United States Senate Inquiry

Day 2

Testimony of Harold T. Cottam, cont.

Senator SMITH.
At the time of the wreck?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was his mental condition? Did he seem to be lucid?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir. No, sir; he seemed to be all right.

Senator SMITH.
How?

Mr. COTTAM.
He seemed to be all right.

Senator SMITH.
I say, he seemed to be all right, did he, mentally?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And did he receive messages, to your knowledge?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And answer them?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know any that he sent or received?

Mr. COTTAM.
It was Mr. Bride who sent the third class names to the Chester, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Any other message?

Mr. COTTAM.
I have no record of it here, sir; the records are all on the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
No other message that you can recollect?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir. He did send some, sir, but I can not remember when or what they were.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know at the time?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And if he had sent any message such as I have indicated, that the Titanic was being towed to Halifax and the passengers were safe, you would have known it, would you not?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you would not have permitted it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
He did not in fact send it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Send such message?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Can you now tell just how long Mr. Bride was at the instrument?

Mr. COTTAM.
He was on and off the instrument, and took a watch occasionally, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Took a watch occasionally?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you stand watch alone all of the time, with the exception of the short time that you were overtaken by slumber and the time you were relieved by Mr. Bride, from Sunday evening until at your arrival in New York?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And had the responsibility for the work of the wireless on the Carpathia?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Has anybody talked to you since you have been in New York that was aboard the boat with reference to any messages that were sent or received?

Mr. COTTAM.
I heard about the message being put about, about the Titanic being bound for Halifax, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Tell us what you were asked.

Mr. COTTAM.
I was asked by somebody abroad, I can not remember who it was, whether I sent the message or not.

Senator SMITH.
Were you asked by Mr. Ismay?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Were you asked by some officer of the Carpathia?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Were you asked by any of the crew?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Or by any of the passengers?

Mr. COTTAM.
I believe it was after we arrived in New York I heard about it, sir.

Senator SMITH.
After you arrival at the Cunard docks you were asked that question?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know who interrogated you?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; I do not. I can not remember at all, sir. I was too busy at the time.

Senator SMITH.
Would you know the man if you saw him?

Mr. COTTAM.
I don't suppose I would, sir; I did not take any notice of him at the time.

Senator SMITH.
Have you seen him since?

Mr. COTTAM.
I do not know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How soon after you reached the Cunard dock were you asked that question?

Mr. COTTAM.
I can not say. I do not recollect anything concerning the question at all.

Senator SMITH.
Was it immediately after you reached dock?

Mr. COTTAM.
I can not remember anything about it; only remember being asked after we arrived in New York, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What were you asked? Just state what was said to you and your reply.

Mr. COTTAM.
I was asked if I had sent the message to shore to the effect that the Titanic was being towed into Halifax, and of course I said I had not.

Senator SMITH.
That you had not?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you say anything more?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did the person who addressed you say anything more?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir. I believe it was a reporter. I can not remember, sir. I believe it was a reporter.

Senator SMITH.
You do not know who it was?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; I can not remember at all.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have any conversation with Mr. Bride about that matter?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; I did not. I never spoke to him about it.

Senator SMITH.
Did he have any conversation with you about it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I understood you to say yesterday that the wireless apparatus on the Carpathia was rather out of date?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And not in very good condition?

Mr. COTTAM.
The set itself is in good condition for what it is, sir; but it is an old-fashioned type.

Senator SMITH.
An old-fashioned type?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Have you any means of knowing what distance you could accurately communicate with that apparatus?

Mr. COTTAM.
About 250 miles, I should say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When you say that this was an old type, you mean that it was limited in its power?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was the maximum wave length that could be employed by that instrument?

Mr. COTTAM.
I do not know the wave length, but I was using the standard wave length of all the ships in the marine service.

Senator SMITH.
You say the standard wave length. What was that, 600 meters?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you could use 600 meters, could you?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you understand that to be the standard wave length that English ships, or ships under the flag of countries, parties to the international treaty, have prescribed?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You know that, do you?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How do you know it?

Mr. COTTAM.
I know that there is a rule established by the international convention to the effect that merchant ships are not permitted to use wave lengths other than 600 and 300 meters.

Senator SMITH.
Merchant ships have the 600 maximum and the 300 minimum?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Is that right, Mr. Marconi?

Mr. MARCONI.
Yes, sir; that is right.

Senator SMITH.
And you were able to meet these regulations with these instruments, fairly satisfactorily?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; most of the time I was not using an attuned set at all. It was plain aerial and emitting unattuned oscillations.

Senator SMITH.
Just explain that.

