United States Senate Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Harold G. Lowe, cont.

Senator SMITH.
Give all the others?

Mr. LOWE.
You want them in my own boat, sir?

Senator SMITH.
Yes; you said you had the names of all in the boat.

Mr. LOWE.
You see, I was in charge of five boats.

Senator SMITH.
But this in of the boat you were in yourself, No. 14?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes. I will give them to you.

Senator SMITH.
This is the one you loaded?

Mr. LOWE.
You want those in the boat from the davits, not what I picked up?

Senator SMITH.
No, I am going to ask you that later.

Mr. LOWE.
The next were Mrs. A. T. Compton, and Miss S. H. Compton, Laurel House, Lakewood, N. J.

Senator SMITH.
Go ahead a little faster, if you can.

Mr. LOWE.
That is all.

Senator SMITH.
Those are the only names you took down?

Mr. LOWE.
Out of my own particular boat.

Senator SMITH.
I thought you had a card there that they had signed with their autographs.

Mr. LOWE.
Who?

Senator SMITH.
These passengers who were in your own boat, No. 14.

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I am no autograph hunter.

Senator SMITH.
I understand; but I thought you told me you had a card of that kind.

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You say there were how many people in your boat?

Mr. LOWE.
Fifty-eight, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And that was when you left the davits?

Mr. LOWE.
That was when I left the davits.

Senator SMITH.
How many people got into that boat after it reached the water, or at any other deck?

Mr. LOWE.
None, sir. You see, I chased all of my passengers out of my boat and emptied her into four other boats that I had. I herded five boats all together.

Senator SMITH.
Yes; what were they?

Mr. LOWE.
I was in No. 14. Then I had 10, I had 12, and I had another collapsible, and one other boat the number of which I do not know. I herded them together and roped them - made them all tie up - and of course I had to wait until the yells and shrieks had subsided - for the people to thin out - and then I deemed it safe for me to go amongst the wreckage. So I transferred all my passengers - somewhere about 53 passengers - from my boat, and I equally distributed them between my other four boats. Then I asked for volunteers to go with me to the wreck, and it was at this time that I found this Italian. He came aft, and he had a shawl over his head and I suppose he had skirts. Anyhow, I pulled this shawl off his face and saw he was a man. He was in a great hurry to get into the other boat, and I caught hold of him and pitched him in.

Senator SMITH.
Pitched him in?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; because he was not worthy of being handled better.

Senator SMITH.
You pitched him in among the women?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; in the fore part of the lifeboat in which I transferred my passengers.

Senator SMITH.
Did you use some pretty emphatic language when you did that?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I did not say a word to him.

Senator SMITH.
Just picked him up and pitched him into this other lifeboat?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes. Then I went off and I rowed off to the wreckage and around the wreckage and I picked up four people.

Senator SMITH.
Dead or alive?

Mr. LOWE.
Four alive.

Senator SMITH.
Who were they?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
Have you ever found out?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know who those three live persons were; they never came near me afterwards, either to say this, that, or the other. But one died, and that was a Mr. Hoyt, of New York, and it took all the boat's crew to pull this gentleman into the boat, because he was an enormous man, and I suppose he had been soaked fairly well with water, and when we picked him up he was bleeding from the mouth and from the nose. So we did get him on board and I propped him up at the stern of the boat, and we let go his collar, took his collar off, and loosened his shirt so as to give him every chance to breathe; but, unfortunately, he died. I suppose he was too far gone when we picked him up. But the other three survived. I then left the wreck. I went right around and, strange to say, I did not see a single female body, not one, around the wreckage.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have a light in your boat?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir. I left my crowd of boats somewhere, I should say, about between half-past 3 and 4 in the morning, and after I had been around it was just breaking day, and I am quite satisfied that I had a real good look around, and that there was nothing left.

Senator SMITH.
Now, I am going to stop you there just for a moment. You can tell what you did then?

Mr. LOWE.
Then what?

Senator SMITH.
After you looked around, then what did you do?

Mr. LOWE.
I then thought - well, the thought flashed through my mind, "perhaps the ship has not seen us in the semigloom."

Senator SMITH.
The Carpathia?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes. I could see her coming up, and I thought, "Well, I am the fastest boat of the lot," as I was sailing, you see. I was going through the water very nicely, going at about, well, I should say, four knots, five knots, maybe; it may have been a little more; it may have been six; but, anyhow, I was bowling along very nicely.

Senator SMITH.
In the direction of the Carpathia?

