British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry
Testimony of Sir Ernest Shackleton
Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
25014. You have had a large experience of ice?
25015. I want you to help the Court with your views, as a result of your experience, first of all with regard to the visibility of ice in clear weather. Take icebergs first?
- That entirely depends on the height of the iceberg. Take an iceberg of about 80 feet high, and the ordinary type of iceberg that has not turned over, you could see that in clear weather about ten to twelve miles.
25016. At night?
- Not at night, no. I would say, providing it was an ordinary berg, about five miles on a clear night.
25017. (The Commissioner.) At night?
- Yes, at night.
25018. (The Attorney-General.) You said provided it was an ordinary berg?
25019. Are there bergs which present a different appearance in colour?
- There are many bergs I have seen that appear to be black, due to the construction of the berg itself, and also due to the earthy matter and rocks that are in all bergs. In fact, in the south many of these so-called islands, and charted as islands, Must have been big bergs with earthy matter on them. Again, after a berg has capsized, if it is not of close construction it is more porous and taking up the water does not reflect light in any way.
25020. Have you had large experience of this particular track?
- Not much, only four or five times I have seen ice in the North Atlantic.
25021. Have you ever seen ice of this particular dark character to which you have referred in the North Atlantic?
- Yes, twice.
25022. (The Commissioner.) In the North Atlantic?
25023. (The Attorney-General.) Was that on the outward route to the states?
- On the outward route, yes - once outward and once homeward.
25024. Do you remember about what time it was of the year?
- In about April, I think, 1897, and again in May, 1903, and again in June, 1910, but that was further North.
25025. Is this right that you have seen altogether on the North Atlantic track ice on four or five occasions?
25026. That is four or five voyages?
25027. Extending evidently over a very considerable period of time?
- That is so.
25028. Beginning in 1897?
25029. Out of those four or five times is it right that you twice saw these dark-coloured icebergs?
- I would not like to say on the last two occasions. My memory will not serve me more than that. I have noticed on one occasion at least more than one berg that did not reflect light.
25030. What I meant was - I want to follow your evidence - that of the four or five occasions of which you have spoken, two of them were occasions on which, as I understood you, you have seen ice of this dark colour?
- Yes, but I would like to add that I have seen at the same time other ice - ice of a different colour.
25031. Yes, I see what you mean - there would be other ice of a different colour, but amongst it you saw twice icebergs of this dark colour?
- Of darker colour, yes.
Sir Robert Finlay:
I understood him to say that once he was sure of only.
No, he gave dates, one in 1897 and the other in 1903.
Sir Robert Finlay:
I thought he qualified that.
25032. (The Attorney-General.) We will get it right. (To the witness.) My friend thinks that you qualified what you said about the twice suggesting that you were certain of one, but not certain of the other occasion?
- I was certain of the "other occasion," but I qualified it only inasmuch as that on the same occasion I saw different coloured ice.
25033. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you saw several bergs on these five voyages that you have spoken of?
- Yes, My Lord.
25034. On only one berg on each occasion?
- No, on one occasion there were several bergs. On the first occasion, I remember it was a low lying berg which was evidently a capsized berg.
25035. You only saw one berg?
- That is all I remember.
25036. Then on the second occasion you saw several bergs?
25037. Did you see several on the other three occasions?
- No, My Lord; some of them were just small pieces. I would not call them big bergs, not like the southern bergs.
25038. Are they called growlers?
- I have never heard that term applied to them, but I believe it is a well-known term. I have read of such, but we never call them growlers, we call them floe bergs when they were not the height of an actual big berg carved off from the land, but a berg that had capsized, having worn out underneath.
25039. (The Attorney-General.) You have spoken of the distance at which you would see bergs. You told us, I think I am right in saying, 10 or 12 miles in the daytime on a clear day, and 5 miles on a clear night?
