British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 23

Testimony of Alfred Young, cont.

23265. (Mr. Scanlan.) I appreciate that, My Lord. The boats I speak of are the boats which you in the Board of Trade got specially tested at Liverpool and a number of other ports?
- Granted.

23266. And these are the kind of collapsible boat which as a point of fact were carried?
- Yes, a form of Berthon, better known as Berthon boats.

23267. The Engelhardt boats, and not the berthon boats?
- The Engelhardt boat is not a collapsible boat.

23268. The sides are collapsible?
- No, the sides are not collapsible.

The Commissioner:
That is where the confusion is. The collapsible boat is the berthon boat, which doubles up; but the Engelhardt, as I understand, is in the nature of a raft with sides of canvas which can be put up perpendicularly.

Mr. Scanlan:

23269. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) Is not that so?
- That is perfectly right, My Lord. In fact it is altogether a misnomer to call an Engelhardt boat a collapsible boat; it is not a collapsible boat.

23270. (Mr. Scanlan.) The Engelhardt boats were, I think, recommended by the Board of Trade?
- Quite so.

23271. As being suitable boats to carry in addition to the wooden boats?
- Undoubtedly, yes.

23271a. If your ideas had been given effect to, that is, if you had 26 boats with a capacity of -

The Commissioner:
600 cubic feet?

23272. (Mr. Scanlan.) Yes. (To the witness.) 600 cubic feet would give carrying capacity according to your scale for 60 persons?
- Yes.

23273. Then you would have provided for 1,560 in your wooden boats?
- Yes.

23274. And in your Engelhardt boats how many would you give to each?
- I did not recommend any Engelhardt boats. The Board of Trade Rule with regard to three-fourths of the capacity carried under davits would be added. It did not matter to us whether it was an Engelhardt boat or an open boat.

23275. If that is so, I take it you would have 1,560 carried in your wooden boats and three-fourths of that number in that additional accommodation?
- Yes.

23276. Will that come to 2,730 altogether?
- It will come to 14,350 cubic feet.

The Commissioner:
I am not following these figures. There are 26 boats under davits.

Mr. Scanlan:

The Commissioner:
Of a capacity of 600 cubic feet each.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, My Lord.

Mr. Laing:
That is an error; I am sure there is an error.

The Commissioner:
There is some mistake.

Mr. Laing:
He said 8,200 feet capacity. He said 26 boats with a capacity of 8,200 feet.

The Commissioner:
But that is wrong.

Mr. Scanlan:
I think we should allow him to give us this information, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Oh, by all means.

23277. (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Will you just calculate it yourself? What cubic feet capacity would you have in your 26 boats under davits?
- It might be 500 cubic feet or it might be 600 cubic feet. As a Rule shipowners would carry the larger figure, 600. That is the usual practice now.

23278. Will you just calculate what you mean by 26 boats under davits, and then we will get the additional boats?
- The boats under davits would be equivalent to 15,600 cubic feet.

The Commissioner:
Now that seems right.

23279. (Mr. Scanlan.) That will be a carrying capacity for 1,560 persons?
- Yes.

23280. Will you work out for me what the three-fourths additional accommodation gives in cubic capacity and in passenger accommodation?
- That would bring us up to 27,300 cubic feet.

23281. And the carrying capacity?
- 2,730 passengers - with a divisor of 10.

23282. (The Commissioner.) How many do you make the three-fourths?
- 11,700.

23283. Then you get a total of 27,300?
- Yes.

23284. And how many people would that accommodate?
- 2,730.

23285. That is irrespective of the Engelhardt boats that might be carried?
- That is including the Engelhardt or any other boat in addition.

23286. That is included in the 11,700?
- They are included in the 27,300.

23287. And they are in fact the 11,700?
- Yes.

23288. Supposing all that has been put on board, it would have been more than sufficient for the number of passengers carried on the "Titanic," but it would not have been nearly sufficient for the number that might have been on the "Titanic"?
- I quite agree, My Lord.

23289. (Mr. Scanlan.) The number actually carried, My Lord, is 2,208 or 2,206; that would have given full accommodation, with a margin over for 522?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Yes, it would.

23290. (Mr. Scanlan.) When did you come to this conclusion with reference to the boatage for the "Titanic"?
- I did not specially consider the "Titanic" before the disaster.

