Page 131 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 19 - 22
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of searchlights; he simply says: “I should imagine they were.” The Attorney-General: I really do not quite understand what the objection is. I will tell my friend what the object of the evidence is. I am calling this gentleman from the Admiralty in order to give the Court some information with regard to the Admiralty’s experience of searchlights, and that is the point of the evidence. It is not directed against anybody or anything. Sir Robert Finlay: I will not put it as an objection to the admissibility of the evidence, but I wish to guard against any particular weight being attached to it unless it proceeds on some experience. 21910. (The Attorney-General.) I think you will see that it does. (To the Witness.) I do not know whether I am right, Captain Miller, but are you speaking from actual experience or are you speaking from information supplied to you by the Admiralty, and which you are attending here to give? - I am speaking, if I may say so, on behalf of the Admiralty as far as I can. I am not speaking my own individual experience. I have had some, but I am here, I believe, to speak on behalf of the Admiralty. 21911. To tell the Court what the result of the Admiralty’s experience has been with regard to searchlights; that is so, is it not? - I am speaking, more or less, as to the advantages or disadvantages of searchlights on board ship. 21912. That is quite right - so as to put, at any rate, the information that the Admiralty has, before the Court? - Yes, the Admiralty’s view. 21913. Representing, as we understand you do, the views of the Admiralty to the Court, will you tell us whether the use of searchlights is of value in detecting icebergs or ice-fields? - Yes. As far as our own ships are concerned, we have not had many ships in the ice region, but for other purposes, such as picking up buoys and land searchlights have been frequently used. 21914. Or rocks? - Or rocks. They are also useful in passing through a channel, or through a canal. I submit they are also useful in cases where a ship is stranded. 21915. To assist in life-saving? - And also for salvage work, and for life-saving. Those are the advantages. 21916. Then there are some disadvantages, are there not? - Yes. 21917. I want you to tell the Court the Admiralty’s view as to the disadvantages? - The disadvantages of searchlights, with regard to searchlights on board the ship itself, are that they may dazzle the officers and the look-out men on board the ship, and in that case specially so, if they happen to be badly placed with regard to the people who are observing. Secondly, they cause a good deal of interference with general navigation, and they would do so very much indeed in crowded waterways. If on the open sea, of course, the objection would be less. The effect of interference on other vessels would be, as is well known, to blind the officers of the watches on board those ships, and, consequently they would make it difficult for them to detect other vessels in their vicinity, and so possibly bring about collision. Thirdly, the lights would have the effect possibly of reducing the brilliancy of the ship’s navigation lights from which the searchlight was being exhibited. 21918. (The Commissioner.) That is the green and the red lights? - Yes, and possibly the masthead light. 21919. (The Attorney-General.) Are there any more disadvantages? - They might also, especially in thick weather and in fog, be mistaken for electric lights of the lighthouses on shore. They also have the effect of screening those shore lights from passing vessels. Another thing with regard to searchlights on board ships might be that a vessel so fitted might depend too much on her searchlights, and get into dangerous proximity to the land and shoal water and buoys, trusting to her searchlights. Further, she might be induced to continue at a high rate of speed, trusting again to her searchlights when, under similar circumstances with regard to weather and so on she would - and rightly so - reduce her speed. I think, too, that the advantages of having
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