Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Ernest Crossley

Marine inventor

Knew the chief officer of the" Waratah." Had known him for some years, and when he came into port visited him regularly.

I lunched with the chief officer at Melbourne, somewhere between the 28th June and the 1st July, 1909. I asked him if he was satisfied with his new ship. He said he was very dissatisfied. He said she did not behave as she should do. He said she had a peculiar way of getting on one side, on the port side or the starboard side, without righting herself immediately. He gave a description as falling, it fell more than rolled, and got hit back again. That was his way of expressing the motion of the steamer.

He told me the engineers were dissatisfied as well. He mentioned the second and third, but just generally speaking the whole lot. They were going to have trouble, I think, in London. The chief officer said the majority of the officers intended, the lot of them, to leave the ship and complain about it.

He said he was thoroughly dissatisfied with the ship, and if he could not leave her without leaving the Company, he would leave the Company. So that satisfied me he was highly dissatisfied.

Although this is largely hearsay, the message is clear. Frustrations with the flagship Waratah had reached breaking point. Final loading at Port Adelaide and a mean draft of 28 ft. 9 in. was yet to come...

J. H. Veitch

Shipping Inspector New South Wales (Sydney).

I saw the ship daily for ten days discharging and loading cargo. There was nothing in the alteration of trim to suggest instability.

Well it seems that filling ballast tanks appropriately had sorted out problems with offloading and shipping cargo in port. 

Alexander Sangster.


She left in good ballast trim and, so far as could be seen, in perfect sea-going order.

This comment appears to be the first suggesting that, at last, changes had been made improving the GM of the Waratah. Let's read on...

L. A. B. Wade

In June, 1909, just before the "Waratah" left Sydney for London on her last voyage, the master (Captain Ilbery) dined with me at my house. He said, referring to the vessel, "You should be on her now we know how to stow her; she's as steady as a rock."

He went on to explain that the steadiness of the vessel largely depended on the stowage, and that they now had the necessary experience of her peculiarities.

Although this is hearsay, there is a distinct change in the attitude towards the Waratah. Finally, Captain Ilbery admitted that the problems with stowage (including coal) had been addressed and there was a way to deal with the 'peculiarities'. This still had to be implemented but the plan was to come to fruition.

Jonathan Owen

Manager of Central Wharf Stevedoring Co., Ltd., Sydney.

Holds master mariner's certificate.

Seaworthy as far as I could judge in still water. I had no doubt of her stability. No list except when tipped with coal or filling up boilers. 

Here we have an expert who 'had no doubt of her stability'. Changes were in the pipeline and Captain Ilbery was master of his vessel.

Basil Alfred Oslear.

Shipping Clerk to Messrs. Gilchrist, Watt & Sanderson, Agents for the "Waratah."

Passenger, Sydney to Adelaide.

I noticed nothing unusual. She did not list more than any boat would. It was good weather and there was nothing to show whether she was a good or bad sea boat. 

There is a distinct swing in witness accounts; more favourable re the problematic steamer. A superstructure deck had not been removed. Changes came from addressing the loading and ballast factors which affected GM. Of course there was a price to pay for that....

Principessa Mafalda - decks reaching to the heavens....

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