Storm on the Coast
Russian Schooner Wrecked at South Shields
Safety of the Crew


Stormy weather prevailed on the coast yesterday, and in the afternoon considerable excitement prevailed at South Shields when the signals were fired intimating that a ship was in distress. Large numbers of people made their way to the seaside, and was seen that a sailing vessel was on the rocks the inside the South Pier, and was rolling heavily on the stones.


She proved to the Russian three-masted schooner Monitor, of Riga, which was in ballast, and under the command of Capt. F. Ahbel. Leaving Wick, in the north of Scotland, the Monitor was bound for Blyth. Heavy weather prevailed on the passage, and off the latter place yesterday there was a strong north-east wind blowing, and a high running. The services of a tug were obtained to tow the schooner into port, about half an hour being spent before the tow rope was attached. Shortly afterwards, however, the line parted and the Monitor had a narrow escape from going ashore.


The master was able get the ship out sea again, and made for the Tyne. Arriving off Shields Harbour about 4 p.m., the schooner was headed in between the piers. At this time the weather was very stormy, and huge waves were dashing over the breakwaters along almost their whole length. As soon as the vessel had been worn round and was entering, the wind and sea were so bad that it was found practically impossible get steerage way on her, and she drifted to the south and struck the pier, on the inside, not far from the end of the structure.


Seamen Scramble Ashore


At first the schooner was broadside in deep water, but she partly swung round, so that the bowsprit went right over the promenade. Six of the crew, realising the danger they were in, made their way over the bows, from which they scrambled upon the pier, where they were assisted by a number of soldiers, who had hurried along to render help. Only the captain remained on the ship, which began to drift along the pier side, bumping heavily as she did so. Finally she was cast on the rocks to the east of the ferry landing.


Meanwhile, members the South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade ran the van with the lifesaving apparatus along the breakwater. It was, however, not required, the captain, in response to urgent signals, made his way along the bowsprit, and was assisted ashore by the brigadesmen.


Two lifeboats —one from South Shields and the Henry Vernon motor craft from North Shields— came on the scene, but on learning that the crew were all rescued returned into the harbour.

Several tugs also put out to render assistance, but were unable to do anything to save the vessel.

The crew of the Monitor proceeded to the brigade house, escorted by brigadesmen and soldiers, where they received every attention. They were none the worse for their experience, with the exception of one sailor, who complained of having been bruised as he was leaving the ship.

Source: Newcastle Journal 18 January 1915

Blyth Bound Vessel Wrecked
Exciting Scenes

The Russian three-masted schooner the Monitor went ashore at the north of the Tyne during a strong northerly gale on Sunday. The vessel which is registered at Riga, carried a crew of seven hands, and was bound from Wick to Blyth in ballast. She had a very stormy voyage, and was unable to get into Blyth, She was picked up by a tug, considerable difficulty being experienced in getting the tow-line on board, and shortly after towing commenced the rope broke.

The schooner ran before the gale with shortened canvas and endeavoured to make the Tyne for shelter. She reached the Tyne piers at about 4.30 and keeping well to the north got round the Tynemouth pier, but owing the wind and heavy seas which were running across the harbour she became unnavigable and was carried across to the south pier, striking the stone breakwater near the lee-award extremity, close beside the big crane.

The South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade were on the watch at the time, and Captains Page and Buckland and the members, together with a number of soldiers, hastened along the pier with the life-saving apparatus. The alarm guns were fired, causing a large crowd of people to assemble at the harbour mouth.

The Tynemouth motor life - boat, Henry Vernon, and one of the. South Shields lifeboats were launched and proceeded towards the wreck, but their services wore not required, and it was not necessary for the life brigadesmen to use the rocket apparatus.

Daylight was failing at the time, and the searchlight in the Tynemouth Life Brigade was directed upon the ship. Six of the crew, with the assistance of those on the pier, scrambled ashore over the bows, but the master, Capt F. Ahbal, remained on board for a considerable time. His vessel, however, was in very precarious position, and seemed likely to smash pieces, was driven further inshore by the waves, bumping over the rocks and scraping against the side of the pier until she was brought to a standstill upon a pile rocks a little to the east of the ferry landing, where she remained swaying violently.

The people on the pier shouted to the captain to make his escape without further delay, and he climbed along the bowsprit, which projected over the pier, and was helped ashore.

The shipwrecked men, all of whom escaped serious injury, were taken to the watch-house on the north pier, where they were supplied with refreshments and dry clothing.

The schooner was grinding against the rocks Sunday night, and seemed likely to become a total wreck.

Source: Morpeth Herald 22January 1915