TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Day 8 | Testimony of George F. Stewart, cont.

British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 8

Testimony of George F. Stewart, cont.

8683. Are those instructions you speak of to be found in any book?
- Yes.

8684. They are, are they?
- Yes.

8685. I do not suppose you have the book here?
- No.

8686. Just tell us from your recollection what is it one would find in the book about this?
- That the scrap log was to be put on a slate and rubbed off every day, or else in a book in which the page can be destroyed.

The Solicitor-General:
The owners are represented here, my Lord; no doubt they can prove it if it is so.

The Commissioner:
Will you inquire about that, Mr. Laing?

Mr. Laing:

Mr. Robertson Dunlop:
I will make inquiries what the instructions are, and what the practice is with regard to these scrap logs.

The Commissioner:
Is there anyone here who can tell us now?

Mr. Robertson Dunlop:
I have no one here who can tell us now, but I will make inquiries during the Adjournment.

Mr. Laing:
I can tell your Lordship what the practice is. The practice, so far as the White Star vessels are concerned is that the scrap logs are not to be kept. They are torn off a block or pad day by day. What is called the Chief Officer's log is kept and handed in as soon as completed, to the owners; but the scrap logs are not kept.

8687. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) I clearly understand in your case you do not use a slate?
- No.

8688. And you do not use a pad?
- No.

8689. You use a book with a cover?
- Yes.

8690. And stitched?
- Yes.

8691. Have you got the cover?
- I think so.

8692. And you will find it if you can. We should like to see it. Now I have here the log which you wrote up - the 13th April, the 14th of April on the next page, and the 15th. The page runs from midnight to midnight, and then the noon observations are in the middle across the page?
- Yes, just the same as that.

8693. I see on the 13th April, at noon (I am taking latitudes.), you were 43º 43'?
- Yes.

8694. And I see that on the 14th April, twenty four hours later, you were 42º 5'?
- Yes.

8695. You were going rather more southerly?
- Yes.

8696. Of course, the ice came from the north, I suppose?
- Yes.

8697. Does it set in a southerly direction?
- Yes.

8698. So that in the course of those twenty-four hours you had made southerly some 39 minutes of latitude?
- Yes.

8699. Before you next took the noon observation your vessel had stopped?
- Yes.

8700. Because she stopped about 10.20 or 10.21, on Sunday evening?
- Yes.

8701. And she had stopped because of the ice?
- Yes.

8702. Who made the calculation to find out what her latitude was when she stopped?
- The Captain gave the position at 10.21.

8703. The Captain did that?
- Yes.

8704. Was there any reason that you know of why between noon on the 14th of April and the time when she stopped, she should have altered her course and ceased to go on more to the south?
- No.

8705. There is no reason you know of?
- No.

The Commissioner:
I would like to understand as I go along. Do your questions suggest this log has been doctored?

8706. (The Solicitor-General.) What I want to know is, how they arrived at the latitude which is put down, I presume, by dead reckoning at 10.20. I am right; it would be by dead reckoning you would get it?
- Not only that; I had the Pole Star at half-past ten.

8707. (The Solicitor-General.) I am making no suggestion, but I want to understand, because there may be a mistake. What I notice is that at noon on the 13th April your latitude was 43º 43' at noon on the 14th April it was 42° 5', and yet when she stopped, 10 1/2 hours later than noon, about half-past ten, the latitude by dead reckoning is still given as 42º 5'?
- Yes, but we were going more westerly then, I believe, from noon.

8708. Keeping on the same latitude since noon?
- Yes.

8709. Could you tell me when you changed your course? Look at the log and tell me. Start from noon on the 14th April, Sunday. Can you tell me from your log when you changed your course?
- N. 61° W. at noon.

8710. Is that altered at noon?
- Yes.

Mr. Robertson Dunlop:
It altered at 9.40 and 9.55.

8711. (The Solicitor-General.) Would that keep you on the same latitude?
- Yes.

