Page 91 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
P. 91
MR. F. LAING, K.C., and MR. ALFRED BUCKNILL appeared on behalf of Messrs. Harland and Wolff. (Admitted on application.) Mr. Roche: My Lord, my friend Mr. Edwards does not desire to address your Lordship at this moment, and with your Lordship’s permission I will now make the few remarks which I desire to make. The Commissioner: If you please. Mr. Roche: I represent the Marine Engineers’ Association, an association consisting of a large number of certificated engineers. A large number of their members unfortunately were drowned in this casualty. Your Lordship knows also that all the engineers in this case were drowned, and there is a question your Lordship will see which at any rate raises this matter, namely, the latter part of Question 21. The first part relates to the passengers; the latter part says: “What was the number of the crew, discriminating their ratings and sex, that were saved? What is the proportion which each of these numbers bears to the corresponding total number on board immediately before the casualty? What reason is there for the disproportion, if any? With regard to the engineers, unfortunately the answer of fact is simply that 100 percent were drowned. I shall have a word or two, and that is the main point on which I wish to address your Lordship, as to whether any answer is possible or any recommendation is possible in connection with the last sentence: “What reason is there for the disproportion, if any?” But before I deal with that, which is the main point I wish to deal with, it is fairly obvious that in this state of circumstances, joined with the fact, which has, unfortunately, become almost common knowledge, that the disproportion of the loss of engineers in these cases is not uncommon - indeed, is rather the Rule than the exception - it is obvious, I say, that although all persons that go down to the sea in ships are interested in the safety of ships, probably the engineers, having regard to this state of facts are as much, if not more, interested than anyone else. That, my Lord, shall be my excuse for saying a very few words on one or two other parts of the case to which those who instruct me - who, of course, are versed in these matters - have given their best consideration and as to which they have certain conclusions or ideas which they desire to submit to your Lordship. The first matter I shall deal with is the question of speed. I took the opportunity when Mr. Sanderson was in the box to ask him a few questions, and drew a very clear distinction between what was negligent at the time and what will be proper after this event. I know that is a distinction which is very present to your Lordship’s mind. It is perfectly true to say that what is being done now either in regard to boats, or speed, or track, or anything else, is no evidence at all that what was done before was negligent, but it may be evidence of considerable weight as to what is possible now, and as to what is proper now. With regard to this question of speed, the most obvious truism is that, if possible, you want to keep your ships out of collision. In the circumstances which prevailed in this case, although there is a great body of evidence with regard to the usual practice of navigators which might, and may, render it very difficult for your Lordship - even if it is desirable - to say that anyone was negligent, yet I desire to submit that in such circumstances a reduction of speed from that which was employed upon this occasion is desirable. I thought the question of the turning circle was material, and your Lordship has had that put before you. I have not seen the plans, but they are here, and I understand from Mr. Wilding the effect is this - that he has got the turning circle at what is roughly 22 knots; he has a turning circle at what is, broadly speaking, 11 knots - that is half the speed - more than half the speed of this vessel - and he tells me, and I have no doubt it is accurate, that whereas in 37 seconds you turn two points at the higher speed, in 74 seconds at the lower speed you will not turn very much
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