Wednesday, 27 May 2015


Barrier Miner, Thursday 2 Febraury, 1911
London, Wednesday.
At the inquiry into the loss of theWaratah yesterday, counsel for therelatives of the lost passengers andcrew stated that the evidence regarding the vessel's stability was obtainedfrom prepared data, not from actualexperience. The log showed troublewith the vessel on the first voyage.It was singular that Captain Ilberyhad not communicated the ship's behavior to the owners, who certainlyheard it from someone else.
Of course he communicated the ship's behaviour. The owners did not wish to admit this salient fact! They needed to preserve Waratah's reputation by implying that her master did not report any problems!
Feedback after the maiden outbound voyage was submitted to the builders, December 1908. 
Note the date - December 1908. Waratah was in Australian waters and feedback submitted to the builders could only have been derived from some form of report sent back to London by Captain Ilbery himself. The owners would not have acted on hearsay!
Based on this technical feedback, adjustments were recommended and implemented in terms of cargo plan and the filling of ballast tank 8. 
Practical solutions for a top heavy steamer.
It was apparent that it was desired tomake a quick trip, and that CaptainIlbery placed the coal on the spardeck trusting not to encounter astorm.
This is outrageous. No experienced captain would set out on a voyage half way round the world hoping not to encounter a storm. Further, 'it was desired to make a quick trip' implies pressure from the owners to achieve passage records and make an impression. It would be neither here nor there to Captain Ilbery to 'make a quick trip'. But in terms of advertising the flagship and Blue Anchor Line in general, speedy voyages were another matter to the owners. Captain Ilbery would also not have been in the autonomous position to decide unilaterally on coal consumption - which, naturally, would have been increased by a 'quick trip'.
Counsel for the builders stated that theevidence as to instability was largelyby depositions. The board of inquiryhad no opportunity to cross-examinethese witnesses. The vessel  was builtby a firm enjoying the confidence ofthe ship owning classes and handed tothe Waratah's owners perfectly safe,if properly loaded and handled.
Stability was THE crucial issue at stake at the Inquiry and it is bizarre that there was 'no opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses'. No wonder the Inquiry was considered a white wash in many circles.
The evidence of experienced counsel,the owners argue; shows that it islikelier that the Waratah, was lost ina storm, rather than from a breakdown.
The inquiry was concluded to-day, Counsel for the owners asked the board to say that the loss was not dueto want of stability, and was no faultof the owners. 
The owners did everything within their influence to steer the court away from any form of liability - placing the Waratah in a storm of 'exceptional violence'. The Inquiry had no choice but to 'obey' - they had no evidence to the contrary.

Counsel for the Board of Tradethought it was a sound view that thebuilders' responsibility ended in constructing the vessel from the owners' plan.

You cannot be serious. The builders were still mandated and responsible for the construction of a sound, seaworthy vessel, despite the owners specification demands.

There was much conflicting evidencerelative to the correspondence betweenCaptain Ilbery and the owners and thecondition of the lifeboats.

Judgment will be given on February 15.

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