British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 25

Testimony of William H. Chantler

Examined by Mr. ROWLATT.

24031. You are a ship Surveyor in the Marine Department of the Board of Trade stationed at Belfast?
- Yes.

24032. Your duties are to survey ships for various purposes, but in connection with the "Titanic," I think your only duties were with regard to the boats?
- Yes.

24033. All you did was with regard to the boats?
- To inspect the boats while building in the boat builder's shop.

24034. You have served your Apprenticeship as a shipwright?
- Yes.

24035. Including boat building?
- Including boat building.

24036. Then you were an Admiralty draughtsman?
- Subsequently to my Apprenticeship, yes.

24037. And you have been ship Surveyor to the Board of Trade at Belfast from the 1st March, 1895?
- Yes, from the 1st March, 1895, up to the present.

24038. On the 19th May, 1911, did you receive special instructions to look closely into the construction of all new boats?
- From the Board of Trade, yes.

24039. That was the 19th May, 1911?
- Yes, the 19th May, 1911.

24040. Did you begin to inspect the "Titanic's" boats on the 30th May, 1911?
- Yes.

24041. After this?
- Yes, ten days after.

24042. Did you inspect them carefully?
- Yes.

24043. Fourteen lifeboats and the two other boats?
- There were 14 section A boats and two of section D.

24044. Were they well made and of good material?
- They were well made and of good material.

24045. Would they be safe to lower from the davits full of passengers?
- I made a calculation and came to the conclusion that they would be.

24046. Now, what is the full capacity of those boats?
- I think it was 618 cubic feet.

24047. How many people ought to be lowered in one of these lifeboats?
- Under the statutory Rules they should carry 65.

24048. The boats that you saw, how many people would they take safely from the davits, in your judgment?
- Well, as many as the statutory Rules would allow.

24049. How many; cannot you give me a number; it would save a lot of time?
- A matter of 70.

24050. Is that marked on the boat in any way?
- No, I do not think it is. I did not see the boats on leaving the shop, but my impression is it was not.

24051. You could produce the scantlings of the boats and the materials?
- Yes, I can.

Mr. Rowlatt:
I do not think it is necessary to go further.

The Commissioner:
I do not think there has been any suggestion that the boats were not well built and of good material. Their capacity may be another thing.

Mr. Rowlatt:
It was with regard to their strength to carry down the passengers.

The Commissioner:
There is a suggestion that somebody thought there was a danger of buckling, but there was no buckling, and one of the boats is said to have gone down with seventy people in it?

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship is quite right; that is the only explanation we have got of why some of the boats were lowered with comparatively few passengers; that is to say, they were not loaded with their full complement, and the explanation is what your Lordship says.

The Commissioner:
That is one explanation; but another is that they could not get the people into them.

The Attorney-General:
Yes; it does not apply to all, I agree.

24052. (Mr. Rowlatt - To the witness.) Have you made a calculation to find what strain the boats would bear in being lowered?
- Yes, I made such a calculation. The results I arrived at were that the stress at the gunwale would be 2 cwts. to the square inch, and at the keel about 2 1/4 cwts.

24053. When did you make that calculation?
- After the casualty occurred.

24054. Is that more than the stress which would be brought to bear by the boat being lowered with 70 people in it?
- That is the stress that would be brought to bear with 65 persons in the boat, and with the boat suspended from the davits, not water-borne.

24055. Do you say that you made a calculation that shows the boat would stand a greater stress than that produced by the people being in it or not?
- The result of my calculation was that -

24056. That it would bear a greater stress?
- That it would bear a greater stress.

24057. Much greater?
- Considerably greater.

24058. Can you give us a percentage?
- Twice as much.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

24059. Was it part of your duty to test the stress on the falls?
- No.

24060. And you did not, in point of fact, do that?
- No; my inspection did not extend further than the period during which the boats were constructed in the builders' shop.

The Commissioner:
None of the falls gave way?

24061. (Mr. Scanlan.) No, My Lord; this is the Board of Trade test. (To the witness.) Did you make any calculation as to the sufficiency of the falls, or the capacity of the lifeboats until after the accident?
- It was not my duty to do so.

24062. Is it usual to mark on lifeboats their carrying capacity - I mean the content of passengers?
- I have seen the dimensions marked upon the boat, and also the capacity, but I am unable to say whether this was done.

24063. Or whether it is the usual thing to do?
- It is not compulsory; in some cases it is done and in others not.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

24064. You spoke of making a calculation. Did you make any actual test, or see any actual physical test made of the strength of these boats?
- I did not. As I explained a few moments ago, My inspection did not extend beyond the period during which the boats were constructed in the shop.

24065. Were you, for the purposes of the "Titanic," the responsible surveyor for seeing that these boats were sufficient?
- I was not.

24066. Who was?
- The surveyor that issued the declaration.

24067. (The Commissioner.) Then what was your duty?
- I had special instructions from the Board of Trade to take care and watch the construction of boats being built in our district for use on ships.

24068. And what was the duty of the other gentleman you told us of?
- To measure the capacity of the boats and of the air cases, see the equipment is in order and issue a certificate to that effect.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

24069. Was it you who measured the capacity of the boats?
- I measured them simply for the purpose of my strength calculation.

24070. Can you explain to me the discrepancy in the numbers given in the two appendices?
- I am unable to do that. I was not responsible for that.

The Commissioner:
That has been explained; it is said to have been some clerical error.

Mr. Harbinson:
That is between 1,167 and 1,178.

(The witness withdrew.)