Page 170 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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course does not reach down to the cold Labrador Current, which is running Southward. Any drift of the field ice depends entirely upon the Gulf Stream, and its direction will be - I am speaking, of course, very roughly - East-North-East. It is very difficult for us to endeavour to reproduce what passed through Captain Smith's mind when he got the information of which he was in possession, but I think he may undoubtedly have come to this conclusion, that it was desirable to hold on as did 10 miles further South than his regular track before turning the corner, and for this reason. If, as was probable, the bergs which had been reported were under the influence of the Labrador Current they would be going in a Southerly direction - South by East - and they would be going at a rate which would certainly take them well to the South of the altered course which he took. The Commissioner: Do you object to my interrupting you? Sir Robert Finlay: I am much obliged. The Commissioner: It seems to me that the fact that he had three icebergs - I am speaking of icebergs at present - notified to him, not only ought to have been conveyed to his mind that there were those three, but also that there might be many others. Sir Robert Finlay: There might be, yes. The Commissioner: I should like you to deal with that - if it is a fair inference from the Marconigram, that there may be others. Sir Robert Finlay: There may be others. The Commissioner: Coming down South. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: Coming across his course. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, my Lord. The Commissioner: How, then, do you justify what he did? Sir Robert Finlay: Does your Lordship mean in the matter of speed? The Commissioner: Yes, I do, indeed. Sir Robert Finlay: I justify it, my Lord, in this way, and I will deal with that point at once. I was going to take up two other points first, but I will go at once to that. The Commissioner: Do not let me interrupt you. Sir Robert Finlay: I prefer doing it for this reason; it is the crucial point in the case. A great deal of evidence has been directed to it, and the evidence is absolutely overwhelming that no one in the Atlantic trade lowers speed in consequence of ice being reported. The Commissioner: I am disposed to agree with you about that; but then I have to find out the cause of this disaster, and I have to say what, in my opinion, it was. Now the cause of the disaster, the effective cause of this disaster it appears to me - I suggest to you, at all events - was her going at this great speed when there was in fact an iceberg in the way. If the speed had been one-half or less than one-half the probability is that this catastrophe would have been averted. Sir Robert Finlay: It might or might not, my Lord. The Commissioner: It might or might not, and I distinguish - I shall be very glad if I can continue to distinguish - between what may be called an error of the Captain's judgment and negligence. But whether it be negligence or error of judgment does not affect the question what was the cause, the effective cause of the accident. Sir Robert Finlay: Before I proceed to deal with the evidence about speed, let me call your Lordship's attention to what a very near thing it was here. I am going to deal with the look-out by and by - I am taking it out of the order I proposed, but I think your Lordship's order is, perhaps, better. When the iceberg was reported they starboarded. If they had not starboarded, if they had run right on there would have been a great shock, and one, probably two, compartments near the bows would have been stove in, and all those who were in the berths in that part of the ship would have been killed, but the ship would not have sunk.
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