Mr. LOWE.
In the direction of the Carpathia. And I thought, "I am the fastest boat, and I think if I go toward her, for fear of her leaving us to our doom" - that is what I was scared about, and you will understand that day was dawning more and more as the time came on.

Senator SMITH.
I assume that to be so.

Mr. LOWE.
And by and by, I noticed a collapsible boat [D], and it looked rather sorry, so I thought, "Well, I will go down and pick her up and make sure of her." So I went about and sailed down to this collapsible, and took her in tow.

Senator SMITH.
Whom did you find in control of this collapsible?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know, sir; because you must understand that when we are on shipboard we do not call men, so and so, by their names.

Senator SMITH.
I did not know but what you might designate him.

Mr. LOWE.
If we want a quartermaster we do not say Bright, or whatever his name is; we say "Quartermaster."

Senator SMITH.
I do not care about that feature. I will ask you a straight question, whether you know anybody that was in that collapsible boat.

Mr. LOWE.
I knew one.

Senator SMITH.
Who?

Mr. LOWE.
I think she was in that boat; that is Mrs. H. B. Harris, of New York. She had a broken arm.

Senator SMITH.
But you did not know anyone else?

Mr. LOWE.
You must understand that by this time my first boat's crew had got scattered.

Senator SMITH.
I am not asking about that, at all; I am asking whether you knew anyone in this collapsible boat that you attached to your own, except this woman?

Mr. LOWE.
Mrs. Harris, that is all.

Senator SMITH.
Did you come to know any of them afterwards?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I want to take you back a moment. Before you transferred the 53 people from your lifeboat, No. 14, to other lifeboats, including this Italian in woman's attire, you say you lay off a bit. Where; how far from the Titanic?

Mr. LOWE.
I lay off from the Titanic, as near as I could roughly estimate, about 150 yards, because I wanted to be close enough in order to pick up anybody that came by.

Senator SMITH.
I understand; but you said you lay off a bit to wait until it quieted down.

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Until what quieted down?

Mr. LOWE.
Until the drowning people had thinned out.

Senator SMITH.
You lay off a bit until the drowning people had quieted down?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Then you went to the scene of the wreck?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Had their cries quieted down before you started?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; they had subsided a good deal. It would not have been wise or safe for me to have gone there before, because the whole lot of us would have been swamped and then nobody would have been saved.

Senator SMITH.
But your boat had, according to your own admission, a water capacity of 65 people?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; but then what are you going to do with a boat of 65 where 1,600 people are drowning?

Senator SMITH.
You could have saved 15.

Mr. LOWE.
You could not do it, sir.

Senator SMITH.
At least, you made no attempt to do it?

Mr. LOWE.
I made the attempt, sir, as soon as any man could do so, and I am not scared of saying it. I did not hang back or anything else.

Senator SMITH.
I am not saying you hung back. I am just saying that you said you lay by until it had quieted down.

Mr. LOWE.
You had to do so. It was absolutely not safe. You could not do otherwise, because you would have hundreds of people around your boat, and the boat would go down just like that (indicating).

Senator SMITH.
About how long did you lay by?

Mr. LOWE.
I should say an hour and a half; somewhere under two hours.

Senator SMITH.
On your oars?

Mr. LOWE.
No; we did not. We unshipped our oars, and I made the five boats fast together and we hung on like that.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see the Titanic sink?

Mr. LOWE.
I did, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How long after you left her side in the lifeboat did she sink?

Mr. LOWE.
I suppose about half an hour. No - yes; somewhere about half an hour.

Senator SMITH.
Then you laid an hour after she sank?

Mr. LOWE.
An hour after she sank.

Senator SMITH.
Before going to the scene of the wreck?

Mr. LOWE.
Before going to the scene of the wreck.

Senator SMITH.
You were about 150 yards off?

Mr. LOWE.
I was just on the margin. If anybody had struggled out of the mass, I was there to pick them up; but it was useless for me to go into the mass.

Senator SMITH.
You mean for anybody?

Mr. LOWE.
It would have been suicide.

Senator SMITH.
Do you mean that if anybody had applied to you for permission to get aboard, you would have accorded them the right?

Mr. LOWE.
I would have taken anybody and everybody; that is, because we could have handled them there. We could never have handled them in the mass.

Senator SMITH.
I just wanted to see what you did toward it. How did the Titanic go down?

Mr. LOWE.
She went down head first and inclined at an angle. That is, when she took her final plunge she was inclined at an angle of about 75º.