25040. How far would you see one of these dark bergs on a clear night, assuming it to be 60 to 80 feet high?
- It might be only three miles, depending on the night and depending almost entirely on the condition of the sea at the time. With a dead calm sea there is no sign at all to give you any indication that there is anything there. If you first see the breaking sea at all, then you look for the rest and you generally see it. That is on the waterline. I do not say very high, because from a height it is not so easily seen; it blends with the ocean if you are looking down at an angle like that. If you are on the sea level it may loom up.
25041. That would rather suggest that your view would be that you could detect bergs of that kind better at the stem than you could at the crow's-nest?
- Better, the nearer you are to the waterline. When we navigated in thick or hazy weather there was always one man on the look-out and one man as near the deck line as possible.
25042. That is thick or hazy weather?
- Yes, that is thick or hazy weather, or even clear just the same.
25043. What I want you to tell my Lord is, Do you think it is of advantage in clear weather to have a man stationed right ahead at the stem as well as in the crow's-nest?
- Undoubtedly, if you are in the danger zone; in the ice zone.
25044. And supposing you were passing through a zone where you had ice reported to you, would you take precautions as to the look-out? Supposing you only had men in the crow's-nest, would you take any other precautions?
- I would take the ordinary precaution of slowing down, whether I was in a ship equipped for ice or any other, compatible with keeping steerage way for the size of the ship.
25045. You would slow down?
- I would slow down, yes.
And supposing you were going 21 to 22 knots, I suppose that would be the better reason for slowing down?
- You have no right to go at that speed in an ice zone.
25046. (The Commissioner.) And you think that all these liners are wrong in going at this speed in regions where ice has been reported?
- Where it has been reported I think the possibility of accident is greatly enhanced by the speed the ship goes.
25047. We have been told that none of these liners slow down even though they know that they are going through an ice region - that is to say a region where there are icebergs?
- I have been in a ship which was specially built for ice, but I took the precaution to slow down because you can only tell the condition of any ice you see; there may be projecting spurs and you may suddenly come across them.
25048. What was the speed of the boat you were in?
- She was only six knots at full speed. She was 40 years old.
25049. Do you mean to say that you slowed down a vessel of six knots?
- Yes, I always did.
25050. Then what did you get to?
- We got very near the south Pole, My Lord.
25051. What speed did you get down to?
- We slowed down to about four knots. At her best she did six knots.
25052. At her best she did six knots; that was not the ship that you got near to the south Pole in?
- Yes, that is the ship; she was very old; she was very small.
25053. (The Attorney-General.) I still want you to give me your attention with regard to the look-out. You have told me your views with regard to speed. Suppose you had two men in the crow's-nest, and it was a clear night, and you were going through a region in which ice had been reported, would you put any person in the bow for a look-out?
- I would put a look-out man in the bow or as near to the waterline as possible, even on a clear night, but I would only have one man in the crow's-nest.
25054. Your idea would be that of the two men when coming into an ice region, one should go to the bow and one be in the crow's-nest?
- My main reason for saying one man in the crow's-nest is that I think one man gives more attention to the work in hand than two men.
There is a good deal to be said for that.
Yes, I think so.
25055. (The Attorney-General.) If I follow you correctly your view is, it is better on a clear night passing through an ice region to have a man as near the waterline as possible?
25056. Which would be preferable, the bow or the crow's-nest?
- I would have a man in both, one in the crow's-nest and one in the bow; and if I may say this, I would prefer in a liner to go where there is known danger than to go in a Southerly route where you may occasionally get a berg, because some of these bergs drift from the North, very big bergs drift down into navigable waters, where no one would expect to find them; and then a ship comes to damage; whereas if you are looking for danger you guard against it more, or ought to.
25057. I think we have been told they drift from North to South?
- Yes, by the Labrador Current.
25058. One other matter I wanted you to tell us about and that is with regard to the use of glasses for look-out men. You know the point. It has been suggested here that binoculars should be used by the look-out men, particularly if they have had a report of ice. Will you tell my Lord your view about that?
- My Lord, I do not believe in any look-out man having glasses at all. I only believe in the Officer using them, and then only when something has been reported in a certain quarter or certain place on the bow.
25059. The man would pick it up with his eyes and the Officer would find out what it is with the glasses?
- Yes, you have the whole range of the horizon in one moment with your eyes and you localise it by using glasses.
25060. I ought to ask you this. Is there any indication of the proximity of ice by the fall of temperature?
- Unless the wind is blowing from a large field of ice to windward there is no indication at all by the methods that are used now, and it is a very poor thing to go upon, is the change of temperature. The film of fresh water that covers the sea is so thin that by dipping in a bucket you do not pick up that thin cold water; and if the temperature of the air is approximately the temperature of the sea there is practically no haze; it is only when the water is warmer or the air is warmer that the haze occurs. There are no methods that I have heard of before this that can really give you an indication of approaching ice by ordinary temperature methods.
25061. Supposing you were approaching an ice region, that is a region in which you had ice reported to you, and you found the temperature getting colder, would that be any indication to you that you were getting close?
- No, it depends upon whether there was a wind or not.
On this occasion we were told that, at all events, from 3 o'clock in the afternoon there was no wind.
25062. (The Attorney-General.) No wind, and the temperature fell very much.
Then if there was no wind and the temperature fell abnormally for the time of the year, I would consider I was approaching an area that might have ice in it.
25063. (The Attorney-General.) According to the evidence - I am only dealing with one part of it - perhaps the most striking part - during the afternoon on this particular occasion on 14th April of this year, the temperature was reported to be falling, so much so that the Captain ordered the carpenter to see that the water in his tanks did not freeze. Would that be any indication to you?
- If I knew what the mean temperature of that locality was for that month of the year and there was a great variation, then I would certainly think there was some abnormal disturbance in the ice to the North. Of course, that particular night was an abnormal night at sea in being a flat calm; it is a thing that might never occur again.
25064. That is what Mr. Lightoller says. You say apparently it is very rare to get such a flat calm as there was that night?
- I only remember it once or twice in about 20 years' experience - the sea absolutely calm, without a swell, as it was recorded to have been.
25065. And if I followed correctly what you said earlier it would make it more difficult to pick up an iceberg with the eyes?
25066. If you had this calm sea?
- Yes, decidedly so.
25067. Although it was a clear night?
25068. There would be no indication of the water breaking round it?
- No, there would be none in a condition like that. It takes very little sea and very little swell, with the Northern bergs which are submerged about seven times to one above, for what we call a splash to get up and give you an indication.
25069. We have been told of the phenomenon of the ice-blink?
25070. Would that be effected at all by the night we have had described or is it a variable thing?
- On a night such as you have described, if there was a big field of ice, the blink would most certainly be seen very, very clearly. If there was really what we call big fields, Miles and miles of ice, then you would see the edge, what we call the water-sky, that is where the ice-field ends.
25071. But you would not expect to get the ice-blink with an iceberg?
- No, I would not.
25072. Does that mean it does not throw off any of its luminosity?
- Well, it does not reflect any light that there may be, one single berg; it takes ice in the mass to do that; it is like a whole lot of deck lights along the side of a ship; they look one glare instead of isolated things.
Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.
25073. Just one question, Sir ernest: Do you frequently find a haze in close proximity to an iceberg?
- Generally when the temperatures are different - the temperature of the water and the temperature of the air.
Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.
25074. What was the tonnage of the boat you went to the south Pole in?
- Two hundred and twenty-seven.
25075. How high was it on the forecastle at the stem above the water?
- When we were loaded it was about 14 feet, 14 feet from the forecastle to the waterline. From the crow's-nest it was about 90 feet.
25076. About 90 feet?
25077. Then the comparison you are making is between the height of 90 feet in the crow's-nest on your foremast?
25078. And a height of 14 feet on your stem?
- I do not make a comparison. I say from 90 feet, which is the crow's-nest of the "Titanic," we will say, which equals our crow's-nest, and from the waterline, as near as we can get it. If we could have got right down to the waterline we would have done so. The advantage lies in being as near the waterline as possible. You suffered from a disadvantage, certainly, in the "Titanic" by not being able to get as near to the waterline as we did in the "Nimrod."
