Page 63 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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at night, when they were approaching the iceberg. Mr. Scanlan: Except that the weather was variable. What I was going to suggest on the whole of this was that whether or not your Lordship agrees with the positive statements of the four Witnesses, who stated here that there was a haze or whether you take the conversation of Mr. Lightoller, this, at all events is established, that the atmospheric conditions that night were abnormal, and it was recognised on this watch up to 10 o’clock that it was more difficult to see icebergs on account of those peculiar conditions than it would be under normal circumstances. The Commissioner: I do not think you are right there. The right way to put it is this - and this is what I think Mr. Lightoller meant - he did not then realise that it was difficult to see the ice, but he subsequently asked himself how it was he had not seen it, and then he said: “These are the circumstances which only happen once in a hundred years which prevented my seeing it.” Mr. Scanlan: I could take that explanation of it, my Lord, were it not that he does not say that himself. At page 327, in the question to which your Lordship has already referred, he is asked: “At all events, it was more difficult then than under normal circumstances to see an iceberg. You observed that yourself from six to ten?” And he answered: “Yes.” That, my Lord, coupled with the fact that he had various conversations with the Captain as to the difficulty of seeing bergs - The Commissioner: Where is that? He had a conversation with the Captain as to the possibility of a change in the weather, and to the effect that the Captain was to be advised at once; but I do not remember any conversation he had with the Captain as to the difficulty of seeing icebergs. Mr. Scanlan: I have given your Lordship the references. The Commissioner: I think you have read it all to us. Mr. Scanlan: I read the evidence he gave as to his conversation with the Captain, and I think this part of the evidence, and the statement which he makes that he recognised, between 6 and 10 o’clock, that it was more difficult to see icebergs than under normal circumstances, justifies me in making this observation, that on this occasion no extra precautions for safety were adopted, no extra look-out men were stationed, and there was no reduction of the speed. What I submit to your Lordship is that even in normal circumstances on a clear night where those abnormal conditions did not exist, but where warning was given of the presence of ice in a region through which the ship would pass, it would then have been the duty of those responsible for the navigation of the ship to have taken extraordinary and proper precautions to secure safety. The Commissioner: I thoroughly appreciate that point. Mr. Scanlan: I am bound to say that in addition to the warning of ice, and the certainty of Mr. Lightoller and the Captain, and Mr. Ismay, that they were coming into ice, and that they would be in the ice regions that night, there was a duty on the owners which was not discharged, and in particular on Mr. Ismay. I am sorry to have to say it, but I feel it my duty to say that there was a duty on the Officers responsible for the navigation of the ship to have taken precautions to avoid the iceberg, and my submission is that those precautions were not taken, and that the failure to take those precautions in the peculiar circumstances, which I have referred your Lordship to, is negligence of a very serious character. I should be very sorry to asperse the character of Captain Smith, but while it is the case that Captain Smith has been drowned, it is also the case that hundreds of the passengers and hundreds of the crew are also drowned, and the whole of this dreadful tragedy is due, in the view I submit to your Lordship, not to any defect in the ship, but to the want of proper seamanship, to want of skill in her navigation, and to utter disregard of the warnings that had been given and of the duties incumbent on them under the peculiar weather conditions which prevailed that night. The Attorney-General: There is just one point I will call attention to, so that your Lordship may have it in mind, because I do not want to get back to it. You said that in the conversation with the Captain there was no reference intended to a haze. That does not quite seem to accord with what happened.
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