Page 155 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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The Commissioner: Luckily in this case it did not matter because, subject to the comment about the loss of the collapsible boats, you could get all the boats into the water. The Attorney-General: Yes. I am going to say something to your Lordship about the boat drill before I leave the case, but I pass from it at the moment I only want to call attention to the fact of the time that was taken. I certainly do not want to spend any time upon it if your Lordship has made up your mind that there should be boat drill. That is the only point to which I was going to direct my criticisms upon the time taken. Curiously enough under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 there is a provision that there must be an entry in the logbook of the boat drill and a penalty for not entering it; I think it is Section 9, but there is no statutory provision that you must hold a boat drill. That is how the law stands at present upon it. It is Section 9 of the Act of 1906. An entry must be made by the Master in the official logbook of every occasion on which boat drill is practiced on board the ship and on which the life-saving appliances on board the ship have been examined for the purpose of seeing that those appliances are fit and ready for use. The Master shall, if and when required by any officer of the Board of Trade, produce for inspection any record kept by him for the purposes of this Section. If the Master of a ship fails to comply with any requirement of this Section he shall be liable on summary conviction for each offence to a fine not exceeding £10.” The Commissioner: What section is that? The Attorney-General: Section 9 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906. What it amounts to is that if there is boat drill, it must be entered in the logbook and if it is not entered in the log a penalty ensues. The Commissioner: There is no provision that there must be boat drill. The Attorney-General: No, that is a point to which I shall direct attention by and by. Parliament at any rate has only provided a penalty for not entering it in the log, but we do know this with regard to boat muster for boat drill: The Emigration Officer called Clarke in this case at Southampton did make, and is in the habit of making, a requirement that boats shall be put into the water - that is, for the purpose of giving his certificate. My Lord, obviously, I should say, that that is not sufficient, because all that that amounts to is picking out two boats which are manned by seamen and put into the water just for the purpose of seeing, as I should imagine, that the davits and tackle are in order and that the boat can be lowered - The Commissioner: And that the boats were sound. The Attorney-General: Yes; that is all it comes to; but, really, it is not of very great practical value, because you would never get your boats manned as they were on these two occasions and lowered full of seamen. What you have to remember is that when the boats have to be lowered at sea there are the proper number of firemen and trimmers and stewards to man them when they are lowered. The Commissioner: Are you going to suggest that it should have been incumbent on the officers of this ship to have taken part in the boat drill, because, if you did, you would produce a state of things that would be almost impossible. The Attorney-General: Yes. The Commissioner: All you want is eight or nine of the men. The Attorney-General: I do not think there is any great difficulty in it. There is a boat muster which, in the ordinary course, would have been held on board this ship; it would have been held on the Sunday, apparently; it was never held before the vessel started. It is not a boat drill, but it has some of the elements of a boat drill, and that is what took place, apparently. The Commissioner: It enables the men to be mustered ready for action in an emergency, but they get no practice in the lowering of the boats. The Attorney-General: I agree, but it gets them there, and it tells each man what his place is in the boat; that is the object of it. Each man would know his boat, and know where he is to go in
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