Friday, 26 May 2017


Kalgoorie Western Argus, 14 December, 1909.

Melbourne, Dec. 10.

The question of the stability of
missing steamer Waratah was
again before the Marine Board 
today. The secretary read a 
report from acting Shipping 
Inspector Goodham who stated 
that he was on the vessel on 
June 30 and that his visit was 
not intended to be in his capacity 
as acting Inspector of Shipping; 
it not having been intimated to 
him that the vessel required 

This was not a good start! As with all steamers which had gone to watery grave, the level of paranoia regarding potential liability was high, no doubt inducing Mr. Goodham to make this blatant excuse from the outset of the investigation. The fact, if it be true, that Waratah did not require 'attention', implies that she was viewed as a normal steamer requiring only a cursory, routine inspection, which is in itself a positive sign. 

At the time of his visit the vessel 
was lying perfectly upright, and 
there was nothing to lead him to 
believe that there was at that time 
any want of stability, no suspicion 
of any such want intimated to him 
by anyone on board. 

This statement seems perfectly plausible and goes against allegations that officers on Waratah were in a state of panic and desperation, hastily taking out insurance policies and claiming that Waratah would be a 'coffin for somebody'.  

Mr. A. Agnew said an inspector 
should see that every ship left 
port in perfectly seaworthy 
condition. It ought not to be 
necessary for anything to be 
referred to him before he saw
it. It seemed from his report
that, unless his attention was
drawn to something, he need 
not bother to look for it.

I agree, very damning indeed. 

Mr. H. Belfrage (seamen's 
representative) said that there 
should be no doubt about the 
seaworthiness of the ship
when she left this port; 
otherwise she would never 
have traveled a distance that 
took her 21 or 22 days. She 
was alright when she arrived
in Durban.

Fair enough point as long as the ship was not confronted with extreme conditions at sea. Waratah survived a significant storm whilst departing Australian waters, which further strengthens this point.

Mr. J. M. Corby (engineer): She
was no lame duck when she left

Well that's a pretty expressive way of giving Waratah the all-clear.

Mr. D. Y. Syme (shipowner): We
recognise the certificate of the
Board of Trade and other marine
boards in the British possessions.
Waratah held a Board of Trade
certificate. She was passed by the
Board of Trade officers, as well as
Lloyd's. Everything connected with
her stability or strength or suitability
for the work for which she was 
intended was done when she was 
being dealt with.

Fair enough except for the possibility that Mr. William Lund held undue influence over the Board of Trade and reminding ourselves that Waratah departed (cleared) London on her maiden voyage with far too many emigrants on board, in excess of the stipulations set out by the Act. She was also a larger vessel than specified by her registered classification. How valid this certificate was at the end of the day remains in the realm of speculation.

Our Inspector could not make any
report than what he had. He does
not wait for instructions from here
to examine any vessel. To go into
the 'whole question' of stability
connected with the ship we have 
not the appliances here."

So, if there had been complaints that Waratah, at this late stage, was unstable, there were no means available to confirm or reject the allegations. An overall indictment on the quality of steamer inspections at Australian ports during 1909. This certainly did not help the case in favour of a seaworthy steamer.

After further discussion the 
president said that the board had 
no complaint against the ship while 
she was here. There was a provision 
in the Act by which, if any two or 
more members of a crew complained
of anything, the board should inquire
into it. 

This is a very important point and confirms that NONE of the officers on Waratah complained about her stability - or perhaps they were loyal to their master and the Blue Anchor Line, keeping mum. If complaints had been made Waratah would most certainly have been detained in port with far-reaching ramifications.

The inspector had seen the
ship in first-class order. There was
nothing unusual in her appearance.
He had done all that was expected
of him. If any complaints had been 
made against the ship directly or 
indirectly, the board would have
taken action. and the inspector 
would have been specially
instructed to look into it.

I tend to agree with this overall statement and can quite believe that by this stage there was NOTHING adverse to report about Waratah.

