Page 22 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 22
Now, may I return to a point which I have already touched upon to some extent, and that is as to what the Captain did in another respect - changing his course, that is to say, leaving the track by continuing to the Southward. May I ask your Lordship for this purpose to glance again at the large chart which I handed up showing the ice that had been reported. I ask your Lordship to look at this for the purpose of showing the position of the ice which had been reported to the officers; secondly, for the purpose of showing that the ice which had been reported did not strike the “Titanic”; that the “Titanic” successfully avoided that ice owing to the course that the Captain took; and, in the third place, that the alteration in course which the Captain made was a most proper alteration to make, under the circumstances, for the reasons which I shall submit to your Lordship. A good many questions were asked as to why there were no special instructions given by the White Star Company, or by any Company indeed, to the officers with regard to ice. I think the answer was that which was indicated by your Lordship more than once, when this class of question was put: “What special instructions can you give?” There were special instructions with regard to the field ice on the Northern route - the Canadian route, as it is called - not going into field ice. The Commissioner: At all. Sir Robert Finlay: At all. That is a very special matter incidental to that route. If the ice continues to go further South, as it has been doing of late, it may be necessary to issue a similar notice with regard to field ice on tracks which hitherto have been absolutely immune from it. But we are face to face - and Captain Smith on the “Titanic” has had the first bitter experience of it - with a new state of things - the ice encroaching a great deal further to the South than has hitherto been the case. No special instructions could be given, as your Lordship pointed out, except that it is a matter that must be left to the Captain. He is told to make the safety of the ship and the passengers the first concern, and it must be left to his judgment what is to be done in any particular case. Now, my submission to your Lordship is that the alteration of course which he made was an eminently judicious one, and that, as a matter of fact, he did avoid the ice which had been reported, and that the iceberg which struck him must have been other ice which had not been reported at all. What he did was to continue on the track past the corner; he turned 10 miles further. The Commissioner: There is a little discrepancy between your chart and the course you have marked on it, and the chart as my colleagues have marked it, working back from the point of collision. Sir Robert Finlay: I hope it is not very serious. The Commissioner: I do not think it is very serious; there is a little discrepancy. Sir Robert Finlay: I do not think a slight discrepancy one way or the other will affect the argument. The Commissioner: I do not think it does. Sir Robert Finlay: Might I know what it is, my Lord, for the sake of complete accuracy? The Commissioner: The difference is this: We have assumed that the ship went to the corner, and then, instead of turning the corner, continued on the same course. You have assumed that the ship never went to the corner at all, but got to the Northward of it. Sir Robert Finlay: I think, my Lord, the evidence bears that out. The Commissioner: Which? Sir Robert Finlay: Our view. The Commissioner: I thought there was no evidence about it. Sir Robert Finlay: We have had evidence, my Lord, that the course was South 62 deg. West, true, and that is what we have taken. It deviates a little to the North of the track. The Commissioner: I think we all agree that for the purpose of this case it makes no difference. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. What he did was this: he ran that further to the South - he ran on some
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