Monday, 2 November 2015


She had three complete steel decks (lower, main, and spar), a plated bridge deck and forecastle, and a partly plated poop. There were in addition a promenade deck and a boat deck, of the same length as the bridge. The bridge house was 175 feet 6 inches long, the forecastle 84 feet 10 inches long, adapted for the accommodation of the crew, and the poop about 108 feet long. The camber of the spar deck was 14.25 inches, and that of the promenade and boat decks 9 inches. 

The poop was closed by a steel bulkhead at its forward end, with two watertight doors. Above the poop was a smoke-room and entrance to the third-class accommodation below. The bridge had a steel bulkhead at the forward end. In it were two doors, 5 feet by 3 feet, each in halves, secured from the outside with turnbuckles; these led into the spar deck bunker. There were also two plug doors, similarly secured, leading into the cold chamber. The after end of the spar-deck bunker on both sides of the ship was divided from the accommodation (for the engineers, stewards, &.) aft by weather boards extending to the deck above. The after ends of the alley-ways under the bridge deck were 10 feet from the middle line of the ship, and were fitted with weather boards to half height. There was access from the alley-way on the starboard side at its forward end to the deck above. The first-class accommodation was all above the bridge deck. The forecastle had a partial steel bulkhead at each side, with weather boards between these and the forward corners of the refrigerator house. The forward well was 73 feet in length, and had at its forward end a refrigerator house 28 feet long and 34 feet wide; the after well was 30 feet long. Both wells had bulwarks 4 feet 2 inches in height above the plated deck, with three washports on each side in the forward well, and two on each side in the after well. The size of each washport was 3 feet 6 inches by 18 inches. The hatch in the forward well measured 30 feet 4 inches by 19 feet 6 inches, and that in the after well 19 feet 6 inches by 26 feet. Both were fitted with hatch covers of 3-inch pine supported by transverse beams formed of 1-inch plate and four angles. The hatch coamings were 3 feet high. 

It is somewhat disturbing to read that the spar deck coal bunkers were separated from crew accommodation, aft, by weather boards. Unless heat insulation plates were included (not listed) this could have presented a very real fire risk. 

The large hatches fore and aft, presented potentially large openings for catastrophic ingress of water. They were protected by hatch covers of 3 inch pine. My feeling is that these covers were weak links in the integrity of the Waratah's buoyancy. 

pine weather boards

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