British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 8

Testimony of Charles V. Groves, cont.

8397. What did the captain say when you told him it was a passenger steamer? - Do you remember?
- Yes, I do. He said to me, "The only passenger steamer near us is the 'Titanic.'"

The Commissioner:
We have got it, you know. He said, "The only passenger steamer about here is the 'Titanic.'"

8398. (Mr. Harbinson.) The question I propose to follow that up with is this: Did the captain make any observation as to the distance at that time the "Titanic" should be away? Did the captain say at what distance the "Titanic" would be away at that time?
- No.

8399. He said nothing?
- Nothing.

8400. Did you know about what distance the "Titanic" should be away?
- I had no idea.

8401. When you left the bridge you went to the Marconi operator's house?
- Yes.

8402. And he told you the only steamer he had got was the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

8403. Did he tell you whether or not he had had any message from the "Titanic"?
- No, he did not mention about any message at all.

8404. Or say what distance the "Titanic" would be away?
- No, he did not know; he could not say.

8405. What time that night had the Marconi operator gone to bed?
- That I cannot say, but it was some time previous to 12.15 or 12.20. That is all I know about it.

8406. If the Marconi operator had not been in bed, but up and in charge of his instrument, would he have been likely to hear the messages sent out by the "Titanic"?
- As far as I know.

The Commissioner:
You had better ask the Marconi man when he comes.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

8407. Two questions. Do you carry two masthead lights?
- Yes.

8408. How many masts have you got?
- Four masts.

8409. Where do you keep the after masthead light?
- On the mainmast.

8410. And the forward one?
- On the foremast.

8411. What sort of span is there between the two?
- Longitudinally?

8412. Yes, is it short or long? That is all I want to know?
- The distance roughly would be about 70 feet.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

8413. When you were searching for the wreckage, what boats exactly was it you saw in the water?
- We saw the "Titanic" lifeboats.

8414. How many?
- I think there were 7.

8415. Would that be boats cut adrift?
- They were left by the "Carpathia."

8416. How many Officers had you on the "Californian"?
- Three.

8417. What watches did you keep?
- The ordinary sea watches; 4 on and 8 off.

8418. All through the day?
- All through the day and night.

8419. What is the average range of an ordinary ship's sidelight?
- Two miles.

8420. And the masthead light?
- Five miles; that is the distance they are supposed to show.

8421. They do show a little further on a clear night?
- Yes.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

8422. When you first went on deck that evening with the Officer at about 10 minutes to 7, how long had your ship been under way at that time?
- I do not know.

8423. Was she under way when you were wakened?
- She was under way then, yes.

8424. You do not know at all what time?
- No.

The Commissioner:
I think we have had it in evidence.

Mr. Edwards:
There was a statement by the captain, my Lord.

8429. Did you get good sights?
- Perfectly good sights.

Mr. Edwards:
Six o'clock, my Lord; it is in his logbook.


8425. In the logbook it is stated that when you stopped your ship in the ice the position of the ship was 42º 5' N. and longitude 50° 7' W. Is that accurate?
- Well, it is bound to be accurate if the captain put it in.

The Solicitor-General:
This Witness would not know, would he?

8426. (Mr. Robertson Dunlop.) You were on duty from 10.20 when you started until 12.15?
- Yes.

8427. The position of your vessel had been signaled to the "Titanic" at 6.30. Did you know that?
- No.

8428. Did you take part in ascertaining the position of your ship at noon on the 15th?
- Yes.

8429. Did you get good sights?
- Perfectly good sights.

8430. And the position which you found was 41º 33' N.; and the longitude, do you remember what it was?
- No.

8431. 50° 9' W. Do you know how far it was you had steamed between noon and the time you left the wreckage?
- On the Sunday or Monday?

8432. On the 15th, on the Monday. You take your position at noon on the Monday shortly after leaving the wreckage, and I want you to help me to fix the position of this wreckage?
- In reference to our noon position?

