Page 11 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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Lightoller. He said that the sea was absolutely flat - there was not, as I understood him, even a swell - and that the consequence of that was that there was no surf of any kind round the base of the iceberg. By the base, I mean the margin on the waterline, and that, therefore, one of the best indications for the seeing of ice was absent. What do you think about that? - (A.) I think you would see the surf round it at a shorter distance than you would see the iceberg, if it was a large one. The ice has a phosphorescent appearance. (Q.) I should have thought that, as a seaman, you would have had some sort of explanation to suggest? - (A.) I cannot think of anything, because they say the ice was dark blue, almost black. I never saw an iceberg like that in my life, and I have seen a good deal of ice too. (Q.) Does that lead you to infer that they are mistaken when they say it was black? - (A.) I would not like to say that, my Lord. I do not know, of course; I was not there, but I never saw an iceberg of that kind. (Q.) Have you ever seen a growler? - (A.) These low bergs? (Q.) Yes? - (A.) Very seldom. (Q.) What is the colour of a growler? - (A.) White. (Q.) The same as an iceberg? - (A.) The same as an iceberg, only a smaller one. That is what I understand by a growler - a low-lying berg.” The Attorney-General: Before passing from the page my friend read - he began at 21882 - would your Lordship mark the two earlier questions. I do not want my friend to bother to read them, but it will save my going back to them. Sir Robert Finlay: It is on the question of speed? The Attorney-General: Yes, it is on another subject. That is why I will not trouble you to read them, but I want my Lord to mark them. The Commissioner: It has been read. Sir Robert Finlay: I read it in connection with speed, I think. The Attorney-General: I do not think so. The Commissioner: I know it has been read, but when it was read I do not know. Sir Robert Finlay: Then Mr. Lightoller at page 322, Question 14203, is asked by your Lordship: “Do not let me interrupt you; you were going to particularise the circumstances which you say combined to bring about this calamity. There was no moon, no wind, and no swell; is there anything else? - (A.) The berg into which we must have run in my estimation must have been a berg which had very shortly before capsized, and that would leave most of it above the water practically black ice. (Q.) You think so? - (A.) I think so; or it must have been a berg broken from a glacier, with the blue side towards us; but even in that case, had it been a glacier, there would still have been the white outline that Captain Smith spoke about; with a white outline against, no matter how dark a sky, providing the stars are out and distinctly visible, you ought to pick it out in quite sufficient time to clear it at any time. That is to say, providing the stars are out and providing it is not cloudy. You must remember that all the stars were out and there was not a cloud in the sky, so that, at any rate, there was bound to be a certain amount of reflected light.” On the subject of ice-blink which your Lordship mentioned yesterday, my attention has been called by Mr. Wilding to the fact that two different phenomena have been rather grouped together under the head of ice-blink. One is a sort of reflection in the sky, such as one sees from the lights of a town in the sky. That, I believe, is the ice-blink proper. The other is a sort of phosphorescent appearance from the white of the iceberg itself directly, and not by way of reflection from the sky. The ice-blink of which Sir Ernest Shackleton spoke, I think, was from the sky, and it is found in connection particularly, as I understand it, with large ice-fields. You have a reflection from the ice of the same nature, speaking generally, as the reflection from the sky where you have a number of lights burning at one spot. I am confining myself at present to the evidence with regard to the fact that a black berg is very unusual; and without going through it all, I may just recall to your Lordship’s memory that the witnesses who have described icebergs have spoken of them as white objects, and here you have very precise evidence that this
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