Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Waratah - how cargo was stowed.

The Mercury (Hobart) Wednesday 29 September, 1909.

The Durban correspondent of a Handnewspaper has been at considerablepains to test the recollection of thosepassengers still in Durban who cameover by the Waratah concerning thedisposition of her cargo (writes a cor-respondent from Cape Town). 
It is only natural, he says, that a good manyapprehensions should exist on this matter, seeing that, beyond the fact ofthe steamer having taken 1,950 tons ofcoal into her bunkers before she leftDurban, there are no possible means ofobtaining complete data as to what shecarried or the way in which her loadwas distributed throughout the ship.
This is a very significant statement. The writer acknowledges that it was impossible to determine the exact details and weight of cargo and how it was distributed. In my next post I shall illustrate this point.
The result of such inquiries as it hasbeen possible to make is to ascertaindefinitely that all her heavy burdenwas placed in the bottom of the steamerand that the lighter material shecarried was stowed in such a manneras to give every guarantee of her complete  stability.
This makes complete sense.
The principal part of the Waratah'scargo consisted of a large consignmentof lead and silver from the Broken HillProprietary Mines, which was loadedat Port Pirie, and was being conveyed bythe vessel either to Wales or to Germany, for refining. All this heavy material was stowed in the lower hold, together with a large quantity of what are known as zinc tailings - a residuefrom the De Bavay process used in recovering the by-products, one of whichis zinc, from the first stages of thesmelting of silver.
An informed and detailed comment which is confirmed to a large extent by the details of tomorrow's post. 
The information available does notgo further than to indicate that on her'tween decks the vessel carried wooland frozen produce of a similarly lightkind, but the passenger who gave theparticulars refers in confident terms tothe manner in which the first officer,Mr. Owen, impressed him with the careand exactitude with which he had figured out every detail of the vessel's loading.
The loading plan and weight distribution were the all important key factors regarding the Waratah's stability. I would not expect less from Mr. Owen, an accomplished and experienced first officer. 
It is narrated as having been Mr. Owen's constant occupation for several days after leaving  Fremantle to go over the plan of the holds, and ascertain exactly how the cargo, coal,and other weight, carried by the ship,was distributed. This plan was exhibited without reserve to the passengers, and Mr. Owen frequently discussed in detail the technical meaning of the precautions which were necessary to prevent a large steamer having any fault in her trim, and the exactitude of the measures he himself had taken to ensure the stability of his own vessel. It is believed that the Waratah also had considerable amount of gold aboard.
The report suggests that Mr. Owen was proud of his ship and position of responsibility. Rumours that the officers were negligent or 'didn't care less' are nullified by this commentary. There certainly was a 'considerable amount of gold aboard' as we shall discover in the next post.
(newspaper report, not specified)
One question to which a good deal of speculation has been given concerns the manner in which the liner's bunker coal was stowed. The main entrance to her bunkers was carried high up to her boat deck, but the coaling in Durban was effected into hatches below this. The point of the matter, however, is that the Waratah's entire coal capacity, which is stated at 2250 tons, must have been completely occupied when she sailed, this being arrived at from the fact that she took 1900 tons on board at Durban, and that she already had from 350 to 400 tons in her bunkers when she arrived. The Waratah would have had to carry that amount of coal as her five days reserve bunker supply. It follows, therefore, that, in order to load the 1900 tons of coal, the trimming performed carried out, and the disposition of the weight on either side of the ship adequately assessed. 
If the Waratah were to have succumbed to stability issues, this would likely have occurred at the end of a voyage, when she was considerably lighter due to burned out coal volume - residual 350 to 400 tons. This scenario was most certainly not the case the day after she departed Durban.
Bendigo Advertiser (Vic) Tuesday 17 January, 1911
In addition to coal in 'tween decks, the main hold was also full. When the coal from the bunkers was used some was taken out from 'tween decks, and then the main hold was cleaned out, in order to make room for cargo.
Placing cargo in the main hold and coal 'tween decks had the effect of making the vessel top heavy, the cargo in the main hold being lighter than the coal.

This confirms, logically, that the heaviest weights needed to be stowed as low down as possible. 

1 comment:

Mole said...

This is a great series of posts on the Waratah's cargo.