8433. Yes; you have the noon position. How far do you think you had traveled from the time that you got on your way after searching round the wreckage until your noon position? Do you think it would be about five miles?
- No, more than that; about 11. That is in distance.

8434. You would be in the same latitude then as the wreckage was found?
- That I could not say.

8435. Do you know your course?
- At 10.30 we altered the course to N. 60° W. by compass.

8436. If the "Titanic" was in latitude 41° 33', which is the position she has given, and the position in which the wreckage was found, and your vessel was, as stated in the log, in latitude 42° 5', the "Titanic" would be some 33 miles to the southward of the position where you were lying stopped?
- If she stopped in 41° 33' and we were in 42° 5.'

8437. Yes?
- Yes, about 30 miles.

8438. And if the "Titanic" was 30 miles to the southward of the position where you were stopped, I do not suppose you could see any navigation lights at that distance?
- No, none whatsoever.

8439. Nor indeed any rockets at that distance?
- I could not say about rockets, but I should not think it was likely.

8440. If this vessel which you did see was only some 4 or 5 miles to the southward of you, do you think she could have been the "Titanic"?

8441. (The Commissioner.) That is a question I want this Witness to answer. (To the Witness.) Speaking as an experienced seaman and knowing what you do know now, do you think that steamer that you know was throwing up rockets, and that you say was a passenger steamer, was the "Titanic"?
- Do I think it?

8442. Yes?
- From what I have heard subsequently?

8443. Yes?
- Most decidedly I do, but I do not put myself as being an experienced man.

8444. But that is your opinion as far as your experience goes?
- Yes it is my Lord.

Mr. Robertson Dunlop:
That would indicate that the "Titanic" was only 4 or 5 miles to the southward of the position in which you were when stopped.

The Commissioner:
If his judgment on the matter is true it shows that those figures, latitudes and longitudes that you are referring to are not accurate. That is all it shows.

Mr. Robertson Dunlop:
The accuracy we will deal with, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
I mean to say, if what he says is right, it follows that the figures must be wrong.

8445. (Mr. Robertson Dunlop.) You will appreciate, Mr. Groves, that if the latitudes are right it follows that your opinion must be wrong?
- If the latitudes are right, then of course I am wrong.

8446. If the latitude of your ship and that of the "Titanic" are anything approximately right, it follows that the vessel which you saw could not have been the "Titanic"?
- Certainly not.

8447. Were the two masthead lights which you saw wide apart indicating a long ship?
- They did not look particularly wide apart.

8448. Did they indicate to you a long ship?
- Well, I can form no judgment as to her length. She was coming up obliquely to us.

8449. And at that distance at which you saw her, it would be difficult to estimate the height of those lights?
- Oh, quite difficult.

8450. Then what was there in the appearance of those two masthead lights to indicate that this vessel was the "Titanic"?
- Nothing in the appearance of the masthead lights at all.

8451. What, apart from the masthead lights, was there to indicate to you that this was a large passenger steamer?
- The number of deck lights she was showing.

8452. When you saw these deck lights, was the vessel approaching you obliquely?
- Obliquely, yes.

8453. So that the deck lights would not indicate to you the probable length of the steamer showing them?
- Well, no.

8454. They would be all bunched up?
- They would be bunched up together.

8455. That being so, how did those deck lights communicate to you that this was a large passenger steamer?
- Well, as I said before, by the number of her lights; there was such a glare from them.

8456. You mean from the brilliance of the lights?
- Yes, from the brilliance of the lights.

8457. But I suppose a small passenger steamer might have brilliant light?
- She would have brilliant light, but they would not show the light I saw from this steamer.

The Commissioner:
Has any small passenger steamer been heard of in this locality at this time?

8458. (Mr. Robertson Dunlop.) You have told us that you did see on the following morning a steamer whose name you do not know?
- A small steamer, yes.

