Page 123 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 123
“I do not hear what you are saying,” and he says, “Besides having a look-out in the crow’s-nest in crossing the ice track, I put a man on the stem head at night. (Q.) Whether it is clear or not? - (A.) Yes.” Your Lordship sees that I am only referring you to the passages that show that whether it is clear, or whether it is not clear, the practice of some experienced men is to put them on the stem because it is so important. The Commissioner: There is, of course, a good deal of evidence the other way. The Attorney-General: Yes. I say so, my Lord. Then comes Sir Ernest Shackleton, who dealt with it at page 721. He took a very definite view. He says that the nearer you get to the waterline the better position you are in to detect ice. That is the substance of what he says. It is at pages 720 and again on 721. The question on page 720 is No. 25043: “What I want you to tell my Lord is: Do you think it is of advantage in clear weather to have a man stationed right ahead at the stem as well as in the crow’s-nest?” And he says, “ Undoubtedly, if you are in the danger zone; in the ice zone. (Q.) And supposing you were passing through a zone where you had ice reported to you, would you take precautions as to the look-out? Supposing you only had men in the crow’s-nest, would you take any other precautions? - (A.) I would take the ordinary precaution of slowing down, whether I was in a ship equipped for ice or any other, compatible with keeping steerage way for the size of the ship.” And then he said also that he would put the man in the stem of the vessel. He says the same thing at page 721, Question 25087. And Captain Jones, who, your Lordship may recollect, was asked some questions, says the same at page 675, Questions 23653 to 23658. Mr. Laing: Was he a captain of the Allan Line? The Attorney-General: No, I do not think so; it is the Dominion Line. He says the same thing - one in the crow’s-nest and one in the stem head. I need not trouble your Lordship, having given you the references, by reading it all. In one of those questions and answers to which I referred, he said that it had always been their custom to do that - to put one in the crow’s-nest and one in the stem at night. Then Mr. Lightoller, at page 304, says something to which I want to refer upon this. He says this: that in anything but clear weather they put on extra look-outs, and they put them in the stem on the “Titanic,” and the only reason apparently - The Commissioner: They actually had a watch on the stem of the “Titanic” during the voyage? The Attorney-General: They had, during the voyage from Southampton. That is quite right. And if that is the case your Lordship has got the evidence clearly before you - it is at Question 13520, at page 304. If that is the case, my Lord, one cannot understand, I submit, why, in these circumstances, with this anxiety, which undoubtedly was operating upon the minds of those who were responsible for the navigation, of approaching a region where ice might be expected - to put it no higher - I say, one cannot understand why the precaution was not taken of putting a man in the stem of the vessel, because the object of it is that clearly the look-out man may be able to see in the stem earlier than the man in the crow’s-nest; and that in any event what it does is gives an added security. That is done as soon as the weather is not clear. Even although the weather is clear and you are approaching the region of ice or are in the region of ice, in the vicinity of ice or where you may expect ice at nighttime, travelling at 700 yards a minute, I do submit it is impossible to understand why this precaution of putting men on the look-out in the stem of the vessel was not adopted by them. It is difficult to say (I do not profess to be able to say - of course no one can) whether, if you had them in the stem, that would have prevented this disaster; I do not know. But at least one can say this, that according to the evidence of all those, or of a number of those who are experts in detecting ice, that that would be a precaution which certainly was taken or would be taken by them, and is an advantage. And it was not in this case even necessary to carry further men. All that they had to do was to give the order when they got to this time of night, and were discussing it - all that they had to do was to say that these two men, or one man, should have gone forward into the stem; and when you bear in mind the rate at which they were
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