British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 12

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

The Commissioner:
Sir John, can you tell me whether there is any Rule published by the Board of Trade to the effect that a ship 500 feet long and 10,000 tons register or over must have a Master, two mates, and ten efficient sailors? It appears to be an extraordinary Rule, but it is suggested to me that there is such a Rule.

The Solicitor-General:
I will have inquiries made about it at once.

Mr. Scanlan:
From the agreement and account of the crew which is signed by the Board of Trade, and made at the port of departure, I find there is incorporated in this agreement, and as a term of it, a regulation for preserving discipline issued by the Board of Trade. There is an account of the number of the crew that would be sufficient, and this is far less than the number that was actually carried. I can submit it to your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
That is what I meant. This steamer (whether it had enough or not is another question.) was manned far away in excess of any requirements of the law.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, My Lord, of the Board of Trade; but, of course, My submission is the Board of Trade regulations and Rules are themselves utterly deficient.

The Commissioner:
I quite understand that.

14506. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) There are just two other points I want to ask you. With regard to the route, what route were you pursuing in the "Titanic" on this voyage?
- What is known as the outward southern route.

14507. Do you know that since the disaster to the "Titanic" this route has been voluntarily altered by agreement amongst shipowners, and that a more southerly course is being taken?
- I believe so.

14508. (Mr. Scanlan.) I understand that is a fact, My Lord. (To the witness.) One other obvious way for avoiding collisions with ice is to keep a more southerly course?
- Yes.

14509. Were you with the ship during her trials?
- I was.

14510. And the trials took place in Belfast Lough?
- Exactly.

14511. And on the way to Southampton. Have you any way of changing the course of a ship than by the rudder, by the helm?
- By the engines.

14512. Taking the ship going at full speed, or at a speed of 21 1/2 knots, in what distance could you turn her, if you put one propeller at full speed ahead and the other propeller at full speed or three -quarter speed astern?
- No actual trials have been made to my knowledge with a ship travelling at that speed.

14513. Was any trial made as to what you could do with the ship by putting the two propellers in opposition to one another?
- Yes, I believe so.

14514. Did you as an Officer responsible from time to time for the navigation of this great ship know what could be done by reversing one propeller and sending the other ahead?
- Do you mean the actual distance she would turn a circle in?

14515. Yes?
- With the helm hard over I think she could turn in about three times her length.

14516. Does that mean with the helm hard over and one propeller directed full speed ahead and the other propeller astern?
- No, I think that is with the ship going ahead and both engines going ahead.

14517. Was it not important to find out how her course could be changed by reversing one propeller?
- Quite so; it was done.

14518. It was done?
- Yes.

14519. And, apart from the action of the helm, in what distance, by changing the propeller and putting one astern, could her course be changed?

The Commissioner:
Course be changed?

Mr. Scanlan:
I mean could she be changed in a circle.

The Commissioner:
You mean turned right round?

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
Do you mean turning half round or wholly round. Do you know which you mean.

14520. (Mr. Scanlan.) I do my Lord; I mean both. (To the witness.) To turn her completely round on her axis so to speak, in her length, could she be turned on her axis by reversing one propeller?
- You mean completing the circle?

14521. No, a half circle.
- Sixteen points?

14522. Well, take it at 16 points.

The Commissioner:
I think I would drop this at present.

The Witness:
I do not quite understand.

The Commissioner:
Drop it at present. You will have somebody else who will be able to tell us far better.

14523. (Mr. Scanlan.) There is one other point. (To the witness.) You have a Master's certificate and an extra Master's certificate?
- Yes.

14524. Do you know whether or not a Captain of a first class ship like the "Titanic" has a great many duties to perform of a social nature apart from his duties on the bridge; I mean looking after the passengers?
- Oh, no. Of course the purser is responsible to him, as everyone in the ship is responsible to him.

14525. Has not the Captain as a matter of fact to be a great deal away from the bridge?
- Oh, dear no, not at all. He does not need to be away from the bridge at all.

14526. In practice is not the Captain a good deal away?
- No. Do not misunderstand me. Say it is hazy weather or anything like that, he would never be away from the bridge. You might go from New York to Southampton and the Captain never away down amongst the passengers as far as that goes.

