Monday, 21 April 2014

Waratah - 'dealing with shipping casualties on the coast'.

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) Saturday 21 August 1909


LONDON, August 14

'The owners of the Lund liner Waratah
are quite sanguine since the denial of the
reports concerning the washing ashore of
human bodies on the African coast as to
the safety of the steamer, emphasizing the
fact that other vessels upwards of a fortnight
overdue due to some mishap have
nevertheless reached ' their' destinations.'

'They consider that the Waratah is drifting
on the ocean, probably towards Australia.'

'The Cape Government are appointing a
Commission to inquire as to what arrangements
should be made for dealing with
shipping casualties on the coast, with a
view to providing reasonable facilities, for
saving life and property.'

'The Admiralty have been approached with
a view to securing the services of an experienced naval
officer to assist the Commissioners.'

'The 'Times,' in the marine insurance
market, states that 93 guineas was
paid on Saturday for the reinsurance of
the Waratah.'

'The deal was really a covering operation,
and the fact that any rate was quoted at all is
due to the possibility that what the captain of the
Insizwa believes he saw near the mouth of the
Bashee River is explainable by the wreck
of a small craft.'

'It is probably as well to state, adds the
'Times,' that experienced underwriters ,
best qualified to express an opinion have become
thoroughly pessimistic regarding the Waratah.'

The discovery of bodies off the Wild Coast caused confusion and distress. To my knowledge, nothing appeared in the press nor at the Inquiry regarding details of other vessel/s (light or other) foundering during the same time period the Waratah went missing.

The issue of reinsurance hinged on the fact that the Waratah was believed to be adrift.

In the case of both the Harlow and Insizwa, crews had failed to act, thus creating confusion and doubt. But the seeds of 'possibility' had been planted. The captain of the Insizwa blamed poor weather as his primary reason for not attempting to retrieve the bodies afloat.

Captain Bruce of the Harlow had failed to go to the aid of the Waratah after two distinct distress flares had been observed, followed by the disappearance of the steamer's lights. Significant delays hampered search and recovery operations after the Waratah was reported overdue, further laying foundations for the maritime mystery that was to come.


No comments: