British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 18

Testimony of Harold A. Sanderson

19699. I understand you say that the person who made that suggestion would be a very ignorant person?
- Ignorant and malicious.

19700. The average revolutions at full speed would be about 75 to the minute, would they not?
- I think 78 was mentioned as full speed.

19701. 75 to 78. Is it not a common practice when half speed is rung down to proceed very often at 65 revolutions?
- I have not got the figure of half speed in my mind. You cannot get half speed by dividing the revolutions in half.

19702. Are the engine room logs kept?
- Certainly they are kept.

19703. If men who follow the sea, such as greasers and leading firemen, were to suggest that ships do frequently run through fog - in fact, the term they use is "run through anything" - they would be ignorant persons and malicious?
- They would.

The Commissioner:
Is there anyone else who wishes to ask this Witness any questions?

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

19704. You were asked with regard to the number of passengers that the "Titanic" carried as compared with other vessels?
- Yes.

19705. Were there other vessels before the "Titanic" and the "Olympic" which carried as many passengers as they do?
- There are, and they are running today in our service.

19706. You are prepared to give their names?
- Certainly. The "Celtic" and the "Baltic" are approximately the same capacity.

19707. Carrying as many passengers and crew?
- Altogether, yes.

19708. Taking them altogether, I mean?
- Yes, totals.

19709. How does the deck space of these vessels compare with the "Titanic" and the "Olympic" deck space?
- Not as great.

19710. Would there be the same accommodation for boats on vessels of that type?
- No, there would not be as much accommodation.

19711. Very roughly, how would it compare with the deck space available for that purpose on such a ship as the "Titanic"?
- I am afraid I should not like to guess. I might go so far afield.

19712. Anyhow, it would be considerably less?
- Materially less.

19713. Have you looked into the question of the number of lifeboats carried by other liners, with reference to the number of passengers, as compared with the "Titanic" and the "Olympic"?
- I have not done so myself. Enquiries are being made, and I cannot say for the moment whether we have got the information or not.

19714. Do you know the general results?
- I have not been informed yet.

19715. Enquiries have been made, and that will be established?
- Yes, it will be.

19716. Now, with regard to another matter - as to the boat drill. Are these the lists which you have - three of them, I think; one for the sailing department, one for the engine department, and one for the victualling department - the stewards, I suppose, with reference to the boats?
- Those are what are put up in the different departments.

19717. These are the documents (Handing same to Witness.)?
- Yes, they are.

19718. Perhaps you will keep them for one moment. In addition to those, is there the general boat list?
- There is a general boat list, subdivided into these.

19719. Are these put up or framed or stuck up anywhere?
- They are put up in the different departments. I am not sure where the general one goes; I think it goes in the chart room. These go in the departments.

19720. Are there emergency lists in addition (Handing same to Witness.)?
- Yes, there are. That is an emergency boat list.

19721. (The Commissioner.) I see on this list that an Officer is assigned to each boat, and then there are spaces for the names of four other men. That is so, is it not?
- I think in practice they would have to put more names in than that, My Lord. The term "Officer," I think, is used for the purpose of a man who would go in command of the boat. It does not necessarily mean that he would be a ship's officer. He might be a petty Officer.

19722. It begins, "Commander, Chief Officer, First Officer, Second Officer, Carpenters, Boatswains, Quartermaster," and so on; and then a space is left for four additional names, and they are bracketed together and described as "Seamen." What does that mean?
- I suppose, technically, that every man who goes to sea is a seaman. They would distinguish between the sailors and the firemen.

19723. It does not necessarily mean a deckhand?
- I do not think so.

Mr. Roche:
The next page talks about the firemen.

The Attorney-General:
There is a special one for the firemen.

Sir Robert Finlay:
There are three departments. The first is the sailing department; the second the engineers' department; and the third is the victualling department.

The Commissioner:
I beg pardon, Sir Robert. That is quite so. So that there are a great many more than five men allocated to each boat.

The Witness:
I should think in the case of the "Titanic" that there must have been between 30 and 40 to each boat.

The Attorney-General:
I went through it earlier with one of the witnesses. I put those in.

19724. (Sir Robert Finlay.) With regard to the question of boat drill and getting firemen to take part in it, had you moved in that matter long before the loss of the "Titanic"?
- We have always attempted to do it.

19725. Of how old standing are the difficulties about getting firemen to take part in the boat drill?
- I think our real difficulties have only been of recent years - in the last two years. I do not recall that we had any real difficulty before that.