The Commissioner:
You do not follow what Mr. Scanlan means. When did you come to this conclusion with reference to these big boats?
- Some months back, My Lord; in fact, when the Report of the Advisory Committee was presented, and I went into the matter, I had this in my mind. But it was complicated by a matter which was of a very serious import, and upon that matter hangs the whole of the so-called delay which has taken place between the 4th July and the 4th April.

23291. 4th July, 1911, and the 4th April, 1912?
- Yes, My Lord. The import of that was I had several matters to consider. In the course of my experience I had realised that the boats that were supplied to ships as lifeboats had been steadily deteriorating in form. I may say that is my opinion. And it appeared to me not only undesirable, but it would have been wrong in my opinion, with those ideas, to advocate a very large extension of the boat scale; in other words, piling up a large number of boats on to a ship with the knowledge that I had in my mind at the time that those boats were not well adapted for that purpose. In other words, I was impressed with the view that in anything but the calmest weather those boats would not be able to carry in safety the number of people for which they measured; and therefore it was unnecessary under those circumstances to associate with the Report of the Advisory Committee this question of the proper form of the ship's lifeboats. That is the object that I had in view. That is the sole cause of the delay which has been attributed to the Board of Trade in this matter.

23292. Do you wish us to understand that the boats of the "Titanic" were not in a proper form?
- I am not alluding to the "Titanic," my Lord; I am alluding to the general question of the boats. I believe from what I have seen of the boats that have been turned out from the yard of Harland and Wolff that those boats are of the proper form. They are of very good form. But there were many ships' boats turned out, and still are, of a form which is not the best form that can be used on board ship. I may as well say while I am on this subject, that the Marine Department of the Board of Trade naturally would not take my assertion simply as an assertion, but they felt it was necessary that that assertion should be verified, and therefore they issued instructions for boats to be experimented with around the coast with a complement of persons for which the boats measured. I have no hesitation in saying that the results of those investigations and experiments have fully justified the action which I took on receipt of the Advisory Committee's report.

23293. I have never heard of those experiments. Were those experiments actually made?
- I have them here, My Lord.

23294. Perhaps you will answer the question first. Were they actually made?
- They were.

23295. Where were they made?
- Mainly London, Liverpool and Glasgow.

23296. That is quite enough. Now when were they made?
- May I read a short statement of the particulars, My Lord.

23297. Yes, but do not forget that I want to know when the experiments were made?
- I will give you the dates, first, February the 6th.

