British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3

Testimony of William Lucas, cont.

1639. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Yes. The other 36 makes up the other 40?
- Yes. But when we got to the other boat I transferred some of those people off the upturned boat into another boat; I think it was No. 10.

1640. I have not got it yet, I think. When No. 8 went away she had 40 people in her, you think?
- Yes.

1641. How many people went in your collapsible?
- Forty; loaded right up.

1642. And they went into No. 8, did they not?
- Yes.

1643. And that made 80?
- Yes.

1644. Where did the 36 men off the collapsible go?
- We took them aboard our boat and then we transferred some of them to another boat that came up alongside us; No. 10, I think.

1645. At one time you had more than 80 on No. 8?
- Yes, at the time we were crossing.

1646. You did not see any living people in the water?
- No.

1647. Did you hear any cries?
- I did.

1648. Did you see No. 12 boat at all, or only No. 8, or was it No. 12?
- Well, I started all those boats on the port side right till I got forward.

1649. The one you transferred your people to, was that No. 8 or No. 12?
- They were the last people to go on board the "Carpathia," and to be picked up.

1650. Were they No. 8 or No. 12?
- I think one was No. 8. I think the other was No. 10 or 12. I would not be sure; I know the coxswain of her.

1651. What is his name?
- Foley.

1652. Was he a steward?
- No, a sailor.

1653. He is not a third class steward?
- No.

1654. Was he saved?
- Yes.

1655. Now, did you have any boat drill?
- Yes.

1656. Where was that?
- Southampton.

1657. You told me you came on board just before she sailed?
- Yes, but we always had this boat drill with the Board of Trade muster - just after we have our muster, that is just after 9.

1658. Earlier in the day?
- Yes.

1659. You mean you had your boat drill and then went ashore again?
- Yes; it is a regular thing for sailors to go ashore and have a final drink.

1660. Did you actually take part in the boat drill or did you only muster?
- I went up to the boats to lower them, but I went ashore.

1661. How do you mean?
- I went up about the boat, and as soon as I saw a chance I went ashore.

1662. You did not take part yourself in the actual drill?
- No.

1663. Where was the drill held, on the boat deck?
- Yes.

1664. How near to the drill did you get?
- I got on the boat deck to get the boats out, and then I went ashore.

1665. You did not bear a hand in anything?
- No.

1666. Did you get to your right boat?
- It is any boat you get in. They lower the boats and you go away in those boats, you sail back and get hoisted in board.

1667. You do not muster at your particular boats?
- No.

1668. You had a particular boat?
- Yes, you always muster at that when you are at sea.

1669. Did you have any boat drill at sea?
- Not in this ship.

1670. You knew where your boat was?
- Yes.

1671. How many seamen were there in No. 8 when you got there?
- Two.

1672. How many seamen, in your judgment, does it want to man one of these boats?
- A lifeboat wants at least 12 hands in it.

1673. And how many passengers would she then hold safely?
- I should think she would take 40 comfortably.

1674. Then how many oars would she row with 12 men according to your reckoning?
- Twelve oars.

1675. And a coxswain beside?
- Yes.

1676. (The Commissioner.) Do I understand, in your opinion, a lifeboat to accommodate 40 people ought to have in it 12 men with each an oar?
- Yes, my Lord.

1677. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you have one man to each oar or two men to an oar?
- One man to an oar in a lifeboat.

1678. Do they have sails?
- Yes.

1679. And when you say 12 men -?
- That includes the four to sail the boat.

1680. Would they be enough in bad weather?
- That is the crew.

1681. When you say 12 -?
- I am talking of rough weather.

1682. A crew to face everything?
- Yes.

1683. Did you find it difficult to row these lifeboats with only two oars?
- Well, we just kept her going that is all.

1684. And the collapsible, how many men do you think would be wanted for the collapsible?
- About five hands.

1685. Four to row and one to steer?
- Yes.

1686. Is the collapsible intended to have a rudder?
- Yes.

1687. Did you never see a rudder belonging to a collapsible?
- I never saw one there.

1688. Had she the proper number of oars?
- Yes.

1689. And rowlocks or crutches?
- Yes.

1690. Did you never see the rudder?
- No.

1691. What happened to the collapsible ultimately?
- I do not know.

1692. Was she cut adrift, or was she taken on board the "Carpathia"?
- None of the collapsible boats were taken on board of her. They were cast adrift.

