21a["The Overdue Waratah", The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 04 August 1909, page 9]



LONDON, Aug. 3.

H.M.S. Forte, second-class cruiser, has Simons Town, and H.M.S. Pandora, third-class cruiser, has left Durban, to search for the Lund liner Waratah, now overdue at Capetown on her way from Durbn.

It is probably that the machinery of the Waratah has broken down, and that in recent heavy gales she has drifted southward.

11.5 a.m.

The owners of the Waratah, W. Lund and Sons, are without news of the vessel.

21b["Missing Vessels", The Argus (Melbourne), Thursday 05 August 1909, page 7]




LONDON, Aug. 4.

There is still no news of the whereabouts of the steamer Waratah of Lund's Blue Anchor line, bound from Australian ports to London, which left Port Natal for Cape Town on the 26th ult.

Reuter's agency at Cape Town states that the apprehension that was at first felt regarding the fate of the vessel is relieved by the fact that no wreckage has been found along the coast. The theory that the steamer has been disabled by rough weather is borne out by the experience of a liner which has arrived from Durban, and reports having met with cyclonic weather and mountainous seas.

The owners of the Waratah state that, in view of the heavy weather on the South African coast, they do not consider that there is any cause for serious anxiety. They have chartered a tug to assist the cruisers Forte and Pandora in their search.

In the absence yesterday of any tidings of the overdue "Blue Anchor" liner Waratah anxiety for her welfare naturally increased. Despite the fact that the worst fears entertained are that the vessel has suffered a breakdown of machinery, inquiring friends of passengers calling at the office of the agents yesterday were, in most instances, deeply apprehensive that something more serious had delayed the liner. The news that the cruisers Pandora and Forte had left South African ports in search of the Waratah naturally gave great satisfaction, and the return of one or both of these vessels will be awaited with intense interest, unless the overdue liner should make her appearance in port before them. To all inquiries Messrs. John Sanderson and Co., Melbourne representatives of the "Blue Anchor" line, could only give the reply "Still no news."

It is not known here whether the cruisers Forte and Pandora, which have gone to look for the overdue liner, are fitted with "wireless" apparatus, but even if they are any efforts which they may make to "pick up" the Waratah by means of this system would prove unavailing, because the liner herself carries no wireless installation. This adventure of the Waratah may, when all the facts are known, provide another forcible object-lesson in the value of the "wireless" system, and the necessity for its more general use among the mercantile marine as it is in the navy. The new P. and O. liner Mantua, which is now on her maiden voyage to Australia, has a wireless equipment, enabling her to communicate with other vessels similarly installed at any distance up to 250 miles. Assuming that the Waratah is simply drifting about helplessly in the Indian Ocean, and that the cruisers sent after her are equipped with wireless apparatus, her chances of being located by the cruisers are naturally greatly discounted by the fact that she could not respond to their Marconi messages.

Among the officers of the Waratah are several old identities of the "Blue Anchor" line. Captain Ilbery his been associated with it almost from its inception and has been voyaging between London and Australia via the Cape for almost fifty years in sailing ships and steamers. His chief officer is Mr. Owen, who has also been with the line for some years. Mr. Henry is second officer, and Mr. Morgan third. Another old servant is Mr. G. W. Hodder, chief engineer, who, with his assistant, Mr. Hunter, and a large and efficient staff, should be equal to almost any emergency in the direction of a breakdown of the machinery. Mr. Skailes, formerly of the liner Geelong, is purser of the Waratah.

As to the effect which the prevailing currents would have upon the missing vessel, should her machinery be so completely disabled that she would be at the mercy of the elements, there is a consensus among nautical men who know the South African coast intimately that she would probably drift towards the south-east, possibly into the track of shipping from the Cape of Good Hope to Australia. In such an emergency Captain Ilbery would, no doubt, endeavour to improvise a sufficient spread of sail, in the hope of so regulating the movements of the big liner as to intercept one of the many steamers which cross the Southern Ocean bound for Australia or New Zealand.

To hoist sail on a steamer like the Waratah, which has only pole masts, without yards, is, however, a difficult though not impossible task. This was proved in the case of the disabled liner Norfolk som years ago when Captain Corner and his crew, though no regular sails were available on the vessel, managed, by piecing together strips of tarpaulin, usually utilised for covering hatches, to rig up a sufficient spread of sail which enabled the ship to ultimately reach Fremantle. The feat was generally admitted to be one of the finest acts of seamanship known in connection with the mercantile marine, and Captain Corner received congratulations from nautical men throughout the world, the underwriters and owners of the ship suitably recognising his great accomplishment. It was no doubt chiefly due to his long training in the sailing ships of the Devitt-Moore line htat Captain Corner was able to practically convert an unwieldy tramp steamer, so to speak, into a sailing ship in an emergency demanding resourcefulness, skill, and courage. For many years prior to his connection with steamers, Captain Ilbery, of the Waratah, served in "wind jammers," and should the non-arrival of the Waratah be due to a total disablement of her machinery his experience under "sail" should also aid him in his endeavour to at least navigate the Waratah into such latitudes where she would stand the best chance of being picked up by some passing vessel. It would, however, require an immense spread of sail to keep such a big, heavily-laden liner under control, even if sufficient canvas were available, and the difficulties of hoisting it could be surmounted.

In speculating upon the theory of a break-down of her engines, nautical men point out that it is unlikely that both sets of engines would be disabled together. In twin-screw steamers like the Waratah, each shaft and propeller are operated by an independent set of machinery, so that if one becomes disabled, the other may still continue to drive the vessel, although at a much slower rate of speed than if both sets were in working order.

21c["The Missing Waratah", The Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Saturday 14 August 1909, page 5]




LONDON, August 12.

The cost of reinsuring the Waratah has been raised to ninety guineas. This is higher than has ever been paid for a vessel of that size. The underwriters suggest that the Waratah may have broken her propeller or rudder, and they instance the case of the steamer Waikato, which was missing south of Cape Colony for a long time.

The cruisers Forte and Hermes, and the steamer Geelong resume the search for the Waratah to-day. The cruiser Pandora will also join in the search on Monday.

LONDON, August 13.

The cruiser Hermes is searching over the area to the south-east of Cape Colony which has already been covered by the Pandora.


MELBOURNE, August 13.

In the House of Representatives Mr. Deakin (Vic.), in reply to Mr, Johnson (N.S.W.), said that he believed that captains of vessels leaving South Africa or going to it had been warned to keep a look-out for the Waratah. He would communicate with the Admiral of the Australian station on the matter.