British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 18

Testimony of Harold A. Sanderson, cont.

The Commissioner:
Can you tell me which line?

Mr. Harbinson:
I do not know of my own knowledge, My Lord, but I have been told that it is done in the case of some of the Japanese lines, but I will try and obtain the information for your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
From where to where?

Mr. Harbinson:
I take it, it is the ships that ply in the far east, probably between the East and England.

The Commissioner:
You mean boats plying in Eastern Waters.

Mr. Harbinson:
That is my information, My Lord - that that has been done.

The Commissioner:
Well, I do not like cross -examining gentlemen in your position, Mr. Harbinson, but will you tell me the name of the line?

Mr. Harbinson:
That I cannot do, My Lord, but I can ascertain it for your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
Can you tell me the source from which the information comes?

Mr. Harbinson:
I have been told so, personally.

The Commissioner:
By whom?

Mr. Harbinson:
I was told so by a nautical man in London.

The Commissioner:
What is his name?

Mr. Harbinson:
His name, I believe, is Macdonald.

The Commissioner:
Where does he live?

Mr. Harbinson:
I cannot give your Lordship his address.

The Commissioner:
Is the question based simply upon information given to you by a gentleman named Macdonald, who lives somewhere, and you do not know where.

Mr. Harbinson:
I know where he is to be found.

The Commissioner:
Where is he to be found?

Mr. Harbinson:
At a club, of which I am a member, My Lord. I hope I have submitted patiently to your Lordship's cross-examination.

The Commissioner:
But you know, really, if I am to sit here to listen to questions based upon information or suggestions derived from somebody in a club, I do not know when I am to get to the end of the Enquiry.

Mr. Harbinson:
The question, I submit to your Lordship, is important in this way, that if a station had to be allotted to each individual -

The Commissioner:
We are upon the question of practice in Eastern Waters of Japanese Lines, the names of which I do not know, and upon matters mentioned apparently by a gentleman named Macdonald in a club.

Mr. Harbinson:
I submit, My Lord, that one of the functions of this Commission is to make recommendations.

The Commissioner:
It is; and it is one of the functions to try and get reliable evidence upon the question.

Mr. Harbinson:
I was merely putting the suggestion to the witness in order to ascertain his opinion.

The Commissioner:
Are you going to call Mr. Macdonald?

19527. (Mr. Harbinson.) That I shall exercise my discretion upon when the proper moment arrives. (To the witness.) Now, do you know whether the Board of Trade have got regulations with regard to boat drill?
- They make a certain boat inspection before the ship sails.

19528. Do they take any steps to ascertain from time to time whether proper boat drill is carried out?
- I do not recall that that is any part of their regulations; it may be.

19529. At present you do not know whether they do or do not?
- I do not recall whether they have any Regulations upon that point.

19530. You consider it of course, eminently desirable that proper boat drill should be carried out?
- Certainly.

19531. And you consider that it is in the interest of the safety of the passengers that in cases of emergency the men should know exactly what to do, know their stations and what is expected of them?
- Yes.

19532. Now I think you told my Lord yesterday that in the case of the "Oceanic" the men had refused boat muster?
- Yes, I did.

19533. In your view, is the master or the Captain of the ship not the right man to fine the men?
- Yes.

19534. And to punish them for refusing to comply with his orders?
- Yes, but that does not make them do it. They were logged in this instance for refusing duty.

19535. And your evidence today was that up to the present inducement has failed?
- To a very large extent it has failed. You cannot get them to turn out in any satisfactory numbers.

19536. You know that Mr. Andrews was the designer of this boat?
- I cannot say who the designer of the boat was. It was designed by Messrs. Harland and Wolff; but who they employed for the particular work I cannot say.

19537. Do you know Mr. Andrews?
- Very well indeed.

19538. I am not referring now to this question of davits. Do you know whether or not prior to the launching of the "Olympic" and the "Titanic" a suggestion was made that these ships were insufficiently boated?
- I do not know of any such suggestion.

19539. You have never heard of that?
- No, I have never heard of any such suggestion.

19540. Now upon the question of crews, I put a question with regard to continuous service to Mr. Ismay, and I would like to invite an expression of your opinion upon it. Would you consider it feasible to provide, as far as possible, for keeping on the crew which does the voyage backwards and forwards during the time the steamer is in port?
- It is feasible, but not commercially feasible.

19541. Do you think it could be made commercially feasible by employing these men instead of employing shore gangs, as you do at present?
- We do put those men on the shore gangs as near as we can, but in practice it is not their desire to work while the ship is in port.

19542. Up to the present, have you in practice given them the opportunity?
- Yes, they have had lots of opportunities.

19543. Then I take it that you would not disagree that for the purposes of managing a big steamship you require a well-disciplined and thoroughly-trained crew?
- Of course.

