Page 110 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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assistance to us in the course of the case, but equally as his honest opinion formed, apart altogether from this case and the consequences of it - that the vessel would have telescoped to the extent of 100 feet or more. That is his view. I only wish to make this one observation with reference to it, speaking with the experience of some of these cases, I do not mean only shipping cases - not nearly so many as your Lordship has had before you - I think the one thing which it is impossible to foretell, even for gentlemen of the highest scientific evidence, is exactly what will happen if you take a different course from that which was taken, a course such as nobody has ever seen put into practice and which is the course which is assumed for the purpose of arriving on this conclusion. I am sure there is every reason for supposing Mr. Wilding would be right in saying she would be telescoped for 100 feet or a little more, and that would have been the extent of the disaster. I can only speak as a person who has not scientific training, but I should have thought if that happened - (I am saying this, of course, more especially to your Lordship and to those skilled gentlemen who are associated with you) - I should have thought that if a vessel telescoped 100 feet or more it is a very difficult thing to say what would have happened to the ship - whether her plates would not have been so started that the water would have come in, or what damage otherwise would have been caused - and it can only be surmised. I do not dwell upon it, because no one will suggest - certainly I should not suggest - that what Captain Smith ought to have done was to have gone head on, stem on to this iceberg. The Commissioner: I do not think you need trouble yourself about that. The Attorney-General: No; I should never have dreamed of doing so. The Commissioner: I think the gentlemen who are sitting with me are of opinion, and certainly I am, that in starboarding the helm the proper thing was done in face of the iceberg. The Attorney-General: As your Lordship pleases. That is the view I have formed, and I am very glad to hear it is also the view of the Court. Now, what one has to grapple with in this case is, assuming that you have competent men on the look-out, why this iceberg was not detected earlier. That is really the crux of the case. The Commissioner: To my mind it seems a question of the alleged abnormal conditions of the night. It brings one right up against it. If the look-out was good what was it that prevented them from seeing the iceberg at a greater distance? The Attorney-General: Quite. I think one has to bear in mind also when you say: Was the look- out good, that it has to be very good for a vessel travelling at this pace. I do not think you can separate the two. I have tried to do it myself and have found it difficult. I do not think you can say: “Well now, let us look at it from the point of view of the look-out and let us look at it from the point of view of speed.” My submission to the Court is that you have to consider whether or not the look-out was sufficient and whether or not speed ought to have been reduced, by the consideration of the actual facts, that is the speed of 700 yards a minute and look-out men in the crow’s-nest and on the bridge. It is the combination. I think your Lordship indicated it earlier. The Commissioner: What I understand is this, that the possibility of even a good look-out not detecting the iceberg must be taken into consideration. The Attorney-General: That is so. When you are going at this pace you must take into account that a man may have his eyes or both men might have both their eyes directed to starboard in the crow’s-nest, their attention attracted by some light or something which they thought was a light. The Commissioner: Some ship’s light. The Attorney-General: Yes, and here is this vessel travelling ahead at 700 yards a minute. I will assume they might have seen it at a distance of a mile and a half, which would mean that if they were looking at the light for only a minute, by the time they got back to looking ahead they would already have been within only 450 yards of that iceberg. That is the difficulty of that situation, and that is why it is I say that you must take into consideration in considering the look- out the speed at which the vessel was travelling.
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