Page 66 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 66
Mr. Scanlan: That is not saying much to him, my Lord; in fact, it is leaving everything to his discretion. The Commissioner: How those sailing directions can govern the discretion of the Captain in each particular case that may arise, I am at a loss to understand. Are the sailing directions to tell him when he is to port his helm? Mr. Scanlan: I do not make such an extreme proposition as that, my Lord; I think he has to qualify and pass an examination, and in his Apprenticeship he gets all the knowledge that is necessary to teach him that. But if there is, and undoubtedly there is, a somewhat general practice which I am forced to regard as a very dangerous practice, of not slackening speed at night when ice is reported on the track, surely it is time that something was done to put a stop to that practice. If it could be done by giving directions that speed is to be diminished or that the speed should not exceed a certain limit, say 10 knots an hour, that would be a positive direction which, if it had been in force on this occasion would probably have averted the collision. I think the importance of a direction on that point is sufficiently evidenced by what we have heard at this Enquiry, and that I am justified in making a submission to your Lordship on that point. The Commissioner: That is very proper, but are you now trying to fix the liability for this calamity upon the owners, as distinguished from the Captain? I do not know quite what you are driving at. Mr. Scanlan: So far as legal liability is concerned, I take it we are not concerned with it here. The Commissioner: Oh, no. Mr. Scanlan: And what your Lordship is attempting to do is to get a satisfactory answer to Question 24: “What was the cause of this disaster and of the loss of life?” The Commissioner: What was the effective cause of the disaster. Mr. Scanlan: The effective cause, and other matters, that had some relation to the accident, whether as the direct cause or the effective cause. With those directions or with the want of directions with regard to this point and with the presence of the managing owner on board, who knew there was ice ahead, and who had had something to do with the direction of the voyage in the instructions which he gave at Queenstown to the Chief Engineer, he clearly makes himself a responsible party, in the sense in which this Question 24 is put, as well as the Captain, and those who are charged by the duty of their office with the navigation of the ship. At page 439, Question 18392, Mr. Ismay, describing his interview at Queenstown, says, “The reason why we discussed it at Queenstown was this, that Mr. Bell came into my room; I wanted to know how much coal we had on board the ship, because the ship left after the coal strike was on, and he told me. I then spoke to him about the ship, and I said it is not possible for the ship to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Therefore there is no object in pushing her. We will arrive there at five o’clock on Wednesday morning, and it will be good landing for the passengers in New York, and we shall also be able to economise our coal. We did not want to burn any more coal than we needed.” And elsewhere in the evidence, to which I have no doubt your Lordship will be referred, it is clear that Mr. Ismay had the telegram, and it is not clear to my mind from his evidence how, unless he had discussed the navigation of the ship and the meaning of the Marconigram with the Captain or some of the other officers, he reasoned with himself and came to the conclusion that they would be that night in the proximity of ice shortly after turning the corner. I do not wish to go further into this matter, because I have no doubt it will form the subject of a part of the address of Mr. Attorney, as a number of his questions have borne on that part of the case. But I must find fault with the attitude of Mr. Ismay in regard to the look-out. It is true that a number of companies are in the same position, so far as regulations are concerned, about going into an ice track as the White Star Company. The Commissioner: No, not so far as regulations are concerned, but so far as the absence of
   61   62   63   64   65   66   67   68   69   70   71