Page 109 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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said a single word; that under the circumstances, as Mr. Ismay was there for the purpose, as he said, of seeing how the vessel ran for the purpose of discovering defects, that as Mr. Andrews was there representing the builders, Messrs. Harland and Wolff, as this was the trial trip of the largest vessel in the world, going from England, from these kingdoms to America - they were all on the alert, and that undoubtedly the presence of Mr. Ismay exercised considerable influence on the navigation. That is my contention. Now, my Lord, that being the condition, I suggest that the speed at which the “Titanic” was going was excessive, and that if, after the warning had been given, special precautions had been taken and a diminution of speed had been ordered, in all probability the vessel would never have gone to the bottom. Now, whether it is navigating on the Atlantic Ocean or travelling in London on any highway, what is the rate that should guide those who are in command either of vessels or vehicles? It is this I respectfully submit to your Lordship’s better judgment: that the speed should be such that they should have either the ship or the motor-car, or whatever it is, under such control as to avoid an object after being seen. And, as the result proves, my Lord, the “Titanic” was unable to avoid this object after it was notified from the crow’s-nest, because, I believe I am right in saying that that was the place where the notification came from first, I do not think there is any evidence, so far as I can remember, that it was seen on the bridge until the notification was received from the crow’s-nest. The Commissioner: There is some evidence: I do not know that there is very much, but there is some evidence. Lightoller, I think, says that, in his opinion, the helm had been starboarded before the message came from the crow’s-nest. Mr. Harbinson: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: And he says that leads him to think that they saw the iceberg from the bridge before the crow’s-nest announced it, however, that is the whole of it. Mr. Harbinson: Your Lordship is quite correct; Mr. Lightoller did say that, but except that isolated expression of opinion, with which there did not seem to be any very general agreement, I think there was no other. Of course, as your Lordship sees, assuming that they did see it from the bridge at the same time that it was notified from the crow’s-nest, any interval of time that could have taken place must necessarily have been very short, considering how soon the collision occurred after the ice was notified. Now if this vessel, the “Titanic,” had been going at a reduced speed the argument I wish to reinforce is the argument which has been addressed to your Lordship on that particular point by my friend, Mr. Roche, this morning, and that is that, assuming that she had been reduced to half her speed and that she had been only able to turn two points in the distance she had traversed from the place where the object was seen, at the same time she would have been able to have the more effectually reversed her engines, brought the fact of the reversal into play, and thereby in that regard the impact would not have been so great as it was. Now a number of Captains were called to say what the practice is with regard to navigating the Atlantic, and Mr. Pritchard, the ex-Captain of the “Mauretania,” which he says steams 26 knots an hour (that was the only one of the captains whose vessel did exceed the speed of the “Titanic”) said his practice was to do exactly what was done in the case of the “Titanic.” With regard to the others, there was Captain Young, of the “City of Rome,” who said that his was a 17-knot vessel; Captain Stewart, of the “Empress of Britain,” 18 knots; Captain Ranson, of the “Baltic,” 16; and, as your Lordship will remember, there was Captain Apfeld, of the Red Star Line, who said, if I recollect aright, that his vessel’s speed was something like 18 knots an hour. Now all these vessels, with the single exception of the “Mauretania” - and this is a consideration I would like to impress on your Lordship - are considerably slower than the “Titanic.” Therefore, they do not incur the same risk by navigating in that way (that would be my submission) for that reason, that they are the better able, even assuming that their helm answers slower and that they can only turn the same number
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