Washington, DC Steamer KEARSARGE Wreck, Feb 1894


United States Steamer on a Reef Off the coast of Central America.

Washington, Feb. 8.---The old United States steamer Kearsarge is a wreck on Roncador reef. She struck there Feb. 2. Lieut. Brainard managed in some way to reach Colon to-day and a cable message from him this morning announced to the navy department the fact that the Kearsarge was wrecked and that the officers and crew were all saved. The Kearsarge sailed from Port au Prince, Hayti[sic], on Jan. 20 for Bluefields, Nicaragua, to protect American interests there in view of the invasion of the military forces of Honduras. She was wrecked three days out.

Roncador reef is a little over 200 miles from the Mosquito coast of Central America. Between the coast and the reef lies Old Providence Island, only 75 or 80 miles to leeward of the reef. It is believed at the navy department that the officers and crew would be able to reach Old Providence island without difficulty in case they were in danger of their lives on the reef and it is believed that they would be safe on the reef except in the event of rough weather. It is the impression also at the department that the Kearsarge has not gone to pieces and may not do so for some time unless rough weather comes up, although the tides and currants about the reef are swift and dangerous.

Immediately upon receiving the news of the wreck the navy department sent a cable dispatch to Lieut. Brainard at Colon, ordering him to charter a steamer and proceed at once to the relief of the shipwrecked crew. The Roncador reef is well known to mariners in those waters as a dangerous impediment to navigation. Efforts have been recently made to secure the erection of a light house on this point. Some time ago when Warner Miller and officers of the Nicaragua canal company were on their way to Nicaragua they were wrecked on this same point. Admiral Stanton was on the Kearsarge. When the New York and Detroit were dispatched to Rio it was made the flagship of the North Atlantic squadron and Admiral Stanton, after the secretary of the navy had acted on his report of the salute of Mello in Rio bay, was ordered to proceed to Port au Prince and transfer his flag to the Kearsage and assume command of the station.

The wreck adds another to the misfortunes which have of late befallen Rear Admiral Stanton. He was summarily relieved from command of the south Atlantic station for saluting De Mello, the insurgent admiral and ordered to Washington. His explanation of his actions caused Secretary Herbert to detach him from command of the south Atlantic by placing him in command of the home station. He sailed from New York on Jan. 10 and joined the Kearsarge at Port au Prince the latter part of the month.

As soon as the ship's company has been transported to a place of safety and the fate of the Kearsarge is definitely known a court of inquiry will be appointed to investigate the circumstances and fix the responsibility. The officials say that the ship's company are in no danger. They will be able to get along all right until the arrival of relief.

It is conjectured that the Kearsarge went around on the reef at night an foundered. Lieut. Brainard seems to have got aboard a small boat and succeeded in getting to Colin in six days. Relief can reach the wreck in less time than this.

The navigation of a naval vessel rests entirely with her commander and his assistants and the admiral never interferes in the matter. He directs the general movements of the flagship from place to place, but leaves the details of routes and management of the ship entirely to the second officer. Therefore in would appear as though Commander Heyerman will be held responsible for the loss of the vessel, and on him will devovle the task of showing that the accident was unavoidable. He will look to the officers of the deck at the time of the wreck for a complete explanation of the circumstances. Exactly who was at fault will not be known here until full details have been received.

London, Feb. 8.---The Daily News has a most pleasant word to say of the Kearsarge and remarks that the old ship deserved to be honored with a place on the retired list of the American navy. She had claims upon national gratitude, it says, only second to those of the Constitution.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 9 Feb 1894