25079. If I gather rightly, your view is that if you are near the waterline, it is an advantage in seeing icebergs?
25080. And that is an advantage which a small boat like yours, which most of us have read about, has. You had that advantage in that boat?
- We had that advantage over other vessels to a certain extent.
25081. Your outside rate was six knots?
25082. You slowed down in ice to four knots?
25083. You say you slowed down. I suppose you experienced in going to the south Pole a very great deal of ice?
- Yes, a great deal. We first got into the vanguard of the ice before we got to the heavy pack, and then we got into the region of icebergs, where we had to turn and twist. Sometimes we would have 8 hours' run, but ice suddenly comes up in front of you, and then you slow down at once.
25084. The pace you speak of, four knots, was when you were in among the ice, turning and twisting, as you have described it?
- Yes, when we were in the ice region. I would not like to compare in any way the North Atlantic, with its comparatively few bergs, with the south, but if I were going 20 knots, I would want to get down to the steerage way just the same as when I am going six knots I want to get down to four knots.
25085. But you do not compare the state of things which you found, as you were approaching the south Pole, where you had to turn and twist among the icebergs and masses of ice, with what prevails in the North Atlantic?
- No, I do not compare it. The point I look at is, when you get a very fast speed, you must slow down, even as we in narrow waters had to slow down in our little ship.
25086. Slow down to four knots?
- We did.
25087. What do you suggest a liner should slow down to?
- I am not qualified to give an opinion, but I should suggest a liner should slow down sufficiently to give her steering way, which is, of course, More than the full speed of my own smaller ship.
25088. What do you estimate would give a vessel like the "Titanic" steering way?
- I am not qualified to say. I do not know enough of the turning movement of ships over 10,000 tons; I should say 10 knots.
25089. (The Commissioner.) That would be half-speed, practically?
- Yes, My Lord.
25090. (Sir Robert Finlay - To the witness.) Is your suggestion that all liners in the Atlantic should slow down to 10 knots as soon as they know that they may come across an iceberg?
- As soon as they know they are in an absolute ice locality, which they can tell now because of the wireless.
25091. My expression was, "As soon as they know they may come across an iceberg"?
- No, I do not say that.
25092. What do you mean by an absolute ice locality?
- The locality where it is reported and where it is generally known that more than one iceberg will be met - where you are likely to meet masses of ice floating about.
25093. Assume one or two icebergs are reported: Do you say that if the vessel may pass near one of these icebergs she ought to reduce her speed to 10 knots?
- No, I do not. I do not say just for one iceberg or two icebergs or ten icebergs if they are nowhere near one another, but if there is a general indication of ice in the locality within a certain area which is fairly well known, a vessel ought to be slowed accordingly at nighttime.
25094. At nighttime?
- Yes, only at nighttime, unless it is thick in the day.
25095. Can you give me an idea of the extent of the indication of ice that you say should lead to the reduction to 10 knots. You would not reduce for one or two or ten icebergs?
- No. I would reduce if I heard that ice was generally reported, specifically from more than one -quarter. I am taking very modern methods, that is that ice is reported by wireless.
25096. If it is reported, you mean you have something, I will not say equalling, but approaching the collection of icebergs through which you had to thread your way?
- Oh no; the ice is generally known in the Atlantic.
25097. But one or two or ten would not be sufficient. I wish only to understand exactly what you mean by the absolute ice region, which you think should lead to slowing down to ten knots an hour?
- I should say that if ice was reported in any quantity, bergs and floes, when the vessel is anywhere near that latitude and longitude and had a late report of say even the day before, at nighttime she should slow till she was past that latitude and longitude in which icebergs and floe ice were seen.
25098. Do you think that the practice in the North Atlantic has been all wrong for the last 20 or 30 years?
- I do not say that. I say a certain state of things has evolved in the last few years by public desire and competition.
25099. (The Commissioner.) You say what?
- I say the state of full speed has evolved in the last few years with the great public desire for speed.
25100. To get to their journey's end?
25101. (The Attorney-General.) By competition?
25102. (Sir Robert Finlay.) You have been following this case I take it?
- I have to a certain extent.
25103. And you know we have had evidence as to the practice existing among gentlemen who have been in the trade for 25 years?
- Yes; I think the gentlemen that have been in the trade for 25 years have been acting under the instructions of their owners.
25104. Have you any ground for saying that?
- No more than a general feeling that I have had, and the feeling I have had that when the owner is on board you go.
25105. And supposing the owner is not on board?
- I do not want to make surmises and I do not want to lay down any particular rules, but there is a general feeling amongst people at sea that you have to make your passage. If you do not make your passage it is not so good for you. That is only my own personal point of view. I do not know whether I should not refuse to answer this particular question.
I think not; you are giving us very useful evidence.
25106. (Sir Robert Finlay.) You have been in the North Atlantic trade to some extent yourself?
- I have only been as a passenger. Well, once in 1891 I was across the Atlantic in March.
25107. Were you in command of a vessel?
- No, I was only 17 years old then.
25108. But the other times you speak of in the North Atlantic you have been merely as a passenger?
- Yes, that is all.
25109. But apart from this voyage when you were 17 of ice in the Atlantic, you have had no experience?
- I have had no experience, no, of actual ice in the North Atlantic. I happen to be aware of the conditions, though.
25110. Now with regard to the coldness, the connection of cold with the presence of icebergs. You know, of course, of the Labrador current?
25111. Is the cold very often due to the Labrador current?
- I would not say that so much, but I would say the breaking up of the ice was due to the Labrador current. I mean it comes down with the Labrador current, but the other current goes up to the North. It is sometimes very clearly defined, but then again these currents sometimes come far out of their usual route.
25112. You would not say, I suppose, that a fall in temperature was anything like a certain indication of the presence of ice?
- No, I would not at all.
25113. Not at all?
- Excepting under very definite conditions, such as a dead calm and a sudden fall in the temperature, because if you are in colder water, and as I said before you have not an equal temperature of the air, then you have a haze. If both the air temperature and the water temperature are the same the effect is that the weather is clear.
My recollection is that the fall of temperature began on the saturday.
Yes, it did; it became more acute on the Sunday afternoon.
It gradually fell and fell rapidly, but began Saturday.
Yes. We know very little of the wind on the saturday.
Sir Robert Finlay:
I think we have information on the morning of the Sunday that there was wind.
There was wind of a kind up to three o'clock in the afternoon of the Sunday, and then it fell and became a dead calm.
Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes. The point is the cold had begun before the wind dropped.
Oh, it began on the saturday.
25114. (Sir Robert Finlay - To the witness.) I think you said that the importance you would attach to a fall of temperature in this connection was if there was a dead calm?
- Yes. If the sea and the air are about the same temperature I would consider ice; but all those methods such as dipping up water in buckets to get the temperature are no good.
Re-examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
25115. We have been speaking hitherto about icebergs; but supposing you had a wireless telegram to the effect that there were icebergs and a large quantity of field ice in the region which the ship had to cross, would that in any way accentuate the risk which you say would be run?
- The field ice?
- I think field ice for a ship of the class of any ocean liner is almost as bad as an iceberg, because going at a speed like that, the kinetic energy is so enormous and field ice is very often 20 feet deep; it is like running on a rock almost.
May I ask one question?
25117. (Mr. Cotter.) Have you any faith in searchlights for picking up ice at nighttime?
- No, I have no faith. If it happened to catch an iceberg I think you would see it all right but outside the actual range in length and width of the arc of light, the Officer may be blinded. It is like going down the suez Canal.
25118. (The Attorney-General.) I did not ask a question about searchlights, My Lord, because I did not know whether sir ernest had any experience of them. (To the witness.) Perhaps I may ask you, have you had any experience of searchlights for the purposes of detecting ice?
- Not for detecting ice, no.