19726. Since this disaster you have been continuing your efforts to ensure proper drill?
- We have increased them.

19727. Can you tell us what is being done now?
- Yes, we have asked the Board of Trade to make their inspection a more thorough one in so far as instead of turning out two boats to turn out a good many. We have turned out as many as 13 or 14, and we have had a large number of those boats manned and sent out, rowing some distance and back again. As I say, the stewards and deckhands have done that work. They do not seem to have had much success with the firemen.

19728. Have you got any information in writing as to what is being done?
- I have this telegram, which I have already alluded to.

19729. You only read a line or two. Perhaps you would read it to recall it to his Lordship?
- It is rather long. I shall be glad to read it. It is as follows: "Replying your wire, boats on sailing morning have been recently manned by deckhands and stewards who muster at eight. Occasionally stewards lower and man one or two boats entirely. This was done on 'Oceanic.' 'Olympic' today had six boats in water manned by stewards and deckhands. Difficulty has been experienced in interesting engine department, who now only muster at 10.30, as if muster earlier as in past the men all evade boat drill, go ashore, and come back at last moment more or less under influence of drink, or fail to join altogether. In case of 'Oceanic,' in order to exercise engine crew with boats all were asked to come down Tuesday morning and offered half-a-day's pay for boat drill from nine until one, but men would not come, and thirteen boats were therefore put in water by deck crew that day. Experiment not repeated with 'Olympic,' as Blake confident men will not turn up day before sailing on three weekly schedule as time in port so short. After muster all engine room staff now put on lifebelts and muster at their allotted boats, so that each man knows own boat before ships sail. This was very successful with 'Olympic,' 'Oceanic,' 'Majestic,' and satisfactory to Emigration Officer. When crew sign on each is given a number, which is also shown on articles giving boat to which each man is allotted. Previous practice was two boats put out on sailing morning by deckhands, but stewards and firemen not exercised at all by reason of former being busy and latter gone ashore after muster."

19730. Thank you. Now, you have been asked about the number of deckhands on board the "Titanic." Had you enough deckhands for all the work that there was for them to do?
- I believe so.

19731. Was the number of deckhands in excess of the Board of Trade requirements?
- Considerably.

19732. Have you looked up the amount of loss of life in your vessels that has happened while your line has been running?
- We have had some figures made up.

19733. Is this the statement (Handing same to Witness.)?
- Yes, we prepared that statement.

19734. The statement goes from 1901 to 1911?
- Yes.

19735. Taking the result, apart from the loss of life that took place on the "Titanic" up to that time how many passengers during those 10 years had been carried, and what was the total loss of life?
- The total number of passengers shown by these figures carried during those 10 years is 2,179,594; the loss of life is two.

19736. When did that happen?
- That happened in the case of the "Republic," which came into collision with the "Florida," and those two people were injured in the collision.

19737. That was in January, 1909?
- Yes, that is right.

19738. I think these were first class passengers?
- They were.

19739. And is that the whole amount of loss of life which took place in that number of passengers carried?
- Yes, it is.

19740. (The Commissioner.) How many passengers do you say you have carried in those 10 years?
- The 10 years in question - 2,179,594.

The Attorney-General:
Is it not eleven years? 1901 to 1911 - both inclusive?

The Witness:
I expect it is inclusive, in fact it must be. You are right, it is eleven years inclusive.

19741. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Adding the figures of the "Titanic" to that, and taking the loss of life, what is the total number of passengers carried and the total loss of life, and what percentage does that yield?
- Including the "Titanic," the total becomes 2,180,910 passengers, and loss of life 822. The percentage is038.

19742. I will hand that statement in. (The statement was handed in.) You referred, I think, in connection with questions put to you with regard to the davits, and Mr. Welin's way of constructing the davits, to a correspondence which you said you had handed to the Board of Trade?
- I did.

19743. Is that the correspondence? (Handing same to Witness.) - Yes, that is a covering letter.

19744. And the other letters?
- That is a memorandum.

The Commissioner:
Give the substance of it.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I do not think it is at all important.

The Commissioner:
Perhaps you had better tell us the substance.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It relates to some address given with reference to Mr. Welin's plan for the construction of the davits, and your Lordship will see that it has no special reference to anything but to the construction of the davits. I will hand it up to your Lordship.

The Commissioner:
There is no importance attaching to it?

The Attorney-General:
I do not think it is important.

19745. (Sir Robert Finlay.) The Attorney-General agrees with me that it is not important. (To the witness.) With regard to the routes, a question was put to you as to the unlikelihood of there being crossing ships. These lane routes, as they are called, are adopted by all the liners, are they not?
- Yes.

