Page 27 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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Gulf Stream Eastward of 65 deg. W. longitude is usually in streaks of warm water with colder water between.” The Commissioner: And “Its rate diminishes as the Westerly longitude decreases.” Sir Robert Finlay: That is to say, as it is going Eastward its rate is falling until it becomes very slight when it gets to the West coast of Scotland. So that I submit to your Lordship that it is impossible to deduce from the coldness of the water - which I will deal with more in detail by- and-by - that they were in the Labrador Current. That would be an extraordinary phenomenon, because it would mean this: that the Labrador Current was running on the surface at a spot where all the charts show the Gulf Stream. The Commissioner: I see there is also on the chart: “Average Northern limit of the Gulf Stream.” Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. Your Lordship will observe with reference to what your Lordship said just now as to the average Northern limit that at the Southern side you have got a Note which seems to import that the arrows there mark the limit in that direction, for the Note is: “South of this line the currents are variable.” The Commissioner: “South of this line the currents are variable, but North of the line they are not.” Sir Robert Finlay: Yes. I can only say how much I deplore the fact that Captain Smith is not here. With his enormous experience of the Atlantic he would have been able to tell us what passed through his mind, and to deal with every suggestion that may be made. The Commissioner: Unfortunately we have to do our best without him. Sir Robert Finlay: I can only deal with all these suggestions to the best of my ability, and by the light of the evidence. The Commissioner: I think all that was meant was that your observations were not conclusive, and that they leave some matters in doubt. Sir Robert Finlay: I could not aspire, my Lord, to put the case with regard to the considerations that influenced Captain Smith in the course that he took on a basis of certainty. I can only offer what I submit is a very probable explanation, and I can only lament most deeply the fact that we have not got the means of knowing what this very experienced officer thought of the situation, and what were the elements which he took into account in making this diversion from his course. Your Lordship asked that I should give at this point the references with regard to the messages not delivered. I was about to do that. The Commissioner: I am not sure that I am asking you a question the answer to which will be material, but I should like to know - I had better know it, I think - what was the ice that he did encounter, if it is to be identified at all with the ice in the Marconigram. Sir Robert Finlay: It is not to be identified; it is impossible to identify it. What I say is this. It must have been a berg which at the time the “Caronia” ice was seen on the 12th was to the Northward of that ice, and which had come down under the influence of the Labrador Stream affecting the big bergs - had come down to the Southward and got to that spot. He avoided the “Caronia” ice because the “Caronia” ice would have passed further to the South than his track. He did not avoid this because this was in the rear of the “Caronia” ice and unfortunately caught the “Titanic.” But he had no warning of it, and it is absolutely impossible to identify this ice as belonging to any ice which had been seen in a Northerly position. It may in all probability be part of the ice reported in the “Mesaba’s” message. The Commissioner: It occurs to me that it was the ice reported by the “Mesaba” message, because the actual striking took place in a region which the “Mesaba” message referred to. Sir Robert Finlay: I quite agree, my Lord, and for that reason I was about to give your Lordship the reference to the Marconigrams not delivered. There are two other references in the same connection which relate to other messages which I had better give, and then I will read the
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