Page 56 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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that what befell it was due not to the condition of the ship, but to the seamanship and skill, or want of seamanship and skill, and the want of proper directions as to her navigation. My Lord, it is important to consider Question 24 and Questions 10 and 13. Question 24 is: “What was the cause of the loss of the ‘Titanic,’ and of the loss of life which thereby ensued or occurred?” Question 10 is: “If at the time referred to in the last preceding Question, or later, the ‘Titanic’ was warned of, or had reason to suppose it would encounter ice, at what time might she have reasonably expected to have encountered it? Was a good and proper look-out for ice kept on board? Were any, and, if so, what, directions given to vary the speed? If so, were they carried out?” And Question 13 is: “Was ice seen and reported by anybody on board the ‘Titanic’ before the casualty occurred? If so, what measures were taken by the officer on watch to avoid it; were they proper measures and were they promptly taken?” These, my Lord, are three very important questions which I think go to the root of the first general consideration to which I am addressing myself, and that is the consideration as to seamanship and navigation. Of course, it is of the very utmost importance to consider at the outset what were the conditions on the night of the 14th of April, when this catastrophe occurred. Here I have to present to your Lordship a view of the disaster which will at once, I doubt not, lead me into controversy with some of my learned friends. I am to submit to your Lordship on the evidence that there was in fact a haze on the night of the 14th of April, and that this haze prevented the look-out men and the officer on watch from seeing the iceberg in time to have the course of the ship altered, so as to avoid the collision. I would like to refer your Lordship to two remarks which your Lordship made in the course of the evidence on this matter. At page 410, on the question of haze, your Lordship said, while the Attorney-General was asking questions of Fleet, one of the look-out men: “Yes, I will tell you at once. My impression is this, that the man was trying to make an excuse for not seeing the iceberg, and he thought he could make it out by creating a thick haze.” That referred to one of them. Then at page 413, whilst Fleet is under examination still, your Lordship said: “He was asked by the Attorney-General, and he told us that he could not” - that is, see the iceberg - “and as I myself have very grave doubts about there being a haze at all, I can understand his having a difficulty in saying how long before the collision it was that he saw it.” On this part of the case let me direct attention to the watches of the look-out men. The first watch was of Hogg and Evans from 6 to 8. Then came the watch of Jewell and Symons from 8 to 10. Then the watch of Fleet and Lee from 10 to 12. So far as the first watch, from 6 to 8, is concerned, there is no question of a haze. The evidence as to haze was first of all brought out when the men on the second watch were giving evidence to your Lordship. In the second watch, of the two men Jewell and Symons, Jewell has been asked no question whatever as to a haze, but the Witness Symons was asked a question on this by my learned friend Mr. Laing. Then we came to the third watch, and this is, of course, the all important critical time - from 10 to 12 - and we have it on the evidence, both of Fleet, and Lee, that there was a haze. This is not the whole of the evidence on the question of haze, but it exhausts all the look-out men to whom any questions were put as to whether or not there was a haze. Perhaps your Lordship will take a reference to the particular parts of the evidence. The evidence of Symons will be found on page 268, and he states at Question 11983, in answer to Mr. Laing, that there was a haze. Mr. Laing asked: “While you were on the look-out, up to 10 o’clock, what sort of a night was it? - (A.) Pretty clear, Sir, a fine night, rather hazy; if anything a little hazy on the horizon, but nothing to speak of. (Q.) Would you describe it as a very clear night? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) With stars? - (A.) Yes.” Then the evidence of Lee is at page 72. He is one of the men on the look-out when this collision occurred. At Question 2401 he is asked by the Attorney-General: “What sort of a night was it? - (A.) A clear, starry night overhead, but at the time of the accident there was a haze right ahead. (Q.) At the time of the accident a haze right ahead? - (A.) A haze right ahead - in fact, it was extending more or less round the horizon. There was no moon. (Q.) And no wind? - (A.) And no wind
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