British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 12

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

14610. Did you see much of Mr. Ismay on the journey across?
- No.

14611. Was he often on the boat deck?
- No.

14612. Do you know on this Sunday afternoon whether or not the Captain had shown him the marconigram with reference to the ice?
- I do not know.

14613. Did you see Mr. Ismay much with the Captain?
- No, I never saw him at all with the Captain.

14614. In fact, you saw little of Mr. Ismay from the time you left Southampton?
- As far as my knowledge goes, Mr. Ismay was never within the vicinity of either the quarters or the bridge during the voyage.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

14615. You came over with the "Titanic" from Belfast?
- Yes.

14616. Do you know anything about the survey by the Board of Trade?
- In Belfast or southampton?

14617. At any time?
- Both.

14618. Was the "Titanic" surveyed by the Board of Trade representative in your presence in Belfast?
- Part of the time in my presence.

14619. Who was the representative?
- I forget his name.

14620. Was it the same representative of the Board of Trade in Belfast as you saw in Southampton?
- Oh, no; a different representative in Southampton.

14621. I will come to Southampton in a moment. Did you accompany the surveyor of the Board of Trade while he was making his survey in Belfast?
- Part of the time.

14622. Was there a Surveyor on behalf of anybody else except the Board of Trade in your presence?
- There were several gentlemen there; who they represented I really could not say.

14623. The "Titanic" was not classed at Lloyd's or any other registration society?
- That I could not answer.

14624. You do not know whether there was a Surveyor from any registration society surveying in Belfast?
- No, I do not know.

14625. And you do not know the name of the Board of Trade representative?
- No, I forget his name.

14626. (The Solicitor-General.) Mr. Carruthers, I think?
- Yes, that is right.

14627. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Did you accompany Mr. Carruthers throughout his survey?
- No; as I say part of the time.

14628. Can you say what part of the survey he did in your presence?
- Yes; he examined the lifeboats, swung them out, lowered them down, hauled them up, and examined the equipment.

14629. That is the lifeboat equipment?
- The lifeboat equipment - and tested the big anchor forward, swung that out and back again. I think that is all the time I had with him. I was with him most of the time he was with the lifeboats really, of any consequence.

14630. You were not present with him when he surveyed the bulkheads or apparatus for operating the doors?
- Yes, I was through all the watertight bulkheads with him too. Pardon me, when I say with Mr. Carruthers, it was really for my own satisfaction. Whether Mr. Carruthers was there at the time I really could not say. Probably he was.

14631. Well, unless you know?
- Well, I am not quite certain.

14632. When he tested the equipment of the lifeboats, did he check the list of things required by the Board of Trade Rules to be put in the lifeboats?
- I could not say that for certain. Previously we had already taken a check of the full complement of the boats by the Officers; the Officers themselves had been through all the boats, and got a list.

14633. It has been given in evidence here that some of the things in the Board of Trade list were not to be found on the boats when the accident happened?
- That is right.

14634. Can you suggest why that was?
- Yes, the things which you are alluding to I believe are compasses and lamps. As far as I understand those are not required to be carried in the boats.

14635. (The Commissioner.) Can you tell us where on board a steamer the lamps for the lifeboats are usually kept?
- In the lamp room I believe, My Lord.

14636. And they are carried on the "Olympic" in the lamp room?
- I presume so; I really could not say, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
I believe they are, Mr. Edwards.

14637. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Anyhow, at Belfast you say that the Board of Trade surveyor went through these things, and do you say that he found all that was required by the Rules?
- His report would be made to the Chief Officer, so I cannot answer for that.

14638. In your presence did he point out that anything was missing?
- Nothing.

14639. From Belfast you came to Southampton. On the journey did you hear anything about a fire in the bulkhead between Section 5 and 6?
- I did not.

14640. Have you at any time heard anything about a fire?
- In a coal bunker?

14641. Yes.
- No.

14642. In the ordinary course of things would a matter of that sort be reported to you as an Officer?
- No, not if it was slight, or I may say unless it became serious.

14643. Would it be reported to the Captain?
- Very probably.

14644. Whose particular duty would it be to see that any fire occurring there was put out?
- The Engineer's.

14645. When you came to Southampton you said there was another representative of the Board of Trade. Who was that representative?
- Captain Clark.

