Page 16 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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Then on page 327 he is asked some questions bearing on this point, at Question 14330 and the four following questions. Mr. Scanlan says: “This night you have described as being a particularly bad night for seeing icebergs. Is not that so? - (A.) I do not think I mentioned that word “bad,” did I? (Q.) You did not mention that word, but I wish you not to misunderstand me. I am not purporting to give your exact words. You said it was realised at the time that it would be more difficult on account of there being no wind and the sea being a level calm? - (A.) Yes, that is right. (Q.) Added to that, you had the condition of there being no moon? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) And the other conditions which you described to my Lord. Were not these circumstances which would indicate to any experienced officer that it was necessary to take extra precautions for safety? - (A.) As a matter of fact, we were unaware of the sea being flat. All the precautions were taken which we thought necessary. (Q.) Do you say you were not aware then that the sea was flat? - (A.) No. (Q.) At all events, it was more difficult then than under normal circumstances to see an iceberg. You observed that yourself from 6 to 10? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Although there were abnormal difficulties, you took no extra precautions whatever? - (A.) Have I said so? (Q.) I suggest to you that you took no extra precautions whatever? - (A.) But I did.” The precautions were the very special instructions to everyone on the bridge and on the watch to keep a sharp look-out for ice and growlers. The last passage in Mr. Lightoller’s evidence on this point is at page 330, Question 14421. This is the conversation repeated again in answer to Mr. Scanlan. The Commissioner: Yes. Sir Robert Finlay: Then, my Lord, Pitman’s evidence bears on this point also. It is not so voluminous as that of Mr. Lightoller with reference to it, but it bears on it. It is at page 352, Question 15206, and the following Questions: “(Q.) Would it not have been possible to have lowered the boats half filled and then filled them down the companion ladders? - (A.) No, not if there had been the slightest bit of swell. (Q.) But under the conditions that actually took place, it would have been possible” - that is to say, the sea being like a pond; that is what the question refers to - “(A.) Yes, but we did not know it was so calm until we got into the water. (Q.) I suppose you knew that there was not a heavy swell on, did you not? - (A.) We did not; you could not tell from that ship.” Then on page 359, Question 15509: “(Q.) Is it your evidence that even at that distance it was very difficult to make out that this was an iceberg - to make out what it was? - (A.) To make out what it was, yes. (Q.) Was that on account of the weather conditions or the condition of the atmosphere? - (A.) I think it was due to the conditions that were then prevailing at the time, a calm, oily sea.” My Lord, I submit it is conclusively established that there was an absence of swell; that that was a circumstance which prevented there being a break at the bottom of this dark berg which would have led to it being detected long before it was in fact. Having established that, I hope conclusively, in point of fact, I desire to call your Lordship’s attention, as shortly as may be, to the evidence that shows that such a calm as that, such an absence of swell, is a most extraordinary circumstance in the Atlantic. Mr. Lightoller says, at page 305, Question 13574, that he never saw it on any other occasion. I have read the passage, I think, just now, and I need not read it again. Captain Cannons says, on page 669, Question 23835: “Are those circumstances very rare? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) A perfectly flat sea, no swell, no ripple? - (A.) They are extremely rare in the North Atlantic.” The Commissioner: You ought to read the next. Sir Robert Finlay: If your Lordship pleases: “(Q.) But still, such circumstances are sometimes found? - (A.) Yes, my Lord. (Q.) How far do you suppose you would see an iceberg in those circumstances? - (A.) I should say a mile.”
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