8712. What do you mean by N. 61° W.? Is that magnetic?
- That is compass.

8713. Do you know what the deviation of your compass is?
- About 5 degrees, I believe - 5 1/2 degrees I believe it was.

8714. Which way?
- W.

8715. Then if you allow for the deviation what does your course come to be then?
- About W.

8716. And is that from noon?
- Yes.

8717. In the log for the 14th April where the course might be indicated the entry is "various." Is that so?
- The 14th April?

8718. Am I wrong?
- On the 15th April it is "various" in the morning.

8719. Now turn back to the 14th; what about it there?
- That is the course for the previous 24 hours.

8720. When you make your noon observation?
- Yes; a summary for the 24 hours.

8721. Now, I should like to follow this. As far as your memory serves you, did you enter into that logbook everything that you found on the scrap log sheet?
- Yes.

8722. You observe there is nothing at all in your logbook about seeing distress signals?
- Yes.

8723. Is there anything?
- No, nothing.

8724. Nothing at all?
- No.

8725. No reference to any of these events of the night at all?
- No.

8726. (The Commissioner.) Does that convey to you that there was no reference to those events in the scrap log?
- Yes, my Lord.

8727. (The Solicitor-General.) Give us your views. Supposing you were keeping the scrap log on a watch when you were in ice, and supposing you saw a few miles to the southward a ship sending up what appeared to you to be distress signals, would not you enter that in the log?
- Yes - I do not know.

8728. (The Commissioner.) Oh, yes you do?
- Yes, I daresay I should have entered it, but it was not in our scrap logbook.

8729. (The Solicitor-General.) That is not what I asked you. What I asked you was - apply your mind to it - supposing you had been keeping the scrap log in those circumstances and you saw distress signals being sent up by a ship a few miles from you, is that, or is not that, a thing you would enter in the log?
- Yes.

8730. (The Commissioner.) How do you account for it not being there?
- I do not know, my Lord.

8731. It was careless not to put it in, was it not?
- Or forgetful.

8732. Forgetful? Do you think that a careful man is likely to forget the fact that distress signals have been going on from a neighbouring steamer?
- No, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
Then do not talk to me about forgetfulness.

8733. (The Solicitor-General.) The scrap logbook is intended to be kept at the time, is it not, as the things happen?
- Yes, Sir, but they generally write them up at the end of the watch.

8734. And you were there at 4 o'clock at the end of the watch?
- Yes.

8735. And Mr. Stone told you then at 4 o'clock that he had seen these signals?
- Yes.

8736. (The Commissioner.) And they had been sending messages to the Captain about them?
- Yes.

8737. (The Solicitor-General.) Three times?
- Yes.

8738. And you were just going to take over the ship for the next watch and take charge of this same sheet of paper?
- Yes.

8739. Did not it occur to you that it was odd that there was nothing entered on the scrap logbook?
- I did not notice the scrap logbook at that time.

8740. You did not notice it?
- No.

8741. You made entries on the same sheet of paper between four and eight o'clock, did not you?
- Not till eight o'clock.

8742. At eight then?
- Yes.

8743. Did not you notice it then?
- I noticed there was nothing on it then.

8744. But by that time you had had the message that the "Titanic" had sunk?
- Yes.

8745. Did not you notice it then?
- I noticed there was nothing there.

8746. You did notice it?
- Yes.

8747. Then you did at eight o'clock notice there was nothing in the scrap logbook about what had happened between midnight and four?
- Yes.

8748. And you have told us, in your view, it would be right to make such entries?
- Yes.

8749. Did you ever speak to the Second Officer about it?
- No.

8750. Never?
- No.

8751. (The Commissioner.) Or to the Captain?
- No.

8752. Or to anybody?
- No, my Lord.

8753. (The Solicitor-General.) This piece of paper, whatever it was in the scrap logbook for 15th April, would be used until midnight on the 15th, would not it?
- Yes.

8754. Then would you write the entries into the logbook from the scrap logbook?
- Yes.

8755. And do you say you then destroyed the record for April 15th?
- Yes.

8756. When you destroyed it did you notice then there was no record on it about these distress signals, did not you notice that?
- No, I just copied it off as it was.

8757. There is just one other question I must put to you because we are going to call the Marconi operator. You have told us that during your watch between four and eight, you went in to see the Marconi operator, did not you?
- Yes.

