British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 12

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

14766. (Mr. Holmes - To the witness.) Can you tell me the last that you saw of Mr. Wilde before the ship went down?
- The last I remember seeing of Mr. Wilde was quite a long time before the ship went down.

14767. And Mr. Murdoch?
- Mr. Murdoch I saw practically at the actual moment that I went under water.

14768. Can you tell me where he was?
- He was then working at the forward fall on the starboard side forward; that is the fall to connect to the collapsible boat.

14769. What was the last you saw of Mr. Moody?
- I do not remember seeing Mr. Moody that night at all, though I am given to understand, from what I have gathered since, that Mr. Moody must have been standing quite close to me at the same time. He was on top of the quarters clearing away the collapsible boat on the starboard side, whilst Mr. Murdoch was working at the falls. If that is so, we were all practically in the water together.

14770. You stated that you asked the Carpenter to take soundings at No. 6?
- No, I did not.

14771. Did you ask the Carpenter to take soundings anywhere?
- No.

14772. Did you hear the Captain ask the Carpenter?
- No.

14773. You mentioned in your evidence that the Carpenter had taken soundings and said that No. 6 was dry?
- I did not say that exactly. I asked the Carpenter if No. 6 stokehold had any water in.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

14774. That is what I am trying to get at. What time was that when you asked him that?
- I could not tell you.

14775. Can you give us any idea?
- No. I met him somewhere on the boat deck.

14776. Was that after you had been to No. 6?
- I really could not say.

14777. What time would it be after you had been got out of your bunk when you sent the boatswain down to open these gangway doors?
- I have already given the times as near as I possibly can, and the time I sent the boatswain down; I think you will find that in the evidence.

14778. Can you tell us how the doors are made fast?
- No, I cannot give you a detailed explanation.

14779. You do not know how?
- They are secured by bolts.

14780. Is there a large iron boom across fastened by bolts?
- I could not say.

14781. Are they very difficult to open?
- The Carpenter opens those.

14782. Are they difficult?
- I could not tell you; it is not my work.

14783. Have you seen one opened?
- No.

14784. Have you any idea of the weight of one of those doors?
- Yes, I have an idea.

14785. Will you give us some idea?
- Yes, you get down to the forward steerage and then you will be at the door.

14786. I want the weight of it?
- I beg your pardon, I thought you said way. I could not give you any idea.

14787. If it were once opened and lost its balance and swung against the ship's side, the Carpenter and a crowd of men would have a job to get that back again?
- Not necessarily.

14788. If I suggested to you that it would take at least four men to open one of those doors, would that be right?
- Probably about that.

14789. And it would take more to close them?
- Quite.

14790. Once she had swung against the ship's side you would have to pull it back again, and you would have an awkward angle?
- That all depends. I do not say it is necessarily a very hard job, it would depend principally on the list of the ship, or whether she had any list at all.

14791. If he was sent down to open them and the water reached up to the deck, when he found out his mistake, he would have a job to close them?
- I did not say he had opened them.

14792. Supposing he had opened them?
- Yes.

14793. Now I will take you to the collapsible boat. Is it not the fact when you unship one of those collapsible boats you have blocks and tackle fastened on the stays from the funnel?
- No.

14794. Did you see no block and tackle on that stay from the funnel for the purpose of unshipping the collapsible boat?
- Which are you speaking of?

14795. I am talking about the forward funnel on the port side; are not there small blocks and tackle on it?
- No.

14796. How do you unship one of those Englehardt boats?
- We never have unshipped one, but I see what you are getting at. There is a link in the funnel guy for the purpose of hooking on tackle and so getting the Englehardt from the top of the quarters down to the deck.

14797. I am right that you could put the block and tackle on to that link?
- Yes, that is right.

14798. Was there any there that night?
- Not that I am aware of.

14799. If you had had a block and tackle there you would have found it rather easy to unship it?
- No, I should not have used it.

