Page 204 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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Lord, I think it is an abnormal case entirely. 25136. I am putting an abnormal case - an extraordinarily flat sea and black ice; do you think if there happens to be an iceberg in the course of that ship she must run up against it although there are three men on the watch? - The next time somebody may see it a little earlier; it is possible to see it a little earlier but I do not like to express an opinion. The Commissioner: You said the probability was the ship would run up against the iceberg. The Attorney-General: Your Lordship will remember she is going 700 yards a minute and it would not take long. 25137. (The Commissioner.) I know that. (To the Witness.) Then you know nothing about the turning circle of this ship? - I do not. 25138. So that you cannot tell how she could avoid it. Well, now I want to know this - do these bergs extend sometimes under the water any considerable distance from the part that is visible? - It depends; if the berg is capsized it may extend perhaps 200 yards or more, depending on the size of the berg. Some bergs that are five miles long, which are rarely seen in the Atlantic, may extend 200 or 300 yards, what we call a spur, but not more than that. 25139. So that the bottom of a ship might strike an iceberg before it reached what you may call the locality of the part that is uppermost? - Yes, before it actually struck the part above water. 25140. But you think in an extreme case only 200 yards? - Yes, an extreme case. 25141. Did you say 200 yards? - I have seen spurs 200 yards away, but I think a couple of hundred feet would be about the average for a spur. A lot depends upon the sort of ice - what sort of mountain it came off, and how it was formed, and what its specific gravity is, whether it is worn down in the current by the temperature of the water. 25142. But the bottom of the berg may extend under the water any distance, from 200 feet to 600 feet? - Yes. 25143. Away from the visible berg itself? - Away from the visible vertical side of the berg. 25144. So that the bottom of the ship might strike a berg any distance from 200 to 600 feet away from the visible berg? - Yes, that is my opinion, my Lord. There are no doubt other people who have also got perhaps slightly different opinions on it, but in the main, generalising, it is so. 25145. I rather gather from what you have said to me - I am not sure that I ought to ask you this question, but I am going to ask it all the same - that you think it quite possible that the men were keeping as good a look-out as they could? - Yes, that is what I do think. 25146. That is what you want to convey? - Yes, but I did say earlier and I still say I think it is an advantage to have only one man in the crow’s-nest. 25147. It has occurred to me; one knows what men are, when they are standing together they begin to talk sometimes? - I know I used to in my early days. 25148. Then there is another question I am not sure I ought to ask you. Supposing it had been the invariable practice to navigate ships of this kind, following the usual track to America, at full speed, notwithstanding ice warnings, in your opinion would a Captain who had been brought up in that trade be justified in following the practice. Now, do not answer that question if you do not like, and I will not ask it, Sir Robert, if you do not want me to ask it. If you have not formed any opinion about it I will not press you to give me an answer? - We sailors all form opinions, my Lord, like other people, but it opens such a very wide question of relationship between owners and captains, that I am not competent to answer it. I think it would be a natural thing for a captain who has been brought up in a line doing the same thing, to continue doing it. But in view of the fact that there is wireless now, I think any accident could be avoided. 25149. Well, yes, that is quite true. If you are right in saying that the better thing would be to reduce the speed to half-speed, about 10 or 11 knots, and if you are right in saying that this berg might be approached practically without any warning to the look-out, it seems to me you would have an accident all the same, 11 knots or 22 knots; you would have to reduce it to your 4 knots?
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