Page 38 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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23089. What do you think should be left, if anything at all, for a Marine Department of the Board of Trade to do? - To administer the Merchant Shipping Acts. 23090. Does not the Merchant Shipping Act lay down certain requirements? - Yes, it lays down certain requirements, and we see that those requirements are carried out. If anyone works beyond them we do not find fault. 23091. What it comes to is this, that you think that though you are required under the Merchant Shipping Act to say whether a ship is seaworthy or not, that in the matter of bulkheads the thing should be left to the shipowner himself? - It is not entirely left to the shipowner, the bulkhead. The Commissioner: No, that is not the meaning of the Witness’s evidence at all. Mr. Edwards: As I understood him, he said that in his view the question of bulkheads should be left to the shipowners, such as the scale; then I pressed him and asked him what in his view the Marine Department should do, and he then said it should administer the Merchant Shipping Act. The Commissioner: You are telling me what I have heard already, but what I am objecting to is your paraphrase of his supposed answer. What he means, as I understand, is this. There are certain statutory duties which the shipowners have to conform with; that is to say they have to prepare their ships for sea, and get them into a seaworthy condition, and it is the duty of the officers of the Board of Trade to see that that is done, and that will involve a consideration of the bulkheads. 23092. (Mr. Edwards.) Then may I put it, Sir Alfred, that your view is this: that you should not lay down codes and standards and scales for these different things for the shipowners, but that you should leave them to do these things, and then decide whether they have done them or not by the personal judgment of the particular officers of the Marine Department? - We have laid it down. 23093. (The Commissioner.) I think that is right? - We have laid it down with regard to the bulkheads. 23094. (Mr. Edwards.) Where? - In our instructions. 23095. Where? - And the Statute lays it down for the Surveyor. The Statute tells the Surveyor that before he makes his declaration the hull must be sufficient and efficient for the purpose intended. The hull of the ship requires bulkheads. In a large ship like that it not only requires them for watertight compartments, but it requires them for purposes of strength; and that ship would not have got her freeboard assigned to her under the Statute unless she had had those vertical bulkheads and those transverse bulkheads. 23096. I think we are a little at cross-purposes. I do not want to misrepresent you, but I think what I have put does represent what you say, that is to say, that the Merchant Shipping Act says in effect that no ship shall go to sea unless it is seaworthy? - More than seaworthy. The passenger certificate is more than seaworthiness. 23097. (The Commissioner.) “Seaworthy” is sufficient for this particular point - bulkheads? - Quite so. 23098. (Mr. Edwards.) Will you just follow me for a moment, and then I will leave the point. According to your view, the Merchant Shipping Act lays it down that ships cannot go to sea unless they are seaworthy? - Yes. 23099. Your view is that it shall be left entirely to the shipowner as to what shall be done to make the ship seaworthy, either in respect of hull or bulkheads, or machinery, or boat equipment, or manning, or anything? - In excess of our requirements. 23100. And then that they shall come to you, and it shall be in the personal discretion of the particular responsible officer of the Marine Department to say whether they have a seaworthy ship for the particular purpose for which it is intended? - We laid down particulars as to these points.
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