14800. It would have been of no use?
- No.

The Commissioner:
You represent the interests of the stewards do you not?

Mr. Cotter:
I do.

The Commissioner:
These questions may have some general bearing, but they do not affect particularly the stewards, do they?

Mr. Cotter:
I think we are here to get as much information about the wreck as possible, and although I am representing the stewards I might get some information which may be useful to this Inquiry.

The Commissioner:
I said this information may be of use generally, but it does not affect particularly your clients, the stewards. I think when you have heard a Witness examined generally by five or six different people it is becoming time to end it.

Mr. Cotter:
There has not been a question raised about these doors, which is a very important point. I am speaking as a practical man.

The Commissioner:
At present you were asking about some tackle, and suggesting that the gentleman should have used it if it was there, and he answers you that it was not there, and if it had been he would not have used it. Now that does not seem to me to advance the Inquiry one bit.

Mr. Cotter:
My contention is that if that tackle had been there, at least some of our men might have been saved as well as some of the passengers.

The Commissioner:
His answer is that he would not have used them.

14801. (Mr. Cotter.) It is rather peculiar to have tackle of that description for the purpose of unshipping boats and not to use it. I put it, as a practical seaman, it should be used when it is there to use, and is the only means of getting those boats safely on to the deck. Can you tell us who draws up the boat list, or who drew up the boat list on the "Titanic"?
- It is the first Officer's duty on the White Star ships.

14802. Did you see a boat list drawn up on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

14803. Did every member of the crew get a boat station?
- I did not examine it in absolute detail and check it by the list.

14804. Is it general to have every member of the crew assigned to a boat station?
- Yes.

14805. Also hand bulkhead door stations?
- No.

14806. Who gives those out?
- I could not tell you.

14807. Do you know where the hand bulkhead doors are stationed on the "Titanic"?
- On the various decks.

14808. Did you ever see any door drill on the "Titanic"?
- I have seen them all closed and opened.

14809. Where was that?
- In Belfast.

14810. Did you see them on the voyage at all?
- No.

14811. What is the general Rule on board a ship - I am speaking to you now as an Officer of many years' standing - in case of collision. If everybody knew their stations, what kind of alarm is given to the crew to bring them to their stations?
- We try to avoid all alarm.

14812. Is it not a Rule at boat drill that a bugle goes?
- Yes.

14813. If it is good for boat drill why is it not good to bring the men to the station?
- I could not tell you.

14814. What alarm do you give for the closing of the bulkhead doors?
- We do not sound any alarm; we do things as quietly as possible.

14815. What order do you give on board a ship at sea?
- To close them.

14816. What is the order?
- To close them.

14817. But there is a signal given?
- No.

14818. What is the signal?
- No signal.

14819. How is the order sent round?
- Various means, telephone, telegraph.

14820. Have you no general bulkhead door drill?
- No, we have not.

14821. At a specified time every morning, the same as other companies?

The Commissioner:
You must not say, "The same as other companies."

Mr. Cotter:
It is a fact, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
It may be, but you must not give evidence.

14822. (Mr. Cotter - To the witness.) There is no general bulkhead door drill on board your ship?
- Are you speaking of seamen? You say you are speaking from the point of view of a practical seaman. Are you speaking of seamen's bulkhead door drill; I take it you are.

14823. Generally, throughout the ship?
- No.

14824. There is none?
- Not with regard to seamen.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

14825. Do you belong to the Royal Naval Reserve?
- Yes.

14826. What rank do you hold?
- Sub-lieutenant.

14827. With regard to the equipments of lifeboats were these gone through by the two Junior Officers?
- Yes.

14828. In Belfast?
- Yes.

14829. And all checked through, I think?
- Four Officers, as a matter of fact.

14830. Two on each side?
- Yes.

14831. On the 14th, during your evening watch, did you take any stellar observations?
- I did.

14832. Were they worked out by the Junior Officer?
- They were.

14833. Can you take those observations if it is not clear?
- No, you cannot.

14834. You were asked if you told Mr. Murdoch about the position of this ice. Was it in the night order book, do you know?
- It was.

