1916.02.22.De Worms et Cie Cardiff

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Worms & C°

Cardiff, 22nd Feb. 1916
Messrs -Worms & C° Paris

Dear Sirs,
"Mossoul". We thank you for copy of the Messageries Co's letter and for your reply thereto enclosed in yours of the 18tb inst., we regret exceedingly to find that, despite the strenuous exertions made to protect their interests and save time for the steamer they think better ought to have been done, but we feel sure that if they were fully acquainted with existing difficulties they would appreciate the position better, and thus at the risk of being considered prolix or verbose we must ask you to excuse us dealing with the matter at length.
In the first place, the Co. have themselves to thank for a certain amount of detention. The boat was allowed to come on here without a single word being said, or warning uttered, as to the exceptional difficulty of her construction, whereas in common fairness we ought to have been furnished with at least a plan of the ship, and an indication where the coal had to be stowed, further we were only told to prepare 400 tons, whereas we had to put aboard 476 tons 12 cwt.
She arrived at Barry Dock 7 p.m. on Friday, the 4th February. As she was reported in the Roads a few hours earlier, despite the fact that such report might have been incorrect as is often the case, we sent a special representative down to Barry to interview the captain, but regulations nowadays about boarding ships are so strict that he could not get aboard until Saturday morning, when he was informed that no cargo could be taken before all then bunkers were stowed on board, and even then the quantity was not definitely named.
On the 26th January we stemmed this steamer with the Rhymney Iron & Coal C° for about 400 tons of their Large Coal, original stem note for which we send you herewith; it being distinctly understood that the coals would be taken from a tip, as is the customary mode of loading. However, as we had already handed in notice of readiness to the Charterers, Messrs H.C.Vivian & C°, at 9 a.m the 5th we let it stand, as we felt possibly that some method could be found by which said hunker coal could be partially, if not completely, put aboard from a tip. We notified also the Rhymney C° to prepare their coal and be ready in case of need to give an extra 100 tons. No coal can nowadays be put aboard ships without what is known as a "Release" from the Naval Authorities. In addition, the customs stop any loading being commenced until their elaborate formalities are complied with, all of which takes time, both to prepare and pass through the customs. The Rhymney C° on applying for aforesaid Release were told that same could not be conceded and that all their ready coal for many days thereafter would be required for the British Admiralty own tonnage or to be loaded into ships destined to our Allies. We then made futile efforts to change this decision, all of which took much time; finally after a good deal of persuasion, permission was accorded us to substitute Tredegar Large Coal for aforesaid Rhymney, and the Tredegar C° only supplied same at much risk of demurrage to other tonnage, as they wished to oblige us. Naturally, we had warned the Barry Dock C° that Lighters and a Quay berth would be required for such bunkering operation, only to find that neither one or the other factor could be immediately provided.
The captain eventually consented to allow 1.000 tons of cargo to be put aboard before bunkering, but the Charterers were unable to obtain the necessary Release of any cargo, and according to what is believed to be the Law-same being a "Restraint of Princes" might thereby claim an extension of lay time until such Release was granted.
The Dock C° ordered the steamer to the Quay side, where goods are usually loaded, on Tuesday morning the 8th, but owing to the bad weather, lack of labour, both to load from the Quay, and to stow aboard, the coal put in Lighters, a start was not made until 6 a.m. Wednesday, the 9th inst., and as will be seen from the statement already in your hands the bunkering operations were not completed until 11.30 a.m. on Friday the 11th Last. Probably, and we can quite understand, it, owners are basing their discontent on the experience of bunkering at various Depots abroad where loading through side Ports is the normal method, whereas here and at other Bristol Channel Coal Ports until recently everything, cargo and bunkers, goes aboard by a tip, and for such tips we have our selves before now had to wait a week or even ten days. Labour too, in consequence of the enormous number of men drafted into the Armies and utilised by the Navy in subsidiary branches, is at times almost unprocurable regardless of cost. Plant and material too are equally scarce, for what little is available is mostly utilised by the Naval Authorities, and it was only after interviewing them that such was put at our disposal.
The War of course has brought this District large numbers of vessels like "Mossoul" ss which in normal times are of such a fine type that no one would sully them with coal cargoes. Most of them, however, are employed in the Service either of the British Government, or of one of the Allied Powers, and thus the Commercial Trader with one on his hands, to load or bunker, finds himself in a very tight corner which, however, either through ignorance of their construction or the lack of tonnage, he runs the risk of chartering, rather than pay much higher freights to vessels of the purely collier type, which often times have not been available in the position desired irrespective of rate. We had flattered ourselves that all things considered this steamer had been well handled, both by us and the Charterers, and had fared better than could have been expected or would, except for our incessant persistence have been the case, and we can only regret once again that the facts do not seem to have been recognised or sufficient allowance made for differences of method, or those arising from the War.
We kept a special trimming expert to the detriment of our other business, attached to the ship practically the whole time, so that full assistance might be afforded the captain and officers who had no knowledge of the port, and had never we believe loaded a full cargo of coals before. Owing to the continued inroads by recruiting for national services that are being made on our staff, both indoors and out, we must frankly warn you that in the near future it may be quite impossible to give like attention to later steamers, or obtain oven similar despatch.
Needless to say, however, despite everything we shall continue to do whatever possible to further the Co's interests to the fullest extent that circumstances will permit.

G. W. Moore

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