Page 70 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 70
downwards, about instructions he has from his company. The Commissioner: Oh, yes; you need not read that; I remember that quite well. He has specific instructions. Mr. Scanlan: Yes, my Lord, and then he doubles his look-out even on a clear night. You will find that on the same page. I will not further labour that point. I was saying, my Lord, that the only justification for this practice of going ahead at full speed is inveterate custom, long-standing usage of mariners - The Commissioner: Oh, no, not quite that, I think; it is not the justification; at least, I do not think they ought to put it in that way if they do. What they say is, “Hitherto experience has shown us that we may in safety in clear weather keep our speed.” That is what they say, and I am not aware of any evidence to the contrary, but of course that is not conclusive of the question. Mr. Scanlan: That is the point I was coming to, my Lord. They may say this is a custom of very long standing and an almost universal custom. They may also say that there has been long immunity from serious accident in following this custom, dangerous as it may appear, that there has not been any serious accident. The Commissioner: As far as I know I have heard of none, you know. Mr. Scanlan: What I am to submit on that is that even in those circumstances and with those two elements of justification brought forward, such a course of conduct, going ahead at full speed at night by a track or lane which leads you into a region where you know you will meet ice, is an unjustifiable custom, and that no amount of usage and no immunity from serious consequences in the past would justify it. When is a custom of that kind to stop? Is it to stop after one accident, or is it a custom which may be persevered in until a series of great disasters takes place? Because, my Lord, from the evidence of Mr. Ismay and Mr. Sanderson, those responsible for the conduct of the White Star Line, there have been no positive directions given, even since the disaster to the “Titanic,” which would, so to speak, bind their Captains to adopt - The Commissioner: You are on a wrong line now. What they have done since has got nothing to do with it. Mr. Scanlan: Quite, my Lord. The Commissioner: It was what they omitted to do before. Mr. Scanlan: What they did before is sufficiently serious, and I have said all about it I need say. But I think the recommendations of your Lordship might have some effect in stopping this practice in the future. It is in that view and in that hope - The Commissioner: Have you ever considered who the people are who are really responsible for it, if it is a wrong custom or practice? Is it not the passengers? Mr. Scanlan: The demand of the public? The Commissioner: The demand of the public. Mr. Scanlan: And the taste for high speed? The Commissioner: Yes. Mr. Scanlan: That leads to a disregard of precautions of safety which one would think that ordinary common sense, apart from seamanship, would dictate. But does that relieve the owners of vessels and those in charge of vessels of their responsibility? The Commissioner: You can answer that question with a “No,” because the fact, assuming that it is a foolish act, that the public ask the captain of a ship to do a foolish act is no justification for his doing it. Mr. Scanlan: No, my Lord; and then running at full speed and the making of records, or the keeping one’s place as a shipowner in the competition amongst shipowners to do a voyage quickly, would not either be a justification for the avoidance of what would seem to be fair and reasonable precautions. I have something further to say in reference to the responsibility in the sense of this Question 4,
   65   66   67   68   69   70   71   72   73   74   75