British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 13

Testimony of George E. Turnbull

Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

16020. What is your position in The marconi International Marine Communication Company?
- I am the Deputy-Manager, Sir.

16021. I think that Company has its Head Office here in London?
- Yes.

16022. In the adelphi?
- No, in the strand.

16023. I thought it was Watergate House, York Buildings, Adelphi?
- It has just been changed, last week, Sir.

16024. You being the Deputy-Manager, are you the head official in England?
- No, Sir. The head official in England is the managing Director, Mr. Godfrey Isaacs, and the manager is in America at present. His name is Mr. Bradfield.

16025. Was the wireless installation on the "Titanic" an installation of yours and worked by servants of your Company?
- Yes.

16026. Can you tell me, or had I better ask Mr. Bride, what was the radius within which communication could be made by the "Titanic"?
- The guaranteed range of the "Titanic" was 350 miles. That range is considerably exceeded in many cases, especially at nighttime, but we always guarantee a very low figure, so that we can cope with work in every circumstance.

16027. 350 miles was the minimum which you had undertaken to provide?
- Yes.

16028. Was it new apparatus?
- Absolutely new.

16029. And of the latest pattern?
- Yes.

16030. As a matter of fact, I am not speaking of the guarantee now, but can you help us as to what its effective radius would be?
- We are always very cautious about figures, but I feel certain that the "Titanic" would do 500 miles, and she could receive up to 1,500 miles from high power stations.

16031. When you speak of high-power stations, are those fixed stations on the mainland?
- Yes, those are fixed stations.

16032. And you call those high-power stations?
- Yes.

16033. Are they able to send a message a greater distance?
- Yes.

16034. Does the distance, the range, which can be covered by a message, depend on the strength of the apparatus that sends it, or on the strength of the apparatus that receives it, or both?
- It depends on both, but considerably more on the apparatus which sends it.

16035. I think you mentioned - and we have heard it from another Witness - that at nighttime apparently the range is greater from a ship like the "Titanic" than in the day?
- Yes, considerably greater, anything from two to three times as much.

16036. When you say a 500 miles range do you mean 500 miles in the daytime?
- Our guaranteed range of 350 miles is in the daytime, yes.

16037. And you say it is two or three times as great on occasions at night?
- Yes, on many occasions.

16038. On the "Titanic," as we know, you had two operators?
- Yes.

16039. Mr. Phillips, who lost his life, and Mr. Bride, who was saved and who is here?
- Yes.

16040. Mr. Bride being the assistant of Mr. Phillips?
- Yes.

16041. Are they servants of your company?
- Yes.

16042. Then of course there must be some arrangement between your company and the White Star Line?
- Yes, a very clear arrangement.

16043. We need not, I think, go into that. Is it the practice with ships which have your installation that from time to time the records they have of messages sent and received come back to your office?
- It is not only the practice, but it is the absolute Rule.

16044. I think you call them procès-verbal , do not you?
- The operator transcribes everything he does from the beginning of the voyage until the end of a voyage on a procès-verbal , and in addition to that he transcribes all messages sent and received upon special sent and received forms which are drawn up for the purpose; so that we have the procès-verbal , which is a log of the work done during the voyage, and we have the official records of the telegrams on special forms. These are all returned to the head office when the ship returns to port.

16045-6. That is the regular course of business?
- That is the regular course of business.

16047. Had you got in your office, and I think you have brought here, the procès-verbal of the "La Touraine" of the of the 12th April?
- Yes, we have an extract from the procès-verbal

16048. The "Caronia" of the 14th?
- Yes.

16049. The "Amerika" of the 14th?
- Yes, we have; those arrived this morning.

16050. The "Baltic" of the 14th?
- Yes.

16051. The "Californian" of the 14th?
- Yes.

16052. And the "Mesaba" of the 14th?
- Yes, we have. I am not absolutely certain whether we have the "La Touraine" procès-verbal

16053. It does not matter about that because it has been admitted practically?
- But we have the official messages, Sir.

16054. Of course the records that were being made on the "Titanic" have all been lost, I presume; you have not any actual record?
- No, but we have endeavoured to reconstitute the record of the "Titanic's" communications just as the "Titanic" would have done it herself.

16055. Of course you can do that because there must always be two ends to every message?
- Yes, that is so, and several ships have overheard the communications.

The Solicitor-General:
I think I will first take the messages from the ships I have mentioned. The first one, the "La Touraine," I do not think there is any dispute about.

The Commissioner:
Just read it out. (To the witness.) Are you able to check it when it is read out to you.

The Commissioner:
Then read it out and ask him if it is correct.

16056. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes. I have it in print before me, and I will read it out to you. "Office sent to M.G.Y. Time sent 7.10 p.m." Is that the one?
- Yes.

16057. What does "M.G.Y." mean?
- That is the call letters for the "Titanic."

16058. That shows it was sent to the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

16059. "No. 1. 'La Touraine' Office. 12 April, 1912. Prefix M.S.G." What does "M.S.G." mean?
- That means "Master service message," a message which is transmitted on the subject of the navigation of the ship.

