Page 166 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 166
The Commissioner: My view at present is that we ought not to fix the ship with knowledge of any telegram except those three. I do not think we ought to do it. The Attorney-General: I assented to that. The Commissioner: I only ask you because, if you are going to say that we ought to take into consideration others, I think you had better let us know. The Attorney-General: I assented to that view some days ago when your Lordship put it. The Commissioner: You did. The Attorney-General: Yes; I am not departing from it. I said we could not take it any further, and I was not going to attempt to prove any more. The Commissioner: Then I do not think you need trouble about this, Sir Robert. Sir Robert Finlay: I was only going to say this: I think I may put it higher than that it is not proved; I submit it is proved that we did not get them. The Commissioner: But that does not matter, because I am going to proceed on the assumption that you only had the three. Sir Robert Finlay: May I be allowed to make only one observation - I am quite satisfied with what your Lordship has said - and it is this, that the reason why we did not get them is this: the message from the "Mesaba" and the second message from the "Californian" came to the operator when he was busy with Cape Race. The Commissioner: That is, no doubt, the explanation to my mind at present - that he was busy with private telegrams, and he did not think those were of any significance, and he put them aside. Sir Robert Finlay: I do not know whether the system might be amended, but it is quite obvious that if the operator is busy with private telegrams, which are paid for in addition to the lump rate which covers ship's messages, of course he is naturally and properly enough, from the point of view of his company, anxious to get on with that branch of his business, and puts aside the others. The Attorney-General: Oh, no; I do not know whether my friend bears in mind the evidence which has been given, and I thought it was beyond question that that is just what he must not do; all other messages have to be put aside for navigation messages. The Commissioner: The rule, no doubt, is, as I remember it, that telegrams affecting the navigation of the ship are to be given precedence of all. That is the rule. The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: But whether Phillips attended to the rule is another matter. Sir Robert Finlay: Your Lordship recollects, with regard to one message from the "Californian," that the answer was: "Keep out; I am busy with Cape Race." That was the message with regard to ice. The Attorney-General: The question as to whether Phillips did it or did not is a matter which is very difficult to inquire into further; but my friend's observation was directed to the general system. Your Lordship will remember that we went into it with great care, and I produced the rule and showed exactly what the precedence is, beginning with the distress message first, and then navigation messages, and proceeding then to Government messages, or, rather, Government messages before navigation, and then going on to the private messages. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Attorney-General: It was very clearly stated. Sir Robert Finlay: I am not in conflict with the Attorney-General at all about that. What I am upon is the desirability of the rules being more rigidly observed. The Commissioner: That may be. If I come to the conclusion that Phillips did not follow his directions I may have to say something about it; but unless I am very well satisfied that he neglected his duty I shall not say anything.
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