Thursday, 3 December 2015


An examination of the correspondence which passed between the owners and the builders immediately after the ship left on her first voyage, and of the evidence set out in tabular form earlier in the report, indicates that difficulties had been experienced in satisfactorily loading her, at a time when it appears almost certain that the owners had no guidance from the builders as to the proper stowage of the ship. Thus when the builders were consulted as to the future loading, they recommended (see Condition A of the stability curves) the placing of the spar-deck coal lower down, into the upper 'tween decks, and that if the spar-deck space were required, only cargo of 100 cubic feet to the ton should be stowed therein.

It is clear that the problem regarding loading the Waratah for her maiden voyage lay with the builders and owners. The builders claimed they sent the owners a stability statement, 3 November, 1908, outlining curves under six separate conditions and the method of loading Waratah. Due to delays in delivery, the scheduled departure on the maiden voyage, 5 November, 1908, clearly was a rushed affair, not allowing sufficient time for the stability statement to arrive on time and be in Captain Ilbery's possession on board. It is ironic that the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 does not include a clause insisting that stability curves and loading plans be present on board a vessel. The net result; Captain Ilbery was forced to depart London, 5 November, 1908, without knowing how best to load and ballast the Waratah. In the present day, this would be regarded as negligence. But the Lunds were ultimately puppeteers, calling the shots in terms of the Waratah departing on schedule, 5 November. Captain Ilbery, no doubt, had very little say in the matter; he was after all an employee. In letters of correspondence between the owners and builders, this extract raises the query whether the original stability statement, supposedly sent, 3 November, 1908, even reached the owners at all; or perhaps the owners mislaid the original ? Why else was it necessary to send a copy, 17 December, 1908.

The builders made it plain, they had built a ship with permanent coal bunkers on the spar deck, but advised that they not be used as such (at 42 cubic feet to the ton). Instead a more sensible cargo weight of 100 cubic feet to the ton was recommended. No wonder Captain Ilbery had absented himself from the heeling test.... 

" Regarding the stability curves, we sent you a copy on 17th December, 1908, but regret we do not appear to have forwarded other copies. We now enclose two prints of same.

The existence of "Condition A" indicates to the Court that the owners' representatives must have found difficulty in loading her into a satisfactory sea-going condition for her first voyage from London, and raises a presumption that she was "tender" when starting that voyage. 

This was undoubtedly so, confirmed by concerns raised by Captain Ilbery, himself.

There is sufficient trustworthy evidence in that given as to the behaviour of the ship on her outward voyage to strengthen this presumption, and the evidence as to the homeward voyage indicates that the difficulty had not been surmounted. It is hardly necessary to say that "tenderness" in the upright does not necessarily involve instability at large angles of heel.

This is correct but the Court was not in fact in a position to comment on stability at angles of heel, due to the fact that alterations to the original figures were presented at the end of proceedings and not included in summations. This of course raised the unanswered question; how accurate were the balance of righting angle figures ?  

The Court has, of course, in dealing with the evidence, made every allowance for the lay character of many of the deponents, but is satisfied that on the whole it is the fairly accurate testimony of truthful people as to phenomena which, in many cases, they did not fully understand. 

Undoubtedly lay accounts were limited by insight into the mechanics of the Waratah, but there can be no doubt that during the first three voyages, Waratah was relatively tender and displayed typical characteristics thereof.

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