Page 108 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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press it on your Lordship - that when the warnings about ice were conveyed to the Captain and to the officers of the “Titanic,” knowing the nature of ice, knowing, my Lord, as it is in evidence that that the sea did gradually subside to a flat calm, and that, therefore, as the result of the atmospheric conditions it would be more difficult to detect ice because, my Lord, not only would they be unable to hear the wash of the water against the berg, but also they would probably be unable to detect the white foam that would be caused by the water breaking against the berg - those facts should have been present to their minds and as a result of that, as a special result of the peculiar atmospheric conditions which prevailed, special precautions should have been taken. The most marked precaution that should have been taken was the reduction of speed. My learned friends have suggested, some of them, that an additional man should have been placed at the bow and I think that suggestion is substantiated by the evidence of Sir Ernest Shackleton, who unquestionably adheres to the view that the nearer a look-out man can come to the waterline the more effective are his services likely to be. Nothing like that was done. No special precautions were taken. So far as we know, the Captain communicated with nobody beyond giving the Marconigram to Mr. Bruce Ismay and afterwards getting it and giving it to the officers for the chart room. Now, my Lord, what was the object of the Captain in taking the Marconigram with reference to the “Baltic” to Mr. Bruce Ismay? I ventured, as your Lordship may see, in the cross-examination of Mr. Ismay, to suggest to him that it was on the part of the Captain an attempt to invite from Mr. Ismay an expression of opinion as regards the speed the vessel was maintaining. Your Lordship may remember that it came out in Mr. Ismay’s evidence that prior to the “Titanic” leaving Queenstown he had a discussion with Mr. Bell, the Chief Engineer, on this question of speed, that that discussion with Mr. Bell took place without the Captain’s knowledge, the Captain was not present, and that at that discussion with Mr. Bell it was arranged that the speed of the vessel was to be gradually increased, and, my Lord, the expression was used, “We were to run her at her full speed on the following Monday,” the day after the Sunday upon which this great disaster occurred. “We were to run her at her full speed on the following Monday”! The vessel gradually forging her way across the Atlantic did increase her speed. Mr. Ismay stated that at no time during the passage did he attempt to interfere with the Captain, that he had no conversation with the Captain, that he was never on the bridge with the Captain and never in the Captain’s room. Now those being the relations which prevailed between Mr. Ismay and the Captain. I again put it to your Lordship, was it not a very extraordinary circumstance that on this particular Sunday afternoon, when the Captain received this Marconigram about ice, he should go and search out for Mr. Ismay and hand him the message. I take it, my Lord, and I ask your Lordship to agree with me, that this was a very special precaution on the part of the Captain. Mr. Ismay says there was no discussion between them; I am loth, of course - it would be very regrettable if I were obliged to say, as I fear I am obliged to say - that that seems, at any rate to my mind, somewhat improbable, because I can hardly believe that it is consistent with the conduct of the Captain, after seeking him out and taking this Marconigram to him, that this Marconigram should merely be handed to Mr. Ismay, casually taken by him, glanced at, and put in his pocket, and that no conversation at all should take place with regard to its contents as between him and the Captain. My suggestion to your Lordship is that Captain Smith of the “Titanic” did feel, after the warnings about ice, that the situation was becoming dangerous, that the owner, the Managing Director, the Chairman of the International Mercantile Marine, the chief, the directing spirit of the Oceanic Navigation Company was on board, and I say, even considering the relations that do prevail in these ships between owners and Captain, it was impossible that Mr. Ismay, on board this new ship making her trial trip, should not imperceptibly exercise some influence on the Captain. My contention to your Lordship is that his very presence on that boat, the “Titanic,” had an effect on the navigation of the ship, even although he never
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