British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 21

Testimony of George A. Bartlett

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

21531. Do you hold a Master's certificate?
- Yes.

21532. And are you also a commander in the Royal Naval Reserve?
- Yes.

21533. I believe you are a Marine superintendent of the White Star Line?
- That is so.

21534. I believe you have held that position since January, 1912?
- Yes.

21535. Were you for 30 years before that at sea?
- Yes.

21536. And I think, of those 30 years, for 18 years you were with the White Star Line?
- That is right.

21537. And during those years have you constantly been crossing the North Atlantic?
- That is so.

21538. And in command, I think, for nine of those 18 years?
- Yes, for nine years.

21539. Are you stationed at Liverpool or southampton?
- Liverpool.

21540. I believe you have three assistants there that assist you in the management of the line?
- Yes.

21541. And I think they are all Master Mariners. And at Southampton you have a Marine superintendent, Captain Steel?
- Yes.

21542. He has an assistant, and I believe you have various Marine superintendents in the United States and other countries?
- Yes.

21543. And it is the business of you and those who work with you to see to the efficiency and upkeep of the ships and manning?
- Yes.

21544. And all matters connected with their working as good and seaworthy ships?
- Yes, that is connected with the Marine Department.

21545. With regard to one matter about which certain questions have been asked, the "Titanic" carried 66 sailors?
- 66 in the sailing department.

21546. And according to the Board of Trade Regulations which have already been referred to, she was required to carry 48 in that department, I believe?
- Yes.

21547. So you had got some 18 in excess?
- Yes. Of course, they are not all deckhands. In the sailing department you have to take into consideration that we have two surgeons, two stewards -

21548. What I wanted you to tell me was this. According to the Board of Trade Regulations the number of deckhands to be carried for a ship of the tonnage of the "Titanic" is 48?
- Yes.

21549. I daresay you know that?
- Yes.

21550. How many deckhands in the proper sense of the word had the "Titanic" on this voyage?
- 58.

21551. So much for the manning. I do not think I need trouble you for more with regard to that matter. We have had a great deal of evidence with regard to the boats, and I want to take you as shortly as I can. Would it come within your department to take any part in seeing that proper drill takes place?
- Yes, in Liverpool and Southampton, in the Home Ports when the clearances take place.

21552. That is before the Emigration Officer holds his survey just before the ship sails?
- Yes, and, of course, the annual survey.

21553. Then, in addition to that, you have an annual survey?
- Yes.

21554. Tell me, first of all, with regard to the drill before the clearance. Is it the duty of you or one of your subordinates, either at Liverpool or southampton, to see that drill is properly performed, in conjunction with the Board of Trade Officer?
- That is so.

21555. Do you, yourself, and do you see that those under you, give proper facilities for boat drill being carried out?
- Yes.

21556. In connection with boat drill, in fact, have you had any difficulties with any of the crew? We have heard in a general way from Mr. Sanderson - you have been sitting there, I have seen you - that he had difficulties. That would probably come more directly before you, would it not?
- Yes. In Southampton it would come more under the other Marine superintendent.

21557. Since when have those difficulties been in existence?
- To my knowledge, some 12 months or so.

21558. What has been the class of difficulty that you have had?
- The firemen not turning up for this boat drill.

21559. Is this the drill before the ship is cleared?
- On the clearance day, yes.

21560. And have you attempted to do anything to deal with that difficulty to get them to turn up?
- Yes, we have offered them a half-day's pay to turn up on the day before.

21561. Before the ship sails?
- Before the ship sails, so as to have this drill.

21562. Has that inducement been successful?
- No, it has not.

21563. Is it, in your view, a serious matter that you cannot get what you consider to be an efficient drill before the ship leaves her port?
- Well, I think it is necessary.

21564. You think it is necessary?
- I do think it is necessary.

21565. That they should be there for that drill?
- Yes.

21566. You say the inducement which you have offered them in the past has not availed. Are you taking any steps to see if you can now induce them to come?
- Well, we are considering the matter.

21567. The matter is under consideration?
- Yes, seeing what we can do.

21568. Who is giving it consideration?
- Myself and assistants in Liverpool and Southampton.

21569. (The Commissioner.) I do not know how long you have been considering it, but have you arrived at any result?
- We have not yet, My Lord.

