British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 21

Testimony of Stanley H. Adams

Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

22022. Mr. Adams, you were in April of this year the wireless operator on board the steamship "Mesaba" were you not?
- Yes.

22023. On the 14th April of this year do you remember the Captain of the "Mesaba" handing you an ice report which he had written on paper?
- I do.

22024. And did he give you directions with regard to the transmission of that report?
- Yes. He said that it should be transmitted to all East-bound ships.

22025. Before you had in fact transmitted that report, did he give you another report?
- He did.

22026. Did you then place the two reports together?
- Yes, on one message form.

22027. Do you remember what the second report was?
- No, Sir; it was in relation to ice.

22028. So that you had got these two ice reports which he had given you in writing which you incorporated into one message which you then transmitted?
- Yes.

22029. Do you recollect transmitting it to the "Titanic"?
- I do.

22030. Have you got your procès-verbal before you?
- Yes.

22031. I think if you look at that you will see that you transmitted it at 7.50 p.m. If your Lordship happens to have the document that I gave you containing a collection of messages received and sent, your Lordship will find that message on page 3: "Office sent to M.G.Y.," that is the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

22032. "Time sent 7.50 p.m." That, I understand, is New York time?
- Yes.

22033. "By whom sent, S.H.A." That is you?
- Yes, My initials.

22034. "'Mesaba' Office, 14th April, 1912.
- Prefix Ice Report. From 'Mesaba' to 'Titanic.' In latitude 42 N. to 41.25, longitude 49 W. to longitude 50.30 W., saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs, also field ice, weather good, clear." I need not ask you in detail about your recollection, but did you get an acknowledgment from the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

22035. Have you got it on your procès-verbal?
- The acknowledgment?

22036. Yes?
- No, it is on the original message itself.

22037. You have looked at the original message, and it has it on, has it?
- Yes.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Has what?

The Attorney-General:
The acknowledgment by the "Titanic" of the receipt of this message.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Have you got it here?

The Commissioner:
No acknowledgment is copied on this.

22038. (The Attorney-General.) No; your Lordship will see why. (To the witness.) Will you just let me look at it for one moment? (The document was handed to the learned Attorney-General.) Here is the original message. I do not quite follow what it is; perhaps you will explain it to us. You say that that enables you to say that the "Titanic" had received it?
- I sent this message, and the "Titanic" sent: "Received, thanks." If I had not received that acknowledgment I should not have put the office I had sent it to, the time, and my signature. As soon as I received the official received signal I timed it, dated it, put the office sent to, and initialled it.

22039. I think I understand it now. Is it your practice, first of all, to do this: You send the message first of all, and then this part in the column: "Office sent to, time sent and by whom sent," if I follow you correctly, is not filled up, is it?
- No, not until I get the received acknowledgment.

22040. Then when you get an acknowledgment you know that you have transmitted the message to the designated ship?
- That is quite right.

22041. And when you have that you fill in that you have sent it and the time and your initials so as to show that you have sent it?
- Yes.

22042. And what you get then is "Rd tks"?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Is this system of keeping the procès-verbal the same as the system on the "Baltic"?

The Attorney-General:
I do not know; we will see.

The Commissioner:
Because the "Baltic" apparently enters on the procès-verbal the answer.

The Attorney-General:
But this is not the procès-verbal that we are dealing with. This is the original message.

The Commissioner:
I know that, but I understand he has no record of the answer.

The Attorney-General:
No, I understand not.

The Commissioner:
As I understand it, in the "Baltic" they have a record in their procès-verbal of the answers.

The Attorney-General:
Is not that something more? Your Lordship sees the difference. In the one case it is a mere acknowledgment; in the other it is: "Thanks for your message and good wishes; have had fine weather since leaving." That is the "Baltic" message.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I know it is, and it appears to me to be substantially the same as this.

The Attorney-General:
Oh, no.

The Commissioner:
What is the difference - "Had fine weather since leaving."

