Monday, 13 July 2015

WARATAH STRUCK A SUBMERGED WRECK AND LOOSENED (HULL) PLATES.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 8 February, 1911

Lyons, a steward, said he heard the boatswain say, "I wouldn't like to be on this ship in a storm. She would go to the bottom." 
He heard the sailors say they had tofill the tanks to get her straight, as she rolledtoo much after leaving Capetown on thesecond voyage. He believed the ship strucka submerged wreck after leaving Adelaide, and loosened plates underneath.

The Inquiry transcript makes no mention of the Waratah striking submerged wreckage after leaving Adelaide. It is almost beyond belief that such a statement should slip into a newspaper report.
Loosened hull plates would seriously have compromised the integrity of the Waratah, and unless thoroughly examined and rectified in dry dock, presented a serious threat to the overloaded steamer in rough seas.
This reminds me of the SS Koombana which sustained significant plate damage after running aground at Shark Bay. It was only when the Koombana was dry-docked at Sydney some considerable time later, that it became apparent that a number of plates were seriously damaged as described by Annie Boyd in her excellent volume "Koombana Days":
 'Dry-docking revealed a seventy-foot gouge in the bottom of the hull, with a split a few feet long at the keel. The repair took twenty days. Thirteen plates were removed and replaced, and a sixfoot steel strap was used to reinforce the keelson.'
One shudders to think if a similar situation prevailed on the Waratah, 'an accident waiting to happen'.



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