21570. How long have you been considering it?
- We have been considering it since this disaster. We have taken the matter in hand to see if we can really improve matters.

21571. I know, but that is not an answer to my question. I want to know how long you have been considering the matter?
- The last two months.

21572. You have not been considering it for two months, you know. Where did you consider it; where were you when you considered it?
- In Liverpool.

21573. Where?
- At my office.

21574. Is your office separate from the office of the White Star Company?
- Yes.

21575. A separate office?
- Yes.

21576. And who were there?
- My assistants.

21577. Who are they?
- Captain Thornton, Captain Roberts and Captain Lawrence.

21578. There were four of you. Have all four of you ever been together to consider what you can do to induce the men to come to a proper drill?
- Well, I cannot say we have all four been together, My Lord.

21579. How many of you have been together?
- Three.

21580. Which three?
- Captain Thornton, Captain Roberts, and myself.

21581. How long did you sit together considering this question?
- Several times.

21582. I did not ask you the number of times, but how long?
- Well, I suppose about an hour.

21583. Do you know. Do you mean an hour each time, or do you mean an hour altogether?
- An hour each time.

21584. Then you know, if you have been considering it for several hours together, considering how you can induce the firemen to turn up for a proper drill, I should think that you have formed some opinions about it?
- It was not only that, My Lord, that we were considering; that is only one point.

21585. I only want to know about that at present. I do not want it mixed up with something else. How long have you considered this question? Have you considered it at all?
- We have.

21586. Then what conclusion, or what opinions, have you formed. You say you have come to no conclusion?
- Well, we have come to no conclusion.

21587. Well, have you formed any opinions?
- No, My Lord.

21588. Then your deliberations do not seem to have been of much value up to the present point?
- No, My Lord, they have not.

21589. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) It is a matter of importance?
- I think it is necessary, yes.

21590. (The Commissioner.) Can you now, in the witness-box, suggest to me any means by which you can make men turn up to go through drill if they do not want to do so?
- I am afraid I cannot, My Lord, not just now.

The Commissioner:
Nor can I.

21590a. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) There is another matter in connection with the lifeboats. The capacity of these lifeboats, we have been told - the lifeboats under davits - were to carry 65 persons, the d boats 40 and the collapsible boats 47 each?
- Yes.

21591. Have you considered whether it would be desirable to have printed in large letters any notices on each boat that would indicate to the Officer in the event of a disaster that the boat was capable of carrying either 65, or 40, or 47 persons, as the case might be?
- We have that on most of our boats. We have it cut in the bow of the boats in nearly all our ships.

21592. (The Commissioner.) Was it done on the boats in the "Titanic"? This is the first I have heard of it?
- I do not think it was.

21593. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Is this your evidence with regard to the matter; that in the boats on other ships in your fleet it is done?
- It is done.

21594. But it was not done in the "Titanic"?
- I am not quite certain; I would not like to say.

21595. (The Commissioner.) Now, let me ask you this: Has it been done in the other boats since this disaster?
- No, My Lord, it has always been the custom.

21596. I cannot understand it at all. Why should you depart from the custom in the case of the "Titanic"?
- I am not quite certain, My Lord, whether it was on the "Titanic."

21597. What do you mean by not quite certain; do you mean by that, that you did not see it with your eyes?
- I did not.

21598. Did you ever look?
- No, I did not.

21599. Did anyone ever look?
- I cannot say.

Sir Robert Finlay:
On the "Olympic" there were such.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I am just asking the Board of Trade solicitor to hand to me one of the depositions made in New York by the surveyor who examined the boats, in which he does speak of such a notice appearing on one of the boats.

The Commissioner:
How many did he examine?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
He examined all those that were saved. My memory is not quite clear on the matter, but it is being got. That was a collapsible boat I believe I am right in saying?

The Commissioner:
That is only one of the four.

21600. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Yes, only one out of all that were saved. (To the witness.) I do not know whether your attention has been directed to this matter before?
- No.

21601-2. But whose business would it be to see that the number was cut into the boat?
- The Officers of the ship would report it if it was not done.

But then it was not done, apparently, if your evidence is correct.

The Commissioner:
What was that?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
He says, My Lord, that the Officers would report if it was not done.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I heard him say that, but you added some observation of your own.