14835. And would Mr. Murdoch necessarily have the night order book?
- He would necessarily initial it; yes.

14836. You were asked if you thought the vessel was going down when you first got news of the water, and you said, No. Did you know at that time how many compartments had been pierced?
- No, I did not.

14837. With regard to this gangway door on the after side of the vessel, do you know how high above the water that would be?
- Do you mean when the ship is on an even keel?
- I really could not say.

14838. I have had it measured; it is 15 feet above water in the afterend of the ship. You were asked again whether you would act under your own authority in a case of emergency?
- Yes.

14839. And you said there were Rules?
- The White Star rules.

14840. Are the White Star rules contained in this red book?
- Yes.

14841. I will hand up a copy to my Lord (Handing the same.) The particular one about the Officer of the watch your Lordship will see on page 32. That is the Rule you were referring to?
- Yes.

14842. "Station.
- At sea the station of the Officer of the watch is on the bridge, which he must on no account leave either night or day without being relieved. When the watch is changed the Officer who is being relieved will remain on the bridge and in charge during the change. He will see that the seamen placed as look-outs do not quit their posts until relieved, and he must deliver to the Officer relieving him all orders which have still to be executed. He is the responsible Officer until he leaves the bridge, and must not leave the bridge until the Officer relieving him has had time to familiarise himself with his surroundings. Duties: (a.) He must remember that his first duty is to keep a good look-out and avoid running into danger, and although it is desirable to obtain the position of the ship as often as possible, he must on no account neglect his look-out to do so. He must also preserve order in the ship. (b.) He must not alter the course without consulting the Commander, unless to avoid some sudden danger, risk of collision, etc. (c.) When he believes the ship to be running into danger it is his duty to act at once upon his own responsibility, at the same time he will immediately pass the word to call the Commander." That is what you referred to?
- Yes.

14843. "When it is his duty to alter the course for some approaching or crossing vessel, he must do so in plenty of time, signify by sound signals such alteration, and give such vessel a wide berth. (e.) He must call the Commander at once if it becomes foggy, hazy, if he does not think he can see a safe distance, or if in doubt about anything. (f.) He is expected to make himself thoroughly conversant with the usual channel courses, and to be thoroughly posted in the run of the ship. Any doubt he may have as to safety of the position of the ship, or of the course steered, he will immediate express to the Commander in a respectful manner." That is the Rule you had in your mind?
- Yes.

14844. One matter I want to clear up which occurs in the evidence of some other Witness. Had you any difficulty about finding the plug of one of these collapsible boats?
- Yes.

14845. Just tell us about that?
- When we were at work at the port collapsible boat, the first collapsible, it was suggested that there was a plug in the boat, and not being very familiar with these boats and having a box of matches, I searched round and came to the conclusion there was no plug.

14846. As a matter of fact they do not have plugs?
- They do not.

14847. So your search was in vain?
- Yes.

14848. Do you remember the "Carpathia" picking you up?
- Yes.

14849. Did she throw up any rockets?
- She did.

14850. How many?
- I think I saw two.

14851. How many hours would that be about before you were picked up?
- That was whilst it was still dark. It seemed fully an hour before we were picked up.

14852. What I wanted to get at was what sort of interval would there be between the last rocket from the "Titanic" and the two that you saw from the "Carpathia"?
- I suppose about five hours.

14853. I think you said two?
- Two I think I remember seeing. There may have been more.

14854. Do you know what sort?
- The ordinary distress signals, the same as we were using.

14855. With stars?
- Yes.

14856. (The Commissioner.) Were you near enough to hear them?
- Oh, no.

