British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 13

Testimony of Joseph G. Boxhall, cont.

Examined by Mr. LEWIS.

15623. Did you hear any order given for the firemen off duty to muster?
- No, I did not.

15624. Did you see them mustered anywhere?
- I saw several firemen round the bridge.

15625. Did you see any considerable number of them mustered together?
- Well, I saw quite sufficient to enable me to know that the firemen had been called out.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

15626. As to the stellar observations that were worked up for the 7.30 position, did you work them up?
- Yes.

15627. Did you get them from Mr. Lightoller?
- Mr. Lightoller took the observations at half-past 7, before I went on deck.

15628. That is what he told us; he took the observations and gave them to you, and you worked them out?
- Yes.

15629. And the Captain put the position at 7.30 on the chart at about 10?
- Yes.

15630. If you can recollect, can you test your memory at all as to the position of the ice that was reported by the "La Touraine"?
- Yes; I cannot give you the exact position, but, judging by the position he gave us shortly after he left New York, when he encountered a derelict, and then from the ice positions he gave us, when I put them down on the chart, I found out he had crossed the banks, and it was too far north to be of any use to us. They were absolutely out of the way.

15631. It was away far north of your position?
- Oh, yes, Miles north.

15632. You told us you thought you recalled the "Caronia" Marconigram?
- Yes.

15633. Do you remember whether you marked that on the chart or not?
- Well, they say I did mark that.

15634. You do not remember it?
- The "Caronia" Marconigram, I think, I must have marked, and probably that is the one that has been put down between 4 and 6, which they say was put down. I was on watch between 4 and 6 and it is quite likely I did it.

The Solicitor-General:
I want to put one or two questions about these messages, in view of what is now being asked.

The Commissioner:
There are one or two questions I want to ask, but I will wait till you have finished.

(After a short adjournment.)

Re-examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

15635. You have been giving some answers which make it necessary to ask you about the plotting of ice on the Captain's chart. Just tell me this first of all. When the "Titanic" struck of course it was necessary to ascertain her position in order that the distress messages might be sent out?
- Just so.

15636. Who was it who did ascertain her position after she struck?
- I did.

15637. And in order to do that you would have to calculate from some ascertained position at an earlier time?
- Yes, that is right.

15638. And as I understand, the position had been ascertained and marked on the Captain's chart at 7.30?
- At 7.30 the position, yes.

15639. So that what you had to do after the disaster had occurred would be to take the position on the chart at 7.30, take your course, take your speed and calculate where you would be?
- Yes, from the 7.30 position I allowed a course and distance which gave the position. I worked it out for 11.46 as a matter of fact.

15640. You worked out what the position ought to have been at 11.46?
- That is right.

15641. And it was that position that was sent out with the C.Q.D. messages, which we know about?
- Yes.

15642. And that is the position, 41º 46' N., 50º 14' W.?
- Yes.

15643. Can you tell me what speed you assumed as between the 7.30 position and the time you struck?
- Twenty-two knots.

15644. Twenty-two knots?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Is that right?

15645. (The Solicitor-General.) I will ask him, My Lord. (To the witness.) Why did you take 22 knots?
- I thought the ship was doing 22 knots.

15646. Was it an estimate you formed on any materials as to revolutions or as to the patent log?
- No, I never depend on the patent log at all. It was an estimate that I had arrived at from the revolutions, although I had had no revolutions that watch; but, taking into consideration that it was smooth water and that there ought to have been a minimum of slip, I allowed 22 knots.

15647. As far as you remember, was there any discussion as to whether 22 knots would be right, or did you do it on your own?
- I did it on my own; there was no discussion at all.

15648. And do you think now that you formed a proper estimate?

15649. (The Commissioner.) Did you ask the Captain as to the speed?
- No, I did not.

15650. (The Solicitor-General.) I follow you had been on duty with the senior Officer from 8 to 12?
- Yes.

15651. So you were on duty at that time?
- Yes.

15652. And had been on duty for 3 1/2 hours when the accident happened?
- Yes.

15653. You thought 22 knots was the proper average speed during that time?
- Yes, I
allowed 22 knots, and I thought that was about correct.

15654. (The Commissioner.) Do you know what the speed was in the log?
- No, I do not.

