British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 16

Testimony of Joseph B. Ismay, cont.

18428. And you knew also that you would be approaching ice that night?
- I expected so, yes.

18429. And that you therefore would be crossing the particular region which was indicated in that Marconigram that night?
- I could not tell that.

18430. About that region?
- Yes, I presume so.

18431. And therefore that it behoved those responsible for the navigation of the ship to be very careful?
- Naturally.

18432. And more particularly if you were approaching ice in the night it would be desirable, would it not, to slow down?
- I am not a navigator.

18433. (The Commissioner.) Answer the question.
- I say no. I am not a navigator.

The Attorney-General:
You are not quite frank with us, Mr. Ismay.

Sir Robert Finlay:
The Attorney-General will forgive me; I do not think there is the slightest justification for that remark.

18434. (The Attorney-General.) You have told me now what your answer is. What was your answer?
- I should say if a man can see far enough to clear ice, he is perfectly justified in going full speed.

18435. Then apparently you did not expect your Captain to slow down when he had ice reports?
- No, certainly not.

The Commissioner:
That is the evidence of one of the witnesses.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, My Lord, I know.

The Commissioner:
Of course, if you had got a perfect look-out and there is nothing to prevent you from seeing, then there is no occasion to slow down.

The Witness:
I should say none at all.

18436. You could see the ice then a long way off, and it would not be necessary to slow down for icebergs?
- Presumably so, yes.

18437. (The Attorney-General.) What is the object of continuing at full speed through the night if you expect to meet ice? Why do you do it?
- What is the use of doing it?

18438. Yes?
- I presume that the man would be anxious to get through the ice region. He would not want to slow down upon the chance of a fog coming on.

18439. So that, of course, the object of it would be to get through it as fast as you could?
- I presume that if a man on a perfectly clear night could see far enough to clear an iceberg he would be perfectly justified in getting through the ice region as quickly as he possibly could.

18440. Now, I want to put a statement to you. Do you know a Mrs. Douglas?
- I do not.

18441. Do you know a Mrs. Ryerson, of Philadelphia?
- Yes, I met her on board the ship.

18442. And she, I gather from what you said just now, was one of the two lady passengers to whom you mentioned the marconigram in the afternoon?
- That is true.

18443. You showed her the wireless message, did you not?
- I read it to her, I think.

18444. Now, I want to put to you this: Did she say to you (I am speaking now of what took place on the Sunday. I will put the whole conversation to you, and see if it helps your recollection.): "Of course you will slow down," and did you reply, "Oh, no; we will put on more boilers to get out of it"?
- Certainly not.

18445. It seems to have been rather in accordance with your view, that the faster you could get out of the region the better?
- Assuming the weather was perfectly fine, I should say the Captain was perfectly justified in going full speed.

18446. That means that your view is not only would he be justified in going the 75 revolutions, but he would be justified in going the 78?
- If the weather conditions had been satisfactory.

18447. And, according to your view, what do you say as to the weather conditions?
- So far as I could judge, it was a perfectly fine, clear night.

18448. So that on a perfectly fine, clear night, with the expectation that you are coming within the region of ice, your view is that the Captain would be justified in increasing his speed?
- I do not see any reason why he should not, so long as he could see sufficiently far to clear the ice.

The Commissioner:
I suppose if you had a perfectly good and reliable look-out and could see the ice at a sufficient distance to enable you to steer clear of it that would be sufficient.

The Attorney-General:
Assuming the "ifs" which your Lordship has put, yes.

The Commissioner:
Yes, that is what I mean. Those are the "ifs" he assumes.

The Attorney-General:
Quite so. Assuming that you can see far enough to get out of the way at whatever speed you are going you can go at whatever speed you like. That is what it comes to.

The Witness:
Assuming you can see far enough to clear the ice.

18449. I want to get at what your view was with regard to it; whether it is right or wrong is a question, of course, which the Court will decide. But it seems to me that what you have just told us in your answer is not very different from what I put to you, or not substantially different from what I put to you, from the conversation you had with Mrs. Ryerson?
- I did not have any such conversation with Mrs. Ryerson.

