Sunday, 1 September 2013

Waratah - specifications introduction, part one.

Today's post is a technical one. To some it may seem unnecessarily detailed.  But the fact of the matter in an unsolved mystery such as this, every detail is important and has to be assessed in the context of factors contributing to the catastrophe. Much of the data is drawn directly from the Board of Inquiry transcripts.

The 'Waratah' was built in Glasgow for the British company Blue Anchor Line and was named after the emblem flower of New South Wales. It was to be the company’s flagship, serving as a passenger and cargo ship, conveying European emigrants to Australia and returning with a predominance of cargo.

The 'Waratah', Official Number 125741, was a twin screw steamship, built at Whiteinch, Glascow in 1908, by Barclay, Curle & Company Limited.  She was 465 feet in length and 59.45 feet in breadth, and depth in hold from tonnage deck to ceiling at midships 35.05 feet. She was fitted with two sets of reciprocating four cylinder expansion direct-acting vertical inverted engines, with five steel boilers having a working pressure of 215 lbs, developing 548.4 nominal, 5,400 indicated horsepower. Engines and boilers were supplied by Barclay, Curle. Her listed speed was 13 knots.

The 'Waratah' was ordered to specification by Messrs. William, Frederick and Albert Edward Lund of the Blue Anchor Line. Based on the Geelong, although in this case a triple deck vessel, she cost 139,900 pounds to build, and was launched on the 23rd October, 1908. Captain Ilbery brought her round from the Clyde (Glasgow) to London. The expert witnesses all agreed that the 'Waratah' was designed and built properly and sailed in good condition.[11] She had passed numerous inspections and given a "+100 A1" classification – a top rating,[12] granted only to ships Lloyd's assessors had inspected and approved from design, through construction, fitting out and sea trials, plus two valuations and inspections on completion.

Accommodation included 100 first class cabins, eight state rooms and a salon.  On the outward bound voyage, cargo holds could be converted into dormitories for up to 700 emigrant steerage passengers. On the return voyage, the cargo holds were laden with goods and foodstuffs, including refrigeration facilities.

The Waratah was to be built to Lloyd's Rules (1907-1908) for the 100 A1 spar-deck class. The minimum free board when fully loaded to 30 feet 4 1/2 inches gave a freeboard of 8 feet 1 inch. She was a larger ship than was contemplated by those rules, and her measurements were practically the same as those for the three-deck class. I shall explore this in detail in coming posts.

She had three complete steel decks (lower, main, and spar), a plated bridge deck and forecastle, and a partly plated poop. There were in addition a promenade deck and a boat deck, of the same length as the bridge. The bridge house was 175 feet 6 inches long, the forecastle 84 feet 10 inches long, adapted for the accommodation of the crew, and the poop about 108 feet long.

The camber of the spar deck was 14.25 inches, and that of the promenade and boat decks 9 inches.
The poop was closed by a steel bulkhead at its forward end, with two watertight doors. Above the poop was a smoke-room and entrance to the third-class accommodation below.

The bridge had a steel bulkhead at the forward end. In it were two doors, 5 feet by 3 feet, each in halves, secured from the outside with turnbuckles; these led into the spar deck bunker. There were also two plug doors, similarly secured, leading into the cold chamber.

The after end of the spar-deck bunker on both sides of the ship was divided from the accommodation (for the engineers, stewards, &.) aft by weather boards extending to the deck above. The after ends of the alley-ways under the bridge deck were 10 feet from the middle line of the ship, and were fitted with weather boards to half height. There was access from the alley-way on the starboard side at its forward end to the deck above.

The first-class accommodation was all above the bridge deck. The forecastle had a partial steel bulkhead at each side, with weather boards between these and the forward corners of the refrigerator house. The forward well was 73 feet in length, and had at its forward end a refrigerator house 28 feet long and 34 feet wide; the after well was 30 feet long. Both wells had bulwarks 4 feet 2 inches in height above the plated deck, with three wash ports on each side in the forward well, and two on each side in the after well. The size of each wash port was 3 feet 6 inches by 18 inches.

The hatch in the forward well measured 30 feet 4 inches by 19 feet 6 inches, and that in the after well 19 feet 6 inches by 26 feet. Both were fitted with hatch covers of 3-inch pine supported by transverse beams formed of 1-inch plate and four angles. The hatch coamings were 3 feet high.

These hatches if breached would constitute a very significant surface area for flooding.

to be continued.....

(more detailed posts on the subject appear later in the Blog)


Graham Clayton said...

"Her listed speed was 13 knots."

Was 13 knots a top speed for ships of similar size and weight?

andrew van rensburg said...

Hi Graham. 13 knots was very average for a vessel of this size. There were a significant number of similarly-sized steamers which made 16 knots and greater, particularly on the trans-Atlantic run. Waratah was under powered for her size and given her cruising speed of 13 to 13.5 knots, the flagship was designed for economy rather than speed. She should have consumed a modest 80 tons of coal per day, but due to being too heavily laden and under powered, this figure rose to 95 tons and more. In the Blog I have compared Waratah with a number of similarly sized and configured steamers from the time. There are too many to post the individual links. Andrew