Page 242 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 14 - 18
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The Attorney-General: There is a special one for the firemen. Sir Robert Finlay: There are three departments. The first is the sailing department; the second the engineers’ department; and the third is the victualling department. The Commissioner: I beg pardon, Sir Robert. That is quite so. So that there are a great many more than five men allocated to each boat. The Witness: I should think in the case of the “Titanic” that there must have been between 30 and 40 to each boat. The Attorney-General: I went through it earlier with one of the witnesses. I put those in. 19724. (Sir Robert Finlay.) With regard to the question of boat drill and getting firemen to take part in it, had you moved in that matter long before the loss of the “Titanic”? - We have always attempted to do it. 19725. Of how old standing are the difficulties about getting firemen to take part in the boat drill? - I think our real difficulties have only been of recent years - in the last two years. I do not recall that we had any real difficulty before that. 19726. Since this disaster you have been continuing your efforts to ensure proper drill? - We have increased them. 19727. Can you tell us what is being done now? - Yes, we have asked the Board of Trade to make their inspection a more thorough one in so far as instead of turning out two boats to turn out a good many. We have turned out as many as 13 or 14, and we have had a large number of those boats manned and sent out, rowing some distance and back again. As I say, the stewards and deckhands have done that work. They do not seem to have had much success with the firemen. 19728. Have you got any information in writing as to what is being done? - I have this telegram, which I have already alluded to. 19729. You only read a line or two. Perhaps you would read it to recall it to his Lordship? - It is rather long. I shall be glad to read it. It is as follows: “Replying your wire, boats on sailing morning have been recently manned by deckhands and stewards who muster at eight. Occasionally stewards lower and man one or two boats entirely. This was done on ‘Oceanic.’ ‘Olympic’ today had six boats in water manned by stewards and deckhands. Difficulty has been experienced in interesting engine department, who now only muster at 10.30, as if muster earlier as in past the men all evade boat drill, go ashore, and come back at last moment more or less under influence of drink, or fail to join altogether. In case of ‘Oceanic,’ in order to exercise engine crew with boats all were asked to come down Tuesday morning and offered half-a-day’s pay for boat drill from nine until one, but men would not come, and thirteen boats were therefore put in water by deck crew that day. Experiment not repeated with ‘Olympic,’ as Blake confident men will not turn up day before sailing on three weekly schedule as time in port so short. After muster all engine room staff now put on lifebelts and muster at their allotted boats, so that each man knows own boat before ships sail. This was very successful with ‘Olympic,’ ‘Oceanic,’ ‘Majestic,’ and satisfactory to Emigration Officer. When crew sign on each is given a number, which is also shown on articles giving boat to which each man is allotted. Previous practice was two boats put out on sailing morning by deckhands, but stewards and firemen not exercised at all by reason of former being busy and latter gone ashore after muster.” 19730. Thank you. Now, you have been asked about the number of deckhands on board the “Titanic.” Had you enough deckhands for all the work that there was for them to do? - I believe so. 19731. Was the number of deckhands in excess of the Board of Trade requirements? - Considerably. 19732. Have you looked up the amount of loss of life in your vessels that has happened while your line has been running? - We have had some figures made up.
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