British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 18

Testimony of Harold A. Sanderson, recalled

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

19366. In the ordinary course of events would the mails carried by the "Titanic" be delivered to the postal authorities immediately on her docking in New York?
- Before she docked.

19367. Now from what port on this side is the advice sent to the postal authorities in New York, letting them know when to expect her?
- From no port on this side; they would undoubtedly get their information from the New York office of the White Star Line.

19368. Do you know what communication was made from Southampton or Queenstown to your New York office as to the time of the arrival of the "Titanic," the time it was expected at which she would arrive?
- I certainly know of none, and I should say offhand that none was made.

19369. Do you mean to say that at the time the vessel left Queenstown your people in Queenstown would not send any advice to the New York office apprising them of the hour at which they expected the "Titanic" to arrive?
- Most certainly not. Such a thing would be most unusual and most un-businesslike.

The Commissioner:
Do not ask speculative questions. If you have anything leading you to believe that such a thing would be done, then by all means ask it, but it takes up a great deal of time to ask these particulars.

Mr. Scanlan:
Of course the statement we have, My Lord, is the statement of Mr. Ismay in his evidence as to the boat, the "Titanic" being expected to arrive in New York on Wednesday, but there is also mention of it in the evidence of Tuesday.

The Commissioner:
That may be, Mr. Scanlan, but pass it by.

19370. (Mr. Scanlan.) If you please, My Lord. (To the witness.) In ordering the "Olympic" and the "Titanic" was any specification delivered to the builders?
- Delivered to the builders?

19371. Yes?
- None.

19372. Or prepared by the builders and submitted to you?
- None.

19373. Did you make any request to the builders, Messrs. Harland and Wolff, as to lifeboats?
- No.

19374. Can you tell me whether there was any discussion between you personally, as a Director, and the builders, or any responsible member of their firm as to the provision of lifeboats for the "Olympic" or the "Titanic"?
- Yes, I believe there was.

19375. Can you recall any conversation in which you yourself took part in regard to this?
- I cannot say I recall a conversation, but I recall that at one of our interviews with Lord Pirrie the question of the number of lifeboats that would be supplied was referred to, but it was only referred to in general terms, and I cannot recall that any opinion was expressed one way or the other as to the number that Messrs. Harland and Wolff would supply.

19376. Then was it left to Messrs. Harland and Wolff to decide for themselves how many lifeboats would be supplied to the "Titanic"?
- It is not quite fair to put it in that way, but Messrs. Harland and Wolff would in the first instance be under an obligation to boat the ship equal to the Government requirements, and, as the result of the discussion which I refer to, additional boats were put on, to be on the safe side.

19377. I would like to direct your attention to the evidence given on this point by Mr. Ismay in the American Enquiry. It is right I should say that this was not put to Mr. Ismay here in the witness -box, but it is from the Official Report of the evidence. If your Lordship thinks it right, I will suggest to you the question I propose to put.

The Attorney-General:
What are you reading from?

Mr. Scanlan:
I am reading from the Report of Tuesday, the 30th April.

The Commissioner:
What is the question?

Mr. Scanlan:
Mr. Ismay is asked here, "How does it happen that the "Titanic" had but 20 lifeboats?

Sir Robert Finlay:
What page are you referring to?

Mr. Scanlan:
Page 925, "How does it happen that the "Titanic" had but 20 lifeboats including lifeboats, emergency boats, and collapsible boats?
- (Mr. Ismay.) That was a matter for the builders, Sir, and I presume that they were fulfilling all the requirements of the Board of Trade."

The Commissioner:
That is quite right.

Mr. Scanlan:
That is what I put to you, Mr. Sanderson?
- I think I have answered very much on the same lines.

19378. That it was left in the first instance to them?
- Yes; that it was left in the first instance to them. They would submit a profile plan of the ship showing the boating arrangement to us, and they would undoubtedly say that it complied with the Board of Trade requirements, and as the result of this conversation which I am giving, referring to the additional boats with which she was supplied were put on, but as to what we said or what Lord Pirrie said on that particular occasion, I cannot say.

19379. And so far as you know is there any correspondence available to you in reference to this matter?
- Yes. The Solicitor-General asked me yesterday to have our records looked up -

The Commissioner:
No, no; do answer the question. It admits of "Yes" or "No" or "I do not know"; and you can give any one of the three. Do not have any discussion, or we shall never get to the end of this Enquiry.