8459. Was she a passenger steamer?
- That I could not say.

8460. Have you tried to find out her name?
- No, I have not; I took no further interest in her.

8461. (The Commissioner.) What size boat was she?
- I never saw her broadside; I only saw her end-on.

8462. You told me it was a very small boat?
- It was a small boat. I judged that from her end-on view.

8463. Was it much smaller than the boat the lights of which you had seen the night before?
- I should judge so.

8464. (Mr. Robertson Dunlop.) Was she a vessel about your own size?
- No, in my opinion she was considerably smaller.

8465. Before the vessel which you saw stopped, on what course did she seem to you to be steering?
- Do you mean the steamer I had seen at 11.40?

8466. Yes, before she stopped at 11.40 you had had her under observation for some time, noticing her movements?
- Yes, but I took no notice of the course she was making except that she was coming up obliquely to us.

8467. Was she making to the westward or to the eastward?
- She would be bound to be going to westward.

8468. Was she?
- She was bound to.

8469. Did you see her going to westward?
- Well, I saw her red light.

8470. If she was going to the westward and was to the southward of you, you ought to have seen her green light?
- Not necessarily.

8471. Just follow me for a moment. She is coming up on your starboard quarter, you told us?
- On our starboard quarter.

8472. Heading to the westward?
- I did not say she was heading to the westward.

8473. Proceeding to the westward?
- Yes.

8474. And she is to the southward of you?
- She is to the southward of us.

8475. Then the side nearest to you must have been her starboard side, must it not?
- Not necessarily. If she is going anything from N. to W. you would see her port side. At the time I left the bridge we were heading E.N.E. by compass.

8476. Never mind about your heading. I am only dealing with her bearings. She is bearing S.S.E. of you - south-easterly?
- About south.

8477. She is south of you and apparently proceeding to the westward?
- Yes, some course to the westward.

8478. Does it follow from that that the side which she was showing to you at that time must have been her starboard side?
- No it does not follow at all. If she is steering a direct west course, yes.

8479. Did you see her green light at all?
- Never.

8480. When the captain came up at 11.30 and you reported her to the captain, what lights was she then showing?
- The captain did not come up at 11.30.

8481. When did he come up?
- About 11.45 on to the bridge.

8482. You reported to the captain at 11.30?
- About 11.30.

8483. And then the captain at some time looked at her and said, "That does not look like a passenger steamer"?
- That was about 11.45 on the bridge.

8484. What lights was she then showing?
- Two masthead lights and a side light, and a few minor lights.

8485. Some deck lights?
- A few deck light, yes; that is what I could see.

8486. Is that before or after you say the deck lights had gone out?
- That was after the deck lights went out.

8487. What were those deck lights that you saw when the captain came on the bridge?
- I do not think that then I could see more than 3 or 4.

8488. Had those lights gone out or had they come into view again after going?
- I do not quite follow.

8489. You have told us the deck lights had gone out?
- Yes; when I say that the deck lights had gone out I mean that they disappeared from my view.

8490. They disappeared from your view, and then apparently some of them again came into view?
- Yes.

8491. Was that indicating that the vessel was swinging?
- Well, it might do.

8492. Turning her head in the ice as you were?
- It might do.

8493. When you turned into your berth that night about 12.30 did you think there was any vessel in distress?
- No.

8494. (The Commissioner.) You had seen no rockets?
- I had seen no rockets, my Lord.

8495. And nothing in the appearance of the lights which you say, and the going out of those lights which you have described, led you to think that vessel was in any way in distress?
- Nothing whatsoever.

8496. But was, like yourselves, stopped in the ice?
- That is so.

8497. And it was not until the next morning that you heard anything had happened?
- Not until next morning.

8498. When did you go on watch?
- At 8 o'clock.

8499. The captain states that he was on the bridge at 11 o'clock and was there till 11.30?
- I say he was not.

8500. You say he was not?
- Most emphatically.

8501. Most emphatically?
- Most emphatically.

8502. There must be a mistake somewhere?
- Well, it naturally follows, does it not?

Re-examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

8503. You were the officer of the watch, as I understand, from 8 p.m. till midnight. Would you then be keeping the scrap log?
- I was keeping the scrap log.