15655. (The Solicitor-General.) We have been told that reports are sent up from the engine room from time to time as to the number of revolutions being made?
- That is true; every four hours.

15656. Have you any recollection of any report of that during this watch from 8 till 12?
- No, I have no immediate recollections of what the revolutions were at 8 o'clock. I do not remember them. As a matter of fact, I never received them. The sixth Officer, when we went on watch, generally took them from the telephone.

15657. Is that Mr. Moody?
- Yes.

15658. As far as you know now, as far as you see now from the information you have, and had, is 22 knots about right?
- Yes, I feel pretty easy on that.

15659. You would have to take the speed and of course you would have to take the course?
- Yes.

15660. Which you have told us was S. 86 W.?
- Yes.

15661. Am I right in thinking that the course as marked on the chart is S. 85 W. when you take your turn. I believe it is about S. 85 W.?
- Yes.

15662. So that as I follow, the "Titanic" had run on, you say for 50 minutes longer than she otherwise would?
- Did I say that?

15663. I thought you said 5.50?
- I have not said that so far, but I wish to say it now. I wish to explain it. The night order book was written out and there was an order for the course to be altered at 5.50.

15664. You saw that in the order book?
- Yes, I saw it and I remarked to the Chief Officer between 4 o'clock and 6 o'clock that I considered the course ought to have been altered some considerable time before 5.50 - that is, if it was meant to be altered at the corner, 42 N., 47 W. Whether we spoke to the Captain about it or not I do not know. I just remarked that to the Chief Officer, and the course was altered at 5.50. I consider that the ship was away to the southward and to the westward of that 42 N. 47 W. position when the course was altered.

15665. Perhaps you will take the chart in your hand. I want to ask you a question or two about it?
- Yes.

(The chart was handed to the witness.)

15666. We have all noticed there is a point on the course, as marked on the chart, where a westbound ship turns, what you call the corner, is that what you refer to as 42 N. 47 W.?
- That is so.

15667. And then your view is that the ship, when she turned on her new course at 5.50 had run beyond that corner?
- Yes.

15668. And, therefore, was to the south of it?
- Yes, to the south and to the westward of it.

15669. Then when she is put on her new course, her new course you tell me was S. 86 W.?
- S. 86. W.

15670. Though your impression is that as it is marked on the chart the course there marked is S. 86 W.?
- I think it is about S. 84 3/4 W. as a matter of fact.

15671. The effect would be she would have run a little bit further on the old course and then on the new course she is gradually making back to the line?
- That is my impression of the idea which Captain Smith had in altering that course and setting it to that time.

15672. If she was going 22 knots and ran past the corner for 50 minutes that means she?
- I did not say 50 minutes.

15673. No, I know you did not?
- I do not remember what time it was but it was some considerable time; the difference I make between my time and the time that was given in the book - well there was such a big difference that I considered it worth mentioning to the senior Officer of the watch.

15674. That is all right. Now we come back to the ice chart. When you looked at the 7.30 position as marked on the Captain's chart, would you say whether there was any mark of ice on the chart?
- I do not remember looking at the Captain's position on the chart. I was standing by the door when he put it on. I could see my work on the chart in the distance, but I do not remember examining the thing closely.

15675. He put it on himself as representing his 7.30 position?
- Yes.

15676. Then for the purpose of working out what your position was when the collision occurred did you actually have recourse to the chart?
- None whatever. I had the 7.30 position in my work book.

15677. You had a note of it?
- Yes.

15678. You would not have to return to look at the chart after the accident?
- No, I had used that same position two or three times after giving it to the Captain, and that same course I used two or three times after giving it to the Captain as well, between 10 o'clock and the time of the collision, for the purpose of working up stellar deviations.

15679. That is to say checking where you were?
- No, checking the compass error.

15680. Did I understand you to tell one of my friends that it was you who had marked upon the Captain's chart the position of ice as reported?
- Yes.

15681. I am going to ask the Court to allow me to read to them in order of time some messages which we can prove got to your ship, and I will ask you if you remember them. First of all, you remember the "La Touraine" message?
- Yes.

15682. Which was two days before I think, on the 12th?
- I do not remember the date exactly, but I think it was about a couple of days previous.