21603. (Mr. Butler Aspinall - To the witness.) Do you know with regard to this matter accurately what has happened, or are you guessing about it, if I may say so?
- As far as the "Titanic" is concerned, I do not know; I am not certain.

21604. (The Commissioner.) I wish you would not create confusion by leading us at first to suppose that you do know, and then afterwards saying you do not know?
- I said, My Lord, with regard to the "Titanic" I was not certain.

The Commissioner:
You, Sir Robert, have been down to see the "Olympic"?

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
So have I; but my attention was never drawn to any indication on the lifeboats that there was a notice of the number the boat would carry.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I did not observe it myself, My Lord; but I am told it was there; my friend Mr. Laing observed it. It is a small plate stating the number the boat will carry.

The Commissioner:
A small plate?

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
Riveted on to the boat.

Sir Robert Finlay:
So I understand.

21605. (Mr. Butler Aspinall - To the witness.) What is the purpose of having it there?
- Well, really, it is for the use of the Board of Trade Inspectors.

21606. (The Commissioner.) How can it be for the use of the Board of Trade? A notice of that kind must be for the use of the people who are going to use the boat?
- Also, My Lord, for that.

21607. It is not a Board of Trade requirement, I suppose?
- No, it is not.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
My Lord, there is a Board of Trade requirement with regard to the rafts.

The Commissioner:
What do you mean by the rafts - the collapsible boats?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, My Lord, but no requirement with regard to the lifeboats.

The Commissioner:
Will you tell me what the requirement is so far as regards what you call rafts?

21608. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Yes, I will read it. "Surveyors will note that both rafts and buoyancy apparatus must be marked in such a way as to indicate plainly the number of adult persons for which they are deemed sufficient. Plates will be supplied by the Board of Trade to be screwed on to the woodwork of both rafts and buoyancy apparatus indicating this number, and forms of demand for plates, to be filled up and returned to the Board of Trade, will be issued for the use of the Principal Officer. No raft or buoyancy apparatus is to be regarded as finally approved until the marking plate has been affixed." (To the witness.) I suppose you know of that Rule, do you not?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Now, is there any corresponding Rule for lifeboats?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
My Lord, I am told not. They are of the standard size, but still it might be that it would be useful.

The Commissioner:
What do you mean by "standard size"?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
They are of such a size as must hold the number of people required to be carried.

The Commissioner:
But what does "standard size" convey? It conveys nothing to my mind. I do not know what the "standard size" is or how it is ascertained.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
It has to be of a certain cubic capacity, and it has been worked out.

The Commissioner:
And these were.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, these were.

The Commissioner:
As I understand, it is calculated that a boat of a certain cubic capacity is fit to carry a certain number.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
That is so, My Lord - 65 for the lifeboats under davits, 47 and 40.

The Commissioner:
Have you asked whether there is any such indication as on the lifeboats carried on men of war.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
No, but the assistant Hydrographer is here for other purposes, and he might be able to give me the information.

The Commissioner:
Well, ask him.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I am told that there is no such plate or notice.

The Commissioner:
I was advised by the Admiral that there is no such thing in a man-of-war. What points are you going to examine this Witness upon, because he has not afforded me much information so far.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Your Lordship sees his position; he is the Chief Marine superintendent of the Line.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I know, but what are the points?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
What I was directing his attention to were points which form the subject matter of some of the questions; for instance, Manning, drill, boats; and the next question I was going to ask him is this: Have you since this disaster, in view of your position in the Line and in view of your practical experience as a seaman, considered the desirability of increasing the number of boats to be fitted.

The Commissioner:
Has this gentleman ever been to sea?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, he holds a Master's certificate, he said.

The Commissioner:
Quite right; I beg your pardon. Very well, now will you ask him the question.

21609. (Mr. Butler Aspinall - To the witness.) In view of your position in the White Star Line and your practical experience as a seaman, have you since the disaster, considered the desirability of adding to the number of boats to be carried on a vessel of the class and size of the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

21610. You have. Now what opinion have you come to with regard to that matter?
- Well, we have already put on board all our ships a number of boats sufficient to carry every soul that is put aboard. With regard to future arrangements, we are waiting results as to what may be said at this Enquiry.

21611. (The Commissioner.) That answer I do not understand. You have done it, and yet you are awaiting results?
- I have done it by orders.

