Tuesday, 23 August 2016


(From Our Special Correspondent.)
London, January 13, 1911.
The Board of Trade enquiry into the loss
of the Waratah was resumed last Monday.
Originally it was calculated that five days
would be sufficient for the purposes of the
enquiry, but already the court has sat
nine days, and there are still more
witnesses to be examined.
As far as the investigation has gone, the
chief result achieved is mental confusion
for all who read the reports of the proceedings 
with unbiased minds. The conflict of testimony 
as to the Waratah's behaviour at sea has been 
absolutely amazing. A dozen witnesses have 
declared that she was a fine seaboat; another batch,
equally numerous, have sworn that she was
the very reverse. Some witnesses have
stated that her bad behaviour was practically 
the "topic of the day" on board:
others have sworn that they never heard
a word in her disparagement. Ex-members 
of the Waratah's crew have stood up
in court,or testified by affidavit that they
left the ship because they were afraid of
her; others with exactly the same experience 
of the boat have sworn that there
was nothing in her behaviour to give them
the faintest qualms as to her stability and
seaworthiness. Some officers of other ships
that signalled the Waratah during her last
voyage have declared that she had a
tremendous list; others who saw her at or
about the same time declared that she was
quite upright.
A similar conflict of testimony has been
discovered in relation to the state of the
Waratah at the completion of her maiden
voyage, as regards the condition of her 
boats; indeed, it may fairly be said
that there has been no point raised in
connection with the enquiry that has not
produced a mass of conflicting testimony.

The extent of conflicting testimony beset the Inquiry making the Court's task of reaching a reasonable conclusion impossible.
...the court heard the evidence of Mr. P. A. 
Marshall, formerly in the employ of Messrs. 
Lund, who produced an estimate of the weight 
and allocation of the cargo and coal on board 
the Waratah when she left Durban, his 
calculations being based on the builders' plans,
the dispositions of agents and stevedores at
the various ports of loading, on the manifests, 
and on Captain Ibery's storage plans. Mr. Marshall 
said that he arrived at the conclusion that when 
the Waratah left Durban she was only about 
one-third full as Captain Ilbery's storage plan sent
home showed that the permanent bunker
space was filled with coal, and that there
was also reserve coal on the upper and
lower 'tween decks, he arrived at the 
conclusion that the lower 'tween deck would
be full, and that the balance only would
be on the upper 'tween deck. According
to his calculation there were on board the
vessel at Durban 2,378 tons' of coal, which
was within 20 or 30 tons of the engineers'
estimate derived from the vouchers.
The total deadweight for the Waratah's
draught of 28 ft. 8 in. was 9,204 tons, of 
which 6.425 tons was cargo. To the best 
of his belief the information that there were 
250 tons of coal on the spar deck was
communicated by cable advice from Durban. 
"The quantity of coal on the upper
and lower 'tween decks was not communicated 
by cable. It was not asked for."

The issue of cargo has been a persistent source of confusion and contention. Mr. Marshall was formerly in the employ of the Lunds, who originally claimed that in terms of cargo Waratah was one third full, being the off-season. Mr. Marshall was loyal to this statement but contradicted himself in terms of logic. Waratah, carrying 6425 tons of cargo equivalent to 'one third full', implies that she had a total cargo carrying capacity of 19 000 tons, which is ludicrous, even if the 1300 tons of lead concentrates are factored in.

Why would such a blatant error have been presented to the Court and why were the Lunds afraid of revealing Waratah's true cargo component?

My belief is that the Lunds did not want the issue of functional overloading, reduced freeboard and buoyancy, to be explored by the Court. In so doing it would have revealed that Waratah was flawed in terms of cargo-carrying capacity and its link with GM stability which would have had culpability attached.

We need to return to the maiden voyage where it was quoted that Waratah departed Adelaide for Melbourne with an average draught of 23.75 ft.. which is 6.6 ft. short of max. draught - 30.375 ft.. Let's say for argument's sake that all cargo was discharged at Adelaide (only 900 tons general cargo in fact) - coal and ballast component unchanged. Adding 6425 tons of cargo allegedly took the draught to 28.9 ft.. This would give us an increase of 5 ft.. If 6425 tons is one third full, total capacity would give us 15 ft. and a total draught of 38.75 ft.. which is more than the depth of the Waratah.


If, however, the true cargo component was 9000 tons + 1300 tons lead concentrates, we would get 10300 tons accounting for 5 ft. which if we take this to maximum cargo and lead of 12000 tons, we would get a draught of 29.7 ft.. which is far more plausible and a max. draught of 30.375 ft. would thus theoretically equate with a cargo and lead tonnage of 13647.5 tons - never achievable in the case of Waratah which was NEVER more than 2/3 full - 9000 tons.


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