British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 17

Testimony of Harold A. Sanderson

Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

19074. Are you a member of the firm of Messrs. Ismay, Imrie and Company, the managers of the White Star Line?
- I am.

19075. And are you also a Director of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Limited, of Liverpool, who are the owners of the steamers?
- That is so.

19076. How long have you been associated with the White Star Line?
- About 17 years.

19077. As we know, the "Titanic" and the "Olympic" were the two latest steamers of that line?
- That is so, yes.

19078. I think you produce a little diagram like that, do you not?
- I do. It is instructive of the progress of the Company in regard to the size of its ships.

19079. It is just to show, as I understand, how your fleet has tended to consist of vessels of an increasing size?
- That is the intention.

19080. (The Solicitor-General.) Your Lordship will see on the extreme right hand the largest outline, which is labelled "Olympic," "Titanic," the two being substantially the same. (To the witness.) Are the details on the little table I have in my hand, the black table, supplied from the White Star Company, and are they accurate?
- They are accurate, yes.

The Solicitor-General:
Your Lordship will see towards the top of this little table, "Average speed, knots per hour."

The Commissioner:

19081. (The Solicitor-General.) What I was calling attention to, as Mr. Sanderson says the particulars are supplied by the White Star Line, was the "Average speed, knots per hour," which is a heading for a line which runs across at the top immediately above the line entitled "When built," and I see, Mr. Sanderson, that "average speed, knots per hour" which you put down for the "Titanic" is 21 knots?
- That is inaccurate, and arises in this way. That information was given at the time the ship was under construction. While she was under construction a new system of propulsion, a combination of turbine and reciprocating engines, was adopted for the ship, and when adopted, with her 21 to 21 1/2 knots, which is what we anticipated, she proved to be considerably faster.

19082. Does what you have just told us apply both to the "Olympic" and the "Titanic"?
- That is true of both ships.

19083. Was the "Olympic" also under construction when this table was compiled?
- I think it is probably so; I cannot recall the exact occasion when that was framed or the name of the vessel. Both the ships were ordered at the same time, and I have no doubt that that 21 knots was put in before the results of the "Olympic's" and the "Titanic's" new system of propulsion had been ascertained.

The Commissioner:
It seems to me to indicate that it may be a little more or it may be a little less.

The Solicitor-General:
It would indicate that if the ship was going more than 21 knots she was going in excess of her average speed. Now, My Lord, I think the facts about Messrs. Harland and Wolff will come more conveniently from Mr. Wilding, and I will not delay about that. I think the shortest and simplest way of dealing with Mr. Sanderson would be to refer him to the subject matter of some of these questions in order that your Lordship may be sure you have got the information from him as far as he is able give it. There has been a print of them, My Lord (Handing up the same.)

The Attorney-General:
I think it would be very convenient, as we are approaching the time at which these will involve your Lordship's consideration, that we should have them not printed as they are here, but on a double page, so that you will not have to turn back, and then your Lordship will be supplied with them.

19084. (The Solicitor-General - To the witness.) Have you got a copy?
- I had a copy; I have not one before me at the present moment.

19085. You had better have one (Handing the same to the witness.) The first question had to do with the total number of persons on board, passengers, and so on. The figures which the Attorney-General opened were figures which had been supplied by the White Star Line to the Board of Trade, and I may take it, May I not, that they are correct?
- They are correct.

19086. And the convenient thing, I think, will be to have printed on the shorthand Note in a tabular form those figures. I will hand it up, if I may, for your Lordship to see the form in which the figures are, and if your Lordship agrees I will have them printed on the shorthand Notes.

The Commissioner:
Very well.

The Solicitor-General:
They show the division of the passengers according to class and according to sex, and according as to whether they are children or adults, and they give the number saved out of the totals, and the percentages, and then they give the number of the crew.

The Commissioner:
Have you several of these?

The Solicitor-General:
At the moment, I have not, but I will see they are put upon the Notes.

The Attorney-General:
I have just asked that that should be done, and given in in larger type.

19087. (The Solicitor-General - To the witness.) We may take it that those figures are correct?
- They were carefully compiled.