22043. (The Attorney-General.) Certainly, that is not the same as "Received, thanks." It is something more than merely receiving the acknowledgment. (To the witness.) Is this right? Is "Rd. Tks." anything more than an acknowledgment?
- No, that is a contraction for "Received, thanks."

The Commissioner:
Take the "Empress of Britain." There is an answer there: "Many thanks for your kind message from all here."

The Attorney-General:
Supposing instead of "Rd. Tks." you had received in answer to that message: "Thanks for your message and good wishes, had fine weather since leaving," what would you have done?
- I would have done nothing unless it was an official message from the Captain.

22043a. (The Commissioner.) It is signed "Smith." Does that make any difference?
- If the Captain authorises the marconi operator to reply I should have put it on the official message.

22043b. (The Attorney-General.) If the Captain of your vessel authorised you to reply to the message from the Captain of the "Titanic" you would then have put it on?
- Yes, an official form.

22044. (The Commissioner.) But if he did not authorise you, you would take no notice of it?
- Because it was not sent as an official message.

22045. Except to fill up the form relating to your original despatch?
- That is so.

The Commissioner:
I do not know that it matters at present. Mr. Attorney, I am by no means satisfied that the "Mesaba's" message was ever delivered on the bridge.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship remembers we had some little discussion about that, and I stated then the result of the enquiries made and the information we had obtained. We can take it no further. We said then we would call him in order to satisfy the Court, but we can get no further than that. This gentleman says it was sent, and he received an acknowledgment from the operator on the ship.

The Commissioner:
At present I have very little doubt that the message was sent.

The Attorney-General:
We cannot take it further because we have not got the message from Captain Smith, which would show that he had received it. That is how it stands. Your Lordship is right about that.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

22046. I think you made a statement, did not you, on getting to this country?
- I did.

22047. Is that the statement; is that your writing? (The document was handed to the witness.) - Yes, it is.

22048. It was made, I think, to the owners of the ship?
- To the shore captain at the Royal Albert Docks.

22049. Of your company?
- Yes.

22050. This is the statement, My Lord: "Saturday, 8th June, 1912. I hereby state that on Sunday, 14th April, I had communication with s.s. "Titanic," bound East" - it is written "East" here. Is that right? (The statement was handed to the witness.) - It should have been "West," sir - "bound West."

22051. "And that during the day he" - that is the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

22052. The operator - "was very busy with Cape Race. Time of communication, 7.50 p.m. New York time (9.40 ship's.) sending ice report, after which he went on working to Cape Race again"?
- That is so.

22053. That is subscribed by you?
- Yes.

22054. Then is this a copy of your log with regard to these messages on the "Mesaba"? (The document was handed to the witness.) - Yes, that is simplified.

22055. That is what?
- It is the log simplified. There are no technical words in that. I have taken out the technical words.

22056. (The Attorney-General.) Is that the same as what you call procès-verbal, only in ordinary language?
- Yes, but that is not the original.

Sir Robert Finlay:
This is not the original, but a copy.

The Commissioner:
It is not even a copy.

22057. (The Attorney-General.) It is a translation.

The Witness:
Yes, it is a translation.

The Commissioner:
A paraphrase of it.

22058. (Sir Robert Finlay.) The only other entry I will read is the one opposite the hour 7.50 relating to this message: "Exchanged. T.R.'s with s.s. 'Titanic' bound West, sent ice report, standing by while 'Titanic' calls Cape Race." What does "standing by" mean?
- "Standing by" means keeping on the instruments waiting for him to finish calling Cape Race.

22059. That he was in communication with Cape Race, and you were kept waiting while he went on communicating with Cape Race - is that it?
- No, not necessarily. I sent that message, and when I said "standing by" - that should read as waiting for a reply. I had had a received signal from the "Titanic," but I was waiting for a probable reply from the Captain.