1693. Therefore you never had an opportunity of seeing?
- No.

1694. Can you form any judgment as to whether she had a plug or not?
- If there had not been a false bottom I might have been able to find it out, but they carry a false bottom about 2 feet from the keel.

1695. As far as you were able to see you could not see whether there was a plug or not?
- To speak the truth, I do not think there was a plug in the boat.

1696. Would she have floated as well as she did without a plug? Would not the water have spurted up from the hole?
- We could not see that because there was a false bottom - that was what I was frightened of.

1697. You mean a false bottom, not watertight?
- Yes.

1698. Not one hole coming through the two bottoms?
- The boat is like that, and the false bottom is laid like a bit of a platform. (Describing.)

1699. You did not know what was going on under the platform?
- No.

1700. I see; that is what it was. Would not you have expected the water to have come over the platform more than it did if there had been no plug at all in the boat?
- I should have done, yes.

1701. What is your conclusion about whether there was a plug or not?
- The passengers wanted to get out of the boat, and I got them out of it.

1702. Was there a lamp in the boat?
- No.

1703. And no provisions nor water?
- Not in this boat.

1704. (The Commissioner.) A compass?
- No.

1705. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Was there going to be any other boat drill as far as you heard?
- No, I do not think there was, they would have mustered that Sunday. It is a regular thing in these boats to muster on Sunday for boat drill and fire stations.

1706. You had had a Sunday?
- Yes, this was a Sunday.

1707. Did you muster?
- No.

1708. (The Commissioner.) Why was that?
- I do not know, my Lord.

Cross-examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

1709. In the boat drill you had at Southampton is it the case that only able seamen and deckhands took part in it?
- That is all.

1710. No firemen, no stokers, no engineers or stewards were called to take part in it?
- No.

1711. Had you been given any training in the launching of a collapsible boat?
- That is my work. I do not want any training.

1712. I know you are a capable man. Had you on board the "Titanic" been instructed in the launching of any of those collapsible boats?
- No.

1713. In the state of your knowledge while you were on the "Titanic" did you know whether to expect plugs or not in the collapsible?
- No.

1714. If there had been plugs in this collapsible boat attached with lanyards or chains, could you have found them easily?
- Certainly.

1715. Can you tell my Lord that there was not a plug attached by a lanyard or a chain in this collapsible boat?
- I should say now that there was no plug attached to the boat; I never saw one.

1716. Was there a sea anchor in this collapsible?
- No.

1717. Was there a baler?
- Yes, there was a baler.

1718. A rudder or tiller?
- No rudder or tiller.

The Commissioner:
Is a rudder used in those boats?

Mr. Scanlan:
I am reading, my Lord, from the general Rules under the Merchant Shipping Act, and if your Lordship will refer to page 15 of the Rules you will see: "Equipments for collapsible or other boats and for the 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. (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. (c) With a sea anchor, a baler, a rudder and a tiller, or yoke and yoke lines, a painter of sufficient length and a boat hook. The rudder and baler to be attached to the boat by sufficiently long lanyards and kept ready for use."

The Commissioner:
What is the date of those Rules?

Mr. Scanlan:
1894 my Lord, it is here.

The Attorney-General:
February, 1902.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, 1902. I think there was a Rule made in 1910.

The Attorney-General:
Quite right, and there is another in 1909.

Mr. Scanlan:
And the Rules were reprinted in 1911.

The Commissioner:
Are they the same in 1911 as they were in 1902?

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, my Lord, with the exception of the one added Rule.

The Attorney-General:
I do not think that affects this.

1719. (The Commissioner - To the Witness.) Is it possible to steer these collapsible boats without a rudder?
- Yes, by putting an oar over the stern.

1720. Is not there a provision made in the stern of collapsible boats for an oar which is to act as a rudder?
- No, my Lord.

1721. Well, there is according to my notion. Are you sure?
- I have never seen a place, my Lord.

1722. I mean a place for a rowlock?
- No, I never saw one, my Lord.

1723. Did you ever look?
- Well, I did look when I was in this collapsible boat.

Mr. Scanlan:
I think that point that your Lordship is referring to is met in one of the Rules which I did not finish. "In boats where there may be a difficulty in fitting a rudder a steering oar may be provided instead."

