SS Monte Nevoso

SS Monte Nevoso was a merchant vessel which became stranded before becoming a total wreck off the coast of Norfolk, England at Haisbro Sands[2][3] in between 14 and 16 October 1932.

Monte Nevoso with the Cromer Lifeboat H F Bailey in attendance
History
Name: SS Monte Nevoso
Owner: So. Anon. Cooperativa di Navigazione. Garibaldi. Venice, Italy.[1]
Port of registry: Genoa Italy
Ordered: Lloyd Adriatico Soc. di Navigazione, Venice, Italy
Builder: The Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Co. Ltd. Wallsend-on Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Yard number: No:257
Fate: Became stranded becoming a total wreck on Haisbro Sands 14 to 16 October 1932 off Norfolk, England
General characteristics
Tonnage: 5,889 gross register tons (GRT)
Length: 400 ft (120 m)
Beam: 53 ft (16 m)
Draft: 24 ft (7.3 m)
Crew: 33

History

The Monte Nevoso was a steam merchant ship which was built in 1920[4] at The Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Co. Ltd. Wallsend-on Tyne, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom.

Final voyage

In early October 1932 Monte Nevoso left the port of La Plata, Buenos Aires Province in Argentina with a cargo of 8600 tons of Wheat, Maize and Linseeds, bound for Europe.[3] Once she had discharged this cargo, she would return to her home port of Genoa after more than eight months at sea. Captain Angelino Solvatore[3] received an Instruction by Radio when the ship was 300 miles (483 km) from Land's End that he should proceed to Hull where he was to discharge his cargo. The third officer found the necessary charts and the Monte Nevoso proceeded towards the East coast of England. In the English Channel, the ship ran into thick fog and slowed to half-speed to the Forelands. By Friday 14 October,[3] Captain Solvatore was trying to locate the Newarp Light vessel but there was no sign of this guiding light. The Monte Nevoso was now at a steady speed of nine Knots and on the last hundred miles and Captain Solvatore radioed an estimated time of arrival[3] to his agent in Hull. Still unable to locate the guiding light of Newarp the Captain’s next step was to get a bearing from the Humber radio station but just before this was done an officer on the bridge saw the light vessel six miles away, just as the Captain had calculated.

Run aground

It was now after 3:00 am and the Captain waited for the change of watch and went into the chart room before turning in for the night. There he and the chief officer studied the charts of the Haisbro buoys. The chief officer recommended that they steer a course more to port to avoid the flood tide carrying them farther starboard. As they spoke it was reported from the bridge that there was a light on the port bow. The captain and chief checked this sighting from the port rail. Realising that the Monte Nevoso was now by the South Middle Haisbro Light, the Captain ordered the bridge to turn hard to port. The Captain needed to be starboard of the Buoy for a safe passage. No sooner had he given the order, he got a reply that the ship wouldn’t answer to the helm. The captain soon realised that the Monte Nevoso had run aground on the Haisborough Sands. It was now 4:00 am[3] and for the next four hours the Captain tried in vain to dislodge the Monte Nevoso from the Sands.

Rescue

At 8:00 am Captain Solvatore sent a message to the Humber radio station asking for assistance of a tug. At 9:30 am the Gorleston coastguard informed the Cromer Lifeboat of the situation and the H F Bailey was launched.[5] By Noon the lifeboat arrived at the incident. Also now in attendance was a Dutch tug Noordzee of L. Smit & Co., which was based in Great Yarmouth. Coxswain Henry Blogg boarded the Monte Nevoso along with the Captain of the tug. The two men tried to persuade Captain Solvatore to allow the tug to pull his ship to safety. It was 4:30 pm before the captain reluctantly agreed to the assistance, mainly due to the fact that the Captain of the tug had spotted a fracture appearing on the deck over the ships bunker and Blogg had warned that the weather was to change for the worse.

Salvage attempts

Captain Martin Van der Hidde[3] of the Dutch salvage tug Noordzee, with the assistance of the Lifeboat attached a line to the stern of the Monte Nevoso and started to tow. Along with the engines of the ship and the tow of the tug the ship did not move. Captain Van der Hidde called for the further assistance of five more Tugs. The Scotsman, Irishman, Hermies, Gelezee and the Yorkshireman arrived and the lifeboat coupled them to the Monte Nevoso. In the late afternoon the six tugs and the ship’s engines made a united attempt to break the ship free but without success. At nightfall all attempts had failed. The north westerly wind had reached gale force by 5:00 am[5] and by daybreak two of the tugs, the Irishman and Yorkshireman had lost their lines. Another of the tugs, the Scotsman, had to be cut free for safety and by 8:00 am the other tugs were cast off as the Monte Nevoso showed signs that she was beginning to break up. Coxswain Blogg received the signal to take off the crew. After on hour the lifeboat had saved 29 members of the Monte Nevoso’s crew along with the Dutch Captain Martin Van der Hidde.