19380. (Mr. Scanlan.) There is no such correspondence - you have never heard of it?
- I said yes, there was.

The Commissioner:
Then there is an end of that question.

19381. (Mr. Scanlan.) Quite. (To the witness.) Will you produce that correspondence?
- I have handed it to the Board of Trade.

19382. Apart from what the Board of Trade or the advisory committee may have been contemplating, had it suggested itself to you in view of the increase in the carrying accommodation, and in the size of those sister ships, the "Olympic" and the "Titanic," that, independently, your firm ought to provide more lifeboats?
- It had not - when you say -

The Commissioner:
No, no. You have given your answer.

The Witness:
My Lord, he has made a statement which is not correct.

The Commissioner:
No, he has not made a statement; he asked a question, and you answered it. The question was quite intelligible, and so was your answer.

The Witness:
With all respect, My Lord, he has made a statement that there is an increase in the carrying capacity of the ships.

The Commissioner:
No, he has not. He asked a question and you answered it.

19383. (Mr. Scanlan.) The davits which were supplied for the "Olympic" and "Titanic" are, I understand, what are called Welin double -acting davits?
- Yes, they are.

19384. Before the building of the "Olympic" and "Titanic" were such davits supplied for any of your other ships?
- They were.

19385. Is the object of having these davits in order to enable you to deal with a larger number of boats with each pair of davits?
- Not that I am aware of.

The Commissioner:
That is the right way to answer.

Mr. Scanlan:
There is a plan here, My Lord, which I should like to submit to him, to ask him if he thinks it is practicable. There is printed on this "s.s. 'Olympic' and 'Titanic' building, by Messrs. Harland and Wolff, Limited, Belfast, for the White Star Line. Each vessel fitted with a new Welin double -acting davit, handling in all two lifeboats." Will you look at this, Mr. Sanderson. (Handing the plan to the witness.)?

The Commissioner:
What is this?

Mr. Scanlan:
This is a plan, My Lord, referred to in papers produced by the inventor of those davits.

The Attorney-General:
Which davits?

Mr. Scanlan:
The Welin davits.

The Commissioner:
What is the question upon it?

19386. (Mr. Scanlan.) This is the question, My Lord. (To the witness.) Was such a plan submitted to you showing the working of each pair of davits of two boats, one carried outboard and the other inboard, as shown there?
- A newspaper with this in it was sent to us by a firm called Crawford and Company in Liverpool in 1910.

19387. Your firm, then, did not authorise the production of this?
- Certainly not.

19388. Or the statement that this provision was being made for the boatage of those ships of yours?
- Certainly not.

19389. Looking at this plan (a plan was submitted to you yesterday, which I have not seen, by my Lord.), do you see any difficulty in working with those davits supplied to the "Olympic," at least, two boats for each pair?
- Off-hand, I should say it would be practicable to have two boats opposite each pair of davits.

19390. And, of course, if you had two with the davits which were carried, 16 pairs, you would have 32 wooden lifeboats?
- You would.

19391. I think you stated yesterday that in addition to that there could be lifeboats on the boat deck in the free space between the forward and the after boats?
- There are positions here where you could not put boats. You have handed to me a plan and do not give me time to study it, and I should say offhand that more could be put, but there are positions there where only ignorant persons would put boats.

19392. Now, May I ask you if you have seen the statement made in the lecture delivered by the inventor of this davit, Mr. Welin, at the spring meeting of the session of the Institution of Naval Architects on March 29th this year, the President being the Hon. Sir Charles Parsons, in which he stated -

19393. (The Commissioner.) First, let us have the question. (To the witness.) Have you read the account of that meeting?
- I have not read it, and I do not think I have ever seen a. report of it.

Mr. Scanlan:
Then the next question is this, My Lord, if I may refer him to the statement made there.

The Commissioner:
Yes, certainly.

Mr. Scanlan:
"On the boat deck of the White Star Liner 'Olympic' and also of the 'Titanic' this double -acting type of davit has been fitted throughout in view of coming changes in official regulations. It was considered wise by the owners that these changes should be thus anticipated, and so make it possible to double, or even treble, the number of boats without any structural alterations, should such increase ultimately prove to be necessary."

The Commissioner:
Now, what is the question?

