Page 191 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 19 - 22
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“Titanic”? - Oh, I think not - not the actual draft. 22494. Then there is no significance in that? - I want to explain why I did it, my Lord. The Commissioner: All I want to see are the minutes directing that this letter should be prepared. The Attorney-General: The minutes have been sent for, and your Lordship shall have them. The Commissioner: They are close at hand? The Attorney-General: Oh, yes. In point of fact the letter which bears date the 16th April deals, of course, with the questions raised in the report. There is another letter which, at any rate, your Lordship should have in mind whilst your mind is directed to this point. There was the letter written on the 20th April, which has specific reference to the “Titanic.” The Commissioner: You might read us that. 22495 (The Attorney-General.) This is on the 20th April. This is from Sir Walter Howell to the secretary of the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee: “Sir, - With reference to previous correspondence between the Department and your Committee respecting the revision of the statutory Rules for life-saving appliances on British ships, and particularly to the letter from this Department of the 16th April, I am directed by the Board of Trade to state that as an entirely new situation has been created by the recent disaster to the s.s. ‘Titanic,’ they assume that the Committee, in reconsidering the matter in connection with the suggestions already put before them by the Board, will have full regard to this new situation, and the facts of the disaster so far as ascertained. As you are doubtless aware, suggestions have been made in the House of Commons and elsewhere to the effect that, in view of the loss of the ‘Titanic,’ action should be taken by the Board of Trade in regard to certain questions other than those expressly dealt with in the Life-Saving Appliances Rules, e.g., in regard to (1) steamship routes in the North Atlantic; (2) the speed of steamers where there may be dangers to navigation; and (3) the provision and use of searchlights on large passenger steamers; and the Board would be glad to know the Committee’s views in regard to these, and any other suggestions which may have come to their knowledge, intended to diminish the risk or to mitigate the effects of accidents to passenger vessels at sea.” Then there is an answer to that which is, I think, the last letter that I think need be read and which will be included in the documents which will go before your Lordship. It is the 27th April. This is from Sir Norman Hill, the Chairman, and the Secretary, “We are desired by the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee to inform you that your letters of the 16th, 20th, 24th and 25th inst. were brought before the Committee at a meeting held yesterday.” I have the letters of the 24th and 25th, but they really do not add anything. “The Committee fully recognise that the proved impossibility of keeping such a vessel as the ‘Titanic’ afloat, after a collision with ice, until the arrival of outside succour, has created an entirely new situation, which was neither in the contemplation of the Board of Trade nor of the Committee in the consideration of the extension of the existing boat scale in regard to vessels of 10,000 tons and upwards. In advising on such extension in July last, the Committee aimed at providing ample boat accommodation on large passenger vessels in accordance with the principles that were adopted by the original Life-Saving Appliances Committee, and which principles had apparently been fully justified by many years of experience. It is with satisfaction that the Committee note that the Board of Trade, apart from the new possibilities demonstrated by the loss of the “Titanic,” agreed in the essentials with the recommendation of the Committee. In face of the new facts, the Committee, at their meeting yesterday, reopened entirely the question of the revision of the boat scale for large passenger vessels, with a view of providing the maximum of protection for the passengers and crew in the event of an overwhelming disaster, whilst, at the same time, maintaining the principles in regard to the stability and sea-going qualities of the ship itself, and to the prompt and efficient handling of the boats carried under the existing scale, which hitherto have proved not only essential to safety, but also adequate for all ordinary emergencies. The
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