Senator SMITH.
Almost perpendicular?

Mr. LOWE.
Pretty well. On an angle about like that (indicating).

Senator SMITH.
Were you close enough to see whether there were any people on the afterdecks at that time?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir. It was pretty well dark, and we could not see them.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see any fire on the Titanic?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you hear any explosion?

Mr. LOWE.
I heard explosions, yes; I should say about four.

Senator SMITH.
At what time with reference to your departure from the ship?

Mr. LOWE.
That was after I left the ship.

Senator SMITH.
What time was it with reference to your departure from the ship?

Mr. LOWE.
About I should say, a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes.

Senator SMITH.
About 20 minutes?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
When you left the ship's side in lifeboat No. 14, you said you had about 53 people?

Mr. LOWE.
Fifty-eight people; that is, 53 passengers.

Senator SMITH.
And when you lay by outside with boats 10 and 12 -

Mr. LOWE. (interrupting)
Boats 10 and 12 and 14 and the collapsible.

Senator SMITH.
You then took out of your boat 53 of these people and distributed them in the other boats?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When you did that, did you feel that you were taxing the capacity of the other boats?

Mr. LOWE.
What had you to do? You had to do something.

Senator SMITH.
But you did not do anything at that time? You took those people out and placed them in these other boats, including the Italian that you ejected. You waited until things had quieted down, an hour and a half, and then sailed around the place where the Titanic had sank, and you found three people, all of whom you took into your boat, one of whom died. When you went alongside the Carpathia, how many people were in your boat?

Mr. LOWE.
There were about 45.

Senator SMITH.
Where did you get them?

Mr. LOWE.
I got them out of the sinking collapsible. [Collapsible A]

Senator SMITH.
An overturned collapsible?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; it was a collapsible that some wreckage had pierced. I was coming to that when you stopped me.

Senator SMITH.
I would like to have you come to it now.

Mr. LOWE.
I had taken this first collapsible in tow, and I noticed that there was another collapsible in a worse plight than this one that I had in tow. I was just thinking and wondering whether it would be better for me to cut this one adrift and let her go, and for me to travel faster to the sinking one, but I thought, "No, I think I can manage it"; so I cracked on a bit, and I got down there just in time and took off; I suppose, about 20 men and 1 lady out of this sinking collapsible.

Senator SMITH.
Did you leave any bodies on there?

Mr. LOWE.
I left three bodies on it.

Senator SMITH.
What was the number of that boat?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know, sir; it was one of the collapsibles.

Senator SMITH.
But you took off of it 20 men?

Mr. LOWE.
About 20 men.

Senator SMITH.
And three women?

Mr. LOWE.
One woman.

Senator SMITH.
And left on board how many?

Mr. LOWE.
Three male bodies.

Senator SMITH.
So that in this damaged collapsible there were 24 people, all together?

Mr. LOWE.
Twenty-one and three are twenty-four, all together; yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What became of the other three that you left on it?

Mr. LOWE.
As to the three people that I left on her - of course, I may have been a bit hard hearted, I can not say - but I thought to myself, "I am not here to worry about bodies; I am here for life, to save life, and not to bother about bodies," and I left them.

Senator SMITH.
Were they dead when you left them?

Mr. LOWE.
They were dead; yes, sir. The people on the raft told me they had been dead some time. I said, "Are you sure they are dead?" They said, "Absolutely sure." I made certain they were dead, and questioned them one and all before I left this collapsible.

Senator SMITH.
Did you attempt to find anything on their persons that would identify them?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether anyone did?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; nobody; because they were all up to their ankles in water when I took them off. Another three minutes and they would have been down.

Senator SMITH.
From what you saw of these three persons would you say, or could you say, whether they were old or young?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I would not like to state anything. All that I can state is that they were male.

Senator SMITH.
They were men?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Were they of the crew or passengers?

Mr. LOWE.
That I would not like to say.

Senator SMITH.
You could not tell?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did they have life preservers on, or did they not?

Mr. LOWE.
I think they had lifebelts on.

Senator SMITH.
Have you ever learned since that night who those three people were?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Mr. Lowe, after taking these passengers from that collapsible that was injured, you headed in the direction of the Carpathia?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes; I left for the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
Did you succeed in landing them?

Mr. LOWE.
I landed everybody.

Senator SMITH.
All of them?

Mr. LOWE.
And the corpse included.

Senator SMITH.
Including the corpse of the man that had died on your boat?

