Page 211 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 211
“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.” I say that is a very qualified answer, or a qualified answer as compared with that of some of the other Captains. Then I will read again the question put to him by me: “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: And you will not forget this, that assuming as I do - and I think you think I ought to do it - that the only three messages which ought to be taken into account are the three that I have already mentioned. The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: The Captain of the “Titanic” would imagine himself to be out of the field or region in which the ice was advised - South of it. He would imagine himself to be South of the region. You will not forget that because it seems to be relevant having regard to what you have just read in Mr. Rostron’s evidence, in which he says: “If I knew that I was” - The Attorney-General: “Sure of my position and everything else.” The Commissioner: “Unless I knew there was a lot of ice about.” Of course, I do not know what “about” means; I must use my own discretion about that. It may mean to the North or the South; it may not mean exactly in his course. “About,” that is to say, ice that may possibly come into his course. The Attorney-General: Yes, I shall argue, when I come to deal with the question, that, apart altogether from the question of whether the “Titanic” would, if she had pursued her course without alteration along this track, have come within the region of the icebergs and ice-field as reported to her; that, apart altogether from that, supposing that the Captain was right - I am assuming this because of an argument which my learned friend has indicated - The Commissioner: You are helping me very much in indicating to Sir Robert what it is you are going to say. The Attorney-General: Supposing he was right in assuming that the Captain was justified in thinking that having gone this seven to ten miles, as he did, to the South, before he turned the corner, and then pursuing his course, and getting back to the track - that, having done that, he had got out of the way of the particular ice that was reported - my submission will be that he ought to have been still extremely careful, because of the fact that this seems to have been such an abnormal circumstance that there should be ice in this track where it was reported, in the month of April, contrary to the knowledge and experience of men, with the exception of one or two experiences of Sir Ernest Shackleton, during the last 25 years. My submission will be that the moment he knows of that - that he is not dealing with a detached iceberg or with detached icebergs, or with a detached ice-field, but what he has to reckon upon is that there is an abnormal state of things for this particular year, and that he must expect to see the icebergs and ice-fields along this track, he must keep a special look-out. That is the point. The Commissioner: I quite appreciate that, and then I think - you have thought about it, no doubt - you will have to remember that he has to make up his mind as to what is best to be done with reference to these abnormal circumstances. The Attorney-General: Certainly. The Commissioner: And that, to come back to what I said a long time ago, it may have been an error in his judgment rather than negligence, because a man may make, as we all know, a mistake which is due sometimes even to too great care.
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