22060. I see, it is quite right as it stands - "standing by while 'Titanic' calls, Cape Race"?
- Yes.

22061. That means that you were kept waiting. You got no answer from the Captain and you waited for some time while the "Titanic" was working with Cape Race?
- Calling Cape Race.

22062. And the answer never came?
- The answer never came.

22063. (The Commissioner.) I thought an answer did come then?
- Yes, but that was the operator's.

22064. And you waited for the answer to come, possibly expecting - I do not know - that an answer would come from the Captain of the "Titanic"?
- Yes, sir.

22065. It did not come from the Captain?
- It did not.

22066. It came from the operator?
- I should have had that in any case, but I thought that the Captain of the "Titanic" would have some news to communicate to us.

22067. (Sir Robert Finlay.) I think the two messages are here. The "Received thanks" came from the operator?
- From the operator.

22068. As soon as you sent your message?
- As soon as I sent my message.

22069. Then you kept on waiting, thinking that there might be a message from the Captain of the "Titanic"?
- Yes, to the Captain of the "Mesaba."

22070. And that never came?
- That never came.

The Commissioner:
That rather bears out the view that I am at present disposed to take about the "Mesaba's" message - that it never left the marconi room on the "Titanic" at all.

22071. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Yes, My Lord. (To the witness.) Just one other question. You said something about combining two messages into your message to the "Titanic"?
- That is so.

22072. What were the two messages which you combined?
- They were both reports of ice.

22073. Have you got them? I want to see them?
- No, I have not. I copied them out on a special form, and got the Captain's authorisation to send them, and then I destroyed the two pieces of paper.

22074. But the two messages that you combined - I suppose you know what they were?
- Yes, this is one, the same as I have - the same as I have just shown you.

22075. We have the combination, of course?
- Yes.

22076. Were these messages from other ships?
- No, they were received from the Captain, to be transmitted to all east-bound ships.

22077. He gave you two messages?
- Yes, he gave me two messages.

22078. Have those messages been destroyed; does the paper no longer exist?
- The pieces of paper he brought them on no longer exist.

22079. Is there a copy?
- No, Sir, only the combination.

22080. Can you tell us what each message by itself was?
- It was with reference to the ice we had seen in the morning, and the one I received later was with reference to the ice we saw in the afternoon.

22081. Can you tell us at all how they ran?
- They ran something like this: "Latitude so and so, and longitude so and so, passed so many bergs," and giving the time - the G.M.T. I received another one in the afternoon, or the evening rather, on another piece of paper with a similar report of what we had seen in the afternoon.

22082. (The Commissioner.) Why did not you send the one in the morning?
- That was my first communication with the "Titanic."

22083. I see, you had not got the time rushes?
- No.

22084. Until the afternoon?
- Until 7.50 p.m.

22085. And then you found there were two messages to be sent, and you made them up into one?
- That is right, My Lord.

The Attorney-General:
And submitted them to the Captain?

22086. (Sir Robert Finlay.) When was the first one? What time in the morning was the first message?
- It was in the afternoon about four o'clock, according to my recollection.

22087. (The Commissioner.) And the next one was somewhere about 7.50?
- About seven o'clock.

22088. (Sir Robert Finlay.) So that this message combined what had been seen at two different portions of the day; is that it?
- That is so.

The Commissioner:
And that explains, I suppose, the forms in which it is couched - "In latitude 42 North to 41.25, longitude 49 West to longitude 50.30 West"?

The Attorney-General:

Sir Robert Finlay:
It gives the impression, of course, as it stands of that oblong, as it has been called, being much more packed together with ice than it may have been, because this is compressed. It is not: "We saw much pack ice throughout the whole of the area described by the latitude and longitude," but "While we were in that area between the longitude given and the latitude given we saw," and it turns out at different periods of the day "icebergs."

The Commissioner:
I do not think from my point of view at present it matters at all, because it never reached the bridge.

Sir Robert Finlay:
That is so.

(The Witness withdrew.)