Monday, 4 January 2016

LUND - UNRELIABLE WITNESS.


The Mercury (Hobart) Wednesday 25 January, 1911.


EVIDENCE OF MR. LUND JUN.
The principal witness on behalf of theBlue Anchor line was Mr Lund,  son ofMr William Lund senior partner whosehealth suffered greatly in consequence ofthe disaster to the Waratah. 
This is an interesting opening statement; William Lund's 'health suffered greatly in consequence of the disaster to the Waratah.' I'm quite sure a number of people's (connected with those on the Waratah) health suffered greatly. The statement suggests significant stress due to remorse and regret, which could either be directly connected with the disaster or due to the loss of the Blue Anchor Line. Whatever the truth, taking into consideration that William Lund was a candidate for chairman of Lloyd's before he withdrew two months prior to the Inquiry, the statement is in some respects looking for the sympathy of the Court and the relatives of those lost with the Waratah.     
Mr F W Lund explained the firm's confidence in Captain Ilbery. Captain Ilbery enteredMessrs Lund and Son's service 42 yearsago, and commanded 15 out of the 20 vessels constructed for Mr. W. Lund. 
It certainly appears as such. But this 'confidence' did not last the course of cross-examination at the Inquiry.
It was the practice for Captain Ilbery to superintend the construction of the new vessels. He would take over the vessel from the builders and be in command of the maiden voyage. As soon as the contract for a new ship was complete he would leave the steamer he commanded, and superintend the construction of the new vessel, in due course taking her over and commanding on the first voyage or voyages. Captain llbery left the Geelong to superintend the construction of the Waratah. The Waratah was an improvement on the Geelong.
The statement should rather have read 'should have been an improvement on the Geelong'. Endless comparisons with the Geelong seem to have hinged on this word 'improvement'. Yes, certainly in respect of an additional deck and cargo-carrying capacity, but in terms of stability, no.
It is important to note that the Lunds were already preparing plans for another steamer similar to the Waratah. If this were the case Captain Ilbery should have left the Waratah after the first voyage and become involved with the new project. The fact that Captain Ilbery took command of the Waratah for her second voyage suggests that the new steamer was put on hold, for very obvious reasons. Also Captain Ilbery was due to retire after Waratah's second voyage. All these factors created confusion.
From time to time Captain Ilbery, Mr.Shanks (one of the superintendents), andMr F W Lund, made rough sketchesof suggested improvements. Theserough sketches were put together, andfrom them the new boat was designed.
This statement gives us an impression that ideas for the design of the Waratah were cobbled together as they entered the minds of the three gentlemen. The builders had their job cut out for them making this 'patchwork quilt' operable. And whats more the builder's son designed that final product - oi vei.
Mr Laing: Will you tell us about thespace on the spar deck?
Witness:  Well, as the result of our experience gained in the transporting oftroops during the South African Warand taking out immigrants, we thoughtthat the spar deck could be used forvarious purposes, such as cargo and coal.When she was designed we asked thebuilders to construct her so that shecould go to sea with with only her water ballast tanks filled, and her permanent coalsupply.
Notice how skillfully Lund redirected the attention of Mr. Laing by departing the question of the spar deck and launching into the realm of ballast water and coal. He avoided getting into the details of how coal on the spar deck would work in practice. Mr. Laing fell for it hook line and sinker.
You were informed it was not possibleto comply with that condition?
Witness. Yes, and then we asked thatthe stability of the new steamer shouldbe greater than that of the Geelong.
I doubt, if common sense prevailed, whether the Lunds ever expected the stability of the Waratah to be greater than the Geelong. But common sense aside, it was a clever ploy to present to the Court shipowners who were very conscientious about building safe and stable steamers. 
Questioned by Mr. Laing, Mr. Lundsaid that he saw Captain Ilbery after theWaratah's first voyage. The captain toldhim that the Waratah was a most comfortable ship, and was satisfactory in every way. He added added she was a most easy ship in a heavy sea.
Having introduced Captain Ilbery's extraordinary career with the Blue Anchor Line, Lund did not hesitate to relate to the Court what could only have been an untruth. There was no way in hell that Captain Ilbery, after the maiden voyage, claimed the Waratah was 'satisfactory in every way'. Comfortable yes, due to low GM, but certainly unacceptably tender - otherwise why was the stowage plan and ballasting such an unresolved issue??
Did he say anything about her stability?
Witness: Yes he said that in light condition he did not think she was quite as stiff as the Geelong, but he did not give his reasons. The fact came out when we were discussing the Waratah with a view to preparing plans for another vessel.
Another clever ploy. Lund was vague ('did not think') yet very specific; not quite as stiff in light condition. The Waratah was not in light condition when she departed Durban for the last time - irrelevant to the case at hand. Of course they would have discussed the reasons at length, because they were planning to build another steamer based on the Waratah. The tone of this cross-examination rapidly strayed into the territory of  unreliability, which Mr. Laing allowed to go unchecked.
Did he ever state that the Waratahwas not so stable at sea as the Geelong?
Witness: No, never.
Now it becomes ridiculous. How could Captain Ilbery confirm this untruth from the grave?
Did you hear complaints from any ofthe officers regarding the behaviour ofthe Waratah?
Witness: I never heard a single complaint, and the third officer and one of the two engineers who left her did so because they got promotion. Not one of them ever made a suggestion that the Waratah was unseaworthy nor was it ever suggested in my hearing that she was top-heavy.
Reliability of witness out the window. Naturally Lund had no choice but to pursue this course, and one does wonder how he got the third officer and two engineers to back him up??
On the first voyage, everyone was aware of and frustrated by the top heavy behaviour of the Waratah.
It is fascinating that Lund jumps the gun by stating, although not specifically asked, that the Waratah was not 'unseaworthy'. Mr. Laing had not asked him as yet if the Waratah was unseaworthy. Oh dear, nerves must have been getting the better of Lund at this stage......
Methinks he doth protest too much.

No comments: