British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 25

Testimony of Maurice H. Clarke

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

24084. Captain Clarke, I believe you hold a Master's certificate?
- Extra Master.

24085. Are you Assistant Emigration Officer under the Board of Trade, stationed at Southampton?
- I am.

24086. I believe you have been for some 13 years with the Department?
- I have.

24087. Were you the Officer whose duty it was to clear the "Titanic" as Emigration Officer?
- I was.

24088. For that purpose, after her arrival at Southampton before she sailed on this voyage, did you visit her?
- I did.

24089. And did you visit her and go over her generally for a period of about three days?
- I did.

24090. To inform yourself of her accommodation and all the other matters that it is your duty to inform yourself of?
- Quite correct.

24091. You can give us all the details of this if they are wanted?
- Certainly.

24092. I do not propose to ask you. Amongst other things, did you make a plan of the boats?
- I made a sketch.

24093. Is that your duty?
- Well, it was just a guide for me. As I should be visiting that ship a considerable number of times, I thought it was as well for me to have a sketch.

24094. Now, turning to a matter about which a good many questions have been asked, did you on the day of sailing muster the crew?
- I did.

24095. What do you do when you muster a crew?
- Well, we have all the hands mustered on the various decks. In a ship of the size of the "Titanic" it was necessary to muster them on more than one deck. The firemen are usually mustered on one deck by themselves, and the sailors on another deck, and the stewards on another deck. The articles are then brought out by one of the ship-Masters attached to the Company and their names are read out, and as their names are read out they pass before us; that is to say, I have associated with me two medical Officers attached to the Board of Trade who medically inspect them, and I see that the numbers are correct. They each pass before us and they are tallied off on the articles.

24096. Were the boats swung out?
- They were.

24097. How many?
- Only two.

24098. Is that in accordance with the practice?
- That is the usual practice.

24099. Were they lowered into the water?
- They were lowered into the water, and the crews exercised under their respective Officers.

24100. Was that done in a manner that commended itself to you?
- Entirely.

24101. What do you mean by saying that the crews were exercised?
- The boats' crews; about eight men and an Officer in each boat.

24102. Those are sailormen, are they not?
- Yes, always sailormen.

24103. (The Commissioner.) No firemen or stewards?
- No firemen or stewards.

24104. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) I think you also inspected the third class passengers' quarters?
- I did.

24105. Were they in proper order?
- Yes, they were in a very good and cleanly condition.

24106. This inspection lasted, in all, for how many days?
- I visited the ship one day on her arrival for a very short time, and the next day I visited her was just before sailing, and then on the morning of sailing. Of course, it is a very busy day. I start somewhere about half-past 7 in the morning and I carry on till the ship sails at noon. My time is very fully occupied on that day.

24107. As the result of it all, did you, in fact, give this vessel her clearance?
- I did.

24108. And was she in proper order to go to sea as an emigrant ship when she sailed from Southampton?
- Undoubtedly.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

24109. Was it your duty to see whether all the lifeboats on the "Titanic" were equipped in accordance with the provisions of the Rules and Regulations made by the Board of Trade under the merchant Shipping Acts?
- That had already been done at Belfast.

24110. It did not fall to your duty?
- No, it did not fall to me.

24111. Have you any idea as to what would be an efficient method of drilling crews to man lifeboats in case of accident?
- Yes; I think that all hands that form the crew should be exercised in handling the ship's boats, both firemen and stewards.

24112. I take it that up to the time of the "Titanic" disaster that had not been the practice?
- Not in the White Star Line.

24113. Not in the White Star Line?
- No.

24114. Had it been the practice on other lines to have boat drills in which all the crew of the different grades would take part?
- No, that has not been the custom. It has been the custom to muster them and muster them at the various boats in accordance with their boat stations.

24115. There was not even a muster on the "Titanic"; nothing but the lowering of the two boats you have told us of?
- Except my muster - the muster to see whether the numbers were correct.

24116. Do you think in having boat drills such as you have described where the different branches of the crew took part, that it would be desirable to lower more than two boats?
- Possibly; in view of the "Titanic" disaster, perhaps it would be.

24117. The whole of the boats, Captain?
- Well, I would not say the whole of the boats; I would say a larger number than two.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

24118. Are you responsible surveyor for testing the strength of the boats?
- Not in this case, no.

24119. Was there any report made to you about a fire having taken place in the bunker in Section 5?
- No.

24120. In the ordinary case ought such a report to have been made to you if there was a serious fire before the ship sailed?
- Yes, if it was a serious fire it ought to have been reported to me.

