Page 175 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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indeed. The Commissioner: But is it? If you are in a fog and you are conscious that there are icebergs about why cannot you stop? Sir Robert Finlay: Of course you would have to stop. The Commissioner: I have been told that they do go ahead as quickly as they can sometimes through a fog; that is, I suppose, for the purpose of getting through the fog and out of it? Sir Robert Finlay: Your Lordship will recollect what Mr. Sanderson said with regard to that. The Commissioner: I know; I remember it. He said some vicious person had stated it. Sir Robert Finlay: There was an alternative, my Lord. The Commissioner: Or foolish, was it? Sir Robert Finlay: Or ignorant. But I am not quoting that for the sake of the epigrammatic form in which Mr. Sanderson put it; I am putting it merely as the statement of a person who knows if any one does what the practice of liners is under those circumstances. And Mr. Sanderson was only putting in very emphatic form a statement that, as a matter of fact, the ocean liners do not go full speed ahead through fog. Suppose you do become involved in a fog among icebergs, then you would have to stop altogether. I do not know then that would deliver you from all danger of accident; if you have these icebergs drifting about and coming grinding up against your vessel I do not know that you would be immune from damage even in that case. The Commissioner: But they do not drive about. Sir Robert Finlay: I did not say they drive; they drift about. I respectfully put it to your Lordship that what was said by Mr. Owen Jones, of the "Canada," on page 666, on this point is sound. It is Question 23708, where, after he had been dealing with the practice, he is asked: "(Q.) Where you have ice about, in your experience are you liable to have fogs? - (A.) Very liable. (Q.) Does that, in your judgment, afford any reason for the practice you have always pursued as to speed? - (A.) Yes, we always make what speed we can. (Q.) Just tell us, in your own way, what effect that fact has on your practice as to speed? - (A.) Well, we always try to get through the ice track as quickly as possible in clear weather. (Q.) If fog came on while you were there? - (A.) It would increase the danger very much. We have to slow down or stop." Under those circumstances, experience having shown that you can see an iceberg in time unless under such extraordinary circumstances as happened here, I put it to your Lordship that it is impossible to say there is any error of judgment in following the usual practice. Now I propose to direct your Lordship's attention to the evidence with regard to the practice on this point. The first is the evidence of Mr. Lightoller at page 309, Question 13726: "(Q.) You have had great experience of the North Atlantic at all times of the year. Just tell me, when a liner is known to be approaching ice, is it or is it not in your experience usual to reduce speed? - (A.) I have never known speed to be reduced in any ship I have ever been in in the North Atlantic in clear weather, not on account of ice. (Q.) Assuming that the weather is clear? - (A.) Clear." Then on page 328 he is asked again about this at Question 14368: "(Q.) Do you know any reason for those boilers being off? - (A.) Merely that there was no wish for the ship to travel at any great speed. (Q.) There was no reason, I take it, why you should not go fast; but in view of the abnormal conditions, and of the fact that you were nearing ice at ten o'clock, was there not a very obvious reason for going slower? - (A.) Well, I can only quote you my experience throughout the last 24 years, that I have been crossing the Atlantic most of the time, that I have never seen the speed reduced. (Q.) You were asked by my Lord this forenoon how an unfortunate accident like this could have been prevented in what you describe as abnormal circumstances? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Is it not quite clear that the most obvious way to avoid it is by slackening speed? - (A.) Not necessarily the most obvious. (Q.) Well, is it one way? - (A.) It is one way. Naturally if you stop the ship you will not collide with anything. (Q.) There is no reason why you might not slacken speed on this voyage; you were not running to any scheduled time? - (A.) No. (Q.) If you
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