Page 107 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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accept the suggestion that your Lordship makes. My point is this, that after the warnings were received by the Captain of the “Titanic,” no special precautions were taken to cope with the contingency of ice in his track. Now it will not be necessary for me to refer to any authority to establish the proposition that negligence is of the same quality while steaming on the Atlantic Ocean or driving on the Thames Embankment, if life is lost as the result of excessive speed or negligent conduct, my point being, my Lord, that it is the same practically whether at sea or on land. There is no difference in the quality of the act. Could it be seriously suggested, my Lord, that if, to give you an illustration, the driver of a motor-car were warned when driving along the road that some obstruction was on the road, for instance, that a flock of cattle were on the road, if he were warned of this, could it be seriously argued that he fulfilled his duty by taking, say, the other side of the road from the side upon which he was told the cattle were encamped and going on at full speed in the hope that he might be able to detect this obstruction before he came up with it? The Commissioner: Do let us get back to the “Titanic.” Mr. Harbinson: Why I want to give this illustration is this: It is said that the Captain of the “Titanic” did slightly alter his course, and I think, my Lord, he went slightly further Southward than had been the custom of navigation in that track. But there is no - The Commissioner: Do you make any point of that, Sir Robert Finlay - that there was a slight alteration of the course? Sir Robert Finlay: Well, my Lord, I say this: The Captain made that alteration. Of course, he is not here to state the precise reason which led him to make it. I say it was a proper alteration to make, and we are not, of course, in a position fully to judge of all the motives which actuated him in making it. The Commissioner: You do not follow me. Are you going to say that it was a precaution taken by the Captain in consequence of the telegrams which he had received about ice? Sir Robert Finlay: In all probability, my Lord, I think it was. The Commissioner: Very well. Now, Mr. Harbinson. Mr. Harbinson: I thank your Lordship. If I may I would like, with your Lordship’s permission, to adhere to the illustration I gave; it is merely to illustrate - The Commissioner: Are you coming back to the Embankment now? Mr. Harbinson: No, my Lord, but I wish to compare the illustration I give of the cattle browsing, or encamped on the road, with the ice. The Captain must have known that ice - The Commissioner: I do not follow this. Mr. Harbinson: I wish to make it quite clear. When the Captain of the “Titanic” was informed that there was ice in the track he must have known that ice was an object that would drift with the current and might, therefore, move slightly down, even so as to be on the track that he had altered to, that is to say, that it would not remain stationary. That is an element or feature that I think should have entered into his calculation. That would have been an act of ordinary prudent calculation in a captain who had been many years at sea. In the same way, if the driver of a motor-car were told that there was an obstruction, say, any living obstruction, on the road, he would not be adequately discharging his duty in taking the other side of the road from that upon which he was told the obstruction was located because he should calculate that the obstruction might naturally change from one side of the road to the other. And therefore, my contention, with great respect, my Lord, is this: that the only method by which such a contingency could be adequately coped with was by reducing speed. In this case speed as your Lordship knows, was not reduced. The Captain relied, or his officers relied on their natural powers of perceiving obstacles at a distance. But, my Lord, what is the result? The disaster to the “Titanic” shows that they failed to do that. They failed, and as the result of that failure, my Lord, the world has been shocked by the calamitous nature of the event. Therefore, my contention is this - I respectfully
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