Thursday, 29 December 2016


Mr. Hoehling referred to Captain Ilbery's claim, allegedly made during 'sea trials', that 'she (Waratah) had a very fine righting power or stability', but however, Geelong had 'somewhat improved stability'...'more responsive to steering.'

Mr. Hoehling captured the mixed messages emerging after the disaster to perfection. The reality was that Captain Ilbery absented himself from the sea trials at the last moment, reasons unknown. He could not have known what Waratah's righting power or stability were until he received hearsay reports from those present at the heeling experiments. Captain Ilbery was Commodore of the Blue Anchor Line, but more than this he was an employee who, after being actively involved in the design and construction of Waratah, could not very well have made any form of public statement to the effect that Waratah was flawed. Stability and righting power were factors of judicial ballasting and stowage and I believe that Captain Ilbery had reservations but was able and willing to find the best way to improve the inherently tender Waratah's stability in service. Naturally, in my opinion, comparing Waratah with Geelong, allowed Captain Ilbery in a roundabout way to express the limitations of the additional third deck and towering navigation bridge fitted to Waratah. Geelong was inherently more stable due to this obvious difference and did not require the same degree of dead weight lowest down to steady her - hence more responsive steering. Also, and again my opinion, Waratah was relatively under powered for her size - only 5400 ihp - which would also have impacted negatively on handling and steering.   

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