British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 24

Testimony of Alfred Young, recalled

23344. (The Commissioner.) You were to bring us something this morning?
- Yes, a recommendation of mine made from Liverpool.

23345. During the tenure of office of Sir Alfred Chalmers?
- Yes, My Lord.

23346. Have you got it?
- I have it here.

23347. Is it very long?
- No, not at all.

23348. Then perhaps you will read it?
- Before I read that letter, May I have your permission to read the original letter from the Board of Trade desiring me to make these recommendations?

23349. Yes.
- The minute runs thus: "The board have under consideration the question of amending the present requirements of the statutory Rules for life-saving appliances as regards the boats to be carried on passenger steamers of over 12,000 tons gross. The amendment would consist of an extension of the table in the appendix to the Rules specifying the boats to be carried under davits on vessels up to 50,000 tons gross and over."

23350. What is the date?
- The 18th February, 1911. "It is suggested that the extension should proceed by divisions of 5,000 tons as indicated on the accompanying sheet, and Captain Young is requested to be so good as to indicate on the sheet a draft of the extension which he considers would be practicable, and would provide in a satisfactory and reasonable manner for the conditions of the large passenger steamers. It is not intended that the boat capacity on vessels included in the extension should necessarily increase in a regular proportion according to the increase in tonnage, the object being rather to arrive at a scale which may be regarded as satisfactory, but will also be entirely practicable and reasonable. Attention is also directed to the Rule of 19th April, 1910, as to the stowage of boats required to be placed under davits." That was a Rule allowing one-fourth of the boats that the table required to be placed under davits to be carried inboard abreast of the davits. "It will be borne in mind that the capacity of the additional boats or rafts required to by clause (d.) of Division (A.) Class 1 of the Rules is governed by the capacity of the boats required to be placed under davits. Captain Young is also requested to furnish the board with his views generally on the question of the boat capacity which should be provided on these large vessels taking into consideration the present methods of ship construction, the filling of watertight compartments, the provisions of separate boat decks and winches, and any other point which may be regarded as bearing on the subject." That is a letter addressed to me by the Marine Department of the Board of Trade when I was in Liverpool and desiring me to reply.

23351. Signed by whom?
- Signed by the assistant Secretary, Sir Walter Howell.

Further examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

23352. Is this a circular letter sent to all the superintendents?
- It is a circular letter individually sent on separate minutes, not to superintendents, but to certain of the Principal Officers of the Board of Trade.

23353. I suppose everybody replied as you did?
- They replied practically in the same way.

The Attorney-General:
There are three. Two were asked besides this Witness.

The Commissioner:
At what ports; this gentleman was Liverpool.

23354. (The Attorney-General.) I can only tell by the names, Captain Parke and Mr. Harris.

The Witness:
At Liverpool, London, and Glasgow.

23355. (Mr. Scanlan.) You advised from Liverpool?
- Yes.

