Page 206 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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for growlers and icebergs previous to going on the look-out, and on the look-out, also, you must understand, unless you know what you are looking for, if you see some very dim, indistinct shape of some kind, anyone could take that as nothing at all. Merely some shadow upon the water, or something of that kind; but people with experience of ice know what to look for, and can at once distinguish that it is a separate object on the water, and it must be only one thing, and that is ice. (Q.) So that what it really comes to is this, if I follow you correctly, that it requires a man with some knowledge of icebergs, some experience of picking them up, before he can detect them at night? - (A.) Precisely. (Q.) That is to say, before he could detect them unless they were very close to him? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Do you employ on the “Carpathia” special look-out men or are they some of your seamen who are told off as look-out men? - (A.) No, the seamen take it in turns, the whole watch right through. There are no special look-out men.” That, my Lord, was with reference to the evidence we have had that on the “Titanic” there were special look-out men employed. “25441. So far as you know, had any of these men any experience in being amongst icebergs? - (A.) Not to my knowledge, but I should imagine some of them must have had, because several of them have been in the Cunard Company for years. (Q.) On this North Atlantic track? - (A.) Oh, yes. (Q.) And if they had been on this track for some years they must have seen icebergs? - (A.) I think so, yes, they must have done. (Q.) Does it mean that on your bridge you and your officers were quicker at detecting them than any of the men on the look-out? - (A.) Well, about 75 percent of the objects that are seen at sea every day or night are picked up from the bridge first. Naturally the officer will take more interest in these things than a look-out man. I always trust to the bridge preferably to the men. (The Commissioner.) That is the point I had in my mind. I do not see any advantage in putting men in the eyes of the ship if you can pick up things from the bridge before them? - (A.) It does not necessarily say we shall pick them up quicker from the bridge, but naturally an officer is more on the qui vive - he is keener on his work than a man would be, and he knows what to look for. He is more intelligent than a sailor. (The Attorney-General.) And he has to act? - (A.) He has to act, certainly. (Q.) He relies upon his eyesight, assisted by the look-out? - (A.) Yes, that is the position; we are assisted by the look- outs. (Q.) If I followed correctly what you said, you rely in the main upon what is seen from the bridge by the officers? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Of course, it may be that the officer is, for the moment, attending to something else - his attention may be distracted by something else which is happening, and in that case he would have to depend on the look-out? - (A.) Well, the only thing is, supposing an officer is looking on the port side and there is an object on the starboard side, and the seaman happens to be looking on the starboard side, naturally he might detect it first and he would report it.” In passing may I suggest that is a reason for having two men in the crow’s- nest - that you would be able to cover a wider field, the one looking on the port side and the other on the starboard side? Two pairs of eyes will cover a wider range than one pair might: “25450. (The Commissioner.) Were you on the bridge? - (A.) I was. (Q.) You cannot account to me for your seeing some of these bergs a couple of miles away, but not seeing this particular one till it was about a quarter of a mile away? - (A.) No. (Q.) You cannot account for it? - (A.) No. (Q.) It happened to yourself? - (A.) I cannot account for it at all. (Q.) It did happen to yourself? - (A.) Yes, it did happen.” I submit that is a very important answer, my Lord. “25451. (The Attorney-General.) That would seem to indicate a considerable risk in going through the ice region, does it not? - (A.) Yes. (The Commissioner.) Is that a common experience, that when you are amongst icebergs you will detect one two or three miles away, and another not till it is within a quarter of a mile. Is that within your experience? - (A.) No, I do not think it is common experience. I think it is rather uncommon, as a matter of fact. (The Attorney-General.) Rather uncommon? - (A.) I think so. (Q.) I want to understand this a little more if we can. If I correctly followed you, you said you only saw this one at about a quarter of a mile distance from you by the streak of a star upon it? - (A.) No, the first one I saw was about one and a half to
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