Wednesday, 2 March 2016


The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday 16 January, 1911

LONDON, Jan. 15.
Holt's Blue Funnel liner Anchises has
been launched at Belfast (Workman, Clark and Company). 
She is intended for the Australian trade.
The Anchises is the third of three boats
10 000 tons each which have been constructed
for Messrs. Alfred Holt and Company's new 
Australian passenger service. This is a sister
ship to the Aeneas now in Australian
waters. First class passengers only are carried, 
accommodation being provided for about
300 at a moderate fare. These vessels are trading 
to Australia via the Cape and Durban.
A fourth vessel has been ordered.

In the late 1890s, the Holts began to open up the Western Australian trade route from Singapore, and, in 1898 the Holts were approached by a powerful group of Australian shipping agents, known as the ‘Syndicate’, to start a direct service to Australia from the United Kingdom. As a result, the Holts began a monthly direct service in 1901 between Glasgow, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and Sarpedon, Nestor and Orestes were fitted with refrigeration holds to accommodate perishable cargoes. These ships were first of the Blue Funnel fleet to be so equipped. The first 5 years of this direct service produced little in the way of profit, but, largely due to the efforts of the Syndicate to secure freight for the Blue Funnel ships, the Holts persevered with a venture that was to prove to be highly successful. The pressure from competition was such that, in 1903, the decision was made to build a new class of faster and larger ship to accept the newer types or cargo and to also accommodate some passengers. As before, advantage was taken of depressions in the ship building industry to obtain new tonnage at very low prices. Eight new steam ships were ordered between 1903 and 1905, and a further 6 more between 1908 and 1910. These ships reflected new thinking in design. For example, the number of pillars used for support in the holds was greatly reduced by using steel girders suspended between them. This innovative approach greatly facilitated the movement and stowage of cargo and also provided an increase in capacity. The enhanced speed, capacity and efficiency of these new ships not only provided a competitive advantage but also a safeguard against the ever-present danger of loss of revenue from accidents.

SS Anchises:                                                      SS Waratah:

10046 gross tons                                           9339.07 gross tons
6380 net tons                                                 6003.96 net tons
493 ft. length                                                  465 ft. length
60 ft. beam                                                     59.45 ft. beam
37 ft. depth                                                     38.5 ft. depth
2 x triple expansion engines, twin screw         2 x quadruple expansion, twin screw
14 knots                                                          13.5 knots

Build cost:    374 000 pounds.                         139 900 pounds.

The Anchises had similar specifications to the Waratah, and was launched two years after the Waratah
disaster. She had a prominent top hamper and single funnel supported by a narrow beam of 60 ft.
(similar to Waratah). It seems that the controversy surrounding the loss of the Waratah did not affect
the design of Holt's new steamer and GM stability does not appear to have played a negative role
during the Anchises' lengthy career. The comparison between the two vessels proves that with
judicious cargo stowage, ballasting and placement of coal, the Waratah was stable when she departed
Durban for the last time. 

The extract brings to our attention that during the period when Waratah was constructed the
depression in the ship building industry opened a door for the purchase of new tonnage at very low
prices. This would certainly have contributed to the budget price of 139 900 pounds for Waratah. Ship
builders were suffering and by accepting low construction tenders one can only imagine the short-cuts
taken in the quality of construction. 

The Anchises was constructed in 1911 at a cost of 374 000 pounds, almost three times that of the Waratah!! Yes, the Anchises carried 300 first class passengers compared with Waratah's 100, and the shipbuilding depression had eased, but the difference in cost borders on outrageous.

Further to this the extract is revealing in that;  

'The first 5 years of this direct service produced little in the way of profit, but, largely due to the efforts of the Syndicate to secure freight for the Blue Funnel ships, the Holts persevered with a venture that was to prove to be highly successful'. 

The Lunds ensured that their Anglo-Australian venture was profitable, no doubt at the expense of quality steamers. Comments at the time described Lund steamers as ugly and utilitarian. This might have been the case, beauty after all is in the eye of the beholder, but bolt heads breaking off etc. pointed firmly in the direction of a steamer built on the cheap.

A 'cheap', overloaded steamer with deficiencies in heat insulation was looking for trouble along South Africa's Wild Coast during the middle of winter. 


Anchises - note her superstructure decks spanned more than 0.6 x LBP = better structural integrity and stability.

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