19088. (The Solicitor-General.) That will give your Lordship the material, I think, for the first question. Then the next one, Mr. Sanderson, has to do with whether the "Titanic" complied with the requirements of the merchant Shipping Act when she left Southampton. She is given, I think, a passenger certificate?
- She was.

19089. When we call the Board of Trade witness we will go into it more in detail, but there is a copy of it (Handing in the same.) It is a certificate which shows that she is certified for 905 First class Passengers, 564 Second Class, 1,134 Third Class, and a crew of 944, Making a total of 3,547?
- I believe that is correct.

19090. I will just hand that in to my Lord, and I will call attention to one thing in passing, about it. That certificate shows that the total passengers and crew for which the certificate was issued, was 3,547?
- Yes.

19091. Whereas your first table shows the total passengers and crew that were carried was 2,206?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
What is the difference?

19092. (The Solicitor-General.) The difference is 1,300, the exact difference is 1,341. And in addition to that passenger certificate, Mr. Sanderson, was the ship duly certified by the Board of Trade officials before she left for this particular voyage?
- That is true.

19093. We will ask the Board of Trade witnesses in detail about that, but it is so no doubt. I do not think there is anything that this gentleman would wish to say about No. 3. We have had some evidence, and Mr. Wilding will give the details.

The Commissioner:
Look at No. 2. The Attorney-General opened what the requirements of the Board of Trade were, and stated what the requirements of the American Rules with regard to either emigration or immigration were also. Now I want to know what that means - what are those figures?

The Solicitor-General:
We had intended to give your Lordship that information in one statement along with the other Board of Trade information. This Witness may be able to tell your Lordship something about it. I cannot tell you in detail about it now.

The Commissioner:
I see what the Attorney-General's information is from; it is from the description furnished by Ismay and Company or by the Oceanic Steamship Company on the construction of the ship.

The Solicitor-General:
Harland and Wolff.

The Commissioner:
Yes, Harland and Wolff, and I think the Attorney-General's statement is almost taken verbatim from that statement.

The Solicitor-General:
I have no doubt of it.

19094. (The Commissioner.) I want to know from you, Mr. Sanderson, if you can tell me what are these American Rules with regard either to emigration or immigration - I understand it ought to be immigration. What are those Rules?
- Up to a short time ago the United States Government had passenger regulations which in some respects differed from those framed by the Board of Trade. Considerable confusion arose as a consequence, and the two Governments eventually got together and arrangements were made whereby the United States Government agreed to accept for the purpose of their passenger inspection the Regulations of the Board of Trade, so that in complying with the Board of Trade Regulations now for a passenger ship we automatically comply with the United States Regulations.

19095. First of all, do the Board of Trade Regulations deal with the question of boats?
- Yes.

19096. Then am I to understand that the existing American arrangements or regulations are identical with our Board of Trade requirements?
- I do not think I can say that, because they have regulations of their own.

19097. But are they identical so far as the question of boats is concerned?
- I do not think I can say that, My Lord, because if we had to comply with those regulations, there would be possibly some differences, but in fact they have accepted the Board of Trade Regulations as being sufficient. They still maintain their own for countries with which they do not have this reciprocal arrangement.

19098. I think I understand you. So far as the "Titanic" was concerned it did comply with the American Government's requirements in the matter of boats?
- Yes, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Do you think that is right, Mr. Solicitor?

