British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of William D. Archer
I am told it is 46,000.
The last line was the one I first gave you. I will tell you why it was taken as 39,830 - because in the course of the evidence on the last occasion we had some discussion, and it was taken as between those two.
What was the exact tonnage of the "Titanic"?
Forty-six thousand three hundred and twenty-eight.
Then you take the last line.
It is the same thing, only it comes to a little more; it is 42,656 cubic capacity.
Then is that accommodation for 44,205?
Approximately, yes. It does not follow, of course, that they all have a divisor of 10, but approximately that is the case.
How many could the "Titanic" carry altogether?
Three thousand five hundred and forty-seven passengers and crew.
And this would give a boat accommodation of more than the carrying capacity.
If the "Titanic" had been fitted as an emigrant ship she could have carried something like 10,000.
Yes, I know. The Attorney-General was going to draw my attention to the difference between the carrying capacity of the German boats and the English boats. What I mean is the German boats of the size of the "Titanic" would be certified to carry a good many more, as I understand, than the "Titanic" was certified to carry. Is not that the case?
Yes, that is right. I am not sure that I have sufficient material to do the sum or to get it done; I do not think we have, but we can give you some idea of what the requirements are. The proposition is right.
24281 (Mr. Scanlan - To the witness.) Mr. Archer, from your practical experience as a shipwrights' Surveyor, do you see any difficulty in placing on the boat deck of a ship like the "Titanic" sufficient boats to accommodate 3,547 persons?
- May I ask if you mean a new vessel which is under construction, or in the "Olympic" that is already constructed?
24282. Yes, a new vessel under construction?
- No, there is no reason why. It is quite possible to put boats on board such a vessel to accommodate 3,500 persons.
24283. If you were asked to give a recommendation as to the boats, what proportion of wooden boats and what proportion of rafts or boats like the Engelhardt would you have?
- I would not have rafts at all.
24284. Take Engelhardt boats?
- The Engelhardt boat is a somewhat new type of boat, and we have not had a very large experience of it. I would not suggest that more than about half of the boats should be of that Engelhardt type, which I call a deck boat, with collapsible bulwarks.
24285. Do you think that boats sufficient to accommodate so many people could be carried, and leave at the same time sufficient working space on the boat deck?
- Yes, so far as I am in a position to judge. I am not a nautical man; I do not know much about lowering boat, but so far as I am in a position to judge, I think there would be sufficient space around the boats.
24286. Might some of the boats be carried inboard?
- Yes, they must be.
24287. Have you any idea as to any arrangement for changing lifeboats from the starboard side to the port side, or from the port side to the starboard side in stress of weather?
- I know that some such plan has been mooted, but personally I have never seen such an arrangement.
24288. Is that one of the matters that you think should be submitted to the Committee that you desire?
- It is one of them, yes.
24289. (The Commissioner.) Would it be of any use to carry motor-boats?
- I think, My Lord, that motor-boats would be useful, a certain proportion of them.
24290. What will be the advantage of them?
- The chief advantage, I suggest, would be their greater speed, which would enable them to -
24291. Reach another ship?
- Yes, reach another ship.
24292. Would they require as large a crew to navigate them as the lifeboats?
- They would require, I think, as large a skilled crew; they could not be navigated with less than two skilled men.
24293. But, with two skilled men, would they require any other men at all?
- I should think with two skilled men they could be worked.
- So far as I am in a position to judge, My Lord; I am not a nautical man; I have no nautical experience.
