British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 20

Testimony of Alexander Carlisle, cont.

21401. And a very good plan too.
- And Mr. Sanderson and I were more or less dummies.

The Commissioner:
That has a verisimilitude.

21402. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Now do you remember what Mr. Ismay said in regard to this proposal that there should be equipment for this number of boats?
- He quite agreed that it would be a good thing to make preparations for supplying the larger number of boats.

21403. (The Commissioner.) Now do be accurate. Do you mean to say that he thought it was desirable that a larger number of boats should be supplied, or that there should be what Mr. Edwards correctly calls an equipment for a larger number of boats? They are two different things.
- I take it at that first interview it was merely the davits for carrying four boats.

21404. But you say something different. At this first interview the equipment - Was not taken up. The equipment was not under consideration at the first.

21405. I am talking about the davits, you know. At this first interview, as I understand, the suggestion that davits should be prepared which would enable a larger number of boats to be put upon the ship and worked was approved?
- Yes.

21406. And that is all?
- And that is all.

21407. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I am purposely taking it in stages, My Lord, so that we can get it quite clear. (To the witness.) Was anything said at that interview as to the advisability, or otherwise, of carrying a larger number of boats?
- Nothing.

21408. Not at that interview. Now then, when you attended the second interview in January, 1910, is that the occasion when four hours were occupied?
- Yes.

21409. Was Mr. Ismay, and also was Mr. Sanderson, present on that occasion?
- Yes.

21410. How long did the conversation on that occasion last in regard to the subject of boat equipment or boats?
- I should say 5 to 10 minutes.

21411. Did you have any discussion at that time with regard to the number of boats, as apart from the question of the character of the davits?
- No.

21412. None at all?
- None at all.

21413. Was there any decision arrived at at that interview in regard to what equipment for the boats you should fix up?
- Nothing.

21414. Was there any arrangement arrived at by which some decision some later time should be come to in regard to the number of boats?
- No, that was not considered at that time; I did not hear anything.

21415. Was the whole thing treated as quite tentative and simply just allowed to pass?
- There is the ship and there are the boats shown on it, and that part was settled, as far as that goes; but how many boats would ultimately be fitted in the ship before she left Liverpool, Belfast, or southampton was not settled when I was present, nor did I hear it.

21416. If it was not settled, was there any circumstance discussed or any time mentioned at which it should be decided what should be the number of boats?
- Not that I heard of.

21417. Now then, from January, 1910, when this interview took place, until June, 1910, when you left, was there anything more said in your presence by the White Star directors or any member of the White Star Company?
- No.

21418. Nothing?
- No. I merely ordered the davits after that - the same month.

21419. That is to say, you ordered davits that should each take how many boats?
- Four.

21420. And was there, while you were still connected with the firm, any decision arrived at to your knowledge with regard to the number of boats?
- None that I know of.

21421. Do you know what you were waiting for at that time; that is to say, do you know why no definite decision had been arrived at up to June, 1910, as to the number of boats?
- I would say they were entirely waiting to see what the Board of Trade would require.

The Commissioner:
Of course. They were living in hopes that the Board of Trade would not ask for any more.

21422. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Now with regard to the Board of Trade, you have said that in May, 1911, at a meeting of the advisory committee, these plans for the davits were produced?
- Copies. Those are photographs. It is much the same drawing. Photographs were produced. We have heard from Mr. Wilding that the Board of Trade surveyor, whilst the "Titanic" was under construction visited the ship something like 2,000 or 3,000 times.

The Commissioner:
The fact is this, Mr. Edwards - I do not think you were here this morning - three or four different Surveyors, all representing the Board of Trade, visited the ship at different times, and if you add up all their visits they come to 2,000 or 3,000.

Mr. Edwards:
Nothing today, My Lord, turns on the arithmetic.

The Commissioner:
You were saying it was only one surveyor; it was a number.

21423. (Mr. Edwards - To the witness.) There were certain Surveyors of the Board of Trade who, between them, did visit the "Titanic" while she was under construction a considerable number of times?
- Yes.