Stubborn refusal

Captain Solvatore, the Chief mate, Chief Engineer and the Wireless Operator refused to leave the Monte Nevoso. Coxswain Blogg tried in vain to get the men to leave but they refused. The Cromer lifeboat set off to Great Yarmouth with the rescued men. At 2:00 pm,[5] after obtaining dry clothes and fuel the H F Bailey set off with its weary crew back to the Monte Nevoso, their work not yet completed. By 4:45 pm[3] the H F Bailey was back with the ship but the Captain still refused to leave the ship saying My radio is all right, if I need assistance I will send for you. Once more the lifeboat returned to Great Yarmouth. Coxswain Blogg informed the coastguard of the situation and arranged for his crew to stay at the Mariners’ Refuge and eat their first hot meal for twenty seven hours.[5] By 5:00am on Sunday no further SOS had been heard from the Monte Nevoso and so Coxswain Blogg and his crew put to sea. By 8:00am they had reached the vessel but could find no sign of the missing four men. They had in fact taken to one of the ship's motor boats when the ship had broken in two, losing her wireless mast. At 6:00am a Lowestoft trawler called Gleam[3] had spotted a flare and had picked up the four men from their motor boat.

Four-legged friend

Whilst on a final search of the Monte Nevoso some of the crew of H F Bailey heard whimpering from one of the cabins. After forcing the door Henry Blogg found two dogs, one a large St. Bernard[5] the other a small terrier. The terrier, which had been terrified ran away, deep into the wreckage of the ship, never to be seen again. The St Bernard was carefully carried down a rope ladder to the safety of H F Bailey. In another cabin the lifeboat men found several cage-birds and these were also rescued. The H F Bailey returned to its berthing at the shed at the end of Cromer Pier. The lifeboat arrived at 1:00pm on 16 October, nearly fifty two hours after she had first launched from Cromer.[3] Lifeboat H F Bailey had travelled a total distance of seventy miles[3] on the Rescue. The rescued St Bernard was taken by the Police and placed in quarantine for six months. A grateful Captain Solvatore presented the dog to Henry Blogg after the quarantine period.[3] Henry Blogg christened the dog Monte and Blogg became deeply attached[3] to his first and only dog. Monte died in 1935[3] but his memory lives on as he is the mascot and corporate symbol at the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum in Cromer, Norfolk.

Awards

For his part in the rescue of the crew of the Monte Nevoso, Henry Blogg was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal[3] together with a copy of the vote inscribed on vellum. Blogg was also awarded a Silver Medal[3] by the Canine Defence League for his part in the rescue of the St Bernard Monte. The Italian Government also awarded Henry Blogg a Silver Medal.[3] Each of the crew of H F Bailey were awarded a Bronze Medal[3] from the Italian Government, along with the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on vellum.[3]

Position of the wreck of the Monte Nevoso today

Cromer Lifeboat crew

The Rescue of the Monte Nevoso[6]
H. F. Bailey
Name Rank
Henry G BloggCoxswain
W T Davis
J Davis Jnr.
G Cox
A Balls
G Balls
R DavisMechanic
William H "Pimpo" Davies
Robert "skinback" Coxcrew
J Davis Snr.
J W Davis
R Blogg
W Allen

References

  1. The Ship-wrecks off North East Norfolk by Ayer Tikus, (2004): The Ship-wrecks off North East Norfolk Page 57 Pub: Ayer Tikus Publications, ASIN B0032Z2NU0
  2. SC1408 Harwich and Rotterdam to Cromer & Terschelling Admiralty Small Craft Chart Coastal planning chart of the Harwich and Rotterdam to Cromer and Terschelling Scale: 1:300,000
  3. "Henry Blogg, the Greatest of the Lifeboatmen", Jolly, C., Pub: Poppyland Publishing, new edition 2002, ISBN 0-946148-59-7
  4. Records #146-78. Nationalarchives.gov.uk.
  5. The Rescues of Henry Blogg and the crews of the Cromer Lifeboat:By Mick Bensley: Published by Bengunn:ISBN 1-85770-229-8
  6. The Cromer Lifeboats, by Bob Malster & Peter Stibbons,:Poppyland Publishing, ISBN 0-946148-21-X
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