Page 125 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
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18279. Now, I want you just to tell me about the building of the “Olympic” and the “Titanic,” two sister vessels. I am not going to ask you the details of the construction, I am going to keep that for skilled witnesses, and those who have had more to do with it and who know - but generally speaking, first of all, have you any financial interest by way of shareholding or otherwise in the firm of Harland and Wolff? - Absolutely none. 18280. Or any of those which take an active part in the management of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company? - I do not quite follow you there. For instance, Lord Pirrie, who is a Director of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, is also a Director of Harland and Wolff, but he is the only gentleman that has an interest in both the Company and the shipbuilding yard. 18281. That is what I thought. Now one other general question with regard to the construction of vessels by Harland and Wolff; are they constructed under contract at a lump sum in the ordinary course, or are they constructed at cost price plus a percentage? - Cost price, plus a percentage. We build no ships by contract at all. 18282. So that what it amounts to, if I follow you correctly, is, that there is no limit placed by you upon the cost of the vessel? - Absolutely none. All we ask them to do is to produce us the very finest ship they possibly can; the question of money has never been considered at all. 18283. Do you give your orders for the construction of a vessel in writing? - Yes. 18284. Then substantially it is as you say? - We simply pass a letter between us. Messrs. Harland and Wolff would write us a letter, and we would confirm it. 18285. To the effect that you are to pay them a certain commission or percentage upon the cost price? - Yes, that is referred to in the letter. 18286. And is that the system practically upon which Messrs. Harland and Wolff have constructed your steamers for the White Star Line? - Yes, practically the whole fleet has been built upon those terms. 18287. And the “Olympic” and “Titanic” were both built upon those terms? - Exactly. 18288. The plans would be drawn and submitted, of course, to you or your company? - Yes, and discussed between us and then settled on. 18289. Will you give me approximately what the cost of the “Titanic” was? - A million and a half sterling. 18290. Now you were on board the “Titanic” on this voyage? - I was. 18291. You sailed in her as a passenger? - I did. 18292. You joined her first, I think, at Southampton? - Yes. 18293. Then you went to Cherbourg, and from Cherbourg to Queenstown? - Yes. 18294. As we know, she left Queenstown on the 11th April? - Yes. 18295. She carried mails as well as passengers? - Yes. 18296. That was under contract which you had with the British Government? - Yes. 18297. That contract is, of course, in writing? - Yes. 18298. Can you produce it? - I have not got it here, but it can be produced. 18299. I am not asking you for it at the present moment, but you will produce it for inspection either by the Court or by anyone who is interested in the Enquiry represented here who thinks it may be of value? - Yes. 18300. I only want to ask you one question with reference to it. Under that contract are you bound to keep up a certain rate of speed? - No. 18301. What I wanted to know was whether there was any such condition in the contract that your vessels must be constructed to steam at 20 knots or anything of that kind? - That I am not quite clear about. There is some reference in the contract. I think we are allowed to run a ship with mails even at 18 knots. 18302. I think you said in America 16, but we will look at the contract and see how that is? - It is down in writing.
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