Page 34 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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evidence which he has I should have had to call your Lordship’s attention to a great part of it, which I do not propose to do now because your Lordship has the relevant passages. The Commissioner: We have it on the Note, so that it is like an index book now to me. The Attorney-General: There are some other passages to which I shall call attention, but of course it will only be necessary to direct your mind to a few. Sir Robert Finlay: My Lord, now I pass to the question of the boats and what happened after the collision had taken place. Attacks of several kinds have been suggested, and here I am speaking, not so much of my friend the Attorney-General as of other gentlemen who have appeared in the case for various parties. Attacks of various kinds have been made upon the Company. It has been said that the Company are to blame for not having provided more boats than they did on the “Titanic”; and secondly, that there was a want of discipline and proper training with reference to the use to be made of these boats, and that that resulted in a smaller number of people being taken away than otherwise might have been taken. I propose to deal with these points. I trust that it is not necessary for me to say very much upon the first point, as to whether more boats ought to have been carried. When a disaster of this kind takes place there is very naturally a public cry as to why there were not boats capable of taking every person on board, and Mr. Scanlan, who dealt particularly with this part of the case, suggested that the Board of Trade were very much to blame, and that the Company were very much to blame for not having had boats adequate to carry every person on board. The truth is that, as regards the question of boats, you must adopt what may be called a reasonable compromise. The whole direction of the energy of shipowners has been towards securing that the ship itself is so thoroughly well built and equipped that there is very little likelihood of loss. At the same time you do not dispense with boats altogether, because the unexpected may happen, and you may want boats for a variety of purposes - communication with other vessels and so on. The result is the Recommendations which the Board of Trade have made and which are embodied in their regulations which have been considered so amply. It is enough for me, I think, to point out that what we carried was very considerably in excess of what was required by the Board of Trade, and very considerably in excess of what we should have been obliged to carry even if the Recommendations of the Advisory Committee had been carried into effect, because there is in those recommendations a provision that where there are watertight compartments a certain reduction may be obtained. If Mr. Scanlan’s point is right, he really blames not only the White Star Line, but he blames the whole world. He begins, of course, with the Board of Trade, and says that we ought to have seen that their requirements were grossly inadequate, and that although we largely exceeded them we did not exceed them sufficiently. Then he involves in the same condemnation all other British shipowners and all foreign shipowners because no shipowner with vessels of this class carries boats up to the capacity of the ship for passengers. There was immediately after the disaster an extra provision of boats made under circumstances which Mr. Sanderson very frankly explained. He said there was a great public outcry. Of course, a commercial company is dependent upon the public for support, and we endeavoured to meet that cry by putting on board a great number of boats. We began by putting on board boats enough to carry all that the steamer had capacity to carry. We found that was absurd and so inconvenient that we dropped it, and we have been carrying, taking lifeboats and collapsibles together, enough to carry all that were on board on any particular passage. But the question is whether as things stood at the time the “Titanic” went to sea there was anything blameworthy in not providing more boats. Now, my Lord, may I very shortly - because I do not think I ought very much to elaborate this point - indicate the considerations which go to show that the Company did all that could be required of them, and more than all that could be required of them. The Board of Trade
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