British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 2
Sunday, April 20, 1912

Testimony of Joseph Scarrott, cont.

472. And was your boat in good order?
- Yes.

473. Had she got her oars?
- Yes.

474. And her plug or plugs?
- Yes.

475. Did you notice anything else; what else had she got in her?
- Well, I could not go right into details. There was one thing we found was not in her after going away, and that was the boat's lamp; but as regards there being biscuits in the tanks we did not require to use them, so we did not sound the tanks to see if there were biscuits there, but there was an ample supply of water there, because we drank some of it, so we know.

476. Was it good water?
- Good fresh water.

477. Was there a place for this lamp in the boat?
- The usual place for a lamp to be in a boat when she is fully equipped is to be hung underneath one of the thwarts.

478. Did you look there?
- Yes.

479. And it was not there?
- It was not there. I looked under all the thwarts.

480. (The Commissioner.) Whose business is it to see that these lamps are in the boats?
- Any ship that I have been in in my experience it has been the boatswain's duty to see that all the boats are equipped.

481. It is the boatswain's duty to see the lamps are there?
- Yes.

482. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) How long do you think it was after the ship struck the iceberg until you got the women and children into your boat?
- Well, I should say, taking the time we got into the water, it would be half-past 12 we started getting the women into the boat - near about that time I should say.

483. As far as you could see, apart from the rush made by these few men, was there any panic?
- No panic whatever.

484. Were the people behaving well, as far as you could see?
- Exceptionally well.

485. The crew and the passengers?
- Yes.

486. I think you said you had ample time to make an inspection of your boat?
- Yes.

487. Before the women and children were put in?
- Yes.

488. You remember telling us that after you came on deck there was a general order, "Women and children first." Do you remember that?
- I remember that order.

489. Can you tell me what interval of time there was between that order being given and the women and children getting into your boat?
- About three minutes previous. It seemed no sooner the order came along my side of the deck from Mr. Wilde - I heard him personally give that order - we had just started to get people into the lifeboat. We heard that before he got abreast of our boat; we heard it further along the deck, and I continued getting the women in, and when Mr. Wilde came along he gave the order again and assisted me to get the women into the boat.

490. With regard to the women, I want you to tell me this; from your knowledge of the ship what were the means of summoning the women, say in the third class compartments to the place where the boats were to take the people off?
- I know of no special means of summoning them there.

491. You do not know?
- No.

492. I suppose that really is not in your department?
- No.

493. That is more in the stewards' department?
- Yes.

494. The stewards will tell us about that?
- Yes.

495. I suppose the boats are in a place where the first class passengers are allowed to go as soon as they are swung out and lowered a bit?
- And second class.

496. So that first and second class passengers in that sense would have a better chance of getting to the boats, would they not?
- Yes, on account of their being allowed on that deck.

497. You told me of the efforts that were made to save life after your boat had cast off, how you picked up people from what you called the raft. Did any people from the water try to get into your boat, and were told there was not room for them?
- No, not at all.

498. Did anything of that sort come under your notice, either in your boat or in any of the other boats which were about you?
- No, that is not to my knowledge; I speak for my own boat.

The Commissioner:
You are quite right; I only want your own knowledge.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I have nothing to ask at present, my Lord, but if any question should be put by any other of the gentlemen who are attending, your Lordship will allow me to cross-examine.

The Commissioner:
You can ask him in the way of re-examination.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think in future it might be more convenient if I was allowed to make our cross-examination after the others.

The Commissioner:
Very well.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

500. You said that the first and second class passengers had a better chance of getting to the boat deck than the third class passengers. Is it not the case that from the time the collision happened until you were ready to take in passengers there was ample time for the women and children in the steerage to have been brought on to the boat deck?
- Yes, there was ample time.

501. With regard to the lamp, is it not the usual practice to supply the lifeboats with lamps before leaving the port of departure from which the voyage starts?
- In the boat's equipment when it has gone into Southampton, when boats are overhauled, with regard to the full equipment, the lamp counts part of the boat's equipment; it is always put in the boat.

