British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of George a. Bartlett
21656. You stated to Mr. Aspinall that you have experienced difficulty in inducing your men to take part in a boat drill.
I understood the firemen - I think it is confined to the firemen.
Yes, My Lord. I am anxious to bring before your Lordship the view I am putting before you, which is that the firemen should be practised in boat drill.
I think it is a great misfortune, if it is true, that the men do not turn up to this boat drill, in their own interests.
The information I have, My Lord, is that boat drill was unthought of for firemen until after this "Titanic" accident, and that what happened was that on the day of sailing two boats were lowered with a crew of sailors, all deckhands, just to satisfy the Board of Trade Officer that the boats were in working order and not by way of a boat drill at all. I should like to bring some information I have before your Lordship's notice on this point.
21657. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Do you know that you are not required by anything in the statutes or by any Rules of the Board of Trade to have a boat drill at all?
- I believe that is so.
21658. May I refer your Lordship to the section. It is Section 9 of the 1906 Act. When you have boat drill you are required to enter it in the logbook?
21659. And to produce this entry to the Board of Trade superintendent when he calls for it. That is in Section 9. Now do you think it would help you in securing a boat drill if the Board of Trade made a Regulation - I do not know if they have power - or if they have not power, if you had a statutory direction that there should be a boat drill?
21660. Well, I do not say when - at such times as would be found convenient and such times as would ensure efficiency in the manning of the lifeboats?
- Yes, I think so. We already do that independent of the Board of Trade, for our own interests.
21661. Perhaps your Lordship will be interested in Section 202 of the New Zealand act of Parliament, which is based on this Act of 1906. It is in Section 202 which corresponds with Section 9 of our Act of 1906. This is a provision which is not in our Act: "The master of any inter-Colonial or home trade ship shall cause his crew to be properly exercised in boat drill once at least in each month in the case of home trade ships, and in the case of inter-Colonial ships once at least in the course of each round voyage."
Does the act of Parliament provide what is to be done if the men will not drill?
It lays an obligation on the master.
Yes; but what is the unfortunate man to do if the men will not?
I am putting this forward -
I am not grumbling a bit.
I think the penalty is on the master, because it is in the sub-section.
It seems rather hard.
"Every Master who fails to comply faithfully with any of the provisions of this Section is liable to a fine not exceeding £20."
I suppose it would be no excuse for him to say: "I tried to get the men to do it, but they would not."
The master of a ship is supposed to have very stringent disciplinary powers and authority over his men.
We know he is supposed to have.
21662. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) In your view it would help you to some extent if you had a regulation to this effect?
- I do not think so.
21663. You do not think it would help you?
I thought you said you did.
I think what he said was that they do it already.
We do it for our own interests.
Did not you also say you cannot do it because you cannot induce the firemen to take part in the drill.
Sometimes, though they try, they cannot.
21664. (Mr. Scanlan.) You stated to my Lord that one inducement you held out to the men was that they should come the day before sailing and take part in the boat drill?
21665. And for that day you offered them half a day's pay?
21666. This is, of course, the fact, that their pay for the voyage does not begin until the following day?
- Until the day of joining.
21667. There may be something even from the point of view of a fireman to be said of what is reasonable recompense for putting in a reasonable day's work.
21668. (The Commissioner.) Did they offer to come if they got more money?
- No, My Lord.
21669. (Mr. Scanlan.) You made then an offer of half a day's pay, and Mr. Sanderson informed us that this offer of even half a day's pay has been withdrawn?
- It has been withdrawn.
Will you ask how long does a boat drill occupy?
21670. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) How long does a boat drill occupy?
- It depends on the Officer in charge really.
21671. (The Commissioner.) But can the Officer in charge take a week over it?
- No, My Lord.
21672. How long; do try to answer the question. How long does it take?
- It can be done in half-an-hour and it can take two hours.
21673. Is two hours the maximum?
Now I know.
21674. (Mr. Scanlan.) May I take it that it would be for the convenience of the master and Officers of the ship to have this boat drill the day before sailing?
21675. That is a day, so far as the men are concerned, for which without special arrangement they are not in receipt of any pay?
- Unless they are on the ship at the time, on the ship's books. That is working by the ship.
21676. But the firemen are not, in practice?
- Not all of them.
21677. (The Commissioner.) If you were to put the men on the list the day before she sails, then I suppose you would be entitled to their services on that day?
- Yes, My Lord, we would, but I am afraid as long as they are in port they would not come.
