Sunday, 26 July 2015

Waratah - The Shipping Gazette comments.

The Mercury (Hobart) Saturday 25 February 1911
LONDON, February 24.
The Shipping Gazette'' says thatwhile the Court apparently believes theowners' evidence is less complete thanit might have been, it must be remembered that the owners in such cases are facing a position of considerable difficulty, and there is always the question of legal responsibility to be considered.
It was perhaps, inevitable that the Inquiry should have a somewhat indefiniteresult. It is impossible to suppose,however, inconclusive though the Waratah judgment may be, that the moralof the case is altogether lost to thenaval architect, the shipbuilder, 0r theshipowner.

The Waratah prepared to depart Port Natal Durban, at roughly 8 pm, on this day 106 years ago. Nothing untoward was reported and the port pilot and captain remarked that she was in fine, upright and stable condition when she left the safety of her final port.
What was about to happen, over the course of the following 24 hours and subsequent days, left the world holding its breath - the great flagship had simply vanished from the South African sea lanes. The incident was to become one of maritime history's greatest mysteries.
The summary that appeared in the Shipping Gazette above, captured the very essence of the search for the truth. The judgment was inconclusive and the owners faced a position of 'considerable difficulty'  and 'legal responsibility'. The implication is clear, the owners' primary objective at the Inquiry was to avoid 'legal responsibility' and not assist fully with a judicial process in search of the truth.
The Gazette used the word 'moral' which captured the mood of the public at large. Those who had followed proceedings closely, enduring a seemingly endless parade of witness accounts and expert testimony, detailed analysis of the Waratah and stability issues, were left with an unpleasant sense of injustice - a glaring absence of closure. The owners, among others, had deprived the Court of the 'whole truth, and nothing but the truth'.

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