15683. Then do you remember the "Caronia" message?
- I remember the "Caronia" message; I remember having that, and I pinned that on the board.

15684. Do you remember any other message about ice or whether there was any ice?
- There were others, but I cannot remember, and I cannot fix the place.

15685. Let us be careful about this. Did you say there were others?
- Yes, there were others.

15686. Do you mean there were more than three; I mean there was the "La Touraine," and the "Caronia"?
- There were some positions we had and I fancy we got them leaving Queenstown or got them leaving Southampton.

15687. I mean after "La Touraine"?
- Yes, there was another one, but I cannot remember what it was after "La Touraine."

15688. That is the extent of your recollection. And as far as the messages were brought to your attention did you plot them out on the chart and mark them?
- Yes.

15689. (The Solicitor-General.) Now, My Lord, I think the thing which is clearest for your Lordship to follow is to read the messages in order of date while this Witness is here. The first one we have got a check of is the 12th of April. That is the Friday in the evening, sent from "La Touraine" to the "Titanic." May I just read the message as I have it before me? "From 'Touraine' to Captain 'Titanic.' My position, 7 p.m., G.M.T., lat. 49.28, long. 26.28 W. Dense fog since this night. Crossed thick ice-field lat. 44.58, long. 50.40' Paris'; saw another ice-field and two icebergs lat. 45.20, long. 45.09 ' Paris'; saw a derelict 40.56 long. 68.38, 'Paris.' Please give me your position. Best regards and bon voyage." That is signed "Caussin." I suppose that is the Captain. And that is acknowledged?
- There is one thing I want to ask about that message. You allude to "Paris." Does that "Paris" mean the ship "Paris," or does it mean the longitude given as from the meridian of Paris?

15690. I think, inasmuch as it follows two longitudes, it must mean the longitude of Paris?
- That is what I think.

15691. It is evidently the longitude of Paris?
- Yes, and that is what we allowed. We had some discussion on board the ship - the Captain, Mr. Wilde, and myself. I forget the difference in longitude between Paris and the British meridian, but we allowed for that.

15692. Do you know what the allowance is?
- I do not remember. I believe it is something like 54 minutes, but I am not sure. You can soon find out from the tables.

15693. That calls it to your mind that that message was received, and you had to make that correction?
- Yes.

15694. The only one of those messages which would seem to be material, as I make it out, is the first one which says, "Crossed thick ice-field, latitude 44º 58, longitude 50º 40, Paris?
- Yes, if you look at your chart you will find that position is on the outward bound tracks ships follow between August and January which is right directly across the banks.

15695. I agree. It is just underneath the words "Great Bank of Newfoundland," is it not?
- No, it is above that word. All these positions were away to the northward and by dotting them down from the derelict which was the first to be reported, the westernmost report, and dotting all the positions he gave - he gave some icebergs beside field ice I believe - it showed he had taken the northerly track, and it was not worth considering, although I put it on the chart.

15696. You worked it out and found those right to the northward?
- Yes.

15697. I am going to take the next one as I have it in order of time. The next one is the "Caronia," and that is to be found in the evidence of Captain Barr at page 273. It is question 12307. Will you listen to the message and see if that is what you recollect. "Westbound steamers report bergs, growlers, and field ice in 42 N. from 49 to 51 W." The Captain of the "Caronia" says that message was sent to the "Titanic" on the Sunday morning?
- Westbound steamers report that?

15698. Yes?
- Yes, I seem to recollect that message.

15699. Now you have the chart before you?
- Yes.

15700. Let us take the latitude first - latitude 42 N. That is the same latitude as your turning-point, is it not?
- Just the same latitude.

15701. What I mean is that the turning-point marked on the chart, not the place where you turned, but the turning-point on the chart is 42 N.?
- Yes. I understood you to mean that. It is 42 N.

15701a. I do not know whether your Lordship has marked on your chart the 49 to 51 W.

The Commissioner:

15702. (The Solicitor-General.) Of course, it is in exactly the same line as regards latitude as the latitude of the turning-point. Is it your recollection that you marked the chart in accordance with the message?
- Yes, I fancy so. I am not perfectly sure, but I seem to recognise the "Caronia's" message.