21678. If they are not on the list and you merely invite them to come and go through the boat drill they are entitled to say, "No, we will not"?
- Yes, My Lord.
The inducement held out to them of coming the day before has been withdrawn. I want to know whether it is your proposition now that the men who are going to be employed for the voyage should come on the day before they are entitled to pay, for nothing, and practise on the boats.
Oh, no, no one suggests that.
21679. (Mr. Scanlan.) Very well, My Lord. (To the witness.) Can you explain how it came, after the disaster to the "Titanic," that practically very few (I am within your Lordship's recollection on this point.) of the crew, the deckhands and Officers went to the boats to which they were stationed?
- Officers generally have a series of boats. They are stationed on one boat, but they have a series of boats to manoeuvre themselves.
21680. Practically all the ordinary seamen and firemen, so far as my recollection goes, who went to any boat, went to one boat to which they were not stationed?
- They went where the Officers ordered them.
21681. Would not one of the results of having regular boat musters be that in an emergency the men who had been trained in ordinary circumstances to go to their proper boats would do so?
- They would go in their proper boats.
21682. I must ask one or two questions on this point, My Lord. You were asked in regard to the number of deckhands carried on the "Titanic." The only Regulation of the Board of Trade for manning graduates the number of deckhands by the cubic capacity of the lifeboats?
21683. If you followed this Regulation and provided lifeboats to carry every passenger and every member of the crew, this scale would require to be considerably modified, would it not?
21684. I see if you had 48 boats, with carrying capacity of 60 in each boat, you would require 28,000 cubic feet instead of 9,000 cubic feet?
21685. So that if you provided a crew of deckhands on this scale, the crew would require to be considerably augmented?
- On that scale they would be.
21686. How many deckhands do you think it would be desirable to have for each boat?
- It depends for what purpose.
21687. I mean for working lifeboats?
- For pulling lifeboats or for lowering lifeboats or for what?
21688-9. You say you carry a certain number of men corresponding to the number of lifeboats you have at present?
Have you any view of your own as to how many seamen you require for each lifeboat?
That does not help me much, because it appears to me to depend entirely upon the weather.
That is so, My Lord.
You see in this particular case, as far as the passengers were concerned, it was very desirable that very few men should be taken on the boats. The fewer sailors in the boats, the better for the passengers, in this particular case.
21690. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, of course, My Lord. We have heard from Mr. Sanderson and this gentleman that every one in the shipping world is waiting on your Lordship's decision in this case to decide as to what lifeboats they are going to carry, or they are waiting on the Board of Trade to do something. They have been waiting a long time on the Board of Trade. Now here is the Regulation of the Board of Trade relating to deckhands. If there is any Order made as to increased boat accommodation some revision of this scale would be necessary, and I am taking this Captain as one who will be able to give some advice on it. (To the witness.) How many seamen do you think should be attached to each lifeboat?
- For what purpose?
21691. For the purpose of any emergency - the purpose for which lifeboats are carried on ships?
- Two men accustomed to boats.
21692. That would be two deckhands?
- Not necessarily two deckhands.
21693. Would you require one deckhand?
- One deckhand.
21694. For each boat?
21695. You heard Mr. Sanderson in his evidence say he thought you should have two seamen in each boat?
- Not necessarily seamen as long as they are accustomed to boats - as long as they know anything about a boat, it is not necessary that they should be sailors.
21696. Would you desire any sailor?
- At least one.
21698. At least one?
21699. Does that mean two?
21700. (The Commissioner.) Are you an Irishman?
- I am not, My Lord.
21701. (Mr. Scanlan.) Would not you require one for the tiller and one for the sails?
- You are talking about when the boat is lowered into the water?
- No. As long as one of them is a seaman that can handle the tiller it is not necessary for there to be a sailor in the boat.
21703. You have sails in the boat, and only a seaman would be able to manipulate the sails?
- Not necessarily so. I have seen stewards just as good in a boat as a sailor, and a fireman as well.
If specially trained to the drill. We had some evidence with regard to the lowering of the boats which seemed to indicate confusion in the minds of the Officers of the "Titanic" as to whether they could lower the boats from the boat deck, and then have the boats taken down along the sides of the ship either forward or aft to get passengers taken off.
I do not remember that.
We had it from Mr. Lightoller, My Lord. I can give you the reference.
