Page 108 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 108
Then again, one has to bear in mind that when they say that, the view of some of the Commanders is that you would expect among icebergs to find some of a dark blue colour. It does not much matter what the particular colour is; it presents a dark appearance, and that those which present that dark appearance, that is the dark side to you, would naturally be less easy of detection, and would be seen at any rate according to their view, at a less distance than those that present the lighter and whiter appearance. I think this is an important point in view of one argument which has been addressed to you by Sir Robert - that you must expect, when you get among icebergs, to find some of this dark blue colour, or some which present a dark appearance to you, and, therefore, you must expect that there will be some icebergs which will be very difficult to detect at night. I notice one witness went so far as to say that he did not think you would detect an iceberg of that kind at night at a greater distance than a mile; that was Captain Cannons. If you once get to them and you have to bear in mind that amongst the ice through which you are going to travel you may meet a dark-faced iceberg, which you will only see when it is very close to you. I submit that that makes it abundantly clear that it can never be safe to go at full speed at night in a region in which you expect to meet icebergs. The Commissioner: Is it your view of this case that there was a good look-out or a bad look- out? The Attorney-General: I am going to deal with that. The view that I take of it is that the men on the look-out were qualified men, specially engaged as look-out men, and I see no reason for doubting their capabilities as look-out men. Then there were the officers on the bridge. The Commissioner: Only one, Murdoch. The Attorney-General: I say there were officers on the bridge, one of whom was actually on the look-out; one of them might be on the look-out or might not, but it was the duty of one. I think that is the position. That they failed to detect this iceberg, of course, is beyond all controversy. The difficulty one has, and which has confronted the Court from the first, is how is it they failed to detect it until it was so close upon them? The Commissioner: That is my difficulty. The Attorney-General: Of course, and it is a real difficulty in the case and it is one I want to deal with because I quite appreciate it is the difficulty here. The Commissioner: One of your witnesses said a mile. This was, I suppose, a third of a mile or a fourth of a mile. The Attorney-General: A fourth of a mile. The best estimate one can form of it is this. Of course to some extent in the observations I am going to make, we are dealing with seconds, and it is important to bear in mind that it is in consequence of the speed of this vessel that we are dealing with seconds. We never ought to have to consider a question of three or four or ten seconds in determining whether or not there is going to be a collision with an iceberg. The only reason why we have to do it here is because this vessel was travelling at the rate of at least 700 yards a minute. That is the position quite clearly. It was at least that, and in the observations I am going to make I will assume that 700 yards per minute is the pace at which she was proceeding. That is a little less than 22 knots really but it is sufficient for the purpose. According to the evidence, I think the utmost that you can give this vessel in point of time, judging from the events that happened, and also the pace that she was going, is 40 seconds. I do not think that you can from any point of view say that she had more than 40 seconds between the time of the iceberg being seen and the time of the impact. The Commissioner: The difficulty is the one pointed out just now, to reconcile that with a good look-out. The Attorney-General: I know. I am going to deal with that and deal with it also from the view put forward by my friend. Taking into account that she is travelling at this speed of 700 yards and what was done during the time (it is almost impossible to be quite precise about it, but we
   103   104   105   106   107   108   109   110   111   112   113