British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of Charles V. Groves
Examined by Mr. S. A. T. ROWLATT.
8111. Charles Victor Groves, is that your name?
8112. Were you Second Officer of the "Californian"?
- Yes, I was on the ship's articles as Second Officer, but took the duties of third.
8113. You are referred to as Third Officer in the papers?
8114. You remember Sunday, the 14th?
8115. Was your watch from 8 p.m. till midnight?
8116. And we know your steamer stopped because she got among the ice?
8117. At 10.26 was it?
- Yes, at 10.26.
8118. And you had had a double look-out. We have heard about that and I will not ask you again?
- Yes, a double look-out.
8119. Since about 6?
- Since about 6.
8120. Had you seen any icebergs, you yourself, in the afternoon?
8121. Where did you see them?
- About 5 miles to the southward of us.
8122. What time was that?
- About 20 minutes past 5 when I saw them, when I relieved the bridge. I relieved the Chief Officer then for his tea.
8123. You are talking about the time by your clock?
- Yes, ship's time.
8124. When you came on watch at 8 o'clock was it clear?
- Yes, quite clear.
8125. Could you see the horizon?
- No, you could not see where the horizon in the sky finished but you could see stars right down as far as the sea.
8126. According to your judgment was there anything in the shape of a haze?
- No, nothing whatsoever.
8128. Was the captain on the bridge?
8129. How long did he stay there?
- He stopped there till about 10.35 - perhaps a few minutes less than that, but about 10.35.
8130. When he left the bridge did he give you any orders?
- No he did not, not at that time. But I saw him after that.
8131. Did he give you orders about other ships?
8132. When was that?
- Probably that was just before he left the bridge, about half-past 10, but the exact time he gave those orders I could not say.
8133. What did he tell you?
- He told me to let him know if I saw any ship approaching us.
8134. Did you see any ships approaching?
8135. Now, what did you see, and when?
- As I said before, the stars were showing right down to the horizon. It was very difficult at first to distinguish between the stars and a light, they were so low down. About 11.10, ship's time, I made out a steamer coming up a little bit abaft our starboard beam.
8136. Now, did you look at the clock?
- When I saw the steamer?
8138. Why did you say 11.15?
- I say it was about that.
8139. (The Commissioner.) I think you said 11.10?
- Yes, I said about 11.10.
8140. (Mr. Rowlatt.) That is your judgment?
- That is my judgment.
8141. When had you last looked at the clock?
- Ten-twenty-six - well, I had looked at my watch; we had no clock on the upper bridge. I set that at 6 o'clock by the ship's clock.
8142. You saw a steamer?
8143. What lights did you see?
- At first I just saw what I took to be one light, one white light, but, of course, when I saw her first I did not pay particular attention to her, because I thought it might have been a star rising.
8144. When do you think you began to pay particular attention to her?
- About 11.15.
8145. About five minutes after you first saw her?
- About five minutes after I first saw her.
8146. Did you then see more lights than one?
- About 11.25 I made out two lights - two white lights.
8147. Two masthead lights?
- Two white masthead lights.
8148. Did you make out any other lights then?
- Not at the time, no.
8149. You said that she was a little abaft your starboard beam?
8150. How were you heading?
- At that time we would be heading N.E. when I saw that steamer first, but we were swinging all the time because when we stopped the order was given for the helm to be put hard-a-port, and we were swinging, but very, very slowly.
8151. You say you were heading about N.E.?
- We were heading N.E.
8152. Did you notice that at the time?
8153. Was that with a view to see in what direction the steamer was bearing?
- No, for my own information.
8154. But it was at that time?
- At that time, yes.
8155. Now, how did she bear, how many points abaft the beam did she bear?
- Do you mean when I first noticed her?
- I should think about 3 1/2 points, but I took no actual bearing of her.
8157. That would leave her S. by W.?
- We were heading N.E. and she was three points abaft the beam.
8158. Your beam would be?
8159. That would bring her about 7?
- S. or S. by W. - S. 1/2 W.
8160. Could you form any judgment how far off she was?
- When I saw her first light I should think she would be about 10 or 12 miles.
8161. Judging by the look of the light?
- By the look of the light and the clearness of the night.
8162. (The Commissioner.) That was when you saw the one light?
- Yes, when I say she was 10 to 12 miles away.
8163. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did she appear to get nearer?
8164. The lights clearer?
- Yes, all the time.
8165. Was she changing her bearing?
8166. Coming round more to the south and west?
- More on our beam, yes, more to the south and west, but very little.
8167. Did you report that to the captain?
- Yes, because, as I said before, he left orders to let him know if I saw any steamers approaching.
8168. You went down to him?
- I went down to the lower bridge, which is part of the saloon deck.
8169. (The Commissioner.) Would this be something after 11 o'clock?
- Yes, my Lord, when I went down to him it would be as near as I could judge about 11.30.
8170. (Mr. Rowlatt.) What did you say to him?