15703. You seem to recognise it?
- Yes.

15704. And if you got the message you are sure you marked it?
- Yes, I think that I should put that on the chart.

15705. That is the second one. I am taking them in order of time. That you notice is sent at 9 o'clock in the morning, and there is a reply at 9.44 a.m., the "Caronia's" ship time; so that at any rate it is in the morning sometime?
- Yes.

15706. I am going to take the next one in order of time, as far as I have a record of it. The next one I have a record of - we are going to call the marconi gentleman about it - is a message from a ship called the "Amerika." May I just read it? "Amerika Office. 14th April, 1912. Time sent 11.45 a.m." That is, of course, New York time. It is actually sent to the Hydrographic Office, Washington, and this is the message: "'Amerika' passed two large icebergs in 41º 27' N., 50º 8' W., on the 14th of April." Our information is - a gentleman from the marconi Company will come and prove what they know about it - that that message would go through the "Titanic" to the Hydrographic Office. That message, sent from the "Amerika" to the Hydrographic Office would be sent through the "Titanic." Of course, this gentleman does not remember that?
- I do not remember that message at all.

15707. The latitude and longitude is 41º 27' N. by 50º 8' W. I do not know whether your Lordship's calculation is the same as mine. As I make it out on the chart before me, that point lies just above the first "u" in the word "August" on that dotted line, "icebergs had been seen within this line in July and august." It is south of the place of the disaster. (To the witness.) Would you like to have a pair of dividers?
- Yes, please. (The same were handed to the witness.)

The Commissioner:
I am informed that it would be slightly north of the top of the first U.

15708. (The Solicitor-General.) That is just what I mean, slightly north of the top of the first "u" in the word "August"?
- Yes.

15709. That is right, is it not?
- Yes.

15710. As far as your memory serves you. I understand that message was not brought to your notice?
- I never heard anything about it.

15711. I have not proved that it got to the "Titanic"; I am only telling the Court what I am informed. That, your Lordship sees, is 11.45. Now I will take the next one that comes from the "Baltic." The "Baltic" says that the message was sent and acknowledged by the "Titanic" at 1 p.m., to this effect, that a number of steamships have passed ice and bergs in positions varying from 49º 9' W. longitude to 50º 20' W. longitude on the outward southern track. You have the outward southern track before you as marked on the chart?
- Yes.

15712. That is to say, after the corner as it were. Will you mark on that approximately 49º 9' W. longitude to 50º 20' W. longitude?
- Yes.

15713. Now, just observe. Take the second of those longitudes. You know the longitude of the "Titanic" when she struck was, according to your calculation, 50º 14' W.?
- Yes.

15714. That is within six minutes of the same longitude?
- Yes.

15715. Now, have you any recollection of that message from the "Baltic" at one o'clock on the Sunday?
- No, I have not.

15716. Or of plotting out any icebergs on the southern track?
- No; all the ice I remember plotting out was to the northward of the track. If it had been on the track or to the southward I should have seen fit then to call the Captain's special attention to it at the time I put it on. But I just merely remarked to him that I had put down the ice we had had reported; whenever I did put it on the chart, I remarked to him that I had done so. But if it had been so close to the track as that I should have thought it an immediate danger to the ship. I should have pointed it out specially to him, and I never had reason to do that.

15717. Supposing that message from the "Baltic" was received and it had reference to icebergs on the southern track, your ship was only just a little to the south of that?
- Yes.

15718. And are you clear that, as far as you are concerned, your attention was not called to any messages about icebergs on the southern track in that neighbourhood?
- No, I do not remember anything about any ice on the track. I do not recognise that message either.

15719. You said if it had been so you would have called the Captain's special attention to it. I want to follow what the method is. Would the Captain get the message and ask you to plot it out, or would you get the message and tell the Captain when you had plotted it out?
- On one or two occasions, as to anything to be plotted on the chart, he has just left it there with a note for me, or left it in the hands of some one else to give to me to put down on the chart. I have never seen fit to go and find the Captain and tell him I had done it. I took the first opportunity I had of seeing him to tell him I had carried out his instructions.

15720. You are the fourth Officer?
- Yes.

15721. Was it your duty in particular to plot on the chart things of that sort?
- No, I do not think so, but I just seemed to be the one that he told to do it each time.

