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Konini Wreck 1924

KONINI, steamer: At 1.33 a.m. on December 22, 1924, in heavy rain and pitch darkness, the steamer, on her maiden voyage from England to New Zealand, went ashore at Whale Head, or South-west Point, on the coast at the back of Bluff Hill, and about half a mile from Ocean Beach, Foveaux Strait. The Konini was steaming at about nine knots at the time of the casualty. She struck heavily on a ledge of rocks about two chains out from the rugged coastline and became a• total wreck. A heavy swell was running, and in the intense darkness the situation was sufficiently precarious. The steamer's signals were heard, and the Bluff Harbour Board's tug arrived off the scene of the wreck about 4.20 a.m., and took off the crew, who had left the Konini in the ship's boats, bringing most of their personal effects with them.

The vessel got off her course in the blackness of the night, rain contributing to the low visibility. Dog Island Light was picked up soon after the Konini passed Centre Island. The distance between the two points is approximately 25 miles. The Konini was standing well out, a course being set to carry her round behind Dog Island, the usual course followed by vessels making round the coast for Dunedin. However, the master, who had been on the bridge since 6 p.m., lost sight of Dog Island Light in a blinding rain squall. Dog Island Light was not picked up again, and the first realisation of danger came when the Bluff Hill loomed out of the darkness, right ahead. The Konini struck head on, losing her rudder in doing so. When she settled her bow pointed out to sea, as though she had endeavoured to make seaward, and had struck at the stern. She lifted and crunched on the rocks many times, until her plates were badly gashed. She made water rapidly and began to settle.

At the inquiry into the loss of the Konini the court held that, the patent log not having been in use, and the bearings taken off Centre and Dog Islands being too approximate, and from the fact that neither land nor lights could be seen and the vessel being in confined waters, the master should have altered course when Dog Island was lost, by heading the vessel clear of the strait and awaiting clearer weather; and that the master was guilty of a wrongful act by continuing at full speed under the circumstances; but, while censuring him, the court did not suspend his certificate, but ordered him to pay £40 towards the costs of the inquiry.

The Konini, No. 121,398, was a new steel, screw steamer of 1,420 tons gross and 833 tons net register, built at Grangemouth in 1924 by the Grangemouth Dockyard Company Ltd., and her dimensions were: length 245.2 ft., beam 37.7 ft., depth 17.25 ft. Her engines were of 173 h.p. nominal and 1,000 h.p. indicated. The Konini was owned by the Union Steam Ship Company, and was under the command of Captain S. Vint. She had been over two months on the passage out from Grangemouth, and was battered to such an extent that there was no possibility of salvaging her cargo. (See plate 93.)

 

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