Page 133 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 133
Witness.) No, we do not.” And, therefore, whatever he said it is clear they did not adopt the Harland Committee’s Report so far as it relates to watertight decks. What is suggested to me is that the expression “watertight deck” contained in the submission to the Harland Committee is not a watertight deck in the sense in which you have a watertight deck in a man-of-war but watertight in this sense that it will resist seas that may break over it, on the top of it. It will be battened down, if it has hatches in it so that seas breaking upon the top of it will not go into the space below. The Attorney-General: That is what Mr. Archer said in the questions that follow. Mr. Edwards: In reply to your Lordship Mr. Archer, in the following questions, gave that as his explanation of what he understood by a watertight deck. The Commissioner: If he is right, and so far as I know that is the only evidence we have on the subject, they had no unwritten Rule or regulation that a vessel like the “Titanic” should be provided with a continuous watertight deck in the strict sense of the word “watertight,” and in fact Mr. Archer says that he had forgotten altogether that in the Harland Report the expression “watertight deck” was used at all. He says so. Mr. Edwards: That is so, my Lord. But this is part of the case. Here you have got a report by which those officials profess to be bound, and if they have taken a certain view - I am not surprised after the evidence we have had, if I may say so, from one or two of them, that they think that Report does not mean what the man in the street would understand by it - up to this time, though that report was published more than 20 years ago, I can quite understand that you have not the condition of things in practice. The Commissioner: Having regard to what the gentlemen at the side of me tell me I cannot help thinking that the expression “watertight deck” used in the submission to the Harland Committee and used also in the Report of the Harland Committee does not mean a watertight deck such as you are talking of. Mr. Edwards: May I ask your Lordship on that point to keep your mind open until I come to deal with the correspondence which passed between the Marine Department and Messrs. Harland and Wolff. The Commissioner: Very well, certainly I will. Mr. Edwards: Because they certainly did use the phrase there “watertight deck.” The Commissioner: At all events, Mr. Archer says that it only meant a deck which was capable of resisting water from above. That is what I understand him to say, and it has always been treated so. The Attorney-General: There is one answer further than that, my Lord. On the same page you are reading there are several questions about it. He was asked “Are there any ships with watertight decks,” because he had said it was not practicable, and he says “I do not know of any that are absolutely watertight.” The Commissioner: A continuous watertight deck? The Attorney-General: No, only in certain parts. The Commissioner: With the exception of the “Mauretania,” and possibly of the sister ship the “Lusitania,” are there any British merchant steamers that are built with watertight decks fore and aft? The Attorney-General: Not certainly according to Mr. Archer’s evidence. He says he did not know of any; and then the “Mauretania” and “Lusitania” were put to him. The Commissioner: What do you understand by a weather deck, Mr. Edwards? Mr. Edwards: I understand by a weather deck precisely what you have given as a description of a watertight deck. The Commissioner: You mean Mr. Archer’s description? Mr. Edwards: Yes.
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