Page 90 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
P. 90
The first theory, namely, that these signals were not signals of distress in the sense of not being signals from a vessel which was herself in distress, was the theory of the witnesses from the “Californian,” the witnesses who saw the rockets. It is the view which they say they formed at the time; it is the view which they stated in the witness-box here. I will give your Lordship a reference to Stone’s evidence on this point, because Stone and Gibson were the two men on duty at the time these rockets were seen. Stone is Questions 7844, 7856, 7866, 7896 to 7898, 7970, 7993, and 7997. Gibson is Question 7696. Not only is it the view, they say, they formed at the time, and adhere to here, but it is the view which their reports conveyed at the time to the Master, Question 6917, and the view which their reports conveyed to the Chief Officer when they were relieved by the Chief Officer at 4 o’clock in the morning. That appears in the Chief Officer’s evidence at Questions 8582, 8586, 8611, 8862, and 8868. Ridicule was thrown at the time on this suggestion that a vessel would fire distress rockets as a means of answering some other vessel, but this theory obtained remarkable confirmation a day or two after the “Californian” witnesses left the witness-box, when we got the evidence from the “Carpathia.” The “Carpathia” sent up rockets in order to indicate to those in the “Titanic” that the “Titanic’s” distress signals had been recognised and that the “Carpathia” was going to her assistance. I should have thought it was the only means at night if a vessel sees another sending up distress rockets, and wishes to acknowledge that she has seen them and is going to act upon them. The Commissioner: Then why did not you send up rockets? Mr. Dunlop: We were Morse signalling to her, and we were standing by, so that the theory of the witnesses themselves is supported by what the “Carpathia” is said to have done at Question 9570; in other words, to sum it up, those rockets were not signals from a vessel in distress; they were answering signals, signals of reply, and not signals of request for assistance. That is their theory. If the Second Officer, who was the only officer who saw the rockets, had thought they were signals from a vessel herself in distress, what would his conduct have been? The Commissioner: That is what I wondered. Mr. Dunlop: In the first place, I submit he would have reported to the Master that he saw a ship in distress and signalling for assistance. He made no such report; he stopped and discussed whether they were private night signals, or whether they were signals of distress. The Commissioner: He should not have stopped to discuss anything about it; he should have gone to the Master at once. Mr. Dunlop: He did not do so, my Lord, because he did not think that they were signals from a vessel herself in distress. That is his view. His view may have been wrong or it may have been right, but he was there. The Commissioner: Was he the man who said “I do not suppose that ship is sending up those signals for nothing”? Mr. Dunlop: I think there was some discussion of that kind with Gibson, the Apprentice, or Gibson said so. What I wish to point out is that the conduct of the Second Officer at the time is quite inconsistent with the conduct of a man who has seen rockets which he thinks to be signals from a vessel herself in distress. The Commissioner: I agree with you there - it is. Mr. Dunlop: And therefore one has to look in order to ascertain what it really was they saw, one has to test it by what they did at the time, by their conduct, and their conduct at the time is the best indication in my submission, of what it really was that they saw, what impression was conveyed to their minds by the rocket which they saw, and the movements of the steamer which they saw. In the second place he would take effective measures to call the Master and get him to come on
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