8504. Your ship was under way from 8 o'clock until about 20 past 10 of that watch, was she not?
- Yes.

8505. And then about 20 past 10 she stopped, and she was stopped for the rest of the watch?
- Yes.

8506. Who would make a dead reckoning and find out where she was at 10.20?
- Well, the captain; he would work it. I never work it.

8507. Is the scrap log here?
- No, it is not kept.

8508. (The Commissioner.) Is it destroyed from time to time?
- It is destroyed from time to time. There is one log always kept, of course, but the scrap log is destroyed from time to time.

8509. (The Solicitor-General.) I want to know a little about this. Before the scrap log is destroyed in what sort of a book is it kept?
- It is copied from the scrap log into the printed log.

8510. Into this fair copy - this book which I have here?
- Yes.

8511. Is the scrap log kept in a book?
- Yes.
8512. It is not kept on loose sheets of paper?
- No, in a book.

The Commissioner:
Just follow that up.

8513. (The Solicitor-General.) I am going to, my Lord, if I may. (To the Witness.) And this book in which you kept the scrap log, for how many days, or weeks, or months is the book good for?
- It varies.

8514. Is it as big a book as this - as your official log?
- Oh, no; it is a thinner book.

8515. How much thinner? How many weeks will it take?
- It is my duty to rule that book up myself. It all depends. If we want a piece of paper on the bridge we occasionally tear a piece out of it; and whenever we take occasional observations we work them on the back.

8516. I want you to give me an idea how big a book is the book in which the scrap log is kept?
- I do not think it would take more than 25 days.

8517. (The Commissioner.) How long had you been out?
- We left London on the 5th April in the early morning - Good Friday.

8518. Did you leave with a new scrap log book?
- We always have several of them on the ship; it is a cargo book we have.

8519. There is only one in use?
- Yes.

8520. How long had this log book been in use?
- I think I must have started it when we left London.

8521. (The Solicitor-General.) That would be April 5th?
- Yes.

8522. And you reached Boston, when?
- On April 19th, I think it was.

8523. And you just made the return journey from Boston here?
- No, Boston to Liverpool.

8524. That is what I mean. You think you started your scrap log on April 5th, and you went across the Atlantic to Boston; that did not use up your scrap log book, did it?
- No, certainly not.

8525. Then did you use the same scrap log book for the return voyage from Boston to Liverpool?
- As far as my recollection carries me we started it again when we left Boston, but I have a recollection of ruling up another one after leaving Boston.

8526. On the voyage back from America to Europe?
- Yes.

8527. You have a recollection of that. But you see, if this scrap log book was newly started when you left on April 5th, it would not be used up in the course of your return voyage from America to England?
- Not solely for that voyage, but I have told you we used a back page for occasional observations, or if we wanted a piece of paper to write any note on or anything like that.

8528. Who told you to rule out a new scrap log book on the voyage back from Boston to Liverpool?
- I did it myself; nobody told me to.

8529. (The Commissioner.) What does "rule out" mean?
- Well, rule the pages in the forms required. First of all, we put "Hours" -

The Commissioner:
Yes, I see what you mean.

8530. (The Solicitor-General.) Do you suggest that the old scrap log had at that time been filled to the last page?
- When I started this new book we had evidently finished the old one, otherwise I should not have started it.

8531. Where is that old one?
- The old one? The one for the voyage out?

8532. Yes, the one which you were partly using for the return voyage?
- I expect it was thrown away.

8533. Where was it thrown away to?
- I expect it went over the side.

8534. Did you throw it over the side?
- I did not.

8535. (The Commissioner.) Who did?
- I do not know; it was only my suggestion that it was thrown over.

8536. (The Solicitor-General.) You did not see it thrown over?
- No.

8537. The captain might be able to tell us. You would know this book was the book which contained the real record for the 14th April?
- Of course I knew that.