19394. (Mr. Scanlan.) This is the question, My Lord. (To the witness.) Do you agree with this statement in so far as it says that you, as representing the owners, considered it wise that the changes which you expected should be anticipated, and that it was for that purpose that those davits were altered?
- It was not so, so far as we are concerned.

Sir Robert Finlay:
By whom was that statement made?

Mr. Scanlan:
By Mr. Welin, the inventor, My Lord.

Sir Robert Finlay:
He is the patentee.

The Commissioner:
You know, Mr. Scanlan, I may tell you I have been deluged with circulars from all sorts of patentees of all sorts of lifeboats, and if I am to sit here to hear the merits of every one of those patents I shall be here to doomsday.

Mr. Scanlan:
Of course, I would not think of bothering your Lordship with a number of those things which have been submitted to myself and those who are instructing me, if I did not think it was necessary.

The Commissioner:
I am sure you have had them, too.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, I have.

The Commissioner:
I am most anxious, Mr. Scanlan, to spare you, if I can -

Mr. Scanlan:
And I am most anxious to spare you, My Lord; but surely these are the davits that were on the "Titanic."

The Commissioner:
Do not argue the point - go on; we shall get on quicker.

Mr. Scanlan:
Very well. I hope I have not unnecessarily detained your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
Oh, no.

19395. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Then it has been stated that a design was submitted, or something of this kind was submitted, to you, and I take it to be your evidence (and this is the last question I shall ask you.) that, apart from a paper sent you by some person named Crawford in 1910, you never heard of any suggestion that on those boats you should have a greater number of lifeboats than you carried?
- That is true.

19396. On the davits?
- That is so.

19397. According to your statement yesterday, you put it to my Lord, as an objection to increasing the number of boats, that if you had any considerable increase of working space on the boat deck it would be insufficient?
- I did so.

19398. Is it not the case, Mr. Sanderson, that the great objection from the owners' point of view is to depriving the boat deck of space for promenading?
- No, it is not.

19399. Now, I am going to ask you a question with regard to the crew for working a lifeboat. You stated, I think, a crew of four with one man for the tiller in addition - that is five?
- Yes, for a certain purpose, I stated that.

19400. Do you think a crew of five would be able to row a full-loaded lifeboat such as yours?

The Commissioner:
That is a question that does not affect us very much. Will you describe the sort of sea that you presuppose, Mr. Scanlan?

Mr. Scanlan:
I have made some ineffectual efforts to describe the sea to other Witnesses -

The Commissioner:
The question of the number in the boat depends very much, I should say, upon the sea.

Mr. Scanlan:
I suppose it does, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
If you put this question to him it may be of some value perhaps - in an oily sea as this was.

19401. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes. In an oily sea, a perfectly calm sea, I suppose four or five would be sufficient?
- I should say in such a sea as you describe two would be sufficient.

19402. In a fairly rough sea you would require more?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
I suppose if you had a sea bad enough you would require none, because the boat would not live, however many you put into it; you get to the two extremes.

Mr. Scanlan:
Of course, I always like to get at the mean position between those extremes.

The Commissioner:
Yes, get the mean position. That is what he meant, for a lifeboat of this size the crew, in his opinion, would be five men, and he means then in average weather.

19403. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) I suggest to you that to row a boat like your lifeboats in average weather you would require a crew of nine?
- Well, I differ with you entirely.

19404. Very well. Now you stated yesterday, and I agree with you, that it is not necessary to have a larger crew?

The Commissioner:
I suppose the larger the crew the less number of passengers can be carried?

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
But I suppose the crew weigh the same as the passengers?

Mr. Scanlan:
I suppose so, and they have an elementary right to safety next after the passengers.

The Commissioner:
Certainly, and for all I know before the passengers.

19405. (Mr. Scanlan.) I do not suggest that, My Lord. (To the witness.) But in making up your crews, of course you do make up a list of crews for your different lifeboats. You assign men to different stations. Do not you assign more than five to each of your lifeboats?
- Yes, but not with any idea that they should go in the boat necessarily.

19406. Not necessarily, but surely that is the object of stationing a man at a boat and expecting him in ordinary circumstances to go to his position, that in an emergency he will go there?
- To the boat, yes, but not necessarily go in the boat.

19407. But in so far as men are wanted, I presume the intention is that if they are there at their stations the men stationed to a particular boat will be sent with it?
- Some of them.

