Page 209 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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depend. Do you mean at nighttime? (Q.) Yes? - (A.) Well, it is very hard to say what I should do, but I think I should do my best to get out of it, to avoid that position. But if an iceberg is reported it is no use altering your course and trying to avoid it when you do not know where it is. From the time it was reported near the vessel it may have drifted four or five or ten miles, and you might as well keep on your proper course. But if it is an extensive ice-field, we know it covers some area, and of course with an ice-field, I think I should try to get out of it; otherwise I do not know. (Q.) You mean you would not go out of your course? - (A.) Yes, for an ice-field, but for an iceberg, no. I do not think I should. I should rely upon keeping a look-out, and the weather and things of that kind. (Q.) You would attempt to keep out of the way of ice-fields and alter your course, but for icebergs you would go on your course and depend upon picking them up with your eye, and then avoiding them when you have picked them up? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) I think you have already told me, but I should like to make quite sure of it, that you would take special precautions with regard to the look-out by putting men in the eyes of the vessel? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) When you had an ice report? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) As well as having a man in the crow’s-nest? - (A.) Yes. (The Commissioner.) Do you put two men in the crow’s-nest, or one? - (A.) I only put one. (The Attorney-General.) And two in the eyes? - (A.) Yes. (The Commissioner.) In the “Titanic” they had two in the crow’s-nest, and it occurred to me it would be almost better to have only one. I do not know whether that is right. (The Attorney-General.) The same idea in your Lordship’s mind would apply to the two men in the eyes. (The Commissioner.) I am not sure. (The Attorney- General.) They cannot talk so easily, I agree. (The Commissioner.) In the crow’s-nest they are rubbing shoulder to shoulder. (The Attorney-General.) Yes, it is not quite so easy, I agree. (To the Witness.) I have one other matter I want to know. Supposing you had had a report of the character that I have indicated to you of icebergs and an ice-field in the regions which you are bound to cross, when you approach that region, would you take any precautions with regard to the safety of your vessel? - (A.) Well, a great deal would depend on the weather and the atmospheric conditions. (The Commissioner.) Suppose it is perfectly clear? - (A.) If it is a perfectly clear night, and I was sure of my position and everything else, unless I knew there was a lot of ice about, I should feel perfectly justified in going full speed. (The Attorney-General.) But if you thought there was a lot of ice about you would not do it, I gather? - (A.) No, I would not. For one or two bergs I should feel perfectly justified in going full speed. (The Commissioner.) I suppose it is a matter for the judgment of the man in charge of the ship? - (A.) Absolutely. (The Attorney-General.) Which again, I suppose, must depend upon the atmospheric conditions as to whether he can see clearly ahead? - (A.) Yes. We have to take a whole lot of things into consideration in a thing of that kind. It is not one or two; it is many.” Then some questions are put to him by myself. The first passage I have read with regard to the practice at sea, and I do not think there is any other question asked that I need read. That practically ends the evidence of Mr. Rostron upon this point. So that your Lordship sees that Mr. Rostron agrees with the evidence that we have had. He says if it was a clear night he was perfectly justified in going full speed, and then he describes what his practice would be with regard to the course. He says an iceberg is a moving object, so that it is no use altering your course because you are told there is an iceberg ahead of you; by the time you have got to that spot it will have moved on just as a crossing ship would. With regard to field ice, it is another matter, because that may occupy an extensive area, and it may be desirable to alter your course to keep out of the way of field ice altogether. So that I therefore submit, my Lord, that the evidence of Mr. Rostron - although he was called primarily on another point - as a gentleman of great experience, strongly confirms the evidence given by all those who were in this trade, and whose evidence he in no respect contradicts, but agrees with. The Attorney-General: I only want to say, in case my friend may think that I agree with what he says, that I do not agree with that. My view is that Captain Rostron’s evidence does not agree
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