Page 177 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
P. 177
The Commissioner: I am talking of field ice. Sir Robert Finlay: And icebergs not frequently. The Commissioner: And evidently the Attorney-General did not realise when he was opening the case, and has not since realised, that there is any reason to expect ice in the sense that it is usually found there. The Attorney-General: No. The case that I have made and that I have been putting before your Lordship in regard to it up to the present has been that information was given of this apparently very extraordinary occurrence of field ice being encountered on this particular track. The Commissioner: That is the “Baltic” telegram. The Attorney-General: That is the “Baltic” telegram, and therefore the view I suggested was that it involved an obligation upon those responsible for the navigation of the ship, to take extreme care when they got that report. The Commissioner: Of course; whatever the information of the chart may be, the information of the telegram was most specific, and referred not only to icebergs, but to field ice. The Attorney-General: That is the point. Your Lordship is quite right. I have not made the case that the Commander ought to have taken the precaution to discover field ice without having received any report from any other vessel. I did not suggest that. In point of fact I did not go into it, and according to the evidence that was then before me, I did not think that he would expect to encounter it. Now that I see the book, of course it may be another question; but I am upon the telegram, which seems to me to place it so much higher. The Commissioner: Oh, of course it does; I only want to have it cleared up, because I was quite startled when I was told that there was no occasion for a telegram, because you most probably expect ice there. That startled me, and with all respect to this book, as I understand it at present, it seems to me to be quite inconsistent with the fact that the numbers of steamship companies’ liners crossing have agreed to follow this route. The Attorney-General: As I understand, what the book says that may be so, but at the same time you may encounter field ice in this track, and therefore must be very careful. The Commissioner: It does not say that; it says: “You probably will.” The Attorney-General: I suppose it is a matter of extreme precaution; that emphasises it. I read the paragraph rather hastily, I admit, but it seems to me devised for the purpose of impressing on navigators the necessity for extreme caution when they are in these parts at this time of the year. It is not meant to do more than that, but it does that. The Commissioner: Well, but it says something which is not in accordance with the evidence. The Attorney-General: Yes, it says that with the object of impressing the necessity for caution. The Commissioner: It is equivalent to crying “Wolf.” The Attorney-General: I do not know. I will not say that. The Commissioner: That is what you mean now, you know. In order to induce people to be extra careful they put in what is not there. The Attorney-General: No, I am not saying that; that is not my suggestion of it. I hear of the book, of course, for the first time for the reason I have indicated, that our case has been put on the wireless telegraphy reports, which seemed to place it beyond this category, as your Lordship agrees. But when we do examine into it and have that brought before us, in view of the fact that your Lordship is asked to answer some questions about tracks in the Enquiry, it does become of importance, and, speaking for myself, I am very much obliged to those who have called our attention to the fact that attention should be specifically directed to this point. The Commissioner: Quite right. The Attorney-General: Because, although it may not have happened for 25 years, it has happened this year, and it may happen again in another year. The Commissioner: My attention is drawn to the fact, and no doubt it is a fact, that the chart is
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