Examined by Mr. ROCHE.

14527. You were the only watch-keeping Officer who was saved?
- Yes.

14528. So I want you to answer me a few questions about the equipment and system on the bridge before we come to what happened. Supposing you are in charge of the ship, and a collision happens, and it strikes another vessel or an iceberg, is it in your province to close the watertight bulkheads?
- Yes.

14529. Without sending for the master?
- Yes.

14530. By doing what, Moving a lever?
- Moving a lever over.

14531. And without any communication with the engine room; they have to do nothing to assist you?
- You communicate by the bell push, just an alarm bell, previously, and then put the handle over.

14532. The alarm tells them it is going to be done?
- Exactly.

14533. But it does not require that they should do anything to assist your operations?
- Nothing whatever.

14534. Therefore in all probability these watertight doors were closed immediately the accident happened?
- Yes. I may say I saw the watertight doors myself tested in Belfast; they were all in perfect working order.

14535. And the warning is or ought to be given to the engine room that it is being done?
- Yes.

14536. That is in order that they may not be in the way of the doors as they descend?
- Exactly.

14537. We have had some evidence or suggestion that the watertight doors were opened again. I do not know whether you know that was done or not?
- No.

14538. But tell me, if you will, how that could be done. It was suggested it could be done from the engine room. Do you know is that so?
- Yes.

14539. With or without communication with the bridge?
- Let me explain that. You put the lever over to "on."

14540. Who does, the Officer on the bridge?
- You put the lever over to "on" on the bridge. That forms a contact alongside the watertight doors and releases a friction clutch which allows the door to descend. As long as the lever is over to "on" I understand the doors cannot be lifted; but if you put the lever to "off" the doors have then to be raised by hand and can be raised by hand.

14541. What we get, therefore, is this, that when the bridge has put the lever to "on" the engineers cannot in any way alter or reverse that order without communication with the bridge?
- Without us actually altering the handle.

14542. Which of course does require that somebody should be communicated with and should sanction it by doing something, namely, Moving a lever?
- Quite so.

14543. Can you tell us whether you have heard about one other matter which seems involved in some considerable obscurity. We have been told a length of piping was fetched from right aft in the tunnel and was carried further forward, where we do not know. Do you know or have you heard anything about the purpose of that?
- Nothing, except what I have read in the evidence. I cannot explain it. I could not say how they got it through or why.

The Commissioner:
What was the significance of this piping.

14544. (Mr. Roche.) The point is to know what was going to be done with it in the first place, and secondly it was suggested that its being moved involved the opening of some of these watertight doors. Therefore one wanted to know what the conditions were that made it desirable to bring this pipe into use and where it was taken to in order to see what watertight doors were open. But you cannot help us at all about that?
- I am afraid not.

The Solicitor-General:
There was a suggestion made to us - I do not know whether it was made to your Lordship - when you went over the "Olympic"; when we went over we were shown the piping my friend refers to and it was lying in one of the after compartments.

The Commissioner:
What is it for?

The Solicitor-General:
We were informed that it might be used as a supplementary piping to attach to the pumps further forward, and there were pointed out to us the pumps in the different pump rooms, in the different compartments, with a flange to which this piping might have been attached to form an extra suction pipe. That was the suggestion made to us when we went over the ship.

Mr. Roche:
I am much obliged for my friend's explanation. If we can get from some witness where it was taken to, it would help; but you cannot help us?

The Witness:
No.

The Commissioner:
Assuming that the watertight doors were closed automatically from the bridge, as soon as the collision took place, there is at present no reason to suppose, except possibly the evidence about this pipe, that they were ever opened again.

Mr. Roche:
I forget who it was, but the witness who says the pipe was fetched said that, in fact, the doors were opened. That was his view and recollection.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Only in the forward part. The doors it was suggested were opened were only those forward.

Mr. Roche:
I thought it was exactly the contrary - the pipe was fetched from the after-tunnel.

The Solicitor-General:
That is right.