23298. What year?
- 1911. I am only starting with that in order to get the proper sequence. "In connection with the revision of the Rules for Life-saving Appliances, the board early in 1911 asked the Principal Officers at London, Liverpool and Glasgow for their observations on the extension of the boat table. The two former referred in their replies to the advisability of limiting the size of lifeboats, as the depth would be unduly increased; and the actual accommodation lessened, as compared with the calculated capacity. The London Principal Officer forwarded on April 19th a report respecting defective boats on certain vessels after only a few months' use, and it was mentioned that there was a tendency to build boats with too great a depth in order to increase the cubic capacity. The board thereupon wrote to the Advisory Committee on 17th May, asking whether it would be advisable to prescribe a maximum depth for boats, compared with their breadth, and, if so, what that proportion should be." I may state here this is the preliminary investigation which preceded the experiments which were inaugurated after my assertions. "On the 19th May, the Advisory Committee applied semi-officially for particulars as to the length, breadth, and depth of various kinds of lifeboats in use in the mercantile marine, and on the 24th May the board forwarded reports from Principal Officers giving the desired information for the various kinds of boats on typical ships. The Advisory Committee replied to the board on the various matters under consideration on the 4th July," - that is the 4th July, 1911 - "and, as regards the proportions of ship's boats, recommended the alteration of the Life-saving Appliances Rules to provide that, in future, the depth of lifeboats should not exceed 14 percent of their breadth." We had this the other day, My Lord. "This recommendation was submitted to the Principal Ship Surveyor on the 8th July, and on the 11th July he suggested that Principal Officers might test different types of boat with a full complement of persons, and report the result of the tests with reference to height of gunwale, stability, and the use of the oars." This second series of experiments was in consequence of the assertions which I have referred to. "This suggestion was approved on the 15th July, and a minute was sent to the Principal Officers at London, Liverpool, and Glasgow on the 21st July requesting that practical tests should be made with a view to determining - (a.) a standard type of boat, (b.) a maximum depth, (c.) a maximum proportion of depth to breadth, and that full details should be given, with drawings of the best and worst forms tested, and notes on the height of gunwales, use of the oars, and the question of stability. The first report was received from the London Principal Officer on August 25th, and related to two boats that had been tested. (a.) A Section A boat, calculated accommodation for sixty-six persons. This boat, when fully loaded, was overcrowded and top-heavy, and could not have gone outside the dock gate. It would have been well loaded with ten men less." That is one of the first experiments, My Lord. "(b.) A Section d boat of similar dimensions, to carry eighty-two persons. The test showed that even if such a number could have been put into the boat it would have been unsafe. A further report from the London Principal Officer was received on September 19th, and gave results of tests as follows: (a.) September 3rd, Captain Clarke, at Southampton, examined one of the strongest and roomiest boats he could find. When fully loaded, it was very crowded, and a little tender. (b.) September 5th, Captain Clarke examined a d boat, with very fine lines; a poor type. This boat had calculated accommodation for 29 persons; with the divisor 8 this number was excessive, and even with a divisor of 10 the calculated number would have been too large. The gunwale was put awash by one man moving from port to starboard. Captain Clarke considered the boat would capsize in a moderate sea with only 24 persons. (c.) September 12th. Mr. Cheyney, at yarmouth, found a d boat, built to hold 10 persons, unstable with that number in it. (d.) September 15th, Captain Griffith tested a Section A boat in one of the London Docks. This boat was 4.1 feet deep, and was calculated to hold 66. In order to get the men in, they had to sit on the gunwale, and the boat was unstable in perfectly still water. (e.) On September 16th, Mr. Penney, of London, suggested the divisor 12, instead of 10 or 8, for determining the number of persons a boat would accommodate. On November 3rd the Glasgow Principal Officer forwarded reports of tests as follows: (a.) Mr. Gemmell's report, dated 25th October, referred to the inspection and testing of eight boats of various types. They were all found to be satisfactory. (b.) Mr. Sullivan, on 3rd November, reported having examined five boats, of which four were quite satisfactory, affording ample space, and the other, a steel Section A boat, was unstable, being built on fine lines. The report from the Liverpool Principal Officer (which was dated the 11th November.) was stated to have been delayed owing to the recent labour troubles. The Principal Officer forwarded details by Mr. Jenkins, the senior ship Surveyor, of eight tests that he had made. Of these, four were quite satisfactory, three were not good, and one was bad owing to the fact that the fullness of the form of the boat tested was not carried sufficiently toward the ends. The surveyor remarked on the dangerous nature of the tendency towards excessive depth in boats. A further report was received from the Liverpool Principal Officer, dated November 15th, with remarks by two nautical Surveyors, Messrs. Rice and Jenkin. They recommended a minimum depth of 3 ft. 4 in. or breadth by 4, and a breadth of length of 3.5. This was a mere matter of discussion which we went into, and did not quite agree with. "A summary of all these reports was drawn up and completed on January 4th, 1912, and the Principal Ship Surveyor was asked for his observations on the whole question. The Principal Ship Surveyor was away ill at this time and the matter was taken up by Mr. Daniel, an Officer in his department acting as his deputy, who reviewed the reports of the surveyors and their suggestions. He replied on the 27th January. The substance of his report is as follows: - "The question of the form of Boat is important. Boats are generally built 'to the eye' with simply a midship mould. It has been found that boats of the same dimensions differ considerably in actual carrying capacity. Mr. Daniel therefore suggested the following method: - A boat should not be regarded as capable of accommodating the number of persons for which it measures according to the Rules unless it has ½ inch of sheer per foot of length, and unless the half girth amidships is at least 90 percent of the sum of the depth and half breadth, and the mean of the half girths measured at one -quarter of the boat's length from stern to sternpost is at least 80 percent of the sum of the depth and maximum half breadth. If these conditions are not complied with, the number of persons is to be determined by practical test in the water. A draft amendment of the General Rules on these lines." I desire this to be perfectly understood, as I have no doubt your Lordship will perfectly understand it. "A draft amendment of the General Rules on these lines was prepared on February 1st, and it was decided to submit the matter again to the Advisory Committee. Memoranda on other subjects were at the same time being prepared, and eventually the whole of the subjects that had been under consideration were, on the decision of Sir Walter Howell (4th April.), embodied in one letter, which was addressed to the Committee on April 16th."

23299. That leads up to the two letters of the 4th and the 16th of April?
- Yes, My Lord.

23300. (Mr. Scanlan.) Would you mind saying when it was that you came to the conclusion that with respect to ships of the size of the "Titanic" you should have boat accommodation for 2,730 people?
- I came to that conclusion in the month of February, 1911.

