British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of Francis Carruthers
Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.
23851. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) We are now going to Belfast, for a very short time I hope. The two following Witnesses have supervised the building of the ship at Belfast. (To the witness.) Are you a member of the Institute of Naval Architects?
- I am.
23852. And are you an engineer and ship Surveyor to the Board of Trade at Belfast?
23853. I believe you were for 13 years a sea-going engineer, and you have been for some 16 years in the service of the Board of Trade?
23854. I think your experience with the Board of Trade has mainly consisted of superintending the construction of new steamers?
23855. And you were engaged upon that work during the time the "Titanic" was being constructed at Belfast?
- I was.
23856. That extended over a space of what time?
- About two and a half years.
23857. Did you give her careful attention?
- I did.
23858. I believe the practice is that as she is being built you make yourself informed of whether or not the builders are complying with the Board of Trade Regulations and Instructions?
23859. That is your duty. And in addition to that I believe either you or the owners have to send over to London either to Mr. Archer or Mr. Boyle, whom we have heard of, certain sections, certain plans, and so on?
- Yes, they were sent through our office.
23860. That is the practice?
23861. Also I believe in the event of there being any difference of opinion between you and the builders as to whether or not the Board of Trade instructions are being given effect to you communicate with the London office and get the benefit of their views?
- Yes, we do.
23862. And then you put these views before the builders, Messrs. Harland and Wolff, as they were on this occasion?
23863. There were certain matters which you did have to refer to London for, but as far as I can see it is quite unnecessary to trouble my Lord with those matters. If any of those Gentlemen want them you can give them particulars?
23864. I do not propose to trouble you about them. Eventually the ship was finished?
23865. Did you then give your declaration of survey?
23866. When you gave your declaration of survey had she in fact complied with all the requirements of the Board of Trade?
- Yes, she had.
My Lord, it was put in through the medium of Mr. Sanderson; it follows the day's evidence which ends on page 479. At the end of that there were certain appendices or exhibits put in.
Yes. I have the document.
23867. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) It is quite unnecessary to trouble you with it, Mr. Carruthers. It is on page 10 of those documents. That declaration is signed by you and you say it is in order and accurate, and then did you hand that declaration over to the owners?
- To the builders.
23868. Yes, you are right, to the builders; then in the ordinary course of business the builders sent that on to the head office in London. Perhaps you do not know?
- They sent it on to the assistant-Secretary.
23869. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Your Lordship will see that what next happened is at page 13, a document is issued to the owners entitled "passengers certificate," and that is signed "Walter J. Howell." (To the witness.) That is how it is done?
23870. After you have given your declaration of survey so far as you are concerned you have done with the ship?
- Yes. I have finished with her then.
I have no question.
Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.
23871. What precisely are your qualifications, Mr. Carruthers?
- For what purpose?
23872. For the purpose of a Surveyor of ships; what experience have you had?
- I have been surveying ships for a little over 20 years.
23873. Before you entered the service of the Board of Trade what were you doing?
- Surveying ships.
23874. For how long?
- For about four years.
23875. So that you have been in the service of the Board of Trade 16 years?
- Sixteen years, yes.
23876. And before that you surveyed ships for four years?
23877. For whom?
- First of all I was Assistant-Superintendent to Robert Baird on the tyne, and assisted him; then I became assistant for F. Scudamore and Company, London. After that, I went as assistant to John Baxter, at Newcastle-on-Tyne.
23878. This was surveying ships was it?
23879. What previous experience had you?
- Prior to that I was at sea thirteen years.
23880. As what?
- An engineer.
23881. What experience have you had on the constructional side except as a Surveyor? Have you had any experience at all on the constructional side of shipbuilding, except as a Surveyor?
- When I went to serve my Apprenticeship, about 12 months was spent in a Whitehaven shipyard as a shipbuilder.
23882. Apart from your experience at sea and your experience as a Surveyor, is that the whole of the experience you have had on the practical side of constructional work?
- That is practically all.
23883. In the declaration you issued, in the one case you certify that the boats D of the "Titanic" were capable of accommodating 80 persons, and in another declaration you make it only 64?
23884. How do you account for the disparity in the numbers in your certificate?
- It was a clerical error in the declaration, but it was put right on the survey. It was discovered very shortly after the declaration was issued, and corrected.
We have had that explained before.