502. Is it not the practice to overhaul the boats and examine their contents before the ship is cleared?
- I have always seen that done in the Union and Castle Line, where most of my time has been, but on the Wednesday we left in the "Titanic" I did not see anything in the boats overhauled at all.

503. (The Commissioner.) Were you there?
- I was there and went away in one of the boats that was under exercise under the Board of Trade's Surveyor.

504. Which of these boats, what number was it that you were present at?
- On the test on the sailing day?

505. Yes?
- No. 13 boat I was in.

506. That is not on your side of the ship but on the other?
- Yes, on the other side.

507. And what did you see?
- I do not quite understand the question.

508. You saw a boat overhauled, I understand?
- No, I did not.

509. Then what did you see?
- The boat turned out; we were told to put our lifebelts on, so many men, there were both watches there, an Officer there, Junior Officers, and two Chief Officers.

510. Did you see, for instance, that there was no lamp there?
- I did not notice anything in the boat then in particular.

511. Then you do not know whether there was a lamp or there was not?
- In my own boat I do as regards the day the accident happened.

512. What boat are you talking about now?
- I am talking about 13 boat that I went away in practice.

513. Thirteen boat was not your boat?
- No, but it was the boat I was in for survey on the day of sailing.

514. That was at Southampton, was it not?
- Yes.

515. Now, was there a lamp in that boat?
- That I cannot say.

516. You do not know?
- No.

517. Did you look?
- No.

518. I suppose you did not look?
- No.

519. Then you cannot say whether there was a lamp there or not?
- No.

520. (Mr. Scanlan.) In the overhauling of the boat No. 13, and in the practice of boat drill was there any inspection made by you or anybody else to see whether the boat was fitted with a lamp and compass and the other proper equipment?
- There was no inspection made.

The Commissioner:
Now, Mr. Scanlan, will you tell me what "the other proper equipment" means, so that I may understand what you are asking?

Mr. Scanlan:
I am reading from the Rules made by the Board of Trade on page 15. No. 5 says: "Equipments for collapsible or other boats, and for life rafts. In order to be properly equipped each boat shall be provided as follows: (a) With the full single-banked complement of oars, and two spare oars."

The Commissioner:
Now stop a moment. Did you see whether the boat that you were on, No. 14, was equipped with a proper complement of oars?
- With a proper complement of oars, yes.

The Commissioner:
Now what is the next?

Mr. Scanlan:
"(b) With two plugs for each plug-hole, attached with lanyards or chains, and one set and a half of thole pins or crutches, attached to the boat by sound lanyards."

The Commissioner:
Did you look for those?

The Witness:
My position in the boat -

521. Now, will you answer the question? Did you look for those?
- Not for the plug, but for the crutches.

522. You looked for some; did you find them?
- Yes.

523. And the others you did not look for?
- No.

524. I suppose it was not your business to look to these things?
- Not as regards the plug.

Mr. Scanlan:
"With a sea anchor, a bailer, a rudder, and a tiller, or yoke and yoke lines."

525. (The Commissioner.) Did you look for those things?
- No.

Then you cannot tell us whether they were there or not?
- No.

The Attorney-General:
There was a tiller, my Lord; he said he used it.

The Witness:
Not in that boat, Sir.

The Commissioner:
This man was not there for the purpose of seeing whether the boat was properly furnished or not.

Mr. Scanlan:
"A painter of sufficient length and a boat-hook."

526. (The Commissioner.) Did you look for the painter and the boat-hook?
- Yes.

527. Were they there?
- Yes.

Mr. Scanlan:
"The rudder and bailer to be attached to the boat by sufficiently long lanyards."

528. (The Commissioner.) Did you measure the lanyards?
- No.

Mr. Scanlan:
"A vessel to be kept filled with fresh water shall be provided for each boat."

The Commissioner:
That was there; it was there after the collision.

Mr. Scanlan:
In those Rules the next Section (6) is headed "Additional equipments for boats of Section (A) and Section (B)."