18450. I will not argue it further, so long as you have admitted the view that it would be best to go as fast as you could to get out of the region of ice?
- I say he was justified in going fast to get out of it if the conditions were suitable and right, and the weather clear.

18451. I think we understand. Now, did you have any conversation with Captain Smith at all, between the time of his giving you the wireless message and the impact with the iceberg, about ice?
- The only conversation I had with Captain Smith was in the smoking room that night. As he walked out of the smoking room he asked me if I had the marconi message, and I said, Yes, I had, and I gave it to him.

18452. What time would that be?
- I think it was 10 minutes or a quarter-past seven.

18453. (The Commissioner.) You had not been on the bridge?
- I had never been on the bridge during the whole trip.

18454. (The Attorney-General.) Did he say why he wanted you to give him back the message?
- He said he wished to put it up in the Officers' chart room.

18455. (The Commissioner.) What would be the object of putting the marconigram up in the chart room if good navigation dictated going on at full speed?
- I presume he put it up for the Officers' information, My Lord.

18456. According to you, it did not matter?
- Not if the weather was clear.

18457. As it was?
- As it was.

18458. (The Attorney-General.) Then, when the Captain asked you for the message and you gave it back to him, did you have any conversation with him then?
- No further conversation at all.

18459. Did you not ask him whether your vessel would come at all within that latitude and longitude indicated in the "Baltic" Marconigram?
- I did not.

18460. And he said nothing to you about it?
- He did not.

18461. But you understood that you would be there during that night?
- Yes, I understood that we would get up to the ice that night.

18462. Now, the thing that is not clear to me is why it was that you understood that you would get to the ice that night if it was not from the marconigram, and that you understood what the latitude and longitude there indicated meant?
- The doctor told me we had turned the corner, and I knew, when we had turned the corner, we must be getting towards the ice region.

18463. (The Commissioner.) How did you know that?
- Because we were going directly up North.

18464. No. You were turning almost directly West?
- No. You come down to a point and then you go up.

18465. You did not go up North. You went straight west?
- It is what is always known as turning the corner.

18466. You seem to know a good deal about this navigation of the Atlantic?
- I am afraid I do not.

18467. (The Attorney-General.) What is the latitude and longitude of turning the corner?
- I do not know.

18468. Have you no idea?
- No, I have not.

18469. Have you never looked?
- I may have looked, but I have no idea of the latitude and longitude.

18470. (The Commissioner.) I want to have it quite clear from you. Is your position this, that in clear weather, whether it be day or whether it be night, there should be no reduction or need be no reduction in the speed, although the master of the ship knows that he is in the ice region?
- That is right.

18471. That is your case?
- Yes. If the conditions are all perfectly satisfactory, and he can see far enough to clear the ice.

18472. (The Attorney-General.) When you speak of the region of ice I want to be quite clear that we mean the same thing. You said that when the doctor told you that you had turned the corner you understood you would get to the region of ice that night?
- That we must be approaching the ice region.

18473. Do you mean by the ice region, the region which is indicated on the chart?
- I could not tell, because I had not got the chart. After you turn the corner I should think it is anywhere about - I really could not tell, but of course I know where it was we struck the ice.

18474. Would you have ordinarily have expected to have come into the region of ice on that Sunday night; was that what you expected would happen?
- I expected that we would be in the region of ice on the Sunday night.

18475. Before you had seen the marconigram?
- Oh, no.

18476. Then, if I follow you, it was because of the marconigram that you expected to come into the region of ice that night?
- Oh, yes.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will see why I asked him the question. He might have meant something else, but he does mean on account of the marconigram.

The Commissioner:

18477. (The Attorney-General.) Now I want to be quite clear about this. Is it your statement to my Lord that from first to last on that Sunday you never had any conversation with Captain Smith about ice?
- Absolutely.

