Wednesday, 31 May 2017


The Advertiser (Adelaide) Tuesday 29 September, 1908.
Lund's Blue Anchor liner Waratah, whichwas launched on September 12. will leaveLondon on November 5 on her maiden voyage to Australia. She will leave Adelaideon her return voyage about January 9. Itis only suitable that a firm who have beenso long connected with the shipping trade,between England and Australia, via South Africa, as have Messrs. W. Lund & Sons, should christen their vessels with Australian names, as for instance the: Narrung, Wilcannia, Wakool, Commonwealth, and; Geelong, which are the names of steamers at present composing the Blue Anchor line fleet. 
Another Australian name is to be given to the fine vessel about to be added to the line, namely, the "Waratah". Although the origin of this name does not appear clear at present, it is doubtless aboriginal, and it is the name borne by the national flower of New SouthWales. The steamer which is to bearthis name is a twin-screw vessel ofsome 10.000 tons, her principal dimensionsbeing as follows:-
Length. 460 ft.; breadth 59 ft.; depth. 38 ft. 
The vessel will be classed 100 A1 at Lloyds. The steamer is divided into seven watertight compartments, and has a cellular double bottom extending practically the full length of the ship. The Waratah will cater for the conveyance of first and third class passengers,and the greatest care and attention hasbeen paid to all the small details which willhelp to make the ship one of the most comfortable steamers afloat. No first salooncabins are situated lower than the bridgedeck, so that passengers will be able atpractically all times to leave their cabinports open. On this deck there are 24 cabins containing two sleeping berths and a long sofa fitted with a spring mattress, and there are also two exceptionally large four-berth cabins(each with a sofa in addition), suitable forfamilies. At the forward end of thebridge deck is placed the dining saloonwhich is a fine apartment, capable of seating 100 passengers, and a large number ofthe tables are arranged on the restaurantsystem, which is one of the latest popularinnovations on board steamers, and now being used for the first time in the South African and Australasian trades. The pantry and serving room are situated close to the dining saloon, but completely bulkheaded off from the passenger accommodation, so that it will be impossible for the smell of food to reach the cabins. Next to the family cabins on this deck is a good sized nursery.
On the promenade deck is a large lobby,at the forward end of which is the drawing-room, a commodious apartment containing piano, four writing tables, and lounges conveniently placed for passengerswishing to play cards, etc. This room islighted by means of large square windowsand a dome from the boat deck above,which runs through to the dining saloon below. Opening on to the lobby already mentioned are six single-berthed cabins, fittedwith a square window each, andtwo large two-berth cabins, eachwith a porthole as well as a square window.The lower berths in these two choicerooms, as well as in some of the othercabins on the ship, are extensible, in orderthat, when required, they may form doublebeds, 4 ft. wide. Aft will be found 12more two-berth cabins, all of large size.Right at the after end of this deck is arecessed deck lounge, fitted with tables, andhere passengers will obtain perfect shelterwhilst at the same time being able to sit out in the mien.
On the after end of the boat deck is aspacious smoking-room, panelled in oak,with skylight overhead, and containingwriting and card tables. There is a barattached. Outside this room is anotheropen-air lounge, with tables, and it is anticipated that this innovation (fitted for thefirst time on a steamer in this trade) willhe thoroughly appreciated by passengers.The forward end of the boat deck is reserved for passengers, in addition to thepromenade deck. On this deck are alsoarranged the captain's and navigating officers' cabins, and above is the navigatingbridge, at a height of about 50 ft. abovesea level (compared with the depth of the hull 38.5 ft. - no wonder there were concerns).
Every saloon cabin on this line is fitted ina manner to ensure the maximum amount ofcomfort to be obtained in a temporary homeon the sea and in every cabin for morethan one passenger is a chest of drawers,a large wardrobe for ladies' dresses, in addition to patent washbasin, bootlocker,and drawers underneath the sofas.In the after part of the steamer, situatedon the upper and main decks, is accommodation for 300 (not 700) third-class passengers in cabins arranged with two, four, six and eight berths. The comfort of these whowish lo travel at a low fare has been wellconsidered. The passenger who a fewyears ago booked at what was, and still is,known as the "open berth rate." will beable to obtain a berth in a six-berth oreight-berth cabin at the same charge. Onthe upper deck is a comfortable diningsaloon, extending the full breadth of thevessel, fitted with revolving chairs, and atthe after end of the deck and completelyshut off from the cabins, are five bathroomsand up-to-date lavatory accommodation.
Above the upper deck is a promenade reserved exclusively for third-class passengers, and a further promenade is providedon the boat deck overhead. Also on thepromenade deck are found the smokingroom and ladies' lounge. A piano is fittedin the dining saloon for the use of third class passengers.
The Waratah is fitted with ample hospital accommodation, and the services ofthe ship's doctor are always at the disposal of passengers needing them. Two ormore stewardesses are carried to attend tothe requirements of ladies. The ship islighted by electricity throughout, and allsaloon cabins and public apartments arefitted with electric bells. The vessel isfitted with two sets of quadruple expansionengines which will be balanced to ensureof there being little or no vibration (not the case). They will be of great power, capable of driving the ship at a high speed. The most up-to-date refrigerating plant has been installed, so that all on board will be provided with fresh provisions, vegetables,fruit etc., throughout the voyage. TheWaratah will have close upon 15,000 tonsof space for the carriage of coal, and general and refrigerated cargo (way above specifications), and to deal withthis tremendous quantity the ship is fittedwith appliances ensuring the quickest possible delivery to merchants. 


