Page 24 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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The “Caronia” ice would consist partly of icebergs, according to the message. The Commissioner: Will you repeat the “Caronia” message. Sir Robert Finlay: If your Lordship pleases; I will have the exact terms looked up. The Commissioner: Just tell me, Sir Robert, so far as you remember it. Sir Robert Finlay: It was: “Ice reported, icebergs, pack ice and field ice in lat. N. 42 to long. 49 to 41.” That is the effect of it. I will give the exact terms in a moment. The Commissioner: That is sufficient; go on with your observations. Sir Robert Finlay: But there is this very important circumstance to be added - that that report from Westbound steamers was of ice on the 12th, and that makes all the difference; so that from the time when that ice was in that locality according to these reports, to the time of the collision, there was an interval of certainly not less than 48 hours, and probably something more, because th these vessels had reported to the “Caronia” ice in the locality I have mentioned on the 12 April. th That may have been any time between the early morning of the 12 April, which would be the Friday, and midnight on the Friday. So that you have got a minimum period of 48 hours down to the time of the disaster and very probably a good many hours more. Now what we have to consider is what the effect of the evidence as to the movement of ice is on the position that the “Caronia” ice would have reached by the time of the disaster at 11.50 on Sunday, the 14th. The ice reported was partly field ice and partly icebergs. So far as the field ice is concerned, so far as the icebergs are concerned that were not of great bulk so as to reach down through the Gulf Stream, the same observation holds good that I made a few minutes ago with regard to the other reports of ice. The Commissioner: That reached down to the Labrador Stream? Sir Robert Finlay: Exactly, my Lord. So far as the ice was field ice or comparatively small bergs, it would be under the influence only of the Gulf Stream, and it would go in an Easterly direction. It would not go where the “Titanic” was at all. So far as the ice reported by the “Caronia” consisted of bergs going through the Gulf Stream into the Labrador Current below, it would take a Southerly or South-Easterly direction under the combined influence of the Gulf Stream on the upper part of the submerged berg and the influence of the Labrador Current on the lower part of the berg. It would go in a South-Easterly direction. Your Lordship has it from the passages which I read from the “United States Pilot” very recently - I am afraid it was the day before yesterday - which will be in your Lordship’s recollection, that the strength of the Gulf Stream varies. It is less at the margin and more in the middle. I speak subject to correction by the experienced gentlemen by whom your Lordship is assisted, but two or three knots may be put as the strength of the Gulf Stream. The Labrador Current varies considerably. The “United States Pilot” puts one knot as a common strength for the Labrador Current. Your Lordship sees that by altering his course to the Southward, going further South than the track, Captain Smith increased the interval between himself and any field ice or bergs which did not reach down to the Labrador Current, and which would be drifting Eastward. He was further to the South and he gave them a wider berth. On the other hand, he did not go further to the South for this reason. He would know that the bergs that got down through the Gulf Stream into the Labrador Current would be drifting in a South-Easterly direction; and if he had gone further South during the 48 or 60 hours that the “Caronia” ice had had to drift before midnight on Sunday, the 14th, he would have impinged in all probability upon that “Caronia” ice. And here comes in the importance of the observation which Mr. Rostron made very concisely. An iceberg is a moving object. You treat an iceberg - I am amplifying what he said - as you treat another vessel which you come across in a course which crosses yours. You do not, because you are heading for a vessel some distance off at 6 p.m., change your course, because you know that while you are heading on for the spot where she is, when you see her she will have passed on further. Or if you had a vessel which was crossing your bows or from starboard to port in that direction, if you starboarded to that vessel
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