British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 27

Testimony of John Pritchard

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

25168. Do you hold a Master's certificate?
- Yes.

25169. Is it an Extra Master's?
- No, an ordinary Master's.

25170. I believe your last command was the "Mauretania," was it not?
- Yes.

25171. When did you leave her?
- Two years last Christmas.

25172. I believe for 18 years you have commanded Cunard steamships sailing between Liverpool and New York?
- Yes.

25173. Have you heard the evidence in this case with regard to the weather conditions which existed when the "Titanic" struck?
- Yes.

25174. You know them?
- Yes.

25175. Now what practice did you follow with regard to maintaining your full speed or reducing your speed, assuming similar conditions, and assuming you had information that there was a probability of your meeting ice on your course?
- As long as the weather is clear I always go full speed.

25176. You always have done so?
- Yes.

25177. What was the speed of the "Mauretania"?
- 26 knots.

Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.

25178. Tell me this, Captain: Do you under any circumstances at night double the look-out?
- In fog only.

25179. If on a night when you experienced some difficulty in seeing, you found, although the night was clear, it was more difficult to see than at other times, would you have doubled the look-out?
- Oh, yes.

25180. Very well. If you doubled the look-out, where would you station the extra look-out men?
- One on each bow.

25181. One on each bow?
- Yes.

25182. Of course you had a crow's-nest?
- Yes.

25183. Had you two in the crow's-nest as a Rule?
- Yes.

25184. During the nighttime, when you expected to meet ice, would you then, in accordance with your practice, double the look-out?
- Not if it was clear weather.

25185. But if you experienced any difficulty at all?
- If it was hazy, yes, I should double the look-out at once.

25186. If there was any difficulty at all in seeing would you reduce your speed?
- Well, if it was hazy, yes.

25187. If it was a flat calm and you expected ice - you were warned of ice and knew you would meet ice in the course of the night - would you double the look-out?
- No, as long as the weather is clear.

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

25188. Have you, in your sailing Directions, any instructions as to what you are to do in an ice-field?
- No, I do not think we have, because I never got into an ice-field. We do not go North, you know; we go on the southern tracks this time of year.

25189. There are no instructions at all. You have, of course, been through ice?
- No.

25190. (The Commissioner.) Have you never seen an iceberg?
- I have seen them, my Lord, yes.

25191. How far off?
- Sometimes two or three miles, sometimes 10 miles.

25192. Have you never passed close to an iceberg?
- No, not nearer than two miles.

25193. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) In your instructions as to going on the southern course is there anything said there as to avoiding ice?
- No.

25194. No reference at all in your printed instructions as to ice?
- No.

25195. You have to use your own discretion?
- Yes.

25196. (The Commissioner.) You followed the same course, as I understand, on the "Mauretania" as the "Titanic" took?
- Yes.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

25197. Is it not the custom in the Cunard Company for every man to have a boat station?
- Yes.

25198. A bulkhead door station?
- Yes.

25199. And fire station?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
You cannot begin all this over again.

25200. (Mr. Cotter.) I want to show the contrast, if you will allow me. (To the witness.) Every man receives a boat badge in the Cunard Company?
- Yes, quite right.

25201. You have boat drill before you leave port on sailing day?
- Yes.

25202. Have you ever had any difficulty in getting any members of the crew to attend boat drill?
- Not in my time.

25203. (The Commissioner.) Have you heard of difficulties since your time?
- I believe they have had, but not in my time; we had no difficulty, none whatever.

25204. (Mr. Cotter.) Have you ever had any difficulty with firemen coming to boat drill?
- No.

25205. (The Commissioner.) Have you heard of difficulty since?
- Yes, I have.

25206. (Mr. Cotter.) You never heard of it in your firm?
- No.

25207. In the Cunard Company, how long would you call a reasonable time to get the boats out and the covers off and swung out?
- Six minutes.

25208. That is with a properly disciplined boat crew?
- Yes.

25209. Is it the custom to have bulkhead door drill every day?
- Yes, at sea.

25210. At 11 o'clock?
- At 12 o'clock.

Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.

25211. For the last two years I think you have retired from the sea?
- Yes.

25212. For the 18 years before that you were in command of Cunard boats?
- Yes.

25213. And you have been at sea altogether 30 years?
- More, 51 years at sea.

25214. You have been at sea for 51 years, or had been before you retired?
- Yes.

25215. (The Commissioner.) What age are you?
- 67, My Lord.

25216. (Sir Robert Finlay.) And you have had, I think, a Master's certificate for 37 years?
- Yes.

25217. You told us your practice as to speed when ice was reported or you were in an ice region; did you also hold your course?
- Always, if it is clear weather.

25218. You have kept your course in clear weather, and maintained full speed?
- Yes.

25219. And was that the universal practice in your experience?
- Yes.

My Lord, a point was raised, and some time was spent, about binoculars. If your Lordship thinks it worthwhile I will ask it.

The Commissioner:
Unless Mr. Scanlan tells me I ought not to do it, I will now express my opinion about binoculars.

Mr. Scanlan:
I will submit to judgment now, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
Very well. Then the judgment is that binoculars are not desirable in the crow's-nest.

(The witness withdrew.)