Page 174 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 19 - 22
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that is so. The Commissioner: Are you going to take him to page 17? The Attorney-General: Yes, but I think there is a little to get before we get as far as that. Those are the Rules for 1894. Now, we may get a little further information. The first section of the Merchant Shipping Act, Life-Saving Appliances, of 1888, is to this effect. I think it throws some light certainly upon what Parliament thought at the time, and what the Board of Trade must necessarily have considered in framing these Rules: “It shall be the duty of the owner and master of every British ship to see that his ship is provided, in accordance with Rules under this Act, with such boats, lifejackets and other appliances for saving life at sea as, having regard to the nature of the service on which the ship is employed, and the avoidance of undue encumbrance of the ship’s deck, are best adapted for securing the safety of her crew and passengers.” Those are the conditions they were to take into account. The Commissioner: I did not hear anything of those words which would point to leave to take into consideration the commercial values. I see it says, “Best calculated to preserve the lives of those on board,” but it occurs to me that you must have regard to the ship as a commercial venture, otherwise a ship would never go to sea at all. If you are to think only of the lives of the people on board and nothing else you might have such a complicated system of life-saving apparatus that the ship could never sail. The Attorney-General: As they were dealing with merchant shipping I presume they did not think it was necessary to put that in. The Commissioner: But there are a great many things to consider. The Attorney-General: Oh, yes, it is not so easy as some people think to determine the question, when you consider it. The Commissioner: Oh, dear no. It appears to one’s mind at the first blush of the thing that you ought to have boats to save every life, and if what happened on the “Titanic” is a fair sample of what would take place in similar circumstances on other boats, you ought not only to have sufficient boats to save every life, but you ought to have nearly one-third more than sufficient because these boats on the “Titanic” did not go away anything like full. If that is to be the normal state of things you want a great many more boats than sufficient to carry the number. The Attorney-General: And of course that assumes a very calm night in which you can launch all your boats on each side, which is, of course, rather an abnormal state of things. The Commissioner: Of course, it may be said against that that the boats would have carried their full complement if there had been proper discipline, and so on. The Attorney-General: Yes, but I was assuming that the boats had gone away with their full complement; then they would have saved 1,178 instead of 703 persons, but there was a very large number of persons for whom there was no accommodation. The Commissioner: You still have a large margin. The Attorney-General: And if you want to make the ship quite safe - at least, quite safe you never could, but so safe that there is boat accommodation which can be launched for all the people on board - you would have to provide for full accommodation on both sides of the ship, that is to say, each side of the ship ought to be able, if you could have an ideal state of things, to launch sufficient boats to carry the complement of passengers and crew on board. The Commissioner: Undoubtedly, because we have had evidence which appears to me at present that in certain states of the sea you could not launch any boats on one side of the vessel; you would have to confine yourself to the other side. The Attorney-General: Yes, you would have to get to the lee-side. That would work out at over 80 boats a side if you were to work on that basis. But at any rate it would mean that you would have to have sufficient boats on each side to carry all. And your Lordship notices that that is the view that was taken, where you can do it, by this very special provision.
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