Agnew said that notwithstanding
what had been said, it was un-
satisfactory to him as a member 
of the board. A vessel might be 
safe at one port and not at another. 
Had the inspector the right to inspect 
a vessel unless his attention was 
called to a faulty condition? They
ought to be perfectly satisfied that
the inspector's duties were properly
carried out.

Good point, born out by Waratah's GM variability between ports and voyages. One may assume that during her worst moments of stability issues she was given the all-clear by just such an inspector. But there again, as many experts testified at the Inquiry, although Waratah was top heavy during her maiden voyage, this was not necessarily dangerously so. Professor Bragg referred to her as comfortable and steady.

Mr. Currie: We have given you too
much latitude, and I think I should
rule you out of order. If you are so
emphatic about extra surveillance
and care, the wisest course of action
would be for you to bring the matter
forward by a motion so that it might
be discussed. I think it is out of place
to reflect on the inspector now.


Finally it was decided "That a reply
be sent to the request of the
Commonwealth Government stating
that the Waratah held a Board of
Trade passengers' certificate, which
was undoubted evidence that she was
fit in every way for the safe carriage
of passengers and crew, and the
surveyor had no reason to question
this or anything he saw."

On the surface this was indeed a valid point. End of discussion (for now).

It might serve us well to be reminded of expert opinions when Waratah departed Australia for the last time, bound for Durban:

Fix this tex

Thursday, 25 May 2017


The Northwestern Advocate, 11 September, 1909.

LONDON, Friday. .— Mr. Thomas
Summerbell (Labor) yesterday asked
several questions in the House of 
Commons respecting the manning 
of the missing steamer Waratah, 
which are suggestive of a weak 
and incompetent crew being on 
board. Mr. Winston Churchill, 
President of the Board of Trade, 
refused to make any statement 
pending the inquiry which will
necessarily be instituted.

Outrageous! 119 were gone to a watery grave without EVER having the opportunity to defend themselves or explain the circumstances surrounding the sequence of events leading to the loss of the Waratah. It certainly did not take long for the aspersions to be cast; and far cast, well into the modern era. Shameful and disgraceful!!

Crew List:

P.R. Alexander - general servant
W.R. Allen - general servant
C. Allen - able seaman
G.W. Ambrose - able seaman
H. Barr- carpenter's mate
C. Baxter - general servant
A. Bellringer - trimmer
W. Belshaw - able seaman 
F. Benson - trimmer
A. Blake - general servant
R. Bocker - fireman and trimmer
P. Bonham - general servant
A. Brown - fireman and trimmer
L. Burgess - general servant
C. Butcher - fireman and trimmer
W.M. Campbell - general servant
J.C. Clark - assistant steward
J. Clarke - fireman and trimmer
N. Clarke - apprentice
W. Comper - greaser and fireman
J. Conn - greaser and fireman
J. Costello - able seaman
T. Coulson - trimmer
A. Cumming - greaser and fireman 
H. Dance - trimmer
A. Dennison - general servant
G. Dixon - trimmer
F. Dorander - fireman and trimmer
W. Edwards - general servant
A.R. Francis - general servant
C. French - fireman and trimmer
H.C. Fulford - surgeon
A. Georgeson - boatswain
H.A. Gibbs - apprentice
S.E. Gorham - pantryman
R.A. Hamelton - refrigerating engineer
J. Hamilton - junior engineer
C. Hammond - general servant
H.W. Harding - general servant
W. Harding -  - able seaman
O.E. Haysom - butcher
H.F. Hemy - second officer
G.W. Hodder - chief engineer
T. Humphreys - senior third engineer
F.T. Hunt - junior engineer
A. Hunter - second engineer
J.E. Ilbery - master
J. Immelmann - fireman and trimmer
T. Ings - general servant
P. Isaacs - general servant
J. Jacobson - fireman and trimmer
J.H. Jamieson - senior fourth engineer
J. Jewers - officer
J. Jones - second baker
J. Kelly - trimmer
K. Lindross - fireman and trimmer
J. Lydiard - fireman and trimmer
A. Martin - able seaman
H. McCrone - trimmer
M. McIlver - able seaman
W. McKierian - trimmer
W. McPhee - general servant
G. Meek - trimmer
P.F. Monaghan - general servant
F. Monk - fifth engineer
A.P. Moore - able seaman
J.P. Morgan - third officer
P. Murray - sculleryman
J. Nelson - fireman and trimmer
T. Newman - able seaman
A. Nicholls - forecabin steward
C. Owen - chief officer
P. Oxford - barman and storekeeper
K. Papinean - pantryman
S. Pearson - donkeyman
A.E. Phillips - baker and confectioner
F. Poland - assistant butcher
W. Rackliff - able seaman
W. Reinsch - fireman and trimmer
R. Robinson - ordinary seaman
W.B. Rogers - general servant
E. Rumbold - general servant
A. Sach - cook
F. Sale - cook
C. Samuelson - fireman and trimmer
A. Sandon - trimmer
E.J. Schafer - boatswain's mate and lamp trimmer
O. Schelier - fireman and trimmer
H. Seiffort - fireman and trimmer
F. Shasal - assistant pantryman
J.Shea - able seaman
P. Skailes - purser and chief steward
H.G. Smith - able seaman
W. Smith - storekeeper and refrigerating greaser
W. Smith - general servant
C.W. Southwell - cook
E. Stace - boatswain's mate
J. Steel - trimmer
B. Steiner - greaser and fireman
E. Sterne - general servant
G. Sudbury - general servant
E. Swan - stewardess
H. Tanner - fireman and trimmer
H. Taylor - trimmer
S. Templeton - chief cook
W. Thomas - general servant
W. Thornton - trimmer
G. Thruston - fourth officer
F. Trott - general servant
C. Turkle - able seaman
W. Waite - able seaman
R. Walker - carpenter
E.J. Walters - general servant
W. Walters - greaser
F.M. Wellington - general servant
W.G. White - general servant
S. Whitehorn - stewardess
A. Woodcock - general servant
G. Wyborn - general servant


