Thursday, 29 December 2016


Mr. Hoehling referred to Waratah departing on her maiden voyage 'less than two months after her launching' jam packed with emigrants.


On Thursday, the 5th November, 1908, the "Waratah" left London on her maiden voyage. She carried 67 cabin passengers, 689 emigrants, and a crew of 154. She was surveyed the same day off Gravesend by the emigration officer, Captain M. H. Clarke, who found she fully complied with all the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Acts.

Mr. Hoehling captured another interesting facet of the Waratah story; 'less than two months after her launching'. Was there pressure to get the new flagship into service as soon as possible? Waratah did not have stability curves on board when she departed London, 5 December, further suggesting that from an organizational point of view, her departure was 'hurried'. 

On the other hand....

Koombana, another steamer destined to vanish under mysterious circumstances, was built across the Clyde from Waratah at Alex, Stephen and Son Ltd., and launched 27 October, 1908. She departed Glasgow for Australia on her maiden voyage at the end of December, 1909 - which was roughly 2 months after launch. However, Koombana's official maiden voyage with passengers, cargo and mails, took place 1 month after her arrival in Australia.

Waratah, departing London for the first time, did not comply with the Merchant Shipping Act. A steamer carrying emigrants was limited to one statute adult to every twenty tons of the ship's registered tonnage. If one makes the calculation an alarming figure of 300 emigrants (net tonnage) and even if gross tonnage were used, 450 emigrants, was limited by the act. How could Captain Clarke have allowed such a thing? It raises the issue of the Lunds' influence on the Act regulators. Stanley Robinson quotes 10 men per 100 superficial feet. The Act stipulates, 1 man per 36 superficial feet. There is no doubt that the Lunds contravened the Act on the Waratah's maiden voyage. What else was contravened, one wonders?

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