Just before my friend proceeds, My Lord, May I supplement what I was saying just now to you about the German requirements. I wanted to refer your Lordship to a passage of the Notes. Your Lordship will remember I gave you upon the last occasion the figures agreed between my friend representing the White Star Line and ourselves, of the cubic capacity which would have been required in boating accommodation according to the German requirements for the "Titanic." The difference is that in the figures which we have given here at page 627 of the Note that we allow there that the "Titanic" would have received the dispensation on account of efficient watertight bulkheads in the "Titanic," and therefore would have only been required to supply a supplementary half and not the total figure. The difference, therefore, between the figure which you find here of 42,656, which is the total required under davits, and a similar cubic capacity required not under davits, that is altered at page 627 by bringing the figure to a cubic capacity of 31,992, giving accommodation for 3,198 persons. That is how it stands. If you add what I have called your attention to here on page 627, you get the figure which is an agreed figure of calculation, and which corresponds with this figure, although it does not appear at first sight to do so, because in the last columns on the right-hand side you will see the vessel is treated as not having efficient watertight bulkheads, and therefore you get the double cubic capacity required, amounting to 42,000 odd. If you treat her as having efficient watertight bulkheads then the figure is the one I gave at page 627 of 31,992, giving a person accommodation of 3,198. That is what is agreed would have to be provided by the "Titanic" according to the German requirements.
Being 300 or 400 less than the number which would by law be permitted.
Yes, the total number was 3,547.
Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.
24295. I would like, first of all, to get from you precisely what your position is in the Marine Department of the Board of Trade in relation to the other officials. As I understand it, you are the shipwright Surveyor?
- The Principal Ship's Surveyor.
You are a Shipwright Surveyor, are you not?
I understood him to say "Principal Ship Surveyor."
24296. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I am only putting the question for the purpose of getting the distinction between a shipwright and an engineer?
- My title is "Principal Ship Surveyor."
24297. Having got your title, I should like to know your duties. In the case of the construction of a ship, where any question arose as to the construction, would it come before you?
- Any question regarding the construction of the hull of the vessel would come before me, either directly from the surveyor or through the assistant Secretary of the Marine Department.
24298. With regard to questions of the machinery, would they come before you or the other Officers?
- They would come before the Engineer surveyor-in-Chief.
24299. You are the responsible Officer in the matter of the construction of the hull of the "Titanic." Is that so?
- Yes, that is so.
24300. And any questions which were referred to the Marine Department by your Belfast Surveyor were questions which, in fact, came before you for the expression of your opinion and advice?
24301. Was there any question that came before you as to the number and character of the bulkheads in the "Titanic"?
- As to the character of the bulkheads, yes.
24302. Not as to the number?
24302a. What was the question as to character that came before you?
- The question as to character was with regard to the bulkhead which is marked a on that diagram. (Indicating.) The surveyor, Mr. Carruthers, wrote to me, pointing out that the upper portion of that bulkhead was constructed nearer to the stem of the vessel than the board's instructions contemplated, and asking whether he should pass it or not.
24303. (The Attorney-General.) Does that mean a step forward?
- A step forward.
24304. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) What other questions as to the character of the bulkheads came before you?
- No question with regard to the bulkheads as bulkheads was submitted to me.
24305. Let us be perfectly clear upon this. We already have it in evidence that inasmuch as there was no application by the owners or the builders to get boat exemption under Rule 12 - that we quite understand - there was no question of bulkheads qua bulkheads coming before you, but only as to the questions of their strength and efficiency, so that we can clear that away right at once, and you can address your answer to the questions I put?
- An application was made by the builders for the assignment of a freeboard to the vessel.
24306. Have you their application; have you the correspondence relating to this?
- Yes, I have most of it here. I have some letters from them.
My Lord, May I say that in the view that I have taken of this matter, this is of very great importance, and I ask formally for the production of the correspondence between the heads of the Marine Department in London and their surveyor in Belfast, and between Messrs. Harland and Wolff and the surveyors of the Marine Department relating to the question of freeboard, and the construction of bulkheads.
Is there any reason why that should not be given?
I have not seen it, and I do not know what it is. I cannot tell till I see. The only question that can arise here - I do not imagine that it will be so - is that there may be something against public interest in the production of the document, but I cannot say without seeing it.
I do not suppose any difficulty of that kind will raise.