- I knocked at his door and told him there was a steamer approaching us coming up on the starboard quarter.
8171. (The Commissioner.) The door of what?
- The door of the chart room. It is a Venetian door.
8172. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you say what sort of a steamer you thought she was?
- Captain Lord said to me, "Can you make anything out of her lights?" I said, "Yes, she is evidently a passenger steamer coming up on us."
8173. (The Commissioner.) "Could you make anything out of her lights?"
8174. "I said, 'She is evidently a passenger steamer'"?
- Yes, my Lord.
8175. You added something to that answer?
- "Coming up on the starboard quarter."
8176. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you say why you thought she was a passenger steamer?
- Yes. I told him that I could see her deck lights and that made me pass the remark that she was evidently a passenger steamer.
8177. (The Commissioner.) "I said I could see her deck lights"; was that true?
- Certainly, my Lord.
8178. (Mr. Rowlatt.) How many deck lights had she? Had she much light?
- Yes, a lot of light. There was absolutely no doubt her being a passenger steamer, at least in my mind.
8179. Could you see much of her length?
- No, not a great deal; because as I could judge she was coming up obliquely to us.
8180. She was foreshortened?
- Supposing we were heading this way she would be coming up in this way, perhaps an angle of 45 degrees to us (Demonstrating.)
8181. So that her side would not be greatly extended?
8182. Now is that all you said to the captain before he said something to you?
- Yes. He said, "Call her up on the Morse lamp, and see if you can get any reply."
8183. Did anything pass as to what passenger steamers you were speaking with the wireless?
- Not at that moment.
8184. The first thing he said was, "Call her up on the Morse lamp"?
8185. What did you say to that?
- I went up on the bridge; I went away and went up on the bridge and I rigged the Morse lamp.
8186. (The Commissioner.) How long does it take to do that?
- It is only a matter of taking a key out of a locker up there and just putting the plug in.
8187. A minute?
- Yes, that is all.
8188. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you get any reply?
- Not at first, no reply whatsoever.
8189. Did you afterwards?
- Well, what I took to be a reply. I saw what I took to be a light answering, and then I sent the word "What?" meaning to ask what ship she was. When I sent "What?" his light was flickering. I took up the glasses again and I came to the conclusion it could not have been a Morse lamp.
8190. (The Commissioner.) Is the long and short of it this, that you did not get a reply, in your opinion?
- In my opinion, no.
8191. You thought at first you had?
- Yes, I thought at first I had.
8192. But you satisfied yourself that you were wrong?
- That is so.
8193. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you go down again to the captain?
- No, he came to the bridge.
8194. Was there anyone else there except you and he?
- Not on the bridge.
8195. Did you tell the captain about the Morsing?
8196. What did he say?
- He saw a light flickering himself, and he passed the remark to me. He said, "She is answering you." This was just before I sent the word "What?"
8197. After that was done, did you have any more conversation with the captain about the steamer?
- When he came up on the bridge he said to me, "That does not look like a passenger steamer." I said, "It is, Sir. When she stopped her lights seemed to go out, and I suppose they have been put out for the night."
8198. (The Commissioner.) You said, "It is"?
- Yes, my Lord.
8199. Now, what about putting out the lights?
- I said she put out her lights as she stopped.
8200. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You have not told us about that yet, but before you come to that, was there anything said at that time about the passenger steamers that you were in communication with by wireless?
- Nothing whatsoever.
8201. Was anything said at any time about the "Titanic"?
- After the captain came on the bridge.
8202. Was that before the lights appeared to go out?
- No, that was after.
8203. (The Commissioner.) You said something about the lights of the ship going out. When did they go out?
- At 11.40.
8204. Was the Captain standing with you?
- No, my Lord.
8205. At that time?
- No, my Lord.
8206. Had he gone away?
- He had not been on the bridge again since about 10.35.
8207. You went on the bridge after he had told you to signal with the Morse light?
8208. And you did signal and then, as I understand, the Captain came on to the bridge?
- Not until after I was Morsing. I was actually Morsing when he came up.
8209. Very well, he came up and he remarked to you, "She does not look like a passenger steamer"?
- That is so.
8210. And you said, "It is"?
8211. Now you said something about the lights going out; what was it?
- Well he said to me, "It does not look like a passenger steamer." I said, "Well, she put her lights out at 11.40" - a few minutes ago that was.
8212. Then had she put her lights out before the captain came on the bridge?
- Yes, my Lord.
8213. When did she put her lights out?
- At 11.40.
8214. And you told the captain this, did you?
8215. What did he say to that; did he say anything?
- When I remarked about the passenger steamer he said: "The only passenger steamer near us is the 'Titanic.'"
8216. He said that, did he?
- Yes, my Lord.
8217. (Mr. Rowlatt.) What makes you fix the time 11.40 for her lights going out?
- Because that is the time we struck one bell to call the middle watch.