The Commissioner:
According to the picture which I have here of one of these collapsible boats, there is no rudder, but there is the provision of a row-lock and so provision for steering with an oar.

1724. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Were there four collapsible boats on board?
- One either side of the emergency boats and one each side of the funnel.

1725. Of the four, how many were actually launched?
- I can answer for two.

1726. Do you know whether the others were launched or not?
- I cannot say.

1727. You have told us that you saw eight lifeboats being launched?
- Yes.

1728. And sent off with a complement of passengers?
- Yes.

Were all these incompletely filled with passengers?

The Commissioner:
Not his own I should say.

1729. (Mr. Scanlan.) Before his own. (To the Witness.) Yours was the last to leave?
- Yes.

1730. But of the eight which you saw leaving is it true that they were incompletely filled?
- Some had more passengers in that others.

1731. How many more do you think could have been accommodated in these?
- In some of them they could have taken another 15 or 20.

1732. (The Commissioner.) Now, what I want to know is this; why were they not filled up?
- There were not any females on the deck to put in the boats.

1733. Or if they were they would not go?
- Some would go in and some would not; they wanted to stay behind with their husbands.

1734. (Mr. Scanlan.) From the time of the order which you received to assist in uncovering and launching the lifeboats until they were being sent off from the side, was there sufficient interval to enable the female passengers in the steerage to be got up to the boat deck?
- They would if they had anybody there to direct them to the boat deck.

1735. Was there any person, so far as you were aware, directing the steerage passengers, either those who were stationed forward or aft, to the boat decks?
- I do not think so.

1736. You do not think there was anybody?
- No.

1737. (The Commissioner.) But you were not there to see, I should think?
- No, my Lord; but there were hardly any third class passengers up there.

1738. (Mr. Scanlan.) You say that you heard shouts, "Any more passengers?" "Any more women?" - Yes; I shouted myself.

1739. Could those shouts by any possibility have been heard by the passengers in the third class quarters?
- No, not at all.

1740. Of the eight boats which you saw launched how many were properly manned with seamen?
- [No Answer.]

The Commissioner:
Do you mean with twelve seamen? - I do not know what you mean by "properly manned." Is your definition of "properly manned" twelve seamen?

Mr. Scanlan:
It is not, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
What is your definition?

Mr. Scanlan:
I should hesitate, my Lord, at this stage of the Inquiry, on my instructions to give a definition as to what is a sufficient number of seamen to man a lifeboat.

The Commissioner:
This Witness said twelve.

Mr. Scanlan:
My instructions have never gone to that extent, my Lord -

The Commissioner:
I am not astonished to hear that.

1741. (Mr. Scanlan.) As to the efficiency of a crew for manning a lifeboat. (To the Witness.) How many seamen could, in your opinion, man one of those lifeboats in fine weather and under favourable conditions which you had on the night of this unfortunate accident?
- If they were to keep in the boat for any length of time it would want at least six.

1742. In those eight boats which were launched while you were looking on, can you tell my Lord how many seamen were in each on an average?
- To my knowledge there was either one or two in each.

1743. Was that insufficient in your opinion?
- That is the regulation, two sailors to each boat.

The Commissioner:
I really do not understand it. He says the regulations are two in each boat. He says there ought to be twelve in some circumstances, and apparently six in other circumstances. What am I to understand? Are we getting this Witness's skilled opinion on the point?

1744. (Mr. Scanlan.) I think his opinion might be of some value. (To the Witness.) When you speak of twelve men being required do you mean stokers as well as seamen?
- I am a Service man and I did nine years in the Navy, and for a lifeboat it was always considered fourteen men is a lifeboat's crew.

1745. (The Commissioner.) How many persons will that boat manned with 14 men carry in addition to the 14 men?
- That boat would carry at least 50 besides the crew.

1746. Besides the fourteen?
- Yes.

1747. (Mr. Scanlan.) When you speak of Mercantile Marine boats - I am not talking of Service boats now - you referred to a crew of twelve?
- Yes.

1748. Does that include firemen and engineers and stewards as well as seamen?
- Yes.

1749. You also stated a moment ago that you are supposed to have two seamen to each lifeboat?
- Yes.

1750. Is that an ordinary regulation - two qualified seamen?
- Yes, that is a regulation laid down by this Company - two sailors to each boat.

