The Commonwealth Crown Solicitor, Mr. Powers, has collected a mass of evidence regarding the cargo and condition of the ill-fated ship - 'Waratah'. He acted by direction of the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the British Board of Trade.
The evidence, which is conflicting, has been taken on oath with the exception of that of two former passengers. Several seamen condemned the ship, but on the other hand there is expert opinion to the effectthat she was staunch, fit and seaworthy. G. S. Richardson, chief electrical engineer of the Geelong HarbourTrust, came from Durban on theboat's last trip. Her machinery,he said, was excellent. Her buildand condition were excellent. Sherolled slowly, with distinct pauses.One morning he said to the captain,'I do not like the rolling of yourship. She recovers too slowly forme.' The captain replied, 'She isa little that way, but there are manythousands of tons dead weight.' He(Richardson) thought the vessel wastender, but not dangerously sounder normal circumstances. He was certain the vessel never reached an angle of 45 degrees. There was no permanent list on the vessel. Mr. Richardson was an engineer and informed observer. However, something is odd - Richardson commented to Captain Ilbery that he did not like the Waratah's slow roll, with distinct pauses. Captain Ilbery gave him a truthful and plausible explanation that the pattern was due to the heavy nature of the vessel - many thousands of tons dead weight. It is singularly strange to my way of thinking that no one, but no one, accepted this explanation and the truth of the matter. Richardson persisted with 'the vessel was tender', totally disregarding the one man who knew - the captain of the Waratah.