Yea Chronicle, 17 December, 1908.

Under the heading "-Seeking their
Fortune" the ".Argus of Wednesday, 
prints a paragraph which states
that the steamer Waratah has arrived
at Port Adelaide from London with
an unusual number of passengers
and a record number of immigrants
aboard. Most of those on board are
destined for New Zealand, while
130 are for Melbourne, and the
remainder for New South Wales.
These "immigrants" state that they
have heard a lot about Australia
lately, and were induced to come
this way because Canada and the
United States for the time being
seem done; and because of the
depression in Great Britain and the
large number of unemployed. Now
the question arises as to whether we
want the 130 immigrants, referred
to, seeing that they have brought
with them capital ranging from £15
to £150 only! These munificent
banking accounts may tide the
"fortune seekers" over the summer,
providing no confidence-man relieves 
them of the lot in one night, as is 
often the case with our native
born subjects; but what are they to
do as the song says "in the winter"
The only logical conclusion that can
be arrived at is that the majority
will be stranded along with hundreds 
of others who are daily in search of 
remunerative employment.
Australia may be prospering, as they
say, and may also require more
people. Nevertheless Australia
wants people with slightly more
than £15 or even £150; nor does
she want clerks as some of these
"immigrants" are said to be. The
Governments are already endeavour
ing to solve the unemployed problem,
which was as difficult to deal with this 
year as ever it was. Clerks are in a 
bad way, while our present land policy, 
as has been the case for years past
precludes settlement. The bursting up 
of large estates is, of course, the only 
remedy, and even were this done it is 
doubtful if £150 would be of much use 
to a would-be purchaser. The policy of 
inviting immigrants to this country with
such paltry sums, as we have indicated, 
at their disposal is undoubtedly a mistaken 
one, and can only tend to intensify the
problem of the unemployed.

Waratah certainly did carry an excessive number of emigrants on her maiden voyage, packed like sardines into demountable dormitories:

The objection to the paltry sums of money puts the question of the Workmen's Compensation payouts in a previous post into perspective -  £ 126 per crewman lost with Waratah.