Page 95 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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reports that he has seen rockets, but the Second Officer did not think and did not report that the steamer which was firing these rockets was in distress. That report did not convey, and was not intended to convey to the mind of the Master, that the vessel was in distress. The Master then told the Second Officer to Morse signal to her and find out why she was firing rockets and to send Gibson to report the result. At five minutes past two in the morning Gibson reports that she would not answer the Morse signals, that she had fired more rockets, and was steaming away to the South-West. At this point there is a conflict of evidence as to whether the Master was asleep, as he says he was, or was awake, as Gibson says he was. The truth probably lies between the two; the man was half asleep, and in that condition the Master repeated the question which he had put earlier in the evening to the Second Officer as to the colour of the rockets. I am going to submit he put that question because he could not understand how the steamer which he himself had seen and which was then reported to him to be steaming away to the South-West could be wanting assistance, and the description of her movements, therefore, created a doubt in his mind as to whether they were signals of distress or not, and, therefore, he enquired as to the colour of the rockets. He also asked what o’clock it was. I venture to think he asked that question because he wanted to know how long it was before daybreak, in case assistance might be wanted. The attitude of his mind was this: “If she is steaming away to the South-West, then these are not distress signals and she is not in need of my assistance. If she is lying stopped she may have sustained some damage to her propeller or her rudder. I can do nothing for her until daylight; I am stopped here in the ice and so is she. I will wait till daylight.” That appears to have been the attitude of his mind as the result of the communications made to him by the Second Officer and by the Apprentice Gibson. In any case, he was entitled to rely on the watch on deck sending for him if they thought there was any need for him to be on deck. They were the judges of the situation, and he was entitled to rely, and did rely, on their judgment. I should like to read two answers which he gave to Question 7373 and the following questions, because I submit those answers are the explanation of his inactivity. “(Q.) Did you question your Second Officer as to why you had not been called? - (A.) I did. (Q.) What was his explanation to you? - (A.) He said that he had sent down and called me; he had sent Gibson down, and Gibson had told him I was awake and I had said, ‘All right, let me know if anything is wanted.’ I was surprised at him not getting me out, considering rockets had been fired. He said if they had been distress rockets he would most certainly have come down and called me himself, but he was not a little bit worried about it at all. (Q.) If they had been distress rockets he would have called you? - (A.) He would have come down and insisted upon my getting up.” He was relying upon the Second Officer and Gibson, and if any erroneous impression was drawn by these men who were on watch, it was not Captain Lord’s fault. He was entitled to rely upon them, and he was lulled into a state of security and unsuspicion by the reports that he got and the way in which those reports were made. He is allowed to continue his sleep and is called at daybreak, in accordance with the orders he had given the night before. Then he hears of the loss of the “Titanic.” As soon as he hears of the loss of the “Titanic” he proceeds towards her with all possible speed, and all the witnesses are agreed that as soon as the necessity for taking action was brought home to Captain Lord’s mind he at once took action, and extreme action. He steamed at full speed through the field ice which has been described, and successfully did so, and at 8.30 he arrived at the “Carpathia’s” position. At 7.30 he passed a vessel blocked in the ice. He thought at the time it was the “Mount Temple.” It is quite clear now, from the evidence given by the Master of the “Mount Temple,” that the “Mount Temple” was a good deal further to the Southward, and, therefore, the vessel he saw stopped in the ice must have been some vessel other than the “Mount Temple.” But that is what he sees at 7.30, a vessel which although comparatively near the scene of the tragedy is
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