Page 207 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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not really more - to explain that he did not understand what that white rocket meant, but my submission is that it completely breaks down. The suggestion at first was that it was a Company’s signal. He admitted quite plainly that he knew it was not a Company’s signal, or, at any rate, received no satisfactory explanation that it was a Company’s signal. Will your Lordship look at page 161, Question 6898; “(A.) I heard of one rocket. I did not see it fired. (Q.) You heard of one? - (A.) Yes.(Q.) That was before you went to the chart room? - (A.) No, at a quarter-past one.” Then, at Question 6902: “(Q.) Did you remain in the chart room when you were told that a vessel was firing a rocket? - (A.) I remained in the chart room when he told me this vessel had fired a rocket. (Q.) I do not understand you. You knew, of course, that there was danger in this field of ice to steamers? - (A.) To a steamer steaming, yes. (Q.) You knew there was danger? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) That is why you stopped? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) And you knew also that it was desirable, at any rate, to communicate with the ‘Titanic’ to tell her that there was ice? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) You had done that? - (A.) I had done that. (Q.) And you knew that this vessel, whatever it was, that you saw, had stopped? - (A.) Had stopped, yes. (Q.) I do not understand - it may be my fault? - (A.) Shall I explain to you? (Q.) What did you think this vessel was firing rockets for? - (A.) I asked the Second Officer. I said, ‘Is that a Company’s signal?’ and he said he did not know. (Q.) Then that did not satisfy you? - (A.) No, it did not. (Q.) I mean whatever it was it did not satisfy you that it was a Company’s signal? - (A.) It did not, but I had no reason to think it was anything else.” The Commissioner: That is a curious condition of mind. The Attorney-General: Very. And if your Lordship looks at the question just opposite to that, after a series of questions we get eventually to Question 6943. “(Q.) Very well, that did not satisfy you? - (A.) It did not satisfy me. (Q.) Then if it was not that, it might have been a distress signal? - (A.) It might have been. (Q.) And you remained in the chart room? - (A.) I remained in the chart room.” Now, my Lord, that establishes quite clearly this, that he thought it might have been, and the moment a man thinks it might have been a distress signal and does not know what else it could be, I should have thought it really means that he knew - I will not say he was quite certain - but he knew at any rate this, that there was a serious possibility of some vessel being in urgent need of assistance close by. It is very difficult to understand. I find it very difficult to understand in reading through all this evidence why it was that in those circumstances he remained in the chart room and took no step. Your Lordship will see what he does. He says he remained there expecting Gibson, the Apprentice, to come down and report. I want to make this comment upon that evidence. It is very unfortunate, to say the least of it, that there is no entry made in the log of these distress signals. The shifting of time, according to the evidence that is given, has some bearing upon it. It is said, for example, in this case that this white rocket, the first distress signal, was not seen till a quarter-past one. It is very difficult to explain that, in view of the evidence of the “Titanic,” which is that they were sending up these rockets from 12.45. I should have thought upon this evidence and upon the evidence which follows it, that the estimate of time must be quite wrong. The Commissioner: There might be some difference in the clocks of the two vessels. The Attorney-General: Yes, certainly, there might be. The Commissioner: That might partly account for it. The Attorney-General: Yes, it might; but having regard to the news they got in the early morning of the loss of the “Titanic,” I cannot help thinking it is very striking that you find no entry of any sort or description of the distress signals which had undoubtedly been seen during that night, and to the number of eight. According to the Apprentice Gibson it is about 2 o’clock that he goes down into the chart room. That is the time which he gives. That is at Question 7277. The Master speaks of it, and says he came down at about 2 o’clock, and he gave that
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