Page 171 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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The Commissioner: That is Mr. Wilding's suggestion. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, and I think that it is borne out by all the probabilities, because though there would have been a tremendous shock, it is impossible to suppose that you would have had the extensive opening made along the side of the vessel which was made under the circumstances that took place. Now suppose the officer on the bridge had held on his course and an Enquiry had taken place, what would have been said of any man who, under such circumstances, had held on his course and gone full tilt at the iceberg? The severest censure the Court could have pronounced would have been visited upon him. The Commissioner: He would not have done that. He would have stopped and reversed, but still gone stem on. Sir Robert Finlay: Stopped and reversed and gone stem on, but the stopping and reversing would not have had time to produce an effect such as to prevent the consequences which Mr. Wilding described here. The Commissioner: No. Sir Robert Finlay: So that, my Lord, it stands in this way: if he had done that you would have had a number of people killed; you would have had great damage to the forward part of the vessel; but the passengers and crew, at all events with the exception, perhaps, of some of the third class passengers forward, would have escaped with their lives and without any serious inconvenience. That is what would have happened. But it was not an error of judgment to starboard: it was the right thing to do. The Commissioner: I am not sure, but I do not think it matters. If Mr. Wilding is right that that vessel would never have sunk at all, and that you would have, at most, killed a couple of hundred people if you had gone straight stem on to the ice, if he is right about that, then it was a foolish or a wrong thing to starboard and so damage the ship that she could not float and 1,300 people were killed. Sir Robert Finlay: Surely, if there ever was a case of being wise after the event it is illustrated by that proposition. The Commissioner: I quite agree, and nobody in his senses, in my opinion, could blame the man who starboarded the helm. It might be a much better thing, as Mr. Wilding says, to have gone stem on, but nobody would blame the man who starboarded his helm. Sir Robert Finlay: On the contrary, he would have deservedly incurred the most severe blame if he had not starboarded. The Commissioner: I am not sure. How can you say that, if you once admit the statement that by going stem on he would have preserved the lives of 1,300 people? Sir Robert Finlay: For this reason, my Lord: You must look at things as they are, as they present themselves to the minds of those on the bridge at the time. The Commissioner: Of course you must; but how you can say that he would have been blamed if it be the fact that by going stem on he would have saved 1,300 lives that were subsequently lost? Sir Robert Finlay: Not 1,300. The Commissioner: Whatever the number was. Sir Robert Finlay: Say 20 or 30. The Commissioner: Twenty or 30 what? Sir Robert Finlay: I beg your Lordship's pardon. I thought you were referring to the number of lives that would have been lost by going stem on. The Commissioner: Oh, no. If this man, Murdoch, had gone straight stem on to this berg, if Mr. Wilding is right, the result would have been that 1,300 lives which were lost would have been saved. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes; but no one would have known what the result of starboarding would
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