JOHN   O.131


Courtesy of Maurice Voss

Official No:       -                                            Port and Year:  Ostend, 1910

Description: Steel side trawler, coal burning


Built: 1910, by Cockerill Yards, Hoboken (Antwerp).  (Yard no. 501)

Tonnage:  221  grt  94 net

Length / breadth / depth (feet): 116.5 / 21.4 / 11.7

Engine: T-3 Cyl; 55 rhp, by Earle's Co., Hull



1910: Soc. Anon. Pcheries Vapeur. 

Manager: John Bauwens


Landed at Milford: 11 Sep 1914 - 27 Dec 1917

Skippers: Pierre Pincket 


1914-18: Fishery Trawler.

3 Jan 1918: Sank after collision with COMTE HORACE VAN DEN BURGH O.55, 18 m SW of Smalls; 5 casualties. 

[Information courtesy of Maurice Voss, and see newspaper article below.]


Accidents and Incidents


From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 9th January 1918:


Belgian Trawler Disaster.


    No trawlers were due for market at Milford Haven on Friday last but a terrible disaster in the home fishing grounds in the night brought three vessels back to port with sad tidings which plunged the large Belgian community resident in the town into grief. The survivors on landing told in broken English the story of what bad happened. Briefly it was that the steam trawler "John" of Ostende bad been sunk in collision with the steam trawler "Counte H. Van de Burgh," Ostende. The exact cause of the disaster may be the subject of inquiry and need not be entered into. Suffice it to say that six of the crew of the John perished and that the vessel sank in from three to five minutes.

    Two of the six drowned were boys who had not long entered on a sea-faring career. The collision occurred whilst the vessels were fishing at 9 o'clock on Thursday night. The John, with her companion ship the President Stevens, was due back in port for Saturday. She was a fine fishing vessel and had made some fine voyages during her stay at the port. She was one of the magnificent fleet of the Pecheries de Vapieur [sic], controlled by Mr John Bauwens, of Priory Lodge. The Comte Van de Burgh (owned by Mr Jules Baels) arrived in dock about 9 o'clock and did not seem to bear any marks of the collision.

    The following are the members of the crew drowned: Andre Deman, chief engineer (35), married. Auguste Calcoene, deck hand (56), married, five children. Leon Allary, deck hand (38), married, 3 children. Edward Meyers, deck hand (18), single. Arthur Degruyter, trimmer (15). Frans Vanhoucke, deck boy (15).

    Intense sympathy is felt with the bereaved relatives, and the owners, with customary solicitude by personal visitation and comfort, are ministering to their consolation.


From the Haverfordwest & Milford Haven Telegraph of Wednesday 16th January 1918:


Trawler Collision. 



    Last week we reported the fatal results of a collision of two Belgian trawlers off the Smalls, when one vessel, the John, was sunk and six men were lost. One of the bodies was packed up during the week-end and brought into Milford, where an inquest was held on Monday. Capt. Dove was foreman of the jury.

    Evidence was given by the skipper of the John, Peter Pinckett, residing at 3, Victoria Road, Milford Haven, to the effect that the deceased, Auguste Calcoen, was a deck hand, and was 56 years of age. He saw the Van de Burgh about a mile away. On the night of January 3rd witness had both trawls down. It was a clear night, and the usual lights were burning. Calcoen called out that the other boat was making a wrong manoeuvre and was about to ram them. Seeing that the boat was coming straight for the John witness pulled the whistle very hard, but the string broke. The collision took place immediately, followed by an explosion in the engine room, and the vessel went down in about three minutes.

    Segier, skipper of the Count Van Burgh, who was fishing alongside the John, said he was awakened by the collision, and ran on deck. There was only one man on deck at the time of the collision.

    Several jurymen remarked that there should always be at least two men on deck at one time.

    Louis Oewithe, deck hand of the Van Burgh, said he was told to turn the ship round on the starboard side, and while doing this he sighted two trawlers on the starboard bow about half a mile away. One showed a red light and the other a green light. Later he heard shouting, and was afraid a collision would occur. He never thought of stopping the engines. Witness said the John ought to have kept out of his way.

    Witness was told by the foreman that it was his duty to see that all was clear before turning round, and witness said he did so.

    The skipper of the President Stephen, one of the three vessels referred to, said the Van Burgh altered her course.

    The jury retired, and on returning into court the foreman said the verdict of the jury was that what had happened was an accident arising from an error of judgment. To prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future the jury thought representations should be made to the Belgian trawler owners that there should be two hands on the deck at the same time.



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