I cannot answer the question without satisfying myself that it is so - I mean that I cannot from the public interest point of view. As I say, I do not anticipate it will arise, but I cannot say that I will give him any correspondence without looking at it. But that will be the only objection.
I think it would be better - I do not want the Note encumbered with a vast number of documents which may be of no relevancy at all - for someone for the Board of Trade and somebody for Harland and Wolff to get this correspondence together, and let Mr. Edwards see it.
I do not anticipate there will be any difficulty.
That is all you want to see, Mr. Edwards, I suppose?
Yes, My Lord.
If you find anything in it that is important, then you must draw my attention to it.
Yes, My Lord. Probably I can get pretty nearly as much as I want from this Witness, but I should like to have the opportunity of looking at the correspondence because quite an important point turns upon it as to relative responsibility.
There will be no difficulty about it unless something occurs which I do not for a moment anticipate.
I do not anticipate any difficulty of that kind.
24307. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) You said there was an application from Messrs. Harland and Wolff as to the freeboard. Just to make the position perfectly clear, the greater the freeboard under your rules the less height is there need for the bulkheads to go. That is so, is it not? That is to say, with a variation in the freeboard there may be a variation in the height of the bulkhead?
24308. What was their application?
- Their application, in the first place, was merely a formal one for the assignment of a freeboard.
24309. In reply to that application you assigned them a freeboard?
- Not at once.
24310. I did not say at once?
24311. After some discussion you assigned them a freeboard?
24312. What was the freeboard that you assigned them?
- Do you desire the freeboard in feet and inches?
Yes, please, because I want to get the variation suggested.
I am told you have all the material correspondence that there is with reference to freeboard.
I have the material correspondence, but there may be some other letters.
My friend, Mr. Clement Edwards, will see that he has got them there, and I make no objection to their being produced.
Very well, you have them all now, so that you can look at them as much as you like.
I think, perhaps, My Lord, it might be a saving of time, if Mr. Archer has all these letters, if they are simply handed over, and I will look through them during the luncheon interval, and get rid of the other points with Mr. Archer.
I think that is a very wise thing to do, and there is no reason why you should not do it.
Will Mr. Archer kindly hand me, then, the correspondence relating to the bulkheads.
Just hand the bundle of correspondence, relating to the freeboard and bulkheads, to Mr. Edwards.
(The correspondence was handed to Mr. Edwards.)
24313. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) We will leave this bulkhead question entirely for the moment. I should like to ask you whether, when it was first suggested that there were going to be some ships of the type of the "Olympic" and the "Titanic" built, you were called upon or whether, in fact, you did give any special consideration to the problem of the much greater size in relation to safety?
24314. No special consideration of that sort took place at any time?
24315. Did you think that scantlings which were right and proper for ships of the size of the "Adriatic" would be right and proper in a ship of the size of the "Titanic"?
- Pardon me, Sir, I thought you were referring to bulkheads.
24316. No, I said I had left bulkheads entirely?
- I beg your pardon.
24317. I now ask you whether, as a responsible official for passing the construction of the hull of the ship you gave any consideration to the problem of the much greater size of ships, such as the "Titanic," in relation to safety?
- Oh, yes, certainly.
24318. In what form, did that problem come before you?
- The matter came up in this way, that under the tables of Freeboard, the loadline tables, which we use for assigning the freeboard of a vessel, the strength of the vessel has to be taken into account. The question of strength came up in this way. Under the loadline tables approved by the Board of Trade the question of strength has to be considered before a loadline or freeboard is assigned to a vessel, and there is a certain standard laid down in the freeboard tables.
24319. Do the freeboard tables to which you refer lay down standards which would cover ships above 26,000 tons?
- Oh, yes.
24320. Have you a copy of those tables?
24321. Was that table C?
- This is the whole book. Table C is included in it.
24322. Are there scantlings in that book for ships between 26,000 tons and 46,000 tons?
- Not scantlings, but a standard of strength.
