Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Ernest Vivian Lewis.  A.B. on Waratah -

"I do not remember any very bad weather while I was on board of her. I have had experience in different kinds of ships, sailing and steam. I never saw anything to lead me to suppose that the ship was not all that she ought to be."

"During the voyage from London to Adelaide we remarked in the forecastle that she was a fine sea-going ship."

"I never heard anything on board the "Waratah" to suggest that the ship was in any way faulty. I went all over her myself; if she was here to-day I would not hesitate to ship in her again."

Witness account swinging back in favour of a sound steamship.

G. W. Ambrose. Quartermaster of the Waratah -

Wrote from Cape Town to his mother, under date 18th May, 1909:

"We have had a fine passage out as far as this; we haven't had a drop of water on deck yet. She is a splendid sea-boat."

Here we have a very important piece of information. Mr Ambrose was lost with the Waratah. His letter pre-dates the Inquiry investigation and is therefore free of its influences and general Waratah 'mania' of the time.

He simply states that the Waratah was a 'splendid sea-boat'.

Ernest Crossley.  Marine inventor -

"Knew the chief officer of the" Waratah." Had known him for some years, and when he came into port visited him regularly."

"I lunched with the chief officer at Melbourne somewhere between the 28th June and the 1st July, 1909. I asked him if he was satisfied with his new ship. He said he was very dissatisfied."

"He said she did not behave as she should do. He said she had a peculiar way of getting on one side, on the port side or the starboard side, without righting herself immediately."

"He gave a description as falling. it fell more than rolled, and got hit back again. That was his way of expressing the motion of the steamer."

"He told me the engineers were dissatisfied as well. He mentioned the second and third, but just generally speaking the whole lot."

"They were going to have trouble, I think, in London. The chief officer said the majority of the officers intended, the lot of them, to leave the ship and complain about it."

"He said he was thoroughly dissatisfied with the ship, and if he could not leave her without leaving the Company, he would leave the Company. So that satisfied me he was highly dissatisfied."

In later posts I explore the facts that prior to departure on Waratah's final home bound voyage, she was tender with a reduced GM, which would have created this rolling pattern - similar to 'top heavy destroyers of the time. But the GM was considerably improved by the time Waratah departed Durban for the last time - an entirely different vessel due to ballasting and improved stowage plan.

J. H. Veitch.  Shipping Inspector New South Wales (Sydney) -

"I saw the ship daily for ten days discharging and loading cargo. There was nothing in the alteration of trim to suggest instability."

This casts an alternative viewpoint on allegations that the Waratah listed while loading coal.

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