Page 115 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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with its floating capacity from the davits. (Q.) What grounds or evidence had you for the opinion you formed that there was going to be additional people put in the lifeboats from the gangways? - (A.) I really forget now. I must have overheard it. (Q.) Do you remember whom you overheard saying it? - (A.) I do not. (Q.) Did you hear any instructions given for those gangways to be opened?” and he said, “Had I any instructions?” and then I repeat, “Did you hear any instructions given?” and his answer is, “No, but as I say, I overheard a conversation somewhere referring to the gangway doors being opened, and that the boatswain and a crowd of men had gone down there.” The Attorney-General: Had been sent there. Mr. Harbinson: (Q.) With reference to these boats that were lowered on your side, at which you assisted, did you, after they had been lowered, have any means of communicating with those on board in order to have them filled up through the gangways?” and his answer is “Yes; I told them to haul off from the ship’s side, but to remain within hail. That is what I told each of them, with the exception of the boat that Mr. Pitman went in.” Then I go on, “What I want to get at is this.” Now, my Lord, it is clear there was some confusion with regard to these gangway doors. Whether it was the intention that the boats should be partially filled on the boat deck and afterwards completely filled when they were lowered to the gangway doors is a matter, I think, that is a point of speculation, but that there was some discussion about the opening of the gangway doors, as Lowe says, I think there can be no reasonable doubt, and that that might account for the boats being to some extent lowered inadequately filled from the boat deck. But what I want to suggest is this, that the fact that those boats were lowered unfilled, or improperly filled, that the fact that there was some discussion or some thought that they might subsequently take on additional passengers from the gangway doors, which was never done, shows there was confusion and a lack of proper system and administration amongst the officers and those in control of the boat at this time when it was being filled. True it is, and I think it fair to say, that this was a new ship, and that the officers had only been on it for a very short time, a few days at the most. True it is also that the sailors and firemen who principally manned the boats were also new to it, but still I think under a proper system of organisation and administration sufficient time had elapsed from the time they joined the “Titanic” to have accustomed them to their duties if an emergency arose. But, my Lord, it is clear that the possibility of danger arising had not occurred to their minds, and nothing was done, and the result was a certain amount of confusion - not chaos, I do not go so far as to say that - but there was a certain amount of confusion and misunderstanding, with the result that only roughly 700 people were saved in the lifeboats when there was lifeboat capacity and accommodation for between 1,100 and 1,200. It would have been quite possible for these boats, when they lowered to have concentrated on boats that were improperly filled or inadequately filled, to have transferred their passengers and come back and taken on additional passengers. That could easily have been done - concentration in some boats while others came back and got further passengers. There was time to do that, but, my Lord, it was not done, and that, I respectfully suggest to your Lordship, is an omission which undoubtedly resulted in the loss of a few hundred lives that possibly might have been saved if the boats had been filled to their full carrying capacity. As regards the manning of the boats, I wish to say nothing beyond this; that it is a curious coincidence and bears out the contention I have been respectfully submitting to your Lordship that in No. 1 boat, about which I am to offer no criticism beyond saying this, there was a crew of seven to man it and only five passengers, but in No. 12 boat there were over 40 passengers and only a crew of two. I respectfully commend that to your Lordship’s consideration, and I think, if I may say so, it justifies me in saying that on this occasion in connection with the manning the administration was not all that it might have been. As regards other subjects which I touched on in the course of this Enquiry, it will be for your
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