14857. (Mr. Laing.) Can you help us at all about any dead bodies that were left in one of the boats?
- I understand that there were three dead bodies left in one of the collapsible boats when the remainder were taken out.

14858. You say you understand?
- It was not in my boat.

14859. Did you see them?
- No.

14860. Did you have some report?
- I have heard so since.

14861. After you were taken on the "Carpathia," did you yourself go round the boats belonging to the "Titanic"?
- I did.

14862. What object had you?
- Because there was a report that there was not bread and water in some of the boats. In all the boats on the "Carpathia," with the exception of the emergency boats, in which neither bread nor water is carried, there was bread and water in every lifeboat.

14863. Did they save all the "Titanic's" lifeboats on the "Carpathia"?
- No, there were some turned adrift. There were 13 saved - 11 lifeboats and two emergency boats.

14864. Were those you are talking about taken to America?
- Yes.

14865. With regard to the lamps which those lifeboats carry, did you yourself see any lights while you were afloat in the boat?
- I did, several.

14866. From other boats in the sea, I mean?
- Yes.

14867. In which the people were?
- Yes. I also found several lamps hanging in the thwarts when we were on board the "Carpathia" which evidently had not been used.

14868. (The Commissioner.) Lamps belonging to the "Titanic"?
- Lamps belonging to the "Titanic's" lifeboats.

14869. (Mr. Laing.) They had not been used?
- They had evidently been hidden under the thwarts by some people in the boats.

14870. With regard to the question you asked the Carpenter, and the information he gave you that No. 6 stokehold was dry -

The Commissioner:
Was that No. 6 stokehold or No. 6 section?

14871. (Mr. Laing.) I was going to clear that up, My Lord. (To the witness.) Do you know where No. 6 stokehold is?
- Yes; it is the forward stokehold immediately adjoining No. 3.

Mr. Laing:
The sixth stokehold, as we number them, is the after stokehold in No. 4 Section.

The Solicitor-General:
That is what I thought.

The Witness:
No. I think it is understood aboard the ship that No. 6 stokehold is forward. Because I made a particular point of asking the engineers why it was - I was rather confused when we were loading 5 and 6 stokeholds when going through the bunkers - and they told me No. 6 was forward. They numbered from aft, forward. It is rather confusing, but nevertheless the stokehold known on board the ship as No. 6 is the stokehold adjoining No. 3.

The Commissioner:
That is not according to the plan.

14872. (Mr. Laing.) No, My Lord, it is not. (To the witness.) Are you thinking of boiler sections or stokeholds? How many stokeholds do you think there are on the ship altogether?
- Six, I believe.

14873. Then I think you must be thinking of boiler sections?
- Oh, I see what you mean, yes. I was really alluding to the boiler sections of course.

14874. No. 6 is the forward end, as you say?
- Yes.

14875. When you called it No. 6 stokehold?
- I meant No. 6 boiler section.

14876. No. 6 boiler section is the one which we know was full?
- Yes, that explains it. I am glad you explained that, because of what the Carpenter told me. No. 6 stokehold was a mistake; I ought to have said No. 6 boiler room.

14877. He may have misunderstood your question?
- He probably misunderstood me.

14878. If he meant No. 6 stokehold I think I am right in saying that that is the after stokehold of No. 4 section?
- Yes.

14879. However, the question you asked the Carpenter was with regard to No. 6 stokehold?
- Yes.

14880. And that is the answer you got, that it was dry?
- Yes.

14881. Approximately, how long before you left the ship was that, quite roughly?
- I should think that was fully an hour before I left the ship.

14882. Did you ever hear of any water being in the engine room?
- No.

14883. Up to the time you left the ship?
- No.

14884. Did you have any talk with Fleet, the look-out man?
- On the "Carpathia"?

14885. Yes?
- Yes.

14886. He has not been called yet, but you might tell us what he said.
- I asked him what he knew about the accident and induced him to explain the circumstances. He went on to say that he had seen the iceberg so far ahead. I particularly wanted to know how long after he struck the bell the ship's head moved, and he informed me that practically at the same time that he struck the bell he noticed the ship's head moving under the helm.

