Page 14 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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of the “Titanic” accident. Take the year 1910. Was it not pressed upon his attention in 1910? - I only remember it being done by the Advisory Committee. 22774. Do you remember whether or not, while the “Titanic” and the “Olympic” were on the stocks in Belfast, the question of the boat accommodation that would be provided for them was then pressed on the attention of the President of the Board of Trade? - I do not recollect that it was. It would certainly form a subject of Enquiry by the local Surveyor. 22775. If a question in Parliament were brought before the attention of the President of the Board of Trade, it would be the duty of your department to give the answer? - To give the President particulars upon which he would base his answer. 22776. Do you know if the reply given at the time with reference to the “Olympic” was that the vessel had not only the statutory accommodation, but even more. Do you know if that was the reply given by the Board of Trade at the time? - Yes, I think I may say yes. 22777. So that the question of boating accommodation on the “Titanic” and the “Olympic” before they were launched, was brought to the notice of the President of the Board of Trade? - Undoubtedly. Will you allow me to add, it had been frequently discussed in the Department before that. 22778. With reference to those ships? - Yes, and about other vessels. 22779. And yet they were allowed to go to sea with the number of boats that the White Star Line installed, in excess, as we know, of the number required by the Board of Trade? - Yes. The Commissioner: I do not see how they could have prevented it. Mr. Harbinson: My suggestion is that the Board of Trade act slowly in the matter, but there was time to have the new regulations prescribed and enforced. Your department does not act in a hurry. 22780. (The Commissioner.) I hope not. The Witness: I think if it is necessary it does. 22781. If it takes 12 days to write a letter, how long would it take to frame Regulations for Merchant Shipping? - I think it depends upon the amount of consideration necessary. 22782. I notice in these Instructions - I may be wrong - you have framed no regulations as yet with reference to wireless telegraphy, have you? - No, they are under discussion now by the Committee. 22783. Wireless telegraphy has proved a most vital means of communication? - Yes. The Commissioner: We are a long way from the point. Mr. Harbinson: The suggestion I make is that wireless telegraphy was one of the points that was considered with reference to the regulation of the number of boats. The three points were, watertight bulkheads, the new tracks, and wireless telegraphy. That was stated as one of the reasons why the Board of Trade did not consider that it was necessary to provide such a large number of boats. You did not make any effort to put wireless telegraphy under proper control? The Commissioner: What do you mean by that? Mr. Harbinson: For instance, my Lord, framing regulations that would prevent an operator from selling his account of a disaster to the highest bidder. That is the point. The Commissioner: I have nothing to do with that, you know. These men are not particularly well paid. 22784. (Mr. Harbinson.) With regard to fire, I think the Attorney-General mentioned the question in the course of his very exhaustive examination: I suggest to you (of course, it will be for my Lord) that this question of fire, especially since the electric light has become the method of illuminating ships, is a matter which ought to be very carefully considered - the possibility of fire at sea through the fusing of wires. Have you framed any regulations regarding the installation of electricity and electric wires on ships? - I do not think so, but that will be for the professional officers to tell you.
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