Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Waratah - the Inquiry in detail.

(No. 7419.) 

"WARATAH" (S.S.). 

The Merchant Shipping Act, 1894. 

In the matter of a formal Investigation held at the Caxton Hall, Westminster, on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th and 20th days of December, 1910, the 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 16th, 17th, 30th and 31st days of January, and the 1st and 22nd days of February, 1911, before JOHN DICKINSON, Esquire, assisted by Admiral E. H. M. DAVIS, Commander F. C. A. LYON, R.N.R., Professor J. J. WELCH, M.Sc., M.I.C.E., and J. H. HALLETT, Esquire, M.I.C.E., M.I.M.E., into the circumstances attending the loss of the British ship "WARATAH," of London, which left Durban for Cape Town on the 26th July, 1909, was spoken by the "CLAN MACINTYRE" on the 27th July, 1909, and has not since been heard of. 


The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the ship was lost in the gale of the 28th of July, 1909, which was of exceptional violence for those waters and was the first great storm she had encountered. The Court is led to this conclusion by the facts that she overhauled the "Clan Macintyre," which afterwards experienced the gale; was last seen heading in a direction which would take her into a position where she would feel the full force of the storm; and was never afterwards sighted by the "Clan Macintyre." Had she been only disabled it is almost certain that she would have been so sighted, and if not, would have been picked up by one of the many ships subsequently on the look-out for her.

For coming posts I am going to present sections of the Inquiry Report, as it appears in the Wreck Report for the 'Waratah', 1909. It is a lengthy report, and one that requires detailed perusal if we are to understand what became of the Waratah through the eyes of the Board of Trade investigation. Many believe the Inquiry was a whitewash, but it stands as the only official document. I intend to express my personal opinion and 'read between the lines'. Interpretations vary, and there is a comment box for those who wish to shed their own light on the drama which was played out in Court over the course of 3 months.

The scene was set for a drama that was to become one of the greatest maritime mysteries of all time. The Court was clear, and to a large extent the public as well, that the Waratah did not suffer mechanical failure, adrift somewhere in the southern oceans. The Waratah had foundered, but where; why; and when??

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