Page 122 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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not the point of it at all. The point of the observation is that he was here on board the vessel and that Captain Smith when he received that Marconigram thought it was of such importance that he took it to him, gave it to him and fetched it away again by 7 o’clock in the evening; and I doubt whether it adds much to what one can see, or in fact anything, when you look at the context of the telegram, because it is so perfectly plain that it is just exactly within the region within which they must pass within the next few hours, so that nobody could afford to look upon that telegram lightly, and certainly I know your Lordship has not from the first moment that it was brought to your attention. Now, my Lord, when they had got all that knowledge the question that arises upon it is, what ought they to have done? The Commissioner: The only precaution taken, as far as I remember, was to tell the man that he was to keep a sharp look-out for ice. The Attorney-General: Yes. There is just one slight incident, I think, to which I would like to refer in fairness to Mr. Murdoch. He had the fore-scuttle hatch closed because it made a glow, and he wanted to prevent that so that they would get a better view of the ice; I mean he was careful about that. I doubt whether it has been referred to much in the evidence. The Commissioner: I remember the evidence, but it has not been referred to. The Attorney-General: I will give the reference to it as it has not been referred to. It certainly shows that he had it in mind and took that precaution. One cannot leave it out in considering what they did. It is at page 421, Questions 17706 to 17709. What it comes to is that he ordered Hemming at a quarter-past 7 on that evening to close the fore-scuttle hatch to shut off the glow, as he wanted it to be all dark before the bridge so that they could see the ice more easily. That is the position, and that is all that was done. Now, my Lord, the two suggestions I am going to make are, first of all that what they ought to have done was to have reduced their speed; and secondly, that they ought to have doubled the look-out and put a look-out in the eyes of the vessel as close to the stem as they could get him. I will deal first with the latter question about the look-out. The evidence is quite short upon it. Your Lordship had your attention called in detail to it by my learned friend, Sir Robert Finlay, who travelled through all the evidence about this; I am not proposing to do that. Your Lordship will understand when I give these references that they are selections which tell in favour of the view for which I am contending. There is a body of evidence which takes the other view. I am not referring to that, and I will show your Lordship why in a minute - it may be difficult to say. Possibly your Lordship may think it right to express your view about it when you come to report, as to whether in such circumstances there ought to have been a look-out man stationed on the stem. I suggest, that it is well worthy of consideration, that according to the evidence of very experienced men, it is the best way of detecting ice, and I am only going to trouble your Lordship with the evidence of Captain Rostron of the “Carpathia” who dealt with this at page 745. If your Lordship would look at Question 25534 on page 745, you will see he was asked: “You would attempt to keep out of the way of ice-fields and alter your course, but for icebergs you would go on your course, and depend upon picking them up with your eye, and then avoiding them when you have picked them up? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) I think you have already told me, but I should like to make just sure of it, that you would take special precautions with regard to the look-out by putting men in the eyes of the vessel? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) When you had an ice report? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) As well as having a man in the crow’s-nest? - (A.) Yes.” Then your Lordship says: “Do you put two men in the crow’s-nest? - (A.) I only put one.” And then I put to him, “And two in the eyes?” And he said, “Yes.” And at page 734, my Lord, Captain Fairfull, of the Allan Line, takes the same view at Question 25272: “Is your practice in accordance with theirs? - (A.) All except that when we get to the ice track in an Allan steamer, besides having a look-out in the crow’s-nest, we put a man on the stem head at night.” Then your Lordship says:
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