Mr. COTTAM.
There is no wave length at all to what we call plain aerial, sir. Any ships within the radius of 250 miles or under would get it; it would not matter, hardly, what adjustment they were standing by on.

Senator SMITH.
Is that reliable?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
That is simply general transmission to offices within a limited radius?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I believe you said you were 21 years of age?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And that you had been an operator for about four or five years?

Mr. COTTAM.
About three years.

Senator SMITH.
About three years?

Mr. COTTAM.
About three years.

Senator SMITH.
And that your wages were £4 10s?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; per month.

Senator SMITH.
And board?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And that your room was provided for you in your office?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I am not quite satisfied to leave your statement yesterday to the effect that no regular office hours are prescribed by your regulations.

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; the operator uses his own discretion, but he is responsible if any thing should go wrong at all.

Senator SMITH.
Well, what do you do with your time when you are away from the instrument? How do you pass your time; where do you pass it? You can not find much society at the place where your office is located on the boat.

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Where do you go; what do you do - mingle with the crew?

Mr. COTTAM.
Mingle with the crew or go on deck.

Senator SMITH.
Where?

Mr. COTTAM.
On deck or in their rooms.

Senator SMITH.
On deck or in their rooms?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And the number of times you shall go to your office and your instrument is entirely discretionary with you?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; the Marconi Co. issues charts showing us when the ships come along, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Then when you caught this message from the Titanic, this distress message, you caught it not because you were there by any regulation of your company at that particular time?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But rather accidentally?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I believe you said you had the telephone on your ear when you started to disrobe and get ready to retire for the night?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You kept this telephone on your ear, that you might not miss anything just before getting into bed?

Mr. COTTAM.
I had just previously called the Parisian and I was waiting for a reply to see if there was one coming.

Senator SMITH.
If that reply from the Parisian had been received, that would have ended your work for the night, would it?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir. I should have replied again; I should have finished for the night.

Senator SMITH.
That was a commercial communication?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; it would have been if I had ever caught the Parisian, but I did not catch him; apparently he had gone to bed.

Senator SMITH.
Apparently the operator on the Parisian had gone to bed?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You assumed that he had gone to bed?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was the hour?

Mr. COTTAM.
The hour was about 11 o'clock, sir, New York time.

Senator SMITH.
You kept the telephone on your ear that you might get a reply from the Parisian, if possible, before you retired?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Now, while you had this telephone apparatus on your head, and were preparing for bed, you caught this communication from the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
Not just then, sir; it was about five minutes afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
About five minutes?

Mr. COTTAM.
Afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
After you had attempted to get a reply from the Parisian?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
If you had not had this telephone arrangement on your head, and had been preparing for bed, was there anything on that instrument that would have alarmed you or signaled you to the board?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; nothing whatever.

Senator SMITH.
Nothing whatever?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
So that the communication from the Titanic reached you by the merest accident?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Providentially?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And the first message - just repeat it to the reporter.

Mr. COTTAM.
The first message was saying, "Come at once. It is a C. Q. D., old man." That is the distress call. Then he sent his position.

Senator SMITH.
What was the "old man"? What did that mean?

Mr. COTTAM.
It is simply a complimentary remark that is passed in wireless-telegraph service.

Senator SMITH.
That was a pretty serious time for complimentary remarks, was it not? Did you transmit it to the captain in the form in which it came?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; there was not necessity to put that on, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You struck off the 'old man'?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; but I reported it verbally.

Senator SMITH.
Was that 'old man' intended for you?

Mr. COTTAM.
For me, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You appropriated those two words, and took the balance of it to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
From that minute you were in communication with the Titanic until the last message came about between 1 and 2 o'clock in the morning?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; it was 11.55, New York time, when I received the last message from the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
11.55?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
That was the message which said that the boiler room was filling with water?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
"Come," or anything?

Mr. COTTAM.
He said, "Come as quickly as possible." He said, "She is taking water, and it is up to the boilers."

Senator SMITH.
You took that message to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And the captain replied?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
In order to have this I am going to run the risk of repetition. We should like to have you give the captain's reply.

Mr. COTTAM.
The captain told me to go and tell the Titanic he was making toward the position given as quickly as possible; that he had a double watch in the engine room and she was making a good 15 and perhaps 16 knots. He told me to tell her to get the boats ready, as we had got ours all ready.

Senator SMITH.
Lifeboats?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you send any other message after that?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; I repeated the message many times, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You repeated that message many times?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
But you got the answer?

Mr. COTTAM.
I got no answer; no, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And never did receive an answer to that last message?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get an answer to that last message from any other ship?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Or other office?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I think that is all. You may step aside. I will ask Mr. Bride to take the stand.