DISASTERS AND MISHAPS – SHIPWRECKS
Another casualty of the Sydney-Auckland service was the Huddart Parker ship Elingamite, of 2,585 tons, which ran ashore on West Island in the Three Kings Group on 2 November 1902 and sank in 20 minutes with the loss of 45 lives. Steaming at half-speed through a thick fog, the ship could have been saved at the first sight of land, but for some reason the orders for stopping, or their execution, were delayed until it was too late. The Elingamite carried 136 passengers and a crew of 58, and 28 passengers and 17 of the crew died from drowning or exposure. A Court of Inquiry found the master, Captain E. B. Atwood, guilty of grossly negligent navigation and suspended his certificate, but eight years later an Australian naval survey proved that the charted position of Three Kings Islands was in error by as much as a mile and a half. Special legislation, passed to enable the Elingamite inquiry to be reopened, resulted in the Supreme Court completely exonerating Captain Atwood.