Page 137 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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MR. W. D. HARBINSON (instructed by Mr. Farrell) appeared on behalf of the third class passengers. (Admitted on application.) MR. C. ROBERTSON DUNLOP watched the proceedings on behalf of the owners and officers of the s.s. “Californian” (Leyland Line). (Admitted on application.) Mr. H. E. DUKE, K.C., M.P., and MR. VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (instructed by Messrs. A. F. and R. W. Tweedie) appeared as Counsel on behalf of Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon. (Admitted on application.) MR. F. LAING, K.C., and MR. ALFRED BUCKNILL appeared on behalf of Messrs. Harland and Wolff. (Admitted on application.) Mr. Edwards: May it please your Lordship; yesterday I was speaking of the scheme of observations which I had intended to address to your Lordship, and although I have already, in consequence of your Lordship's intervention, dealt to some extent with the Board of Trade in regard to watertight decks, I have not dealt with the Board of Trade in regard to other matters. But there are two things which I think it will be well to get rid of entirely, and then to return to deal fully with the Board of Trade, as I had intended, as that will involve the questions of recommendations and the future. One point I was coming to immediately yesterday, but which I do not propose to deal with very fully, is the matter of the "Californian." As the case has now presented itself I shall submit that there is really no substantial element of doubt that the lights which were unquestionably seen from the deck of the "Californian" were the lights of the "Titanic," and that the explanation of the Captain of the "Californian." Captain Lord, that he thought possibly they might have been private signals cannot be treated otherwise than the merest idle excuse. There is not a particle of justification in his evidence for his suggestion that they might possibly have been private signals. Your Lordship will perhaps bear in mind in this connection that a question was asked, I think by myself, of Mr. Sanderson, as to whether the International Mercantile Marine Company controlling the Leyland line did issue to the Leyland line a copy of these Sailing Instructions. In these Sailing Instructions on page 23, there are these particulars given as to distress signals: "The following signals numbered 1, 2 and 3 when used or displayed together or separately shall be deemed to be signals of distress at night (1) a gun fired at intervals of about a minute. (2) Flames on the ship as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc. (3) Rockets or shells of any colour or description fired one at a time at short intervals." The Commissioner: I will tell you what I think the "Californian" will attempt to say that having regard to the bearings these lights cannot have been the lights of the "Titanic." I expect you are not prepared to deal with that. Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord, I was, but it is perfectly clear that the learned Attorney-General must deal pretty fully with the matter. But what I was coming to was this, and it was rather from that point of view, that so far as the question may arise as to whether those were the signals of distress of the "Titanic" in fact, or whether they were the signals of distress of another ship, so far as the personal conduct of the responsible Captain of the "Californian" is concerned, his conduct, I shall submit, is equally reprehensible. The Commissioner: I think, you know, he is going to say, or it will be said on his behalf, rather, that these signals were not distress signals at all, necessarily; that they were ship's signals. Mr. Edwards: That, of course, my Lord, is what he has already endeavoured to say in evidence; but I think, in face of the two main facts, the first that the Officer Groves, in reply to your Lordship, did say in specific terms that in the light of all the facts he had not the slightest doubt that the signals which were seen were the signals of the "Titanic." The Commissioner: I do not want to stop you, but I think the onus of proof in this matter is upon the "Californian." I think for myself - I do not speak with absolute certainty for my colleagues - that it will be for the "Californian" to satisfy us that those were not the signals of the
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