Page 104 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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The Attorney-General: No. The Commissioner: Do you follow what I mean? It sounds a little casuistical, but to my mind it is true. The Attorney-General: I agree. The Commissioner: I am very much disposed at present - I will not commit myself to anything about it, and I do not desire to do that - but I am very much disposed at present to think that the whole of this disaster was due to the excessive speed. The Attorney-General: That is the view I am going to present. The Commissioner: That is the view I am disposed to take at present; I do not commit myself to it, of course. The Attorney-General: I quite understand what is in your Lordship’s mind with regard to it, but I want to put certain considerations before you, and then your Lordship will determine whether it is necessary to say anything about it. The Commissioner: Certainly. I only wish to point out what my mind is at present about it. The Attorney-General: What I am particularly anxious is, in dealing with this matter, after the very full and exhaustive Enquiry which we have had into the circumstances, if your Lordship has a very definite view upon the aspect of the question, that is whether there was negligent navigation, that if you think fit, it should be expressed in answering the questions. I mean, whichever judgment you may form, if your Lordship comes to the conclusion that on the whole you think, having reviewed all the circumstances, you will not express any opinion upon it, of course I am equally satisfied, if I may say so, provided that the considerations have been put before you which will enable you to come to the conclusion. That is the course I desire to take. At the outset of these observations I want to put one further proposition before your Lordship which I think must govern, to a large extent, the view which your Lordship will take of the evidence, which is that the reduction of speed which would certainly have avoided the very grave character of this disaster was a very small precaution to be taken. I respectfully submit to your Lordship this: What strikes me here upon the whole of this evidence is that for a great number of days we have been discussing the cause and the effect of the disaster of this vessel coming into collision with an iceberg at night at a speed of 22 knots per hour when we know in point of fact, beyond all controversy, that ice reports (which I must analyse very closely later) had been received by the Captain - that he and his officers knew that he was approaching the vicinity of ice, that he was quite aware that at any moment he might expect to meet an iceberg, and notwithstanding that they continued at this speed of 22 knots when, so far as I am able to judge, there was not the faintest reason why they should have continued at that speed on that night. The striking thing about it is that they did not desire to make a record passage; I think the White Star Line have proved that conclusively, and if they had arrived at the time which was intended it would not have been a record passage. What they did intend was to arrive on the Wednesday morning at five o’clock. That is what was planned, and certainly it was not necessary to push this vessel at its extreme speed in order to do that. Your Lordship will remember how the evidence stands. I think I may put it quite shortly when I say this, that 22 knots an hour was the speed at which she was going on this night, that what was necessary to bring her to New York at five o’clock on Wednesday morning was 20 knots an hour from that time and no more. That was given in evidence by one of the witnesses and was accepted. Therefore, if only we had had this reduction of speed for a few hours till daybreak, so far as I can gather from the evidence before us, there would have been still plenty of time for the vessel to arrive at the time intended and all possibility of this disaster would have been avoided. My object in making these observations to your Lordship is this: Of course I know you would take into account in deciding a question of that character whether it was reasonable in all the circumstances to expect this particular precaution to be taken. That is, no doubt, a very guiding
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