23300a. (The Commissioner.) You mean 1911?
- Yes, My Lord. I first went into the subject when I was Principal Officer and Emigration Officer for Liverpool.

23301. What was your position then?
- I was Principal Officer and Emigration Officer for the Port of Liverpool.

23302. Residing in Liverpool?
- Residing in Liverpool.

23303. You were not at the Board of Trade?
- I was not at whitehall; no, My Lord.

23304. (Mr. Scanlan.) You have entertained this opinion constantly since 1st September, 1911, when you attained to this present position?
- I have continued of that opinion.

23305. If effect had been given to your opinion the "Titanic" would have been boated up to that extent to give accommodation for 2,730 persons?
- She would, possibly. I do not say that she would, because I was not the only one concerned in it.

23306. You were the principal authority?
- At one time, latterly.

23307. I mean from September, 1911?
- Yes, that is right.

23308. You were the Principal Officer and you were the man to give advice?
- Exactly. I gave that advice.

23309. To whom did you give that advice?
- I gave that advice to the Marine Department. The advice that I refer to was the advice that the form of boats could not be dissociated from the increase in their number.

23310. When did you give to the Marine Department of the Board of Trade this advice that a boat of the size of the "Titanic" should have accommodation for 2,730 persons?
- That advice was given - I forget the precise date, but it was during the course of February, 1911, before I was appointed to my present position.

23311. To whom was it given?
- It was reported to the Board of Trade.

23312. Do you mean to Sir Walter Howell?
- Exactly, the assistant Secretary.

23313. (The Commissioner.) How was it given?
- I might as well lay this matter out quite straight. The reason for the report -

23314. (Mr. Scanlan.) That is not the question. You were asked in what form was your advice given?
- It was given in the form of a report.

23315. A letter?
- A letter that was asked for by my own department. That is what I want you to understand.

23316. (The Commissioner.) Now where is that letter?
- That would be included in the minutes, My Lord.

23317. Where are the minutes?
- They can be brought here, no doubt.

The Commissioner:
Mr. Aspinall, I must see that minute.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, I was just asking about that.

The Commissioner:
Is Sir Walter Howell here?

Sir Walter Howell:
Yes, My Lord.

23318. (The Commissioner.) Do you remember this letter, Sir Walter?

Sir Walter Howell:
Only generally, My Lord.

23319. (The Commissioner.) I do not know what that means.

Sir Walter Howell:
I do not remember the terms at all.

23320. (The Commissioner.) Do you remember a letter from this Witness to your department of the Board of Trade, stating that for vessels of the size of the "Titanic" there ought to be lifeboat accommodation calculated to take 2,730 persons?

Sir Walter Howell:
No, I do not remember it.

The Witness:
It was not put into that form, My Lord; it was not based on the capacity; it was based on the number of boats, 26 boats.

23321. (The Commissioner.) It seems to me to come to the same thing, and if you like I will put the question in another way. Did you send anything in writing from Liverpool to the Board of Trade in or about February, 1911, which would or ought to convey to people at the Board of Trade that vessels of the size of the "Titanic" ought to be furnished with lifeboat accommodation for 2,730 people?
- Yes, up to 50,000 tons.

23322. Very well. That is beyond the size of the "Titanic." Now I want to see that letter?
- That can be furnished, no doubt.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Your Lordship shall have it.

The Commissioner:
You will get it, Mr. Aspinall?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Yes, My Lord.

23323. (The Commissioner.) And then I want to know this, if you can tell me. I assume for the moment that it was sent. Why was it not acted upon?
- I believe it was acted upon to a certain extent in that it was compared with the reports that the Marine Department of the Board of Trade receive at about the same time from the Principal Officers of London and Glasgow.

23324. Do you know what I mean by "acted upon"? By that expression I mean this: Why was the communication not sent to the builders of the "Titanic" - I do not know what position the "Olympic" was in at this time - to say that they would be required, or ought to provide this accommodation? Do you follow my question?
- I do, perfectly. I am not in a position to say why that recommendation of mine was not acted upon, in that I was a subordinate Officer of the department residing at Liverpool at the time, and consequently when that letter left my hands it was laid before the Marine Department, and I had nothing further to do with it.

23325. Then you are not able to tell us the history of your letter after you sent it in February, 1911?
- I am able to give you some idea as to what transpired. As I say, it was compared with the recommendations of other Officers in the board's service, and it was not acted upon.

23326. Do you want me to infer from that that other Officers did not agree with you?
- They did to a certain extent. It was only a question of difference of degree.