16060. A message passing between one master and another?
- Yes.

16061. The last letter is "G." "Words 57. From 'Touraine.' To Capt. 'Titanic.' My position 7 p.m. G.M.T." - Greenwich Mean Time - "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 lat. 40.56 long. 68.38 'Paris' please give me your position best regards and bon voyage. Caussin"?
- Quite correct.

16062. Do I understand rightly that the reference there to "Paris" which follows the longitude means that it is longitude from the meridian of Paris?
- Yes.

16063. So a correction would have to be made to get Greenwich?
- Yes, of course.

16064. That is the message from the "Touraine" to the "Titanic." Can you find me the message which shows whether or not that was acknowledged by the "Titanic"?
- Yes, I have it here.

16065. I am going to read that to you. "Office received from M.G.Y." You told me that means received from the "Titanic." "Time received 7.45 p.m.," on April, 12th. "No. 1 'La Touraine' Office, 12 April, 1912. Prefix M.S.G. Words 26. from 'Titanic.' To Capt. 'La Touraine,' Thanks for your message and information my position. 7 p.m. G. M. T. Lat. 49.45; long. 23.38. W. Greenwich; had fine weather; compliments.
- Smith"?
- Quite right.

16066. Before we pass from those two there is a reference here to the time, 7.10 p.m. and 7.45 p.m. When the time of the clock is entered on a Marconi message what time does it refer to?
- When the ships are west of 40º New York time is kept; when they are east of 40º Greenwich time is kept.

16067. If you take the first of those, the message from the "Touraine," he was not west of 40º, because he was in longitude 26; he was on the European side?
- Yes.

16068. When he says "7.10 p.m.," I understand if he is to the east of the 40th meridian that means Greenwich time, does it?
- It ought to.

16069. It says so?
- I have not checked those differences in time.

16070. It is quite right. He says so. "My position 7 p.m. Greenwich meantime," and in the same way the answer is from the "Titanic" when she is a good deal more easterly, so that that is also Greenwich meantime?
- Yes.

16071. Now take the next one, the 'Amerika." Can you find me a message sent out by the "Amerika" on the morning of the 14th April? It begins: "West-bound steamers report bergs, growlers, and field ice"?
- (After looking.) No, I have not got that.

16072. I will come back to that, although we have really had this one proved by captain Barr. But it is convenient to have it on record?
- Have you got the time there?

16073. Yes, nine o'clock in the morning of the 14th April. I am taking them in the order of time?
- We have not got it here.

The Solicitor-General:
The gentleman who is giving his evidence so clearly did not know he was going to be asked this particular question, so that it is not his fault, My Lord. That one has been proved independently, and we can pass from it for the moment, I think. Let me see if I can help you about the next one. The next one in the order of time is the "Amerika."

The Commissioner:
That is the German steamer.

16074. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) Have you the one from the "Amerika"?
- Yes, but the "Amerika" did not send this direct to the "Titanic."

16075. I am going to get you to tell me about that. First of all, you have got the message from the "Amerika." To whom is the message addressed?
- It is addressed to the Hydrographic Office, Washington, and it is sent through the "Titanic."

The Commissioner:
It is sent from the "Titanic," did you say?

16076. (The Solicitor-General.) No, My Lord, through the "Titanic." We will show why he says so. (To the witness.) What is the date of it?
- 14th April.

16077. And you say it is sent from the "Amerika"?
- It is sent from the "Amerika."

16078. I will just read it, and then I am going to ask you why you say it is sent through the "Titanic": "No. 110, 'Amerika' Office, 14th April, 1912.
- Prefix M.S.G." That is Master navigation message. "Service instructions: Via Cape Race. Office sent to M.G.V."* What does that mean?
- Those are the call letters for one of our ship stations.

16079. "Time sent, 11.45 a.m." Is that right?
- Yes, 11.45 a.m.

16080. "To Hydrographic Office, Washington D. C. 'Amerika' passed two large icebergs in 41.27 N., 50.8 W. on the 14th of April.
- Knuth." Just explain, will you, why you say that went through the "Titanic"?
- The "Amerika" was on her homeward route on that date, and was just about 40º West. The "Titanic" was a little further towards America.

16081. Further west?
- Further west, and much nearer the coast stations, the "Amerika" being out of the range of the coast stations and the "Titanic" being within range of the coast stations within a few hours and that was a much more rapid route of transmitting the message.

16082. Could the "Amerika," from its then position have sent that message straight to Cape Race?
- Evidently not, otherwise she would not have re -transmitted it.

16083. How do you know she re -transmitted it; what is there to show it?
- We have nothing to show. We must await the returns from Cape Race.

16084. We want to be very careful about this.
- It was sent to the "Titanic" for re -transmission.

16085. How do you know it was?
- Because we have the acknowledgment of the receipt.

16086. That is the answer. Will you read the acknowledgment of the receipt then?
- I am sorry; I am unprepared as to that. You will have to give me a little more time.

The Solicitor-General:
Then, My Lord, I think it will be more satisfactory to adjourn now.

16087. (The Commissioner.) Yes. (To the witness.) And between now and tomorrow morning you will be able, perhaps, to get the papers for us?
- Yes, My Lord.

(The Witness withdrew.)