With respect, My Lord, I asked the assistant-Secretary of the Board of Trade, and he said he was unable to explain it, but that the surveyor would explain it.
23885. (The Commissioner.) No, but it was stated to me that it was a clerical error.
It was corrected almost immediately after the declaration was issued.
23886. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) Then boat section A. In the one declaration the number of persons supposed to be accommodated is 910, and in the other declaration it is 915?
- That is the same thing.
23887. That is also a clerical error?
23888. Do these clerical errors very often happen?
- No, very rarely.
23889. You told my friend that there were certain particulars in the case of the "Titanic" which you referred to London?
23890. Now what were the matters that you referred to London?
- The first thing I referred to London was the position of the collision bulkhead.
23891. Did you make any suggestion as to that?
23892. What was the suggestion?
- I sent a sketch showing the position of the bulkhead, and pointed out that it was carried forward on what is marked there "E Deck" six frame spaces instead of being carried right up to D Deck.
23893. Did you suggest that that should be altered?
- No; I submitted it, and asked for instructions. Messrs. Harland and Wolff were contending that they were right and I thought they were wrong.
23894. Who would that have been submitted to in London?
- It was sent to the assistant Secretary, and from him it went to Mr. Archer, the Principal Ship Surveyor.
23895. And beyond him?
- It came back to me, I think.
23896. Did he agree with Messrs. Harland's view?
- No, he thought I was right.
23897. And it was altered?
- No, another arrangement was made on another bulkhead.
23898. A compensating arrangements?
23899. What was the compensating arrangement?
- In the long run it resulted in the second bulkhead being carried up to D deck.
23900. Was that submitted to London too?
- It was.
23901. And did you agree that that might be done?
23902. Did London agree that it might be done?
- London agreed first.
23903. Was that decided by Mr. Archer?
- Well it would be submitted by Mr. Archer to the assistant Secretary as a right provision.
23904. Would the assistant Secretary in your view decide whether it was the right provision?
- No, Mr. Archer would decide it.
23905. Then what would be the purpose of submitting it to the assistant Secretary?
- I cannot tell you that; I have nothing to do with that.
23906. Was there anything else submitted to London?
- There was a question of the side scuttles and a question as to the height the bulkheads might be carried. These were all practically involved in this first thing.
23907. Were those bulkheads other than the collision bulkhead?
23908. Did you submit sketches of these other bulkheads to London?
- I got drawing from Harland and Wolff's and they were forwarded to London.
23909. In those drawings which you got from Harland and Wolff's for the intermediate bulkhead to which deck was it proposed that should be carried?
- To E deck as far aft as the forward engine room bulkhead and to the D deck abaft that.
23910. Did you make any recommendations with regard to the height of those bulkheads?
- No, this was settled automatically by a rearrangement of the freeboard.
23911. Automatically, in what way?
- If they took table C freeboard they could stop at the bulkhead measured from the upper deck - they could by the Rules stop them at E deck.
23912. What Rules are you referring to?
- The freeboard tables and Clause 16 in the instructions.
23913. Clause 16 in your instructions says this: "An efficient and watertight engine room stokehold bulkhead, as well as a collision watertight bulkhead, and an after-watertight compartment, to enclose the stern tube of each screw shaft, should be fitted in all sea-going steamers, both new and old, and in the absence of any of these the case must be specially referred to the Board of Trade before a declaration is given. As regards other bulkheads, although a thorough subdivision of the ship is desirable, the surveyors should not, for the present, refuse to grant a declaration because these are not fitted." Will you refer me to the Rules by which you are guided in the case of other bulkheads than those specifically mentioned in that Rule?
- The circular 1401, which overrides this Clause 16, which you have read.
23914. It says, "In all sea-going steamers coming under survey for passenger certificate for the first time the following requirements regarding the height of the bulkheads should be complied with. The collision bulkhead is in all cases to extend to the upper deck. If an iron or steel watertight deck or flat is fitted below the upper deck at the afterend of the vessel and forms the top of the after watertight compartment, the aftermost bulkhead may terminate at the said watertight deck or flat, but if no such watertight deck or flat is fitted, the aftermost bulkhead should extend to the upper deck. When the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the freeboard tables for awning deck vessels" this is not an awning deck vessel, is it?
- You will find a little further on it says this is a shelter deck vessel. We look upon the top deck as the shelter deck, and the next deck below is called the upper deck.