23327. I do not know what that means, quite. Do you mean that other Officers thought your requirements or suggestions were excessive?
- That I do not know. I do not think so particularly, excepting that the Principal Officer at Glasgow, by recommending to the board a smaller number of boats, one would infer that he disagreed. But that was not expressed to me. I only gathered that from the fact that he sent in a recommendation which was lower than mine.

23328. (Mr. Scanlan.) When you sent in this report in February, 1911, I presume it would go directly to Sir Walter Howell?
- Yes, it would be addressed to the assistant Secretary.

23329. Then you are able to tell us, because, of course, you know?
- Oh, precisely - yes.

23330. It did go to Sir Walter Howell, and the Officer who would be in a position to deal with it at that time was Sir Alfred Chalmers?
- Yes, he was the Professional Officer, the principal member of the Marine Department at that period.

The Commissioner - To Sir Alfred Chalmers:
Now, Sir Alfred, do you remember anything about this?

Sir Alfred Chalmers:
Yes, I remember.

The Commissioner:
Now stand up, please, and tell us what you remember.

Sir Alfred Chalmers:
8,200 cubic feet for the 26 boats, plus the 75 percent, which was 6,150, bringing the total to 14,350 cubic feet.

The Commissioner:
That would not accommodate 2,730.

Sir Alfred Chalmers:
No, 1,435. That is how I understand it. The reason it was not acted upon I cannot say.

The Commissioner:
You see, your recollection of what the report conveyed is quite different from the recollection of this gentleman here.

Sir Alfred Chalmers:
But the report will clear that up. I do not want to set my memory against his. My memory is clear that that was it.

Mr. Laing:
Your Lordship will remember where this Witness gave evidence in chief he said 8,200 - 26 boats of 8,200.

23331. (The Commissioner.) The figures I took down were 15,600 for the 26 boats.

The Witness:
We are on a different tack, My Lord. Mr. Scanlan asked if I would recommend boats of 600 cubic feet, and I said "Yes." And 26 boats of 600 cubic feet would amount to that. But as I said just now, when I referred to my letter from Liverpool, I did not advocate that same capacity in my Liverpool letter. I did not remember at the moment what that capacity was, but I did remember what the number of boats was that I recommended, and that was 26.

23332. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) I am sure it is not your fault, but I have entirely misapprehended what you were saying. Do you mean to say that when you recommended in your letter of February, 1911, or your report, whichever it was, that there should be 26 boats under davits, they were smaller boats than the 600 cubic feet boats?
- Apparently they would be, My Lord.

23333. Then there seems to be very little in it?
- I can tell you in a moment what it would come to.

The Commissioner:
I cannot blame you, Mr. Scanlan, because I have taken the same view of it that you have taken, up to the present time.

Mr. Scanlan:
Of course, I take it we are getting the Report and the minutes?

23334. (The Commissioner.) No doubt; we shall have it tomorrow.

The Witness:
Practically 316 cubic feet they would come to.

23335. (The Commissioner.) Instead of 600?
- Yes.

23336. How many people would they accommodate?
- Thirty-one persons each.

23337. How many is it?
- They would accommodate 820 people. That is boats under davits.

23338. And then add on the 3/4ths?
- 1,432.

23339. How many people does that make altogether?
- That would be 1,432 people.

23340. Now let me see whether I understand it properly. The boats that the "Titanic" carried were calculated to accommodate 1,178 persons. That is right, is it not?
- Yes.

23341. If you are right about your recollection, the boats that you suggested a vessel of that size should carry would have accommodated 1,432?
- That is correct.

The Commissioner:
Is not that right?

Mr. Scanlan:
That is how I calculated it on the new data, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
I was making a very great mistake in my figures.

Mr. Laing:
If your Lordship allowed for dispensation for the bulkheads you get down to a figure below that for which we had accommodation.

23342. (The Commissioner.) Yes, that is right, is it not, Captain Young?

The Witness:
The figure you are alluding to?

23343. No, you heard what Mr. Laing said, that allowing for the dispensation that the "Titanic" would be entitled to under the Rule, because of the bulkheads, your recommendation for boat accommodation would be less than what the "Titanic" actually carried?
- Precisely.

The Commissioner:
I have been occupying a great deal of time about something which appears to me now to be very immaterial. But I think perhaps, Mr. Scanlan, it would be better if we waited until tomorrow morning. We will rise now and then you can see the documents tomorrow.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes, thank you, My Lord.

(The witness withdrew.)