Page 185 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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the berg, though not to the same extent. The Commissioner: Are you sure of that? Sir Robert Finlay: So he says, my Lord. That is all the evidence. The Commissioner: It occurs to me that a mere swell would not cause any breaking of water. Sir Robert Finlay: The evidence is that it would. The Commissioner: If the evidence states it I must be guided by the evidence. Sir Robert Finlay: If your Lordship pleases. The Commissioner: And by what my colleagues advise me. But what I mean is this; apparently in the conversation with the Captain, Lightoller pointed out that there was what he calls a perfectly flat calm. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: And then you want to say that is consistent with there having been a swell? Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: That is my difficulty; is it consistent with a swell? Sir Robert Finlay: I think your Lordship will find it is on looking at another part of Mr. Lightoller’s evidence. I will turn aside now, if your Lordship thinks it desirable, to go into that. The Commissioner: No, I would rather you went on. Sir Robert Finlay: It is in the recollection of my friend, the Attorney-General, as well as my own, that Mr. Lightoller said distinctly that they could not from the deck see the absence of swell, and that if there had been a swell there would have been a breaking of the rollers at the bottom of the berg. On that point may I recall to your Lordship one passage in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s evidence at page 720, Question 25063? The Attorney-General puts this question to Sir Ernest: “According to the evidence - I am only dealing with one part of it - perhaps the most striking part - during the afternoon on this particular occasion on 14th April of this year, the temperature was reported to be falling so much so that the Captain ordered the carpenter to see that the water in his tanks did not freeze. Would that be any indication to you? - (A.) If I knew what the mean temperature of that locality was for that month of the year, and there was a great variation, then I would certainly think there was some abnormal disturbance in the ice to the North. Of course, that particular night was an abnormal night at sea in being a flat calm; it is a thing that might never occur again. (Q.) That is what Mr. Lightoller says. You say apparently it is very rare to get such a flat calm as there was that night? - (A.) I only remember it once or twice in about 20 years’ experience - the sea absolutely calm, without a swell, as it was recorded to have been.” The Commissioner: We know, or we have been told - whether it is true or not is another matter - that the water soon after the calamity was so smooth, with so little motion on it, that the boats which were lowered into it were not lifted sufficiently to disengage them from the tackles. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: That appears to me to support the view you are putting forward. It is suggested to me that the swell would not possibly affect the bottom of the berg, it would not lift it, because the bulk of the berg down below would not be affected by the swell. Sir Robert Finlay: No, but what I do say is this: I think there is evidence in support of what I am saying, and I do not think there is any evidence to the contrary, that where you have a swell on a great body of ice like a berg the swell will break upon it just as it would upon a rock. The Commissioner: There seems to be some difference of opinion amongst my colleagues about that. Sir Robert Finlay: The evidence is all one way upon that point, and your Lordship sees the importance Sir Ernest Shackleton attached to it. What he says in the two answers I have just read is perfectly clear to show that in his opinion the absence of swell was a most important factor, and it can only have been in this way, that if there had been a swell you would have had the same
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