Mr. .T. W. Lund, the ship owner, giving evidence to-day, at the official inquiry into the loss of the steamer Waratah, said the Waratah was not built as an experiment, and no alterations were either suggested or made during the construction of the vessel or after her maiden voyage. The builders did not adversely criticise the design. Captain Ilbery did not threaten to leave the ship if the boat deck was not removed. Not one of the-officers and crew threatened to leave, or did so.
On her last trip, the Waratah was not pressed to make an unusually fast voyage. Captain Ilbery reported that the Waratah, in light condition, was not as stable as the Geelong. Captain Ilbery never convinced him that the Waratah was lacking in stability, but witness said so in his letter to the builders in order to press other matters concerning settlement. Neat summary. One could argue that the Waratah WAS built as an experiment, an idea born from transporting troops etc.. for the Boer War. The fact that the spar deck coal bunkers appeared as permanent bunkers on the design plans, but were not used as such, confirms that the Waratah, in a sense, was an experiment. The maiden voyage was an exercise in trial and error. She was unfamiliar territory. But it was this very model the P&O Line used to their advantage when taking over the lucrative emigrant / trade route between Britain and Australia. Much was made about Captain Ilbery 'pressing' the Waratah, hence the increased fuel consumption. For all the voyages Waratah was somewhat ahead of schedule, certainly not exclusive to the final voyage. In fact when Waratah departed Durban for the last time she made 12 knots down to the Wild Coast - significantly slower than her standard 13.5 knots. SS Commonwealth (Blue Anchor Line)