Page 21 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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regard to the watertight doors? - (A.) I saw Mr. Murdoch closing them then, pulling the lever.” That is the lever on the bridge. “15353: And did the Captain then come out on to the bridge? - (A.) The Captain was alongside of me when I turned round. (Q.) Did you hear him say something to the First Officer? - (A.) Yes, he asked him what he had struck. (Q.) What conversation took place between them? - (A.) The First Officer said, ‘An iceberg, sir. I hard a- starboarded and reversed the engines, and I was going to hard a-port round it but she was too close. I could not do any more. I have closed the watertight doors.’ The Commander asked him if he had rung the warning bell, and he said ‘Yes.’ (Q.) Did the Captain and the First Officer go to the starboard side of the bridge to see if they could see the iceberg? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Did you see it yourself? - (A.) I was not too sure of seeing it. I had just come out of the light, and my eyes were not accustomed to the darkness.” Then he left the deck and went down. So that your Lordship sees that those two passages prove conclusively that the Captain was close at hand. He was going on to the bridge out of the room which really forms part and parcel of the bridge, and was backwards and forwards. The Commissioner: I think the light would be turned up in his room; I should think so. Sir Robert Finlay: It may have been. It must have been turned up when he was pricking off the stellar bearings. The Commissioner: That is what occurred to me. I am told that was at 10 o’clock. Sir Robert Finlay: That is so, my Lord. Very often a man turns down the light if there is nothing that he wants to do, merely as a relief to the eyes. It may or may not have been; there is no evidence to the point one way or the other. Then there is one other passage which shows how ready the Captain was to come out. That you will find at page 38, Question 1025, in the evidence of Hichens. Hichens is asked what happened after the collision: “1025. Tell us what you heard in the way of command? - (A.) Just about a minute, I suppose, after the collision, the Captain rushed out of the room and asked Mr. Murdoch what was that, and he said, “An iceberg, sir;” and he said, “Close the watertight door.” (The Commissioner.) Wait a minute. A minute after the collision Captain Smith - (The Attorney-General.) Came out of his room on to the bridge, do you mean? - (A.) Yes, Sir. He passed through the wheelhouse on to the bridge. (Q.) He rushed out of his room through the wheelhouse on to the bridge? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) And asked Murdoch, “What is that?” - (A.) Yes.” So that it is quite clear that Captain Smith was not lying down; he was not asleep; he was ready, and he came out at once dressed. And your Lordship remembers that Mr. Murdoch, who was left in charge on the bridge, was an officer of very long experience. He had an extra-master’s certificate; he had been on the “Olympic,” and he was a man that the Captain was perfectly justified in leaving in charge. There were no special circumstances of danger. On the contrary, the Captain had said, “If the least haze comes on fetch me at once.” Then your Lordship recollects that an entry had been made in the night order book with regard to the ice, and that the messages had been stuck up in the chart room in the usual way. Will your Lordship look at page 308, Question 13700, in the middle of the second column. The Witness, Mr. Lightoller, asks if he may say one fact that he had just remembered: “13700. Do? - (A.) Speaking about the Commander, with reference to ice, of course, there was a footnote on the night order book with regard to ice. The actual wording I cannot remember, but it is always customary. Naturally every Commander in the night order book issues his orders for the night, and the footnote had reference to keeping a sharp look-out for ice. That is initialled by every officer. (Q.) Who was it that took the ship over from you at 10 o’clock? - (A.) Mr. Murdoch. (Q.) Mr. Murdoch, the First Officer.” Then, my Lord, I need not go through the evidence which is clear and explicit as to the fact that special caution was given to the officers on the bridge and to the look-out men to be on a sharp look-out for ice, icebergs and growlers. I submit that everything was done, by the light of things as they were then known, that prudence could suggest.
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