19099. (The Solicitor-General.) I understand so, My Lord. You have seen the Passenger Certificate; for the moment I am only calling attention to the number of passengers and crew. Now that, My Lord, your Lordship will find when we call our Board of Trade evidence, is in its turn based upon a certificate given by a Board of Trade official in Belfast, Mr. Carruthers, and it is right, I think, that Mr. Sanderson should just have the substance of it put to him, because it shows how the ship comes to satisfy the Board of Trade. The certificate of Mr. Carruthers (I will just read it.) is on the 2nd April, 1912. He says he completed the inspection of the steamship "Titanic." He says that the hull and machinery were sufficient for the service intended, and in good condition. He says "that the boats and life-saving appliances, lights, signals, compasses, safety valves, and firehose are such and in such condition as are required by the merchant Shipping Acts." He says, "that the hull and machinery and equipments will in my judgment be sufficient until (b.) 2nd April, 1913." That is to say, they will for 12 months be sufficient. He says, "That the load to be placed on the safety valves should not exceed the pressure in pounds per square inch on page 4 of this form, and that the safety valves have been adjusted accordingly. That the vessel, as regards hull, Machinery, and equipments, is in my judgment fit to ply as a foreign-going passenger steamer. That the vessel is in my judgment fit to carry the number of passengers stated on page 2 of this form," and when one turns to page 2 of this form, one finds that the total number of passengers is 2,603, which added to the 944 of crew gives that same figure of 3,547 which is in the Passenger Certificate. That is where it comes from. Then he also says, "That the certificates of the master, Mates, and Engineers are such as are required by the merchant Shipping Act." Your Lordship has this form before you, and it is on that, that the Passenger Certificate is issued if your Lordship will look at the last page, it is the right hand of those two pages, and the reference back to page 2 of the form will show your Lordship that he certifies for passengers. What I have handed up to your Lordship last is the survey, which justifies the certificate for a passenger ship. Now, this ship, I think, Mr. Sanderson, passed not only as a passenger ship, but as an emigrant ship?
- She did.

19100. And for the purpose of showing it satisfies the Board of Trade that it is an emigrant ship is there a separate document?
- Yes, there is.

The Solicitor-General:
The Attorney-General points out to me that that Report of Survey ought also just to be handed in, in order that your Lordship may see it, because it is more stringent. (The Report was handed in.) I will hand up the Attorney-General's copy, if I may.

The Commissioner:
What is the date of it?

19101. (The Solicitor-General.) The certificate is dated the 12th April, 1912, and is signed by Mr. William Tillar. This is the report of the survey of an emigrant ship - some of the material is the same. If your Lordship will turn to the third page you will see it is headed, "Reports by Board of Trade Officers," and No. 1 is: "A passenger certificate is in force for this vessel, and no damage to the hull or engines has been reported since its issue, I am satisfied that the hull, boilers and machinery are in good condition and fit for the voyage." Your Lordship will see that there is a reference in the margin to the document we just looked at before. Then No. 2 refers to the distilling apparatus, there is no point about that, and No. 3 refers to the fresh water on board, which is certified to amount to so many gallons. Then No. 4 is: "The coal on board is certified to amount to 5,892 tons, which is sufficient to take the ship to her next coaling port." Then No. 5 is the important one: "I have inspected the boats and their equipments, and have seen 16 swung out and lowered into the water. The lifebelts are in order and are conveniently placed. The distress signals and their magazine and the other equipments comply with the regulations and are to my satisfaction." That is signed by Mr. Carruthers on the 3rd of April, 1912. Then the 6th is: "The various steerage compartments comply with the regulations as regards light, air and ventilation, and measurement for the numbers for which they are fitted. No cargo is stowed so as to affect the health or comfort of the steerage passengers." And the 7th is: "I have inspected the provisions which are sufficient for 1,150 adults; and the quality of the provisions and water for the passengers and crew is entirely to my satisfaction." Then the 8th is: "I have inspected the medical stores, and they comply both as to quality and quantity with the Regulations, and are to my satisfaction." Then, My Lord, turning over to the back of the page, I do not think No. 9 matters, but No. 10 says: "I was on board this ship immediately before she sailed. I saw two boats swung out and lowered into the water. From the foregoing reports of inspection, and from what I saw myself, I was satisfied that the ship was in all respects fit for the intended voyage, and that the requirements under the merchant Shipping Acts have been complied with." That is the Certificate of Captain Clarke, of Southampton. Then last of all the report says: "I have satisfied myself that everything on board this vessel is in order, and have issued the necessary certificate for Clearance." (To the witness.) And it is the Certificate of Clearance which would enable the ship to sail, I imagine, Mr. Sanderson?
- That is true.

The Solicitor-General:
Of course, your Lordship appreciates that we will call the Board of Trade people about it, but it is well for your Lordship to see this now.

The Commissioner:
What does Mr. Tillar's note certify?