18478. Or with any other Officer?
- Or with any other Officer.

18479. Including the Chief Engineer?
- Including the Chief Engineer.

18480. Or, as I understand you, with Dr. O'Loughlin?
- No, nor with him.

18481. Or with anybody, if I correctly appreciate your evidence, except for the statement that you made to Mrs. Ryerson and another lady?
- That is true.

18482. When you told them the substance of the marconigram?
- That is true.

18483. (The Commissioner.) I want to ask a question. You have told the Attorney-General that it was the marconigram which led you to the conclusion that after you had turned the corner you would be approaching the ice region?
- Yes. I knew when we had turned the corner that we would be approaching the ice region.

18484. I want to have this quite clear. I understood you to say to the Attorney-General that you came to that conclusion because of what was in the marconigram?
- Largely.

18485. Then the marconigram was unintelligible to you, was it not, unless you understood the latitude and longitude?
- It was unintelligible to me as far as latitude and longitude were concerned.

18486. But the latitude and longitude were the things which would tell you where the ice was?
- Yes.

18487. And the only things in the marconigram which would tell you where the ice was?
- Yes.

18488. Then I am quite at a loss to understand why it is you say that you came to the conclusion that you would be in the ice region because of the marconigram?
- Because of the marconigram and having turned the corner.

18489. Is it both?
- Yes, the two together.

18490. Now what information in the marconigram led you to the belief that you were approaching the ice region?
- Because I presumed the man would not send the marconi message to us unless the ice was there and that we were approaching it. He knew where we were.

18491. Then what you mean is this, that you presumed the "Baltic" had sent a message, without knowing whether it was right or wrong, apprising you of ice in your track?
- Yes, or it must have been very close to the track.

18492. Near it?
- Yes.

18493. Is that what you mean to say?
- Yes.

(After a short adjournment.)

18494. (The Attorney-General.) You occupied a cabin on B deck?
- Yes.

18495. Did you occupy a suite there?
- I did.

18496. That is on the port side of the vessel?
- The starboard side, I think.

18497. No, it is the port side - at least, I think so, if it is the one I mean. Do you remember the number?
- I think it was 52 or 56, or something like that.

18498. Will you just look at the plan and you will see. (The witness examined the plan.) I will remind you of what you said in America. At one time you were not quite sure of the number. You thought it was 52?
- I think some other gentleman said he had that room.

18499. That is right; some other gentleman said he had it?
- Yes, but I still think I had 52. The passenger plan would show that. The plan of the accommodation in the office would show which room I had.

18500. It is not very important. If your Lordship will look at B deck, it is on the port side - what is called the bridge deck. You will see the staircase which is marked there, and then "First class," and then there is a boiler casing amidships, and then on the port side you will see b 52, 54, and then a bathroom, and then 56. It is either 52 or 56, I understand that you occupied?
- Or the corresponding rooms on the other side.

18501. (The Commissioner.) You do not mean on the other side of the ship?
- Yes; I am not certain which side it was - the corresponding rooms.

18502. (The Attorney-General.) Very well. I do not think it matters much. At the time of the impact you were in bed and asleep?
- I was.

18503. You were awakened by the impact?
- Yes.

18504. Did you realise what had happened?
- I did not.

18505. Did you then get up?
- I stayed in bed a little time, and then I got up. I really thought what had happened was we had lost a blade off the propeller.

18506. You got up, and where did you go?
- I went along the passageway out of my room and I met a steward.

18507. Did you ask him what had happened?
- I asked him what had happened.

18508. What did he say?
- He told me he did not know.

18509. Then what did you do?
- I went back to my room and I put a coat on, and I went up on to the bridge.

18510. Was Captain Smith there?
- He was.

18511. Then did you ask him what had happened?
- I did.

18512. And what did he tell you?
- He told me we had struck ice.

18513. Did you ask him anything further?
- I asked him whether he thought the damage was serious, and he said he thought it was.

