British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Alfred Shiers, cont.

4696. Can you give some idea as to this? What height was the iceberg standing above the water?
- I could not say that.

4697. Was it higher than the forecastle?
- About that - higher than the forecastle; it looked higher anyway.

4698. I suppose it must have been higher, as some of the ice from it fell on to the forewell deck?
- Yes.

4699. Could you get a good view of it from where you were standing?
- No, only dim.

4700. Was there a haze at the time; was the air clear, or was there a haze?
- It was hazy. When I saw that berg it was hazy. The berg was in a haze.

4701. Had you a sufficient crew in No. 5 to man that lifeboat?
- No.

4702. There was no light in the boat?
- No.

4703. I suppose you know that if there had been a light provided it would have been found in the usual place?
- Yes.

4704. Where is the usual place in a lifeboat?
- Underneath one of the thwarts of the boat.

4705. Was it looked for there?
- Yes.

4706. By whom?
- I do not know. When we got down into the water it was looked for.

4707. Do you know whether this boat had a compass?
- No, I never saw one.

4708. Had it a sea anchor?
- I do not know that.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

4709. Can you tell me how long elapsed from the time of the collision until you got to your boat No. 5?
- Over half-an-hour.

4710. You got into the boat half-an-hour from the time of the collision?
- I should say about three quarters of an hour.

4711. That is to say you got into the boat three quarters of an hour after the collision?
- Yes.

4712. And the intervening time you spent going up and down?
- Yes, it was after the fireman had cut his foot; I went for the doctor.

4713. After your passages up and down you saw what was going on; during this time that you were going to the forecastle backwards and forwards, you could see what was going on?
- I saw men standing about.

4714. Your quarters, I understand, were very near the third class - near the steerage quarters, in the front of the boat?
- On the top part, the first door when you get down in our quarters.

4715. So that the steerage was quite close to you?
- Yes.

4716. Did you hear any of the stewards or other officials of the White Star Line giving any instructions to the steerage passengers?
- No.

4717. Could such instructions have been given without your hearing them?
- Yes.

4718. Did you see any of the stewards or other officials going about while you were going up and down?
- On the other deck - when I was going aft, I saw them then.

4719. In the front?
- No.

4720. About the forecastle?
- No.

4721. And so far as you know, none were given?
- No.

4722. Now you say you saw a number of people standing about; who were they?
- The crew.

4723. Did you see any of the third class passengers coming out of their bunks?
- No.

4724. None?
- No.

4725. During none of the times when you were going up and down?
- They were nowhere near the third class bunks.

4726. Are not they at the front?
- No, not that I know of.

4727. Do you know whether or not the male portion of the steerage passengers was in front of the boat, in the forecastle?
- No, I do not know.

4728. You do not know?
- No.

4729. You never saw any of them?
- No.

4730. And you heard no instructions given?
- No.

4731. Now who was supposed to give you orders in case of emergency? Under whose control were you supposed to be?
- The engineer's.

4732. Were there any engineers about to give you any orders?
- No.

4733. How did you come to go to the boat deck?
- I was sung off the boat deck.

4734. And it was in answer to this order that you went to the boats?
- Yes.

4735. How many Officers were up there at the time?
- I could not say.

4736. Did you see any?
- No.

4737. You do not know who was the Officer who told you to get into boat No. 5?
- No; he was an Officer.

4738. Did you see any Officer or anyone giving instructions as to the manning of boat No. 3?
- No.

4739. Were there many people on the boat deck at the time - many passengers?
- No.

4740. When you went up there?
- No.

4741. Were there many about boat No. 5?
- That boat was filled.

4742. Boat No. 5 was filled?
- Yes.

4743. Do you suggest that all the passengers practically on the boat were being taken away by boat No. 5?
- All the women.

4744. Were there men left behind?
- Yes.

4745. Many?
- I could not say how many.

4746. Did you see men standing about?
- Yes.

4747. Were they members of the crew or passengers?
- I do not know.

4748. Do you know who manned boat No. 3?
- No.

4749. Did you see it lowered?
- I saw it come down after us into the water.

4750. How many people were in it?
- I could not say.

4751. While your boat was being lowered did it stop at the third class deck?
- No.

4752. It went straight down?
- It went straight down.

4753. Was your boat full?
- What it would hold off the davits; they would not have any more in the boat.

4754. You do not know whether or not there were any women left behind on any of the decks?
- No; it was the second boat lowered.

4755. After you came down you rowed some distance away?
- Yes.

4756. Did you see the "Titanic" sink?
- Yes.

4757. What did you do when you saw the "Titanic" sink?
- I had orders to pull round the front of the boat.

4758. Did you do so?
- Yes.

4759. Did you pick up any passengers?
- No, we never got so far as that.

4760. Did you hear cries?
- The women in the boat stopped that, and the Officer who was in charge of the boat -

4761. Stopped them going round?
- Officer Pitman told us to pull to the boat.

4762. Was he the Officer in charge?
- Yes.

4763. Where was he? Was he at an oar?
- No, in the stern.

4764. And the women said, "Do not go back"?
- "Do not go back."

4765. And what did he say?
- We were pulling away and he told us to lay on our oars.

4766. And he did not go back?
- We pulled again afterwards.

4767. Did the boat go back?
- I do not know where it was; I was not steering the boat.

4768. You were at the oar?
- Yes.

4769. As a matter of fact, did you hear cries at this time -
- Yes.

4770. Many cries?
- Wailing noises.

4771. Were they far from you?
- I could not tell you the distance.

4772. Could you see any passengers in the water?
- No.

4773. You had not a light in the boat?
- No.

4774. You did not pick up any passengers out of the water?
- No.

4775. Had you room for more passengers?
- There was room for more.

4776. There was room in the boat and the Officer acting under the instructions of these female passengers refused to allow the boat to go back?
- They said if they went back the boat would be swamped.

