Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Waratah - wireless compulsory for all ocean liners.

New Zealand Herald, Volume XLVI, Issue 14134, 9 August 1909, Page 5

STILL NO NEWS

WIRELESS ON OCEAN LINERS
MAY BE MADE COMPULSORY

Bv Telegraph - Press Association - Copyright.

(Received August 8, 6.47 pm)

London, August 7

"The Waratah took 300 tons of coal on her bridge deck after discharging cargo at Port Natal."

This we now know in all probability to be untrue as the coal was loaded into the spar (not bridge) deck bunkers when, if at all, used. We also know that the 'spar' deck as quoted was a misnomer as the deck in question was below the bridge, promenade and boat decks.

"The cruisers sent out in search of the missing vessel have not returned"

London, August 6

"The owners of the Waratah (Lund's Line) cling to the idea that the steamer is drifting in mid-ocean owing to disabled machinery"

"The uncertainty regarding the fate of the Waratah has provided underwriters with a fresh argument for making wireless apparatus compulsory for all ocean liners."

This indeed was the crux of the matter both in light of establishing what had gone wrong on board the Waratah and secondly in terms of her location when she sank. The issue was raised in parliament and the question put to Winston Churchill who although acknowledging that further investigation into the question was required, could not see the necessity for wireless on steamers. This was a puzzling response considering the great man's vast intellect and I can't help wondering if there was the sticky issue of shipping line culpability to steer around, leaving an exit door open for the Blue Anchor Line.



My book 'Waratah Revisited' will be available by 12 December, via Amazon. I explore the human aspect of the tragedy and take a closer look at the Inquiry into the loss of the Waratah. Revelations abound. Don't miss it!

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