23915. It is only to get clear as we go on. This is not an awning deck vessel?
- No; I would not call it an awning deck.
23916. (Sir Robert Finlay.) May I ask which you call the shelter deck and which the upper deck on this model?
- The top deck is the shelter deck.
23917. Will you point to it, please?
- Yes, (Pointing on the model.) this deck; the next deck next below it is the upper deck.
23918. That is C and D?
- C and D.
23919. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) "When the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the freeboard tables for awning deck vessels the remaining bulkheads may terminate at the deck next below the upper deck." That would be in this case?
- D deck.
23920. If this were an awning deck vessel that would be D deck?
23921. "But when the disc of vessels other than those of the awning deck type is placed higher than required by Table C all the bulkheads should extend watertight to the upper deck." That would be the upper deck here?
- The deck next below the shelter deck, deck D. Just read two lines on and you will get the Rule which guided us with regard to the ship.
23922. Very well. "In interpreting the above Rule, in the case of vessels of the shelter deck type, the deck next below the shelter deck may be regarded as the upper deck, and accordingly the collision bulkhead, as well as the other bulkheads, May terminate at the deck next below the shelter deck." That would be which deck here?
- D deck.
23923. And that is the Rule that should apply here?
23924. Will you explain why, if that is so, the bulkheads in this case only came up to deck E?
- Because when "the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the freeboard tables for awning deck vessels," that is, the table for awning deck vessels. This does not necessarily require to be an awning deck vessel if she has a freeboard equal to the table C for awning deck vessels.
23925. When do you get that from?
- It is here.
23926. I may have misunderstood, but I think you will find that is not so. "When the loadline disc of the vessel is placed at least as low as is required by Table C of the freeboard tables for awning deck vessels"?
- There is no comma there; "Freeboard tables for awning deck vessels" is a certain table.
23927. This is not an awning deck vessel?
- No, I do not think she is.
23928. "The remaining bulkheads may terminate at the deck next below the upper deck"?
23929. "But when the disc of vessels other than those of the awning deck type" - this is one of those vessels other than those?
23930. "Is placed higher than required by Table C, all the bulkheads should extend watertight to the upper deck"?
- Yes. Then it tells you next how to interpret it.
23931. "In interpreting the above Rule, in the case of vessels of the shelter deck type, the deck next below the shelter deck may be regarded as the upper deck" - Yes.
23932. "And accordingly the collision bulkhead, as well as the other bulkheads, May terminate at the deck next below the shelter deck"?
- That is right.
23933. That is deck D?
23934. If that is the Rule by which you were guided as Surveyor why were not they brought above deck E?
- Because they took a freeboard which was slightly greater than Table C.
23935. Do you say this Rule was complied with?
23936. Will you explain it, then, in your own way, because I fail to understand that answer in view of your two previous answers?
- In measuring the freeboard down from the upper deck, if their freeboard exceeded that over Table C, it says that the bulkheads may terminate at the deck next below the upper deck. She had that freeboard. They took it specially for that purpose.
23937. That brings you to deck D?
- The deck next below the upper deck is deck E.
23938. Then I have misunderstood your answer. I understood you to say several times over that was deck D?
- Yes, the upper deck is deck D, I take it.
23939. Do you mind making it perfectly clear, because here comes a very important question as to the carrying out of the duties by the Marine Department of the Board of Trade and its Surveyors. Here you say you have a Rule which guides you, and your answers are not quite consistent. Now, will you show here on this model exactly what are the decks in this vessel?
- This is the shelter deck. (Pointing.)
23940. That is deck what on this vessel?
- C. The deck next below this one is the upper deck; that is deck D. The collision bulkhead terminated at the upper deck in accordance with that Rule. Then she had a freeboard measured from that deck down, which was in excess of table C. Therefore the other bulkheads may terminate at the deck next below the upper deck, that is deck E.
23941. Now, will you look carefully at this Rule. In interpreting the above Rule in the case of vessels of the shelter deck type, the deck next below the shelter deck may be regarded as the upper deck?
- Yes, it was in this case.
23942. That is deck D?
- Yes, that is deck D.
23943. "And accordingly the collision bulkhead, as well as the other bulkheads, May terminate at the deck next below the shelter deck." Now the shelter deck here is deck C?
23944. And you are, under certain circumstances, permitted to make a variation, and that variation is that you may allow the bulkhead to terminate at the deck next below the shelter deck. In that case it would be deck D?