Page 152 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
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before the vessel starts? - As a rule. 18740. Do not you think it would be a better system if you could have continuous crews who understand the vessel, and, of course, who understand their boat stations, and so on? - Undoubtedly. 18741. Have you as yet given any consideration to the possibility of modifying the existing system and introducing the system I have suggested? - I think that is a matter which entirely rests with the men themselves. 18742. Do you think if that modification were made, and as far as possible continuous service crews employed? - What modification? I do not understand. 18743. That is the modification in favour of continuing the crews from voyage to voyage - longer service? - But there is nothing to prevent crews, when they are paid off, signing on again. They are paid off and signed on at the same time. The Commissioner: Are you suggesting that all the crews should be compelled to remain on? Mr. Harbinson: Yes, my Lord, in this way: My suggestion is that if crews were retained on boats - The Commissioner: Supposing a man says he will not stay on, what are you going to do with him? He is landed at New York, and he says, “I am going to leave this ship.” Do you suggest there should be some law or regulation to force him to come back to the ship? Mr. Harbinson: No, my Lord; my suggestion is not that, but my suggestion is that if the men were not paid off they probably would remain on; and a further reason I say is this that they would not be paid off probably if there was work for them to do. Such things as shore gangs I understand are employed, and my suggestion is instead of being paid off these men should be kept while the boat lies in the harbour as a shore gang. The Commissioner: But supposing they do not choose to remain, what is to happen then? Mr. Harbinson: As I understand, the option is not given them. The Commissioner: That may be, but I do not know what it is you want. If the men will not remain, is there to be some law to make them remain? Mr. Harbinson: No, I could not go so far, and under the existing law I understand it cannot be done. The Commissioner: No, I assure you it cannot be done. But are you suggesting such a law should be passed? Mr. Harbinson: No, but an inducement should be held out by the Company for them to remain, and so far as possible to continue in the service on the same boat. That would make for greater safety in the case of emergency, because the crews would understand the ship and also their stations in the boats, and be able to act with more dispatch. The Commissioner: Your suggestion is that the Company should take reasonable and practicable steps to secure the same crew for a considerable time to keep the same men employed on the vessel? Mr. Harbinson: As far as possible, my Lord; that is so. The Commissioner: That, of course, would be a good thing. The Witness: Yes, and a certain number of men are retained; a certain number are kept on board every ship during the time she is in port to do the ship’s work, and they go on what is called port pay. 18744. That is something less? - No, they get more, because we do not feed them on board the ship. But I do not think it would be feasible for a steamship company to keep the whole crew in port for three weeks and keep all those men on pay, because naturally the men want to go back to sea again; they would not wait to go back in the ship for three weeks. Mr. Harbinson: On the question of feasibility, I read a letter written by a very distinguished Admiral quite recently, and he said it was quite feasible that these shore gangs could be recruited
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