21424. Do you know whether on any occasion these plans for the davits were submitted to any one of the surveyors?
- They were not submitted while I was there.

21425. They were not submitted while you were there?
- No, not that I know of.

21426. I think it was Mr. Sanderson who said that if this full number of boats were put upon the "Titanic" one of the effects would be to make the ship tender. What is your view as a practical man about that?
- That is one of the objections. In a ship of that size that is the serious objection.

21427. That is what I wanted to get at. In relation to what you in drawing the plans deemed advantages, how do you place the disadvantage of the number of boats in making the ship tender?
- Well, it is the top weight of the boats makes her more tender. You see if you only put sufficient weights on the boat deck you will roll her over, likely.

21428. Supposing you sacrificed a deck - by that I mean this: In the "Titanic" and the "Olympic" you have the boats super-imposed on what is called the boat deck?
- Yes.

21429. That is to say, you have the height of the boats above the boat deck. Suppose, instead of having the boat deck as it is there, what is known as A deck were made the boat deck - that is to say, entirely sacrifice, for the height and weight of the boat, one deck?
- I would think it a great mistake.

21430. From this very point of view of the tenderness of the ship, what do you say?
- The working of the boats would be nearly impossible, and you could not work the four sets between decks at all.

21431. I am afraid I have not made my meaning quite clear. At present you have the a deck, which is a promenade deck?
- Yes.

21432. Then you have the top deck of all?
- That is A deck; (Pointing on the model.) that is the deck you are referring to.

21433. Yes?
- I think it would be a great mistake to put the boats there, and an impossibility to work them properly.

21434. Instead of having boat deck, A deck, B deck and C deck, taking those three superstructured decks, I suggest you should do away with one of the decks so that the height of the ship in this case would be reached on A deck?
- If you scrap one or two or three of the decks you might as well scrap the whole ship, you know.

21435. You think you could not meet the objection with regard to making the ship tender, by putting the boats on what is now the top deck? You do not think you could meet that effectively by sacrificing entirely one of the decks?
- Certainly not.

21436. Why?
- Why, because it is such a short distance down that there would be very little difference. The 8 feet or 7 feet 6 inches of the height would be a mere nothing. She would still have the tenderness with the boats up there.

21437. Now take the area of the boats, and the weight of the boats in relation to the single deck, there would be a less area of boat and less weight of boats would there not?
- I do not see it.

21438. You are familiar with the construction of this ship. Take the boat deck: What would be the weight of that deck?
- It is a very light deck. It is merely what we know as an awning deck. In old times the passengers had awnings over them, and instead of those loose awnings flapping all the time, we gradually commenced to put on light wood. It is not very heavy, because it does not require to be heavy for the sake of the boats, because where the davits are the deck is stiffened with steel underneath, and, therefore, there is very little weight in it.

21439. May I take it the superstructure above a deck, which is involved for the purpose of constructing the boat deck, would be a good deal heavier than the total weight of the 48 or 64 boats?
- Oh, no; I think the boats would be much heavier.

21440. You think they would?
- Yes.

21441. What would be the weight of the boats?
- I do not know.

21442. What would the weight of that deck be?
- I do not know.

21443. Then how do you arrive at the idea that the boats would be heavier than the deck?

The Commissioner:
Can you suggest to him what the weight of the boats would be?

21444. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) This is not in accordance with Lloyd's contract, My Lord, so I cannot suggest what the weight would be. (To the witness.) You cannot tell the weight of the boats?
- I cannot say.

21445. Is it not the fact that those boats weigh a ton and a half?
- I do not know.

21446. Will you take it from me they do weigh a ton and a half?
- No doubt, if you have that in evidence from the firm it will be correct.

21447. Do you suggest that that deck would not weigh more than 64 times a ton and a half; that is to say, not more than 100 tons?
- I do not think so.

21448. You do not think so?
- I do not think so.

21449. You made a plan which involved, as I understand it, the placing of 64 boats on that very deck?
- Yes.

21450. At the time that you made that plan, with the full responsibility as managing director of the building firm, did you think that the advantages of greater safety which the larger number of boats would give would outweigh this disadvantage of greater top weight?
- Ships when they are finished are tested for stability, and if we find the stability was not right it can always be rectified either by more water ballast or solid ballast.