The Attorney-General:
He is a Surveyor, My Lord, of the Board of Trade.

The Commissioner:
But what does he certify to?

The Solicitor-General:
He is Captain Tillar. He is the Principal Officer of the Board of Trade (this Department.) in Ireland, and I understand his signature is a covering signature, the details or the headings having been certified by one or other of these officials, who are subordinate to himself.

The Commissioner:
He cannot say anything about what happened at Southampton?

The Solicitor-General:

The Commissioner:
All these different matters are certified to by different people, and then Mr. Tillar's name, whose name does not appear among the persons who certify, comes in at the end, and I want to know what he does, whether he does anything. Tillar may not have seen the ship at all.

The Solicitor-General:
I think that is the position, My Lord. He really certifies that he has got all this previous information, each paragraph of which is docketed with its appropriate name. Perhaps I may just give your Lordship the reference, in order to get it on the note, to the definition of "emigrant ship" and "passenger ship." It is not necessary to trouble you to look at it now, but an emigrant ship is defined in the merchant Shipping Act, in section 268: "The expression 'emigrant ship' shall mean every sea-going ship, whether British or foreign, and whether or not conveying mails, carrying upon any voyage to which the provisions of this part of this Act respecting emigrant ships apply, More than 50 steerage passengers or a greater number of steerage passengers than in a certain proportion." (To the witness.) And of course you were carrying in this vessel steerage passengers, and she was therefore an emigrant ship for the purposes of this Act?
- Yes.

The Attorney-General:
My Lord, at a convenient time what I propose is to put in an abstract of all those sections in the merchant Shipping Act which have any relation whatever to the subject matter of this Enquiry. I have got it now. You can do it in quite a convenient form. We will have that done, so that it may be handed to the Court and the assessors.

19102. (The Solicitor-General.) Of course I am coming back to the boats, but subject to that we can pass from those documents now. I am now going to 3. (To the witness.) Now, correct me if I am wrong. Just look at 3. Mr. Wilding, I understand, is going to give evidence about design and construction. Is there anything you want to say about 3?
- I could only help you with regard to 3 by indicating under the heads the features which we look upon as the special features in this ship. Mr. Wilding, for the builders, could give you the details, which will probably be much more valuable.

19103. Can you give me in a couple of sentences what you say the special features are to which you attach importance, and leave Mr. Wilding to explain them in detail?
- Very well. I should mention that she had a specially powerful wireless installation, long distance. She was built with an unusual number of watertight bulkheads, 15 in all; those bulkheads were of special construction, carried up as much as possible in one fair line, and they were built in excess of the requirements of Lloyd's. The plating and connections were also of special strength, and in excess, I am told, of what Lloyd's requirements would have been. She had a double bottom, which was carried nine -tenths of the way; that double bottom was divided for the midship section of the ship into four tanks athwartships, and the rest of the distance into two tanks athwartships; and the double bottom, instead of terminating at the bottom of the bilge, which is ordinarily the case, was carried up to the top of the bilge. In regard to the wireless installation, she had got the power for that from three different sources; in the first place, from the ordinary electric light plant; in the second place, from an emergency plant which could be put in use if the ordinary electric light plant in the engine room were flooded; and, in the third place, she had storage batteries in the marconi Room. The pumping arrangements were exceptional, each boiler compartment having its own equipment, which is quite an unusual thing of the kind. I think I have now indicated the special features.

19104. That indicates in general language the points, and Mr. Wilding will deal with them when he comes?
- Yes, I think that would be better.

19105. Now the fourth question is about the Officers, which I want to ask you about in some little detail. We will come to the boats in a moment. The fourth question is, "Was the 'Titanic' sufficiently and efficiently Officered and manned"? Captain Smith - what was his standing in your service?
- He was our senior commander; he had been in the service since 1880; he had been a commander since 1887; he was an extra Master; he was a retired Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, and a man in whom we had special confidence; otherwise, he would not have been in the position.