21612. Then what results are you waiting for. You have done it, you say?
- I put these boats on board according to instructions, My Lord.

21613. Can you tell me now what question Mr. Aspinall asked you?
- He asked me if we had considered the advisability of putting more boats on.

21614. Yes, and you said, "Yes"; but he asked you then another question. Do you remember what it was?
- I do not remember what it was.

21615. Then I will tell you what it was, and see if you can answer it: Have you formed any opinion as to the desirability of increasing the boat accommodation beyond that which was provided on the "Titanic"?
- Yes, My Lord.

21616. Very well. Now you say Yes to that, and his next question was this: What opinion have you formed, and then you go on to a rambling statement that you have done this and done that and done the other. You did not answer his question. Do you know what the question is now?
- Yes.

21617. What is it?
- What is my opinion?

21618. Now let us have the benefit of it; if you have anything in any way, let us have it?
- My opinion is we should not put too many boats on board a ship.

21619. Cannot you answer a question? The question is, in your opinion, ought the boat accommodation to be increased?
- No, not to any great extent.

21620. And what does "any great extent" mean?
- To hamper the other boats.

21621. Oh, no; I am not talking about hampering. How many more; if any, how many?
- That I cannot say.

21622. Then you have formed no opinion?
- No, no opinion as regards numbers.

The Commissioner:
This evidence is worth nothing to me at all - nothing.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Have you been consulted by any of your superiors, Managing directors, or persons in that position with regard to this question?

The Commissioner:
Has he given you a proof?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Do let me see it. (The proof was handed to the Commissioner.)

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Although the proof deals with many matters, I am not certain it deals with all the matters I have directed his attention to. I somewhat disregarded the proof, and have been rather guided by the questions which your Lordship will have to answer. That is what I was trying to get from this gentleman.

The Commissioner:
Is there anything in this proof about boats?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
There is with regard to the number of boats, on the first page.

The Commissioner:
I will read it: "With regard to the number of boats on the 'Titanic' we are guided to a large extent by the Board of Trade requirements, but, in fact, provide a larger boat capacity than the Rules call for." Is that all?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
That is all that is in the proof.

The Commissioner:
If that is all the man said I cannot blame him now.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
One is not always, in these cases, guided by the proof, or limited by it. I was rather seeking information.

The Commissioner:
You were fishing in waters that had not very much depth.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
They have turned out not to have very much depth. I hoped they would have had.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I think on the next page my friend will find something more about the boats.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I did not think so.

The Commissioner:
Will you read it, Sir Robert?

Sir Robert Finlay:
"With regard to the number of boats to be carried in future, the present appliances used on board steamships do not enable a large number of boats to be handled; and until some other arrangement can be effected for the purpose of handling and lowering boats, I think it is a mistake to load the decks up with too many boats, and so hamper the handling of those boats which can otherwise easily be handled."

The Commissioner:
I must say, in justice to the witness, that is in substance what he said, but it does not help me much.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I was seeking for guidance for your Lordship in this case. One has often to depart from proofs.

The Commissioner:
Guidance? What about?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
In order that your Lordship should be able to answer the questions which have been put by the Board of Trade.

The Commissioner:
That is quite right.

21623. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) That is what I was seeking to do. Of course, it has not been successful up to the present. (To the witness.) With regard to binoculars. You are a practical man and have sailed these seas and advised this Company as their Marine superintendent?
- May I say I have never been in the position of Marine superintendent since the first of the year. I am a sailor; I have been to sea.

21624. With your knowledge of the North Atlantic, what do you consider as to the desirability of binoculars being provided for look-out men?
- I think they are not at all necessary.

21625. That is your opinion. Very well, that is your answer. That is the outcome of your practical experience as a seaman?
- That is the outcome of my practical experience.

21626. Another question is with regard to searchlights. Do you think searchlights fitted on these vessels would serve a useful purpose?
- Not at all.

21627. Since this disaster, have you considered that matter?
- I have.

21628. And the result of giving your consideration to that matter is, you do not think it would be of any use at all?
- No, I think it would be positively dangerous.

