A Tyne Disaster
Torpedo Boat Sinks a Tug
Pleasure Party Upset
Several People Injured
A disaster, fortunately unattended by no loss of life, but unfortunately with injury to many, occurred off the Tyne this morning. The Tyne Water Clerks’ trip by boat is an annual evert and it is one that is eagerly looked forward to. For years now it has not been attended by a single unpleasant occurrence. Whit Monday is the day chosen the excursion, and on this occasion, as usual, a number of friends were invited to join in the outing. There were about thirty altogether and they left North Shields about 9.30 a.m. in the tug Triton, owned by the Anchor Tug Co., and placed at their disposal by Mr A. Atkinson, manager.
Warkworth was the destination aimed at, but that had to be modified. As a dense fog hung over the coast and the sea was rough the decision was arrived at on reaching, the piers to turn round and run up the river probably as far as Blaydon.
Very cautiously the master the of the Triton guided his steamer up the river, when suddenly some object loomed ahead, and before anything could be done to avoid an impact a war craft crashed into the tug, cutting practically right into the Triton just abaft the engine room. The tug began to sink almost immediately. Her passengers and crew, owing to the extraordinary quick appearance of the war craft, and the suddenness of the collision, were scarcely able to realise the danger. By presence of mind, however, a terrible catastrophe was prevented. Those in the war vessel judiciously kept steaming ahead as hard as possible into the breach in the Triton's side and this afforded time for her party to endeavour to save themselves. Ropes were thrown over the warship’s side, and some six persons were able to scramble on board, but not without receiving cuts and bruises. When the collision was seen to be inevitable, one of the party shouted to the engineers below to come on deck as quickly as possible if they wished to save their lives. This precaution was fortunately acted upon, for a moment later the bows of the colliding ship had actually penetrated the Triton’s side cutting a huge hole open to the sea. There was a scramble for life.
Mr Alex Mitchell a member of the Tynemouth Council, who was one of the party, was thrown violently to the deck when the impact took place. He sustained a severe injury to his arm. Mr George Baird, North Shields also had his wrist injured.
Efforts were made to quit the foundering tug which might go down at any moment when the war vessel separated from her. One of the passengers stated to be Mr Atkinson, who had either jumped overboard or been thrown, seized hold of the seat which was floating when the tug began to flounder. Six of the party, who had got over the side of the vessel into a small boat, pulled about with the object of taking their unfortunate companions on board. A man was seen to be floating on a piece of wreckage and he was picked up and hauled into the boat. In the meantime, Mr Bird, a South Shields pleasure boat owner, promptly proceeded in his mot boat to the scene of the accident and rendered assistance to the distressed passengers, taking several on board and landing them at South Shields. Numerous other boats were also quickly on the scene and performed similar service.
The war vessel, which was forcing the tug through the water with her stem in the aperture, drove the tug over to the north side of the mid channel, out of the way of traffic, and the tug eventually went down below the Skeleton Beacon, lying sunken the Scarfe. Her mast was visible above the water.
Mr Thompson, one the pleasure party, belonging to South Shields, was injured on the forehead and was almost rendered unconscious by the blow’. On recovering he could not remember what had happened, but found himself with friends on the motor boat. Another passenger, named Stephen Hewitt, was knocked down by the force of the impact, but fortunately escaped without injury.
Amongst the lost property is a valuable piano and other musical instruments which were on board the tug for the amusement of the guests.
The vessel which collided with the Triton is described as a torpedo destroyer, built at Palmers, and she was on her way to undergo preliminary trials. She has no name. Her trial trip was cancelled and she put back, but whether she has sustained any damage is unknown at present
The vessel which collided with the Triton was the torpedo destroyer Viking, which has proceeded to Palmers’ yard with her stem broken and other damage.
Source: Shields Daily Gazette 16 May 1910