British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 15

Testimony of George a. Hogg

Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

17481. You have been at sea for some 13 years and able seaman for 10, I think?
- Yes.

17482. You have been in the employ of the White Star Line how long about?
- Four years, I should think, off and on.

17483. All the time as look-out man?
- No.

17484. Were you first an able seaman and then became a look-out man?
- Yes, able seaman, boatswain's mate, and look-out man.

17485. Was that the order?
- That is what I have been in those ships.

17486. The White Star ships?
- Yes.

17487. How long have you been a look-out man?
- I went one trip in the "Adriatic" and three days in this ship. That is all.

17488. And you have also been employed in ships of the P. and O. Company and the Royal Mail?
- Yes.

17489. The Union Castle?
- Yes.

17490. And other lines?
- Yes, and other lines.

17491. And you have acted as look-out, I suppose, in some of those lines?
- They do not carry look-out men; everybody takes their turn.

17492. You have acted as look-out, but you did not sign as look-out?
- That is so.

17493. In these other vessels, as far as I understand you, there was no question of signing as look-out man. It is only in the White Star that has happened in your experience?
- Yes.

17494. Do you remember when the "Titanic" was leaving Belfast - you signed on the "Titanic" as look-out man, we know - were a pair of glasses given you?
- Yes.

17495. For the crow's-nest?
- Yes.

17496. Who gave them to you, do you remember?
- Mr. Blair, the acting Second Officer then.

17497. Mr. Blair, who was then acting as Second Officer?
- Yes.

17498. Did you notice how they were marked?
- "Theatre, Marine and field." "Second Officer, S.S. 'Titanic.'"

17499. That was on one side, was it?
- Yes.

17500. Was "Theatre, Marine, and field" the same?
- No, you worked them as you wanted to use them.

17501. When you left the ship at Southampton, what did you do with those glasses?
- Mr. Blair was in the crow's-nest and gave me his glasses, and told me to lock them up in his cabin and to return him the keys.

17502. Who returned the keys?
- I gave them to a man named Weller, as I was busy on the forecastle head.

17503. As far as you were concerned, the glasses, you were told, were to be locked up in the cabin of the second Officer?
- I locked them up.

17504. And they were locked up. When the ship left Queenstown were there any glasses in the crow's-nest?
- There were none when we left Southampton.

17505. Did you ask for them?
- Yes.

17506. When you left Southampton?
- I did not exactly ask for them, but my mates asked for them at that time.

17507. Did you ask for them at all after you left Queenstown?
- After I left Queenstown.

17508. You personally asked for them?
- I personally asked.

17509. Whom did you ask?
- Mr. Lightoller.

17510. Will you tell us what you said to him, quite shortly, about it?
- I said, "Where is our look-out glasses, Sir?" He made some reply, I did not exactly catch it. "Get them later," or something like that.

17511. At any rate, you did not get any?
- I did not get any.

17512. You went on your look-out duties without glasses for the rest of the time?
- Yes.

17513. Have you had experience of glasses; have you used them much?
- Never before; only in the White Star Line.

17514. But had you used them before you were on this voyage?
- On another ship.

17515. Of the White Star Line?
- In the "Adriatic."

17516. You had never had them in any ship you have been on except in the "Adriatic," which was another ship of the White Star Line you had sailed in?
- No other ship except the White Star.

17517. Did you find them of use?
- Well, I believe in my own eyesight.

17518. Do you mean you believe in your own eyesight better than you do the glasses?
- Yes.

17519. It is suggested - I only want to know how far you agree with it - that it is easier, or just as easy, to pick up an object that you may see on the horizon with your own eyesight as it would be with the glasses?
- You might not see the object, but if you think it is a ship you might just see the smoke.

17520. With your own sight?
- Yes, with your own sight. You would not see the ship first; you would see the smoke first.

17521. Would you see it any better with glasses?
- You would put the glasses up to your eyes then and make sure.

17522. What it comes to, if I understand that, is you pick it up with your eyesight, and then if you want to see as well as you can what it is you would use the glasses?
- That is what they are handy for, Sir.

17523. But not for picking up things, you mean?
- No, I pick up things with my own eyesight.

17524. I should like to know what your experience is in the use of these glasses. Is that what the rest of the men who were on the look-out with you have done? Is that the way the glasses are used - when you have picked up an object to look closer?
- I could not say; I am speaking for myself. I do not know what they did with the glasses.

17525. On this particular night, Sunday the 14th, when the collision happened, your mate was Evans, was he not?
- Yes.

17526. You were not on duty - you did not go on duty till 12 o'clock?
- Twelve.

17527. That is right?
- That is right.

17528. You relieved Fleet and Lee?
- Yes.

17529. What were you doing when the collision happened?
- Asleep.

17530. Did you feel anything at all of it?
- None.

17531. Did you know anything of it at all until you had to get up?
- I knew there was an accident because everybody rushed up into the forecastle. I asked what was the matter and what the confusion was about.

