Wrecks List
Total Records: 1
Name Nationality Location Date Lost
Palermo   British  Old Head of Kinsale Co Cork  1867 

Palermo : 
Owner Handyside & Henderson (Anchor Line) 
Flag British  Builder Charles Connell & Co, Scotstoun 
Port Glasgow  Build Date 1861 
Official No 43690  Material Iron 
    Tonnage nrt/grt 289 / 380 
Ship type Steam Ship  Dimensions 169.4 | 21.9 | 13.5
Ships Role  cargo  Rigging Style   
Super Structure
Wreck Location 65 miles S/W of the  Old Head of Kinsale Co Cork 
Date Lost 06/01/1867  Captain Rhynes 
Cause Abandoned  Crew Lost  
Position   Passengers Lost   
Google Map Location


The following account of the disaster to the screw-steamer Palermo 380 tons register, 100-horse power, Captain Rhynes, which was abandoned at sea on Sunday week in a sinking condition has been published.
- The Palermo left Glasgow for Lisbon on the 24th of December having on board a cargo of pig iron, iron pipes, coals, bale goods, &c. She was compelled to put back to Lamlash Bay in consequence of a derangement to her machinery, while at Lamlash she lost an anchor and 60 fathoms of chain.

On the 1st inst she returned to Greenock and was put into the west harbour for repairs. About half-past eight p.m. on Wednesday the Palermo again put to sea. The weather was then moderate and continued so until the Palermo was off Lamlash when it became somewhat boisterous. On Wednesday the weather was fine and the wind being fair the steamer proceeded down channel at a speedy rate.

On Thursday when off the Bishops on the Welsh coast the weather became very stormy and towards night the wind increased to a gale. The steamer then began to labour very much and to ship heavy seas. On Friday morning about four o’clock the first engineer reported to the officer on watch that the steamer was making water. The starboard watch was just going below at the time but all hands were called up to bale the ship. Buckets, and everything that could pass water out of the stokehole and heave it over the side were got ready the pump unfortunately being found to be choked.

Meanwhile the gale was freshning and the steamer continued to ship volumes of water. The water when first discovered was only between the ceiling or bottom of the vessel and the skin or outside plates. The crew laboured hard in order to get the ship dry but the leak battled all their exertions and the water gained upon them gradually. About twelve o’clock all hands were called aft and got some little refreshment but shortly thereafter resumed baling the ship.

At twelve o’clock the water had gained about six inches above the skin of the ship and gradually continued to increase the engineer from time to time reporting that the steam was going down. Between three and four p.m. the same afternoon the fires went out and the engines stopped the water having by this time become knee deep. When the engines stopped sail was set upon the steamer in order if possible to make the nearest land, Kinsale being distant about 100 miles.

The wind at the time was blowing from the southward and westward a gale prevailing with a fearful sea coming over the ship in all directions. After sail was put upon the Palermo the crew resumed baling but the water still continued to increase. The water was supposed to be coming in from above in the vicinity of the steam chest and by openings at the other houses on deck. The bulwarks were all carried away on both sides.

From the time that the gale commenced the steamer’s decks were never dry a heavy quantity of water being continually upon them. When darkness set in the weather got very bad until about eleven p.m., when it moderated for about an hour the sea however continuing to rage with great violence. Between eight and nine o’clock the same night a barque was seen to pass on the opposite way. The crew were desirous that she should be hailed but the officers did not do so.

About midnight the officers and crew were fairly worn out. The boats were then ordered to be cleared, ready for launching as it was feared the Palermo could not keep much longer afloat. This state of things continued till Saturday afternoon the ship making little progress not more than about a knot an hour and every sea passing over her as if she had been a rock in the midst of the ocean so powerless had she become. The only sail set was the foretopsail which was full set.

Preparations were now made for leaving the ship the boats being ready for lowering. The captain however at this stage came forward and speaking cheerily to the crew asked them to try the baling out once more which they did with heart and will although they were very much knocked up. All Saturday night the crew continued baling but no appreciable diminution was observable on the water in the hold. Through sheer fatigue the crew then knocked off and resolved to leave the ship as they were quite unable to perform any more work.

By this time the sea fairly took possession of the deck so that the officers and crew were compelled to get up on the top of the house on deck for shelter. Most of the biscuits and provisions were destroyed by being impregnated with water. The crew had only received a few biscuits and a bottle of porter from Friday morning it being impossible to cook provisions on board the galley being filled with water.

About noon on Sunday the order was given to lower the boats the weather being moderate but a heavy sea was running. Some preserved cakes and bread and cheese were stowed away in the boats in order to last for 24 hours. The starboard boat was lowered first under the charge of the second mate. The port boat was next lowered but after being about ten minutes in the water it foundered in consequence of being very leaky. The two men who were in her managed to scramble on board just as she went down. On Friday night the other boat which was then hanging aft in the davits was washed away so that the officers and crew had now only one boat remaining. Into this tiny craft all hands got the clothes and provisions they deemed necessary to take being also on board.

When the crew left the Palermo she was 65 miles bearing south by west off the Old Head of Kinsale. There were seventeen persons in the boat which was found to be very much overcrowded. It was subsequently found necessary to heave the clothes and provisions out of the small boat in order to lighten her.

Four men then got out the oars and commenced pulling towards the land. About half an hour after leaving the Palermo the wind began to blow very hard from the N.E., accompanied by a high cross sea. No land was in sight, and as no sail appeared the crew began to get dispirited fearing that darkness would set in before they were picked up. Between four and five o’clock the mate reported a sail on the starboard bow. An old flag which the crew had taken with them was made fast to a spare oar which was at once hoisted and after sometime it was seen by the approaching vessel which immediately hove to and the crew of the Ill-fated steamer were taken on board.

The vessel proved to be the Dutch Galliot Lamberthe bound from Clyde to Lisbon with a cargo of pitch. The Galliot was at once put about and made for Queenstown where she landed the crew on Monday morning.

When last seen the Palermo appeared to be settling down the probability being that she would not float longer than about half an hour.

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle, Wednesday, January 16, 1867

Crew Agreements for 1866-67 are held at Maritime History Archive >>

Record Created on  06/12/2010
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