14646. Did you accompany him in his survey?
- Part of the time.

14647. For how long?
- I really could not say. I was with him part of the time.

14648. Who was with him the other part of the time? Could you say?
- Yes, the Chief Officer that was then, Mr. Murdoch.

14649. While you were with the representative of the Board of Trade, Captain Clark, what part of the survey was done?
- I really cannot remember what we went through with Captain Clark, unless it were the boats. Of course, on sailing day - well, that has nothing to do with the survey.

14650. What day did you arrive at Southampton - Saturday or Sunday, do you remember?
- Sunday.

14651. And which day did the survey take place?
- I cannot remember.

14652. Cannot you remember any part of the survey which was done by captain Clark in your presence?
- No, I cannot remember any of the incidents of it.

14653. Did he make a detailed inspection of the boats?
- That I could not say.

14654. Do you remember your evidence before the American Senate?
- No; some part of it I daresay I recollect.

14655. You remember you gave evidence there as to the survey that Captain Clark made in your presence?
- Yes.

14656. You have had a hard day, and I can quite understand you are getting a little fatigued?
- Oh, no, that is all right.

14657. On the day after you sailed did you make a test of the boats and the apparatus?
- Yes.

14658. In the presence of Captain Clark?
- Yes.

14659. It was intended as a formal inspection by the Board of Trade?
- Yes.

14660. Now, do you remember the extent to which you carried out the test?
- Yes, with regard to the boats.

14661. What did you do?
- We lowered two boats, that is swung out, carried on with the crew, swung out the boats, lowering away, placing the crew in the boats, the crews with their lifebelts on, lowered the boats, released them, sent them out, brought them back to the ship, and hoisted them inboard again and secured them.

14662. How many?
- Two.

14663. Now you have said that this was a perfectly clear night?
- Yes.

14664. Is it a fact, well within your experience, that when ice has got down into a fairly warm latitude that there is a constant haze given off from the ice due to the disparity in the temperature of the ice and the surrounding atmosphere?
- Not to my knowledge.

14665. And is it not the fact that that haze is very frequently removed when a wind springs up and you are then able to see the edge of the ice quite clearly as you have suggested in your evidence?
- Never, to my knowledge, have I seen any haze hanging round a berg. I have come across icebergs in a thick fog, but never noticed any individual haze round any ice.

14666. Is not a fog constantly created by this contact of ice at a very low temperature with the atmosphere of a much higher temperature?
- Oh, no; you get fog when there is no ice at all.

14667. I know that. Sometimes we get it with heat, but what I am putting to you is that this disparity between the temperature of an iceberg and the surrounding atmosphere is one of the causes which go to create fogs in the Atlantic?
- Would you mind repeating that?

14668. (The Commissioner.) Do you think it is worth repeating it; I do not think he knows these matters. The suggestion is that many fogs in the Atlantic are manufactured or made by icebergs?
- No, My Lord.

14669. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Icebergs in contact with the warm atmosphere?
- Never to my knowledge.

The Commissioner:
I do not think he knows anything about it.

14670. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) You did in your evidence yesterday attempt to explain one of the reasons for the creation of fog. At Question 13600 you said "Well, though it may seem strange, it is quite possible for it to go up if the ice happens to be floating in slightly warmer water, or if the wind were to come round from the southward. You will frequently be passing through a cold stream, and if the wind comes from the southward you will almost invariably look out for a fog owing to the warm wind striking the cold water"?
- Quite right. I was explaining to his Lordship at that time that though the temperature was very low, it was no indication of ice, because you might be approaching ice and the fact of the wind coming round from the southward would give you a warmer temperature, not necessarily fog, and therefore you would have a warmer temperature and still be approaching ice.

14671. Now, if the look-out men, in fact, saw a haze, what do you suggest it may have been produced by?
- If they saw a haze it might have been produced by a warm and cold current meeting.

14672. And that might have concealed the ice?
- If a haze had arisen it might have concealed the ice.

14673. And that condition of things might have been sufficiently local for you not to have seen anything of it when you went off duty at 10, and not to have seen any trace of it at the time when you again came up on deck after the collision?
- It is just possible.