The Commissioner:
What does that mean - "(A) and (B)?"

Mr. Scanlan:
I understand (A) are lifeboats. It gives Section (A) in the general Rules, "Section (A). A boat of this Section shall be a lifeboat of whale boat form properly constructed of wood or metal, having for every 10 feet of her cubic capacity as in Rule 2 at least one cubic foot of strong and serviceable enclosed airtight compartments so constructed that water cannot find its way into them. In the case of metal boats an addition will have to be made to the cubic contents of the airtight compartments so as to give them a buoyancy equal to wooden boats."

The Commissioner:
This man will know nothing about that unless he was a skilled naval architect.

Mr. Scanlan:
This was an ordinary lifeboat. Section 6 provides that the boat should have two hatchets or tomahawks - that is the language of the Board of Trade Rules - "one to be kept in each end of the boat, and to be attached to the boat by a lanyard."

529. (The Commissioner.) Did you see the hatchet or tomahawk?
- No, my Lord.

530. Do you mean to say they were not there or that you did not look for them?
- I did not look for them.

Mr. Scanlan:
"With a mast or masts and good sail and proper gear for each."

531. (The Commissioner.) Was that there as far as you know?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
What is the next?

Mr. Scanlan:
"With a line becketted round the outside of the boat, and securely made fast."

532. (The Commissioner.) Had it that?
- Yes.

Mr. Scanlan:
"With an efficient compass."

533. (The Commissioner.) Did you look for a compass?
- No.

534. You did not look for one?
- No.

535. Then you did not know whether it was there or not?
- No.

536. (Mr. Scanlan.) Had 14 a compass when you got into it after the accident?
- No.

537. It had no compass?
- No.

538. (The Commissioner.) Whose business is it to see the compass is there? Is it the boatswain's place?
- I am being questioned as regards two boats now.

539. You are being asked particularly about No. 14. Do you know when you were being exercised?
- That was 13.

540. In No. 13 you did not look for a compass?
- No.

541. And therefore you do not know whether it was there or not?
- No.

542. But when you got into 14, which was after the collision, there was no compass?
- I looked for one and I found there was not one there.

543. You found there was not one there?
- Yes.

544. Now, I am going to ask you whose business is it to see that the compass was on the lifeboat. Is it everybody's business or nobody's business?
- Yes, it is somebody's business.

545. And who is the somebody?
- The Chief Officer.

546. The Chief Officer?
- Yes, on any ships I have been in the Chief Officer has seen that the boats were properly equipped, but the boatswain has seen the boats equipped and reported to the Chief Officer. That is the Rule.

547. It is the boatswain's business in the first place?
- I would rather not say whose business it is, not as regards the state of affairs.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think your Lordship will observe in Rule 6, not more than four boats in any one ship are required to have this outfit mentioned in the Rule to which Mr. Scanlan is referring.

The Commissioner:
Is that so, Mr. Scanlan?

Mr. Scanlan:
It is so my Lord, but I think for the purposes of this investigation as the boats are being taken one by one, it is desirable to see whether the individual boats had this equipment. But I wish to read to your Lordship -

The Commissioner:
Am I to understand that according to the Board of Trade Regulations only four boats out of the whole complement of boats are required to have a compass?

Mr. Scanlan:
That is so, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
You see he only saw two boats, one at Southampton and one he got afloat in after the accident. In the one boat he did not look for the compass, in the other he found there was not one.

Mr. Scanlan:
What I suggest, my Lord, is this. If we find on examining the people who were responsible for each particular boat that each particular boat was deficient, then it will be found, I submit, that this regulation was not complied with. May I read to your Lordship this sentence from the General Rules: "All boats shall be constructed and properly equipped as provided by these Rules, and two boats and other life-saving appliances are to be kept ready for use to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade."

The Commissioner:
Yes, but the Board of Trade, you know, cannot be afloat on the ship every day that the ship is at sea. They can only see that the things are right before the ship leaves port.