Mr. LOWE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What, if anything, did you do after that?

Mr. LOWE.
There was nothing to do, sir. What was there to do?

Senator SMITH.
I did not say there was anything. I simply asked what you did.

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; there was nothing to do.

Senator SMITH.
I do not want to press you about the matter too hard, nor do I want to overtax you, but I would like to know whether, in the early morning of Monday, you passed near or counted the icebergs you saw; I believe about a dozen or so of them?

Mr. LOWE.
There must have been about a dozen; somewheres from 12 to 20, I should say.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know anything more about this accident that bears upon the question of the discipline of the men, and the collision or impact, than you have stated?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I no know any more.

Senator SMITH.
We will not go over it all, or any of it, for that matter. I will be very glad if you will complete the point that I made regarding the manner in which you took the boat's position at 8 p.m. Sunday. You said you could do that from the chart. If you will kindly do so -

Mr. LOWE.
I can not do it on that thing, sir (indicating).

Senator SMITH.
You can not do it on that chart?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you anything, Mr. Franklin, from which he could make that figure?

Mr. FRANKLIN.
I do not think so. He would have to have his instruments and calculations and tables to do it.

Senator SMITH.
Then you are unable to give that information accurately from any data you have?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir; I can not.

Mr. FRANKLIN.
Let him do it and submit it as part of his testimony.

Senator SMITH.
I would like very much if you can work it out and hand it to me as part of your testimony. I would like to insert it in the record.

Mr. LOWE.
I do not remember the course that she steered, from then on. You must have the course.

Senator SMITH.
Is that absolutely necessary -

Mr. LOWE.
Oh, yes; if -

Senator SMITH.
Wait a moment. Would the course at 8 o'clock be necessary to determine the speed at noon that day?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir. The course -

Senator SMITH.
All right; stop right there, then, if it would not.

Would the course be necessary at 8 p. m. to determine the astronomical position?

Mr. LOWE.
The astronomical position is found independent of the course.

Senator SMITH.
Exactly. Then it is necessary.

Mr. LOWE.
But the position that I mentioned to you was not observation. It was D. R. - that is dead reckoning.

Senator SMITH.
I know you said it was dead reckoning, but I thought the speed was necessary.

Mr. LOWE.
Oh, yes; you must have the speed.

Senator SMITH.
If you will kindly work out and put in to the record the time from which you reckoned the speed, and give me, as nearly as possible, such information as you had, which enabled you to report to the captain Sunday night at 8 o'clock the position of the Titanic, I shall be glad to have it as part of your sworn testimony.

Senator SMITH.
Do any of the other members of the committee desire to ask any questions at this time?

Senator PERKINS.
Mr. Lowe, as assistant navigating officer, what were the different methods by which you could ascertain the position of the ship? How many different methods were there?

Mr. LOWE.
There is the sun -

Senator PERKINS.
That is under the head of astronomical observations. The next one is by means of the revolutions of the engines or propellers, and the next one on the log. Did you take them every two hours?

Mr. LOWE.
We have the log every two hours, and we are all the time navigating. We do not take observations once a day. We perhaps take 25 or 30 observations a day.

Senator PERKINS.
The duty of the quartermaster is to take the record of the log, is it not?

Mr. LOWE.
The quartermaster takes the log.

Senator PERKINS.
Do you compare that with the revolutions of the engines?

Mr. LOWE.
We ring him up, and we see how she is doing with the revolutions, whether she is going faster or going slower; and you will find a corresponding difference in the log.

Senator PERKINS.
Then you put the position on the chart for the information of the captain?

Mr. LOWE.
You send it in with the chit.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know, Mr. Lowe, whether the Titanic received on Sunday a wireless message from the Amerika reporting ice, which message the Titanic repeated to Cape Race?

Mr. LOWE.
I do not know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you hear anything about it?

Mr. LOWE.
I know there was something about ice, but I do not know anything about it.

Senator SMITH.
Did you hear anything about it?

Mr. LOWE.
I remember there was a position there, on the chart, something about ice, but I do not remember what it was.

Senator SMITH.
Do you mean there was something indicated on the chart?

Mr. LOWE.
There was a slip that showed the position of the ice, the latitude and longitude; but who reported it, or anything else, I do not know anything about it.

Senator SMITH.
And you did not examine it carefully yourself?

Mr. LOWE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Can you tell me what that position was from recollection?

Mr. LOWE.
What position, sir?

Continued >