British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3

Testimony of Frederick Barrett

Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

1834. Is your name Frederick Barrett?
- Yes.

1835. Are you a fireman, a leading hand?
- A leading stoker.

1836. Does a stoker and a fireman mean the same thing?
- No.

1837. What is the difference?
- One is a little higher than the other.

1838. I beg your pardon, are you a leading stoker?
- Yes.

1839. Is there a leading stoker to each stokehold?
- There is a leading stoker to each section.

1840. And how many sections are there?
- Six, one is a single section. There are five leading stokers on each watch.

1841. You say there are six sections?
- Yes, one is a single section.

1842. Which was the number of your section?
- No. 6.

1843. Does that correspond to No. 6 boiler room?
- Yes.

1844. We had a fireman here this morning, Beauchamp his name was, he told us it was No. 10 section?
- That is No. 10 stokehold. There are two stokeholds to each section.

1845. That is one of the two stokeholds in No. 6 section?
- No. 10 and 11 stokeholds is No. 6 section.

1846. Yes, that works it out. I suppose it runs like that all through. One and two corresponds to No. 1 boiler?
- Yes, No. 10 and 11 is No. 6 section and 8 and 9 is No. 5 section.

1847. Is this section of yours, No. 6 section, the foremost section of the ship?
- Yes, right forward.

1848. It is under the fore funnel, of course?
- It is the forward boiler.

1849. It will be under the fore funnel?
- It is just close under the fore funnel.

1850. Were you on duty at the time this accident happened?
- Yes.

1851. How many firemen or stokers are there in a watch working with you in No. 6?
- There are eight firemen in No. 6 section and four coal trimmers. That is what they call the men who wheel the coal.

1852. And yourself as well?
- Yes, and an engineer.

1853. Who was the engineer who was on duty?
- Mr. Shepherd.

1854. Now can you tell me where you were or what you were doing just at the time the collision happened?
- I was talking to the second engineer.

1855. What is his name?
- Mr. Hesketh.

1856. Can you tell us where you were?
- I was in No. 10 stokehold.

1857. I think it is important to fix the place. Does this stokehold extend across the ship from the starboard side to the port side?
- Yes.

1858. Can you tell me which side you were in the stokehold?
- The starboard side.

1859. You were talking to Mr. Hesketh?
- Yes.

1860. Now just tell us what happened that you noticed?
- There is like a clock rigged up in the stokehold and a red light goes up when the ship is supposed to stop; a white light for full speed, and, I think it is a blue light for slow. This red light came up. I am the man in charge of the watch, and I called out, "Shut all dampers."

1861. You saw this red light?
- Yes.

1862. You knew that was an order to stop the engines?
- It says "stop" - a red piece of glass and an electric light inside.

1863. Shutting the dampers, I suppose, would be?
- To shut the wind off the fires.

1864. To shut the draught off the fires. And you gave an order, "Shut the dampers"?
- Yes.

1865. Was that order obeyed?
- Yes.

1866. What was the next thing that happened?
- The crash came before we had them all shut.

1867. They were shutting them when the crash came?
- Yes.

1868. Where was the crash - what was it you felt or heard or saw?
- Water came pouring in two feet above the stokehold plate; the ship's side was torn from the third stokehold to the foreward end.

1869. We will get this slowly, because it is important. Just let us have that again. You said something about the water coming in?
- Yes.

1870. Did it come in on you?
- Yes.

1871. Did it come into this No. 6 section No. 10 stokehold?
- Yes.

1872. Then you said something about the side of the ship being torn?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Before you leave that will you tell me where the water came from?

1873. (The Solicitor-General.) It is the same thing as I was upon, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Where did the water come from?
- Well, out of the sea, I expect.

1874. (The Solicitor-General.) I think your last question and mine meant the same thing, my Lord. (To the Witness.) I wanted to know where it came from - underneath or from the side or from the port side or from the starboard side?
- The starboard side.

1875. Can you tell us at all compared with where you were standing whether it came from above or below?
- About two feet from where I was standing.

The Commissioner:
That is what I want to know - exactly where the water came from. He says from the starboard side.

1876. (The Solicitor-General.) We will get it by degrees, my Lord. (To the Witness.) About two feet from above where your feet were?
- Yes.

1877. On the starboard side?
- Yes.

1878. What is it you stand on in the stokehold?
- We call them plates. It is like a floor.

1879. Iron plates, I suppose?
- Yes.

1880. I expect you can find your way about a plan. Do you think you could point on this section here with a pointer what would be the level you were standing on?
- Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
I think it would be well if he did that, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
Yes. (To the Witness.) Just do so. Perhaps we could understand it better if he did it on the upper plan.