19106. Then the three senior Officers, I think, also held an Extra-Master's certificate?
- They did.

19107. Were the Officers in the Naval Reserve?
- I think they all were.

19108. And had been in your service some years?
- Yes.

19109. And I see at the end of the fourth question there is a question about charts. You produce, do not you, the report of Captain Smith before he sailed on this voyage? Let me just hand that up to you (Handing same.) Is that his report to your Company before this ship sailed from Southampton?
- Yes; it is written from Southampton.

19110. What is the date of it?
- It is dated the 10th of April.

19111. It is quite a short report. Just read it, will you?
- "I herewith report this ship loaded and ready for sea. The engines and boilers are in good order for the voyage, and all charts and sailing directions up-to-date.
- Your obedient servant, Edward J. Smith."

19112. (The Commissioner.) The sailing directions were those books to which reference was made this morning?
- No doubt he refers to what is usually supplied by the marine superintendent for the purpose of navigation on board the ship.

19113. (The Solicitor-General.) The only other thing is the watches. I had better just give your Lordship the reference. It is the first page, I think, in the Report. Just turn to page 10. (To the witness.) Just a question about the watches. There is a question the Court is asked to answer, whether the watches of the Officers and crew were right and proper. I see on page 11 there are set out what the senior Officers' watches are to be, and the Junior Officers' watches?
- That is true.

19114. We have had some evidence about it from Lightoller. So far as you know, was the usual course followed?
- It was.

19115. Now we go to No. 5; that is boats. Just give us the evidence. What is the number of boats of any kind on board the "Titanic," and then I am going to ask about their carrying capacity and so on?
- She had 14 lifeboats of large size, two what we call working boats or emergency boats, Making 16, and 4 Englehardt boats - collapsible boats.

19116. The Board of Trade Regulations distinguish between boats carried under davits and boats which are not?
- Yes, they do.

19117. Of those, I think, the 16 were carried under davits?
- Yes.

19118. The 14 lifeboats and the two emergency boats?
- Yes.

19119. Let us first take the 14 lifeboats. What number of persons was each of those lifeboats to carry - the capacity?
- 65.

19120. And what is the number of persons for each of the two emergency boats?
- 40.

19121. And for each of the four englehardt's?
- I believe the Board of Trade passes them for 47.

19122. I will just take those three figures: 14 lifeboats, each carrying 65, gives 910 persons; 2 emergency boats, each carrying 40, gives 80; and 4 Englehardt boats, each carrying 47, gives 188, and that is a total of 1,178?
- That is correct.

The Attorney-General:
May I just say, My Lord, to avoid confusion that your Lordship will remember in opening I gave according to our calculation the figure of 1,167. My learned friend, Mr. Laing, said they made it 1,178, and I said, well, I will accept that view, it was not worth discussing, and I think probably they are right; 1,178 was therefore the figure to be substituted.

The Commissioner:

19123. (The Solicitor-General.) Now I want, with your help, Mr. Sanderson, just to compare these figures with the Board of Trade requirements, although of course the detail about them will be put to the Board of Trade witnesses. Have you got before you what the capacity in cubic feet of these boats is? You have mentioned the number of persons they carry, namely, 1,178. What is the total capacity in cubic feet?
- 11,325 cubic feet.

The Solicitor-General:
My Lord, as regards some of the boats the Board of Trade Regulation requires 10 cubic feet for each person. As regards the others, I think it is the four collapsibles -

The Witness:
The working boats.

The Commissioner:
The emergency boats.

The Solicitor-General:
Yes. As regards the emergency boats, they require 8 cubic feet, and working it out, allowing 10 cubic feet in some cases and 8 in others, the total is 11,325 cubic feet.

The Commissioner:
That includes the collapsibles.

The Witness:
Yes, that is true.

19124. (The Solicitor-General.) Now I want to see what the Board of Trade Rules would require. For a vessel of this size, 10,000 tons and upwards, the Board of Trade requirement is a minimum 16 boats under davits?
- That is true.

19125. And that is the number which you had under davits?
- Yes.

19126. And those 16 as minimum cubic contents were to be at least 5,500 cubic feet, according to the schedule at the end of the Rules?
- Yes.

The Solicitor-General:
Has your Lordship got the Rules before you?

The Commissioner:
I have them somewhere, but I have not them before me at the moment.

Continued >