Mr. Scanlan:
That is my submission, my Lord, that a survey before the boat leaves port should disclose whether or not the requirements of these sections have been complied with.

The Commissioner:
I am pointing that out to you. This man made no survey. It is not his duty to make a survey.

548. (Mr. Scanlan.) I pass from that generally to this. This particular boat to which you were attached had neither a compass nor a lamp?
- That is boat 14.

The Commissioner:
Now you are talking of No. 14.

549. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, my Lord (To the Witness.) I want to ask you this as a practical seaman: Do you consider it very important that a lifeboat laden as this one was, with the full complement of passengers, should be provided on a dark night with a lamp?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Well, now you know that is not a question to ask this Witness; that is a question for me. You may ask me the question at the proper time. I shall probably not answer it.

550. (Mr. Scanlan.) I shall observe your Lordship's ruling. (To the Witness.) Now I want to ask you about the numbers of the crew who were attached to this lifeboat. I understand it is the practice to have posted up in the cabin or in the forecastle a list of the crew for the manning of each particular lifeboat. Is that so?
- Yes.

551. Was there a list for No. 14?
- Yes.

552. Besides your own name what other names were there on this list?
- I am not certain; I do not know.

553. Do you know how many names were on it?
- No.

554. As part of the boat drill which took place at Southampton were the different Officers and the members of the crew whose names were put down for the different boats expected to go to their stations at the falls?
- Not in their own particular boat, no.

555. Not in their own particular boat?
- No.

556. So that so far as the "Titanic" were concerned there was no practice of bringing the boatmen and crew of the lifeboats to their respective boats before the voyage commenced?
- No one went to their own particular boats until the voyage had commenced.

557. (The Commissioner.) Was there any difference in regard to those boats?
- No.

558. So that for the purpose of practice it did not matter which boat you went to?
- No.

559. (Mr. Scanlan.) You rowed back, I understand, to see if you could rescue anyone in the water. How many of the crew did you take to row this No. 14 back?
- Eight and the Officer in charge would be nine.

560. Will you tell his Lordship how many of the crew are necessary for the proper manning of a lifeboat of that size?
- Eight and a man at the tiller.

561. Suppose, instead of it being a calm night you had a storm, would eight men be necessary to safely navigate such a boat as that?
- Yes.

562. And when you started, I think there were only two of you capable seamen?
- No, only one.

563. Only one?
- (No Answer.)

564. (The Commissioner.) Who was that?
- That was myself, your Lordship.

565. (Mr. Scanlan.) I do not doubt your capacity, but I understand Mr. Lowe was with you?
- Yes, Mr. Lowe was there.

566. When the boat was lowered into the water?
- Yes.

567. Besides you and Mr. Lowe, was there any other practical man, I mean to work the oars or assist in the navigation of the boat?
- There was no other practical seaman in the boat.

568. You do not think that sufficient?
- No.

Examined by Mr. QUILLIAM.

569. I want to ask you about the two icebergs. Can you tell his Lordship how far you were able after the collision to see that iceberg distinctly - when you got into the small boat I suppose you were from time to time some distance off the iceberg?

The Commissioner:
I do not know that he was, you know; for aught I know he was close upon it.

570. (Mr. Quillium.) Were you close upon it?
- I did not see the iceberg after we were away in the boat, not till daylight.

571. At any time you could not see the iceberg when you were away in the boat?
- Well, we really did not look for it.

572. It was only in the morning time you noticed the iceberg. With regard to rafts, did you see any of them lowered into the water?
- No.

573. Were you the last boat to leave?
- No.

574. How many rafts did you see at daylight?
- Two.

575. Did you see any rafts floating about without passengers or crew on them?
- No, none at all.

576. There was no practice before the "Titanic" left the port - no practice as to lowering the lifeboats or manipulating them?
- Yes, there was practice.

The Commissioner:
You must not put questions of that kind, which are directly contrary to the evidence. The evidence is that there was practice at Southampton.

Mr. Quillium:
Very well, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
Whether it was sufficient or not is a different matter.