19408. Now you stated yesterday that you do not think it is necessary that the full crew of the boat should be seamen, and I am instructed to agree with you, but is it not necessary, if the use of lifeboats is to be maintained, that the crew, from whatever department of the ship they are taken, should get proper training?
- They should have a reasonable knowledge.

19409. Have you any suggestion to make as to how they ought to be trained for this work?
- Yes.

19410. Will you tell my Lord what it is?
- My suggestion is that the leaders of the men should do their best to get the men to carry out the Company's regulations and to take advantage of the opportunities for drill which we are trying to afford them.

19411. But until this disaster to the "Titanic" you have stated, or it has been stated, and you have accepted the statement from my friend, Captain Barclay, that when you have this so-called drill at Southampton you put into the boats, not a mixed crew of firemen and stewards and sailors, but a crew composed entirely of sailors?
- It is quite true Captain Barclay said that, but he made a mistake. I am now in possession of further information.

19412. (The Commissioner.) On what subject?
- On the subject of what is done with these boats. May I read a telegram which I received?

19413. Yes.
- I sent a telegram after the rising of the Court yesterday to ask if it was the fact that other ratings than deckhands had no opportunity of getting boat experience, and this is the reply.

19414. Who is answering it?
- Our Manager in Southampton. "Replying to your wire, boats on sailing morning have been recently manned by deckhands and stewards, we muster them here. Occasionally stewards will man one or two boats entirely. This was done on the 'Titanic' - 'Olympic' today had six boats in the water manned by stewards and deckhands."

19415. Tell us what is done now. I understood Mr. Scanlan to be asking you what was done before the "Titanic" went down.

19416. (Mr. Scanlan.) I will just accept the statement of Captain Barclay as to what was done. (To the witness.) I take it now that since the "Titanic" disaster an effort has been made to train all hands, Men of all classes in the ship, for the working of the boats?
- An effort is being made, and we are being met with an absolute refusal on the part of the men.

19417. And you would like the men's leaders to co-operate with you in getting the men to take the opportunity of getting this drill?
- I would like anything to be done that would help us to carry out the necessary drill.

Mr. Scanlan:
I understand, My Lord, that the people whom I represent are very anxious that the men should all be trained in order to secure greater efficiency and to co-operate with Mr. Sanderson.

The Commissioner:
I do not quite know, Mr. Scanlan, whom it is you do represent. Do you represent the leaders of these men, or do you represent the men themselves?

Mr. Scanlan:
I think your Lordship will remember that an application was made by me on behalf of the Union to be represented here.

The Commissioner:
I supposed then and I do suppose still that you represented all the men, but I am not convinced about it. I suppose you do represent all the men. You are not here merely instructed by officials or leaders of the Union.

Mr. Scanlan:
The officials and leaders of the Union which I represent, represent the members of the Union, who, I understand, comprise about 80,000 to 100,000 men.

The Commissioner:
What I want to know is this: Assume that the men are directed to submit to this drill, do the leaders of the Union insist upon them going through their drill?
- I have been told here that the men object to the drill, and will not do it.

Mr. Scanlan:
Up to the present I am instructed that this is the first time a request has been made for this cooperation with Mr. Sanderson.

The Commissioner:
That is another matter. Is it true that sometimes the men will not do what they are asked to do in connection with drill?

Mr. Scanlan:
My information is, My Lord, that the leaders of the Union - those who represent the Union and who are alone capable of giving instructions for an Enquiry like this - are desirous that all men should be trained in the handling of boats in order to secure greater efficiency, and that they will cooperate.

The Commissioner:
What are they going to do, supposing the men say they will not drill?

19418. (Mr. Scanlan.) They have never had an opportunity, and I think it is quite sufficient that I should be instructed to express the desire of those I represent to co-operate with Mr. Sanderson.

The Witness:
We have offered them half-a-day's pay to do this drill, and they have refused - I am speaking of the firemen.

The Commissioner:
I can understand the firemen having an objection, it being no part of his business to go through this drill. I can understand that. He is engaged primarily, at all events, to perform services below deck, and he may say, I have got nothing to do with boat drill or boats, and I will not do it. However, I am far from saying he will be unreasonable.

