Monday, 8 June 2015


The Advertiser (Adelaide) Wednesday 11 January 1911
LONDON. January 10.
The enquiry concerning the loss of theLund liner Waratah off the coast of Natalin July, 1909. which was adjourned fromDecember 20, was resumed yesterday.
The principal witness was Sir William H. White. F.R.S., the eminentnaval architect, who was for many yearschief constructor to the British navy. Hetestified that the stability curve of theWaratah's hull was very good, and thatthe complaints that she was too high outof the water were unwarranted.
If the cargo carried at the time of her loss wasdisposed, according to the evidence, thevessel could not have foundered throughinstability. Her metacentric height wassatisfactory.
It was mentioned that the Waratah'sdead weigh amounted to 9,204 tons, including a cargo of 6,425 tons, and coal weighing 2,350 tons in the bunkers, and 250 tons on the spar deck. Sir William White did not think that 614 tons of coal in the bunker on the spar deck was danger. 
He was entirely satisfied withthe builders' inclining experiments. Thefreeboard, when the Waratah was loadedto a draught of 28 ft. 8 in., was thoroughly satisfactory. 
There was nothing unusual in the vessel's superstructure and decksHe did not think there was the slightest foundation for the theory that the vessel was so high in the water that she was dangerously exposed to the wind pressure. 
It was fallacious to deduce from the ship's inclination of 2 or 3 degrees under a slight wind that she had no metacentric height. If the vessel went over on her side and then found her position her equilibrium was not necessarily unsafe. 
The passengers who thought the Waratah was slow in rolling probably had only had experience of fast rolling vessels. The Lusitania and Mauretania took 12 seconds to swing from 'out to out'. 
This piece of crucial expert testimony should have squashed the hystrionic nay sayers. Sir White had the credentials (marine) to put the record straight. The hull design (which appeared cryptically as a possible issue at the Inquiry), was sound, according to his claim. 
Even if coal were loaded into the spar deck bunkers, this expert did not believe it posed a threat - reducing the issue one way or the other, to insignificant
When the Waratah departed Durban for the last time, her metacentric height was a very substantial 1.5 ft. and her draught more than 28 ft. In terms of metacentric height she was absolutely stable. 
This account was given by a man with considerable, proven, maritime experience and expertise. He was a man of the time, with the all important insight into the function and seaworthiness of period steamers (circa 1909).
Perhaps he was, however, a little forceful in extolling the virtues of Waratah, which we know had limitations. Being a Naval architect, Sir White, was highly regarded and I do wonder if he was in any way 'chummy' with William Lund?

                                                         RMS Lusitania


Stuart Flood said...

Interesting I have been reading a bit about the Lusitania at the moment. One author I have been reading suggests that the Lusitania's centre of gravity was quite low. Another thing that he said that got me thinking was on the watertight subdivision and flooding which suggests that the way she was subdivided with both longitudinal and transverse bulkheads could have caused her to sink quickly due to uneven flooding along with this add additional water from burst seems and broken port holes allowing water to flow in around the area where the torpedo hole was. Also the use of the longitudinal compartments as coal bunkers could have hindered the closing of watertight doors along with the way said doors were operated (apparently there were two different types) The same author sums up his assessment of the Lusitania's subdivision by saying that ironically Titanic would actually comply with modern SOLAS regulations on watertight subdivision while the Lusitania and Mauritania would not. Anyway bringing this back to the Waratah would how she was subdivided and the type of watertight doors used have speeded up the process of whatever caused her to sink? As to the second explosion on the Lusitania from what I've read I lean towards some kind of steam plant explosion (boiler or main steam line)

andrew van rensburg said...

Stuart, I think you have made a VERY important comment. I could not agree with you more and would further explain the rapid disappearance of the Waratah. Thank you very much. Best wishes, Andrew