577. (Mr. Quillium.) You saw practice, but you are not in a position to say whether there was any lowering of the lifeboats or not, or whether they came adrift after the boat went down?
- Do you mean on the night of the accident or at Southampton?

578. On the night of the accident?
- On the night of the accident I saw three boats lowered.

579. Three of the rafts?
- No, not rafts, boats, ordinary lifeboats.

580. You saw no rafts lowered at all?
- No.

581. (The Commissioner.) He never saw any rafts until he saw the two in the water, I understand?
- That is correct, my Lord.

582. (Mr. Scanlan.) Were the falls of all the boats long enough?
- Yes.

Mr. Holmes:
May I ask a question?

The Commissioner:
Who are you?

583. (Mr. Holmes.) I made an application, my Lord, on behalf of the Officers. (To the Witness.) You told me two shots were fired by Mr. Lowe into the water?
- Yes.

584. No shots were fired at anyone?
- No.

585. And did you hear any other shots fired at all?
- Yes.

586. Where?
- After we came back from the wreckage where we had taken one of those rafts in tow, Mr. Lowe emptied his pistol into the water; as regards the number of rounds left in it I cannot say, but I think he emptied five rounds out of it.

587. But all shots were fired into the water?
- Yes.

588. (Mr. Lewis.) I represent the British Seafarers' Union. I understand you helped to lower the boats?
- To turn them out, not to lower them - to turn them out ready for lowering.

589. How many men would have been there?
- Three.

590. Then you proceeded to another boat?
- Yes.

591. You did not take the three men who were assisting you on to the next boat, and so on?
- We divided ourselves as we came on the boat deck; we each went so many to a boat, irrespective of any number whatever, and as we got the boats out so we passed on to another one.

592. When you reached the next boat, was anyone there?
- Yes, there was somebody there. In some cases there was one man there working, and in some cases there were two, and perhaps three.

593. Then you assisted?
- Yes.

594. As you came to each boat there were not sufficient men there -

The Commissioner:
Do not ask questions by making statements; ask the question.

595. (Mr. Lewis.) Were there enough men there when you came to the boat to prepare and lower the boats successfully?
- No.

596. You mentioned in regard to one of the boats that the falls were rather short; is that so?
- Not the falls short; the falls being new, I take it, it twisted and so prevented it from rendering, from overhauling properly, as we call it.

597. Am I correct in saying that McGough was in the boat?
- No.

598. He assisted you?
- Yes, he lowered that fall.

599. He did not go into the boat?
- No.

600. You gave in your evidence that the third class passengers would have very little chance of going by your boats because they did not have access to the embarkation deck?
- I will not say that, because every barrier is down in a case like that.

The Commissioner:
You do not listen to him. Every barrier was down, he says, and therefore every one could get on to this deck.

The Witness:
Yes, the decks were quite open.

601. (Mr. Lewis.) Have you sailed in the "Olympic"?
- No.

602. Do you know the character of the "Titanic" fairly well; did you know its form?
- No, I do not know anything about the structure of the vessel.

603. Could you say whether it was difficult for the third class passengers to obtain access to the deck which you were referring to just now?
- Yes, it is difficult.

604. (The Commissioner.) In what sense?
- There is only one ladder. May I point to the model?

605. There is only one ladder to approach that deck for the third class passengers?
- There is a ladder here goes on to this deck and you have to go inside this part here and up another ladder, but there are other ladders here on the afterpart of this deck-house, but they are only rungs on the side of a house, hardly ladders. They are straight up and down, and anybody outside seafaring men would find it a difficult job.

606. He would find it a clumsy job to do?
- Yes.

607. Point me out where you were during this time - during the lowering of the boats?
- This was the last boat I worked on, No. 13. That was the last one I worked on. My boat was on the other side of the ship.

608. You were on the port side?
- Yes; I went to my own boat afterwards.

609. You were on the port side about where you have put your finger?
- Yes.

610. Did you see any third class passengers coming up?
- I saw none coming up, but I saw some there.

611. You were close to this ladder that you talk about?
- No.

612. Show me how far away the ladder was from where you were standing.<br />
- The ladder is here and I am right away on the other side.

