Page 173 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 173
The Commissioner: I do not see the reason. The Attorney-General: One reason I should think would be that they want to encourage vessels to have efficient watertight compartments. The Commissioner: It seems to me a most improper thing to bribe, as it were, the shipowner to build his vessel with the lives of the people who are on board. The Attorney-General: That is not what they intend to do. Both in Germany and here, what they thought they were doing by it - The Commissioner: As long as there is a reasonable possibility of the ship foundering why should there be less boat accommodation than the number of lives requires? The Attorney-General: The view, no doubt, is, that if you have provided efficient watertight compartments, you have made a very good provision against the foundering of the vessel; and that they can keep the vessel afloat so much longer, and that if you have a certain number of boats you may be able then, with this number, to get assistance or to take your passengers off to another vessel or to the shore, as the case may be, inasmuch as you can keep your vessel afloat so much longer if you have watertight compartments. The Commissioner: This Rule was made long before the days of Marconi apparatus. The Attorney-General: Oh, yes, it was made about 10 years before they had that. I think the evidence is the first vessel was in 1900 in which they had wireless telegraphy. The Report of Sir Edward Harland’s Committee was in 1890. The Commissioner: Was it, or was it in 1894? The Attorney-General: No, in 1894 there was another alteration. The Commissioner: There was one alteration, from 9,000 to 10,000. The Attorney-General: Yes; that is on a different matter. That is dealing with the scale of boats. But whatever the reason was, and I quite appreciate the criticism which may be directed in view of what we now know; it certainly would not entitle, and I would not suggest that it entitled, a shipowner to dispense with a sufficient number of boats. But the view taken, the policy pursued right through from 1894, not only here but abroad, was that if you had these watertight compartments you may dispense with some part of the additional boat accommodation. The Commissioner: There has been very little. The Attorney-General: Not much. I think we had the evidence. It is some 60 odd during the number of years, at most, three or four a year. The Commissioner: Are you upon the question of the Board of Trade now with reference to the boat accommodation? The Attorney-General: Yes, I shall have to deal with that now. The Commissioner: Are you upon it now? The Attorney-General: Yes, I indicated just now I am going to deal with the boat accommodation, and of course in considering it I have to consider the suggestion which was made and the criticism upon the conduct of the Board of Trade. I must consider that in dealing with the whole of this matter. It applies, and I think you must bear it in mind, both in dealing with the bulkheads and with the boats. What I wanted to say about the boats, before I get to what actually happened with the Board of Trade, is that one must bear in mind in this connection that so far as the records of loss of life at sea go there is no case on record where the boats provided have not been sufficient for the purposes of saving life. There is no case on record, according to the evidence - your Lordship will remember Captain Young was asked the question, and I think by your Lordship - in which it has been shown that life has been lost in consequence of an insufficiency of boats. You also have to bear in mind in this connection that for a great number of years the loss of life was very small compared to the number of passengers carried. The reason why I refer to that is, as your Lordship will appreciate, that the Committee that was sitting considering these matters and the Board of Trade afterwards, in dealing with the advice of the
   168   169   170   171   172   173   174   175   176   177   178