British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 3



1371. Were you junior third officer of the "Lusitania”?
- Yes.

1372. Did you attend to boat drill before the vessel left New York on the last voyage?
-That was my first voyage on board.

1373. I mean on this voyage before she left New York?
- Yes.

1374. The boats were swung out; were they put into the water?
- No; there was a coal barge underneath the boats where I was. I cannot answer for other boats, but my section's boats were not put into the water because of the coal barge underneath.

1375. On the 6th May was there any boat practice-the day before the accident?
- There was the usual boat practice at 11 o'clock.

1376. Now, I want to come to the 7th May, and I want you to tell me how your attention was first directed to what happened to the vessel. What did you see or hear?
- I heard an explosion. I was in the officers' smoke room at the time, and I went out on the bridge and I saw the track of a torpedo.

1377. Where?
- It seemed to be fired in a line with the bridge, and it seemed to strike the ship between the second and third funnels, as far as I could see. Then I heard the order given "hard-a-starboard" and I heard Captain Turner saying "lower the boats down level to the rail," and I went to my section of boats.

1378. Where was your boat station?
- My boat station was No. 10 on the port side.

1379. That was your individual boat?
- Yes, that was my individual boat; my section was from 2 to 10.

1380. You were responsible generally for boats from 2 to 10?

1381. What did you do when you went to the boats?
- I started to get No. 10 lowered down to the rail, but it landed on the deck. Captain Anderson was there beside me and he said: "Go to the bridge and tell them they are to trim her with the port tanks." I made my way to the bridge and sung out that order to Mr. Heppert [sic], the second officer. He repeated it and I came back again and No. 10 boat was on the deck. We tried to push it out, but we could not do it.

1382. How was the ship behaving at this time?
- She had a big list to starboard on her.

1383. Did any of the boats 2 to 10 for which you were responsible get away?
- Not to my knowledge.

1384. The Commissioner: Do you refer to the even numbers on the port side?
- Yes.

1385. The Solicitor-General: How long did you continue your efforts to get the boats off?
- Until she went down.

1386. The Commissioner: Did you continue at the port boats until the ship went down?
- Until the water came up and we could not do it any longer.

1387. What was the good of working at the port boats if you could not get them down?
- Well, Captain Anderson was there beside me and I took most of my orders from him.

1388. Did you think it was worthwhile trying to get the port boats out?
- I thought when we trimmed her with the port tanks she might right herself a little bit.

1389. Immediately after the torpedo struck her she took a list to starboard did she not?
- Yes.

1390. A very bad list?
- Yes.

1391. Did she then apparently attempt to right herself or did she go on listing?
-She went on listing for about 10 minutes I should say.

1392. Then what happened?
- Then she seemed to rectify the list a little bit.

1393. She went over and came back again?
- A small bit.

1394. But she never lost her big list to starboard?
- No.

1395. Then I want to know why you went on working at the port side boats?
- When she rectified herself a little bit it gave us encouragement and we thought she might come up altogether or it might give us a better chance.

1396. The Solicitor-General: Did you think it was hopeless to get them away or not?
- No, I did not think it was hopeless.

1397. And you say Captain Anderson was there with you?
- Yes.

1398. I think when the water came aboard you stepped over the side into the water?
- Yes.

1399. How far was that off; how far was the drop?
- Two or three feet.

1400. And you were dragged down and afterwards you came to the surface and took refuge on one of the collapsible boats? Yes. A man named Quinn pulled me on.

Examined by Mr. ROSE-INNES.

1401. You told us just now that there would be the usual boat practice at 11 o'clock on May 6th?
- Yes.

1402. Will you describe what you mean by the usual boat practice?
- My watch in the morning is from 8 to 12, and the boat practice and fire drill is at 11 o'clock, and as far as my connection with the boat drill is concerned I have nothing to do with the boat drill, but I telephoned down about the fire drill. As far as boat drill is concerned I have nothing to do with it. I am on watch on the bridge at the time.

1403. The Commissioner: But can you see it on the bridge where you stand?
- I cannot see any details. I can see the men getting into the boats.

1404. But you can tell that gentleman what the boat drill consists of?
- I could not.

1405. Yes you can, you know. You ought to know it. What do they do?
- It is too far back for me to see. I could not tell you.