25119. Have you formed any opinion at all?
- Yes, I have just stated it.
I did not catch it, I beg your pardon.
25120. (The Commissioner.) It agrees with the other evidence. (To the witness.) I should like you to answer this. If you can see the berg at a sufficient distance to clear it, is there then any object in reducing speed?
- My Lord, if there is one certain iceberg and one berg alone or two or three bergs, there is no object in reducing speed, but if you are in an area where there is floe ice and bergs which might perhaps be met at any moment, where if you put the helm hard a-port you might run into another one, then there is need.
25121. We have no evidence that the "Titanic" saw what you call floe ice, pack ice, or anything of that kind. There were telegrams warning the ship of the existence of such ice. But taking icebergs if you can see them at sufficient distance to avoid them, is there any object in slowing down?
- I do not consider there is any need to slow down if you can see every iceberg at a sufficient distance to avoid it, but I doubt if you could when you come into such a region.
25122. Now I am going to ask you about that. We have been told that on this night the conditions were very peculiar, that the sea was as flat as a table top and that there was no sort of swell, and therefore nothing that would make a ridge round the waterline of the iceberg on which the eye would fall. We have been told that this iceberg was black, and it has been said that in those circumstances it is very difficult to detect the existence of a berg in time to avoid it. Is that so?
- I agree with that, My Lord. I think it would have been a very difficult thing with a ship going at that speed to have done so.
25123. Do you think the speed makes any difference in picking up a thing?
- I do not know about picking up, but slower speed gives you a longer time from the time you see it at the same distance.
25124. Of course it does. I did not understand your observation. Now, you know these conditions as they have been described - whether accurately or not I do not know - but they have been described to us. How far off do you think the men in the crow's-nest, if they had been attending to their business and not talking to each other, ought to have seen this berg?
- I would not like to put a definite figure on it, but I should think the men in the crow's-nest saw that berg about as soon as you would ordinarily expect a man to see it.
25125. That means they saw it just as the ship was striking the berg?
- Had not some three minutes elapsed from the time it was reported?
I think not.
It is rather difficult to say. We know what was done; and we have to estimate the time.
25126. (The Commissioner.) She was right on the berg before any time elapsed?
- I should think, My Lord, that in the case of that particular berg it would be a very difficult thing to pick it up at all. A man might have said to his companion, "Do you think you see anything?" but arising out of that I should like to say that all Officers, as far as I know, and Captains of ships in modern times, are only too ready to hear reported from the crow's-nest or wherever it is, any report of any sort even though the light reported is not there.
25127. I am not quite following you I am afraid. Do you want to convey this to me, that that berg would be within 100 feet of the stem of the ship before it would be seen?
- No, I should think a berg of that type would be seen somewhere about perhaps three -quarters of a mile away, not more.
25128. Well, three -quarters of a mile - would it be seen less than three -quarters of a mile?
- It might be; I do not know.
25129. I am putting 100 feet to you?
- I think it ought to be seen long before 100 feet.
25130. What would you say would be the shortest distance that this berg would be seen by the men in the crow's-nest on a clear night?
- The shortest distance from the ship?
25131. Yes, on a perfectly clear night, and under these conditions of a flat sea and possibly black ice?
- I would not like to express an opinion, because I have never actually seen a berg as close to a ship. I have never seen any ice quite exactly like that which was described. I have seen it in the winter time in the ice, but then we were always absolutely stationary.
25132. My difficulty is this, and I am afraid you cannot help me, but I cannot understand how the men in the crow's-nest and the men on the bridge - there were two, I think; one, at all events, on the bridge - failed to see this iceberg until it was practically in contact with the ship?
- I think that iceberg was such a very little thing. It was such a small thing and the conditions were so bad, that a man on watch, even two hours on watch, Might have his eyes strained, and the Officer, on watch might have his eyes strained, and might just miss that particular berg. In running round the horizon his eyes might hop over this particular thing.
25133. But there were three pairs of eyes; there was a man on the bridge and two men in the crow's-nest?
- I think that is a possibility.
