British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 1


Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.

392. Are you a Commander in the Royal Navy?
- I am.

393. Can you tell us, in relation to escaping or attempting to escape from submarines, is the speed of the ship that is liable to attack of importance?
- It is.

394. Will you tell us in what way?
- I think it is material in two ways: In the first place, to escape from direct pursuit by a submarine, the faster a ship goes the better chance she has of getting away; and, secondly, I think that a fast ship zig-zagging covers a large area of ground, a much larger area than a smaller ship, and, therefore, reduces the chance of any single submarine being in a position to attack her.

395. Perhaps it is the same question, but do you know whether there is more difficulty in a submarine locating a ship and where she is to be attacked when she is going fast?
- I do not know that I quite understand what you mean, but I take it that a fast ship will not be in the same position as a slow ship.

396. Would a submarine be in a more favourable position to attack a ship if it was a slow ship?
- I take it that it is more difficult for a submarine to attack a fast ship than it is for her to attack a slow ship.

397. And then, you have told us, the zig-zagging is of great importance?
- I consider the zig-zagging of paramount importance.

398. You know the time of the "Lusitania” and the time she had in hand?
- I do.

399. If she had had extra speed could she have regulated her time differently?
- Yes.

400. Will you explain that to his Lordship and the Court?
- There was, I understand, about five hours during which the "Lusitania” could have crossed the bar, and from the point where she was torpedoed to the bar, going 18 knots on a direct course, she would have arrived there at the earliest possible moment at which she could have crossed the bar.

401. The Commissioner: At what time do you say that would be?
- By my calculation, 4.15 to 4.30 the next morning.

402. What was the earliest time the tide would have enabled her to cross?
- About 4.30, on a rough calculation. At a fast speed she could have covered more ground and, instead of arriving at the bar at the earliest time, she could have kept further out, zig-zagged, and made a good 18 knots going faster.

403. The Attorney-General: That is keeping out and not going into the channel until later. Is that what you mean?
- Yes, she would have got into St. George's Channel later.

404. The Commissioner: I thought you meant to say that the ship would have arrived at the same time but would have done a good many more knots?
- So I do. She would have steamed at 21 knots but would have made good 18, roughly.

405. That is to say, she would have gone through the water faster but would only have gone the 18 knots?
- Yes, in a direct distance, and still have arrived at the same time.

406. The Attorney-General: Can you tell us what is considered the danger zone in the journey from New York to Liverpool?
- Roughly, the danger zone is defined as being the waters surrounding Great Britain and Ireland and the north coast of France. There was nothing specific stated in the German declaration, as far as my memory goes.

407. The Commissioner: The waters surrounding Britain, you know, extend to America?
- Quite. I believe they do; but that was the loose term employed in the German Proclamation.

408. Then, you mean, the danger zone is not defined?
- No, not in bounds.

409. The Attorney-General: Can you tell us how far a submarine can go out - what journeys these submarines can make without re-fitting?
- I think I would rather not say that in public.

410. But they do go a long way?
- A considerable distance.

(The Witness withdrew.)