1406. How long have you been at sea?
- Since 1908.

1407. That is several years. Have you been on the Cunard Line all the time?
- No. That was my first voyage.

1408. That was your first voyage in a Cunarder?
- Yes.

1409. Have you been on a big liner before?
- No.

1410. Was this your first voyage on a big liner?
- Yes.

1411. Mr. Rose Innes: Did you ship in England for New York?
- Yes.

1412. You signed articles in England?
- Yes.

1413. You had taken the outward journey and were coming back?
- Yes.

1414. You said there was boat drill. What did you actually see taking place at 11 o'clock on the morning of the 6th. What did you see yourself?
- I cannot remember that I saw the boat drill.

1415. You told us there was one?

The Commissioner:
There would be a boat drill, but you are quite right, Mr. Rose Innes, in asking what it consists of.

1416. Mr. Rose Innes: Did you ever examine these boats yourself?
- No, I examined the gear in them.

1417. Did you know that one of them leaked so badly that she went down with the passengers in her, and they were all drowned but two?
- No.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I submit it is somewhat hard on us these topics being introduced on the third day of the enquiry. This is the first we have heard of it.

The Commissioner:
What was the question?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
Whether one of the boats was leaking so badly that it went down by the head and all the passengers were drowned.

Mr. Rose Innes:
"By the head" is an interpola tion by my friend.

The Commissioner:
That is a perfectly proper question, but this man does not know anything about it.

Mr. Rose Innes:
I am quite content if he does not know.

The Commissioner:
You had better ask others.

Examined by Mr. CLEM EDWARDS.

1418. Where were you at the time the torpedo struck the ship?
- In the officers' smoke room.

1419. Did you come out immediately after?
- Yes.

1420. Where did you go to?
- To the starboard side of the bridge.

1421. Did you hear any instructions given by the officers on duty?
- I heard the captain giving instructions.

1422. Did you hear him giving any instructions with regard to watertight doors?
- No, not when I was on the bridge. I was only there a matter of 10 seconds.

1423. Did you hear him give instructions to anyone to go below and see if they could ascertain the extent of the damage?
- No.

1424. The Commissioner: You were within earshot of the captain for 10 seconds I understand you to say. Is that right?
- As far as I can tell, yes.

The Commissioner:
He was not likely to hear much then.

1425. Mr. Clem Edwards: I did not catch that he said 10 seconds, my Lord. (To the Witness.) You were only there, were you, for a matter of 10 seconds?
- About that time.

1426. Do you know whether in fact any instructions were given to take soundings in different parts of the ship?
- I did not hear any.

1427. Nor hear that instructions had been given?
- No, it would not come within my knowledge.

Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

1428. You remember the morning of the 7th May. During the 8 to 12 watch were you on duty?
- Yes.

1429. What was the character of the weather during that time?
- A thick fog.

1430. Were you taking soundings?
- Yes.

1431. Why were you taking soundings?
- Because of the fog.

1432. It was to ascertain as well as you could the position of the ship?
- Yes.

1433. Later on do you remember sighting the Old Head of Kinsale?
- Yes.

1434. After a time did you get it 4 points on your port bow?
- As far as I can recollect it was 5 points when I went down.

1435. Did you at any time get orders to take a 4-point bearing of the Old Head of Kinsale?
- Yes.

1436. Did you proceed to carry out that order?
- Yes.

1437. Did you complete that operation or did you leave it to somebody else?
- I left it to somebody else; I was relieved on the bridge.

1438. Who was the gentleman you left there?
- Mr. Stevens.

1439. The Commissioner: Was that at 12 o'clock?
- No. This would be shortly before 2 o'clock.

1440. I thought your watch was up to 12 o'clock?
- My watch was up to 12 o'clock, but I go down to dinner at 1, and then I come up to relieve the junior officer on the bridge.

1441. Mr. Butler Aspinall: And you did not complete this operation?
- No.

1442. Will you tell me what was the object of your getting a 4-point bearing?
- To find the distance that the ship would be off the land and if she was abeam the Head of Kinsale.

1443. That is the still recognised way, is it not, at sea in order to get your distance from the land and your accurate position?
- Yes.

(The Witness withdrew.)