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Hearts of Oak

SS Amazon


Destruction of the Steamship by Fire with Great Loss of Life


William Vincent’s Report

Delivered to the secretary R M S P Company, 6th January 1852.


The Amazon was at noon of the 3rd of January 1852, in latitude 49.12N and longitude 4.57W from which time she steered W by S ½S till 9.30 pm of the same day, when she was stopped to cool bearings.


At 11.20 pm she proceeded, still steering the same course, steaming about 8.5 knots per hour. wind and sea increasing from the windward.


At 40 minutes am, on the 4th, smoke was observed coming through the hatchway, on the foreside of the foremost funnel. Immediately afterwards the flames burst through. The alarm was immediately given, and the captain and chief officer came on deck. The fire hose and buckets of water were brought to play on the fire, but that, together with the attempt to stop the engine, was ineffectual. The helm was put hard to starboard to put her before the wind, but it was some time before she payed off.


The mail boat, when lowered, was immediately swamped, with about 25 people in her, all of whom were lost. The pinnace when lowered, sheered across the sea before the people in her could unhook the fore tackle. They were thereby washed out, and the boat remained hanging by the bow. While clearing away the second cutter a sea struck her and raised her off the cranes and unhooked the bow tackle. The fore end immediately fell down, and the people in her, with the exception of two, who hung doubled over the thwarts, were precipitated into the sea and drowned. Sixteen men (including two passengers) succeeded in clearing away and lowering the life boat on the starboard side. They used every endeavour to save those in the water, but were swept past so rapidly that their exertions were without avail. At about the same time, I (Mr Vincent) with the chief steward, one passenger, and two seamen, got into and lowered the dingy, and were picked up by the life boat about half an hour afterwards, when we immediately took the small boat in tow, and stood down for the ship, but the wind and sea increasing, and the dingy being upset, and ourselves nearly swamped, we were obliged to let the small boat go, and keep the life boat with her head to the sea.


Whilst lying-to a bark passed astern of us, and was accordingly hailed, and did, I believe answer, but did nothing of any kind to assist us, but stood down to leeward of the ship, hauled on a wind, and went away.


There was now on our quarter a boat with five men in her (supposed to be the gig), but we could not from the severity of the weather render her any assistance. About half an hour afterwards we suddenly lost sight of her.


About 4 am it rained heavily, wind shifted to northward, decreasing sea, confused, but going down; put the boat about, and kept before it.


At 5, the magazine exploded, and about half an hour afterwards the funnels went over the side, soon after which the ship went down bodily.


At noon we were picked up ( at position 48.5N: 5.30 W) by the MARSDEN of London, stood in for the coast of France, and afterwards (wind shifting to the southward) for Falmouth, and lastly for Plymouth, at which place we arrived on Monday, 11pm.






Raymond Forward