Page 212 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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possible explanation of what happened, except it may be that the Captain of the vessel was in ice for the first time, and would not take the risk of going to the rescue of another vessel which might have got into trouble, as he thought, from proceeding through ice when he himself had stopped. But even that does not explain why they did not call up the wireless operator to ascertain what the condition of things was. We have heard no explanation of it. I think your Lordship is left absolutely in the dark with reference to it. One can only conjecture, and I do not know that it is perhaps quite safe to speculate upon the reasons that made Captain Lord neither come out of his chart room to see what was happening, nor to take any step to communicate with the vessel in distress, even such a very slight effort as to have the wireless operator called up. So far as it throws any light upon this Enquiry I do submit that the answer is to be found in the evidence to which I have already called attention, and that really we get very little assistance by going further into it. That this vessel, the “Californian,” could have got to the “Titanic” and might have got to the “Titanic” in time to save the passengers is, I am afraid, the irresistible conclusion from this evidence. If she was at this distance of 5 to 7 miles, and she could steam 11 knots an hour; she did steam 11 - she could, in fact, do as much as 13 - even allowing for her having to deviate so as to avoid the ice-field, there still would have been a very considerable opportunity for her to have got there in time, more especially, I think, if you take into account that there must have been some discrepancy between the clocks, or anyhow, the time as given of these events by the witnesses for the “Californian.” We know, fortunately, in one way the times at which the various things happened on board the “Titanic” with some exactness, partly by reason of the wireless messages which enable us to tell accurately what was happening within a few moments right up to the time when the “Titanic” was no longer able to send wireless messages, and if you put those times together, and compare them with the times of the “Californian,” it is quite plain that at a quarter to one they were sending up rockets, and it is equally plain that the “Californian” must have seen the first or among the first of the rockets that were sent up by the “Titanic”; and it, therefore, must place the time, if you are comparing it with the “Titanic” time, at a quarter to one or thereabouts, and not a quarter-past one. In point of fact the “Titanic” did not go down for an hour and a half after that, and that gave an hour and a half for this vessel, which could steam as much as 13 knots, but was certainly able to steam 11 knots; and putting it even further than the five to seven miles, it still gave her ample time to get there. Of course, the Captain says he was 19 1/2 miles away. No human being would suggest that the “Californian” could have seen the sidelights of the “Titanic,” either her red light or her green light at a distance of 19 ½ miles. She must have been within an easy distance in order that her masthead lights and her sidelights were seen, as they were, by the “Californian.” And, my Lord, I would add to that that the “Californian” is shown to have been seen by the “Titanic”; that in any event the light that was seen so far as we know, according to all enquiries made and according to all the evidence put before you, was the light of the “Californian.” I will not say that all the evidence points irresistibly to that, but I do say this, that if you compare the “Titanic” evidence with the “Californian” it is abundantly plain that the distance between them must have been comparatively small, that is to say certainly within five to seven miles, and could not have been 19 to 20 miles as the Captain of the “Californian” suggests. Now I do not propose to go further into the evidence of the “Californian” unless your Lordship desires it, because it seems to me that when you have got those facts, really there is sufficient to establish quite clearly that these distress signals which were seen, were seen at a distance which would have enabled the “Californian” to get to the “Titanic.” That is no doubt a material point, in view of the question which is put to your Lordship. Now, my Lord, that I think concludes all that I desire to say to you upon the evidence in the case. The final conclusion to which I would call attention would be this, that this Court may recommend most useful precautions for saving life. The Board of Trade and Parliament may take
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