14887. That is what you told us before.
- Yes.

14888. Did he tell you anything else?
- With regard to distance?

14889. No, with regard to weather or conditions?
- Oh, yes. He said it was clear.

14890. That is really what I wanted to know.
- Oh yes.

14891. Did he say anything about haze?
- No, he never said anything about haze.

14892. He never complained about haze, or anything of that sort?
- No.

Re-examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

14893. There are only two matters which I have to ask you about. First of all, this last thing which you have been asked. You say you had some conversation with Fleet, the look-out man, when you got to the "Carpathia," and you have told us what he said. You gathered from him, apparently, the impression that the helm was probably put over before and not after the report from the look-out?
- Distinctly before the report.

14894. That was the inference you drew?
- Yes.

14895. I should call your attention to this. We have had the evidence of the Quartermaster, who was steering at the time - a man named Hichens. Has your attention been called to the fact that he distinctly says that the order "Hard-a-starboard" was given after this report, and not before?
- I was not aware of that.

The Solicitor-General:
It is at page 41.

The Commissioner:
I remember that quite well.

The Solicitor-General:
He distinctly says so.

The Witness:
I am only giving what Fleet told me, you understand.

14896. What he says is they heard three bells, that there was a telegraph, and the answer "Thank you" from Mr. Moody, that he reported an iceberg right ahead to Mr. Murdoch, and that Mr. Murdoch rushed to the telegraph to stop the engines, and at the same time ordered "Hard-a-starboard"?
- Exactly.

14897. If that is right, your impression gathered from Fleet must be wrong?
- If Hichens is right, then Fleet must be wrong.

14898. The other thing is this: there were two look-out men at that time; the other was Lee?
- Yes.

14899. He was also saved?
- Yes.

14900. Did you have any conversation with him?
- No.

14901. We have had Lee's evidence, and Lee says there was some haze. But you had no conversation?
- No, I had no conversation with him at all.

14902. The other matter I want to put to you is this. You said today in answer to one of my learned Friends that you thought 24 knots could have been got out of this vessel, that that was the view you had formed?
- That in a year or so's time she might have eventually reached 24 knots.

14903. She tends to improve in speed, I suppose?
- Yes.

14904. You remember giving evidence in America, and I see a question was put to you. You said something about speed, and you were asked what you would call real good speed - that is for this ship - and your answer, as reported, is "When the ship was built we only expected her to go 21 knots." Is that right?
- When I say "we," that is as far as we heard generally we expected a 21 knot ship.

14905. You go on, "Therefore, all over 21 we thought very good"?
- Yes.

14906. That was the view of yourself and your brother Officers at the time of this voyage.

14907. (The Commissioner.) Before you go, I want to ask you with reference to the sinking of the "Titanic." You know we have heard from several Witnesses that the afterpart of the ship which, shortly before the foundering was in the air, More or less righted itself. That has been stated. Now supposing this to be the ship (Demonstrating.) and she turned up in this way, what I want to know is, from your observations, is it possible that having turned up in that way and being, one may say, half submerged, she broke in two, her afterpart coming down, and that then she went down and the afterpart came up in the air? Do you understand?
- I follow you quite clearly. I should not in any circumstances think that was so. I should think it was quite impossible.

14908. It is suggested that perhaps you, being in the water, would not see that righting of the afterpart of the ship at all, and that you possibly only saw her after she had got in that position and was going down?
- I should not think so, My Lord. I should not think, after once she had shown a tendency to break, and was weakened, she would ever have the strength to right again.

14909. That is your view?
- That is my view.

14910. You do not give credit to those witnesses who say that the afterpart of the ship, having once been up in the air, righted itself?
- No, My Lord, I do not.

(The Witness withdrew.)