Page 125 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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make it of any value, that they did not know that they would be upon an iceberg so soon. The Commissioner: It was, as Sir Robert Finlay says, an accident. The Attorney-General: Yes, an accident; and I think my learned friend added, the kind of thing that must occur. Now, my Lord, I join issue most emphatically with that. I think this is just the kind of thing that must not occur, which need never occur. There are accidents no doubt against which you cannot possibly provide, but this is not one of them. If they had had no knowledge of ice, if they did not know that they were approaching a region of ice, if they had not had the Marconigrams and this had been suddenly, quite unexpectedly, an iceberg which had come down upon them, there is more reason for the excuse. But in view of what had happened, and what they knew about the region through which they were travelling, I do submit that it is idle for my learned friend to suggest that this is “just the kind of accident that must occur.” The Commissioner: I do not think, Mr. Attorney, Sir Robert said it must occur; I do not think he meant it in that sense. The Attorney-General: It was the phrase he used; I think what he meant was that it was the kind of thing against which you cannot provide. The Commissioner: Yes; it is a kind of thing which you cannot foresee. The Attorney-General: Yes. That is what I am objecting so strongly to. That is exactly what I mean. I did not mean more than that. This is just exactly the kind of thing that you can foresee, which ought to have been foreseen, and that in the circumstances we are dealing with in this case, should have been foreseen, and all that you have to do in order to take precautions about it was what I ventured to point out was this very simple and slight precaution, but having very great effect upon the reduction of speed. Now, my Lord, it has been said, I know, during the course of the case, and much reliance has been placed upon it by my learned friend Sir Robert Finlay and by the witnesses who were called - a great body of evidence has been called before you to establish that it is the practice of Captains of liners to proceed at this or any other great rate of speed; in other words, not to reduce their speed, although they may expect to meet icebergs, and at night, provided that the weather is clear and think one must add also this, that in all probability what these masters of vessels meant was that, provided they could see the iceberg at a sufficient distance to avoid it, they would not reduce speed; I doubt whether it comes really, when you analyse it, to more than that. If it does, my Lord, then I do beg respectfully to protest emphatically against it being accepted as the practice. The Commissioner: I do not think it was - I do not know. You must not assume that what I say is final, but it appears to me that what they mean is this: We always do go full speed though we have notice that there is ice in the vicinity, because we believe that it will always be possible for us to avoid the ice when we see it. The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: As you said some time ago, if that is all that is meant it is quite right. The Attorney-General: Yes; of course, I have nothing to say against it. But of course, there is another possible view; it has been indicated by some of them, and I will only say a word about it. I do not want to take up time with it. It is said that one of the reasons why they do it is in order to get away from the possibility of fog. The Commissioner: Yes, I know. The Attorney-General: That is one of the things they say, and certainly Mr. Ismay was very emphatic about it, and why I am referring to it, and dwelling upon it a little, is because some of the witnesses (I will not trouble to give your Lordship the reference to them) certainly take the view that that would be right now, notwithstanding what had happened with reference to the “Titanic.” The Commissioner: One witness did.
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