Mr. Roche:
And the witness - I think his name was Scott - suggested that those were the doors that were opened to allow this piping to be carried. He could not carry the matter any further; he did not know where it went to forward, or what, if any, other doors were opened for the purpose of its being so carried. It is fairly obvious that if you got a heavy length of pipe in this way, if it can be avoided, it will not be carried up ladders and over a sort of series of high obstacles running up to E deck.

The Commissioner:
If they were opened they must have been opened by some operation on the bridge.

Mr. Roche:
That is what I wanted to get; the engineers of their own motion could not open these doors. My friend, Mr. Raeburn, refers me to page 131, Question 5600.

The Solicitor-General:
That is right.

Mr. Roche:
The witness was Scott, as I thought; he was in the turbine department, and he says this in answer to your Lordship. Your Lordship asks: "Then all the watertight doors aft of the main engine room were opened? (The Attorney-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) And, as far as you know, as I understand it, they never were closed? - (A.) No. Why they opened them was they had to go down the last tunnel but one - "

The Commissioner:
This is referring to watertight doors that are worked from the bridge.

Mr. Roche:
Yes, My Lord. They are all, without exception, worked from the bridge.

The Witness:
All tank top doors are worked from the bridge.

14545. That is to say, not the doors above E deck?
- No.

14545a. But the doors which extend from the floor of the ship up to E deck?
- Exactly.

The Commissioner:
That is to say those that are in the bulkheads.

Mr. Roche:
Yes, they are really bulkheads.

The Witness:
Yes, bulkhead doors.

14546. (The Commissioner.) They are all worked from the bridge?
- Yes, My Lord.

14547. The others have to be worked by hand?
- By hand on the deck they are on, or from the deck above.

Mr. Roche:
And this Witness says at Q. 5584 that the engineer of the watch in the engine room gave them orders: "(Q.) 5585. What did he tell you to do? - (A.) He told us to heave all the watertight doors up. (Q.) Did you go right aft again to the aftermost tunnel? - (A.) Yes, we went right through. We opened one up in the afterside of the turbine room, and then went right through them till we got to the after one, which we had opened up about two feet." Then he described that he got to the aftermost tunnel, and he described the reason at Question 5600: "So far as you know, as I understand it, they never were closed? - (A.) No. Why they opened them was they had to go down the last tunnel but one and get a big suction pipe out, which they used for drawing the water up out of the bilges. (Q.) That tunnel is the one before you get to the last watertight door, where they went to get a big suction pipe? - (A.) Yes, it takes four men to carry it. I think I saw four men coming through with it. They took it to the stokehold. What they did with it I do not know." So he sees it as far forward as the stokehold. Perhaps he means No. 1 boiler room, and he did not see further.

The Solicitor-General:
Mr. Roche, one has to combine with that the evidence of Dillon, which is on page 99, who says he was instructed to go forward of the boiler room, and he opened four doors, and in answer to question 3800, "What did you open them for?" he says, "To allow the engineers to get forward to their duties, the valves and the pumps."

The Commissioner:
It looks like the same thing.

The Solicitor-General:
One is forward and the other is aft; one is to get the thing and the other is to carry it forward.

Mr. Roche:
It looks as if at some time - I do not know that these witnesses are very definite about the time they were all opened again. He answers you, My Lord at Question 3793. "They were not closed again? - (A.) No, My Lord."

The Commissioner:
If this evidence is to be taken as accurate, there was a time after the watertight doors in the bulkheads were closed, when they were opened again.

Mr. Roche:
That is how I read it.

The Commissioner:
From that time forward it would appear that they were never closed.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Only some of them. If your Lordship will look at page 99, Question 3789, 3790 and 3791, it is in answer to your Lordship. Your Lordship says, "Then you opened three watertight doors in the watertight bulkheads. The Attorney-General: Four, that is the evidence; from the engine room first.

The Commissioner:
Oh, from the engine room first. Then you opened four, did you? - (A.) Yes, My Lord."

The Commissioner:
I remember this, Sir Robert. That meant that what perhaps might have been considered necessary doors for keeping out the water which had come in through the hole that had been made in the side, were left closed.

Sir Robert Finlay:
They were left closed.

The Solicitor-General:
That is right.

