Page 12 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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phenomenon of a black berg is so rare that men who have spent their lives in the Atlantic have never seen it. I do not propose to read again any passages in the evidence of Captain Rostron and Sir Ernest Shackleton, having some bearing upon the question of the black berg, because I read it all yesterday, and it is in your Lordship’s recollection. Then the second point of an extraordinary nature on this evening was that there was no swell at all. I first propose following the same order that I have taken with regard to the blackness of the berg, to establish the fact that there was no swell, and, secondly, to establish the fact that such a calm is extremely unusual on the Atlantic. Now, with regard to the fact of the perfect calm, take first on page 19 what Jewell says. The Commissioner: By a perfect calm you mean no swell. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, that there was no swell; that there was no wind is conceded. The Commissioner: Yes, I think so. I have very little experience, but I am astonished to hear that there could be no swell in the Atlantic. Sir Robert Finlay: It is an extremely rare condition, met with once in a long lifetime; perhaps not at all. The Commissioner: It makes one wonder whether there was not a swell. Sir Robert Finlay: Well, we have very precise and positive evidence about it. The Commissioner: Yes. Sir Robert Finlay: At page 19, Question 142, Jewell is asked: “Was the sea smooth? - (A.) Yes, very smooth.” He is speaking of the time when he had left the ship and was in the boat. “Question 140: And you were told to remain in the water below that gangway? - (A.) Yes. (The Solicitor-General.) Those were your orders. How far off from the side of the ship did you keep? - (A.) We kept right alongside. (Q.) Was the sea smooth? - (A.) Yes, very smooth.” The Commissioner: Do you read a very smooth sea as meaning no swell? Sir Robert Finlay: I think it means it there, my Lord. I do not say it would be satisfactory if it rested there. All that Jewell says is that it was very smooth. The other witnesses show there was not even a swell, but one would infer from his saying that it was very smooth that there was not a swell. One does not speak of a sea where there is a swell going as a smooth sea. It is, of course, absence of wind, but the sea when the swell is on is certainly not smooth. However, that is cleared up effectually by the other witnesses. Then Lee, at page 73, Question 2403, is asked, “And no wind? - (A.) And no wind whatever, barring what the ship made herself. (Q.) Quite a calm sea? - (A.) Quite a calm sea.” That is all that he says on the point. Then we come to Joughin, the baker, on page 142, Question 6084, “Did it keep calm till daylight, or did the wind rise at all? - (A.) It was just like a pond.” That is conclusive, I submit, to show that when the first witness spoke of its being perfectly smooth it meant that there was no swell. The Commissioner: I do not think it matters very much, but some breeze, I think, did get up before daylight. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: But what you are upon is the condition of the sea at the time of the collision. Sir Robert Finlay: Exactly. The Commissioner: It is of that condition of things, if it is to be taken in the sense in which you contend, which, if you were sitting on the deck would not cause any movement of the rail up and down that you might look at. It would be perfectly steady - no wind and no swell. Sir Robert Finlay: I doubt on these very big ships whether with a mere swell there would be any noticeable movement of the rail. The ship strides over such a space in the sea that I doubt
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