The Advertiser (Adelaide) Tuesday 10 March, 1910.
News, carefully suppressed for some reasonwhile the steamer Tottenham was inMelbourne (says the "Age"), has come tohand from Auckland, New Zealand, inregard to the missing steamer Waratah. Mr. Day, formerly second officer of the Tottenham, has supplied information in respect to the dead bodies which were said to have been sighted on the coast of South Africa.
The Tottenham left Durban about ten days after the Waratah, which sailed on July 26 last year, and steamed over the same course, bound for Antwerp. When the vessel was off East London, an apprentice reported seeing the body of a littlegirl clothed in a red dress, with her hair flowing in the water, float past the vessel and the chief and second engineers said they had seen pieces of bodies and the body of a woman clad in a nightdress floating about in the water. When the captain and Mr. Day were summoned from the chart-room they went on deck. Mr. Day stated that he pointed out an albatross sitting onsomething, and the steamer was broughtround to make an examination, with the result, Mr. Day states, that he was fully convinced that the object on which the albatross was perched was the trunk of a body, with the arms and legs missing. They did not see any of the bodies previously reported as observed by the apprentice and engineers, but Mr. Day states that pieces of a body were floating 3 ft. or 4 ft. deep in water over a big area of sea, with a flockof birds hovering around. For some reason, which Mr, Day can merely surmise, this was not reported to the lieutenant of the H M S. Forte when the latter put off in a boat in Simon Bay, into which the Tottenham had run for shelter, to make enquiries as to whether the Tottenham had seen any sign of the Waratah. Mr. Day says that strict injunctions were given on the Tottenham to say nothing of "the affair", and he overheard the apprentice, by request, give the account of what he had said to a gentleman whom he believed was agent for the Tottenham, or who had something to do with the ship'scargo, at Melbourne. The apprentice wasthen advised to say nothing of the affair - as it might cause friction. "Let me here remark"added Day, "lest people think that I bear prejudice against anyone, that such suggestions, if they are made, are absolutely incorrect. I deny any prejudice and any statement I have made, I am willing to make on oath. My reason for making this statement now is that while I was on the vessel orders were given to keep the thing quiet, and now I am off the vessel I am free to speak my mind regarding what I saw and what others on the ship told me they saw. I have clean discharges and credentials from the ships on which I have served.