21451. So that you had that in mind when you went over the plans?
- I never considered it at the time at all - not that part of it.

21452. May I put it that you would be able to correct any disadvantage in greater top weight by more definite ballasting or greater weight near the keel?
- I believe so.

21453. Do you think that the entire disadvantage of making the ship tender in that way might be corrected by ballasting?
- It might be.

21454. (The Commissioner.) And what would be the effect of that upon the vessel; would there be any effect upon it commercially?
- If it was what you call a weight-carrying ship where you had a great deal of cargo it would tell against her, but these large liners are very seldom filled up. There is always plenty of space.

21455. I am quite uninformed about it; would it require any more coal?
- Well, it would be such a small affair that it would not be noticeable. It would be likely a quarter of an inch in the draught or something of that sort. You could argue that it would be an enormous cost if you wanted to do it.

21456. But it does not occur to you?
- It would never come into my ideas in thinking of the thing.

21457. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I only wanted to put the point in a very general way. You said that you had one interview lasting a whole day, and only about five or ten minutes was devoted to the discussion of the lifeboat question, and another interview lasting four hours part of the time taken up with that discussion. Was there at any time between you and the Directors of the White Star a definite discussion as to the effect upon the safety of the ship of these much greater and more luxurious decks?
- No, no discussion.

21458. No discussion at all. You have been present, I believe, when there has been some discussion taking place as to the relative advantages and disadvantages of longitudinal bulkheads, but have you devoted much attention to that problem?
- Yes. I personally do not approve of anything but the vertical bulkheads. I do not approve of fore and aft bulkheads.

21459. You do not?
- No.

21460. What is your idea as to the deck to which the transverse bulkheads should reach?
- They are carried pretty high at present, but there is no use carrying them up above what we call the weather deck. That is here. (Pointing on the model.) They ought to be carried up to that, in my opinion; there ought to be as few doors fitted as possible, and those doors ought to be always closed at night.

21461. Can you say why in the construction of the "Titanic" the bulkheads were not carried above E deck?
- Well, I could not answer that question right off; I really do not remember the pros and cons.

21462. You have already said that there should be as few a number of watertight doors as possible. What is your view as to whether there should or should not be watertight doors at all in the boiler section, that is to say, in the lower decks?
- I think the doors ought to be there for the carrying on of the work of the ship, and I think it would be practically impossible to do without them.

21463. Is it not a fact that in the great warships there are no watertight doors in the bulkheads in the lower decks?
- I never had the honour of building an ironclad, so I am not able to speak.

21464. You know generally?
- I really could not say.

21465. Will you take it from me that that is a fact that a number of warships have bulkheads so constructed that there are no watertight doors on the lower decks?
- I can quite believe it.

21466. I quite understand different reasons apply, but if that is possible on a warship why do you say it is not possible on a great mercantile ship?
- Well, really, the differences are so very great you could not compare them, I think. I could not give you a comparison between the two, they are so very different. The one is made for going out and receiving shell and everything of that sort. We build ships to float, not either to hit icebergs or hit rocks. Unfortunately they do so.

21467. You have hit one?
- We have.

21468. They require great speed in a warship; they require to move quickly inside a warship; so that if it is possible in a warship why is it not possible on a merchant ship?
- Well, I do not think it is workable.

21469. From what point of view. Do you mean mechanically workable or commercially workable, or what?
- Both mechanically and commercially.

21470. Why do you say it is not mechanically workable on a merchant ship if it is shown to be mechanically workable on a warship?
- Well, you see they have such an immense number of artificers on a warship that they are able to put one or two or three of these men in each of these stokeholds. They have not to go about, whereas in a merchant ship you must keep one of the engineers in charge constantly in these stokeholds moving rapidly from one to the other so as to see that the fires have been properly fired, to see that the water is at the proper height in the boilers, and to keep a general supervision rapidly. I do not think that in a merchant ship the thing is possible.