18514. What did you do then?
- I then went downstairs again; down below.

18515. Did you meet Mr. Bell, the Chief Engineer?
- I met the Chief Engineer at the top of the staircase.

18516. Did you have some conversation with him - will you tell us what it was?
- I asked him whether he thought the ship was seriously damaged, and he said he thought she was, but, as far as I remember, he thought the pumps would control the water.

18517. This is what you said in America. Is this right? You were asked by Senator Smith: "Did the Chief Engineer of the 'Titanic' state to you the extent of the damage? - (A.) He said he thought the damage was serious, but that he hoped the pumps would be able to control the water"?
- I do not know whether he said "he hoped" or "he thought"; it is to the best of my recollection. I cannot remember every word he said.

18518. I think in an earlier passage there is a statement made somewhat to that effect, that he thought the pumps would be able to control the water, but I am reading now from your own words given in answer: "He hoped the pumps would be able to control the water." What did you do then?
- I think I went back to my room for a short time, but I am not absolutely certain.

18519. Did you hear any order given by captain Smith?
- I went up after that on to the bridge, and I heard Captain Smith give an order; I am not quite certain whether it was to lower the boats or to get the boats out; it was in connection with the boats.

18520. When you heard that order given on the bridge, what did you do next?
- I went along the deck, and I think I spoke to one of the Officers.

18521. You do not remember which Officer it was?
- No. I do not remember which Officer it was.

18522. Did you help to get the boats out?
- I rendered all the assistance I could.

18523. And to put the women and children in?
- To put the women and children in.

18524. That was on the boat deck?
- That was on the boat deck.

18525. And did you stay there until you left the ship?
- Yes, practically. I do not think I ever left that deck again.

18526. Can you tell us at all how long it was after you felt the impact that you heard the order given by Captain Smith to get the boats out, or to lower the boats?
- No, I really could not tell; it is very difficult indeed; it might have been 20 minutes, but it is very difficult to judge time.

18527. Did you see some of the boats lowered?
- I did.

18528. On which side of the deck were you?
- On the starboard side.

18529. When you were assisting with the boats?
- Yes.

18530. Was there any confusion?
- I saw no confusion at all.

18531. Did you see any attempts by men to force their way into the boats?
- I did not.

18532. Or to get into the boats?
- I did not.

18533. Were there a number of women and children on the deck?
- There were.

18534. Did all those who were on the deck get away in boats?
- All the women that I saw on deck got away in boats.

18535. Did you realise that they were not all the women and children who were on board the ship?
- I did not.

18536. Did you know at all what was happening on the port side?
- I did not.

18537. Did you hear any reports of the ship making water?
- I did not.

18538. You were not told about that?
- I was not.

18539. Did you notice any list?
- When I left the ship she had a list to starboard.

18540. To starboard?
- To port, I beg your pardon.

18541. Did you notice whether she had any list to starboard?
- No, I did not.

18542. With regard to the four boats that you saw lowered, did you see whether they were full?
- No, I could not tell that; I saw 3, 5, 7, and 9 lowered.

18543. How long did you remain on the "Titanic" after the impact?
- I should think, as I said in Washington, an hour and a half, or perhaps longer than that.

18544. And meanwhile did you notice that the vessel was going down by the head?
- I did.

18545. That, of course, increased as time went on?
- It did.

18546. Did you think it was in a very serious condition?
- As time got on I did.

18547. And that the ship was sinking?
- I did.

18548. Did you tell anybody that?
- I did not.

18549. So far as you know, were any of the passengers told that the vessel was sinking?
- Not so far as I know.

18550. Do you remember the collapsible boat on the starboard side being lowered?
- I do.

18551. You were present then?
- I was.

18552. And were you assisting in helping the women and children in?
- I was.

18553. Were there any other passengers there, I mean passengers other than women and children?
- No, not that I saw.

18554. Was there any other boat on the starboard side; was there any boat left when the collapsible was being lowered?
- I believe there was another collapsible on the top of the Officers' house.

18555. But, except the collapsibles, had every boat been lowered?
- Every wooden boat was away.

Continued >