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    The Shovell disaster
    From: Ted Gerrard
    Date: 2007 Nov 2, 10:38 -0000

    Further to Frank Reed's comment on a (UK) Times newspaper article "Sir Cloudesley: a tribute" by Guy Liardet.

    Today is the 300th anniversary of the disaster and Frank rightly drew attention to one of the errors in the Times article, namely that Liardet claimed the spread of errors in latitude (on the day prior to the disaster) were greater than those in the longitude. Frank's brief comment "Well that ain't right" was fully justified.

    What was surprising was that the spread across the fleet's 7 backstaff noon sights was biased entirely to the south of the fleet's true position, the best of the bunch being some 12 miles in error. Had the spread straddled the true latitude the disaster just might have been averted.

    Shovell was directly responsible for the 2 worst disasters in the entire history of the English Royal Navy not involving enemy action. Entirely avoidable disasters which wrote off 8 ships of the line and cost the lives of nigh on 3000 seamen, 99% of whom received no Christian burial. Shovell was also jointly responsible for the loss of most of the large 1694 Smyrna merchant fleet and it's small RN protecting squadron.

    Why anyone should wish to honour the man and to lay a wreath on his tomb in Westminster Abbey is a mystery to me.

    Ted Gerrard


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