1751. Were there two sailors to each of the boats which you saw launched before you left the "Titanic"?
- There were two sailors in several of them, one in some, and a fireman took their place.

1752. Do the firemen and stokers in other ships? - No.

Mr. Holmes:
I have no questions.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

With regard to this boat drill at Southampton, are many men allowed to run away as you did on that Saturday?

The Commissioner:
What is that question?

1753. (Mr. Lewis.) I am asking about the boat drill on Saturday at Southampton, where, I think, Mr. Lucas departed to have a drink. (To the Witness.) Was any notice taken of your going away?
- No.

1754. What time is generally spent upon these boat drills as a Rule?
- I should say about an hour from the time they are lowered to the time they are hoisted.

1755. Who takes part - only sailors?
- Only sailors.

1756. The whole of the sailors?
- Yes.

1757. And how many boats?
- Two.

1758. Is the Board of Trade Inspector generally present?
- Yes.

1759. And does he make a thorough examination of the boats?
- Yes.

1760. Does he see that they are properly equipped?
- Yes.

1761. Now with regard to the "Titanic," I understand you went from your quarters?
- Yes.

1762. How long did it take you to get from your quarters to the boat deck?
- I should say about five minutes.

1763. No more?
- No.

1764. (The Commissioner.) Where are your quarters. I thought they were here?
- Yes; in the fore-well deck.

1765. You had got up to the boat deck?
- Yes.

1766. Does it take you five minutes to get up?
- At times it took me longer than that. I never knew my way; it was a new ship.

1767. In ordinary circumstances, or what I conceive to be ordinary circumstances, do you mean to tell me it takes five minutes to get from your quarters in the fore part of the ship up to the boat deck? Just think about it?
- It took me close on that. I never knew my way properly upon the boat deck.

1768. Do you mean to say that you were groping about in places that you knew nothing about?
- Yes.

1769. Had you never been up before?
- Yes, I had been on the boat deck every watch.

1770. And had not you then learnt your way?
- Yes, I had learnt my way.

1771. Then having learnt your way how long did it take you to go your way to get to the boat deck? Five minutes seems a very long time. I should have said half-a-minute?
- It is rather long, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
I came up those stairs in the "Olympic" yesterday. It is quite true I was shown the way but five minutes seems an extraordinary length of time.

Mr. Lewis:
Would you say the boat is very complicated?

1772. (The Commissioner.) Was it difficult for you to find your way from your quarters up to the boat deck?
- No.

1773. (Mr. Lewis.) Was it easy to get from the men's quarters to the deck? Would it be more difficult on the "Titanic" than one of the Union-Castle boats?
- Yes.

1774. You say it would be more difficult?
- In the "Titanic," yes.

1775. How long did it take you? I understand you say you assisted to get eight lifeboats out?
- Yes.

1776. How long did it take you from the time you commenced till the time you finished with the last boat? How long were you engaged on the work?
- I should say about an hour.

1777. You said that you were launching that boat. I understood you to say there were eight sailors there?
- That is right.

1778. You were rather short-handed in launching the eight boats?
- Yes.

1779. And there were not sufficient seamen sent out with the boats?
- No.

1780. What had those eight men been doing?
- Lowering all the boats.

1781. But they were left behind?
- Yes, left behind along with me - got orders to stand by the boats and lower, and do nothing else.

1782. As two sailors at each boat went out they left the number behind to look after the other boats?
- Yes.

1783. It would not require the eight sailors to do the last two or three boats, would it?
- It required every man that was there. I got ordered out of the boat I was in, the last collapsible boat, to get one off from the funnel.

1784. Were there any women or children left behind when you left on this collapsible boat?
- Yes, I left two myself.

1785. Where were they?
- They were lying alongside of me and I said to them: "Wait a minute, there's another boat going to be put down from the funnel for you."

1786. That was because you could not take them?
- I could not take them.

1787. Were they young people or old?
- Two young girls.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

1788. How long have you been in the employ of the White Star Line?
- About eighteen months or two years.

1789. Have you been in any other lines that have first class passenger ships?
- No.

1790. When you got to the boat decks, you found these collapsible boats lashed down?
- Yes, they were secured down.

1791. How were they secured?
- I could not tell you.

1792. Have you any idea how you got them away?
- The collapsible boats?

1793. Yes?
- The same falls from the emergency boat picked the collapsible boats off the deck.

1794. Who cut them away? Did you chop them away with anything, or did you unfasten them?
- Firemen and sailors.

1795. How many firemen were there?
- I should say about 40.

1796. Forty firemen and how many sailors?
- Three while I was there.

1797. I thought you said eight?
- This is getting the collapsible boat off the deck. Eight sailors were there when I was alongside the funnel - by the boat by the funnel.

