Page 89 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 89
The answer to that question is that we do not know, because nobody has been called from that steamer, whatever she was. All we can do is to speculate. The Commissioner: You may be wrong about that. A number of people were called from the “Titanic.” Mr. Dunlop: Yes, but if it was not the “Titanic”? The Commissioner: I agree that if it was not the “Titanic,” nobody has been called from this steamer. Mr. Dunlop: Nobody has been called from the steamer and therefore we can only speculate as to why it was that this steamer which the “Californian” witnesses describe was seen exhibiting rockets. They have given their explanation and put forward their theories, and I want to mention the theories which have been put forward to your Lordship, because I submit that the theories of the men who were on the spot, who not only saw the rockets, but also saw the movements and the class of vessel that was exhibiting the rockets, is very much more likely to be right than the opinion of people who like ourselves were not there. The explanation of these rockets in the first place may be that they were answering rockets, that they were rockets fired by a vessel which was between the “Californian” and the “Titanic,” fired in answer to some other vessel which may have been in distress; or, it may be that the vessel which fired the rockets had sustained the kind of damage which a vessel is likely to sustain in field ice; she may have broken a blade or two of her propeller or damaged her rudder and wanted a tow in daylight. She may have been signaling to the “Californian” to stand by till daylight with a view to towing her if she required towage in the morning. The Commissioner: I do not know; do people signal by means of rockets in such a way as to indicate a request to stand by? Mr. Dunlop: It is the only means. The Commissioner: I thought the signals were “Come to our assistance,” not to stand by. Mr. Dunlop: My Lord, there is no other signal to the eye, if you exclude Morse signalling, than rockets. The Commissioner: Would rockets mean, or may they mean, “We are foundering”? Mr. Dunlop: It may mean that and it may mean a great deal less than that. The Commissioner: You do not stand by at a distance of 10 miles for that. Mr. Dunlop: The evidence is 6 miles. The Commissioner: You go to the vessel, at least, I should think so. What is the use of standing by 6 miles away when a vessel is going down to the bottom? I do not know. Mr. Dunlop: No, my Lord, but supposing this vessel was not going down to the bottom? The Commissioner: We do not know whether she was or was not. Mr. Dunlop: No. The Commissioner: Are you going to stand off 6 miles away and trust to chance and say to yourselves “She may be going down to the bottom or she may not, so we will stay here”? Mr. Dunlop: What these witnesses saw was this: they saw a vessel steaming through field ice and then stopping, and they had this vessel under observation. It may well have been that this steamer stopped because owing to moving in field ice she had damaged her propeller or her rudder, stops for the purpose of making an examination, discovers on examination that she has damaged her rudder or propeller, sees a vessel some five or six miles away which she may want to tow her when towage is possible, and signals to her for that purpose. She has no other means of conveying to that other vessel the request that that other vessel shall stand by her. At least, I know of no other signal. If she has wireless telegraphy she may do it by wireless or she may use Morse signals, but this vessel was not in fact using Morse signals while she was under observation. Eliminating wireless telegraphy and Morse signalling she was using the only means of communication that would be at her disposal.
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