When the steamer Central America was lost in the gulf of Florida, a universal howl of indignation was heard throughout the whole country in reference to the bad management on board, as expressed in some letters of passengers who had been rescued. The alleged bad management pointed to the engineering department as acting independent and contrary to the orders of the lamented commander, Lieut. Hearndon. The report of a committee of merchants, in this city, appointed to examine into the causes of this disaster, virtually laid the whole blame on the engineering department. In opposition to such views, the Inspectors of Steamers for this district, who licensed the engineers, reported that they had examined into the case, and found that the engineers did their duty, and so they gave them a complete whitewashing. Basing our conclusions on such reports, we would be forced to say " nobody was to blame for the disaster." We, however, have very little confidence in the majority of reports on questions in which those who are appointed as the examiners have any interest; such reports are generally unreliable. One fact has recently come to light, which goes to show that the Central America was, in all likelihood, unseaworthy, and unfit to have been employed for conveying passengers; also that a large number of other vessels, which should not be allowed to go to sea, are in the same condition. On the 12th inst,, Mr. Benjamin, in the United States Senate, brought in a bill to amend the law relating to changing the names of vessels, and in doing so, he stated that he had a list of ninety-two vessels, the names of which had been changed within eighteen months. Thirty-one of them had either been lost at sea, or the means of loss of life and property. The names were changed to deceive the public, when the vessels were rotten and unseaworthy. He instanced the Central America, whose name was changed from George Law. One vessel had been condemned and her name changed three times, and she went to sea and was never heard of afterward. The bill was passed. Good!
This article was originally published with the title "Defective Ocean Steamers"