Page 181 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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serious import, and upon that matter hangs the whole of the so-called delay, which has taken place between the 4th July and the 4th April.” That is the 4th April, 1912. “The import of that was I had several matters to consider. In the course of my experience I had realised that the boats that were supplied to ships as lifeboats had been steadily deteriorating in form. I may say that is my opinion. And it appeared to me not only undesirable, but it would have been wrong, in my opinion, with those ideas, to advocate a very large extension of the boat scale; in other words, piling up a large number of boats on to a ship with the knowledge that I had in my mind at the time that those boats were not well adapted for that purpose. In other words, I was impressed with the view that in anything but the calmest weather those boats would not be able to carry in safety the number of people for which they measured; and, therefore, it was” - it is according to the report “unnecessary” but that is clearly wrong - and, therefore, it was necessary under those circumstances to associate with the Report of the Advisory Committee this question of the proper form of the ship’s lifeboats. That is the object that I had in view. That is the sole cause of the delay which has been attributed to the Board of Trade in this matter.” Then your Lordship puts to him: “Do you wish us to understand that the boats of the ‘Titanic’ were not in a proper form? - (A.) I am not alluding to the ‘Titanic,’ my Lord; I am alluding to the general question of the boats. I believe, from what I have seen of the boats that have been turned out from the yard of Harland and Wolff, that those boats are of the proper form. They are of very good form. But there were many ships’ boats turned out, and still are, of a form which is not the best form that can be used on board ships. I may as well say while I am on this subject that the Marine Department of the Board of Trade naturally would not take my assertion simply as an assertion, but they felt it was necessary that that assertion should be verified, and, therefore, they issued instructions for boats to be experimented with around the coast with a complement of persons for which the boats measured. I have no hesitation in saying that the results of those investigations and experiments have fully justified the action which I took on receipt of the Advisory Committee’s Report.” May I pause there for a moment just to say what it is he is explaining there. His view, rightly or wrongly was this, that before they issued these Instructions or Rules for the boat scale, they ought to take care also to have quite clear in their minds what construction of boat it was that they were going to require or what special provisions they were going to make and the ratio of depth to breadth. That was the point he had in mind because his view was that in order to make up the cubic capacity to what was required the boats were made far deeper than they ought to be, with the consequence that they would not be able to carry the number of persons for whom really boats of that cubic capacity were intended by the Board of Trade. That was his point. He took the view that in those circumstances what he had to do was to get quite clear what kind of boat they were going to prescribe, and what dimensions, so that they should not first of all issue regulations which would affect the mercantile marine as to the number of boats that were to be carried, and allow them to get boats of some particular construction and of dimensions then in force, when perhaps six or nine or twelve months later they might issue further regulations, saying that all boats must have a certain ration [ratio] of depth to breadth. That is what he has in mind. Whether it is right or wrong, of course, your Lordship will consider, but that is what he means by it, and he says he thought it was important that the Board of Trade in making the demands which it was going to make upon the mercantile marine, upon these passenger and emigrant vessels, should definitely determine for itself, not only the number of boats that were to be carried, but also the dimensions which they were going to require in respect of the boats to be supplied; so that one set of Rules could be provided dealing with the whole thing. One has to bear in mind, I think, in this connection, I submit to your Lordship, that at this time, and up to this time, from the figures which you have already got, the loss of life on this track was excessively small. There is no record of any such disaster as this, I mean no record which
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