15722. That who told you to do it?
- The Captain.

15723. But the Captain could not tell you unless he knew the message was there?
- Oh, no, certainly not.

15724. To whom did the message go; how did you get your orders?
- On one occasion I remember he gave something - I do not know whether it was a derelict - there was a message about a tank steamer drifting around on the track, that was it. And he mentioned it to one of the Officers and told him to tell me to put its position on the chart.

15725. Suppose that a message came at 1 o'clock in the afternoon of that Sunday to say that icebergs were on the southern track which you were close to, would the news come to you or would it go to the Captain first?
- To the Captain.

15726. And then what would he do about it?
- I should think he would take it to the senior Officer, or probably the Captain would put it on the chart himself.

15727. At any rate, you know nothing about this message at 1 o'clock?
- No, and I was not on deck at 1 o'clock either.

15728. The next one in order of time is from the "Californian," and your Lordship will find that at page 201 of the shorthand notes the questions running from 8939 down to 8947. The actual message is 8943, and the "Titanic" when it was offered the message said that it had overheard it. (To the witness.) Perhaps you will kindly plot it for me?
- Yes.

15729. The message was, they said they were in latitude 42º 3' N. and in longitude 49º 9' W., and there were three large bergs five miles to the southward of them. What change will you have to make in 42º 3' N. to get five miles to the south?
- I should think 42º N. would be near enough.

15730. Let us take it?
- It is near enough for this small scale chart.

15731. Take it, if you will, latitude 42º N. and longitude 49º 9' W. I am going to ask the Court to look at your calculation to see if it is what they understand. You have been good enough to mark on that chart the place of ice as indicated by the "Caronia," the "Amerika," the "Baltic," and the "Californian"?
- I have got the "Amerika," the "Californian" and the "Baltic." I did not put down the "Caronia."

15732. The "Caronia," as we know, is 49º to 51º?
- Yes, and 42º N.

15733. Now have you any recollection of the "Californian" message reaching you or being plotted?
- No, I have not.

15734. That message, as we see from the evidence, was sent at 7.30 "Californian" ship's time, and the "Californian" on any view was not very far from you. You were on duty from eight till twelve. As far as you know until I called your attention to it, had you ever plotted that message on any chart?
- No.

15735. Now that is not the last. I came to another which the Court has not heard of yet. It is a message that was sent from the "Mesaba" to the "Titanic" and all east-bound ships.

The Commissioner:
East-bound ships?

The Solicitor-General:
It was sent to the "Titanic," and it was sent to east-bound ships, and according to the information we have from the marconi people it was acknowledged by the "Titanic." Of course, that I shall have to prove. This is the message: "Ice report. In lat. 42 N. to 41.25 N. long. 49 W. to long. 50.30 W. Saw much heavy pack ice, and great number large icebergs, also field ice. Weather good, clear."

The Commissioner:
When is that?

The Solicitor-General:
That is sent at 7.50 p.m., New York time, and if one allows for the difference of two hours - one hour and fifty-five minutes, we were told - that would bring it practically to a quarter to ten that night, about two hours before the accident.

15736. Would you like to have some parallels?
- Yes.

(The same are handed to the witness.)

15737. The message gives you an oblong, a parallelogram, does it not? I want you to make the parallelogram?
- From 42 north and 49 west to 41.25 and 50.30.

The Commissioner:
Am I right in supposing - I have not heard of this message at all - that she was running to a place which was bounded by icebergs on the north and the south. Is that so?

15738. (The Solicitor-General.) According to this message it is. I do not know if I might show you and ask your Lordship's Assessors to see it, but I have marked the oblong on that plan and hatched it in pencil. (Showing to his Lordship.) (To the witness.) Have you got the mark there?
- I have only the two positions from the "Mesaba," the one position 42 north and 49 west, and the other position, "Mesaba," 41.27 north and 50.30 west.