"Three gentlemen in Westport state that they heard a story as to what was seen from the second engineer, who is reported as stating that he was positive that he saw the body of a child float past the ship, and that the effect of what they saw that day put them off their food for several days. 
The Tottenham carried Chines firemen at the time, one of whom is reported as having said,
"Plenty people in the sea".
In my opinion, such detailed accounts, confirmed and proved that bodies were discovered adrift both north and south of East London, two weeks after the Waratah disappeared. For bodies to be in these locations two weeks after the disaster implies that the Waratah foundered at a position considerably northeast of East London, taking into consideration the powerful, southwestward flow of the Agulhas Current and the two week time factor.
The fact that tugs sent out to confirm the sightings did not find bodies reverts to common sense. The bodies were not likely to wait around for discovery and would either have drifted further southwest or ultimately sunk out of sight.
The detailed accounts, of which this is just one example, refer to the little girl clothed in a red dressing gown and the torso, 'clad in a nightdress'.
By virtue of the nightwear, one comes to the conclusion that the disaster took place at night. This comprehensively rules out the validity of the Conquer account - midday.
The locations of the bodies comprehensively rule out the disaster taking place south of the Bashee River. If the Waratah continued to make good progress, as described by the crew of the Clan MacIntyre, she would have been well clear of East London by nightfall, 27 July. This could not possibly account for the bodies seen off the Bashee River.
If the Waratah had foundered at some time after departing company with the Clan MacIntyre - within a few hours, explaining why the Clan MacIntyre crew did not sight her again - the two bodies would not have been clothed in nightwear.
In order for any of this to be true, the Waratah had to have come about, attempting to return to Durban, when disaster struck.


The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 29 December, 1911.
The new P and O branch liner Ballarat, nowon her maiden voyage to Australia has done some goodsteaming. She left London on November 18, two dayslate, and reached Adelaide travelling via the Cape,two days ahead of her schedule time. She thus madeup four days on her journey- a good performance. The  Ballarat is the first of two new vessels specially designed for the trade via the Cape and was launchedat Greenock last September. She offers many ad-vantages not hitherto obtainable at the same low fare  Like her forthcoming sister ship- Bendigo - the Ballarat  is of 11 000 tons gross register. Her dimensions are:-    
Length 515ft; breadth 62ft 6in; and depth, 42ft. 
The new liner, which is classed 100 A1 at Lloyd's, is finelyequipped in respect of passenger accommodation, andthere is a commodious and well-appointed dining-room,    together with smoking room. The main and after holdsand 'tween decks are insulated for carrying meat andfruit, and an extensive equipment of gear is providedfor rapid loading and discharge. The vessel is  supplied with triple-expansion engines. She is due  at Sydney next week.
After purchasing five ships from what was left of the Blue Anchor Line, the P&O Line continued the emigrant service to Australia from England via the South African coast.
The Ballarat was the first steamer built exclusively for the P&O Line and this trade. There are a number of interesting points worth noting:
1. The Ballarat kept the Blue Anchor Line funnel for the first three years, which could be interpreted as a favour out of respect for the Blue Anchor Line, or a symbol, continuation of the emigrant model started by the Lunds.
2. The Ballarat was 50 ft. longer than the waratah, but with a similar beam of 62 ft. 6 in. (marginally broader). 
3. The Ballarat only had two superstructure decks which suggests that the Waratah's reputation had negatively impacted on the construction of this new ship.
4. The Ballarat had a depth of 42 ft. and a draught of 31 ft. 8 in.. This leaves a freeboard of 10.25 ft. This far more healthy freeboard, compared with the Waratah's 8 ft., further suggests that the P&O Line did not wish to repeat history by sending out a steamer with reduced buoyancy and deck-flooding potential.
5. The Ballarat was fitted with triple expansion steam engines, which was a step back in progress from the Waratah's quadruple expansion engines. The latter had proven less efficient and produced significant vibration.
6. Note the size of the Ballarat's funnel, significantly smaller than the Waratah's. There is no doubt that a large, high funnel contributed to top heaviness and enhanced the wind-catchment factor.
7. Note the difference in the length proportions of the superstructure decks. The Waratah's should have made up at least half the total length, 465 ft., whereas the Ballarat's did. This is very significant in terms of structural integrity and relation to freeboard.
My feeling is that by the time the Ballarat was launched, lessons had been learned from the ill-fated Waratah, not to be repeated.