23356. From your experience at Liverpool?
- Yes.

23356a. Now, what did you advise?
- My letter runs thus: "3rd March, 1911. -

Sir, - I have indicated on the above minute, as desired, what I consider a reasonable addition to the scale for boats hitherto provided for by the Rules. It may at first sight be thought that the increase recommended is too small to be satisfactory, but various considerations have led me to fix upon the proportions shown. It occurred to me that it is manifestly impracticable to provide boats sufficient in number and capacity to accommodate the entire number of passengers and crew that the modern large liner can carry. Owing to the enormous expense involved in running such high-speed steamers as the 'Lusitania' and 'Mauretania' shipowners are arriving at the conviction that new vessels - particularly for the North Atlantic service - should be of less speed and carry more cargo, and it may be, therefore, that vessels of the type and size of the 'Olympic' may be of 50,000 tons gross, and more, and yet carry fewer passengers and crew than vessels of 20,000 tons to 30,000 tons gross. The question may also be viewed in conjunction with the manning Scale for emigrant Ships, as of what avail would a large number of boats be if there were not enough deckhands to properly tend them when launched in an emergency, Ie., not enough seamen trained to pull an oar and to steer? But even supposing there were enough sailors to man the boats, assuming for this purpose a proportion of firemen and stewards able to handle an oar, the question still remains - what number of boats would be deemed reasonable, and why should any particular number above the present scale be deemed necessary - seeing that the 'Lusitania,' say, has been running for some time provided with boats sufficient only for 978 persons, leaving about 2,000 persons unprovided for save by lifebelts? Taking it for granted, however, that a considerable number of persons must be excluded from the boats under any circumstances, what we have to do apparently is to seek for a number of boats which will afford a greater assurance of safety to the travelling public. While the scale as it stands requires vessels up to 10,000 tons to provide boats which may be regarded as fairly adequate for the number of persons usually carried on such vessels, it should not be lost sight of that vessels greatly exceeding this tonnage have at present unintentional preferential treatment due to the sudden termination of the scale, and from a competitive point of view are bound to score over the vessels of scale tonnage, and this in itself apart from other considerations, shows the need, I think, for an extension on reasonable lines. By the additions to the scale herewith submitted I have endeavoured to meet this point as well as the primary one of ensuring means of safety for a greater number of persons. For this purpose I have drawn up the comparative statement (attached) of the number of passengers and crews usually carried on vessels of different tonnages by which it will be seen that the greatest increase in the total number of persons carried is apparently in vessels ranging between 15,000 and 25,000 tons, hence the greater increase in boat capacity suggested for vessels between these tonnages."

23357. (The Commissioner.) That is 25,000 tons?
- Between 15,000 and 25,000 tons, My Lord, that is where we find the greatest number of passengers are carried. "Following this line of argument and referring also to my remarks, page 1, last paragraph, it appears natural to recommend a smaller increase to the number of boats to be provided after 30,000 tons has been reached, and I think I am to some extent justified in assuming the probability that vessels in the future exceeding a size of 30,000 tons will increase their cargo-carrying capacity in greater proportion than their passenger accommodation. In consideration, however, of the comparatively small increase in the number of boats suggested for the extension of the scale, I have had in view the desirability that a condition should be attached making for such a construction of watertight bulkheads as will effectually resist the greatest pressure of water that such bulkheads would be liable to with a compartment full of water and the ship down by the head or stern. It will be seen in the comparative statement referred to that if the total boat capacities there shown are divided by the total number of persons on any vessel we have with few exceptions a quotient say of 5 cubic feet per person carried. However, this figure is a result rather than a basis for calculation. In any scale," I desire particular attention to this, "in any scale however that can reasonably be applied to the larger passenger vessels, there must usually be a large number of persons on board for whom there can be no boat accommodation, and therefore subdivision of the ship into real effective watertight compartments must be, in my opinion, the main factor to be relied on. Finally, in order to prevent abnormally-sized boats being placed under davits in an effort to cram the entire capacity required into the number of boats that a vessel must have under davits, I submit that a Rule might be made by which only one-half of the additional capacities shown in the three-fourths column may be allowed to be included in the boats which a vessel must carry under davits as per scale. Any other boats which might be needed to contain the balance of the three-fourths column may, of course, be placed abreast any of the davits as convenient. I may mention here that the 'Lusitania' and 'Mauretania' have their entire capacities made up in 16 boats, each with a length of 30 feet and equal to 600 cubic feet; they are very heavy, and difficult to handle. I further submit that those boats which may contain the three-fourths additional capacity should not be larger than 500 cubic feet, as it is very desirable that boats not regarded as being under davits should be of such a size as to be fairly readily shifted, and any boat longer than 28 feet would be cumbersome under such circumstances." That is the letter of recommendation that I sent to the Marine Department on March 3rd.

23358. (Mr. Scanlan.) I think you said you had indicated on a Minute what increase you were to recommend, or the scale. Have you the scale?
- Yes, I have it here.