The Commissioner:
I suppose it was thought at that time that the hole in the ship did not let in any water aft of the point where this last door was left undisturbed.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes, My Lord, to enable the engineers to get on and do their pumping.

The Commissioner:
There was something said, and I have heard nothing more about it since that I remember, about some of these doors closing some other way automatically.

Sir Robert Finlay:
They can close on the bridge automatically those lower doors?

The Commissioner:
I mean some other apparatus altogether.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Oh, yes, where water rises and gets in there is a float which automatically closes the door. It was worked, I think?

The Solicitor-General:
Yes, I saw it worked.

Mr. Clement Edwards:
I was asking a question, and I was stopped by the learned Solicitor-General, who said he was calling evidence, and thereupon Mr. Laing got up and explained to your Lordship what from his point of view was the method by which this automatic float operated.

The Commissioner:
Certainly, I remember it. Up to this time I cannot say I have understood what this operation is.

14548. (Mr. Roche - To the witness.) I do not know whether you could help us with regard to that. Supposing you do not want your float to close the doors, you want to keep them open for any purpose. Can you put it out of operation?
- I do not think so.

14549. That is all you can tell us about that matter. Now I want to ask you the sequence of events when you came on deck. You come out first from your quarters, when you feel the shock of the collision?
- Yes.

14550. And you see steam escaping?
- Yes.

14551. That means, of course, that the engines have been stopped?
- Yes.

14552. That the engines are not taking the steam and therefore they are blowing off. Were they ever put ahead again?
- That I could not say.

14553. You could not feel it?
- No.

14554. They never moved to your knowledge?
- That I could not say; I could not say whether they were moved or not.

14555. Then you go back to your berth and are there for about half-an-hour?
- Somewhere about that.

14556. Were the pumps running when you came out again?
- That I could not say.

14557. Could not you feel or see that?
- Oh, no, I should not feel the pumps from the deck.

14558. Or know whether there was water going over the side?
- No, we know from the evidence that water was going over the side.

14559. You were working on the hurricane deck not very far from the bridge. Did you hear the order given to bring up the women and children?
- No.

14560. You only know that was in operation - that that was being done?
- Yes.

14561. We have been told that later there was an order that at that time everybody should look out for themselves?
- I heard nothing about it.

14562. You heard nothing about it at all?
- Nothing whatever.

14563. Did you hear any general order for the people who were below to come up from below?
- No. Any order of that description would have to be passed to the head of the department and would not concern me.

14564. I quite know it did not come though you, but I did not know whether you had gleaned or gathered from the people coming up that such an order had been given?
- No, I knew of the order; it came to my knowledge afterwards that an order had gone for the passengers to put on lifebelts.

14565. Did you ever know at all whether any order had gone that the engineers should come up on deck?
- No.

14566. You knew nothing of that?
- No, I knew nothing.

14567. On the several boats which you were attending to - 4, 6, and 8, and the collapsible - did you see any of the engine room Officers on the deck at all?
- No, I did not see any of the engineers at any time.

14568. So far as you know they were down below to the end?
- Yes.

14569. If you communicate with the engine room on this large ship you communicate by telephone?
- Yes.

14570. From the bridge?
- Yes.

14571. And that is the means that would be adopted and available for any orders?
- Yes.

14572. With regard to the manning of the boats there was a very valuable suggestion that my friend Mr. Scanlan made and I understand you to approve of, and I want to know your view of it. The suggestion as to the firemen - there are a very large number of firemen of course on board these ships - that in case of calamity it is desirable both that the firemen should be saved and that they should be useful in manning the boats?
- Yes.

14573. I understand your suggestion to be, that since boat practice before one of these voyages begins or during the course of it, is difficult if not impossible, there should be some preliminary training?
- It would be advisable.

14574. And if that were done with the sanction of the Board of Trade, if not by law, of course it would tend to become universal?
- No doubt.

14575. Just in the same way that the fact that the Board of Trade test for sight and colour makes that the practice?
- Exactly.

14576. There are two look-out men in the crow's-nest?
- At all times.

14577. And they are on duty for how long?
- Two hours on and four off.

14578. Are they looking out during these two hours alternately, relieving one another or are they looking out concurrently?
- One stands on one side of the crow's-nest and the other on the other, and they are supposed to be keeping a sharp look-out all the time.

