Monday, 11 November 2013

Waratah - connecting rod failure.

A THEORY OF ACCIDENT.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS.

Sir,

"As the days go by with no word
forthcoming of any trace of the missing
vessel, the public will begin to speculate and
theorise as to the kind of accident that
could have befallen her."

"We can dismiss the question of the vessel
going ashore unless owing to a breakdown
of her machinery. Captain Ilbery's long
experience at sea would keep him well off
the coast. The theory of an uncharted
pinnacle of rock is untenable, as the coast
has been so well traversed that, if such an
obstacle existed it would have been well
known years ago."

"The chance of a collision is becoming more and more remote
every day. Striking floating wreckage is
a likely mishap, but as such unlikely to cause
such a modern vessel to go to the bottom, if
such is the fate."

"The total disablement of her steering gear would not prevent her
making port steered by twin screws, as
was done in the case of the battleship
Hood, some years ago, which sailed from
Malta to England with her rudder lying
on her quarter deck, the repairs to the
rudder being too extensive for the staff at
Malta dockyard to cope with."

"As one who knows something about the
perils of those who go down to the sea in
ships, I venture a thought which must not
present itself to most people. Such an
accident has been known before and is
ever likely to occur in a vessel fitted with
reciprocating machinery. It is not at all
unlikely that one of the pins joining the
piston rod and the connecting rod of one
of the two sets of engines has broken."

"The vessel has two sets of quadruple expansion engines,
I believe this means there would be four of these pins in each
set of engines. Now, if one of these pins
were to break say the high pressure cylinder
where the steam enters from the
boilers, and where, of course, the greatest
steam is, the connecting rod would immediately
fly over with a crash, and probably
go through the skin lining, and thus cause
an inrush of water before anything could
he done to stop the leak."

"I do not know if the vessel is fitted with a longitudinal
bulkhead or not but most probably she
is. That would confine the inrush of
water, but as the vessel listed, it might be
necessary to flood the other engine room to
prevent her turning turtle altogether."

"The two transverse bulkheads would ensure the
water being confined to the two engine
rooms, or the one first flooded and unless
these gave way, the vessel would still have
sufficient buoyancy to remain afloat, although
entirely unmanageable."

"If the weather permitted, steps would be immediately
taken to jettison as much cargo as
possible, and the lighter the Waratah became
the greater would be the chances of
her being able to withstand any gales that
may occur, until she was picked up."

"If such is the nature of the accident then we
may still hear of her being picked up and
towed safely into port, although days and
weeks may elapse."

"It was one of the Cunard Company's
vessels I believe, although I am open to
correction which actually met with an
accident similar to the one I suggest has
happened to the Waratah. The vessel
was picked up in the Atlantic, and safely
towed into New York harbour in water
tight condition."

W. F. HINDSON.


There were a number of possibilities potentially explaining the sudden loss of the Waratah. But this like many others remain in the realm of speculation.  

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