23359. What did you recommend in the scale for vessels of 45,000 to 50,000 tons gross?

23360. (The Commissioner.) I do not understand his scale went that far?
- Yes, My Lord, I attached a scale.

23361. I thought you limited your consideration to vessels of 25,000 tons?
- No, My Lord, that was in a comparative statement which I attached, showing how it was that although the tonnage of a passenger ship might very largely increase, it did not follow that the number of passengers increased in proportion, and, consequently, I made this table out to show that between 15,000 and 25,000 tons gross the passengers carried were at a maximum. After 30,000 tons they decreased, relatively.

23362. At a maximum compared with the tonnage?
- Yes.

23363. (Mr. Scanlan.) These are the reasons for the recommendations you made. What were your recommendations for ships of the size of the "Titanic"; how many boats in the first place?
- For a vessel of the tonnage of the "Titanic" say from 45,000 to 50,000 tons gross, twenty-four boats under davits.

23364. (The Commissioner.) Of what capacity?
- With a capacity of 10,900 cubic feet.

How much is that?

Mr. Scanlan:
What cubic capacity for each boat?

The Commissioner:
About 500, is it not.

23365. (The Attorney-General.) Rather less.

The Witness:

23366. (The Commissioner.) Twenty-four boats under davits with a cubic capacity of 10,900 feet?
- Yes.

23367. What else did you reckon?
- Then there would be the three-fourths additional to go on to that, which would bring it up to 19,075 cubic feet.

23368. As much as that?
- Yes.

23369. (Mr. Scanlan.) You allowed three-fourths, regardless of the boats to be carried, to make up that three-fourths - collapsibles or rafts, or whatever the Board of Trade would approve of?
- Yes.

23370. But what would have been provided if effect had been given to your recommendation? There would have been lifeboat accommodation for 1,975 persons. Am I correct?
- 1,090 for the 24 boats actually under davits.

23371. Yes, and with the three-fourths additional?
- Then we should have a space for 1,907 persons. That is up to 50,000 tons gross. Then for 50,000 tons and upwards, 26 boats, with a capacity of 11,000 cubic feet.

The Commissioner:
You need not trouble about that.

Mr. Scanlan:
No, My Lord. (To the witness.) Can you give us the views expressed by the other Officers. Two other Officers were appealed to besides you.

23372. (The Commissioner.) Let me be clear about this. Do the figures you have just given us relate to boats of 45,000 or to 50,000 tons?
- 45,000 tons to 50,000 tons.

23373. Then the figures relate to boats of 45,000 tons?
- Yes, they do, from 45,000 to 50,000.

23374. And therefore would relate to a vessel of the size of the "Titanic"?
- They would, My Lord, yes.

23375. (Mr. Scanlan.) Now, with regard to the other recommendations made, from London and Glasgow. Perhaps you will tell me how their recommendations compare with yours, if you can give us the figures?
- I have not got the figures here. But I may as well say that the London Principal Officer agreed very fairly with these figures, but the Glasgow Principal Officer was considerably below.

The Attorney-General:
I will have these documents got, the reports of the other Officers. I had not intended to call them, and I do not think it is any use to call them, because the only point is what report they made.

23376. (Mr. Scanlan.) I will take it that one Officer agreed with you, and the estimate of the other was lower. Now on those reports what happened, to whom were they submitted?
- They were submitted to the assistant Secretary of the Marine Department and also from him to the Professional Advisor.

23377. (The Commissioner.) Will you give those gentlemen's names?
- Sir Walter Howell and finally to Sir Alfred Chalmers.

23378. (Mr. Scanlan.) Have you the minute relating to the submission of those reports and stating what effect, if any, was given to them? I want to know how those reports were dealt with?
- They were commented upon by the professional member, Sir Alfred Chalmers, and it was decided to make certain recommendations to the advisory committee; but in order to give the advisory committee a free hand and get an unbiased opinion, which would assist us in the matter, we did not deem it desirable to hand on the reports of our Officers.

