The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, WI), 25 Apr 1956

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On-The-Scene Inspection of Ship Sinking Ordered

Detroit (AP) -- The Coast Guard inquiry into the sinking of the freighter A.M. BYERS shifts today to Harsens Island in the St. Clair River, where the ship went down last Thursday night after colliding with the freighter E.M. FORD.

The on-the-scene inspection was ordered in an attempt to clear up discrepancies in testimony during the first two days of the hearing.

Capt. Thompson Campbell, 67-year-old skipper of the FORD, disagreed with two of his crewmen over signals exchanged between the two ships just before the collision.

The wheelsman of the FORD, Gerald Johnson, 23, and the lookout Richard Kajawa, also 23, testified Tuesday there was a change in signals given for the vessels to pass each other to starboard instead of to port as originally signaled. Capt. Campbell had testified earlier that there was not such change in signals.

Authorities also will seek to learn why Campbell made an entry in the ship's log setting the time of the crash at 9:48 p.m. The ship's engineer Clarence Nowaczewski, 34, logged it at 9:33 p.m.

Nowaczewski corroborated Campbell's testimony that the crash was caused by a jammed steering gear on the FORD. Nowaczewski said the gear jammed when a connecting rod worked loose.

The BYERS sank in 27 feet of water, blocking river traffic for 24 hours until the Coast Guard found a safe passage around her.

Crewmen of both ships escaped serious injury.

Salvage vessels continued the work of unloading the BYERS cargo of dolomite prior to re-floating the vessel.

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25 Apr 1956
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Ray Grant
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Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, WI), 25 Apr 1956