Accident to the U. S. Steamer Iroquois.
The Trenton Gazette, in a letter from Genoa
, dated December 16th, gives the following account of an accident to the United States
At 6:30 P. M., the Genoa light was in sight; fifteen minutes afterward the order was passed for all hands on deck to bring ship to anchor, which was too soon done.
My station as "junior off watch" was to pass orders to engineer in charge; it was pitch dark, and wind blew directly in our faces, and it rained very hard.
The light from being on our port bow, became changed to nearly a-beam, but it seemed to be much further off than it should be, for the entrance to the harbor is not more than one hundred rods wide, and artificially formed by two moles, without which it would be only an indentation of the shore, and exposed to the sea.
Suddenly the light disappeared, and at the same instant the pilot, who was standing on the top-gallant forecastle, made an outcry which startled everybody--"Stop her!" "Back her!" came in the same breath, and I passed the order, giving the proper signal with the bell; but though the engine was reversed in less than twenty seconds, the ship struck with a heavy thump, giving everybody an involuntary start, then a less violent shock, and though the engine was backed with full power, we were firmly fixed on a rock — the ship had run on one-third her length; at the time we struck, our ship was running at full speed--ten knots an hour.
The shock was not so violent as might be supposed, owing to the fact that the ship is two feet deeper in the stern than the bow, and the keel touching lightly at first, ran upon the rock as upon an inclined plane.
That rock was our salvation; it was not more than one hundred and fifty feet from the shore, which was a solid wall of ragged rocks, forty or fifty feet high.
Had not that rock happened to be just where it was, we should have unavoidably run plump upon that shore of nearly perpendicular rock, and you may be sure that when running at such a speed it would have been no joke — we should have been a wreck.--It was so dark that the pilot and officers at the bows could not see the danger until an instant before she struck.
Such a thing was, of course, ruin to the pilot, and I never saw such a change come over a man — I thought he would jump overboard.
He had, from some unaccountable cause, missed the entrance of the harbor by near three miles to the right, and was taking the overland route to Genoa
The discipline of a man-of-war, of course, don't allow of much expressed excitement; orders to "lower away the boats," "get out the kedge anchor," "send the carpenter's mate to see if the ship is making water," "throw the lead," etc., etc., followed each other in quick and regular order; there was deep water on each side of the rock; the ship commenced to leak some, but it was easily kept down by the steam pump.
Although the wind was strong, it fortunately blew off the shore, and there was not much swell, otherwise the ship, and perhaps some of us, would have suffered severely.
After finding that nothing could be done with the kedge anchor and engine, an officer was dispatched to Genoa
for assistance; mean-time, all sorts of means were resorted to — the guns were run aft — the shot and shell were taken out of the ship, and put in shore boats, which came alongside; the rock was directly under the keel for about one-third of her length, and the ship rolled and pitched easily as if upon a pivot.
All the men were called forward and then ordered to run aft in a body; then they ran in a body from one side to the other, the engine being put in motion at the same time, trying if the ship could be rocked off, but without success, which made it look very dubious, for should the wind change, it would go hard with the Iroquois
About midnight, a steam-tug arrived from Genoa
; it was about as powerful a machine as a teakettle and coffee-mill, still it was better than nothing; for three long hours we kept at it — the little spit-fire blowing and puffing most energetically, starting on a short run for the length of the hawser, and our engine working at the same time; we thus did our best to start the ship.
At a little past three o'clock, as we were on the point of giving up the attempt until the arrival of the flag-ship Richmond
, from Genoa
, the ship made a sudden jump, and the cry "she's off!" made everybody breathe easier.
The rising sea started off the ship, rather than the tug or our efforts; we were in a short time steaming along on our way to Genoa
, where we arrived safely half an hour later.--The divers, upon first examination, decided that the damage was trifling, only a part of the false keel and a few feet of copper being started; but after three or four days work, found it necessary to take the ship into dry dock for repairs, in order to do which, it will be necessary to take out all the guns, shot, shell, stores and coal, which will be a serious and tedious job. We shall have to remain here three or four weeks, and may winter here.