Monday, 11 January 2016


Chronicle (Adelaide) Saturday 24 December, 1910.
Mr. W. H. Bragg, Professor of Mathematics and Physics in the Leeds University, and formerly on the staff of the Adelaide University, deposed that he was a passenger by the Waratah on her maiden voyage. He was impressed by observingthat her metacentric (the position of whichshould be above the centre of gravity inorder to ensure stability) was slightlybelow it when the vessel was upright. The Waratah's list, continued theProfessor, was a constant subject of conversation. The captain was asked if he could do anything. Something was done, the ship came upright, and then fell on the other side. The witness expressed hisalarm, but the chief engineer reassured him.
Professor Bragg's testimony rang out loud and clear through the decades that were to follow the disaster. No one in their right mind could argue with his assessment and for many it was case closed the Waratah was top heavy and unstable. But Professor Bragg's incontrovertible analysis referred to the maiden voyage when there was clearly a significantly reduced GM. It did not relate to and had no bearing on the Waratah's GM during her final voyage. There is more than a touch of irony in the fact that if the Waratah was to have foundered due to instability, this should have happened during the maiden voyage and not the final voyage.

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