 miles west
of here. The court found that the master, Louis Daigneault, showed lack
of judgment in allowing the mate to take charge of the vessel in the
locality where she was lost, as it was one that required the greatest
care in navigation even in the daytime, knowing, as the captain did,
the limited experience of the mate, and his action in going below at
3 a.m. was an act of culpable negligence as there were still dangers
to avoid and in two hours time it would have been daylight. The court
therefore suspended the master's certificate from November 1, 1912,
till November 1, 1913.
Sentence of the Mate
With regard to John Leboeuf, the mate, the court censured him for neglecting
to call the master when the weather became thick, and for his lack of
initiative in not stopping the engines when he lost his bearings. His
disregard of the compass course to be steered was gross and culpable
negligence and the court accordingly suspended his certificate for two
years from November 1, 1912, till November 1, 1914. The court further
suggested that a printed card of all courses and distances on the various
runs should be hung in the pilot house for instant reference whenever
the leading lights or marks should, as in this case, become obscured.
Sept. 25, 1917
ARE NOW AT WORK RAISING KEYSTORM
Steambarge was Sunk in Fog Off Chippewa Point in 1912
The work of raising the steambarge Keystorm, sunk off Chippewa Bay Point,
in 1912, while navigating the river in a heavy fog, has been commenced.
Already forty tons of coal have been taken out of the hold of the craft.