United States Senate Inquiry

Day 1

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

Senator SMITH.
It was Col. Gracie, anyway?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Col. Gracie was on the upturned boat with me; yes.

Senator SMITH.
Was he on the upturned boat before you got it righted around?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We never righted it.

Senator SMITH.
You never righted it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir, we could not.

Senator SMITH.
Who else was there?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think all the rest were firemen taken out of the water, sir. Those are the only passengers that I know of.

Senator SMITH.
No other passengers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
There were two or three that died. I think there were three or four who died during the night.

Senator SMITH.
Aboard this boat with you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir; I think the senior Marconi operator was on the boat and died. The Marconi junior operator told me that the senior was on this boat and died.

Senator SMITH.
From the cold?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Presumably.

Senator SMITH.
Not from the blow of this -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; not that I know of.

Senator SMITH.
How many persons altogether?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I should roughly estimate about 30. She was packed standing from stem to stern at daylight.

Senator SMITH.
Was there any effort made by others to board her?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We took all on board that we could.

Senator SMITH.
I understand, but I wanted to know whether there was any effort made by others to get aboard?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not that I saw.

Senator SMITH.
There must have been a great number of people in the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
But not near us. They were some distance away from us.

Senator SMITH.
How far?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It seemed about a half a mile.

Senator SMITH.
Was not this the only raft or craft in sight?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was dark, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Yes. But this was the only thing there was to get on at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
With the exception of the wreckage.

Senator SMITH.
With the exception of what floated off the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
In the form of wreckage?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see Col. Gracie?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I don't know whether I saw him, sir. I met him on the Carpathia afterwards, of course.

Senator SMITH.
Do you remember seeing him in the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Who took command of that overturned lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did, as far as command was necessary.

Senator SMITH.
Did your judgment rule the conduct of those on it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir; that is my reason for saying that I believe it was mostly the crew of the ship, because of the implicit obedience.

Senator SMITH.
When you left the ship, did you see any women or children on board?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
None whatever.

Senator SMITH.
Could you give us any estimate whatever as to the number of first and second class passengers that were on board when the ship went down?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, Sir.

Senator SMITH.
Were there any on the so-called boat deck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Were there quite a number, in your opinion?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
A number of people - what they were, first, second, or third, crew or firemen, I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But there were many people still on the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And, so far as you could observe, could you tell whether they were equipped with life preservers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I could see, throughout the whole of the passengers, or the whole of the crew, everyone was equipped with a life preserver, for I looked for it especially.

Senator SMITH.
Were the passengers on those decks instructed at any time to go to one side or the other of the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What do you know about that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When the ship was taking a heavy list - not a heavy list - but she was taking a list over to port, the order was called, I think, by the chief officer. "Everyone on the starboard side to straighten her up," which I repeated.

Senator SMITH.
How long before you left the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
About how long?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Half an hour or three quarters of an hour.

Senator SMITH.
Before you left?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
How were these passengers selected in going to the lifeboats?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
By their sex.

Senator SMITH.
Whenever you saw a woman?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Precisely.

Senator SMITH.
She was invited to go into one of these boats?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Excepting the stewardesses. We turned several of those away.

Senator SMITH.
Except the employees?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Except the stewardesses; yes.

Senator SMITH.
And did you see any attempt made to get women to enter the lifeboats who refused to go?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I couldn't say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Several?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
A few.

Senator SMITH.
What reason was given why they did not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I had not time; I didn't notice. Merely they would not come.

Senator SMITH.
Did they ask that their families be taken?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes; one or two.

Senator SMITH.
And were families taken, to your knowledge?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not to my knowledge.

Senator SMITH.
Were the boat that was on top of the officers quarters that overturned, and the boat that was stuck in the tackle both made use of in any way, or but one?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
But one.

Senator SMITH.
So that altogether there were how many lifeboats actually used?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Nineteen.

Senator SMITH.
How many actually picked up by the Carpathia?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
All accounted for.

Senator SMITH.
One, however, was badly injured, and another lifeboat took the passengers from it, did they not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That was the upturned one that I was on.

Senator SMITH.
That was the upturned one that you were on?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And they took you into another lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
All of those who were with you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was the lifeboat full at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I counted 65 heads, not including myself or any that were in the bottom of the boat. I roughly estimated about 75 in the boat.

Senator SMITH.
Was the boat safe with that number of people in it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Safe in smooth water only.

Senator SMITH.
How many of those lifeboats did you help load?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
All except one or two on the port side.

Senator SMITH.
Who determined the number of people who should go into the lifeboats?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
How did you reach a conclusion as to the number that should be permitted to go in?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
My own judgment about the strength of the tackle.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you put in each boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In the first boat I put about 20 or 25. Twenty, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No men.

Senator SMITH.
How many seamen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two.

Senator SMITH.
In the first boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was that sufficient to take care of the boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We wanted them up on deck.

Senator SMITH.
For what purpose?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Lowering away the boats.

Senator SMITH.
Do you mean that there would not have been sufficient on deck and to man the lifeboats at the same time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not to distribute more than two to a boat, sir. It would not be safe.

Senator SMITH.
That is not the usual requirement, is it - two to a boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Quite sufficient under the conditions.

Senator SMITH.
As a matter of fact, women were obliged to row those boats for hours?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, a great many did, I know.