The Solicitor-General:
I will get it from the lower one first and then turn to the other.

(The Witness pointed out on the plan.)

1881. (The Solicitor-General.) Is the place you are pointing out now No. 6 section and No. 10 stokehold?
- Yes.

(The Witness further pointed out on the plan.)

1882. And is the place you are pointing out now the floor level where you would be standing?
- No, that is about here. (Pointing on the plan.)

1883. Lord Mersey thinks you might also be able to point it out on the section above. You see there is the water level outside the ship where she would be?
- The plates were supposed to be six feet above the tank tops. That is what it is reckoned to be.

1884. The floor you are standing on is supposed to be six feet above the top of the tanks?
- Yes.

1885. What tanks are those?
- I could not tell you.

1886. The tank top is marked there, is it not?
- Yes. (The Witness pointed out the position on the top plan.) There would be about six feet over these tank tops.

1887. (The Commissioner.) Those were the plates you were standing on?
- Yes.

1888. Did the water come up through those plates?
- No, from 2 feet over those plates.

1889. Did the water come through the side of the ship?
- Yes.

1890. Before you go away can you point out to me whereabouts in the skin of the ship the water came from. Look at the top plan?
- I cannot judge by the top plan. I can judge better by this one.

1891. Very well?
- The ship was torn right through here. (Indicating on the plan.) I consulted Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Hesketh about the hole being in this bunker, and that was the farthest aft the ship was torn. This is a watertight compartment, and the ship was torn from there to there. That is in the next section.

1892. (The Solicitor-General.) What do you call that section?
- No. 5.

1893. (The Commissioner.) Just show me on that plan the watertight bulkhead that is nearest the bow?
- I have no duty at the forward end; I only know where I am working.

The Commissioner:
Point out to me, Sir John, will you?

The Solicitor-General:
As I understand the collision bulkhead is here (pointing) and then there is one here, a third one here, and a fourth one here.

The Commissioner:
And the water came in on the afterside of the bulkhead that you are pointing to?

1894. (The Solicitor-General.) We have still one more to go. There is a fifth one here. I understand the Witness to say that he found water was coming in aft of that bulkhead, the fifth, and therefore the skin of the ship was certainly injured at that point?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
How many watertight compartments are there forward of that point? Are there four or five?

The Solicitor-General:
Your Lordship sees that forward of that point there are five bulkheads, and a compartment would be formed I presume by any two of them.

Sir Robert Finlay:
There are six altogether, my Lord, I think.

The Commissioner:
I want to see how far aft the rent or whatever it was caused by the iceberg extended.

The Solicitor-General:
May I ask the Witness a question about it?

The Commissioner:

1895. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) You pointed out that you found that this rent was abaft of this bulkhead here and therefore that the water was coming into No. 5 section?
- Yes.

1896. Can you tell me whether the rent went further aft than that?
- It did not.

1897. So it got as far as that and no further?
- Yes.

1898. That is one end your Lordship sees. (To the Witness.) Now as far as you are concerned, can you tell me whether the rent ran right through No. 10 section?
- I did not stop to look; I jumped from that section when she struck.

1899. You jumped from No. 6 section back to No. 5.
- Yes?

1900. And you cannot tell me of your own knowledge whether there was damage done more forward than aft?
- I cannot.

The Commissioner:
He knows nothing about the damage, I suppose, except in the place in which he was.

1901. (The Solicitor-General.) That is it, my Lord. Now, if I may keep him here for a moment, there are two or three things I want to ask him. (To the Witness.) The water came into No. 6 section, where you were at work?
- Yes.

1902. Just after you had given the order to close the dampers, and while they were being closed; is that right?
- Yes.

1903. Did it come in fast?
- Yes.

1904. Did it come in fast enough to begin to flood the place?
- Yes.

1905. Then what was it that you did?
- Me and Mr. Hesketh jumped into this section, and the watertight compartment closed up.

1906. You and Mr. Hesketh both jumped into the next section?
- Yes.

1907. There were stokers working there still; firemen in No. 6?
- Yes.

1908. What happened to them?
- There was one of them saved.

1909. One of them was saved?
- Yes.

1910. Did he get through the watertight compartment with you?
- I could not tell you where he got to.

1911. What was his name?
- Beauchamp, I think it was.

1912. He is the man who has given evidence here this morning, because he said he was in No. 10. As far as you know were any others of your gang saved?
- I could not tell you.

1913. Now point out in this bulkhead whereabouts in the section of it does this watertight door come that you jumped through?
- This connects in the amidship part of the ship. There is a pass connecting this bulkhead. It is further aft than that, it is about here in the centre of the ship. (pointing on the plan.)