24323. How do you test your standard of strength - how do you arrive at your standard of strength apart from the question of scantlings?
- We do this. We get from the builders the drawings of the vessel. One of these drawings is a midship section. That midship section is a section as if you cut the ship right through the middle. It shows the thickness of all the plates, the longitudinal members of the ship - for example, the thickness and width of all the plates forming the skin of the ship and the deck of the ship.
24324. But those are the scantlings, are they not?
- Those are the scantlings of the ship. We then make an estimate of what the stress on the gunwale of that ship in tons per square inch will be, on the assumption that the vessel is subjected to a bending moment equal to the whole displacement of the ship, in this case about 52,000 tons multiplied by one -thirtieth of the vessel's length. In that way we get at a certain figure of so many tons per square inch on the shear strake. We then, if I may so say, design another vessel, that is to say, we draw a midship section of a vessel having the scantlings of Lloyd's Rules. But it necessarily is a much smaller vessel, because Lloyd's Rules have no scantlings for vessels 850 feet long. We treat this smaller vessel in precisely the same way as we treated the "Titanic," the large vessel; that is to say, we draw her midship section and we get the thickness of her plates, and we find out what the stress in tons per square inch on the gunwale in on precisely the same assumption - that is, that the bending moment is equal to the whole displacement of that ship when laden as prescribed by the freeboard tables, Multiplied by one -thirtieth of the vessel's length. We then compare those two figures.
24325. Now, we will go back to my two questions. First of all, have you any means of testing the strength of the ship apart from the scantlings?
- I do not quite understand that question.
24326. You spoke of these tests: they are purely theoretical tests, are they not?
24327. They are based upon the measurements; that is to say, "scantlings" is only the technical term for measurements?
- Thickness of material.
24328. What I want to put to you is this: Have you any other means of testing the strength of the ship except by reference to her measurements?
24329. Have you in that table to which you refer any measurements for a ship above 26,000 tons?
24330. If you have no measurements for a ship above 26,000 tons, and if you have no means of testing the strength of a ship except by reference to her measurements, how do you test, and how, in fact, did you test, the strength of the "Titanic," which was a ship of 45,000 tons?
- In the manner which I have described to you, Sir.
24331. But where do you get your starting figures from?
- My starting figures?
24332. For the purpose of making your calculations to which you refer?
- From Lloyd's Rules.
24333. Are there any of Lloyd's Rules which, in fact, give you particulars for any ship of this size, or anything like the size of the "Titanic"?
- No. May I add one word of explanation? The whole thing is based upon this assumption, that the tendency to bend the ship will be in proportion to the displacement, that is, the total weight of the ship and her length will be a certain definite proportion of the total displacement - the weight of the ship and her length. If that is not true, then some fault may be found in the method, but you will see that by basing it on the total weight of the ship we do take account of the size of the ship.
24334. In taking account of the size of the ship, do you take account of the detailed measurements in every part of the ship?
- In every material part of the ship.
24335. Was that done in the case of the "Titanic"?
- Yes, so far as my judgment goes.
24336. I am not talking about your judgment. I am on a question of fact, Mr. Archer. Was that done by the Marine Department of the Board of Trade in the case of the "Titanic"?
- May I ask you to repeat the question; perhaps I have not exactly followed you.
24337. You say that you arrive at the bendability of the ship by reference to her breadth and depth and length?
- No, Sir, I did not mention breadth and depth at all.
24338. Length and weight?
24339. I wish you would speak just a little louder, if you will. I then asked you this question, whether in arriving at that, you took into consideration the strength of different parts of details of the ship?
- Yes, I did.
24340. Do you say that that was done by the Marine Department of the Board of Trade in the case of the "Titanic"?
- It was done by me.
24341. Have you the particulars in writing by which you made these different calculations?
24342. Can you produce them?
24343. Will you produce them?
24344. (The Commissioner.) Are they here?