14674. Had you at any time any information as to the extent to which water had come in the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

14675. When?
- When the fourth Officer reported to me in my room, and also when I asked the Carpenter whether No. 6 stokehold were dry. On the first occasion the fourth Officer informed me the water was up to F deck. He has explained since he meant G deck - and the Carpenter informed me that No. 6 stokehold was dry.

14676. Did you understand at the time that he meant F deck?
- I understood him to mean F deck.

14677. And are the gangways in E deck, the next deck?
- Yes.

14678. Were you at all in a state of panic when you gave instructions that the gangway doors were to be opened?
- Not the slightest.

14679. Did you have any consultation at all with the Captain when you gave those instructions?
- None whatever.

14680. At the time you gave those instructions to the boatswain did you notice whether there was any list at all on the ship?
- No, I did not notice.

14681. How soon after you gave those instructions did you notice there was a list to port?
- I think I have explained that in my evidence, that it was at No. 6 boat, I think, where I first noticed the list.

14682. At which boat were you when you gave instructions to the boatswain to open the gangway doors?
- I think I have also explained that - at No. 6.

14683. Now you have explained that it took you some 20 minutes to half-an-hour to get No. 6 boat uncovered and lowered; at what stage of that process did you give instructions to the boatswain?
- I could not say.

14684. At what stage did you notice the list to port?
- I could not say.

14685. Can you say whether you noticed a list to port before or after you had given instructions to the boatswain?
- That I could not say with certainty either.

14686. Has it occurred to you that if the ship struck on the starboard side it was a very extraordinary thing that there should have been a list to port?
- No.

14687. Why not?
- Why not extraordinary?

14688. Yes?
- Because she fills up both sides equally.

14689. Does she, if there is an aperture on one side, does not she usually list to the side from which the water is pouring in?
- Not necessarily.

14690. I did not say necessarily?
- No.

14691. You would expect there would be a list to that side in which the water comes in, would you not?
- No.

14692. Why not?
- Why should I?

14693. Well, I am asking you?
- I am sorry I cannot explain.

14694. You must have some ground for taking a certain view. You say that you would not expect a list to that side at which the water came in.

The Commissioner:
No, he did not say that. He said, not necessarily. I understand him to mean that the fact that there was a hole on one side would not necessarily mean that there would be a list on that side. That is all I understand him.

The Witness:
That is right, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
And I am advised that that is right, Mr. Edwards.

14695. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Has it occurred to you since that possibly the gangway doors were opened and were first opened on the port side and she took a lot of water through those doors?
- No.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

14696. I understand you to say that the eyesight test had been maintained by the White Star Company?
- As far as practicable.

14697. Is that from general knowledge or your own experience?
- Personal experience.

14698. Would it surprise you to know that as a matter of fact the eyesight test has been discontinued for some considerable time at Southampton?
- I might on the other hand say would it be of any use to you to know that I insist on it.

14699. Then I want to get it. Have you any experience outside your own ship, for instance, as to the general practice in the White Star Company?
- No, I am speaking from personal knowledge.

14700. You could not say whether it is maintained except by yourself?
- I am speaking purely from personal knowledge.

14701. Do you know that one of the look-out men had never done that duty before and was only qualified as an A.B. last year?
- Quite possibly.

14702. Whose duty is it to see that the equipment of the lifeboats is maintained?
- The Board of Trade's.

14703. Is that carried out effectively?
- It is, very effectively.

14704. As effectively on the White Star Line as in some of the other companies?
- Speaking from my own experience at Southampton, it is particularly well carried out.

14705. I take it you mean that it would be the duty of the Board of Trade to see they are equipped, but it is the duty of the company to do the actual work of equipping them?
- Undoubtedly.

14706. Whose duty is it from the company's point of view to see they are equipped?
- It rests primarily with the Officers concerned, secondly with the Chief Officer, and, thirdly, with the marine superintendent.

14707. Do you know whether it is the duty of the shore staff to see these lifeboats are equipped?
- I do know it is the duty of two men, who are told off to do nothing else while the ship is in port but go round and examine the lifeboats thoroughly, equipment, bread, water and everything else.

14708. How do you account for the fact that your boats were not equipped thoroughly?
- I do not account for it.

14709. I mean with water and bread and all those things that are necessary?
- May I ask how it comes to your knowledge?

The Commissioner:
I have already said those are very small matters; there is not much importance to be connected with any one of them.

