Lines, body & 1/2 breadth
Boat dk, prom dk, fo'c'sle & poop dk
Upper deck and main deck
Lower deck & hold
Model fittings and details
Capacity profile and plan
Loading plan (sketch) BCA327
Loading plan (for stevedores) BCA327
Jeremy Michell, MA
Historic Photographs and Ships Plans Manager, National Maritime Museum
Controversy surrounds the issue of the Waratah's design. The concept of a 'top heavy' steamer is entrenched in the public mind. In previous posts I have demonstrated that the Waratah was neither 'top heavy' nor unstable when she departed Durban on her final voyage, 26 July, 1909.
The triple deck configuration (associated with the concept of 'top heavy' in the case of the Waratah) was utilized in other steamers of the time, another good example being the Marama. This configuration served the Marama well throughout her lengthy service life.
The Waratah was intended as a flag ship for the Blue Anchor Line and as such was a larger, more modern evolution of the pre-existing Geelong. Configurations and specifications were considered and discussed during the planning phase of the Waratah. However, once finalised, the design plans were presented as above (originals held by the National Maritime Museum).
The three levels of decks are clearly represented and there are no other design plans on record (to my knowledge) suggesting the deck configuration was modified once construction commenced. Lloyd's assessors inspected progress during the construction phase, verifying at regular intervals the builders' adherence to the design plans and standards of construction (as per regulations).
The Waratah was designed to be flexible. Temporary demountable emigrant cabins for the outbound voyages from England were situated on the 'tween' and spar decks. Provision was made for the first class passenger component on separate bridge, promenade and boat decks. The Branch Line and P&O used the Blue Anchor Line model to great effect and showed significant profits.
The evolution of steamer design, including triple decks, came about during the early 1900's. Passengers up until then were accustomed to smaller, single or twin deck steamer designs. It stands to reason that passengers had to adjust their perceptions regarding the larger, triple deck Waratah with her unique performance characteristics at sea. These perceptions were aired without hesitation at the Inquiry. But the Waratah was simply a manifestation of design evolution.
As the facts stand, the Waratah was not a unique design concept and nor was she 'unsafe' by the standards of the day.
This is not entirely true. Although stability was established for Waratah final voyage beyond the bluff at Durban she was too heavy, with a significantly low freeboard, and her twin quadruple expansion engines were under powered for her size and weight.
|triple deck plans for the SS Umbria and SS Eturia|