24121. If it was sufficiently serious for it to be reported - if it was regarded as so serious by the Officer that it ought to be reported to the makers, would it, in your view, be sufficiently serious for a report to be made to you?
- Hardly, it is not an uncommon thing to have these small fires in the bunkers.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

24122. Did you make an examination of the doors and the ladders leading from the third class quarters?
- Yes, I did.

24123. That is, the means of ingress or egress?
- Yes, I did.

24124. At the time you made the examination were those doors locked?
- Some of them were.

24125. And were the barriers in any way obstructed?
- Well, they were locked.

24126. How long before the ship left Southampton did you make your examination?
- I started about 8 o'clock in the morning. I started to make my examination then, and she left at noon.

24127. So far as you know, when she left were these doors locked?
- No doubt some of them were, but those are only emergency doors that are locked, not the doors to the third class passengers.

24128. Quite; that is the emergency doors that led to the boat deck?
- Yes. Would you like to know the reason?

24129. I do not mind?
- Well, the reason for having those doors locked is to keep the firemen and stewards and other people from passing through into the different places on sailing day. They are very congested. The ship is very congested from a lot of visitors - something like a thousand visitors.

Mr. Harbinson:
I think it is quite fair you should give that explanation.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

24130. I suppose you have had considerable experience at sea as a Master mariner?
- Yes, I have had 22 years at sea altogether.

24131. And that would make you eminently qualified for the surveying of deck equipments, boats, and that kind of thing?
- Well, I should think so.

24132. Better than an engineer?
- Well, you had better ask my Department about that.

24133. The deck equipment would be your department, and not the engineer's. And are you the only nautical Surveyor so far as you know who ever went on board the "Titanic"?
- I am the only nautical Surveyor, but there was another nautical Surveyor that visited after me, Captain Sharp, at Queenstown.

24134. And was your examination limited to what was necessary for the emigration clearance?
- Yes. I followed up Mr. Carruthers's survey; he took the first part and I took the second part.

24135. Supposing this had not been an emigrant ship, would you have had to go on board her at all?
- No.

24136. Would there have been any nautical Surveyor?
- No.

24137. Are you satisfied that the present method of measurement of space for persons in boats according to the Board of Trade Regulations is satisfactory? Do you think there really is room in the boats for all the people?
- Do you think that is a question I should answer before my superior Officers, My Lord?

The Commissioner:
I am sure I do not know.

The Attorney-General:
There has been a question raised about the proportion of depth to breadth.

Mr. Holmes - To the witness:
As a practical man, you ought to know.

24138. (The Commissioner.) If you are going to ask everybody whether he cannot suggest anything better, we shall have endless suggestions. I never knew a person in his position who had not ideas of his own, which differed from the ideas of everybody else. We shall have endless suggestions. (To the witness.) But I see no objection to your answering the question. Do not you take exception to the way in which these measurements are taken?
- I think the board - my department - are already considering the subject.

24139. (The Commissioner.) That is not the question at all. First of all, will you answer me one question?
- Yes.

24140. Do you think the method employed at present is right?
- No.

The Commissioner:
I knew he would say "No," and if you called a dozen other people they would all say "No," and they would all differ from him.

24141. (Mr. Holmes.) Not necessarily, My Lord. (To the witness.) Is your department taking steps to amend that measurement?
- Yes, I believe they are going to make the divisor 12 instead of 10.

24142. (The Commissioner.) Are they going to adopt your plan?
- My plan?

24143. Yes?
- I am not consulted in those matters.

24144. Do answer me?
- No.

24145. Are not you living in hopes that they will?
- Yes.

24146. And if they do not you will still think they are wrong?
- Yes, undoubtedly.

24147. (Mr. Holmes.) Is it your idea that the divisor should be 12?
- Instead of 10, yes.

24148. And that, you say, is the idea which the Board of Trade are considering adopting?
- Yes; I based that on this, that the board have given very much attention to the question of these lifeboats long before the "Titanic" disaster, and I formed that opinion.

24149. That is why I ask you?
- The board have gone into this question very fully - long before the "Titanic" disaster.

24150. And worked out upon that computation, the boats would be considered fit to hold less people than now?
- Undoubtedly, and probably that will be made law.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

24151. You have taken part in the survey of other companies besides the White Star, have you not?
- Yes.

24152. Is it not a Rule in other companies that the whole of the three departments - the deck, the steward, and stokehold departments take part in the boat drill?
- Yes, in some of the companies they do, and the men like it.

