CONDITION OF KONING WILLEM II
In the Register of July 15, and the Adelaide Observer of July 18, 1857 one can read an article written by their correspondent in Robetown.
This unknown correspondent writes in one paragraph about “the defective nature of the ship”, however he does not elaborate what these defects were.
In another paragraph he goes on to say “I have learnt, upon unquestionable authority, that the vessel, on her voyage from Hongkong to Guichen Bay, made from 12 to 14 inches of water per hour, that the Chinese were daily and nightly employed at the pumps, that her gear of every description was in a rotten inefficient state, and that had a survey of nautical men been held upon her in any Australian or other Port she would have been unhesitatingly condemned. I have this opinion from a nautical man well qualified to judge.”
Another mention of the vessel’s condition is made in the Adelaide Observer on September 19, 1857. The correspondent on this occasion writes “considering that the Wilhelm could scarcely be kept afloat during the voyage, it would have been a wonder if she had not gone down in the bay.”
I cannot agree with these allegations. Here we have a ship, not yet 18 years old, sailing around the world with a human cargo of 412 passengers and a crew of 26, in an unseaworthy condition? I doubt this very much.
Various authors in their writings about this unfortunate vessel alluded to the above newspaper reports. I contend our correspondent’s allegations were made without foundation. Who was this alleged nautical authority? We shall never know, however the Koning Willem II was indeed surveyed and I submit, the following “real evidence” will make above allegations very questionable if not totally unreliable.