Page 227 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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uppermost. - (A.) Yes, before it actually struck the part above water. (Q.) But you think in an extreme case only 200 yards? - (A.) Yes, an extreme case. (Q.) Did you say 200 yards? - (A.) I have seen spurs 200 yards away, but I think a couple of hundred feet would be about the average for a spur. A lot depends upon the sort of ice - what sort of mountain it came off, and how it was formed, and what its specific gravity is, whether it is worn down in the current by the temperature of the water. (Q.) But the bottom of the berg may extend under the water any distance, from 200 feet to 600 feet? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Away from the visible berg itself? - (A.) Away from the visible vertical side of the berg? (Q.) So that the bottom of the ship might strike a berg any distance from 200 feet to 600 feet away from the visible berg? - (A.) Yes, that is my opinion, my Lord. There are no doubt other people who have also got perhaps slightly different opinions on it, but in the main, generalising, it is so. (Q.) I rather gather from what you have said to me - I am not sure that I ought to ask you this question, but I am going to ask it all the same - that you think it quite possible that the men were keeping as good a look-out as they could? - (A.) Yes, that is what I do think. (Q.) That is what you want to convey? - (A.) Yes, but I did say earlier, and I still say, I think it is an advantage to have only one man in the crow’s-nest. (Q.) It has occurred to me; one knows what men are - when they are standing together - they began to talk sometimes? - (A.) I know I used to in my early days. (Q.) Then there is another question I am not sure I ought to ask you. Supposing it had been the invariable practice to navigate ships of this kind, following the usual track to America, at full speed, notwithstanding ice warnings, in your opinion, would a Captain who had been brought up in that trade be justified in following the practice. Now, do not answer that question if you do not like, and I will not ask it, Sir Robert, if you do not want me to ask it. If you have not formed any opinion about it, I will not press you to give me an answer? - (A.) We sailors all form opinions, my Lord, like other people, but it opens such a very wide question of relationship between owners and captains that I am not competent to answer it. I think it would be a natural thing for a Captain who had been brought up in a line doing the same thing, to continue doing it. But in view of the fact that there is wireless now, I think any accident could be avoided. (Q.) Well, yes, that is quite true. If you are right in saying that the better thing would be to reduce the speed to half speed - about 10 or 11 knots, and if you are right in saying that this berg might be approached practically without any warning to the look-out, it seems to me you would have an accident all the same, 11 knots or 22 knots. You would have to reduce it to about 4 knots? - (A.) Well, it would be better to do that. (Q.) Oh, yes, I quite agree. Now I want to ask you this question. Suppose that it took this ship 37 secs. to turn her two points, and that in that time she would travel 1,300 feet - supposing those to be the facts, and the helm was put hard a-starboard as soon as the berg was sighted, the berg must then have been sighted more than 400 yards off? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) That would be so, of course? - (A.) Yes.” The Commissioner: And that is so. The Attorney-General: Yes, clearly. Sir Robert Finlay: That is the whole of the evidence upon that point. My respectful submission to the Court is that we have completely established our case and that there is nothing in the evidence of Sir Ernest Shackleton when understood by the light of his experience and the special nature of that experience which in any way detracts from the full force of our evidence. Under those circumstances my first point is that it is impossible to say there was any negligence on the part of those who managed the “Titanic.” Now the next point I wish to make perfectly clear is this. The witnesses all say: “We continue to go full speed if the weather is clear.” Now I want to show your Lordship that the weather this night was, as Mr. Rostron said, perfectly clear: “I never saw a finer night” was his expression. I shall be very short on that. The Commissioner: At present - I do not want you to satisfy me about it, because I am satisfied about it - unless the Attorney-General tells me he is going to suggest the night was not perfectly
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