British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 2


Examined by Mr. BRANSON.

895. Were you first officer on the "Lusitania”?
- I was.

896. How many voyages had you been on the ship?
- That was my fourth.

897. And how many years with the Cunard Company?
- Seven.

898. And I think you hold an extra master's certificate?
- I do.

899. Now, at the time of the disaster, you were in the first class dining saloon of the steamer, were you not?
- Yes.

900. Did you feel the shock?
- I heard the explosion.

901. Then what did you do?
- Well, I got up.

902. And then?
- And went on deck.

903. Did you go to your boat?
- Yes.

904. Which was your boat?
- No. 15.

905. And we have heard that all the boats were swung out. Did you commence to fill her with passengers?
- Yes.

906. Before you went on to the boat deck did you give any order as you left the saloon?
- I did.

907. What was that?
- I said if any ports were open to try and close them immediately.

908. Did you see yourself whether any ports were open or not?
- I did not see any open, all that I saw were shut.

909. And then you went to your boat?
- Yes.

910. Had the ship a list at this time?
- When?

911. When you got to your boat?
- Yes.

912. How much?
- Well, between 30 and 35 degrees I should say, but remember it was 4 minutes after, about.

913. Four minutes after the explosion?
- Four minutes after the explosion when I got on to the boat.

914. The Commissioner: Just show me with that book what 35 degrees means. (Handing a book to the witness.) - That is a level ship (describing ).

915. Now show us 35 degrees.
- Well, that is level, and it was so (describing). 45 degrees is half a right angle. 35 degrees is 10 degrees less.

916. Then, you could not stand on the deck?
- I could not stand on the deck. When I reached my boat I had to hang on to the rail, and I am a sailor used to walking in any kind of conditions, and I could not stand.

917. Mr. Branson: From that time did the list go on increasing, or did the ship steady at all?
- No, she stayed at about 35 degrees for a short while.

918. Did she then recover, or did she go on listing?
- She started to recover.

919. To what extent did she recover?
- Now you ask me a difficult question, because I was working very hard then, but I should say she recovered to about 20 degrees.

920. In the meantime you were loading your boat with passengers?
- Yes, I was loading No. 13 and No. 15.

921. Then let us take No. 15. How many people did you put on board her, about?
- Over 80.

922. Then did you lower her down?
- Yes, I lowered her down.

923. And did she get away all right?
- No. 13 got away first.

924. Did she get away all right?
- She got away with about 65.

925. Then did you go into No. 13?
- After I had lowered No. 15 in the water I then went down the fall myself a few seconds afterwards, and the boat deck was level with the water.

926. And how long after that did the ship go down?
- A matter of 15 seconds; it was not half a minute.

927. Did she go down by the head?
- Well, she started with her head to starboard and then she went down by the head herself, and, I take it, as far as I can judge, she upended herself until her nose touched the bottom and then she sank down herself.

928. So, according to you, she got into a position almost vertical?
- I should say she had an angle of about 30 degrees from the perpendicular.

929. Then, I think, you went off with No. 15; you had transferred some of your passengers into another boat?
- Into another empty boat.

930. And then both you and the other boat went back?
- Yes, we went back.

931. Then you put your passengers on board a smack, did you?
- Yes, the "Bluebell" I think it was, a little fishing smack.

932. And you proceeded to the scene of the wreck and collected some more people?
- Oh, yes.

Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

933. Which was your last watch prior to the time the ship was struck by the torpedo?
- 12 to 4 in the morning; the middle watch we call it.

934. Did you know of the arrival of two Government wireless upon the 7th of May?
- During that watch?

935. On the 7th of May, the date on which the boat was struck?
- I know that wireless messages were received.

936. Did you know the contents of them?
- I never saw them.

937. But did you know the contents?
- No, I did not know them.

938. They were not communicated to you?
- No, only verbally they were communicated to me. One message was communicated to me; that was all.

939. Do not tell me what it was, but at about what time of day was that?
- Noon.

940. Was there any alteration made in the course of the "Lusitania" after noon on the 7th of May?
- There was.

941. What course was she taking then before the course was altered?
- What course were we steering?

942. Yes.
- About S. 87 E. magnetic.

943. And what was the alteration made?
- They hauled up about 4 points.

944. But in which direction?
- To the northward.

945. Now just tell me one thing more. As nearly as you recollect, what time of day was the alteration made?
- I do not recollect at the moment.