23379. I want to know what those gentlemen you have told us of decided on those reports?
- The advisory committee or the Department?

23380. The Department of the Board of Trade?
- As I say, they decided that it was a matter which should be submitted to the advisory committee.

23381. You agreed to produce the minute. Does the minute which you were asked to produce and which I understand you have there?
- Yes.

23382. Contain the decision of those gentlemen?
- I do not think it does; no, I have not it on these minutes.

23383. (The Attorney-General.) I think I have it. Just look at this. It looks to me like sir Walter Howell's initial, 24th March, beginning: "We may now send this matter to the advisory committee" (Handing same to the witness.)?
- Yes, this is quite correct. This is the minute dealing with the matter.

23384. (Mr. Scanlan.) Read to my Lord the portion of the minute which gives the decision arrived at by Sir Alfred Chalmers and Sir Walter Howell on this matter, on the report submitted?
- Certainly. On the 24th March, 1911, Sir Alfred Chalmers wrote: "I have gone carefully into all these reports and tables submitted by Mr. Archer and the Principal Officers of Liverpool, London and Glasgow, and on full consideration of all the particulars, and bearing in mind that the scale of the original Life-saving Appliances Committee, which was required to be extended, should be extended consistently and with due regard to the capabilities of the large ships, which do not increase at all in proportion to the increase of tonnage, I am of opinion that the scale submitted by the Principal Officer of Glasgow should quite meet the necessities of the case" -

23385. (The Commissioner.) That is the smaller scale?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Therefore, it is a little important that we should know what that gentleman did recommend.

Mr. Scanlan:
I was going to ask for that now.

23386. (The Attorney-General.) Let him finish what he is reading first.

The Witness:
"And should be the one submitted to the advisory committee for their guidance. As it is framed, it is entirely consistent with the demands made on vessels of smaller tonnage which at present work out so that the full boat and raft capacity required by the scale is equal to about 50 percent of the persons carried when full of emigrants and cabin passengers and with the full crew. For instance, the 'Corsair' and 'Zeeland,' both of just over 11,000 tons gross, are, by the present scale, fitted to carry boat and raft capacity which is equal to a little over 50 percent of the number of persons carried. According to the extended scale, as proposed, the 'Adriatic,' of 24,500 tons, the 'Lusitania,' of 31,500 tons, and the 'Olympic,' of 45,000 tons will also have boat and raft capacity equal to a little over 50 percent of the number of persons carried. We should also suggest the advisability of recommending the revision of Rule 12 in the direction of exempting those vessels which are subdivided in accordance with the bulkhead Committee's Report from carrying any of the additional boats and rafts, as in such subdivision there exists far greater safety than increased boat capacity. With regard to what is said in the reports of the Principal Officers in the matter of extending the manning scale of emigrant ships under section 305 of the act, as soon as the advisory committee have dealt with the boat capacity scale and the board have decided to adopt a certain amended scale, we can then deal with the re -arrangement and extension of our present manning scale, which should be done on the lines laid down by captain Parke." Captain Parke was the Principal Officer for London. This Minute was passed into the hands of the assistant Secretary of the Marine Department, Sir Walter Howell, who wrote: "We may now send this matter to the advisory committee"; and then it is dated March 24th. Sir Hubert Llewellyn Smith signed it on the 28th of the same month, 1911.

23387. (The Attorney-General.) Will you let me have that?
- Yes. (Handing same to the Attorney-General.)

The Attorney-General:
We will have the tables printed in a convenient form, so that they may be on the Notes.

23388. (Mr. Scanlan.) Have you the scale recommended by the Glasgow Officer?
- I have not.

23389. You will produce it?
- It can be produced certainly.

Mr. Scanlan:
Perhaps it will be sent for and produced - the scale recommended by the Glasgow Officer.