8758. Try and remember what it was that you told him?
- I told him to get out and see what the ship was to the southward.

8759. I want you to be as accurate as you can. Do you think that is all you said to him?
- I think so.

8760. What this ship was to the southward?
- Yes.

8761. What did you mean by "This ship to the southward"?
- The ship that I could see, Sir.

8762. The ship that Mr. Stone had already told you was not the ship that had sent up the rockets?
- Yes.

8763. You think that is what you asked him?
- Yes.

8764. I must just put it to you. Did not you go to his room and did not you say to him that rockets had been seen during the night?
- I do not think so, Sir.

8765. You do not think you did?
- No.

8766. And did not you ask him whether he could find out with his Marconi apparatus whether anything was amiss?
- I told him to call up and see what that ship was to the southward. I remember that distinctly, Sir.

8767. Did not you ask him whether he could find out whether anything was amiss?
- I do not think so - No, Sir; I do not remember that.

8768. Did you at that time think that anything was amiss?
- I thought something had happened, yes.

8769. But you do not think you said that?
- I do not think so, Sir.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

8770. With reference to the navigation of your own ship, did you think it was dangerous on that night, the Sunday night, to proceed?
- Yes.

8771. What circumstances caused you to think that?
- The ship was surrounded by ice.

8772. Was there any haze?
- None at 4 o'clock.

8773. You went off watch at 9.30?
- Eight o'clock I went off watch really.

8774. But you did not leave the deck till 9.30?
- I was out on deck for a few minutes until 9.30.

8775. About that time was there any haze?
- I did not notice any; I do not think so.

8776. Had you been in charge and seen distress signals would you have proceeded to the vessel in distress?
- Yes, Sir, I think I would.

Mr. Harbinson:
I ask this Witness nothing.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

8777. When you went on duty again at four your ship was still stationary?
- Yes.

8778. What time did you start moving?
- 5.15.

8779. At that time you were surrounded by a considerable lot of ice?
- Yes.

8780. What pace did you make for the first three or four miles?
- We were going very, very slow.

8781. How slow?
- I could not tell you what we were going; I was not very much on the bridge after that time.

8782. Cannot you give us any idea of the pace?
- I could not give you any idea.

8783. Just crawling through?
- Just crawling through the ice.


8784. I want to ask you about this logbook. When do you write up the logbook?
- As a Rule between 8 o'clock in the morning and noon.

8785. Do you remember when you wrote up the log entry of 14th April, after you had stopped in the ice?
- Yes, I wrote that up just before noon on the 15th.

8786. Do you write it up from your scrap log?
- Yes.

8787. And then you say that after you have written it up from the scrap log you destroy the sheet of paper?
- Yes.

8788. Tear it out of the book?
- Yes.

8789. And is that the practice which you were following before April 14th?
- Always.

8790. And the practice which you have since followed?
- Yes.

8791. You have been asked some questions by my friend about the course you were steering. I think the course you steer across the Atlantic is changed from time to time?
- Yes.

8792. You are sailing on the Great Circle?
- Yes.

8793. I see that at 9.40 on the 14th April the course was altered to north 60 west, and again at 9.55 to north 59 west?
- Yes.

8794. From time to time there is an alteration of course of about a degree one way or the other?
- Yes.

8795. Is that in the ordinary course of navigation and apart from the presence of ice?
- Yes.

8796. At 6.30 your log, if you look at it, records passing two large icebergs, and gives the latitude and longitude?
- Yes.

8797. Is that the latitude and longitude of your ship at the time these icebergs were passed?
- Yes.

8798. When did you get the observation of the pole star that enabled you to fix your position?
- About half-past 7.

8799. P.m.?
- P.m., yes.

8800. That is about an hour after you passed these icebergs?
- Yes.

8801. Did you get your position before or after the ice was reported to the "Antillian"?
- I do not know what time it was reported to the "Antillian."

8802. Apparently we may take it from what was said just now that the wireless message was sent to the "Antillian" and received by the "Titanic" at 6.30?
- Yes.

Continued >