Senator SMITH.
That indicated that they were not fully equipped?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not necessarily, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many oars in a boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think it is 16, the full, equipment.

Senator SMITH.
How many persons can use an oar at one time? I do not mean how many can, but I mean how many ordinarily would?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Do you mean during boat practice, for instance?

Senator SMITH.
I should like to know how many during practice and I should like to know how many in actual danger such as this.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We would man about five oars a side. In the boat I was in we could pull only three oars.

Senator SMITH.
You couldn't pull at all, could you, in your boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We managed to keep our head to the sea with three oars.

Senator SMITH.
You mean you got hold of three oars after this boat was turned over?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir. The one that picked us up, afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
You did not have any means of propelling your craft until you were taken from this upturned boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
A couple of bits of wood we picked up, only.

Senator SMITH.
You say five men on a side?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I remember, five a side.

Senator SMITH.
Does that mean that a single individual will be at an oar?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not necessarily. You can do what we call double or treble bank.

Senator SMITH.
Tell me what that is.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two or three pulling abreast of one another, one holding an oar here, another there, and another one there.

Senator SMITH.
Abreast?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Abreast, another couple in front turned around facing and pushing the oar.

Senator SMITH.
Pushing?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Pushing, standing up in the boat.

Senator SMITH.
So that it is entirely possible and often the case that men face one another in working these oars?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Precisely.

Senator SMITH.
And therefore, in the case of a boat with its full complement of men, one man might be where he could see the ship, pulling with his back to the sea and another with his back to the ship and his face to the sea?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Precisely.

Senator SMITH.
You say there were about 25 in this first lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About that.

Senator SMITH.
And that it was loaded under your orders?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Under my orders.

Senator SMITH.
What happened to that lifeboat, the first one loaded?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was loaded and sent away from the ship.

Senator SMITH.
Did it not return to the ship because it was only half loaded?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not to my knowledge, sir.

Senator SMITH.
As a matter of fact it was not much more than half loaded, was it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
You mean its floating capacity?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Floating capacity; no.

Senator SMITH.
How did it happen you did not put more people into that boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because I did not consider it safe.

Senator SMITH.
In a great emergency like that, where there were limited facilities, could you not have afforded to try to put more people into that boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not know it was urgent then. I had no idea it was urgent.

Senator SMITH.
You did not know it was urgent.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Nothing like it.

Senator SMITH.
Supposing you had known it was urgent, what would you have done?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I would have acted to the best of my judgment then.

Senator SMITH.
Tell me what you would have thought wise.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I would have taken more risks. I should not have considered it wise to put more in, but I might have taken risks.

Senator SMITH.
As a matter of fact are not these lifeboats so constructed as to accommodate 40 people?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Sixty-five in the water, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Sixty-five in the water, and about 40 as they are being put into the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; it all depends on your gears, sir. If it were an old ship, you would barely dare to put 25 in.

Senator SMITH.
But this was a new one?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
And therefore I took chances with her afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
You put 25 in?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In the first.

Senator SMITH.
And two men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
And two men.

Senator SMITH.
How were those two men selected; arbitrarily by you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir. They were selected by me; yes.

Senator SMITH.
Who were they?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How did you happen to choose those particular men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because they were standing near.

Senator SMITH.
Did they want to go?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not ask them.

Senator SMITH.
You did not call for volunteers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They went by my orders.

Senator SMITH.
You directed that it should be done?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
And they got in?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They did.

Senator SMITH.
And 23 people besides?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I should say about 24; something like that.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see any lifeboat return to the ship and take on additional passengers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many did the second boat contain?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About 30.

Senator SMITH.
How many men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two.

Senator SMITH.
How many women and children?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About 30.

Senator SMITH.
Women or women and children?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I should say, roughly 30, and probably grown ups.

Senator SMITH.
What side were you loading on?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
On the port side of the ship, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Were those 30 lowered?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes; lowered and sent away.

Senator SMITH.
From what deck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
From the boat deck.

Senator SMITH.
You do not know, I suppose, whether they were first or second cabin passengers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
There were two men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two men, as far as I remember, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see that boat again alongside or any place else?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
By the Titanic, sir?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; not to my knowledge.

Senator SMITH.
How many did the third boat contain?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
By the time I came to the third boat I was aware that it was getting serious, and then I started to take chances.

Senator SMITH.
How long did it take to lower a boat - fill it and lower it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Just filling it and lowering it, and not clearing away?

Senator SMITH.
Filling and lowering and clearing?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We clear it away first then heave it out over the side, then lower it down level with the rail, and then commence to fill it with people. Previous to that we have to take the covers all off, haul out all the falls and coil them down clear.

Senator SMITH.
How long do you think it took you to uncover and lower that lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It is difficult to say, sir; 15 or 20 minutes.

Senator SMITH.
Were there any lifeboats being lowered from the other side at the same time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How did it happen that you had charge of that feature?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because I took charge.

Senator SMITH.
You took charge of it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And where was Mr. Murdoch at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I know, he had charge of the starboard side.

Senator SMITH.
How many passengers did the third boat contain?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can only guess. I filled her up as full as I could, and lowered her as full as I dared.

Senator SMITH.
How many seamen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two.

Senator SMITH.
You followed that rule?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I followed that rule throughout.

Continued >