1914. It is in a passage, is it?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Is that a door that works automatically, or is it a door that has to be shut?

1915. (The Solicitor-General.) I think we shall find out, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Can you tell me whether that is one of the watertight doors that is worked from the bridge?
- It is.

1916. At the time the accident happened it was open. You and Mr. Hesketh got through it just in time and it shut down behind you?
- Yes.

1917. Then when you got into the next section, No. 5, did you find water there?
- I went through this bunker here - it is a coal bunker - and then the water was rushing in.

1918. You say you went through the coal bunker, which is immediately abaft of the watertight door which you had passed through?
- Yes.

1919. And did you find water coming in in that bunker?
- Yes, pouring in the bunker.

1920. Was it coming in rapidly?
- Yes.

1921. Could you tell us from what level it was coming in? The same as the other?
- Two feet above the plates.

1922. Still the same?
- Yes.

1923. And then did you get into the stokehold, here?
- We were in the stokehold.

1924. And water was coming into the stokehold?
- No, only into the bunker.

1925. And that is as far aft as the rent seemed to go?
- Yes.

1926. Then what did you do when you got into No. 5?
- Mr. Hesketh shouted out "all hands stand by your stations." That is for the men to stand by the fires. My station was in the next boiler room, and Mr. Shepherd and I went up an escape and down to the boiler room, but we could not get in. There were 8 feet of water in it.

1927. (The Solicitor-General.) I do not know whether your Lordship caught that. I will ask it again. It is more satisfactory than my telling you. (To the Witness.) I was asking you, and I will get you to repeat it slowly and clearly, what happened when you got through this doorway and into No. 5? You told me that Mr. Hesketh gave an order?
- Yes.

1928. What was the order he gave?
- "Every man to his station."

1929. Your station was No. 6?
- Yes.

1930. The one you had just come from?
- Yes.

1931. Then what did you do?
- Me and Mr. Shepherd, that is the engineer who is in my section, go up the escape of No. 5 and down No. 6 escape.

1932. You tried to go back into the place you had come from?
- Yes, we did go back, but we could not go in there because there were about eight feet of water when we got there.

1933. You could not get back to No. 6 through the doorway because it was shut?
- Yes.

1934. So you had to go up one escape and down another?
- Yes.

1935. When you came into No. 6 what water did you find in it then?
- Eight feet above the plates.

1936. That is a rise of six feet since you left it?
- Yes.

1937. (The Commissioner.) How long?
- It was not a quarter of an hour, just on ten minutes.

1938. (The Solicitor-General.) You told us you got as quickly as you could into No. 5?
- Yes.

1939. And when this order was given did you obey it as quickly as you could?
- Yes, we obeyed it as quickly as we could.

1940. Now just think. Was there much length of time after you got into No. 5 and before Mr. Hesketh gave that order?
- I should say about ten minutes.

1941. You had been in the bunker?
- Yes.

1942. (The Commissioner.) Why did you go into the bunker?
- I never went into the bunker, my Lord. The bunker was empty, my Lord, and you can stand on the stokehold plates and look into the bunker from the stokehold. You can see into the bunker from where you are working.

1943. (The Solicitor-General.) Your Lordship appreciates that it is up to there that he says the rent came. (To the Witness.) When you returned or tried to return to No. 6 coming down that emergency ladder did you see anything of your mates in No. 6?
- No.

1944. (The Commissioner.) What had become of them?
- I cannot tell you, my Lord.

1945. Have you seen any of them since?
- Only one.

1946. (The Solicitor-General.) That is Beauchamp, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Suppose you were in one of these sections and you went to get out of it at ordinary times. I want to know how many ways out there are? You have said you can get through the watertight doorway when it is open, and there is this emergency ladder. Is there any third way?
- I could not tell you. I was only four days on the ship myself.

1947. As far as you know is there any third way?
- No, not to my knowledge.

The Commissioner:
I do not think there are any other ways.

1948. (The Solicitor-General.) I do not think so, my Lord. (To the Witness.) The bunker you went into was empty?
- Yes.

1949. There was no coal in it?
- No.

1950. Was there any water in that?
- The water was pouring into it when I noticed it.

1951. That brings us as far as you are finding eight feet of water in your own section?
- Yes.

1952. When you found there were eight feet of water there, what did you do then?
- We came back to No. 5.

1953. Again using these emergency ladders?
- Yes.

1954. That really means, does it not, passing over the top of the bulkhead?
- Yes; you come out into the alleyway where the passengers would be.

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