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The following report (and accompanying diagram) from Commander Frederic W. Sidney (carried on the books of HMS in Fisgard at Woolwich, as an additional Commander for the Surveying Service) to Captain Alexander B. Becher F.R.A.S. (Naval Assistant to Captain John Washington, F.R.S., Hydrographer to the Admiralty) has been preserved in the National Archives as "CapS.239" in ADM 1/5738 ("From Captains and Lieutenants, 1860").

Admiralty Survey,
Guernsey, Sept 11th. 1860

Dear Sir,

I lost no time on the receipt of your letter of the 7th inst. to visit Alderney by the first boat to get angles over the spot upon which the Emerald grounded.

The lithograph'd plan you mention as having sent did not arrive.

I have therefore sent the positions of four trigonometrical points from a tracing of my original survey sent into office in Decr. 1858, together with those of the Queens moorings, the Red Buoy and the sounding on the exact spot upon which the Emerald grounded, with the angles observed there and laid off.

You will perceive in the first place that the shoal is not a new discovery, in the second place that a ship like the Emerald should never have been taken so far up the Harbour as the Queens Buoy, and finally that by the blunder of an ignorant local Pilot - ignorant as to the handling of a big ship - he got brought up by a rock in whose vicinity he had no business to be.

The diagram represents the Emerald as she lay at the moorings, a hawser was passed from her quarter to the Red Buoy, the moorings slipped, and the ship backed astern at full speed (so I understand) until brought up by the rock. I may remark that the Queens moorings were laid down 8 years ago, so as to get some shelter from the then state of the Breakwater, & moorings ought now to be laid down outside the Half Tide Rk. for large ships. Moorings have been lying ashore at Alderney for that purpose for several years. I would suggest also that a Harbour Master or responsible officer should be appointed to Alderney to take charge of any of HM ships outside the harbour and see her safely moored inside.

The position I have given can easily be transferred to a lithographed plan, tho' I [illegible] it is not reduced from my survey, in fact I have nothing to do with the lithograph which was published before my plan was sent in but contains some additions evidently from my work.

I have not encumbered the tracing with any things unnecessary, which if placed over my survey will I believe exhibit all that is required.

I remain, Sir,
your most obedt. Servant
Frederic W. Sidney
Commander R.N.

Captain Becher R.N.
for Hydrographer


At the Hydrographers Office, Sidney's calculated position was transferred to a 1858 printed chart of Braye Harbour, and the report, Sidney's diagram, and the annotated chart were then sent to the Admiralty with the following covering note:

The accompanying plan shows the correct position of the rock on which the Emerald [grounded] at Alderney as determined by Commr. Sidney - and is transferred to that that on which the position by compass bearings was marked. It is also my duty to [illegible] the Commr's letter to their Lordships in reference to his remarks on moorings and a Harbr. Master at Alderney to their Lordships.

H.O. [Hydrographers Office] 13th Sept '60
A.B. Becher R.N.
For Hydr.

This would seem to suggest that position of the rock was initially incorrectly determined (the rock marked "Emerald aground" between the rock marked "Emerald true position" and the Half Tide rock); as the chart does not not show St Annes Church, I cannot check the bearings given in Emerald's log myself.


Over Sidney's report is written:

Sent to Sir R. Dundas [the First Naval Lord], 13.9.60

The latter then added the following minute:

Write to the Trinity House and state HMS Emerald having grounded in the Harbour at Alderney on the 28th last when in charge of Mr John Bolt a Trinity House Pilot my Lords have called for a special report as to the exact position on which she grounded - an extract of the Report with copies of the accompanying Chart and Tracing is to be enclosed & it appearing that the ship was conducted to her unsafe position contrary to the expressed [illegible] of her Captain & on the responsibility of the Pilot my Lords desire to ask the attentions of the Elder Brethren to his conduct on the occasion.
R.S.D. [Richard Saunders Dundas]


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