Mr. Shanks, superintendent engineer to Messrs. W. Lund & Sons, owners of the Waratah, said the coal consumption of the steamer was about 15 tons a day more on the second voyage than during the first. This was due to the distillation of the drinking water on board and to the weather conditions. He had not heard that any difficulty had been experienced in coaling the Waratah in Sydney owing to the ship being too "tender," but he admitted receiving a letter from Captain Ilbery in which a statement was made to that effect. (Another reason for consuming more coal could relate to the Waratah needing to be 'heavier' lower down to enhance metacentric height stability. That would account for an increase in fuel consumption.)
It was elicited from Mr. Shanks during cross-examination that when the Waratah was first built in Glasgow it was considered unsafe to coal her beyond the amount of fuel needed for the voyage from that port to London. The arrangement with the builders was that they were to construct the Waratah as stable as the Geelong. It was untrue that the Waratah listed so heavily on her maiden voyage from Glasgow as to frighten the officers. (The voyage from the builders' shipyard to London was unique in that she did not carry cargo, which reduced her metacentric height stability.)
Counsel quoted a letter which the chief engineer had sent to the owners stating that Captain Ilbery had asked him to take sufficient coal to drive the vessel. Mr.Shanks replied that neither the owners, builders, nor himself had suggested utilising a space on the spar deck for coal. Counsel then produced a plan showing a space marked on the spar deck as coal bunkers. The witness said he never regarded them as permanent bunkers; nor did he regard the extra coal consumption as an indication that Captain Ilbery was pressing the vessel. It might have been of some assistance to the coaling operations to place a small quantity of coal on the spar deck. He had not heard anything of the vessel's alleged instability.
Asked why coal was not placed on the spar deck when the vessel left Glasgow, the witness admitted that it was not considered safe. He was quite certain that the decks did not leak badly. Leaking decks = poor construction quality.