Page 126 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 126
watertight doorways between - The Commissioner: If the automatic door remained open, that is to say if it did not work so as to close, the ship would have remained afloat longer, would it not? Mr. Edwards: That, of course, my Lord, is my suggestion, but I do not want to have it put, if I may say so, quite upon me to assert that positively. I did not really wish to carry it further than this, with an eye on the future. After very careful consideration, the point is how far the automatic float, which is supposed to operate the closing of the door, on the theory that water may gradually rise from the bottom of the ship, how far that particular operation may be retarded by a great rush of water on a level above the float through a straight passage through the watertight doors on a level with the engine room. That was rather the point. Your Lordship may perhaps remember I directed certain questions of my examination of Mr. Wilding to show that whilst water coming up, on the principle of the working of the ball-tap, underneath this hollow float might raise it, a huge rush of water across the top might retard it. That is while the level below the engine room floor might get full up to a sufficient level to operate the watertight door, you might have insufficient water in each one of the subsequent sections. That was the point. Mr. Wilding to begin with strongly combated that view, but he finally agreed that there might be some effect. This of course is essentially a technical question, and a technical question of vital importance to the future question as to how far bulkheads should be solid bulkheads, and how far there should be watertight doors, and, if there should be watertight doors how far they may or may not be automatically operated. It is not a question which I feel at all competent to discuss in all its bearings, but it is a matter which I do suggest - it has been rather impressed upon me by my clients - is one of very great importance. It is sufficient for my purpose if it is one of the matters upon which your Lordship will carefully consult your technical advisers. In this connection this question arises. There has been really no definite evidence upon it, but I would ask your Lordship to have it in mind in any special recommendations that your Lordship may make to the Bulkhead Committee. The whole effective argument in the case of this “Titanic” that has been put forward for leaving those watertight doors open was to get through certain additional pumping pipes. A very important question I suggest arises here which your Lordship might consider if I may say so with respect with your technical advisers, that the whole of the pumping arrangements instead of working horizontally along the bottom of the ship might be worked over the tops of the bulkheads. It is a point which has been suggested and I do not want to pursue it any further. Now comes the question: Supposing the bulkheads had been taken higher, supposing there had been a watertight deck at least up to which the other bulkhead went; supposing that the firemen’s passage and the spiral staircase had been trunked, supposing all these things had been done, would there have been a substantial delay in the sinking of the “Titanic.” Secondly, if all these things had been done would it have been probable that the “Titanic” would not have sunk at all even assuming all the mischiefs that were done. These questions are not asked idly or speculatively. Every one of these questions I have put is raised as part and parcel of the negotiations - I would rather use that term - between the Marine Department of the Board of Trade and Messrs. Harland and Wolff, and also arise in the instructions to the Surveyors and that report of the Bulkhead Committee, by which they say that Surveyors are guided in their decision. I have asked those questions. There is a certain amount of evidence upon them. Mr. Archer gave definite evidence, and I think perhaps it would be convenient if, having asked the questions, I just left the answers until I come to deal with the evidence of these particular officers. I think it will save a good deal of time, if I may say so. Mr. Archer, your Lordship will remember, took a strong view with regard to the question. It raises also the whole question of the policy and conduct of the Marine Department in regard to the construction of the “Titanic.” I will leave it and return to it in connection with the Board of Trade.
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