613. Is there not a ladder on each side of the ship?
- No.

614. Do you mean to say there is only the ladder on the starboard side of the ship?
- No, there is one each side of the well deck.

615. Of course there is; there is one on the starboard side and one on the port side?
- Yes.

616. And could you see the ladder on the port side?
- No.

617. Then you do not know how many people were coming up that ladder?
- No.

618. (Mr. Lewis.) At the time you placed the women and children on board, were the decks at all crowded near your boat?
- There were people round about my boat, but I could not say what space there was beyond the cluster of people I saw there.

619. How many years have you been at sea?
- Eighteen years.

620. You have had a fair experience. How many seamen were on your boat?
- On boat 14?

621. No, on the "Titanic" itself?
- I do not know the number.

622. Would it be round about 42 or 43?
- Yes, it would be round about that.

623. How many men did you say it required to prepare and lower a lifeboat?
- At least four.

624. So that it would require more skilled men?
- They would want to be skilled men.

625. I understood you to say you formerly worked for the Union Castle Company?
- Yes.

626. And you had systematic boat drill?
- Yes.

627. Have you been on any other boat of the White Star Line except the "Titanic"?
- Yes, the "Teutonic."

Mr. Lewis:
I take it I am in order to ask what is the general practice on the White Star boats. I want to ask whether Mr. Scarrott has had experience of other White Star Line boats.

The Commissioner:
He has told you he has been on the "Teutonic."

628. (Mr. Lewis.) Did any boat drills take place while you were on the "Teutonic"?
- Yes.

629. Regularly?
- One drill during the voyage.

630. (The Commissioner.) How long was the voyage?
- Three weeks then.

631. Where was it from and to?
- From Southampton to New York and back.

632. Did the "Teutonic" take three weeks to get to New York?
- It was on a different service from what we are on now.

633. I never heard of a White Star liner taking three weeks to get from Southampton to New York. I should think a sailing ship could do it. When is the time you are talking about?
- Our contract lasted for that time that we belonged to that ship. Our agreement was, when we belonged to that ship, for a voyage of three weeks, occupied from Southampton to New York and return.

634. (Mr. Lewis.) You mean there and back do you?
- Yes.

635. You said the collapsible boat or raft was waterlogged?
- No, not waterlogged; it was awash.

636. Was it serviceable; was it of any use?
- No.

The Commissioner:
What are you talking about now?

Mr. Lewis:
I am talking about the collapsible boat termed a raft and asking the Witness whether it was in his opinion at all serviceable. I asked him if it was waterlogged, and he tells me he thinks it was not serviceable.

637. (The Commissioner.) I understood him to say that he did not think it was waterlogged. (To the Witness.) Was it waterlogged?
- It was full of water; its compartments were full of water.

638. You think it was waterlogged?
- Yes.

639. What happened to it?
- It was unserviceable.

640. When was this?
- When we went to take the survivors off of it.

641. At all events it was serviceable enough to keep afloat?
- Yes.

642. And to preserve the people on it?
- Yes.

643. And then you took the people off it?
- Yes.

644. (Mr. Lewis.) Was that the only raft or collapsible boat that you saw?
- No, that was not the only one, but that was the only one I saw in that condition.

645. You saw others in the water?
- Yes.

646. (The Commissioner.) How many?
- One other.

647. (Mr. Lewis.) Were there passengers in that?
- Yes.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

648. You have told us you saw another raft, what we have called an Engelhardt collapsible boat. Was that one waterlogged?
- No.

649. So that she was doing her service properly?
- Yes, she was full of passengers; we had her in tow at the time.

650. One question, I want to ask you about the Sunday when the vessel sank; when she came into collision with the iceberg did you notice at all any difference in the temperature; did it get any colder or warmer on that day?
- Colder. It was very cold after sundown.

651. Colder than it had been yet on the voyage?
- Yes.

(The Witness withdrew.)