The Attorney-General:
I think I have it; I will read it.

The Commissioner: This is Glasgow.

23390. (The Attorney-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) Mr. Harris is Glasgow?
- Yes.

The Attorney-General:
The 45,000 to 50,000 tons is the only one material at the present moment. The minimum number of boats to be placed under davits is eighteen; total minimum cubic contents of boats placed under davits 9,700 feet. Then under davits plus additional boats 16,975 cubic capacity. That is, of course, with the addition of the supplementary three -quarters.

The Commissioner:
That would be sufficient for about 1,700 lives.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, about.

The Commissioner:
This gentleman's figures make provision for about 1,970 lives?

23391. (Mr. Scanlan.) 1,907?
- Yes.

The Attorney-General:
If you would like it on the Notes -

Mr. Scanlan:
I think I should like it on the Notes.

The Attorney-General:

The Commissioner:
Then, Mr. Scanlan, there is a suggestion that if the bulkhead requirements were complied with, the three-fourths might be given up.

Mr. Scanlan:

The Commissioner:
And if you give up the three-fourths, then you get the boat accommodation considerably below the boat accommodation that existed in the "Titanic."

Mr. Scanlan:
Very considerably, My Lord.

The Attorney-General:
Eleven thousand three hundred and twenty-five cubic feet capacity was actually supplied; providing for 1,178 persons, as against 9,625 cubic feet, which would have been the required provision. I am not quite sure whether you are right when I look at Captain Parke's table, which I am going to read. Your Lordship has so far Captain Young's and Mr. Harris's. The only other one which is wanted now of the three to whom the letter was sent is Captain Parke's. That is London. His table for vessels of 45,000 to 50,000 tons is: Minimum number to be placed under davits 26 boats; total minimum cubic contents of boats placed under davits 9,500; and with the additional three-fourths 16,625. That seems to be a little less with a larger number of boats.

The Commissioner:
But of smaller capacity.

23392. (The Attorney-General.) Yes, and carrying therefore less persons. I only want to call attention to it, because Captain Young said it was Glasgow which required the least. It was so in the number of boats, but not apparently the number of persons to be accommodated?
- No, though there was not much difference.

Mr. Scanlan:
I ask as I look upon those documents as important, that we should have them on the Notes.

The Attorney-General:
I have already said that I would have the tables of these three persons put on the Notes so that they shall be available for everybody in the case.

Mr. Scanlan:
I am obliged.

Mr. Edwards:
And the Reports themselves?

The Attorney-General:
If you like, but I think that is too much.

The Commissioner:
The points have been read, and you will find what has been read will be on the Notes.

Mr. Edwards:
I thought they were only passages from the Reports.

The Commissioner:
I understood the whole Report had been read.

The Attorney-General:
My friend is right in this, that the only Report which you have had read is Captain Young's. You have not had the letters and Report of Captain Parke and Mr. Harris. We will have the tables, and I daresay it will be convenient to have, and I will have, the whole three printed with the proper Table appended.

The Commissioner:
Very well, but we do not want them read now.

23393. (Mr. Scanlan.) It appears that the only report submitted to the advisory committee was the report submitted by Mr. Harris?
- Yes.

23394. Can you tell me when this report was submitted to the advisory committee?
- On the 29th March, I think. It is on the minutes.

Do you find in any of the reports any suggestion that the additional three-fourths under Rule 12 should be dispensed with?

23395. (The Attorney-General.) I have a document here which looks to me like the document. Will you just see? This seems to be the letter (Handing letter to Witness.) - That was sent on the 3rd April.

23396. (Mr. Scanlan.) Whose letter is that?
- It is the letter from the Marine Department signed by Sir Walter Howell to the advisory committee in consequence of those reports. That letter was sent to the advisory committee on the 3rd April, 1911.

23397. Is it a short letter?
- It is not very long.

23398. That may be the letter that we have had already.

The Commissioner:
No, I do not think so.