21471. If it can be done with what you call artificers in the Navy it could be done with some equivalent person or persons in the merchant ship?
- You could not run the ships at that expense.

It resolves itself into what I suggested, not a mechanical difficulty, but a commercial reason.

The Commissioner:
Oh, no, it does not do anything of the kind; you must not say that.

Mr. Edwards:
I am putting that interrogatively, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
It is not the effect of his evidence.

21472. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I am putting it to him interrogatively. (To the witness.) Is there any mechanical difficulty in the way of having in each boiler section - in this case there were six sections - the equivalent of the artificer or artificers who you suggest make it possible to run a warship with bulkheads without watertight doors?
- Will you just take the Navy and the mercantile service. A man in the Navy understands every inch of the ship and has very likely lived in the ship for years. The man who leaves Southampton in a great many cases has never seen an engine or a ship before; and therefore the two things are entirely different, and cannot be considered together. The merchant Service being put on the same basis as the Admiralty to me only seems foolish.

21473. That is your view?
- That is mine.

21473a. I am only now dealing in relation to a bulkhead without watertight doors. Does it then resolve itself into this, that owing to the difficulty of getting for the merchant Service people of a similar character to the artificers who thoroughly understand their ship, you cannot run bulkheads in the lower decks without watertight doors?
- I am not able to answer a question like that. That is something for you to ask the people that are running the ships, not the builder. I as the builder do not think the thing is workable at all, but the people to ask are the shipowners of the country, if they can do it.

21474. When I was asking them in this case they assured me that the builders would be able to tell me all about it. There will have to be recommendations from this Commission, and I was trying to get your views as a very experienced man on the construction of ships. Do you know what the financial relations are between Messrs. Harland and Wolff and the International Mercantile marine Company?
- I know nothing about it.

21475. It is no good asking the builder about that?
- I never was a member of Harland and Wolff; I was not a shareholder; I was their general manager and their chairman of directors, but had no monetary interest in the thing, and, therefore, it was not my business to go into those details.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

21476. Was it not contemplated in 1909 to fit hollow tubes for davits in the "Olympic" and the "Titanic"?
- It was considered.

The Commissioner:
I think Mr. Edwards has made this part of the case very clear now. His questions have made it clear.

21477. (Mr. Laing.) Yes, My Lord, I thought it was clear. I only wanted to show the reason why and the reason was as I understand it that tubular davits were considered at one time?
- They were, and afterwards the welin's davit was adopted. That is the only point I was going to make, and if it is clear I will not go on.

21478. (The Attorney-General.) I think Mr. Carlisle agrees.

The Witness:
Yes, we fitted a great many of those.

21479. (Mr. Laing.) The only point I will ask is this, and if you agree with me I shall not ask any more about it. The meetings which you refer to were meetings at which the model of the welin davit was introduced for the purpose of considering its advantages as a davit?
- No, they had had them in their ships before, it did not require to be considered.

21480. That was the object with which you took models down?
- It was only a drawing; I took no models.

21481. The drawing was supplied to you by Welin himself?
- From a sketch I sent him.

21482. Well, he does not say so. However, you say you sent him a sketch?
- The idea is my own.

21483. What? The welin idea is your own?
- No, certainly not, but four boats was my idea.

21484. The sketch he sent, as a matter of fact, showed three boats?
- It shows four.

21485. In his letter which is a letter to yourself, he says: "I am sending a sketch showing three boats on one pair of davits"?
- He may have sent others, but that is his photograph there, so that you can take it.

21486. I think, if I may adopt my Lord's suggestion, Mr. Edward's question made that point clear. Did you say you personally considered the "Olympic" and "Titanic" had not sufficient boats?
- That was my idea.

21487. Were you a party to the Report of the advisory committee of 1911?
- I was.

21488. Are you aware that if the conditions required by the Board of Trade had been carried out your recommendations would involve the carrying of fewer boats than was in fact carried?
- Yes.

