Page 167 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 167
Sir Robert Finlay: It is only fair to remember that Phillips is dead, and we have not his account. But what is established is this, that these messages did not reach the bridge, and the only observation I want to make is this, that it is a very great calamity that these messages, particularly the "Mesaba" message, did not reach the bridge. The "Mesaba" message was, as Mr. Lightoller said when his attention was called to it, one of a very startling nature, and the whole of this calamity might have been averted, and in all probability would have been averted, if that "Mesaba" message, which arrived very late, not very long before the collision, about 11 o'clock I think, had been taken down and taken to the Captain or to the officer in charge on the bridge. But that was not done. The same thing applies to the "Amerika" message. The "Amerika" message was received much earlier in the day; it was received between one and two, but it was received only for transmission to the Hydrographic Department via Cape Race. It is quite clear that what happened to the "Amerika" message was this: it was put aside to be dealt with along with the mass of Marconigrams that were to be sent off as soon as they got in touch with Cape Race, which happened at 8.30, and from 8.30 onwards down to the time of the collision the press of work in dealing with Cape Race, private messages to Cape Race and messages from Cape Race, was very great, and kept the operator very busy indeed. What I do suggest is that while I agree with the Attorney-General that the rules are excellent, attention might be called to the vital necessity of the Marconi operator always postponing any business in which he may happen to be engaged for a matter of that kind. I only refer, by way of illustration, to what happened to the witness, Bride. Your Lordship recollects that a message arrived to the "Titanic" about ice. He was busy with his accounts, and he went on with his accounts. Then twenty minutes afterwards he heard that same message being repeated to another vessel, and he took it down and handed it over. He says, and it may be the case, that if he had not overheard it being sent to another vessel he would have asked the vessel that sent it to repeat the message. That may be, but at the same time I think that it is a point which requires emphasising, that as soon as the Marconi operator gets a message, whether it is intended for another ship primarily, or whether it is directed to the ship on which he is, postponing everything else if it relates to ice, or a derelict, or anything of that kind, he should communicate with the officer in charge on the bridge or with the Captain himself. The Attorney-General: I only wish to say this. I quite follow my friend's suggestions with regard to that, but he has made certain observations, and although he may not mean them to cast a reflection upon Phillips, I cannot help thinking they do, and if that is intended we ought to have had an indication at a very early stage in this matter. When we discussed the "Mesaba" your Lordship indicated that you could not see at present that that message had got to the bridge; I agreed that upon the evidence that was the position and there was no means of proving it. And, therefore, in your Lordship's view, that message was to be left out. I remember quite well, when I handed up this document to your Lordship, which had been compiled, giving the five telegrams which had been received with regard to ice, I pointed out specifically that I was not going to deal with the "Mesaba" because of what had been said. I treated that as out of the case altogether, and, so far I have understood hitherto, that it has been since we adopted that view. The Commissioner: I do not understand Sir Robert Finlay to say more than this: the "Mesaba's" message did arrive; it does not, as far as the evidence goes, appear to have been delivered on the bridge, and if it was not delivered on the bridge - there is always an "if" - then it is desirable that the attention of the men in the Marconi room should be directed to the importance of it. The Attorney-General: I should not have objected and should not object to anything which was stated which would indicate that it was not taken to the bridge, and my friend is entitled to suggest to your Lordship that you should say, if you think it right in view of the evidence which has been given, that special attention should be given to navigation messages. The point I am upon is that upon the evidence which is all we have to deal with, those special directions are
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