Page 132 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 19 - 22
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searchlights on board ship may not be so great as the disadvantages of causing general interference with the navigation of the ships themselves, and, as I have said, leading vessels to go on at a high rate of speed when they ought to reduce speed. But, in any case, if searchlights are established on board ship very stringent regulations should be laid down as to how they should be worked, especially avoiding doing so in crowded waterways. 21920. I suppose the question of where they are fixed is of importance too? - Yes, that would be very important, and would depend on the number of searchlights established. 21921. Have you found in the experience of the Admiralty that from time to time inconvenience is caused to vessels approaching by the use of searchlights at the defended ports? - Yes, frequent complaints have been received, and early this year a notice to mariners, No. 274, was issued, and a system of signals was introduced to enable vessels to ask the people on shore who were working the searchlights to take the lights off their vessel, by sound, signal, and by flashing. 21922. Has the Admiralty recently called upon officers who have had experience in navigation of ice-fields to report to them upon the use of searchlights? - Yes, they have recently sent a communication out to the officers who have been in command of ships on that station, but so far we have only received the report of one officer. The other reports, no doubt, will come in, and the Admiralty will be prepared to lay them before the Court. 21923. Will you tell us, just shortly, the result of the one report which you have got? - One report was received, and the officer stated that in all cases in clear weather the iceberg was sighted before the searchlights picked it up. The iceberg was sighted at about two miles; the searchlight was then switched on, and lit up the iceberg very clearly, showing a white clear light. Then they detected the ice-floe at a distance of about one and a half miles from the ship, and also low pans and pieces of ice floating between the ship to a distance of about a mile off. 21924. What is not quite clear to me from what you have said is whether it is a fact that the iceberg was first discovered by ordinary sight? - Yes I believe with ordinary sight. I do not know whether it was with binoculars or not. 21925. Was that because the searchlight was not being used, or because the searchlight failed to pick it up? - The report does not say whether the searchlight was actually being used at the time, but it said that they picked up the ice first by sight. 21926. And then turned on the searchlight afterwards? - Yes, and then they saw it beautifully lit up. 21927. (The Commissioner.) I do not quite see what the value of that report is. I thought the object was to ascertain whether searchlights could pick up ice before the eyesight could pick it up? - That is the only report that has come in. The Commissioner: It does not seem to me to be to the point. 21928. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Have you got the report here? - I have it here, but I do not know that I am permitted to produce it. 21929. (The Attorney-General.) You will not object to produce it to me? I can see it. If you will show it to me I can see whether it throws any light upon the question or not? - Yes, I can hand it to you. The Attorney-General: Will you get it for me, please? Your Lordship will understand that we have been inquiring about this matter of the searchlights to see what assistance we could render to the Court. In the mercantile marine I think they are practically not used at all. The Commissioner: Yes, that I understand. The Attorney-General: And therefore the only evidence that we can get of value as regards actual experience is from the Admiralty. Sir Robert Finlay: I think, my Lord, in reference to what your Lordship said that the searchlight must have been in use at the time, otherwise the whole report would be meaningless.
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