Page 172 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 172
The Commissioner: Over 10,000? The Attorney-General: Yes, I say over 10,000, because it stopped there; over 10,000 and upwards was where it stopped, as your Lordship remembers; and a good deal of criticism has been directed to the fact that the Board of Trade did not make a scale dealing with the different gradations of tonnage over that 10,000 tonnage. I want to call your Lordship’s attention to how that matter stands, but before I do so I just want to refer, which I shall do very shortly because of what your Lordship has already said, to the evidence about the bulkheads. It is very difficult to separate entirely the consideration of these two matters, because the policy of the Advisory Committee and the policy also of the Bulkhead Committee, which sat in 1890 and reported upon this matter, was that it was better to make ample provision for the unsinkability of the ship, so far as it was possible, than to provide complete accommodation for all persons on board the vessel. With reference to that what I should submit to the Court is, that both the Board of Trade and the Committee who were dealing with this matter were right to this extent, that it is more important to have efficient provision of watertight compartments and proper subdivision, sufficiently strong bulkheads, so arranged that if there is a collision and penetration of the ship’s side the vessel should still float, than it is to have complete accommodation for the full number of passengers. I do not mean for a moment by that to suggest that it is not necessary to have boats; that is not the point of my observation at all. What I do mean is that the first thing to look to is the provide as far as you possibly can, according to the scientific knowledge of the present day, the unsinkability of the vessel. And, my Lord, one has to bear in mind also in that connection that it is an extremely rare occurrence in the annals of the sea for a vessel to be struck as this one was in so many compartments. In the ordinary course of things, if you provide that your vessel was unsinkable, assuming she had two adjoining compartments holed, and particularly if she was so loaded that she would float with a third compartment also penetrated, that would be all that human ingenuity could devise for the purpose of protecting the ship. In this particular case, as I have already indicated and submitted to the Court, and do not want to repeat, the grave injuries that were inflicted were owing to the excessive speed at which this vessel was travelling when meeting the iceberg, the consequence of which was that she received so many wounds. The view taken with regard to this has been very consistent from the time the Bulkhead Committee - what has been called Sir Edward Harland's Committee - was appointed in 1890, and reported, up to the present date; and it seems also to have been the view of the German authorities, because your Lordship will remember from the documents which I put before you that they have the same system in Germany, that provided a vessel is equipped with efficient watertight compartments, the demand that is made upon her for additional boat accommodation is dispensed with to a certain extent. That is what they say - you need only provide half the full boat accommodation if you have efficient watertight compartments. What we do is very much the same thing, I am referring now to Rule 12, to which your Lordship has had a good deal of reference, in the Board of Trade Rules. It is on page 16 of the Rules of the Board of Trade. “When ships of any class are divided into efficient watertight compartments to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade, they shall only be required to carry additional boats, rafts, and buoyant apparatus one-half of the capacity required by these Rules, but the exemption shall not extend to lifejackets or similar approved articles of equal buoyancy suitable to be worn on the person.” I am only referring to that for this purpose. I only want to show that the policy has been the same in this country and in Germany to encourage efficient watertight compartments, and that those charged with the administration of these maritime matters in Germany as well as here have taken the view that, provided there is an efficient subdivision of proper watertight compartments, there is an exemption from the provision that the full number of additional craft of all kinds shall be carried.
   167   168   169   170   171   172   173   174   175   176   177