Page 9 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 23 - 26
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The Commissioner: Do you suggest that there should be? Mr. Edwards: I do suggest that there should be a test for the deckhand. The Commissioner: Of that kind? 22742a. (Mr. Edwards.) Of that kind, and that before a man may obtain a position on a ship as a deckhand he shall produce a certificate which shows, among other things, that he is perfectly capable of handling a boat under all the probable circumstances which are likely to arise on a voyage. (To the Witness.) Sir Walter, has not a recommendation come or has not the Advisory Committee considered this question of tests for all seamen? - I believe it has been before them. 22743. Is not this the proposal which came before the Advisory Committee: “That this Committee call the attention of the Board of Trade to the failure on the part of certain shipping companies to carry out the recommendation of the Advisory Committee respecting the crews engaged in the deck department on British vessels, and this Committee recommends that in future all seamen engaged in the deck department be qualified seamen and prove such qualification either by producing three years’ certificates of discharge, or failing this, proving that they have knowledge of the compass, can steer, do ordinary splicing of wire and hemp rope, tie ordinary knots, and have a knowledge of the marks and deeps of the lead line.” The Witness: Which letter is that? 22743a. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) It is in the minutes of the Advisory Committee of 1910. The Witness: I have no exact recollection of it; I do not remember that particular letter. The professional officer will be able to answer that, I think. I have now the reply sent to their recommendation, if I may read it. 22744. What is the reply? - This is an extract from a letter to the Advisory Committee in reply th to their recommendations. This is dated 13 October, 1908. 22745. Will you read your reply? - Yes, it is a long letter. This is in reply to the report of the Merchant Shipping Advisory Committee, 1908. They made a recommendation, and this is the reply: “The proposal to test and certify the efficiency of seamen beforehand is also not free from difficulty from the administrative point of view. The present practice, as stated above, is to require that the members of the minimum effective watches shall all be efficient seamen, and if there is any doubt the men are examined on board by one of the nautical Surveyors. This ensures a practical test of the men at the commencement of the voyage, and it has been carried out without difficulty or delay. To test and certify the efficiency of the men beforehand might possibly obviate the necessity for a visit by the Surveyor, but the tests, if they are to be of real value to masters and men, would have to be systematised and standardised and protected from impersonation and fraud. Apart from the practical difficulties which this would entail, the Board feel great hesitation in attempting to inaugurate such a system by departmental instructions without express statutory authority.” 22746. That is in 1908? - That is in 1908. 22747. Now, in the Minutes of 1910 you will find, I think, a further reference to this subject by the Advisory Committee? - I have not it. The Commissioner: Read it, Mr. Edwards; you have got it, I have no doubt. 22748. (Mr. Edwards.) “That this Committee is of opinion that no superintendent of a Mercantile Marine office should allow any seaman to be treated as equivalent to an efficient seaman unless such seaman can produce a certificate from any competent body recognised by the Board of Trade showing that he can comply with the requirements above referred to.” Those are the requirements I read: “And this Committee further recommends that specific instructions be sent to superintendents to that effect.” Now, have you that Minute? - I have not it before me here; I think the nautical officer can give it to you. 22749. Can you tell me if, in fact, any instructions have been issued to superintendents of the marine offices to that effect? - No, I think not.
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