Page 202 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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out because, as I have said, I do not think the evidence quite establishes it, and therefore I do not want to put it too high. But assuming you have the vessel grievously wounded as this one was, penetrated through five compartments, then, of course, the difficulties are immensely multiplied, and I do not suppose anybody ever contemplated that would happen; and it never could have happened if it had not been for the fact that this vessel was going at 22 knots, which is such an important factor in it, and that she came across this submerged part of a berg which seems to have somehow had a number of projections which caused this damage. Mr. Laing: It was six or seven compartments. The Attorney-General: I know, if you take Nos. 1, 2 and 3 holds; but you cannot call them compartments quite. If you take it as it is in the forepeak and in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd holds and also in No. 6, which is the foremost boiler section, and No. 5 boiler section, there is no doubt of the holing. If you treat those as separate compartments, it would make six, without taking into account No. 4. With No. 4 it would make seven. But your Lordship knows how that stands. The importance of it in my mind, according to the submission I am making to you, is that this particular damage that was done to this vessel, as we know it, was of a kind which nobody had ever contemplated as possible. That, I submit, is the true explanation. The Commissioner: Can you tell me this; has an unsinkable ship ever been constructed? The Attorney-General: Not that we know. I do not know of any. These vessels which have been referred to, and vessels of that kind, like the “Mauretania” and “Lusitania,” were thought to be unsinkable in a comparative sense. You cannot put it any higher than that. It does not mean that it was impossible to sink them. What it did mean was that so far as one knew they never would be sunk because they were so constructed that they would float under conditions which it was thought comprised every possible danger that might happen to them. That, I think, was the view held right up to the disaster to the “Titanic.” The Commissioner: There are a great many gentlemen who imagine that they can construct ships which would be unsinkable, and I have received endless notices of valuable patents for that purpose. The Attorney-General: I know. One gentleman is very anxious that I should interest myself in a scheme under some patent of his which would save every person within five minutes of a disaster happening of whatever form or kind, and he is quite ready to expound it. The Commissioner: And give him a fortune? The Attorney-General: Oh, yes, my Lord, which he is anxious to share with me, provided that I supply the capital. Now, my Lord, I think that exhausts what I want to say to your Lordship about the boat accommodation and the criticism that has been directed to that. All I am anxious is that your Lordship should have present to your Lordship’s mind, as you have, all the considerations which may be urged pro and con when dealing with the criticisms and comments which have been made in reference to the Board of Trade. Now I propose to deal with the last question, and that is, as to the “Californian.” I want to preface any observations I am going to make - The Commissioner: You must tell me what my position is with regard to the “Californian.” The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord. First of all the view which I take of it is that so far from being desirous of bringing home to the Captain of the “Californian,” or to any of the officers of the “Californian,” that they saw distress signals and that they took no step after they had seen them, I am most anxious, and have been throughout, to find some possible excuse, for the inaction on the part of the “Californian.” It is not a case of desiring to bring home to them that they did not do their duty; our anxiety and your Lordship’s anxiety would be, if possible, to find some reason to explain the failure by them to take any steps when they had seen distress signals. I can only say that to me it is a matter of extreme regret that I have come to the conclusion that
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