Tuesday, 19 April 2016


The Register (Adelaide) Saturday 17 December, 1910.

In reply to questions, Mr. Barry said
if the vessel lay right over on her side so
that the raasus (?) were parallel with the sea
she would still have had a tendency to right
herself. The Waratah had fair righting
power. It would have taken 290 tons
placed at the side to give her a list of
15 deg. He was decided in his opinion
that there was no list to account for the
loss of the vessel. If Capt. Ilbery rectified 
the Iist of 15 deg. by moving the coal
he may have done so purely to allay the 
fears of passengers. Commander Lyon 
suggested that if the water ballast tanks 
of a vessel were filled during a very heavy 
swell such as they got in that part of the 
world it would be very dangerous.

I think there is a 'fair' amount of exaggeration in this statement. Holding in a list for considerable time suggests that her righting power was somewhat diminished - eg. held to leeward by wind pressure. This was a feature of voyages when Waratah was significantly tender / top heavy. If a list of 15 degrees (very significant) could be produced by as little as 290 tons on one side, the trimmers must have had a time of it keeping things on an even keel. I think it would have been more than allaying the fears of passengers, after all these were people paying good money to voyage by the Waratah, and a list of 15 degrees caused all manner of discomfort.

The comment made by Commander Lyon re dangers filling ballast tanks at sea in very heavy swells, smacks of a depth charge going off at the Inquiry. What is more extraordinary this line of thought was not followed through. 

Why did C. Lyon raise this point at all?

By this time at the Inquiry it was clear that Waratah only had a maximum of 360 tons of ballast filled, out of 1338 tons. With significantly rough weather approaching, I suspect C. Lyon was thinking along the lines of making Waratah stauncher. I would imagine that this would be the case in steamers with a tendency to top heaviness (good example, Koombana). But filling ballast tanks should have been undertaken before leaving port. C. Lyon suggested by implication that this should have been done and that to leave it until out at sea in bad weather, was dangerous practice. Why ? Free water while filling would cause the centre of gravity to shift (perhaps dangerously) to the side of the list.

But no one appears to have taken the bait....

The issue was left hanging, and referred back to the statement made at Adelaide that steamers, that time of the year, laden with cargo, filled ballast tanks before departing. If this issue had been explored at the Inquiry a clearer picture would have emerged of a heavy steamer with reduced buoyancy. But it seems no one wanted to go there.... 

Principessa Jolanda listing to 45 degrees - she sank shortly after this.

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