25134. Is it a probability?
- I think it is a probability. I think they might not see such a thing.
25135. Then do you really mean to say that on a fine night with a flat sea the probable thing is that every ship will come in contact with an iceberg that happens to be on its course?
- No, My Lord, I think it is an abnormal case entirely.
25136. I am putting an abnormal case - an extraordinarily flat sea and black ice; do you think if there happens to be an iceberg in the course of that ship she must run up against it although there are three men on the watch?
- The next time somebody may see it a little earlier; it is possible to see it a little earlier but I do not like to express an opinion.
You said the probability was the ship would run up against the iceberg.
Your Lordship will remember she is going 700 yards a minute and it would not take long.
25137. (The Commissioner.) I know that. (To the witness.) Then you know nothing about the turning circle of this ship?
- I do not.
25138. So that you cannot tell how she could avoid it. Well, now I want to know this - do these bergs extend sometimes under the water any considerable distance from the part that is visible?
- It depends; if the berg is capsized it may extend perhaps 200 yards or more, depending on the size of the berg. Some bergs that are five miles long, which are rarely seen in the Atlantic, May extend 200 or 300 yards, what we call a spur, but not more than that.
25139. So that the bottom of a ship might strike an iceberg before it reached what you may call the locality of the part that is uppermost?
- Yes, before it actually struck the part above water.
25140. But you think in an extreme case only 200 yards?
- Yes, an extreme case.
25141. Did you say 200 yards?
- I have seen spurs 200 yards away, but I think a couple of hundred feet would be about the average for a spur. A lot depends upon the sort of ice - what sort of mountain it came off, and how it was formed, and what its specific gravity is, whether it is worn down in the current by the temperature of the water.
25142. But the bottom of the berg may extend under the water any distance, from 200 feet to 600 feet?
25143. Away from the visible berg itself?
- Away from the visible vertical side of the berg.
25144. So that the bottom of the ship might strike a berg any distance from 200 to 600 feet away from the visible berg?
- Yes, that is my opinion, My Lord. There are no doubt other people who have also got perhaps slightly different opinions on it, but in the main, generalising, it is so.
25145. I rather gather from what you have said to me - I am not sure that I ought to ask you this question, but I am going to ask it all the same - that you think it quite possible that the men were keeping as good a look-out as they could?
- Yes, that is what I do think.
25146. That is what you want to convey?
- Yes, but I did say earlier and I still say I think it is an advantage to have only one man in the crow's-nest.
25147. It has occurred to me; one knows what men are, when they are standing together they begin to talk sometimes?
- I know I used to in my early days.
25148. Then there is another question I am not sure I ought to ask you. Supposing it had been the invariable practice to navigate ships of this kind, following the usual track to America, at full speed, notwithstanding ice warnings, in your opinion would a Captain who had been brought up in that trade be justified in following the practice. Now, do not answer that question if you do not like, and I will not ask it, Sir Robert, if you do not want me to ask it. If you have not formed any opinion about it I will not press you to give me an answer?
- We sailors all form opinions, My Lord, like other people, but it opens such a very wide question of relationship between owners and captains, that I am not competent to answer it. I think it would be a natural thing for a captain who has been brought up in a line doing the same thing, to continue doing it. But in view of the fact that there is wireless now, I think any accident could be avoided.
25149. Well, yes, that is quite true. If you are right in saying that the better thing would be to reduce the speed to half-speed, about 10 or 11 knots, and if you are right in saying that this berg might be approached practically without any warning to the look-out, it seems to me you would have an accident all the same, 11 knots or 22 knots; you would have to reduce it to your 4 knots?
- Well, it would be better to do that.
25150. Oh, yes, I quite agree. Now I want to ask you this question. Suppose that it took this ship 37 seconds to turn her two points, and that in that time she would travel 1,300 feet - supposing those to be the facts, and the helm was put hard-a-starboard as soon as the berg was sighted, the berg must then have been sighted more than 400 yards off?
25151. That would be so of course?
(The witness withdrew.)