17532. What did they say?
- They said she had hit something.

17533. What was the last watch you had had before you relieved Fleet and Lee at midnight?
- 6 to 8.

17534. And whom did you relieve at 6? Was it also Fleet and Lee?
- I relieved Lee and Fleet at 6.

17535. Did you get any warning about ice?

The Commissioner:
Do you mean at 12 o'clock?

The Attorney-General:

The Witness:
At 6?

17536. Yes, that is what I mean?
- All that was handed over to me was, "Nothing doing; keep a look-out for small ice."

17537. You did hear it at 6 o'clock "Keep a look-out for small ice"?
- Yes, but I believe it is the usual password in the nests in these ships.

17538. I do not understand what you mean by that?
- I do not believe they got it from the bridge at the time.

17539. Never mind where they got it from. You got it from them?
- Yes.

17540. Who gave it to you?
- Fleet and Lee - I think Lee gave it to me.

17541. You say you believe it is a usual password. Had you ever had it given you before, a password of that kind?
- Sometimes.

17542. But I mean on this voyage?
- Yes. I believe I did: I would not be quite sure. It seems a password there from what I can see of it.

17543. (The Commissioner.) I do not understand what you mean by a "password." What do you mean?
- A joke, Sir. I should think.

17544. (The Attorney-General.) A joke to the look-out men to keep a look-out for ice?
- This is what is passed on to one another.

17545. Have you any recollection of their doing that to you on that night at 6 o'clock in the evening?
- At 6 o'clock in the evening: "Nothing doing; keep a look-out for small ice."

17546. (The Commissioner.) I am not sure that I understand you when you say you regarded that as a joke. What do you mean?
- Well, as I say, it seems a password.

17547. Do you mean by "a password" a mere matter of form?
- That is what they always seemed to say to me, Sir.

17548. What?
- "Keep a look-out for ice" as we relieved each other.

17549. But I suppose they do not say that to you on board ship when you are going through the tropics?
- No, there were no tropics there at that time.

17550. It is not a message that you get on all voyages at all times?
- I never heard it before.

17551. (The Attorney-General.) How often had you heard it, if at all, before 6 o'clock that evening?
- I heard it several times before that.

17552. How often had you heard it before. You say several times. Do you mean half-a-dozen times?
- I have no idea how many times it was.

17553. But several times?
- Several times.

17554. Several days before?
- We were only out about three days.

17555. I know.
- A couple of days before.

17556. Do you mean that every time you went and relieved them they gave you that password, as you call it?
- Yes.

17557. Daytime or nighttime?
- Any time they would pass it along to one another.

17558. (The Attorney-General.) This is quite new, My Lord, but I will pass on. (To the witness.) At 12 o'clock, when you went there, did you get any message about ice then when you relieved them that night after the collision?
- We got a message we had hit one.

17559. When you went to relieve them at 12 o'clock, was anything said to you then?
- Nothing was passed on to me at all then.

The Commissioner:
I do not see what the importance of this is.

17560. (The Attorney-General.) Not of that, but I thought he might say something else. I quite agree it is of no importance at all. (To the witness.) Eventually you were saved in boat No. 7?
- Yes.

The Attorney-General:
We have had evidence about that boat, so I am not going into any particulars about it. I will tell your Lordship why we have called him. We wanted to exhaust the look-out-men. You have had five out of six before you now. The only one who has not been called is Evans, and I do not think it is necessary to call him, because he goes on with this Witness, to relieve at 12 o'clock.

The Commissioner:
It is of very little importance.

The Attorney-General:
Very little. It was only so that your Lordship should see him as the relieving watch.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

17561. On the ships of the P. and O., the Royal Mail, and the Union-Castle Lines is there a crow's-nest?
- In the Royal Mail there was a crow's-nest when I was there in several ships.

17562. Was it the practice on the Royal Mail boats to have look-out men on the forecastle head or the stem head, as well as in the crow's-nest?
- Not stationed men.

17563. Are they sent there from time to time?
- Everybody takes their trick as an able seaman.

17564. Are other seamen stationed at the stem head?
- At the stem head if she has not a crow's-nest.

17565. I mean, even when there is a crow's-nest, is it usual at nighttime, or if there is a haze, to station additional look-outs?
- Double the look-outs, yes.

17566. (The Commissioner.) That, I suppose, would depend upon the character of the haze?
- Yes, My Lord.

17567. (Mr. Scanlan.) Would there not be a double look-out put on, no matter what the haze was, if it was at night?
- If it was very thick; if it was a slight haze they would not double the look-out.

17568. Have you been on any of those lines when ice was reported?
- No, not in those ships.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

17569. Only one question. Were you told to get the Jacob's ladder ready?
- Yes.

17570. Is that a rope ladder?
- Yes.

17571. Where was that to be used?
- I could not say. I left it on the boat deck. I was told to throw it down as soon as I fetched it up from the forecastle head.

17572. Who gave you the order?
- The boatswain.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I only asked that, My Lord, in connection with what was said about the gangway doors, your Lordship recollects, at the side of the ship. He says the boatswain told him to get the rope ladder, the Jacob's ladder, which was obviously, I suggest, for use when those gangway doors were opened, and then he was told to throw it down; it was not used.

(The Witness withdrew.)