24153. You never saw any difficulty with the firemen?
- No.

24154. Those who had to take part in this?
- No.

24155. (The Commissioner.) Have you ever heard it said that the firemen object to the boat drill?
- Yes, I have heard it objected to.

24156. I thought you said just now that you had not?
- Mr. Cotter is speaking of other companies.

24157. Is it only in the White Star Line that the firemen object to boat drill?
- Yes, in Southampton.

24158. And why do they object to it in the White Star Line and not in the other lines?
- I do not know; I could not tell you.

24159. They have some dislike for the White Star Line?
- I could not tell you at all.

24160. But is it the fact that in the White Star Line the firemen object to take part in the boat drill?
- Well, I believe they have.

24161. And it is not the fact in any other line?
- Well, not to my knowledge; I have never heard it.

24162. And you cannot explain to me why they should dislike the boat drill in the White Star boats and submit to it in the other boats?
- I could not tell you, My Lord.

24163. It seems peculiar. I am asked to ask you if you have ever seen firemen assisting in a boat drill in boats in Southampton?
- No, not in my muster.

24164. In any boats?
- No, but they do it before I go to the ship.

24165. But you have never seen it?
- No; I only ask for two boats to be lowered. On sailing day I will have nothing else but sailors. Since the "Titanic" disaster we have very extensive boat drills, and the Companies have been very pleased to allow me to examine them much more.

24166. Then you do not think your system before this disaster was satisfactory?
- No, not very satisfactory.

24167. Well, was it satisfactory?
- Well, I think we might with advantage -

24168. Will you answer the question; was it satisfactory?
- No.

24169. It was your plan, nevertheless?
- My plan? No, it is the custom.

24170. Never mind about the custom; it is what you did?
- Yes.

24171. And you now do not think it is satisfactory?
- No.

24172. Did you think it satisfactory before the "Titanic" accident?
- Well, no.

24173. Then why did you do it?
- Because it is the custom.

24174. But do you follow custom, although it is bad?
- Well, you will remember I am a Civil servant. Custom guides us a good bit.

The Commissioner:
Perhaps that is the answer.

24175. (Mr. Cotter - To the witness.) Has the bulkhead door drill anything to do with you?
- Yes.

24176. Did you see any bulkhead door drill taken part in that day?
- Yes; I had three watertight doors closed in my presence.

24177. Is it not the fact that where there is a properly disciplined drill on board ship a bugle goes, and everybody goes to his station?
- Yes, in some Companies that is the case.

The Commissioner:
Is that in port or at sea?

Mr. Cotter:
In port.

The Witness:
In port, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
And at sea?

Mr. Cotter:
If necessary, My Lord.

24178. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) Have you ever been present at a drill of that kind?
- Oh, yes, but not in my official capacity. This is all done before I go to the ship. Sometimes if I am a little earlier I see it.

24179. Whose duty is to do it?
- The marine superintendent of the Company.

24180. It has nothing to do with the Board of Trade?
- No, nothing at all.

24181. (Mr. Cotter.) If you ordered a thing and said, "I want that boat lowered," it would be done?
- Yes.

24182. If you said you wanted the bulkhead doors closed it would be done?
- Yes.

24183. So that it rested with you what kind of drill took place?
- Yes, perhaps so.

24184. Have you had any drill with collision mats?
- I never heard of them, not in merchant ships. I have had them in the Navy.

24185. (The Commissioner.) It is the first I have heard of collision mats?
- We have them in the Navy.

The Commissioner:
I am told we had some evidence about them before.

24186. (Mr. Cotter - To the witness.) You saw no collision mats on the "Titanic"?
- No.

The Commissioner:
Do these lines carry collision mats?

Mr. Cotter:
Some of them, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
I was asking the witness.

The Witness:
No, not to my knowledge.

The Commissioner:
You see, he differs from you, Mr. Cotter.

24187. (Mr. Cotter - To the witness.) I put it to you that there are not enough Surveyors in Southampton now they are introducing these large ships?

The Commissioner:
You do not represent the surveyors' Union, do you?

Mr. Cotter:
No, My Lord. The surveyors are there to see to the safety of the ship, and I am putting it now to this Witness that there are not enough Surveyors to survey the ships in a proper manner.

24188. (The Commissioner.) What do you think of that now?

The Witness:
Well, of course, undoubtedly we are getting very congested, because all foreign ships now have to comply with the English law.

24189. Will you answer a simple question? Are there enough Surveyors in your opinion?
- No.

24190. That is an answer. Have you ever represented to the Board of Trade that there are not?
- That would not be in my province.