19544. And that cannot be secured by shipping a fresh crew for every voyage?
- There is no regular liner that does ship a fresh crew for every voyage.

19545. But I gather that the men when they come home are discharged, are paid off, and then that you sign on a fresh crew when she is leaving again?
- I do not know what you mean by a fresh crew. I should say that 70 percent of the men that come in on one voyage go out on the next.

19546. According to the Government requirements, they are all paid off each time they come into port.

The Commissioner:
All this we have heard before, and I really do not want to hear it half-a-dozen times.

19547. (Mr. Harbinson.) Would it not be possible to increase the number of those who continue in your service and continue on the particular boat they are employed upon?
- We told you yesterday of the efforts we have made to do it, and it was not any good, and we have met with no encouragement.

19548. Now, Mr. Ismay, in answer to the Attorney-General at Question 18434, said this: He was asked: "You have told me now what your answer is. What was your answer?" And he says: I should say if a man can see far enough to clear ice, he is perfectly justified in going full speed. (Q.) Then, apparently, you did not expect your Captain to slow down when he had ice reports? - (A.) No, certainly not." Do you agree with that?
- Entirely.

19549. And in view of what has occurred, would you in giving the verbal instructions that you have told us about to your Captain - would you repeat and say this: We do not expect you to slow down when you have ice reports?
- I most certainly will not say anything of the kind.

19550. You would not give them instructions to that effect?
- No, of course I would not. To tell a man not to slow down! It would be ridiculous.

19551. Although at the same time you would justify him when he had failed to slow down although he had ice reports?
- I should expect him to exercise his discretion as a good seaman, and err on the side of safety; but as to telling him not to slow down it would be criminal.

19552. But you would justify him when he did not slow down?
- Under proper conditions I would, yes.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

19553. Yesterday you said that in your view it would be unwise to have such a number of boats as to accommodate everybody aboard ship?
- I did.

19554. Was your idea of the unwisdom based upon your faith in the unsinkability of the ship?
- No.

19555. What was it based upon?
- I have already said, I think, that my objection to it would be that in the case of a ship such as the "Titanic" she would have to carry something like 60 boats, and I do not consider it is possible to put 60 boats on that ship without hampering her deck so that the working of those boats would not be interfered with.

19556. Then do you believe that you could still have less boat accommodation and passengers carried though you have not faith in the unsinkability of the ship?
- I do. There are certain risks connected with going to sea which it is impossible to eliminate, just as there are risks in connection with travelling on land.

19557. And you think that those risks ought to be borne by, at all events, a proportion of the passengers and crew on every one of your ships?

The Commissioner:
Ought to be divided amongst them, not borne by a proportion, but divided amongst them generally. This does not help me very much. It appears to me that Mr. Sanderson is quite right. Every person who goes to sea, or, for that matter, who walks on land, Must expect some risks.

Mr. Edwards:
Yes; quite so, My Lord, and, as I understand, the purpose of this Commission is to find out how we can reduce those risks to an absolute minimum.

The Commissioner:
That is quite true; that is one of the purposes, no doubt.

Mr. Edwards:
So that I can put it to Mr. Sanderson that your idea with regard to boat accommodation bears no relation to your ideas as to the sinkability of the ship.

The Commissioner:
I do not understand that question. What does it mean?

19558. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I will put it in parts, My Lord. (To the witness.) First of all, I understand you to say that you regard it as unwise to carry such a number of boats as would provide accommodation in the event of disaster for every person on board the ship?
- I do.

The Commissioner:
He has said that three or four times. Now, what is the question?

19559. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I understand you to say that that is not based upon your faith in the unsinkability of the ship?
- It is not based upon that because I think the objections I have mentioned apply to any ship, unsinkable or not.

19560. If that is your view, will you say why there is any need to carry any boats at all?
- For transfer purposes.

19561. Purely for transfer purposes?
- That is my judgment.

19562. That is to say, transferring from ship to shore in the event of disaster, or from ship to ship in the event of disaster?
- That is my view.

19563. And that the case of being in such a situation as that there are no ships to which to transfer is a risk that must always be taken?
- Yes, and it is a very, very small one.

19564. We all thought it was, I daresay, Mr. Sanderson. Now, yesterday you stated that in certain respects the construction of the "Titanic" exceeded the requirements of Lloyd's?
- I did.

19565. You stated with regard, first of all, to the watertight bulkheads, that she was superior to Lloyd's requirements?
- In regard to her strength I am told that she is.

19566. May I take it, with regard to her height, that there are 15 bulkheads on the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

19567. Do you know up to what decks they came?
- They came up to the E deck forward and D deck aft.

19568. And intermediately in the bunkers in the boiler section?
- The same thing - E deck until you come aft and then they go up to D deck.