21629. Now this last matter, I am sure, is one which is within your knowledge, and it is due to the White Star Company to elicit it. With regard to the record of the Officers, we have heard about Captain Smith. With regard to Mr. Wilde, he was an Extra Master. I will lead you as to it to shorten matters. I think he has been in the service of the White Star for 14 years?
- That is right.

21630. With regard to Mr. Murdoch, he has been in the service of the White Star for 12 years?
- That is right.

21631. With regard to Mr. Lightoller, he has been in their service for 12 years?
- Yes.

21632. With regard to Mr. Pitman, he has been in their service for five years?
- Yes.

21633. And all those gentlemen have either held or hold either extra Master's certificates or Master's certificates?
- That is right.

21634. Then with regard to Mr. Boxhall, he has been, I believe, in the service of the Company for four years?
- Yes.

21635. With regard to Mr. Lowe, he has been in the service for one year, and with regard to Mr. Moody, he has been in the service for eight months?
- That is right.

21636. I think those three last gentlemen did not hold Master's certificates, but held the necessary certificates to enable them to fill the position they occupied?
- They held Master's certificates.

21637. Did they?
- Yes, all the Officers in the "Titanic" held Master's certificates.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

21638. I suppose you are aware that the Board of Trade does not at present require you to have boat drill at all?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
I wish you would ask him, Mr. Scanlan, what a boat drill consists of.

Mr. Scanlan:
I will, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
And then ask him what the boat muster is.

21639. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes. (To the witness.) Would you explain to my Lord what a proper boat drill is; what does it consist of?
- A proper boat drill consists of mustering the men at the boats, hoisting the boats out, lowering them down, connecting them, pulling away, hoisting the sails, and a certain time, whatever the Captain or Officer decides, to pull round or sail round the harbour, wherever they are, to come back to the ship, hook on, hoist up, and place the boats away.

21640. (The Commissioner.) When that boat drill is performed, how many men are there in the boat?
- From four to five.

21641. There are no people who are what I may call dummy passengers to fill the boat?
- No.

21642. Therefore there is no drill with a boat full of people?
- No, My Lord.

21643. And there is no lowering of the boats from the davits with the people in the boat?
- No.

21644. Except the men who are going to row her?
- Except the crew.

21645. (Mr. Scanlan.) May I suggest to you that it would be an easy matter to put weights into a lifeboat which would correspond to a full complement of passengers in her?
- Yes.

21646. If it were designed to test the boat as to the possibility of lowering her safely with her full load of passengers - I mean as to the falls being able to bear the strain - that could be done?
- I think so, yes.

The Commissioner:
But you would not suggest that that should be done at every boat drill.

Mr. Scanlan:
No, I would not, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
If it is done once you know the capacity of the boat is tested, and I think if you went on testing it for long enough you might break the boat.

Mr. Scanlan:
One test would establish efficiency of the falls.

The Commissioner:
I should not call that part of the boat drill; that I should call a mere testing of the boat. Now, will you ask him what a boat muster is, as distinguished from a boat drill.

21647. (Mr. Scanlan.) I will, My Lord, but I propose asking him, does he contemplate having all the boats lowered, and not one boat or two. (To the witness.) Would a proper boat drill, in your view, consist in lowering all the boats and exercising all their crews?
- I do not think it is necessary to lower all the boats.

21648. Of course, you would have more practice and more drilling, the more you lower. That is evident?
- Yes, but we can vary that by having different boats at different drills.

21649. I see, but if you wanted to give adequate training, or any considerable training to your boats' crews, it would be desirable to lower them all, would it not?
- Not at one time; I do not think it is necessary.

21650. You have told us what a boat drill is; now explain what a boat muster is?
- A boat muster consists of all the men lining up on the deck, and having their names called, and then as they answer their names they proceed to their boats and stand opposite their boats; the Officer or petty Officer in charge of the boat reads their names over at the boat and reports to the Captain.

21651. Each man goes, I take it, in a muster to the boat to which he is stationed?
- To the boat to which he is stationed.

21652. And his name is marked on a list opposite a boat with a certain number?
- Yes.

21653. And that is the boat he has to go to?
- That is the boat he has to attend.

21654. Do you think it would be desirable in the boat drill to have the crew of each particular boat exercise the boat to which they are stationed and to which they would attend in a muster?
- Well, they do.

21655. That is what should be done?
- They do now. That is what they are used for - for the lowering of the boat.

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