1798. You had had no drill or any practice in getting these collapsible boats away in case of emergency?
- No.

1799. None at all?
- No.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

1800. You said you saw a sidelight and a masthead light?
- Yes.

1801. Was I right in thinking that you said you judged them to be eight or nine miles apart?
- Yes.

1802. Could you see a sidelight eight or nine miles distant?
- A night like that I could.

1803. Eight or nine miles distant?
- I think so.

1804. You saw nothing more of the vessel to which those lights belonged?
- No; the light went further away every time we looked at it.

1805. (The Commissioner.) I am not quite clear about it. Did you see this masthead light and this sidelight before you got into the boat?

1806. Before you were on the surface of the water?
- No, I never saw it.

1807. And you saw one of them nine miles away when you were down in the boat?
- Yes.

1808. (Sir Robert Finlay.) At the time of the collision did you hear any noise?
- No, only the collision we had with the berg.

1809. That is what I mean. If it made any noise can you describe what it was like?
- Like a ship running up on gravel, a crushing noise.

1810. Grating on gravel?
- Yes.

1811. In regard to all these lifeboats that you saw lowered, did you notice whether there was water?
- There was breakers of water.

1812. Yes?
- The boat I was in had breakers of water.

1813. You mean the collapsible?
- Yes, and No. 8 boat.

1814. (The Commissioner.) Both had?
- The collapsible boats are not fitted with any breakers, not the one I was in; but No. 8 had water in it.

1815. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Did you notice with regard to any of the other boats?
- No.

1816. Did you notice whether there were biscuits in any of them?
- I asked the coxswain of No. 8 whether he had any biscuits in the boat, and he said "Yes, he had and water too."

1817. Did many of the women passengers refuse to leave the ship?
- Me and Mr. Lightoller helped one elderly lady into the collapsible boat, and we had to get her out again because she refused. She would not go without her husband. There were several cases like that while I was lowering my boats on the port side.

1818. Several cases like that came under your own notice?
- Yes.

1819. You know that a great many third class women passengers were saved?
- Yes.

1820. You were not there to hear how they were told what was happening?
- No.

1821. Somebody must have told them?
- Yes.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

1822. You have spoken to us of what happened before you left Southampton. With reference to the boats, was it No. 3 and 7 lifeboats which were swung out, do you remember?
- I could not answer for that.

1823. Were there two boats on the starboard side?
- Yes.

1824. Were the deckhands duly mustered?
- Yes.

1825. And then were a number of men told off to swing out and lower the boats into the water?
- Yes.

1826. Do you remember at all how many men?
- No. That is all the men, all sailors - it does not matter what you are - all go to those two boats.

1827. All the sailors who would otherwise have to man the other boats?
- Yes.

1828. The sailors?
- Yes.

1829. A number of them with an Officer formed the crew of each boat?
- Yes.

1830. Then were the boats swung out at the same time?
- Yes, they went away together.

1831. Is that a matter which takes about 3 1/2 minutes, or something like that?
- It would be about that.

1832. Were the crews exercised by the Officers in the water?
- Yes.

1833. Did you see an Emigration Officer of the Board of Trade there at the time this was done?
- Yes, there was an Officer there.

1834. We are talking of it as a boat drill; it is as well to get it correct, my Lord; it is not boat drill?

The Commissioner:
So I gathered.

The Attorney-General:
It is a muster.

The Commissioner:
They do not go through any evolutions.

The Attorney-General:

The Commissioner:
They simply go up and stand opposite two boats, not more.

The Attorney-General:
Yes. Then, of course, they swing out the boats and they go into the water and they are exercised. This is in order to satisfy the Emigration Officer of the Board of Trade. That is the point. It is not boat drill at all; it is a muster. Your Lordship asked a question also about the Rules. I find that the last Rule is the 14th June, 1911, and that makes some additions and amendments to Rules in reference to deck lifeboats. If your Lordship has not got it we will see you get it. We will go into that more fully hereafter.

(The Witness withdrew.)