The Attorney-General:
The two forward ones go to D deck. The two forward decks are stepped one forward to E deck and the other one aft to D deck.

The Witness:
I am sorry I made a mistake. I suggest, however, that this is a question which really had better be answered by the builders; it is technical.

The Commissioner:
If Mr. Edwards will promise me not to ask the next witness the same question, we will have it now.

Mr. Edwards:
I should not have attempted to examine Mr. Sanderson upon this point if it had not been for the statement which he made in reply to the learned Solicitor-General yesterday.

The Commissioner:
What was that statement?

19569. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) The statement that he made yesterday was this, My Lord: "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." (To the witness.) Now, take the bulkhead immediately in front of boiler section No. 6, what is the height of that?
- It seems to go to E deck.

19570. Do you say that it does go to E deck?
- I am looking at the plan, and I think I am correct in saying that it goes to E deck.

The Attorney-General:
Which one?

Mr. Edwards:
The one immediately in front of boiler section 6.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, that is right; it goes to E deck.

19571. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Now, take the bulkhead between boiler sections 6 and 7, does it run continuously?
- There is a step in that one apparently up to E deck. I think you will find I said so far as possible in a fair line.

Sir Robert Finlay:
We have had a model made, My Lord, which shows in a very convenient form the watertight compartments, and which, I think, May save time, and which shall be shown to your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
That will be much more intelligible than these plans.

(The model was handed to the Commissioner.)

Sir Robert Finlay:
It shows the two forward bulkheads going up to D deck, and the other to E deck.

Mr. Laing:
The decks are numbered.

Sir Robert Finlay:
The number is on the decks. You will not see it if it is lying flat in that way.

The Commissioner:
Now, Mr. Edwards, what is your question?

Mr. Edwards:
I just asked as to how high the bulkhead between boiler sections 5 and 6 ran, and the witness said there appears to be a step.

The Commissioner:
According to this model it goes to E.

Mr. Edwards:
I have not seen the model, My Lord. It runs fairly to E. Does it show the step?

The Attorney-General:
There is no step.

The Commissioner:
There is no step in that.

Mr. Edwards:
May I ask if between 4 and 5 there is a step shown?

The Commissioner:
Yes, there is. Now that I have it in my mind, I will hand it down to you, Mr. Edwards.

19572. (Mr. Edwards - To the witness.) You spoke yesterday about the bulkheads being superior to the requirements of Lloyd's. Are you familiar with requirements of Lloyd's?
- No, I am not.

19573. Why do you say that this is superior to the requirements of Lloyd's?
- Because I am advised so by the builders.

19574. So that it is not upon your own information?
- These are matters on which I accept information from the builders.

19575. If you were told that Lloyd's requirements as to bulkheads were that they were to be taken right through to the height of the upper deck, fair, would you then say that your bulkheads were superior to Lloyd's requirements?
- If what you say is correct, apparently they would not be.

19576. I will take you now to the question of the strength of the bulkheads. Do you of your own knowledge know what the plate thickness of the bulkheads in the "Titanic" was?
- I do not know.

19577. Do you know anything in respect of that what Lloyd's requirements are?
- I do not know.

19578. Do you know any particulars as to the stiffness of the bulkheads of the "Titanic"?
- No, I am not familiar with those details.

19579. Do you know what Lloyd's' requirements are in that respect?
- No, I have said that. I do not know what they are.

19580. So that I may take it that while you said yesterday that in certain respects the construction of the "Titanic" in the matter of bulkheads was superior to Lloyd's, that is entirely based upon what you have been informed by the builders?
- It is.

19581. Then I will not trouble you any further upon that point. I should like to ask you one or two other questions. Have you had any experience at all of classification for Lloyd's register?
- No.

19582. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Do you know that if you had sought the "Titanic" to be classified there would have been independent Surveyors superintending the construction?

The Commissioner:
I know it. You need not trouble about it. I know it well.

The Witness:
It is so.

19583. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Then I will not pursue that point any further, My Lord. (To the witness.) You spoke of complying with the regulations of the Board of Trade in the construction of the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

19584. What you really meant was, was it not, that what you did was to satisfy, after the construction, the inspectors of the Board of Trade?
- I think we have to do a little more. I think that while the ship is under construction she is subject to a certain supervision by the Board of Trade.

19585. You do not suggest, do you, that you have to answer certain elements of construction to comply with any definite Regulations of the Board of Trade?
- I believe there are such, but what they are I am not in a position to tell you.

19586. You have never seen any such Regulation?
- No, I have not.

19587. A Regulation as to plate thickness?
- I am quite unfamiliar with these details. I think you had better ask the builders.

19588. I only wanted to see. You stated yesterday you had complied with the Board of Trade Regulations, and I wanted to make it perfectly clear what it was with which you did comply?
- I am only repeating information which was given to me.