Will you read me what he said. I remember the suggestion that the boats should be dropped until it came to a level with one of the gangway doors, but I do not remember any suggestion that the boat, having been dropped, could be moved along the side of the ship.
Yes, that is in the evidence of Mr. Lightoller.
I beg your pardon. I did not understand what you meant. I thought you meant lowering the boat, and then before it is dropped in the water, carrying it along the side of the ship.
No, My Lord; I mean dropping it in the water, and carrying it along the side of the ship.
Oh, yes, that is a different thing altogether. I beg your pardon. I misunderstood you. You need not trouble.
It is at page 316 of Mr. Lightoller, and Mr. Wilding spoke of it.
He spoke of lowering the boat into the water and then pulling it round.
21704-5. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes. (To the witness.) Do you view that as a way in which lifeboats might be filled?
- They might.
21706. In good weather conditions such as obtained on the night of the 14th April?
21707. Do the captains and the Officers of the boats know that such a provision is made?
- Oh, yes.
21708. You are not a believer in binoculars for seamen?
21709. Do you believe in them for Officers?
- Oh, certainly.
21710. Even in regard to Officers they are for their use?
21711. In the navigation of the ship?
21712. To enable the Officer to pick up anything ahead of him?
- Not to pick up.
The evidence appears to me to point to this, that they are not required for picking up objects, but for ascertaining with particularity what the objects are when they have been picked up.
21713. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes, My Lord, I think there is a great deal in that view of the utility of binoculars. (To the witness.) If binoculars have always been thought useful to Officers, how do you come to arrive at the conclusion that they are not at all useful for look-out men and seamen?
- Because look-out men are there to use their eyes and to report immediately anything they see, not to find out the character of that object they see.
21714. How could they report anything unless they had some notion of the character of it?
- They report what is seen - I mean, if they pick up a light it may be a green or white or a red light -
If I might suggest, Mr. Scanlan, a useful question to him would be this: Why is there a provision made in the crow's-nest for binoculars if they are not wanted?
21715. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes. (To the witness.) You heard that question. Why have you a bag or a box in the crow's-nest to hold binoculars if you do not think they are required?
- That was not always for binoculars; that was for anything the men used in the look-out.
21716. It was not always for binoculars, but it was for anything a man might use on the look-out, you say?
21717. What do you mean by that?
- His muffler, his clothes, and his oilskin coat and that sort of thing. There is generally a canvas bag put up there.
21718. Take this bag that was on the "Titanic"?
- That was a box, I may say, on the "Titanic."
21719. A box?
21720. Specially there for binoculars?
- Binoculars, yes, if they had them there.
21721. It was not for any other purpose, was it?
- Yes, they put other things in.
21722. (The Commissioner.) What occurs to me, Captain Bartlett, is that it would be far better, if you are right, that there should be no binoculars there at all; they would be a sort of temptation to the man to be doing something he ought not to do?
- I do not agree to binoculars in the look-out cage at all, My Lord.
21723. (Mr. Scanlan.) A suggestion has been made that for the discovery of ice the best position for the look-out man is at the stem head. Do you agree?
- In hazy weather, yes.
21724. And at night when ice is expected?
- Not a clear night, no.
21725. On a night when it is difficult to see?
- It is hard to see how that can be if it is clear.
21726. With regard to the collapsible boats and the Engelhardt boats, are they a new invention? Is it only very recently that Engelhardt boats have been used by you?
- Yes, quite recently by us. The "Olympic" was the first.
21727. From the evidence that we have had in this case, does it appear to you that they were not quite well understood by the crews?
- I think they were.
21728. You think they were?
21729. (The Commissioner.) If you think that, how do you account for the fact that one of the Engelhardt boats was never launched at all?
- That was the last boat, I think, My Lord. It was on top of the Officers' house.
21730. Yes, that is it?
- The ship was then near foundering when they went to take that boat away. I do not think they had sufficient time.
21731. (Mr. Scanlan.) Do not you think it was an improper place for this Engelhardt, to have it on the top of the Officers' house?
- Not at all.
21732. It was a proper place?
- It was a proper place.
I think the evidence, Mr. Scanlan, is that that boat was thrown on to the deck. Is not that the evidence?
I think so, My Lord.
But there was such a list then that it was impossible to move it.
And it was swept away by the water into the sea.
Yes. The reason I ask that question is, I observe in the evidence of Mr. Lightoller in America, that he did not consider that was a proper position for it on the top of the Officers' house. It was not put to him here.
