Page 186 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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those reports then, did they formulate the Rules? Then having got those Rules, they tell the Committee what they are going to do. The Commissioner: How do you explain the delay between 1890 and 1911? The Attorney-General: 1894 your Lordship means. The Commissioner: Yes, 1894 and 1911. During the whole of that time apparently ships were increasing in size; they were carrying more and more people? The Attorney-General: Yes; but the view taken always was that the number of boats was sufficient as in the first instance, when the Rule was first formulated. The Commissioner: But the question is, was that a reasonable view to take. It evidently was not the right view; and the shipowners themselves recognised that it was not the right view, because they themselves increased them far beyond the statutory requirements. The Attorney-General: I quite agree; but it was the view taken as the result of the Committee which sat in those days. The Commissioner: Which days? The Attorney-General: 1890 and 1894, my Lord. The Commissioner: Yes, but then things change. The Attorney-General: Yes, that is quite right, my Lord; but at the same time, since 1894, when the Rules were formulated for 10,000 tons and upwards, you have got vessels much above that tonnage. The Commissioner: The biggest boat in those days, if I recollect rightly, did not exceed 13,000 tons. The Attorney-General: Not quite 13,000. The “Lucania” was one. And then the provision was made, of course, that anything over and above 10,000 tons would have to carry this particular number of boats, and there it was left, and nothing further was done. The view seems to have been that as we were proceeding, and vessels were being constructed which were better equipped as regards watertight compartments, the larger vessels that were being constructed had the best provision for watertight compartments, and that, therefore, they were as unsinkable as it was possible to make vessels according to the view that was held up to that time, and it appears that with the larger vessels carrying passengers and emigrants, it was thought that the vessels were practically unsinkable. That is the reason, as far as I am able to make out. The Commissioner: The reason for the long delay between 1894 and 1911 is stated in the evidence of Sir Alfred Chalmers at page 630. Mr. Aspinall was examining the witness and it begins thus: “I considered the matter very closely from time to time. I first of all considered the record of the trade - that is to say, the record of the casualties - and to see what immunity from loss there was. I found it was the safest mode of travel in the world, and I thought it was neither right nor the duty of a State department to impose regulations upon that mode of travel as long as the record was a clean one.” I do not read the whole of it, but it goes on much further; however, that reason was as forcible at any time before the disaster to the “Titanic” as during those years that he is talking about. I do not see why, unless the “Titanic” disaster had happened they should have altered the watertight compartments according to that view. But there is this to be said, Mr. Attorney - I do not know whether you will agree with me - that if they had made Rules, the Rules would not in all probability have provided for a larger number of boats that there were in fact carried on the “Titanic.” That is so, is it not? The Attorney-General: Oh, yes. The Commissioner: So that it may be said that the absence of the Rules in no way aggravated the calamity that happened. At the same time the delay that took place does require some explanation. Perhaps it is in that evidence of Sir Alfred Chalmers. It strikes the imagination at once! Rules made in 1894, laying down how many boats should be carried by ships up to 10,000 tons and upwards; nothing done until the “Titanic” disaster, and nothing done even now.
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