Page 26 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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through this region; the Captain had made two communications to him of what they had seen, and he fused these two together in this message which states that they had seen “much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs, also field ice, weather good, clear.” Your Lordship will recollect how Mr. Lightoller, when this matter was brought forward by the Solicitor-General at a latish stage of Mr. Lightoller’s evidence, said, “We never could have got that.” The Commissioner: Speaking for myself I think it would be absolutely wrong to impute to the Captain a knowledge of the “Mesaba” message. If they did get that message they were grossly careless - very, very grossly careless. Sir Robert Finlay: But they did not get it, and why they did not get it is perfectly apparent. The Commissioner: Why they did not get it, I should think, is this, that Phillips was too busy to bother about it, he did not appreciate its significance. Sir Robert Finlay: He was very busy indeed, I am not blaming him. The Commissioner: I am not disposed to impute any great blame to Phillips. I daresay he thought that it was a matter of no consequence, and I daresay he had not the ability to distinguish the consequence of it. I do not know whether he had or had not. I suppose it would require him to have a chart before him and the ability to find out where upon the chart this message stated the ice to be. At the same time he had the directions, which we know, that all telegrams affecting the navigation of the ship are to take precedence of any others. Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. The Commissioner: He had that, and he must have neglected that because he must have seen that this was a Marconigram that did affect the navigation of the ship. Sir Robert Finlay: Your Lordship recollects the evidence. I will give you the references, if you desire it - showing that there was a mass of business to be done with Cape Race. The Commissioner: I shall want you to give me those references before you finish. Sir Robert Finlay: I will do it now, if your Lordship pleases. The Commissioner: It is suggested that the track may not have been safe from field ice - the track, that is to say, that he was following; the field ice was a good deal further South, according to these Marconigrams, than was usual. Sir Robert Finlay: I quite recognise that, my Lord, but it does not at all affect the observation your Lordship made. As a matter of fact, the “Titanic” did not encounter any field ice. The Commissioner: I was thinking of that observation, but the question is, were not the Marconigrams of such a nature as to give the Captain warning that he might encounter field ice? Sir Robert Finlay: I submit not, for this reason. The field ice in the “Caronia’s” message was in latitude 42 North. That field ice could not come in a Southerly direction. The current that would influence it would be the Gulf Stream, which goes to the North-East. The Commissioner: That is the difficulty. It is said that it does not at all follow that it could not come South. Sir Robert Finlay: It would be very extraordinary if it did. The Commissioner: It is suggested that the field ice behind it might be forced through. Sir Robert Finlay: But the Gulf Stream is a pretty broad thing, and where you get icebergs to the South of the Gulf Stream they are icebergs which have been forced through the Gulf Stream by the Labrador Current operating on the lower part of the icebergs; but with the field ice there is no such influence. The Commissioner: And I am reminded that the evidence is that the water at 10 o’clock that night was intensely cold. That looks as if they were not in the water of the Gulf Stream at that time. Sir Robert Finlay: I will refer presently to the evidence with regard to the temperature. There may be a local difference in the temperature in the Gulf Stream. With reference to what your Lordship said just now, I observe this Note on the small chart towards the left-hand side: “The
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