Page 24 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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time? - Yes. 22873. We were told by Sir Walter Howell that it was in 1904 that he specially consulted you with regard to that matter? - Yes, that is the case. 22874. Now I just want to refer your attention to this. Lord Mersey yesterday asked Sir Walter Howell this question. He was pointing out to the Witness that the Rules came into force in 1894, and that we are now in 1912, that is a difference of 18 years, and that there had been no alteration in the scale. The question that Lord Mersey put to the Witness, having pointed those facts out to him, was “Why has it never been altered?” and Sir Walter Howell answered thus, “I can only just indicate to your Lordship. That will be explained by the professional officers.” You are the gentleman I think he had in his mind. Can you give my Lord the reason why it was that no alteration was made in the Table? - Yes, I can. 22875. Will you give it, please? - I considered the matter very closely from time to time. I first of all considered the record of the trade - that is to say, the record of the casualties - and to see what immunity from loss there was. I found it was the safest mode of travel in the world, and I thought it was neither right nor the duty of a State Department to impose regulations upon that mode of travel as long as the record was a clean one. Secondly, I found that, as ships grew bigger, there were such improvements made in their construction that they were stronger and better ships, both from the point of view of watertight compartments and also absolute strength, and I considered that that was the road along which the shipowners were going to travel, and that they should not be interfered with. I then went to the maximum that is down in the Table - 16 boats and upwards, together with the supplementary boats, and I considered from my experience that that was the maximum number that could be rapidly dealt with at sea and that could be safely housed without encumbering the vessel’s decks unduly. In the next place, I considered that the traffic was very safe on account of the routes - the definite routes being agreed upon by the different companies, which tended to lessen the risk of collision, and to avoid ice and fog. Then, again, there was the question of wireless telegraphy which had already come into force on board of these passenger ships. I was seized of the fact that in July, 1901, the “Lucania” had been fitted with wireless telegraphy, and the Cunard Line, generally, fitted it during that year to all their ships. The Allan Line fitted it in 1902, and I am not sure that in 1904 it had not become quite general on the trans-Atlantic ships. That, of course, entered into my consideration as well. Then another point was the manning. It was quite evident to me that if you went on crowding the ship with boats you would require a crew which were not required otherwise for the safe navigation of the ship, or for the proper upkeep of the ship, but you are providing a crew which would be carried uselessly across the ocean, that never would be required to man the boats. Then the last point, and not the least, was this, that the voluntary action of the owners was carrying them beyond the requirements of our scale, and when voluntary action on the part of shipowners is doing that, I think that any State Department should hold its hand before it steps in to make a hard-and-fast scale for that particular type of shipping. I considered that that scale fitted all sizes of ships that were then afloat, and I did not consider it necessary to increase it, and that was my advice to Sir Walter Howell. 22876. You have now left the Department, but in view of the disaster that happened to the “Titanic,” could you give us the benefit of any opinion you may have as to whether it would not be reasonably practicable to at any rate extend the scale? - No, I would not extend it. 22877. You would not? - No. I would not personally. I consider you would be putting an undue strain upon the Masters and Officers - that they could never possibly get people into the boats in case of a disaster. The Commissioner: I do not understand that answer. 22878. (Mr. Aspinall.) First of all I gather, in view of what you have been saying, that you wish to convey the opinion that you do not think it would be practicable to have boats for all on
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