The following is an extract from clydesite, which eloquently describes the SS Ballarat in more detail:


built by Caird & Company Greenock,
Yard No 318 
Engines by Shipbuilder

Port of Registry: Greenock
Propulsion: Two four cylinder quadruple expansion steam engines, 9000ihp, twin screw, 16.5 knots 
Launched: Saturday, 23/09/1911
Built: 1911
Ship Type: Passenger Liner
Ship's Role: UK/Australia emigrant service via the Cape of Good Hope (Branch Line)
Tonnage: 11120 gross; 7055 net; 13881 dwt
Length: 500ft 2in
Breadth: 62ft 9in
Draught: 31ft 8in
Owner History:
Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company
Status: Torpedoed & Sunk - 25/04/1917

23/09/1911: Launched by Mrs F C Allen, wife of the manager of the P&O Branch Line. When P&O bought Lund’s Blue Anchor Line’s emigrant service via the Cape in 1910, they immediately ordered five new ships, of which BALLARAT was the first, with improved accommodation aimed at a higher quality of emigrant. P&O took over the service complete, renaming it the Branch Line (hence the Australian “B” names used for their new tonnage), and running it separately from their other ships because Australian regulations required all white crews. 
01/11/1911: Registered. She began life with a Blue Anchor Line funnel, changing to P&O black in 1914. Her maiden voyage via the Cape set a London/Adelaide record of 37½ days. 
1914: When war came served initially as an Indian transport. 
08/1915: Carrying Australian troops. 
25/04/1917: Torpedoed by the German submarine UB.32, 24 miles SxW from Wolf Rock. She was sailing as HM AMBULANCE TRANSPORT A70 on a voyage from Melbourne to London with Australian troops and a cargo of copper, antimony ore, bullion and general cargo. Despite 50 lookouts on each side and HMTBD PHOENIX as escort the torpedo was not spotted, the starboard screw was smashed and the engine room flooded. Taken in tow by a destroyer and HM Drifter MIDGE, she sank in 44 fathoms of water 8½ miles off the Lizard the following day. All 1,752 on board were saved. 
12/1917: P&O Chairman Lord Inchcape negotiated £420,000 compensation for a ship that cost £176,109! 

The following from 'Dictionary of Disasters at Sea During the Age of Steam' (C. Hocking): 

The troopship BALLARAT, taken over from the P. & O. company, was approaching the entrance to the Channel on April 25th, 1917, when she was torpedoed by a German submarine. Including troops, who were all reinforcements from Victoria for the 2nd and 4th Australian Brigades, there were some 1,750 persons on board at the time. The day being Anzac Day the men were parading for a memorial service on board when, at 2.5 p.m., the torpedo struck the ship. One propeller was smashed, a 6 in. gun destroyed, the main steam pipe fractured and the after watertight bulkhead blown in. The BALLARAT at once began to settle in the water but admirable discipline was maintained and the men, who had been exercised at boat drill repeatedly by the colonel of the Victorian Scottish who was in command of the draft, went to their places in splendid order. There was no loss of life, all the troops and crew being taken off by their own boats or by escorting destroyers. The captain of the BALLARAT, Cdr. G. W. Cockman, R.N.R., D.S.O., received the congratulations of the Admiralty on this splendid feat, and the Australian troops were congratulated by King George V.