Mr. Lewis:
They are important from our standpoint, the question of the equipment of the boats.

The Commissioner:
That may be, I know already in some respects those boats were not fully equipped, but I know also they had nothing to do with this calamity.

Mr. Lewis:
But my point is with respect that if the company were lax in regard to one particular point, there is the possibility of their being lax in other directions.

The Commissioner:
You can make that as a point, but it is nothing to examine this Witness about.

14710. (Mr. Lewis.) I want to know the general methods adopted by the company as far as this Witness knows. (To the witness.) With regard to particular lifeboats, I understood you to say in your evidence that it took about an hour and a half to two hours to prepare and lower the boats upon which you were engaged, is that so?

The Commissioner:
Yes, he has said it, and I know it, you know.

14711. (Mr. Lewis.) Do you consider that under the circumstances of the case, when the ship was sinking rapidly, that that was a reasonable time to take?
- Yes.

14712. What is the object of a boat list and boat drill?
- It is rather obvious; it is to teach the men to know their stations.

14713. In the event of danger is not the object to be prepared to lower the boats simultaneously?
- Not necessarily.

14714. If, for instance, the accident was even worse, if it is possible to conceive, and you had knowledge that the ship was to sink in an hour, obviously it would be desirable to get the boats down speedily, would it not?
- Yes.

14715. Is not the object of having boat stations in order that you may station men at the different boats to lower them at once if necessary?
- No.

14716. What is the object of having firemen and stewards on the boat list?
- To know their stations.

14717. Is it not a fact that you ran a risk by proceeding from boat to boat to lower those boats of having several boats left?
- They were not left.

14718. Is it not the fact that you did have boats left, collapsible boats or rafts that you could not get off in time?
- No.

The Commissioner:
Now what is the real object of your questions. They are not helping me at all. Is your real object that you think more men belonging to your Union ought to be employed? These questions do not assist me one bit.

Mr. Lewis:
My point is this - and I think it is proved by the fact that there was a difficulty in getting the collapsible boat off - that more men that were on the ship should have been used to get off the boats.

The Commissioner:
With the exception of one boat all the boats were got down to the sea.

Mr. Lewis:
Surely one boat is important upon an occasion of this kind.

The Commissioner:
Yes, but there are particular circumstances applying to that boat. It was not the want of men.

14719. (Mr. Lewis.) But the boat could not be got off because the water was up and could not be got ready in time. (To the witness.) You considered that everything was done that was reasonable with regard to the launching of the boats?
- Yes.

14720. Now with regard to the look-out men. Did I understand that if the look-out men had had glasses and had been using them at the time, they would have seen the iceberg much quicker?
- I could not say what you understood.

14721. Supposing when the iceberg region was approached they had been using their glasses would they in your opinion have seen the iceberg much quicker?
- If they had had a glass glued to their eyes?

14722. If they had been looking at the time they saw the iceberg and rang the bridge?
- Yes.

14723. If, prior to that, they had had a glass, could they have seen it some time before?
- I really could not say.

14724. It is extremely probable, I suppose?
- Not necessarily.

14725. I think you admitted you could see a greater distance with glasses?
- Under certain conditions, yes.

14726. And on this night it was clear, was it not?
- Yes.

14727. Would that be a night on which a glass would have been of service?
- I have never seen icebergs through glasses so I really cannot say.

14728. If there had been glasses there it would have been extremely probable, one man would be using his eyes and the other his glasses?
- Most improbable.

The Commissioner:
Do you really suggest that in a look-out like the crow's-nest there is always one man with glasses and another man without glasses.

14729. (Mr. Lewis.) I suggest it is possible that one man would be using glasses and the other not. Do not you think it would have been advisable when approaching an ice-field, seeing you knew glasses had not been supplied to the look-out men, to have seen that they were supplied with a pair?
- No.

14730. I understood you to say that you could yourself have seen the iceberg in time for the disaster to have been averted if you had been on the bridge?
- I am afraid you have totally misunderstood me. I do not pretend to have been able to see it any further than my brother Officer, Mr. Murdoch.

14731. I understood you in reply to a question that you thought you could have seen it in time to have averted the accident?
- I am afraid you have understood wrongly then.

