Page 194 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 19 - 22
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things which will render recourse to lifeboats quite unnecessary. The Attorney-General: That is it. The Commissioner: That is what you strive for. The Attorney-General: And one has always to bear in mind the enormous importance of wireless telegraphy in that connection, because if you can manage to keep your vessel afloat for a few hours, and particularly if you are on a track, as these Atlantic vessels are, you then can communicate with all other vessels on the track, and there is every chance of passengers being saved straight from the vessel by the boats which are provided. That is, no doubt, what the Advisory Committee had in mind, and that they had to compare with the question of hampering the boats and encumbering the decks by the provision of many more boats and davits. Those are some of the balancing considerations, and the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee took the view which your Lordship has before you. Sir Robert Finlay: There is also the possibility of fire to be considered as a reason for lifeboats. The Attorney-General: Certainly, but I think the same consideration would apply. At first sight it looks as if, if there was a fire, there must be accommodation for all the passengers at once, and that undoubtedly is a very serious question to consider. But that brings us to the matter again, to the other considerations which do not apply to collisions. Sir Robert Finlay: The question is what is reasonably practicable. If it were carried to the extreme there would be no ships. The Commissioner: It always comes back to that. The difficulty one has with a statement of that kind is to say what is reasonable. Sir Robert Finlay: It would realise the dream of the poet of an oarless sea. The Attorney-General: I propose now to give your Lordship a short statement, with the assistance of Sir Walter Howell, as to the requirements of the law in foreign countries, but your Lordship has brought it upon yourself, because you asked for it, and I think it is rather important you should have it. The Commissioner: That was because I thought it would help. The Attorney-General: It may. The Commissioner: I did so because I had seen it suggested that upon the German boats particularly a larger provision was made for life-saving apparatus than on ours. The Attorney-General: That is right. Certainly, according to the legal requirements they would have to provide more boats than according to our requirements, and it is for that reason I will give them to your Lordship. I will do it shortly. It is again a document which will be printed. The Commissioner: Do you want Sir Walter Howell for it? The Attorney-General: I do not think so. We will have sufficient copies printed to supply all my friends, so that they will be in the same position as everybody else in the case. Sir Robert Finlay: We can see it, and if anything arises on it observations can be made or questions put, but it is probably not necessary to read it aloud in Court. It takes a long time. It may be put upon the notes, and anything necessary can be added by way of statement. The Attorney-General: It may be necessary to ask some questions about it. The Commissioner: You must do it in your own way. The Attorney-General: I am not desirous of reading it in Court, and I do not think it is necessary to do that in detail. The Commissioner: Have you shown it to Sir Robert Finlay? The Attorney-General: No, I have not. The Commissioner: Do not you think it would be worthwhile to let him consider it and see if you can agree upon it? The Attorney-General: There is no difficulty about that. I do not require his agreement. The documents are all taken from official documents. The difficulty is to present it in a concise form.
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