Friday, 22 April 2016


Inquiry transcript:

The owners intended her to be an improved "Geelong," the previous addition to the Blue Anchor fleet, and the specification for the new vessel was based upon the existing specification of the "Geelong."

This single sentence captured Waratah's shortcomings. It was both naive and foolhardy to expect a marginally larger version of the Geelong's hull to support an additional deck. 'Existing' scantlings would have been inadequate and the hull should have been redesigned for the new configuration. The project was doomed to failure from the start.  

Rough sketches were drawn out by the owners' representatives showing the general arrangement of the ship wanted, and the subdivision of the holds. These sketches were sent to various builders as a guide to quote upon, and they were asked to draw out plans on the basis of the sketches. The plans selected as best fulfilling the owners' requirements were from a builder whose tender was not accepted; but these plans were forwarded to Messrs. Barclay. Curle, who built the ship.

It is extraordinary that the shipbuilders who drew up the plans did not win the tender. It surely came down to budget, and in order to achieve as safe a version of the larger Geelong as possible, more money would have to have been poured into increasing structural strength and ensuring adequate engine power output. 


Barclay, Curle and Co, who by winning the tender, took the first step towards the disaster that was to unfold, 27 July, 1909. The slump in shipbuilding might have influenced their decision to take on the project. 139 900 pounds for a ship of this size, 1908, was significantly less than for many other comparative steamers. 

On the basis of these plans, the dimensions there shown, and the required draught, Messrs. Barclay, Curle got out a set of lines for the vessel.

Barclay, Curle and Co, inherited the draught. This might in fact have been the reason why the original shipbuilders, who drew up the plans, did not want the tender irrespective of budget. Draught was the weak link transforming sketches into reality. 

Waratah, like Indarra, was flawed from the outset.

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