14732. Can you tell me whether there were any orders with regard to firemen, whether they were stationed at all, those off watch?
- No. I had no orders with regard to firemen.

14733. They seem not to have been used very much, and I want to know if you knew they had been stationed on any part of the deck; you could not say that?
- No.

14734. Can you tell me whether sliding chocks for the collapsible boats would have been of any material assistance to you?
- I could not.

14735. I understand that there is a patent chock which will enable collapsible boats to be put out. You have never seen them, perhaps?
- No.

14736. With regard to speed, did I understand you aright this time, that you said you had never known speed reduced?
- No, you are not correct.

14737. I understood the question was put, and you said you never understood speed was reduced?
- No, that is wrong; you had misunderstood me totally.

14738. May I take it speed is frequently reduced crossing the Atlantic?
- Under certain conditions.

14739. Is it not the fact the boats are nearly always in to time?
- No.

14740. Have you been late frequently?
- Yes, I have known a first class mail, a 21-knot boat, 36 hours late.

14741. You have known that on the White Star?
- Yes, and been on her.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

14742. You told us that all the Officers had been on the "Titanic" on the trial trip except Mr. Wilde?
- Yes.

14743. You know he had had considerable experience on the "Olympic," the sister ship?
- I believe so.

14744. Were the boats on the "Titanic" in the forward and the after compartments carried in the same way?
- Practically the same, with the exception of that small bulwark there.

14745. Are not they carried inboard?
- I see what you mean. At sea they are carried with their keel on the rail of the ship. Those boats were inboard on their chocks. That is right.

14746. You have told us of the conversation with the Captain, in which he gave you instructions to call him if you were at all doubtful?
- Yes.

14747. Had you, in fact, any kind of doubt during the rest of your watch?
- None whatever.

14748. Was there any reason whatever why you should have any such doubt?
- None.

14749. Had you had any ice or fog or haze reported to you?
- About the ice track, do you mean?

14750. No, I mean from the look-out?
- Oh, dear, no; none whatever.

14751. All you knew was that earlier in the day ice had been reported in a particular region?
- Yes.

14752. And your previous experience had taught you that it did not mean by any means that you were necessarily going to meet it?
- That is so.

14753. Would the effect of slowing your engines before you had seen any ice at all have simply been to keep you longer in the danger zone?
- Yes.

14754. I take it your own eyesight is perfectly good?
- I believe so.

14755. You and all the other Officers have to pass a very stringent Board of Trade examination before you get your certificate?
- Yes, they have, and subsequently.

14756. You have told us that you allotted men to each boat when you came on deck to get them uncovered. Did you intend those men to go into the boats as their crews?
- Not necessarily.

14757. Simply to go round the decks and uncover the boats?
- They were told off to their boat, and they would naturally remain at that boat until she was in the water, unless they got further orders.

14758. How many boats, in fact, did you superintend being lowered into the water?
- It is rather difficult to say. I was working the whole time at the boats. How many I put in I really do not know - four, six, perhaps eight - three lifeboats at least, and a collapsible.

14759. Can you tell me what other duties the Officers were to perform after that collision?
- Speaking for myself, I had no other duties.

14760. No, generally; what were their duties generally. I take it that one Officer would have to look after the rockets?
- There was an Officer looking after the rockets, an Officer down below a couple of times to judge the amount of water and attending to the morse signals and attending also to the boats.

14761. There were seven Officers besides the Captain?
- Yes.

14762. Do you consider you could have done with any less than that on board the "Titanic"?
- Oh, yes.

14763. Can you tell me how many are required?

The Commissioner:
Is that the answer that you wanted?

Mr. Holmes:
It satisfies me, My Lord.

The Witness:
I mean to convey this, that, as proved, we could have managed the boats in the water with the weather in that condition without Officers. It would not have mattered if there were only women in the boats. It was flat calm.

14764. Do you know of your own knowledge how many Officers a ship like that can go to sea with and still comply with the law?
- No, I have heard, but I have not taken much notice of it.

14765. Is it the fact they only require two certificated Officers?
- I believe it is something like that.

The Commissioner:
You must remember this Witness is one of your own clients.

Mr. Holmes:
I know, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Do not you think you can leave him alone?

Mr. Holmes:
If your Lordship will allow me to ask him a few more questions tomorrow morning?

The Commissioner:

Continued >