19589. As I understand, your Company is owned by the International Marine?
- They own the shares.

The Commissioner:
That is not legally true. What the International Mercantile marine Company does is to hold the great bulk of the shares in the Oceanic Company.

Mr. Edwards:
I understood from the evidence of Mr. Ismay that they hold all the shares.

The Commissioner:
I say the great bulk. They do not hold all of them. There must be some left in the Oceanic Company itself which are not held by them.

The Witness:
To be quite correct they do not hold them in their own name. They are held indirectly. It is a mere detail.

19590. (The Commissioner.) I should like to know, are they held by some trust Company?
- Yes.

19591. Some American Trust?
- They are held, in the first place, by the International Navigation Company, of Liverpool, whose shares are again held by a Trust Company in America.

19592. These ramifications are rather a mystery to me?
- I know they are rather complicated.

19593. Let us trace them through. There is the Oceanic Company?
- Yes, My Lord.

19594. That took over, as I understand, all the ships, as I understand, of the White Star Line?
- It always owned them.

19595. No, it did not, because these ships were owned at that time by Ismay, Imrie and Co?
- Never, My Lord.

19596. Do you mean to say there never was a firm of Ismay, Imrie and Co.?
- They were the managers of the Oceanic Company.

19597. I do not know it, but you may be right. Do you mean to say that from the beginning of the White Star Line the boats have been owned by the Oceanic Company?
- Yes, from its very first.

19598. Very well. Some years ago the International Mercantile marine Company was formed?
- It was.

19599. That company was an American Company, I understand?
- Yes.

19600. And did that company acquire all the shares, or practically all the shares in the Oceanic Company?
- It did.

19601. And then you say that the International Mercantile marine Company acquired them. They did not have them registered in their own name?
- No.

19602. In what company's name were they registered?
- They are held by the International Navigation Company of Liverpool; but it is purely a financial transaction.

19603. So I suppose. I was going to ask you what is the business of the International Navigation Company of Liverpool?
- It is one of the subsidiary companies controlled by the International Mercantile marine Company.

19604. What is their business?
- Steamship.

19605. What steamers do they manage?
- They run at present the "Marion," the "Haverford," and the "Dominion" to Philadelphia.

19606. They do not run any of the White Star Line?
- None.

19607. But it is a company that runs steamships?
- Yes, it is.

19608. I will not ask you, because it may not be of the least interest, why the shares which the International Mercantile marine Company took over from the Oceanic Company were registered in the name of this financial company, but they were registered in the name of this company, the Navigation Company. Are they, then, held by any Trust company in America?
- They are, as security for a certain issue of bonds.

19609. Has this Navigation Company transferred those shares in their turn to the trust Company in America?
- It has.

19610. And what is the name of the trust Company in America?
- There are two Trust Companies, My Lord. I would not like off-hand to quote the names, as I am not very familiar with them.

19611. They are companies instituted, I suppose, and worked for the purpose of, holding the security which bondholders have recourse to?
- That is right, My Lord.

19612. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I suppose the real reason for your having a series of English Companies -

The Commissioner:
No, not English Companies. There is only one, the Oceanic. The Navigation Company, perhaps, is an English Company.

The Witness:
It is an English Company.

19613. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Well, the reason for having an English Company is, of course, to enable you to register under the first Section of the merchant Shipping Act?
- I do not quite follow you. Who are to register?

19614. I think you are familiar with the merchant Shipping Act?
- I am going to answer your question if you will let me. I can answer it quite easily. It is not necessary to transfer to the International Navigation Company the shares for the purpose of holding under the Navigation Act.

19615. That I know; but the International Mercantile marine Company, being an American Company, although the substantial owners of these ships, could not be the registered owners in this country by reason of the first Section of the merchant Shipping Act of 1894?
- That is true.

19616. And, therefore, you have set up this special independent English Company for the purpose of complying with -?
- No, excuse me. The intermediate Company that you are referring to was used for financial reasons quite independent of the actual question.

19617. I put it to you that if you had not the Oceanic Company you would have to have some other english Company if these ships were to be registered in England?
- Certainly.

The Commissioner:
Or a British subject; you do not want a company.

19618. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Yes. Quite so. Either a British firm, or a company, or an individual?
- They must be a registered company or an individual.

19619. I see that the ship's Rules and uniform regulations are issued by the International Mercantile marine Company. That is the red book. You have a copy there, have you not?
- Yes.

19620. (The Commissioner.) I did not know that. They are issued, then, by an American Company?
- That is not quite correct, My Lord. Perhaps I may explain. Each of these companies which have come under the control of the International Mercantile marine Company had, up to a few years ago, its own book of Rules. For the sake of uniformity we went through these various books and put them all into one, and to save having the names of all the companies referred to on it we called it the "International Marine Companies' Rules."

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