19746. By a combination amongst the companies?
- Principally passenger liners and a few cargo boats.

19747. These routes, of course, are not necessarily observed by sailing vessels; in fact, they could not do so?
- No.

19748. You may have a sailing vessel come across the track at any time?
- Yes.

19749. Are they observed by tramps?
- A few may, but I do not think to any extent.

19750. So that there is always a possibility, as you have pointed out, of a crossing ship on the line?
- Or even a vessel on either bow which would not be a crossing ship; they would not see her.

19751. Exactly. Now, you said something with regard to the deviations by the commanders of your vessels from the routes, and the reports that were made with regard to that and the enquiries held?
- Yes, I did speak of it.

19752. Is this a list of cases in which such enquiries were held of such deviations?
- I had this looked up at the Solicitor-General's request yesterday.

19753. It is not necessary to go through them, My Lord. It shows the deviations reported, and the ground of them is stated?
- And the Captain commended in most cases for doing it.

19754. In most cases it would be found that the reason for the deviation is regarded as satisfactory?
- Yes.

19755. I think there is only one other matter I want to ask you about. With reference to this red book, when were the Rules which are comprised in this red book drawn up originally, and by whom?
- They would be originally drawn up when these various subsidiary companies were formed, and this book is a selection from the various books which were in existence in 1907.

19756. Was there a book for the "Oceanic" for the White Star Line?
- Yes.

19757. How did that compare, as regards the Rules, with the contents of this book?
- I think I am right in saying that there is more of the "Oceanic" Company's Rules in this book than of any other subsidiary company.

19758. In 1907 I think the Rules were modified. Who drew up the Rules in their modified form, as they appeared in this red book in 1907?
- A committee, consisting of the managers of the various companies concerned went through them Rule by Rule.

19759. Where?
- Here in London.

19760. They were settled in London in the way you have described?
- Yes, by the local managers.

19761. It is headed "International Mercantile marine Company"?
- That is to give it a name.

19762. They are intended for use by a good many companies?
- Yes, about five.

19763. Five companies?
- Yes, about five.

19764. That name was given, and they were prepared in the way described?
- Yes.

Further examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

19765. Have you been through these letters?
- I have seen them all at one time or another, but I have glanced through them this morning.

19766. That extends from 1892 to the present year?
- Yes, I think there is one selected for 1892 for a particular purpose.

19767. Of course, these are only samples?
- Yes.

19768. You have not attempted to get them all?
- No.

19769. I have been going hastily through it, but I do not think I have come across any deviations on account of ice?
- I think there are some.

19770. Except this year?
- I would not like to say what they were.

19771. I find two, but they are only after the event?
- I told our people to find as many as they could, and send them on.

19772. There are two, My Lord, which, in view of a question your Lordship put yesterday, I think I might call particular attention to, and that is one of the 24th April of this year. I notice there is one, as I am informed, which is dated "Montreal," which refers to ice?
- Yes.

19773. That is in 1911?
- Yes.

19774. What I wanted to know was whether there were any other reports of this year, after the "Titanic" disaster, with reference to ice encountered in the track from Queenstown to the United States, to New York?
- I instructed our people by wire yesterday to send all they could get, all they could find. I think I am right in saying there have been very few deviations on account of ice for some years. There has been very little ice seen on the Atlantic; but these do show, Sir, that the Captains do exercise their power to deviate whenever they think it necessary for any purpose whatever.

19775. I do not want to argue with you as to what the effect is, but they show clearly that when they report to you they have deviated for derelicts, or on account of heavy labourings - I see that is one of the reports - and that the explanation has been accepted by the Company?
- Yes.

19776. It shows that, I agree. What I wanted to know was whether there were any reports of deviation on account of ice being encountered or reported on the track from Queenstown to New York?
- I have no others to put forward than those.

The only ones that I see are these two, and they are both after the event, the 24th April, 1912, and the 27th April, 1912.

Sir Robert Finlay:
You see the ice has been coming so much further south.

19777. (The Attorney-General.) I understand, of course, that there is more ice this year. That is quite right?
- May I put it this way, Sir, that we have issued no fresh instructions in regard to deviating from the track since the "Titanic" accident.

19778. I only want to get the fact; the argument will be of interest later on to the Court. Am I right in this, that you can only find reports of deviations from the track since the "Titanic" accident?
- I take your word for it. I have not looked at them very carefully.

19779. It is quite clear that there are no others here?
- I simply handed in the bundle as I got it from Liverpool.

The Attorney-General:
The first, My Lord, is on the 24th April, 1912, and it is this: "Track. Owing to the numerous ice reports received, I deemed it prudent not to go North of latitude 40° until in the vicinity of longitude 55° W. Trusting that my deviating from the usual track will meet with the approval of the management," and that is commended.

The Commissioner:
What vessel is that?

The Attorney-General:
The "Canopic," I am told. It is dated from Boston, the 24th April, 1912.

