Page 153 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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that they did not comply with. Mr. Edwards: I will ask your Lordship to look at this Rule 16. The only important point for this purpose at the moment is the paragraph in Circular 1401: "The collision bulkhead is in all cases to extend to the upper deck. If an iron or steel watertight deck or flat is fitted below the upper deck at the after-end of the vessel, and forms the top of the after watertight compartment, the aftermost bulkhead may terminate at the said watertight deck or flat, but if no such watertight deck or flat is fitted, the aftermost bulkhead should extend to the upper deck. When the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the Freeboard Tables for Awning-deck Vessels the remaining bulkheads may terminate at the deck next below the upper deck, but when the disc of vessels other than those of the awning-deck type is placed higher than required by Table C, all the bulkheads should extend watertight to the upper deck. In interpreting the above Rule, in the case of vessels of the shelter deck type" - and the "Titanic" was held by the Board of Trade, as was given in evidence by two of the surveyors, to have a deck of the shelter deck type - "the deck next below the shelter deck may be regarded as the upper deck, and accordingly the collision bulkhead, as well as the other bulkheads, may terminate at the deck next below the shelter deck, provided the Surveyor is satisfied that the deck in question would not, owing to a deficiency of sheer or for any other reason, be brought dangerously near the water surface in the event of the collision compartment being holed." The Commissioner: That clearly leaves it to the discretion of the Surveyor. Mr. Edwards: With a variation. That is not a discretion that gets rid of the height of the bulkhead in relation to Table C. The Commissioner: I am talking now of what you have just been reading: "Provided the Surveyor is satisfied." Mr. Edwards: Very well, my Lord, that is to say that if the Surveyor were satisfied, the bulkhead could, in this case, terminate at deck D; that is to say the shelter deck here will be deck C, and the upper deck will be deck D, and there is a discretion within the Surveyor anyhow so far as down to deck D is concerned. But there is no discretion in the Rule in the Surveyor as to a watertight bulkhead coming as low as the deck under the upper deck - that will be, in this case, deck E. The only circumstances under which bulkheads may cease at deck E will be in that case where the loadline disc is placed lower than is required by Table C of the Freeboard Tables. The Commissioner: Do tell me, if you can, what was the fault of this ship? Mr. Edwards: What I say, my Lord, is this: First of all, your Lordship will see by that that the height of the bulkhead is to be determined by the loadline disc. The fact, in the case of the "Titanic" is that her bulkheads were completed eighteen months before the Board of Trade awarded or assigned her a loadline disc; so that instead of your having - as I shall submit on the figures in a moment - these bulkheads going right through to deck D - you had some of them terminating at deck E, and the importance of that your Lordship has already recognised by suggesting that Sir Robert Finlay - The Commissioner: Are we getting back to this - that the "Titanic" was an unseaworthy ship? Mr. Edwards: Quite, my Lord. The Commissioner: And that all the policies of insurance on her are void, just as I said yesterday - you cannot help that, of course - and as it was pointed out to me, every ship afloat of this kind is insured by such policies. Mr. Edwards: I quite recognise that, and that is one of the reasons why I have asked your Lordship to say that if these rules and regulations are a mere guide which may be applied at the discretion of the surveyors, then the technical experts may say that there was an error of judgment. The Commissioner: I wonder, if an action were brought upon one of these policies of insurance and the underwriters were to set up this as a defense for not paying, what a jury would say. I can
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