Sunday, 8 December 2013



"He estimated the total dead weight of
cargo on board at 9,000 tons, and that her
draft was 28 ft. 3 in. forward and 29 ft.
5 in. aft."

Again, one of many references to a total cargo component of 9000 tons.

"Captain Ilbery always spoke
most highly and proudly of the Waratah,
and never suggested any defect or anything
remarkable about her behaviour at sea."

This can be interpreted in one of two ways. Either Captain Ilbery was very loyal to his employers the Lunds, and presented this public opinion of the Waratah. Or else he genuinely believed the Waratah was a fine ocean going steamship, which seems more likely. Captain Ilbery made a comment after the Waratah's maiden voyage that once he had 'solved' the issues of cargo-plan, ballasting and deadweight relating to stability, he had every confidence in the Waratah's performance and safety at sea.

"All the principal officers on
the last voyage were on the ship
on her maiden voyage, and Mr. Neill never
heard any statement or hint as to any defects."

Again the same principle of interpretation applies to the officers of the Waratah.

"The cargo shipped for Durban consisted of
89 tons of flour and dried fruits,
and for Cape Town 318 tons of wheat and

"Mr. F. E. Thomas (of Messrs. George
Wills & Co.) deposed to having taken a
trip to Melbourne and Sydney in the
Waratah. He saw nothing while on board
to correspond with the reported statement
of Mr. Sawyer at Durban."

"The only thing he noticed was that on leaving Melbourne
for Sydney the steamer had a slight list
to starboard, and on the next day on looking
over the side he noticed 'she was discharging
rusty-looking water'.

I am concerned about this report of  'rusty coloured water' (if it were indeed true) being discharged from a vessel on her second to maiden voyage. Corrosion in ballast water suggests a breach in the 'protective' surface area (oil, grease or tar used) of the ballast tanks. This could have come about in a number of ways including the very real possibility that hull plate damage and compromise could have accounted for such breaches and even small areas like this would 'rust' quickly.

Another alternative refers to the rivets used to secure hull plates. Water could enter along the rivet line where it attaches the double hull, eventually working its way into the hull core / ballast tanks. Rivet heads (brittle steel) were also prone to breaking and allowing water ingress.

instead of the screw a rivet was used - the principle however is clearly demonstrated

"The chief engineer explained that they were pumping
out a tank to rectify the list."

"The list, however, continued."

This is highly subjective and could have been an uninformed contribution to mounting suspicions that the Waratah was 'unstable'.

However, the flip side of the coin could point to problems with water ingress and an inability to (bilge) pump it out adequately?

"After the Waratah's
first voyage he heard some remark to the
effect that the ship was "a crank one."

This is blatant hearsay and describing a steamship as 'crank' without substantiation amounts to 'fear mongering'.

"During his trip he asked the officers if there
was any truth in the statement."

"They all agreed there was not."

"On account of his long and intimate
connection with the line
and its officers, if there had been any defect
in the ship or anything out of the way
in regard to her behaviour at sea he would
have heard something about it."

At least he had the common sense to verify the allegation of 'crank' by checking with the officers on the Waratah, who denied this allegation.

"Mr. W. Fisher (manager of the South
Australian Stevedoring Company) stated
that the usual course was followed in regard
to the supply of the loading plant
by the agents of the Waratah."

"The Adelaide cargo of the steamer was thoroughly
well and judiciously stowed."

By the second to maiden voyage of the Waratah the importance of adequate stowage had become very clear to her master. At Durban where there was no rush relating to schedule making it highly unlikely that cargo, including carcasses in hold one and Copper ingots in hold three, were loaded and stowed in a sub standard manner.

The lead concentrates were also in hold 3, loaded 11 cubic feet to the ton and 8 feet high - not good.

to be continued....

rusty bilges

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