Sir Robert Finlay:
No suggestion has been made before that this was an improper position.
I think so, Sir Robert.
Sir Robert Finlay:
Not here, I think.
Questions have been asked about it in the course of the Enquiry as to whether that was a convenient and useful place for it. Nothing more has been said.
Sir Robert Finlay:
It has been very slight.
Yes. I do not think there has been a suggestion that it was improper. The only question was whether it was most convenient.
Sir Robert Finlay:
The Attorney-General says he does not think there was any suggestion that it was an improper place.
No, the suggestion was that it was an inconvenient place.
That is exactly my view. The suggestion was that there might have been a better place found for it.
Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.
21733. You have told us that the Board of Trade had no regulations regarding boat drill?
- I do not think they have.
21734. Do you know if they have any inspectors whose duty it is to ascertain if boat drill has been regularly practised?
- Yes, they have. Not only that, but it is in the official log of every ship.
21735. Yes, you told us it was entered in the official log, but do those Inspectors make a periodical inspection of the official log - has that been their practice?
- Yes, the log is inspected every voyage, not every year. Every voyage the official log goes up to the Board of Trade.
21736. (The Commissioner.) That is so, is it not? The official log is sent at the end of the voyage to the Board of Trade?
- Yes with the articles.
21737. Sent up to Whitehall?
- The Board of Trade in the shipping port from which the ship sailed.
21738. (Mr. Harbinson.) Do I understand they have no Officers to come down to the vessels and make inspections there periodically?
- Yes, they do.
As regards the question of boat drill -
I do not know what you mean by that.
21739. (Mr. Harbinson.) I mean to test the men as regards their efficiency?
- They test that when they inspect the boats on clearance day every voyage.
21740. But do they make any Enquiry or investigation as to whether boat drill has been carried out between one clearance and another?
- I do not know whether the Inspectors themselves do, but they satisfy themselves that the ships are efficient and that the men understand the working of the boats on clearance day.
21741. That is all you know about it; on clearance day, such inspection as is made then?
21742. Do you think it would be advisable to supply men when they are starting out on the voyage, with badges, to indicate on those badges the number of the boat to which they are allotted?
- We are doing that now.
21743. You consider that desirable?
- I do.
Examined by Mr. HOLMES.
21744. With reference to the boat drill, there is already a Section in the merchant Shipping Act giving power to punish a seaman who disobeys a lawful command?
21745. Have you ever tried in connection with these firemen who have refused boat drill, putting that section in force?
- We did on the occasion of the "Oceanic," but, Myself, I have not; I have not had the experience of firemen refusing drill.
21746. Do you think your hand might be strengthened in putting that Section into force, if the order for a fire drill were made compulsory by Statute or by a Board of Trade Rule?
21747. You have told us of the length of service of the different Officers of the "Titanic." During that time did they all give you perfect satisfaction?
- Every satisfaction.
21748. And you have relied on them as efficient and careful Officers in whom you had every confidence?
- They were the pick of the service.
21749. Have you at any time had any complaints from your Junior Officers as to the existence of the two-watch system?
- No, I have not.
21750. Do you not consider that the three -watch system for Junior Officers would keep the men fitter to perform their duties?
- No, I think it is not necessary that Junior Officers of ships should have more than what we are doing at the present time - that is, the watch and watch system.
21751. You think four hours is sufficient from the time they go off watch till the time they go on watch again?
- For a Junior Officer, yes.
21752. I suppose a Junior Officer will have calculations to make perhaps while on watch?
- Some, yes.
21753. Some complicated calculations?
21754. He may be required by the Officer of the watch to find out the position?
- He may, yes.
21755. Does not that require as clear a head as you can possibly have?
- It does.
21756. Do you think a man is best fitted for that kind of work when he has only had four hours' sleep?
- Yes, he would be checked by others, remember.
21757. Do you think he would be better fitted for it if he had eight hours off and four on?
- I do not think it is at all necessary.
21758. Do you think he would be better fitted for it?
Examined by Mr. LEWIS.
21759. I think you said that you had 66 in the sailing Department on the "Titanic"?
21760. And of that number 58 are what you term deckhands?
21761. How do you make up that number?
- There are 66 in the sailing Department. Out of that you have to take two surgeons, two stewards, two masters -at-arms, and two window cleaners.
21762. Look-out men?
- Look-out men are seamen.
21763. How many efficient able seamen would you have then?
- I think she had 46 able seamen, counting look-out men and quartermasters.