4777. Who said that?
- The passengers - the females in the boat.

4778. What did he do?
- He gave orders to lay on our oars.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

4779. Have you ever received instructions as to what to do in the event of a collision or accident?
- No.

4780. None whatever?
- No.

4781. As a matter of fact I suppose you would have obeyed only orders given to you by the engineers or any other Officer?
- Yes.

4782. You were off duty at the time?
- Yes.

4783. You sort of went about on a roving commission?
- Yes.

4784. All parts of the deck?
- I went to the well deck and to the forecastle.

4785. You did not see any disorder at all?
- No.

4786. Did you see any of the passengers being left on the decks?
- No.

4787. Is it customary to have any Officer tell you in any way at all how you are to muster in the event of an accident?
- No.

4788. So that as far as you were aware all you had to do was to wander about and await instructions?
- We had no instructions. We had no lifeboat drill or anything of that kind.

4789. How long have you been in the employ of the White Star Company?
- This is my first voyage with that Company.

4790. So far as the "Titanic" was concerned it had no drill whatever?
- No.

4791. But you knew your boat?
- Yes, that afternoon.

4792. Where did you get that information from?
- The list.

4793. You saw a list?
- Yes.

4794. Can you tell me why it was that so few men reported themselves to their boats. Have you any idea at all? You knew your boat number?
- Yes.

4795. Can you explain why so few went?
- No, I cannot.

4796. Did you leave many in your quarters? Were there many firemen left there when you went up?
- There was none in my quarters when I went down for my belt; when I came up again they were on the deck.

4797. When you were in the boat, do I understand you heard the cries and you did not return because the Officer was impressed by what the women had said that it was dangerous to go back?
- Yes.

4798. I suppose if they had gone back, and there had been a matter of 100 people in the water, it would have been dangerous?
- Yes.

4799. Very dangerous?
- Yes.

4800. And you think that if the women did impress the Officer, Pitman, not to go back, they were using common sense? Would you yourself, if you had been in charge, have gone back had you believed there to be a large number in the water?
- I do not know.

You think it would have been very dangerous indeed?

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

4801. How long have you been going to sea?
- Eleven years.

4802. What companies have you been in of first class liners?
- The Union Castle Company and the Royal Mail Company.

4803. Do those companies have general boat drill? I mean for all the crew?
- Yes.

4804. Have you taken part in general drill?
- Yes.

4805. Bulkhead drills as well as boat drills?
- Yes.

4806. You knew exactly your station in those companies?
- Yes.

4807. You did not have any drill in the White Star Line?
- No.

4808. Now how did you know where your boat was? Had you ever been on the boat deck before?
- No.

4809. So you simply had to roam round and find where your boat was?
- No, I asked.

4810. Whom did you ask?
- The quartermaster, when I got up on the deck. I asked him which was the starboard side.

4811. When you got to No. 5 what Officer gave the order for you to go into No. 5 boat?
- I do not know his name.

The Commissioner:
He told us that three or four times.

4812. (Mr. Cotter.) You said that Officer Pitman was in No. 5 boat?
- Yes.

4813. Was it Officer Pitman who gave the order?
- No; there was another Officer there.

4814. Who gave the order to lower the boat?
- I do not know who that was.

4815. You do not know?
- No.

4816. Did you assist to get the women and children into that boat?
- Yes.

4817. Had you any difficulty?
- No, I never had a difficulty.

4818. Was the boat far from the ship's side when she was slung out?
- About a foot.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

4819. Did the Officer who told you to lower away No. 5 tell you what to do when you got to the water?
- He did not tell me; he told the other Officer.

4820. What did he tell him?
- When he got down into the water to take charge of that line of boats as they came down, and stand off at 200 yards.

4821. Stand off the ship 200 yards?
- Yes.

4822. And Pitman, I think, was your Officer that went in the boat?
- Yes.

4823. Was there water in your boat?
- No.

4824. Did you look?
- Yes.

4825. Were there biscuits?
- Yes.

4826. Was the Officer on the deck who ordered your No. 5 boat to be lowered picking the crews for the boats?
- He turned round and asked you what you were.

4827. And then told you to go into the boat if he selected you?
- Yes.

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

4828. I think I understood you to say that on the Union Castle Line you had had bulkhead drills?
- Yes.

4829. How often did you have them?
- Every Saturday.

4830. What did you do?
- Close the watertight doors, go to the boats, swing them out, and fetch them back inboard again.

(The Witness withdrew.)