Page 161 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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he deferred to the opinion of one, the chairman of the company, who happened to be on board: that he wished to devolve the responsibility upon him; and that he was guilty of abdicating the duty which was incumbent upon him. I do not desire to read at length what was said, but I may refer to page 779 of the Notes of yesterday's Proceedings, setting out Mr. Harbinson's speech on this matter. I may summarise his remarks in this way. He suggested that Mr. Ismay's mere presence on board affected the navigation of the ship. He said it. He said that the Captain, when he handed that telegram from the "Baltic" with regard to the ice to Mr. Ismay, he handed it to him to invite his opinion, and he finally said that he did not accept as true Mr. Ismay's statement that he had no conversation with the Captain upon it. Then, my Lord, Mr. Edwards said this - I will refer to the page, the imputation is so serious. Your Lordship will find this at page 785, in the second column, at the end of the fourth paragraph from the top: "I suggest that in view of his own evidence" - that is Mr. Ismay's evidence - "there is only one conclusion, and that is that the Captain was anxious that whatever was done should be done upon the responsibility of Mr. Ismay. Well, my Lord - (The Commissioner.) I mean by shaking my head that he could not accomplish such a thing. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) That may be. (The Commissioner.) The Captain could not shift his responsibility. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) That may be, my Lord. I at once recognise that whatever pressure may have been put upon him by the owner, he had got charge of that vessel and could not in any way get rid of his legal liability before he got into port. (The Commissioner.) Nor his responsibility. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Nor am I suggesting it was an effective thing, but I am leading up to something else." Then at the bottom of that column, at the last line but one on page 785, Mr. Edwards returned to the charge: "I suggest that it was nothing of the sort, but that Mr. Ismay was anxious that there should be a record - I am not suggesting by that anything improper - but that he was hoping for a record first passage for this great ship. One knows what the stress of competition is, and how valuable from the point of view of commercial success, as we know from what is said in the papers, an advertisement of that kind is; and I again suggest, not that he could do it lawfully or legally, but that at all events in order that the onus - the responsibility - should be with Mr. Ismay and not with the Captain was the purpose for which the Captain handed that message to him." I say, my Lord, that is a most unworthy suggestion. It is a suggestion that never ought to have been made. It imputes to a man who has died in the discharge of his duty, who is of the highest standing, the highest capacity, that he departed from all the rules by which his profession is guided. It is a suggestion for which there is not a tittle of evidence; and, more than that, it rests on an assumption which is directly negatived by the evidence. It is put that Mr. Ismay was anxious - and that the Captain lent himself to it - that there should be a record passage. If the evidence had been looked at before such a cruel insinuation was thrown out it would have been found that the reverse is the case. Your Lordship has in mind - because I know it was a point to which your Lordship at once called attention - the evidence given by Mr. Sanderson. It occurs at two pages, and by putting them together you get the result - pages 476 and 498. When those two passages are compared, it is obvious that this was not intended to be a record passage nor anything of the kind. In fact, I think I may appeal to your Lordship, and to the experienced gentlemen who sit beside you, as to whether it would be a usual thing to attempt to have what is called a record passage on the first trip of any vessel. Anyhow, that was not attempted, and was not intended with regard to the "Titanic." At page 476 Mr. Sanderson gives the figures with regard to the "Olympic," at Question 19281: "No doubt the White Star keeps a record showing what is the best done by the White Star, and we shall see how this matter stands? - (A.) I can give it to you. The fastest passage the "Olympic" has ever made from Queenstown to New York is 5 days, 7 hours, 29 minutes." And then at Question 19284: "From New York to Plymouth, her fastest passage is 5 days, 14 hours, 32 minutes." There you have got the "Olympic." Then, at
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