21764. Have you counted lamp trimmers?
- A lamp trimmer, yes.
21765. In the number you have left out?
- No, he is a seaman; he is a deckhand.
21766. Now with regard to the difficulty you seem to have experienced with regard to boat drills, I take it that it is desirable, where possible, that the firemen should drill conjointly with the seamen and stewards?
- I think it is a good idea, yes.
21767. When you have tried to muster the firemen have you made any attempt to drill them conjointly?
- No, we have not.
21768. Why is that?
- We have not had time yet.
21769. You consider it desirable, but you have not had time. Are you aware that the men themselves, the firemen, do desire to have boat drill, providing they are drilled with the other men in the ordinary way?
- I have never heard of it.
21770. You have stated in your evidence that your Company made an offer at Southampton to the firemen of half a day's pay. When was that offer made, and by whom?
- I think I must refer you to our Marine superintendent down at Southampton. He would know the exact circumstances.
21771. How could he make that offer?
- I do not know.
Do you mean did he make it in writing, or what do you mean?
21772. (Mr. Lewis - To the witness.) Would he make the offer in writing?
- I am not certain.
Surely you are acquainted with it.
I am going to call him.
21773. (Mr. Lewis.) When the musters take place I take it the men are on the articles?
21774. Of course, you could place firemen on the articles, and if they refused they would be liable to be summoned for disobeying the lawful commands of the master, would they not?
- They are liable, yes.
21775. Your Company has not refused on other accounts to take action against the men for refusing to obey the lawful commands of the master, have they? I want to know why, in this particular instance, if they think drills are desirable, and the men refused, they should not avail themselves of that same section of the act?
- I do not understand you.
21776. The men would be on articles when boat drills were to take place?
- Yes, on sailing day.
21777. Would not they be subject to the ordinary law if they refused?
21778. And you can summon them for refusing to obey the lawful commands of the master at boat muster or drill?
- We log them; the Government summon them.
You cannot stop the ship to summon a man.
I agree, My Lord, it is not always desirable to do that.
Sir Robert Finlay:
But very often commanders do desire to give what they term an object lesson.
Do you suggest all the passengers are to be kept waiting while a couple of firemen are summoned?
21779. (Mr. Lewis.) My object is to try to ascertain whether they have really considered it desirable in the past to exercise those firemen. My evidence is they have not really bothered to any extent about the firemen in this matter. You are aware that the men themselves did make an application for a muster to take place the day before the sailing?
- I am not aware of it.
21780. Are you acquainted with the methods of other companies?
- No, I cannot say I am very much.
21781. Your experience, I suggest, is pretty wide?
21782. Do you know anything about the Cunard Company?
- I know a little about the Cunard Company.
21783. Can you tell me whether they have any difficulty with regard to their men?
- I do not know.
21784. Do you know anything of the Royal Mail Company?
- Not much.
21785. Do you know if they experience any difficulty with regard to mustering the men?
- I do not know.
21786. Do you know anything of the Union Castle Company?
Mr. Lewis: I suppose the local manager will be called, and I will reserve my questions on that point.
Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.
21787. (Sir Robert Finlay.) I think Commander Lyon expressed the desire to have a list of the Charts and Sailing Directions and so on supplied to the "Titanic." I have a list here. I think Captain Bartlett can identify it? (Handing the same to the witness.)
21788-9. Just hand that to Captain Lyon. (The same was handed.)
- Messrs. Philips, Son and Nephew supply it.
Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
Can you tell us what the number of effective deckhands was, counting in Officers. There is some little confusion about it?
I make it 50.
I make it 60, My Lord. It may be we include somebody as effective deckhands that your Lordship has Ruled out.
No, I was only listening to his evidence. He began with 66, and then he crossed out, as I understood, 8.
21790. (The Attorney-General.) It is just that that I want to get clear from him. Will you tell me again of the 66 who are the eight you cross out?
- There are two surgeons, two stewards, two window cleaners, and two masters -at-arms.
21791-2. You Rule out the masters -at-arms, do you?
Well, that answers it. Then I agree, My Lord; it is clear now that it is 58.
With regard to the masters -at-arms. I am advised that they are generally seamen.
According to our view they are.
And would not be crossed out.
They are included according to our view. We made it 60 for that reason.
Apparently this gentleman thinks they are not included.
Yes, we will soon ascertain.
I do not know that it is very important.
No, as long as we know what is the point of doubt between us.
(The Witness withdrew.)