Monday, 14 April 2014

Waratah - engines 'shook' in rough seas.

The Times, 14 May 1910,


'He gave similar evidence to the other witness about the boat rolling in the Bay of Biscay.  The Waratah could not ride heavy seas, and the engines shook the vessel so much that the gear of the aftermast became loosened.'

If this is to be believed there might be a further force exerted on the Waratah's hull in rough seas. Perhaps compromised rivets snapped due to the shaking described, adding a further weak link in the chain of circumstances leading to the catastrophe.

heavy cross sea


Stuart Flood said...

I’ve just had a few thoughts interestingly the S.S Yongala also sunk in stormy conditions with the loss of all hands, was about to have a wireless fitted when she sank off the Queensland coast in 1911. Interestingly the only body found according to Wikipeda was of a racehorse that was in her cargo. Another thing I read today stated that the Maheno a Union Steamship Co of NZ ship was also fitted with a wireless the same year.
The other thing I am thinking is could the Waratah have broken a propeller shaft and sunk suddenly in the bad weather? A ship similar to the Waratah the RMS Tahiti broke one of her propeller shafts and sunk in calm conditions with no loss of life in 1930. She sunk slowly and everyone along with mail and baggage was able to be evacuated. As the Waratah was in a storm she could have foundered quickly? Conditions may also have hindered damage control efforts. With the ship in a storm and unable to manoeuvre she could have been overwhelmed and sunk fairly quickly.


Thank you for your thoughtful contribution Stuart. It is possible that a broken propeller shaft disabled the Waratah, but having twin screws and theoretically an intact rudder, she could have weathered the storm. Whatever misfortune with single or multiple factors at play, the Waratah certainly foundered very quickly to account for no official debris.