8218. Do you remember that bell was struck at that time?
- Most certainly.
8219. Did the steamer continue on her course after that?
- No, not so far as I could see.
8220. She stopped?
- She stopped.
8221. Was that at the time when her lights appeared to go out?
- That was at the time that her lights appeared to go out.
8222. Were the lights you saw on her port side or her starboard side?
- Port side.
8223. I want to ask you a question. Supposing the steamer whose lights you saw turned two points to port at 11.40, would that account to you for her lights ceasing to be visible to you?
- I quite think it would.
Mr. Rowlatt, at 11.40 the engines were stopped on the "Titanic."
Yes, my Lord.
I do not know whether that would cause a large number of lights to go out. They had a supplemental dynamo.
I think the only evidence about lights going out was that at some time after this the lights in a particular stokehold went out for a short time.
Oh, yes, I know that, but is it not the fact that at some time the lights in the ship, except the lights in the alleyways and the working parts of the ship did go out.
I do not remember that there is any evidence of that; I do not know how it would be. I do not know whether those who sit with you could indicate whether it would necessarily follow the engines stopping. I should imagine the engines stopping would not put the lights out.
Did that emergency apparatus working the electric light supply the whole ship with electric light?
I am not in a position to answer that question at the moment.
Did it, Mr. Laing?
No, my Lord; the emergency dynamo does not supply the whole of the lights.
It supplies only, as I understand, the lights in what you may call the working parts of the ship - the alleyways, the engine rooms.
And the deck cabins, I think.
The deck cabins?
I think so.
I do not think so.
Some of them, at any rate.
It can hardly be that when they stopped the ship going forward the ship is plunged in darkness automatically. It only means they stopped the engines which actuate the propellers.
At some time the light which was produced by the main engines did go out.
The lights went out in a stokehold.
I remember that. It came on again in a few minutes; in something like ten minutes it came back again. That was temporary.
I apprehend that the engine which produces the electric light is not the same engine as the engine which turns the propellers.
Which engine is it?
I cannot tell your Lordship at the moment. We will find out.
There is a separate engine which works what I call the emergency electric light machine, is not there?
There is, my Lord.
Now where is the engine that works the electric light when that emergency apparatus is not in use?
I cannot point to it at the moment - it is immediately abaft the turbine.
It is abaft the turbine?
Very well. Now I understand it. Those engines would be going on just the same although the signal had come from the bridge to stop the main engines.
Yes. I have got an answer from the Witness which may throw some light upon it. He said that, in his opinion, the turning of the ship -
I heard him. That would be when the order was given to change the direction.
Hard-a-starboard; and your Lordship remembers we had evidence that the ship did answer to the extent of two points at once.
Yes, she did answer her helm. Very well; two points you were saying?
Two points, my Lord. The man at the compass said she altered her course two points.
A change of two points to port would conceal the lights in the ship?
8224. (Mr. Rowlatt - To the Witness.) Did you say "would" or "might"? I do not want to put it too high?
- In my own private opinion it would.
8225. You are speaking of deck lights?
8226. Lights from the ports and windows?
8227. Did you continue to see the masthead lights?
8228. Did you see any navigation lights - sidelights?
- I saw the red port light.
8229. (The Commissioner.) When did you see that?
- As soon as her deck lights disappeared from my view.
8230. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did it strike you that going out of the glare of the other lights could show up the port light? Is that what you mean?
- Yes, it would do.
8231. I mean, you are not suggesting that the port light was opened, having been shut in before?
- Oh, no.
8232. I only want to understand. You cannot see a red light in the midst of the glare of the deck lights. That is what you mean?
- Yes, because of the blaze of the white lights.
8233. Was that at 11.40?
8234. It was after this that you had a conversation with the captain about the "Titanic"?
8235. (The Commissioner.) Did the captain see these lights disappear?
- Not to my knowledge, my Lord.
8236. Was he there when you saw them disappear?
- Not on the bridge.
8237. Where was he - in the chart room?
- I could not be certain where he was at that particular moment. When I spoke to him about the steamer coming up astern he was in the chart room.
8238. But at the time you saw the white lights of the steamer disappear he was not standing with you?
- No, my Lord.
8239. It was after you had seen those white lights disappear that you had a conversation with him in which he said to you "the only passenger steamer is the 'Titanic'"?
- That is so.
8240. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you have any further conversation with the captain?
- I did not.
8241. Did he stay on the bridge or go down again?
- I do not think he would have been up there for more than three minutes at the outside with me.
8242. Then he went down again?
- He did.
8243. Did you stop on the bridge?
- I stopped on the bridge.
8244. Did you continue to observe the steamer?
- After I had tried ineffectually to Morse her I did not pay any particular attention to her.
8245. Did you not notice her or did you notice her?
- Oh, I noticed her certainly.
8246. Was she keeping her same position?
- The same position, yes. We were swinging slowly to port, very slowly.