15739. Let me read it again. The message really gives you, as I understand, an oblong, a parallelogram: "In latitude 42 north to 41.25 north" - in two lines like that (Showing.); "and longitude 49 west to 50.30 west." The message mentions ice there. That means that you want to make an oblong on your chart, does it not? May I show you mine for a moment, because I am anxious to be sure that you do it right. (Showing chart to Witness.) I have given you my chart, and I want you to check it. You notice I have made an oblong on the chart, and I have sketched it in with pencil?
- Yes.

15740. Just check it and see if I am not right, that that oblong is latitude 42 N. to 41.25 N., and longitude 49 W. to 50.3 W.?
- Yes; that is about right.

15741. In that space the message is "Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs, also field ice"?
- Yes.

. Is the space that was referred to by the "Baltic" within that oblong - the southern track between the two longitudes?
- What are the two longitudes again?

15743. 49.9 to 50.20?
- Yes, that is inside.

15744. The "Baltic's" position is inside that oblong?
- Yes.

15745. Is the position that is indicated by the "Caronia," a position that is inside that oblong?
- Yes.

15746. Is the position that is indicated by the "Amerika" inside that oblong?
- Yes, it is.

15747. Is the position that is indicated by the "Californian" inside that oblong?
- Yes.

15748. And is the space where the disaster happened inside that oblong?
- Yes.

15749. (The Commissioner.) Then to sum it up, if these messages were received and were in the terms that have been stated by the Solicitor-General, this steamer was steaming a course through an oblong space, having received warning that there were icebergs on the north of her and icebergs on the south of her?
- Yes, you are quite right in saying that the steamer sunk in that position. She sunk in that position.

15750. But she steamed through it did not she for some time, until she met with her doom?
- Yes, she must have done.

15751. Of course, the whole thing is assumption at present, because we have not had some of these messages proved, but can you give me any explanation of why such navigation should exist?
- I do not think for a moment that we had those messages, My Lord.

15752. I am asking you to assume that you did. I said that they have not been proved yet, but we are told they are going to be proved. Assuming that they are proved can you explain how the "Titanic" was allowed to find her way into such a region?
- No, Sir, I cannot.

The Commissioner:
There are one or two other questions I want to ask you. I do not think, Sir John, the witness had better leave, because we may want him again after you have proved the messages to which you have referred.

The Solicitor-General:
Yes, My Lord. As regards two of them Mr. Boxhall has a recollection.

15753. (The Commissioner.) They are proved sufficiently already, but there are others about which he knows something. (To the witness.) There are two or three questions I wanted to ask you, not on this point at all but on another point. You remember telling us that you first went down after the collision to F deck?
- Yes.

15754. Did you when you went down to F deck get to bulkheads C and D - you had better look at the plan. You see the bulkheads marked there do not you?
- Yes, I see them marked. Yes, I think I did, Sir.

15755. And when you got there you saw no damage?
- No, Sir.

15756. There are doors in those bulkheads C and D?
- Yes, Sir, on the port side.

15757. Can you tell us whether those doors were closed?
- Not then, My Lord.

15758. Not when you were there?
- No, that is shortly after the collision.

15759. They were not closed?
- No.

15760. You say they were not closed then? Were they closed later on?
- That I cannot say. I was not down below later on.

15761. Then you have told us all about that. Is there a door at the forward end of the starboard alleyway?
- Yes, on E deck.

15762. Is that a watertight door?
- I did not stop to look, but the thing was closed against me. I think it is a watertight door myself. I presume so.

15763. But you do not know?
- No.

The Commissioner:
I daresay, Sir Robert, someone can tell us whether that door is a watertight door. Can you tell us what it is? It is a door at the forward end of the starboard alleyway on E deck.

Sir Robert Finlay:
No, My Lord, it is an iron door, not watertight. Perhaps your Lordship would show Mr. Wordingham the particular door referred to on the plan so that there may be no mistake about it.

15764. (The Commissioner.) Certainly. (Mr. Wordingham looked at the plan.) We are told it is not a watertight door. (To the witness.) Did you go into the space between bulkheads C and D on F deck?
- I am not certain about that, My Lord.

15765. At all events, you saw no water between d and C?
- I saw no damage whatever, and no water either.

15766. Are we to understand from that that when you went on to F deck on this occasion you saw no damage of any kind?
- No damage whatever, and I went right to the ship's side - to the thwartship alleyways leading out to the ship's side.

(The Witness withdrew.)