Page 191 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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more than half of them, and considerably more than half, were carried in British vessels. We do know the number of lives lost in British vessels, and that is nine during those ten years. That is the point I wanted to bring to your Lordship’s attention. That really means this, whether they were right or wrong in the view that they took, that it was much more important that they should have a construction of vessels - I think I am entitled to say the vessels themselves forming lifeboats - that it was much more important that they should have vessels constructed with efficient watertight compartments (although I agree they have no power to enforce it; I am going to call attention to that in a moment) than that they should have a larger provision of boats. Again, the view which they took, whether right or wrong - certainly the view that Sir Alfred Chalmers took, who was at the head for so many years - was that it was not possible to have a larger number of boats without interfering with the vessel, without hampering her decks, and without, at any rate, providing boats which he thought it would be very difficult to launch. Whether he was right or wrong in that, certainly the result is this, that very few lives were lost, and the importance of it is, that fewer lives were lost during that ten years than in the preceding ten years. In the preceding ten years, your Lordship will remember, the figures that were given corresponding to the figures that I gave just now, were three and a half millions, and during those ten years the total number of passengers lost was 73. The Commissioner: Those figures are all set out in Sir Robert Finlay’s speech. The Attorney-General: Yes, they are taken from the evidence. The Commissioner: He used them for the purpose of showing how negatively good the system of steaming ahead without taking into account the possibility of there being ice on the track had been. The Attorney-General: And there is, of course, this observation to be made with regard to both arguments, with regard to the purpose for which he used them, and the purpose for which I am using them, that these arguments stand very well until you get a disaster of this character. Then, no doubt, you have got totally different considerations to apply, and the only use I am intending to make of it is not to say it is unnecessary to provide for their boat accommodation in the future, but I am putting it before you for your Lordship’s consideration, as, at least, evidence which justified the Board of Trade, if it had been right in its opinion upon the material which it hitherto had had, in coming to the conclusion that further boat accommodation was not necessary in vessels of 10,000 tons. That is all I want to say about it. The Commissioner: I think you are also entitled to say this, that they knew that, Rules or no Rules, these big liners were provided with boats far in excess of the requirements of their own Rules. The Attorney-General: Yes. Wherever you are dealing with these big liners undoubtedly they did, as is shown from the Tables and considerably in excess. Undoubtedly these vessels did, trading as they were, and carrying as did the “Olympic,” for example, a boat accommodation, which, I think I am right in saying was equivalent to 53 percent of the number of persons carried on the ship. She carried boat accommodation for 1,178 persons, and according to the Board of Trade Regulations she would have had to carry accommodation for 962, or 9,625 cubic feet, as against 11,325 cubic feet which she did carry. There is this observation to be made, which I am sure is present to your Lordship’s mind, that in fact the accommodation for 1,178 persons on this particular voyage in this disaster was not even used; I mean to say the full capacity of it, although available, was not used by those on board the “Titanic.” All that you have is that 711 persons were saved out of the total number that could have been saved, according to the capacity of the boats and assuming that the last collapsible was launched, namely, 1,178. I only use that for the purpose of showing this, that even with the comparatively large boat accommodation that there was of 53 percent of the persons carried, nothing like that number of
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