Page 18 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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it was close upon the nose of the ship. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, and that can only be accounted for by the two combined circumstances of the black berg, and the absence even of a swell. These two unusual circumstances were combined. That is, of course, an extraordinary combination; and it was that which led to this berg not being seen before. There was a sharp look-out. The men had been specially cautioned to look-out for icebergs and for growlers, and they were looking out; there was a good look-out both from the bridge and from the crow’s-nest. It was not seen. The answer to the question why it was not seen is simply this, that you had an unexampled state of things, because two very rare things happened to be combined on that one occasion. And then, my Lord, the circumstances of the accident itself are of the same extraordinary nature. As soon as the berg is reported the order was given, “Hard-a-starboard.” Judging by looking to what followed upon that order, it might be said: “It is a pity it was given,” but it would have been a most grossly improper thing not to give the order. “Error of judgment.” if used with reference to that order, can only be in this sense that, as things turned out, it was unfortunate - most unfortunate. The Commissioner: It may have been; it depends entirely upon Mr. Wilding’s view. That it was good seamanship I suppose no one doubts. Sir Robert Finlay: No; in fact, it would have been outrageously bad seamanship to hold on even with reversing. The Commissioner: The only thing is that, if Mr. Wilding is right, then running stem on would have caused the loss of 200 lives, but would have saved the ship and the other lives that were lost. Sir Robert Finlay: I think that is very probable, my Lord. The Commissioner: That is what Mr. Wilding means, I suppose. Sir Robert Finlay: I think it is so, judging from what we know from this vessel; if you had run right on to the berg there would have been a tremendous shock, and all the people in the forepart of the ship would have been killed, particularly the firemen. The Commissioner: But she would not have scraped a hole right along her side, and she would not have foundered. Sir Robert Finlay: No. The Commissioner: That is what he says. Sir Robert Finlay: That is so. That is manifestly so, because if you hit the iceberg end on it does not matter if there is a projecting spike. The Commissioner: It is not worthwhile discussing it. Have we got anything to do with it? We are all agreed that Murdoch was quite right in doing what he did. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, and it would have been grossly wrong if he had not given the order. The Commissioner: Yes. Sir Robert Finlay: And the extraordinary thing is, my Lord - and this completes the sum of remarkable circumstances which attended this accident - that they almost avoided it altogether. It was only the third extraordinary circumstance of there being at the corner, just as they were clearing this iceberg, a projecting spike which caught the starboard bow and proceeded to rip it up for six compartments, which caused this deplorable catastrophe. The Commissioner: I do not know that it was ripped up continuously. It seems to me, from my view of the evidence as to the character of the injuries to the ship, that there were several separate holes. Sir Robert Finlay: That is Mr. Wilding’s view, my Lord. It is clear from Mr. Wilding’s evidence that in his view it was not a rip up such as would be made by a knife put into a space between the lid of a box and the box itself - a ripping up continuously - but that it was a series of stabs.
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