Published Resources Details Journal Article

The loss of HMS Serpent
The Engineer
vol. 70, 21 November 1890, p. 419

Accession No.2851


"From the account given of this great disaster by the tree and only survivors, it would not appear to be in any way due to faults of construction or equipment. Although bad weather had been encountered, no mishap had occurred to the machinery or steering gear. It does not seem either that the proximity to land was occasioned by the desire to seek a port. The course being steered at the time of striking, the speed at that moment, and the narrative of the survivors, gives no indication of such an intention on the part of the commander. The circumstances all point to another cause. Camarinas is just north of Cape Finisterre, and a vessel steering to pass the latter at a distance of ten or twenty miles would, if she met a strong set to the eastward, and was unable to see the land or make out a light, probably strike the land at the point where the reck occurred. Such an incident would be more likely if the weather during the day was such as to prevent astronomical observations being taken, and the position of the ship fixed at noon. Prudence, however, would then dictate the use of the deep-sea lead. Soundings taken every hour would have foretold the approach to the coast; but, if omitted, there is nothing in thick weather to indicate its proximity. We believe therefore that for some hours the Serpent had been strongly set in towards the land, and that an inadequate allowance had been made for this, the result being that instead of going well clear of Cape Finisterre, she struck the land just north of that point."