Thursday, 2 July 2015

Waratah - F.W. Lund to the stand.

The Mercury (Hobart) Wednesday 25 January 1911

The principal witness on behalf of theBlue Anchor Line was Mr. Lund son ofMr William Lund senior partner, whosehealth suffered greatly in consequence ofthe disaster to the Waratah. Mr F. W. Lund explained the firm's confidence in Captain Ilbery. 
Captain Ilbery entered Messrs. Lund and Son's service 42 years ago, and commanded 15 out of the 20 vessels constructed for Mr. W. Lund. It was the practice for Captain Ilbery to superintend the construction of the new vessels. He would take over the vessels from the builders and be in command on the maiden voyage. As soon as the contract for a new ship was complete he would leave the steamer he then commanded, and superintend the construction of the new vessel, in due course taking her over and commanding on the first voyage or voyages. 
Captain llbery left the Geelong to superintend construction of the Waratah. The Waratah was an improvement on the Geelong. From time to time Captain Ilbery, Mr. Shanks (one of the superintendents), and Mr F. W. Lund, made rough sketches of suggested improvements. Those rough sketches were put together, and from them the new boat was designed.
(There is no doubt in my mind, to be given such responsibility, Captain Ilbery was highly respected and trusted by the Lunds. This alludes to a more truthful appraisal of Captain Ilbery's abilities.)
Mr Laing: Will you tell us about thespace on the spar deck.
Witness: Well, as the result of our experience gained in the transporting oftroops during the South African War (Boer)and taking out immigrants, we thoughtthat the spar deck could be used forvarious purposes, such as cargo and coal (and emigrants). When she was designed we asked the builders to construct her so that shecould go to sea with only her water ballast tanks filled, and her permanent coal supply.
(Why would a commercial steamer go to sea without cargo and passengers?)
You were informed it was not possible to comply with that condition?
Witness: Yes, and then we asked thatthe stability of the new steamer be greater than that of the Geelong.
Questioned by Mr. Laing,  Mr. Lundsaid that he saw Captain Ilbery after theWaratah's first voyage. The captain told him that the Waratah was a most comfortable ship, and satisfactory in every way. He added she was a most easy ship in a heavy sea.
Did he say anything about the stability?
Witness: Yes, he said that in lightcondition he did not think she was quiteas stiff as the Geelong, but he did notgive his reasons (this seems odd when the extra deck was a very obvious addition to the Geelong format). The fact came outwhen we were discussing the Waratahwith a view to preparing plans for another vessel.
Did he ever state that the Waratahwas not so stable at sea as the Geelong?
Witness No, never.
Did you hear complaints from any ofthe officers regarding the behaviour of the Waratah ?
Witness: I never heard a single complaint, and the third officer and one of the two engineers who left her did so because he got promotion Not one of them ever made a suggestion that the Waratah was unseaworthy, nor was itever suggested in my hearing that shewas top-heavy.
(Well, well. I doubt at this point whether the man who was potentially culpable for the loss of the Waratah was about to share complaints of any kind.)

Barclay, Curle & Co. Clyde River - where it all started.

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