Page 98 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 27 - 31
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magnificent conception of their duty.” That is a tribute to the engineers which is as just as it is generous, and there is evidence, as Mr. Sanderson pointed out, of their having sent up the firemen in time from the forward part of the ship and having remained there themselves. All I want and desire is this, that in future cases where there may be, we hope, a sufficiency of boats, there shall be a Rule, not written to this effect. If your Lordship’s answer to this question in your Report, which will be widely and universally read, your Lordship would call attention to the paramount necessity of the obligation on those in charge of the deck of seeing in time, before it is too late, before all the boats are gone, that those in charge of the engine room shall have their chance and opportunity of coming on deck, then that is all we desire. The engineers are asking not that they should have an opportunity of neglecting their duty or of weakening the force or the effect of this tradition, but there does come a time when all has been done that can be done, when they should have an opportunity of a fair and equal chance of life. And they are asking your Lordship, if only by a sentence in this Report and in answer to this question, to call attention to the paramount duty and necessity of those in charge of the deck paying heed in that matter to the interests of the engineers. The Commissioner: I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Roche. You have taken a very short time and said a very great deal that is useful. Mr. Holmes: My Lord, in addressing you on behalf of the Imperial Merchant Service Guild and the officers of the “Titanic” and the relatives of the deceased officers, with the exception of the Master, I hope that I shall be able by my brevity to maintain the character for considerateness that you were good enough to give me last week. So far as the general character of the officers is concerned, I think your Lordship and the Court will be satisfied that it is of the very highest nature. They were men in whom their employers, through long experience, had placed every confidence; they were men, as Captain Bartlett described them, the pick of the service; with the exception of two of them, they all held extra masters’ certificates, which is the highest rank to which they can attain in their profession, and I shall ask you, on the evidence as a whole, to come to the conclusion that they behaved themselves in an emergency of a terrible nature, an emergency whose nature they must have realised far more than the other people on board, in a manner worthy of the best traditions of the British Mercantile Marine and of the pluck and resourcefulness of British seamen. The Attorney-General, in his opening said, and the questions bear it out, that there is no question, at all events, so far as the surviving officers are concerned, which would call upon your Lordship to deal with any certificates in this case; but there have been some suggestions made - not serious ones, but which I think are capable of perfectly good explanation, to the detriment of the officers. Now the first one is in connection with the lowering of the boats, which we have already heard something about this morning. It is quite true that a large number of the boats were lowered without their full complement of passengers, and there are, I think, three explanations, any one of which alone is sufficient to justify the course that was adopted; but all three taken together are an ample justification. The first one was that given by Mr. Lightoller, that he thought there was a danger of the boats buckling. According to the evidence of the constructors and builders that turns out to have been a mistaken apprehension on his part, but I do submit that it was a perfectly natural mistake for anyone to make. You have boats 30 feet long suspended by falls from the extreme ends, with a heavy weight of 60 to 65 people, and the certainty is that none of those officers had ever before had to lower a boat full of people, and I do not suppose there are a dozen officers in the merchant service who have ever had practical experience of lowering a boat from a ship’s side full of people. There is, further, ample evidence that a large number of people refused to go into the boats. And not only is there the case of wives who refused to leave their husbands, but, at all events, one-third class steward who informed us that he had conducted large
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