24191. Have you ever represented it?
- No.

24192. The answer is you have not?
- Yes.

24193. Let me tell you in my opinion, if that was your view, it was your duty to say so?
- I should get a very severe snub if I did.

24194. (Mr. Cotter.) Is it the Rule in Southampton for you to see the boat lists?
- No, it is not.

24195. You do not see them?
- No, I do not; I know they are there.

24196. You know they are there?
- Yes.

24197. (The Commissioner.) Can you tell me is there any branch of the service in the Board of Trade which, in the opinion of those who are in that branch, is sufficiently manned?
- I do not know.

24198. Do you think there is? Do you understand my question?
- I do not quite gather it.

24199. Very well, I will tell you again. Is there, in your opinion, in any branch of the service of the Board of Trade a sufficient number of men, in the opinion of the men who are in that service?
- No, none of us think that.

24200. No, I am sure you do not; you all think there ought to be more?
- Yes, undoubtedly.

24201. How many more; would you say double?
- Well, it is getting on for that.

24202. Or perhaps treble?
- Oh, no.

24203. Well, double; the whole staff of the Board of Trade, in your opinion, ought to be doubled?
- I think so.

The Commissioner:
Now, Mr. Scanlan and Mr. Cotter, there you have it. I felt sure you would get it.

Mr. Scanlan:
Captain Young said they were going to increase the number, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
I have no doubt they will have a great deal more work to do after the "Titanic."

Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

24204. Is there any practical difficulty in your demanding a boat drill with firemen in the boats according to their boat list?
- No.

24205. It could be done before the ship started?
- Oh, yes, we are doing it now.

24206. That is what I wanted to know. Then I suppose each man would have to take his station?
- Yes.

24207. According to the list?
- Yes.

24208. And go out in the boat?
- Yes.

24209. Then you would not have only deckhands rowing, would you?
- Oh, no, we fill boats with stewards and boats with firemen; in fact, the men like it now I have instituted it.

24210. You do it now?
- Yes.

24211. Since the "Titanic" disaster?
- Yes, since the "Titanic" disaster they like it.

24212. (The Commissioner.) It is a peculiar change of taste. How many lifeboats are the davits constructed to carry?
- Those davits - the Welin davits - are constructed to carry two boats.

24213. On the "Titanic"?
- On the "Titanic," inside and outside.

24214. On the "Titanic" were they intended to carry more than two boats?
- I do not think they were intended to carry more than two boats.

24215. Were they constructed to carry more than two boats?
- Yes, they could have carried three.

24216. Could they have carried four?
- No, I do not think so.

24217. Were they intended to carry four?
- Well, May I explain?

24218. No; answer the question. Were they intended to carry four?
- They might carry 10. If you have got the chocks and the skids so arranged you might put out boats either from the starboard side to port side or from port side to starboard side.

24219. Now, I want to know this: If those davits got out of order and were intended to carry three or four boats, that would make three or four boats useless?
- It certainly would.

24220. However, nothing of that kind happened on this occasion so far as we know?
- No.

24221. Can you tell me why passenger ships are not surveyed in the same way as emigrant ships?
- No.

24222. Is it the fault of the Board of Trade?
- I suppose it is.

24223. Is it their fault to begin with?
- Well, it is not my fault.

24224. No, I know it is not; I did not suggest it was, because I feel quite sure that you would tell me that it was not; but can you tell me why passenger ships are not surveyed in the same way as emigrant ships?
- I think it is due to the number of one class being so much greater than the other. We are a very small body; there are only 17 of us.

24225. Who do you mean by "we"?
- The Nautical Surveyors of the Board of Trade. We do the bulk of the emigration work. There are only 17 of us, and there are a very large number of engineers, and they do the passenger certificates. There are 80 engineers.

The Commissioner:
That does not appear to me to be an answer.

The Attorney-General:
There are different statutory requirements.

The Commissioner:
Oh, there are, no doubt; but the question I put was, and what I wanted to know was, why the passenger steamers are not surveyed in the same way as the emigrant ships are.

The Attorney-General:
Yes; why Parliament did it.

The Commissioner:

The Attorney-General:
We can see why Parliament was more careful, because it was thought emigrants might be put in any kind of ship, and, therefore, Parliament's attention was specially directed to see there was proper accommodation, and proper food and properly constructed ships.

The Commissioner:
That, I think, is the proper explanation.

The Attorney-General:
It was thought that passengers could look after themselves and emigrants could not.

The Commissioner:
That is exactly the truth. Emigrants are, very properly, treated as if they were children or sick people, and have to be looked after.

(The witness withdrew.)