The Commissioner:
And the master of that vessel, of course, had heard of the loss of the "Titanic."

The Attorney-General:
Quite. This is sent by him from Boston on the 24th April, and the "Titanic," as your Lordship knows, was reported on the 15th April. The other one is the "Laurentic," on a voyage Eastward, according to this.

The Commissioner:
These are not of much value.

The Attorney-General:
I think none.

The Commissioner:
For two reasons. In the first place they relate to a time when an extraordinary quantity of ice was apparently about; and secondly they relate to a time subsequent to the loss of the "Titanic."

The Attorney-General:
Quite. I do not think they are of any importance, for that reason.

The Witness:
I understood the Attorney-General to say, My Lord, that there is one there from the Canadian service.

19780. (The Attorney-General.) Yes, there is one in September, 1911?
- Is it fair to ignore that, because the Canadian service is under the same Regulations in regard to tracks, but they have different tracks. I mean the same authority is given to the captains.

The Attorney-General:
That is quite right; there is one on September 24th, 1911.

19780a. (The Commissioner.) That, of course, relates to a different track?
- It is a different track, My Lord, but the discretion in both cases is the same.

19780b. (The Attorney-General.) Again, you know, I do not agree with that - that the same instructions are sent. Upon the evidence the same instructions are not given?
- I beg your pardon; I did not mean to say that; I said the same discretion.

The Attorney-General:
Discretion, yes, of course. Your Lordship will remember we had this yesterday.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I remember it.

The Attorney-General:
They were very different instructions, you know. I will read it if you desire it.

The Commissioner:
No, I do not think it is necessary.

Sir Robert Finlay:
The only point is that the Captain has exactly the same discretion with regard to the ice. It is totally immaterial whether it is North or south.

19781. (The Commissioner.) Can you recall, Mr. Sanderson, any occasion when the captain of one of your ships traversing this track has advised the Company that he had deviated in consequence of meeting ice?
- I cannot recall one, My Lord, but I have no doubt there are such.

19782. (The Attorney-General.) It is those we are asking for?
- I did my best to find out.

19783. Perhaps they may still be found?
- If there are any you shall certainly have them.

19784. You see the point?
- I quite understand.

19785. We want to see whether there is any record of it. It may be that you have not had time to look them up carefully. If you find any subsequently you might hand them in?
- I will ask them to pursue the examination.

The Commissioner:
I can understand that they may have deviated if they came across what I call field ice or pack ice, I do not know whether there is any difference. Then I can understand them deviating to get out of the way of it because they could not make their way, but they may not have deviated on account of icebergs.

19786. (The Attorney-General.) That would depend on how many they expect to encounter or sight. With one or two probably one would have thought they would not; they would simply get out of the way of the iceberg. (To the witness.) There is one other fact I want from you, or at least I will take it from you if you can help us. Can you tell me the time, from any record of your Company, when your vessel, the "Titanic," left Queenstown on the 11th April?
- Yes. I think I have it here.

19787. Will you tell me it?
- I am sorry I have not got the hour, but I can easily get it for you.

The Attorney-General:
I have been enquiring about it.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think I handed that information in.

The Witness:
It must have been somewhere between one and two o'clock.

19788. (The Attorney-General.) 2.30, I am told it was by your marine superintendent. We will take it at that?
- It would be about that.

The Attorney-General:
That enables us to answer a question which was asked yesterday. Supposing she had left Queenstown at 2.30 on the 11th April, and had arrived in New York on the wednesday morning at 5 o'clock her passage would have taken, allowing, of course, for the voyage westward, 5 days 19 hours and 30 minutes.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Arriving on Wednesday morning.

The Attorney-General:
Allowing for her arrival at 5 o'clock on Wednesday morning. The record, I think that was given yesterday of the "Olympic" from Queenstown was 5 days 17 hours and 29 minutes.

The Commissioner:
So that the "Titanic" would have taken about two hours longer?

The Attorney-General:
Yes, if she had arrived at 5 o'clock on Wednesday morning.

The Witness:
I think the difference was more than that, My Lord. I think the "Olympic's" time was 5 days 7 hours - not 17 hours.

Mr. Maurice Hill:
It was seven hours, My Lord. You will find it on page 450 of the notes.

The Commissioner:
What is it, Mr. Hill?

Mr. Maurice Hill:
5 days 7 hours 29 minutes.

The Attorney-General:
Is that right?
- Yes, 5 days 7 hours and 29 minutes is correct.

The Commissioner:
Then it is a difference of 12 hours.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, 12 hours. My own note is wrong. I had 5 days 17 hours 29 minutes.

(The Witness withdrew.)