Monday, 29 May 2017


The Argus, Melbourne, 25 February, 1911.

The Shipping Gazette says that while
the Court apparently believes that the
owners' evidence was less complete than it
might have been, it must be remembered
that owners in such cases were facing a 
position of considerable difficulty. There
is always the question of legal responsibility
to be considered. It was perhaps inevitable
that the inquiry should have a somewhat
indefinite result. It is impossible to suppose
that however inconclusive the Waratah
judgment was, the moral of the case will
be altogether lost to the naval architect,
the shipbuilder and the ship owner.


It is not difficult to read between the lines. Although an excuse was offered, it is plain that the Gazette accused the Lunds, Barclay, Curle and Co, and even Sir William White (naval architect) of perverting the course of justice. One wonders to what extent testimonies were influenced, not only with regard to those who were connected with or voyaged on Waratah, but the intriguing, conflicting accounts of the Guelph and Harlow. It was after all F.W. Lund who initially suggested that the officers mistook bush fires for a steamer astern. Enough seeds of doubt had been sown to ensure that the Court could never get close to uncovering the truth about the lost Waratah. Although, ironically, Waratah was stable when she departed Durban, a vast contrast with the maiden voyage, the damage was done and credibility lost. As the gazette commentary states, there was a MORAL issue at stake which was ultimately foresaken along with the great steamer and her souls.

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