19419. (Mr. Scanlan.) I have heard a very interesting and very practical remark from Mr. Sanderson just now that he has offered a half-day's pay - this is the first I have heard of it. I understand it is not generally known that such an offer is open. (To the witness.) When was it made?
- I did not say it was open; I said we had tried the experiment and it had failed. It was tried in the case of the "Olympic."

19420. When?
- Last week.

19421. So that it is not open now?

The Commissioner:
It is no use making an offer that will not be accepted.

Mr. Scanlan:
You have only the word of Mr. Sanderson at present. We do not know the circumstances under which it was made, or to whom it was made.

The Commissioner:
No, I do not know anything more about it than I have heard here.

19422. (Mr. Scanlan.) I will leave it at that, My Lord. (To the witness.) Now I think you expressed the opinion that of the crew of a boat two should be seamen?
- I think it would be a wise precaution for boat work.

19423. Have you taken precautions that you have two for each boat where you have made an increase?
- It is not necessary to take any precautions. They would not send a boat away for boat work with less than two seamen in it.

19424. So that it is the intention that two men shall be on board each lifeboat?
- There is no regulation on that subject, but I am sure no lifeboat would be sent away for boat work with less than two seamen in it.

19425. But, then, you do not say that it is your purpose where you have increased lifeboat accommodation to secure that of your crew you shall have two seamen for each boat?
- For each boat on board?

19426. Yes?
- No.

19427. (The Commissioner.) I do not understand that, Mr. Sanderson. Are there not two seamen allocated to each lifeboat on the vessel?
- No, My Lord.

19428. Why not?
- Because I think it would mean providing the ship with an unnecessary number of sailors. Under no conceivable circumstances that I can think of would it be necessary to provide for manning for boat work all the boats on the ship.

19429. I think, Mr. Sanderson, there are instructions relating to emigrant ships issued by the Board of Trade, are there not?
- There are, My Lord.

19430. And this subject that Mr. Scanlan is upon is dealt with in those instructions?
- I have not read them recently; I do not recall the point.

19431. In the Company's steamships are what are called deckhands sailors?
- Yes.

19432. "In steamships deckhands should be carried in accordance with the following, which is based upon the total boat and raft capacity with which the ship is required to be provided under the statutory Rules relating to life-saving appliances;" and then we get the total capacity of boats and rafts required and the life-saving appliances. Take 9,300 cubic feet - you must have apparently 48 deckhands?
- That is quite right, My Lord.

19433. Now then, I see it goes on to say that the term "deckhands" means the master and mates and all bona fide able -bodied seamen?
- We go far in excess of that, My Lord.

19434. Now if you were to go further would it follow that you would have a number of deckhands, these able -bodied seamen, doing nothing at all during the whole of the voyage, or the whole of the return voyage, doing nothing at all, in fact, until the wreck of the steamer?
- That would be correct; we should have to make work for them.

19435. You would have to keep them doing nothing in anticipation of the wreck of the steamer?
- That is true, My Lord.

Mr. Scanlan:
If I am right, from what my Lord has read to you from the regulations, the 48 men mentioned there would be where your lifeboat accommodation was for 900 persons?

The Commissioner:
No, no, 9,300 cubic feet.

19436. (Mr. Scanlan.) I think it works out at 10 cubic feet per person, and, generally speaking, that is for 900 people?
- Yes, that is correct.

19437. So that if you carried your boat accommodation up to, say, 32, or for double that number of people, you would require a greater number of seamen?
- If we are going to put all those boats into the water for boat work, not flotation.

19438. If the requirements of this regulation of the Board of Trade were extended in correspondence with the number of boats carried, and increasing accommodation, it follows that there would be a considerable increase in the number of men?
- If the Board of Trade increased the scale that my Lord has read out the number of men would have to be increased, no doubt.

19439. (The Commissioner.) But my point is this, and I want to know whether I am right or wrong about it. Would the effect of making that increase in the number of men be, that you would be carrying always a number of men who could not be employed?
- That is perfectly true, My Lord. The ship is efficiently manned now for all reasonable purposes.

19440. (Mr. Scanlan.) Does it suggest itself to you that this demand might be met if the lifeboat accommodation was to be increased by giving proper training to the men in the other departments, and carrying only sufficient deckhands for the proper duties which deckhands have to discharge?
- That is obvious. There is no difficulty about giving the necessary training to most of the ratings.

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