8538. And by that time, of course, you, and others on your ship, knew quite well there was a very serious enquiry being made as to the position of your ship and what she was doing on the 14th April?
- Certainly.

8539. And by that time you knew that there was some discussion as to whether the ship which you had seen was the "Titanic" or some other ship?
- That was a discussion amongst ourselves.

8540. And you knew there was a discussion in America and the newspapers?
- I did not know that our ship had been mentioned in the papers until we got to Boston.

8541. This was after you left Boston, you see?
- Yes, certainly, I knew then.

8542. You cannot tell us whether it was destroyed or not?
- No, I cannot say definitely, certainly not.

8543. (The Commissioner.) Had you a log slate?
- No, my Lord.

8544. You had nothing but this book?
- Only the book. Log slates are out of date now, my Lord.

8545. When did you write up the log book - I do not mean the scrap log book, but the log book. When did you write it up?
- I do not write it up at all.

8546. When was it written up on board your steamer?
- That I cannot say. The chief officer writes that up.

8547. (The Solicitor-General.) The chief officer?
- Yes.

8548. (The Commissioner.) Would he write it up every day or once every two days?
- I fancy he writes it up every day.

8549. (The Solicitor-General.) That would be Mr. Stewart?
- Yes.

8550. I do not know whether your recollection will enable you to tell me, but I had better ask you. As you were making entries in the scrap log book from 8 to 12 that night, do you know whether you made any entry as to any ship that you saw?
- No, no entry whatsoever relating to any ship.

8551. You had gone off watch before there was any question of rockets?
- Yes.

8552. You must have seen the scrap log book the next day when you came on duty; do you know whether it contains any entry of rockets being seen?
- I saw none myself.

8553. (The Commissioner.) Did you look to see if there was any reference as to rockets?
- No my Lord, I did not.

The Commissioner:
Then you must be careful how you answer.

8554. (The Solicitor-General.) You had come on duty, in one of the watches; would you come up at 4 o'clock in the morning?
- No, about 6.50. That is on the Monday morning.

8555. That is what I mean. Then when would you come on duty and be the officer on the watch and have to keep the scrap log?
- It is my duty between 8 and 12 under ordinary conditions.

8556. By that time you had heard the news about the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

8557. Knowing that, did not you look back in the scrap log and see what entries had been made by your colleague between midnight and 4 a.m.?
- No, I did not.

8558. It would be on the very next page, would it not? You turn over the page I suppose when you get to midnight?
- Yes, we finish a page when we get to midnight.

8559. You would have only to turn back one page and see the record made by the officer of the watch from midnight to 4 a.m. as to what he had seen?
- Yes.

8560. And you did not do it?
- No, I did not do it.

The Solicitor-General:
We had better get the chief officer I suppose.

8561. (The Commissioner.) Yes. If you had been on the bridge instead of from 8 to half-past 12, from 12 to 4, and had been keeping the scrap log book and had seen a succession of white rockets with stars going up from this vessel which you speak of or from the direction of this vessel, would you in the ordinary course of things have made a record of the fact in your scrap log?
- Most decidedly, that is what the log book is for.

8562. So I should have thought. Then it would have been the business of the man who had charge of this book to record those facts?
- I think so, my Lord.

8563. Who was he?
- Mr. Stone was on watch.

8564. And, therefore, if Mr. Stone did what you think was his duty, this scrap log book which was thrown away, or which, at all events, cannot be found, would contain a record of these rockets having been seen?
- Yes, my Lord, but it is not my duty to criticise a senior officer, though.

The Commissioner:
I am asking what is the ordinary practice. Do you want any of the other officers back, Mr. Solicitor?

The Solicitor-General:
I have Mr. Stewart here, who is the chief officer, and the captain is here also.

The Commissioner:
You must exercise your own discretion.

The Solicitor-General:
I think I will call Mr. Stewart now.

(The Witness withdrew.)