Mr. Scanlan:
Perhaps you will read it, Captain Young.

The Commissioner:
This is a letter of 1911?

The Attorney-General:
Yes, that is right. I think we have had it read. It is the letter which really constitutes the reference to the advisory committee which reported in July of 1911. It is the first document on the typewritten paper that was handed up, I think. I remember seeing the table, at all events.

The Commissioner:
This is the letter that had the effect of producing the document that Mr. Carlisle signed when he was soft.

Mr. Scanlan:

The Attorney-General:
I read the letter out, and the memorandum, and it is one of the letters which your Lordship will find copied in its proper place in the memorandum which we are having printed. It would be convenient to everybody to get this while we are upon it, as your Lordship has not the document before you. Your Lordship will find when you look at that letter which I have now before me - it is important to note this - that no scale was sent to the advisory committee. What was sent was a skeleton, leaving columns blank for the minimum number of boats and for the minimum cubic contents. I only say this because it will, perhaps, recall it to your recollection. I pointed out that when they did come to report they had adopted a different gradation from the one which had been suggested in blank by the Board of Trade.

The Commissioner:
Yes; and now will you remind me again of what the provision made by the scale recommended by that Committee was?

23399. (The Attorney-General.) 8,300; and then, of course, came the question of the additional accommodation: 45,000 tons and upwards 16 minimum number of boats under davits, and an additional 8 to be readily available for attachment, and total minimum cubic content of boats required, 8,300. What did they advise about the three-fourths; it is paragraph 6?

The Witness:
Yes, that is the one referred to in Mr. Carlisle's examination.

The Commissioner:
That vessels divided into watertight compartments to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade should be exempt from the requirements.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, that is the one as to which Mr. Carlisle said it came to the same thing; you add something to the 8,300, and then in vessels of this kind you take it off again by paragraph 6. So that it works out, according to that, that the requirement would be 8,300 -
that you really ought to compare, comparing like with like, with the 5,500 in the table as it existed at that time and at present.

23400. (Mr. Scanlan.) From the minute of Sir Alfred Chalmers and Sir Walter Howell your
recommendation was, of course, not submitted to the advisory committee?
- No; no recommendations were submitted to the advisory committee.

23401. Except that of Mr. Harris?
- No.

23402. (The Attorney-General.) No, that was not. That is why I was anxious to correct it?
- We desired to leave the advisory committee an absolutely free hand.

Mr. Scanlan:
The only direction given was that they should have regard to ships which were divided suitably into watertight compartments.

23403. (The Attorney-General.) I do not think they say that.

The Witness:
There is no recommendation of that nature.

The Attorney-General:
Not quite in that form. My friend is right in this. It left it open absolutely to them. "I am further to state that the board would be glad to learn whether the advisory committee are of opinion that Rule 12 should or should not be revised so as to exempt altogether from the requirements of additional boats and/or rafts those vessels which are divided into efficient watertight compartments to the satisfaction of the Board of Trade." They answered that by paragraph 6 of the report.

23404. (Mr. Scanlan.) When you came to occupy your present position in the Board of Trade, did it come within your province to give any decision as to the number of boats which were actually carried by the "Titanic"? Was that matter referred to you?
- No, it was not referred to me.

23405. Were you not the Officer to whom it would be referred?
- If it were necessary to refer it; had there been any doubt as to whether the vessel had complied with the existing requirements or not; not otherwise.

23406. Were any plans at all submitted to you?
- No.

23407. No plans?
- No.

23408. Your opinion now in view of the "Titanic" accident is that a larger provision of lifeboats should be made. I take that from your evidence yesterday?
- So far as it is practicable to carry it.

23409. And I think you have expressed the view that it is practicable in the case of a ship like the "Titanic" to carry a full complement of boats for all on board?
- I do not say that.

Mr. Scanlan:
"What is practicable," you said.

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