946. Could you give me no idea. You see, at 12 o'clock you got the communication by wireless?
- Yes; it was between 12 and 1.

947. Was that the last alteration in the course made - before the ship was struck, I mean?
- No; it was not the last.

948. Before she was torpedoed, I mean?
- It was not the last one.

949. What alteration was made after that?
- It was hauled out to the southward.

950. How much?
- To the original course.

951. She went her original course?
- Yes, S.87° E.

952. And how long had she been going on the altered course to the northward?
- I think it was about an hour. I have the figure somewhere with me.

953. She was going for about an hour on the northerly course, then she regained her original course?
- I think you had better let that question drop. I do not remember the time now.

954. I am not going to let it drop, but if you do not remember the time that is the answer. It was altered?
- Yes, it was altered.

955. Was any other alteration made in her course that you know of?
- Yes, I told you that before.

956. I mean was any other alteration made in her course beside the last one you have told us of?
- You are referring to the alterations which took place altogether between 12 o'clock and the time of the explosion. There was more than one. The first one as I have told you was about 4 points to the northward, and the next ones (you notice I use the plural) were shortly before the explosion.

957. Then after that, am I to take it that before the ship was struck, no other alteration in the ship's course was made. I want to get at how many alterations were made?
- I have told you about four.

958. Do you mean two or how many more than two?
- More.

959. How many more?
- I say four altogether between 12 and the time of the explosion.

960. You have crossed a great number of times, have you not?
- Yes, I have been crossing the Atlantic about the last 9 years.

961. Had the alterations made in the course of which you have spoken happened before?
- They had nothing with it our ordinary run.

962. They had nothing to do with the ordinary run?
- No, because we had bad fog in the morning. Those alterations were mainly due to fog.

963. They were entirely due to fog?
- Entirely due to the fog.

964. Then, except for the fog, I take it the ship was taking her normal course - her usual course?
- Usual to when?

965. Usual to coming from New York to Queenstown?
- Yes, but you do not steer the same course all the time; it depends upon your weather.

966. I quite understand that, and it depends upon fog. But there is practically a normal course, is there not?
- The normal course is to steer for about 5 miles to the southward of Fastnet Rock and we never saw Fastnet Rock.

967. Was that because of the fog?
- No, because we were too far off it.

Examined by Mr. JOSEPH COTTER.

968. How long have you been in the employ of the Cunard Steamship Company?
- 7 years.

969. How long have you been in passenger ships with the Cunard Company?
- Practically the whole time, with an intermission of about 18 months on cargo work.

970. So you have been conversant with the boat drill of that Company?
- Yes.

971. Were you at the boat drill that was held in Liverpool before the "Lusitania” sailed?
- I was.

972. Were any of the boats lowered?
- In Liverpool?

973. Yes. - No.

974. Have you seen the boats of the "Lusitania” lowered?
- Yes, I have seen several.

975. Have you seen the crew handling them?
- Yes, I have seen some of our own crew handling them.

976. What is your opinion of the efficiency of the crew handling boats on the "Lusitania”?
- I should say they were just as well as ever I have ever seen them; they seemed to be all right.

977. Did you think they were competent?
- Quite competent; as far as fireman and stewards are competent they were, quite competent. Of course we cannot expect them to be professionals, but they were quite competent.

978. And could carry out the orders that were given, them?
- Yes, they were quite capable of that, and they did so.

979. Is it the custom to give boat badges to each of the members of the crew?
- Yes, so that he will know his boat in time of emergency.

980. And the same with regard to bulkhead door drill, so that they know which bulkhead doors to go to?
- Yes.

981. Now when the ship was struck by the torpedo you say you were in the dining-room?
- Yes, I was in the dining-room.

982. That is on E deck, is it not?
- Yes, on E deck.

983. And outside the forward entrance of the dining-room, are there suites of rooms along the alley-ways - is not that so?
- On the foreside?

984. Port and starboard outside the dining room. - They were short alley-ways - not very long - forward of the dining-room entrance.

985. Outside the dining-room entrance, where you come out of it, port and starboard?
- Yes.

986. And the forward end leads into the third class?
- Now, you are asking me to go into details I do not know much about. My duties did not carry me down there, but I know a part of the second class was converted into third.

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