21489. How can you justify your signing this report if that is your opinion?
- I was asked to join that Committee two days before it finished. They had come to certain conclusions on certain points, and the Chairman drew my attention to the fact that if I pushed my idea for all ships the bill would have to go back - any Bill connected with shipping would have to go back on all those ships, and it would not be fair; and they had no doubt that big ships would fit more boats than were required by the Board of Trade?
- Do you mean you signed this document without agreeing with it?

21490. (The Commissioner.) Answer that question; it is very simple.
- I did not consider it satisfactory, and I told them so, but I signed it.

21491. It is a very strange thing to do, to sign something you are not satisfied with, pretending, by signing it, that you are satisfied with it?
- Well, I quite confess that it looks very extraordinary, but from what occurred at the meeting, if any of you had been present you would have seen the exact reasons for agreeing not to force it, and to bring the whole thing up again that had been worked at for I do not know how long - weeks or months.

21492. Do you want to go back on what you signed?
- I certainly do not think it is enough, but I was not going to be a dog in the manger when a lot of gentlemen had come to the conclusion that this was satisfactory for the mercantile shipping.

21493. (Mr. Laing.) I do not understand it. There is your signature purporting to agree with the resolutions of the rest of the Committee?
- Yes.

21494. Which, in fact, reduced the number of boats?
- That they could reduce them. Yes.

21495. For the "Titanic," although your opinion is she had not enough?
- Yes.

21496. When you talk about your idea which you pressed before the advisory committee was that with regard to the Welin davits?
- It was with the idea of taking more boats.

21497. With regard to this particular davit?
- No, nothing at all.

21498. Are you interested in that davit?
- I had no interest in it at the time. I took an interest in it in August, 1910 or 1911, after I left Harland and Wolff's. I never got any interest in it until after I left Harland and Wolff's.

21499. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you are commercially interested in these Welin davits?
- I was. The company was floated on the 30th of August.

21500. Are you now?
- Yes, and I am now.

Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

21501. I want to ask you with reference to one matter. This Committee, with reference to which Mr. Laing has put some questions to you, was the advisory committee in reference to Life-Saving Appliances?
- Yes.

21502. And it was for the purpose of advising the Board of Trade what would be required that that Advisory committee sat?
- Yes.

21503. And you knew that in the ordinary course of things at least the advisory committee's Report would have much weight with the Board of Trade. You understood that?
- I thought it would make them go into the matter.

21504. I am asking you because I see in this Report, which will be read later, when I come to the history of these Committees -

The Commissioner:
I have not heard of it, you know.

The Attorney-General:
I was not here, and I am not quite sure whether your Lordship's attention was directed to this - that the Report, which recommended the extension of the table of boat requirements - Yes.

21505. Had this effect, that for the gross tonnage of a vessel of 45,000 tons and upwards the total minimum cubic contents of boats required would be 8,300. Do you follow?
- No, I do not.

21506. You were dealing with the table. There was a table already in existence. You were recommending, with a number of other expert gentlemen on this Advisory committee, an extension of that table because of the increased tonnage which either had come into existence or might?
- It was rather for the ships that were afloat - for the "Mauretania" and the "Adriatic." They were the ones that were practically considered at that meeting, as it would affect them all, any new Rules that might be brought out.

21507. The gross tonnage of the vessel there - the highest requisition is 45,000 tons and upwards?
- Yes.

21508. For that the requirement was to be a minimum of 16 boats under davits and a number of additional boats to be readily available for attachments to davits, eight?
- Yes.

21509. Those 24 boats were to have a total minimum cubic content of 8,300 cubic feet. Do you follow? Look at it (Handing a document to the witness.)?
- Yes.

21510. That is right?
- Yes.

21511. So that in point of fact the Board of Trade requirements on the "Titanic" before this report, or if this report was not acted upon, required a minimum cubic capacity -?
- I do not think that report was ever published till after the ship was lost.

21512. No, but if you follow my question you will see the point. It required a minimum capacity of 9,625 feet available in boats for the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

21513. In point of fact, the requirements for the "Titanic," apart altogether from this report, were 9,625 feet. The boat cubic capacity required under this report, if acted upon, would have been 8,300 cubic feet; it would have been 1,325 cubic feet less if this latest report was acted upon?
- Yes.

