Page 213 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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Lord, it is in that connection that I think all this evidence to which my learned friend, Sir Robert Finlay, has just been calling attention, is of such importance; because as I appreciate the evidence which has been given, and certainly the evidence of Mr. Sanderson and of Mr. Ismay, their view is - I am not complaining of it at all, of course, and I quite appreciate why they say it - but their view is that notwithstanding what has happened, that notwithstanding the disaster to the “Titanic,” the practice which hitherto had existed was a perfectly right practice, and apart altogether from recommendations which may be made by the Court, would be continued. I mean by that that their view is that it would be right to continue it. Of course I have not the slightest doubt that any indication from the Court would be accepted by the White Star and other lines as sufficient to make them change the practice, but if there had been no such Enquiry, the view seems to be held by many of those gentlemen who have been called before you that they have no reason to modify the opinion which they have expressed as to what is prudent navigation in the circumstances, and I am very anxious about that, and very anxious that we should have from your Lordship - The Commissioner: That is quite right, and I am very anxious about it too. I have not heard Sir Robert Finlay yet suggest that the course that was taken on this night would now be a wise and proper course if the same circumstances were to arise again. The Attorney-General: I think I heard my friend say it yesterday afternoon, and I thought he said it based upon the evidence of Mr. Ismay and Mr. Sanderson. Sir Robert Finlay: I do not think Mr. Ismay and Mr. Sanderson profess to be experts on this matter. Their evidence was merely with reference to what they knew the practice always had been. The Commissioner: Am I to understand that even with the knowledge that has been gained by this unfortunate accident, the practice of continuing at full speed ought still to be continued? Sir Robert Finlay: Not necessarily at all, my Lord. We have had a flood of additional knowledge. The incursion of the ice further South must have profoundly modified the conditions, and I may say on behalf of the White Star Line, as I have said already, I think, that any intimation that the Court may see its way to make as to the practice in the future will, of course, receive complete attention. The Attorney-General: It is not a question for discussion between us. I quite appreciate that they would be very glad to follow, and would follow out most completely, no doubt, any recommendation your Lordship makes. But I wanted to direct attention to the evidence; and I shall show your Lordship when I come to deal with the evidence that whatever my friend Sir Robert may say, which would naturally be quite what you would expect of him in the circumstances, that is not the view which has been taken by those who have been called before you. The Commissioner: If they take the view that notwithstanding the experience they have gained, these ships ought to be navigated at full speed in circumstances such as there were on this occasion, I at present should venture to differ from them. The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord. What I am saying is only directed to the future. Sir Robert Finlay: The evidence of these witnesses was directed to the past, and what the practice always had been. Your Lordship made reference to what should take place with the knowledge of this disaster. I think that if your Lordship would look at Question 25531 onwards, it is by no means clear that all these answers of Mr. Rostron’s are not given with reference to what he would do now. Your Lordship sees there is no contradiction throughout; there is never a suggestion of a contradiction as to the practice in the past. As far as Mr. Rostron goes, he does not differ from it at all, and these questions quite admit of the construction that he understood my friend’s questions to be “What would you do now?” The Commissioner: That may be. I will have to examine the questions and answers to see
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