Page 154 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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tell you, you know what a jury would say; I know very well. Mr. Edwards: What I suggest is this, that when it went - as it is to be hoped under the circumstances it would go - to the highest tribunal of the land, what would be said would be - The Commissioner: I can tell you what the House of Lords would say - I know perfectly well what they would say. Mr. Edwards: I must not ask for a tip, my Lord; but I do seriously suggest on that point that the whole thing will turn upon whether these are binding regulations under the Merchant Shipping Act with which there must have been some compliance, or whether they were a mere guide upon which the surveyor is to exercise his discretion. The Commissioner: May I sum up what your contention is, as I understand it. You say, if they are mere guides to the surveyors, then the shipowners are not affected. Mr. Edwards: Quite. The Commissioner: But if they are requirements in the sense of imposing an obligation upon shipowners, the shipowners are affected. Mr. Edwards: That is so, my Lord. The Commissioner: And then you say, as I understand, if they are mere guides left to the surveyors, they ought not to be mere guides; they ought to be turned into binding rules and regulations. I think you said that. Mr. Edwards: Yes, my Lord. I did not say necessarily these particular things, but you ought to do away with that category of thing called a mere guide or suggestion and make regulations containing whatever the technical experts decide ought to be the proper thing. Before I go to the correspondence I do want to emphasise that point that, according to this rule, the height of your bulkheads should be fixed according to what has been decided to be the loadline. In the case of the "Titanic," the bulkheads were finished and the ship was launched before there was any decision arrived at as to bulkheads. The Commissioner: As to the loadline. Mr. Edwards: Any decision arrived at as to the loadline, and that is borne out by the correspondence. The second point is this, that even when the loadline disc was fixed, it was fixed at such a point that under this rule the "Titanic" was not permitted to have bulkheads below D deck, that is the upper deck; in other words, that she was not, on the line fixed for the loadline disc, entitled to any abatement by this rule. My Lord, you have to refer now to a thing which is very complicated and very technical. Will your Lordship look at the correspondence? This is a matter which I suggest (I am going to submit my points upon it) will have to be quite carefully worked out and checked with regard to one factor. It is not a factor which, under any circumstances, is sufficient to vitiate my submission as to the loadline disc being fixed so low as not to justify any abatement in the height of the bulkhead, but it is a factor which may modify to some extent, and it is a factor with regard to which the materials are not in my possession to enable me to check the factor. If your Lordship will look at the rule, you will see, "when the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the freeboard tables," and so on. Your Lordship has, I think, the "Instructions to Surveyors as to Loadline." The Commissioner: Is that another pamphlet? I do not think we have this. (A copy was handed to his Lordship.) Now I have a copy. Mr. Edwards: Before you look in detail at that, will your Lordship please look at page 2 of the printed correspondence, headed, "The Collision Bulkhead of the s.s. 'Olympic.'" There is a letter there dated 30th April, from Mr. Archer, as follows: - "Sir, - The Surveyor's Report requesting instructions regarding the collision bulkhead of this vessel is forwarded. "The Board's Regulations (Circular 1401) require that the collision bulkhead is in all cases to extend to the upper deck, but there is a provision that in vessels of the shelter deck type the deck
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