- I think so.
Will you tell me what we are doing at present? What part of the Enquiry are your questions directed to, Mr. Edwards?
They are directed to the question of seeing whether there were right tests made in the case of the "Titanic" as to the strength and efficiency; and, secondly, My Lord, whether, with a view to avoiding similar trouble -
What do you mean by "similar trouble"?
I would rather put it in this way, My Lord: Whether by way of reducing to a minimum the possibility of a recurrence of the "Titanic" disaster the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, by its methods as adopted in the case of the "Titanic," can be deemed a sufficient and an efficient body for applying tests to other ships that may be constructed?
I am at a loss to understand what your present examination has to do with the disaster that overtook the "Titanic." It is not suggested that her scantlings were not right or that her scantlings had anything to do with the disaster.
Well, My Lord, with very great respect, when I come back to the bulkheads, your Lordship will see that there is a very great deal to do with the question of scantlings. I am really on the third question of the Enquiry: "In the actual design and construction of the "Titanic" what special provisions were made for the safety of the vessel and the lives of those on board"; and so on?
I only want to understand it. Are you going to suggest that if the scantlings had been different the iceberg would not have knocked a hole an her side?
I do not go quite as far as that, My Lord, but I think there is a ground for suggesting here - I mean, frankly, it is a matter which I shall comment upon to your Lordship with a view to your Lordship carefully consulting with the expert Assessors who sit by your side - that if there had been right tests to test the strength of the bulkheads (I am going to suggest that the bulkhead between 5 and 6, on the evidence, did give way.) possibly that bulkhead might not have given way. I am further going to suggest to your Lordship that in this case the ship was not constructed according to the Rules as laid down by the Board of Trade. What I am going to call attention to is this, that either Messrs. Harland and Wolff the builders, defied the Board of Trade, or that there was extraordinary laxity on the part of the officials of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade to allow, in the construction of this ship, a departure from those Rules which they have already laid down.
Will you suggest to the witness the particular rules of the Board of Trade which you say they failed to enforce?
Yes, My Lord; that is why I want the correspondence in the matter of the bulkheads.
Then you are not speaking to it at the present moment.
I can do it at once, My Lord, but I thought it would save the time of the Court if I did it after I had an opportunity of examining the correspondence.
Then perhaps you had better adjourn your cross-examination of this gentleman at present.
As your Lordship pleases. There were certain matters which are incidental to the other which I was trying to get at, because your Lordship will bear in mind that the question of the bulkheads arises here - not qua bulkheads for the purpose of Rule 12, but merely as part and parcel of the structural strength of the ship. What I was getting from this Witness preliminary to the other was exactly what was done to test the structural strength of the ship by the Marine Department of the Board of Trade.
He has told you what was done. You will have, I suppose, at the proper time to tell me why it is not right. I tell you candidly at present I do not understand it. I daresay you do, but I don't.
I think that as soon as ever we return to the bulkhead question this correspondence will disclose what I understand is the case.
There are two gentlemen beside you to whom you have entrusted this correspondence, I suppose, with the object of their examining it. Is that so?
That is so, My Lord.
I have not seen them doing their work.
I take the responsibility for it. I do not propose putting them in the witness -box.
I would like to know where we are upon one point. My friend has raised a point again about the bulkhead between 5 and 6 boiler section. I am speaking from recollection. I have not looked at it for some time but I understood my friend had definitely given that up on the last occasion.
So did I.
I think that probably what the learned Attorney-General has in his mind is the reference which I made two or three days ago as to the suggestion that a hole had been made.
What I then said was that, from my information, this had not affected the strength of the bulkhead as affected by the fire; and that, therefore, I deemed it immaterial in any event; but I have not abandoned, and I do not abandon, the suggestion that this bulkhead was seriously damaged by fire on the evidence exactly as it stands before the Court.
I do not understand that. You seem to be blowing hot and cold.