Monday, 9 March 2015


The disappearance of Malaysia MH 370 one year ago, has captured the news headlines once more. In an era of modern technology and satellite tracking it is astounding that a Boeing 777 could disappear without a trace. The investigation teams from various countries are no closer to unraveling the mystery than when the flight first disappeared.

It does appear from detailed analysis that the most likely scenario directs attention to the Captain of the jet. MH 370 veered off course and made a number of turns (human input) before heading south into the Indian Ocean. Vital communication devices were turned off suggesting further human intervention.

Could the Waratah have fallen prey to a similar event, crew intentionally causing the steamer to founder?

I personally don't think it would be possible for such an incident such as MH 370 to occur on a large steamer. In the case of the jet, the Captain could lock himself in the cockpit and depressurize the cabin, passengers and cabin crew succumbing to hypoxia within 12 to 15 minutes. This gives complete control to the Captain in the cockpit who would have had access to supplemental oxygen for at least an hour. It would be very difficult indeed for a single individual on board the Waratah to have taken over the steamer without intervention from the well-manned crew. It seems highly remote that a mutiny took place and the mutineers intentionally caused the Waratah to founder. I believe there would be further evidence to this effect, if mutiny had indeed taken place.

I do, however, believe that hypoxia could have played a significant role in the loss of the Waratah off Cape Hermes. The crew of the Harlow and an officer on a navy vessel further out at sea, commented on the steamer afire. Hypoxia is a subtle, stealthy enemy and many of the crew  and passengers on board the Waratah may not have been aware of the effects in the last hour / minutes. The hypoxia caused by increasing levels of carbon monoxide (smoke) results in disorientation and poor judgment. Before passing out, crew and in particular Captain Ilbery, might have made navigational errors, lost control of the fire and not made valiant attempts to save themselves and passengers. It is soothing to imagine that all souls on board the Waratah 'fell asleep' due to hypoxia before the steamer slipped beneath the waves.


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