21514. So that, as I understand it, your latest Report - this one which has been referred to, and which my Lord knows, in fact required less boating capacity than actually existed or exists at the present time according to the present Board of Trade Rules for a vessel like the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

And that was your view?

21515. (The Commissioner.) Answer that question. Was that your view?
- It was not.

21516. Why on earth did you sign it?
- I do not know why I did. I am not generally soft.

21517. (The Attorney-General.) Well, I should not have thought so?
- But I must say I was very soft the day I signed that.

21518. (The Commissioner.) Who was it that persuaded you to sign it?
- You see I do not remember one of their names although I know them nearly all to shake hands with.

21519. (The Attorney-General.) I suppose you know Mr. Norman Hill?
- Yes. He was in the Chair, was he?

21520. I suppose so, because he signs first?
- Yes, he was. Was not there a Labour M.P. on it, Mr. Havelock Wilson?

21521. (The Commissioner.) Did he agree?
- I think he must have agreed.

Mr. Scanlan:
He is one of the signatories to it.

21522. (The Commissioner.) He signed it?
- Yes; he was also soft, because he did not approve of it I remember.

The Commissioner:
How many signed it without approving of it? I am told that Mr. Havelock Wilson is one of the signatories.

21523. (The Attorney-General.) Yes, My Lord, he is. There are ten signatories. I suppose they constituted the Committee?
- At those meetings was there a note kept of my handing in those plans of extra boats, and what I said at those meetings on the boat question? Will you let me know that? Might I ask that question?

21524. (The Commissioner.) No, you may not.

The Witness:
That would put some person in a hole, My Lord, and it would be better not to do it.

21525. (The Attorney-General.) Will you let me ask you a question now which I think to some extent corrects the impression that you have made by your answer to me and which I think is only fair to you, should be corrected. The table that I was putting to you was the extension of the table to 45,000 tons and upwards, but I see that there is an additional requirement in a later paragraph: "Additional boats and rafts required shall be of at least such carrying capacity that they, and the boats required by columns 2 and 3 of the above table, shall provide together three-fourths more than the minimum cubic contents required by column 4 of that table." So that you would have to add that to the 8,300.
- Yes, it is only a few feet one way or the other. It is only a small affair; I know about that second part of it.

The Commissioner:
He says it is a very small affair.

21526. (The Attorney-General.) I think he is wrong. Three -fourths must at least add something substantial if you compare it with the original figure they were taking. Really it amounts to this, this 8,300, and you have to take three-fourths of that?
- 6,000?

21527. Yes, it is not a few feet more; it is 6,225 feet?
- It is subject to the next paragraph about one thing and another. It is put on in one place and taken off in the next, I think.

21528. I am only anxious to put it to you, because I thought I might be doing you an injustice in leaving it where it was?
- Thank you very much.

21529. You seem to be suspicious, but I assure you that is the only object I have. I put it to you as 8,300 feet as compared with 9,625, but I see in the further paragraph here there is a requisition for 6,225 feet more, which would bring it up to 14,525 as against 9,625. That would be the right comparison; but it is quite true as you say. I suppose that is what you mean - I do not know whether it is - that it is only a question of a few feet. Do you mean the paragraph which goes on to say that "vessels divided into efficient watertight compartments to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade should, provided they are fitted with wireless telegraphy apparatus, be exempt from the requirements of additional boats or rafts" - Is that so?
- Yes, that was the part doing away with it; you put them on and then took them off.

The Commissioner:
I think we have had that before.

The Attorney-General:
I think very likely your Lordship has; I am not quite sure.

The Commissioner:
If not I have had it before me in print.

The Solicitor-General:
I called attention to it, My Lord, in the existing Rules.

The Attorney-General:
This is the only report; you have not had any occasion for that.

The Commissioner:
I do not remember this signed report at all. I have heard of it for the first time today.

The Attorney-General:
No, My Lord, but you will have it all in proper order of date. The question I put rather suggested it exhausted it, and it was necessary to put it right.

(The Witness withdrew.)