Monday, 28 December 2015


Cairns Post (Qld) Wednesday 01 February, 1911. 
LONDON. Monday-
In connection with, the Waratah inquiry, Mr Lund, junior, a member of the firm ofLunds, owners of the line of that name, to which the Waratah belonged, was recalled. Counsel pressed for an answer as to why the firm accepted the designer's opinion regarding the stability of the steamerin preference to that of Captain Ilbery, when urging the claim for demurrage. The witness said he was unable to say, or to rememberwhat Captain Ilbery said about therejection of his opinion. Mr. WilliamLund gave evidence that the builder's son designed the Waratah. He never heard that the vessel was wanting in stability. Captain Ilbery had watched the building of the vessel, and the witness was unable to account for his absence from the important heeling experiments. 
I'm quite sure Mr. Lund junior could not remember what 'Captain Ilbery said about the rejection of his opinion', because such a conversation was unlikely to have ever taken place. After the maiden voyage, Captain Ilbery, his employers and the builders were all on the same page regarding stability issues - the builders' suggestion to fill ballast tank 8 certainly did not come out of the air. I have an impression that the Lunds treated the Inquiry with disrespect, skillfully creating confusion. Under such circumstances Lund was highly unlikely to admit on the stand that he was aware the Waratah 'was wanting in stability'. 
It is interesting that the builder's son designed the Waratah.  I have no further information on this, but the word 'son' does leap off the page in the form of 'inexperience'.
Lund 'was unable to account' for Captain Ilbery's absence from the 'important heeling experiments'. Again, I don't believe Lund at all. Captain Ilbery had been present during the construction of the Waratah and would surely have wanted and needed to be there for the heeling tests?? Unless, there was already discontent between the owners and Captain Ilbery, who saw a disaster in the making and probably wanted nothing to do with the finished product??  Captain Ilbery was allegedly called away, explaining his absence. If he had been ill the reports would have stated such. Being called away, sounds like an excuse, further enhanced by Lund claiming that he was not able to recall the reason. A disagreement would have been a highly plausible reason for 'memory loss'.
Mr. Steel, naval architect, gave evidencethat he was satisfied as to the stability of the Waratah. He believed the steamer's loss was due to an accident. It was inconceivable that the Waratah capsized unless the water got in.
Mr. Steel was no doubt commenting on the Waratah's stability during her final voyage, which makes sense. He made a crucial comment, 'unless the water got in', suggesting an accident of some sort. Striking an uncharted reef would certainly account for water getting in.
But let us not forget that William Lund (senior) was an Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects. Mr. Steel and Mr. White had more at stake than giving an honest opinion. One slip and the house of cards would have come tumbling down.


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