14579. You are an experienced Officer. Does not that tend rather to two things, dividing the responsibility, and, where a very sharp look-out is needed, as in the case of ice, to a very great strain on the men's eyes?
- Two hours?

14580. Two hours.
- I do not think that is much strain, two hours.

14581. Not looking intently at the horizon for two hours?
- No.

14582. Do not you find it on the bridge?
- No.

14583. Do not you think for those men to look out alternately would be better than concurrently?
- No, it would be worse.

14584. That is your opinion?
- Yes.

14585. As to the speed which you are speaking of, 21 1/2 knots, you use as an argument or illustration why she was not being pressed, that there were boilers not in use?
- I am given to understand so.

14586. On these large vessels there are always reserve boilers which are not in fact put in commission - I mean which are not always going all at once, to allow for a margin for repairs, and so forth?

14587. I think that is more for an engineer to answer; but what we call the donkey boilers which are used in port, I believe, are the only ones that are out of use ordinarily.

14588. I did not mean they were out of use during the whole voyage, but in practice at any one time you never do in fact have all the boilers going?
- I think they are all going.

14589. I have to ask this question because unfortunately not one of the engineers has survived?
- I shall be glad to answer what I can.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

14590. Would you consider it would tend to a more efficient look-out if at times when you are in the vicinity of ice a Junior Officer were put in the crow's-nest together with the two look-out men?
- No.

14591. You would not consider that was necessary?
- No.

14592. I understood you to say yesterday that you had calculated you would be in the vicinity of ice about half-past nine?
- About that, yes.

14593. And that the sixth Officer, Mr. Moody, had made a calculation that you might reach ice somewhere about 11 o'clock?
- Yes.

14594. That was rather a considerable discrepancy?
- Yes.

14595. When you were leaving the bridge at 10 o'clock did you mention to Mr. Murdoch who succeeded you that your calculation was different from the calculation made by Moody?
- I do not think I mentioned any individual calculations.

14596. You would not have considered it desirable, considering the conditions were such as you have told us, that you should have drawn Mr. Murdoch's attention to this disparity in calculation?
- No.

14597. Did you attach much importance to it yourself?
- None.

14598. But you thought you would be in the neighbourhood of ice at half-past nine?
- I knew we should not be there before half-past nine.

14599. You reported to Mr. Murdoch what took place while you had been on the bridge. You gave him a general report?
- A general report.

14600. And did you discuss with him in detail the question of the vicinity of ice?
- Nothing more than I have already given in my evidence with regard to ice.

14601. You have told us that the falls in the boats you were connected with, the lifeboats, worked satisfactory?
- Quite.

14602. Is it customary on the boats that you have been attached to to lower the collapsibles from the falls that let down the lifeboats?
- I have never seen collapsibles lowered before.

14603. Did you on this night, this Sunday the 14th April, experience any difficulty or see if any difficulty were experienced in the lowering of the collapsibles by these falls after the lifeboats had been lowered?
- After they had been lowered?

14604. Perhaps I should put it in this way. After the lifeboats had been lowered, when the falls are empty, is there any difficulty ever experienced in getting the falls up again?
- The falls were already rounded up, as I said in my evidence, when I got there, so I had not experience of rounding them up myself.

14605. You do not know whether or not there is at times a difficulty in getting the falls rounded up as you say?
- In all tackles there is more or less a difficulty in both overhauling them and rounding them up again unless there is any weight on them. It has to be carefully managed.

14606. So that unless in the case of emergency the falls are very carefully managed, it would be impossible through their agency to lower these collapsible boats?
- Oh, no, I would not say impossible at all. It proved very probable and capable, and we did lower the collapsible boats with them.

14607. Did you have any difficulty owing to the falls rounding up, in lowering the collapsible boats?
- In rounding them up or lowering them?

14608. In rounding them up after the lifeboats had been lowered?
- All the tackles need careful handling as I say in overhauling or rounding up.

14609. In order to avoid such a thing would you think it desirable that there should be second falls provided for the collapsibles?
- It is not practicable.

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