United States Senate Inquiry

Day 11

Testimony of Joseph B. Ismay, cont.

Senator SMITH.
Do you now recall how many you have lost during your management?

Mr. ISMAY.
The only two that I remember are the Republic and the Naronic. I really was not the manager when the Naronic was lost. The only ship that has been lost since I have been manager is the Republic.

Senator SMITH.
Where was the Republic lost, do you remember?

Mr. ISMAY.
She was lost by being run into by an Italian steamer, I do not remember where; I think she was about 36 hours out of New York, but I really do not remember the place.

Senator SMITH.
Do you remember where the Naronic was lost?

Mr. ISMAY.
She was never heard of after leaving Liverpool.

Senator SMITH.
For what port was she destined?

Mr. ISMAY.
New York.

Senator SMITH.
And you have no means of knowing as to the latitude and longitude in which that boat was lost?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; she was practically a new ship when she was lost, and her sister ship is now running between Liverpool and Australia.

Senator SMITH.
What was her tonnage?

Mr. ISMAY.
I do not remember, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you remember how much she cost?

Mr. ISMAY.
No; I could not tell you that.

Senator SMITH.
Do you remember how high she was insured?

Mr. ISMAY.
I do not think she had been insured at all, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Then you have no data by which you are able to enlighten the committee as to where she was lost, or as to her tonnage or value?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; but I will very gladly give you her tonnage and her value. So far as the insurance is concerned, I can state that she was not insured. The underwriter of the company took the whole risk concerned.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know what the average revenue per trip, gross and net, of the Olympic is?

Mr. ISMAY.
That would entirely depend on the time of year.

Senator SMITH.
At this time of year?

Mr. ISMAY.
I could not tell you offhand, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Can you approximate it?

Mr. ISMAY.
I am almost afraid to answer the question, because it might be so very misleading.

Senator SMITH.
I will not press it, Mr. Ismay.

Mr. ISMAY.
I will give it to you, gladly.

Senator SMITH.
Perhaps you can furnish us with that information.

Mr. ISMAY.
Certainly; I can give you the exact figures.

Senator SMITH.
Can you, in the same connection, give us your estimated figures upon the earning capacity of the Titanic at this time of the year?

Mr. ISMAY.
What profit she would have left on the voyage?

Senator SMITH.
What gross return and what net return per trip you had figured on.

Mr. ISMAY.
No; I could not give you that. We have the figures of the Olympic, of course, which would be on the same lines as those of the Titanic. The ships were practically sister ships.

Senator SMITH.
Can you tell me whether the ships or vessels of the lines of which you are managing director are classed in any of the accepted classifications or societies?

Mr. ISMAY.
Some of the ships, I believe, are classed in Lloyd's. So far as the White Star Line are concerned, they have never classed any of their ships, as the ships have always been built far in excess of any of those requirements. We have always been in the habit of taking out a passenger certificate on all our ships, which is a check on our own people that those ships have been kept absolutely up to the mark.

Senator SMITH.
In letting contracts for building your ships, and particularly the Titanic, was there any limit of cost placed on the contractors who built the ship?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir. We have never built a ship with Messrs. Harland & Wolff by contract at all. They have carte blanche to build the ship and put everything of the very best into that ship, and after they have spent all the money they can on her they add on their commission to the gross cost of the ship, which we pay them. We have never built a ship by contract.

Senator SMITH.
The plans that are made are made by your engineers or theirs?

Mr. ISMAY.
The plans?

Senator SMITH.
The plans, drawings, and specifications.

Mr. ISMAY.
Messrs. Harland & Wolff prepare the plans. They are then submitted to us, to the directors of the White Star Line or to the manager of the White Star Line. They are carefully gone through with the representatives from the shipbuilders. They try to make suggestions to improve those plans. They are taken back and thoroughly thrashed out again, and they are submitted, I should be afraid to say how often. You see, when you build a ship you have to start building her probably five or six years before you want her.

Senator SMITH.
Who of your company directed the Harland & Wolff Co., to build the Titanic?

Mr. ISMAY.
I did, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say to them?

Mr. ISMAY.
It is very difficult for me to say what I said. It would be in a conversation with Lord Pirrie, that we had decided to build the Olympic and the Titanic .

Senator SMITH.
Were both ships ordered at the same time?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say to them? Did you say, "We want the largest and best ship that you can build safely"?

Mr. ISMAY.
We would naturally try to get the best ship we possibly could. We wanted the best ship crossing the north Atlantic when we built her.

Senator SMITH.
And when you gave the order that was your instruction?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you made no limitation as to cost?

Mr. ISMAY.
Absolutely none.

Senator SMITH.
You were content that they should build that ship at whatever it cost to build it?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir. What we wanted was the very best ship they could possibly produce.

Senator SMITH.
You examined this ship, I assume, on the voyage from Liverpool to the place of the accident, from time to time?

Mr. ISMAY.
I was never outside the first class passenger accommodations on board the ship, sir. I never went in any part of that ship that any other first class passenger had not a perfect right to go to. I had not made any inspection of the ship at all.

Senator SMITH.
From that do you wish to be understood as saying that you were not officially on board the ship for the purpose of inspecting?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; I do not. I was there to inspect the ship and see if there were any defects in her, with the idea of not repeating them in the other ship which we are now building at Belfast.

Senator SMITH.
You are building another ship of the same type now?

Mr. ISMAY.
We are now building a sister ship to the Olympic.

Senator SMITH.
Did you make these observations?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; I had not been around the ship.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have it in mind to do so?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes. I should have gone around the ship before we arrived at New York.

Senator SMITH.
Did Mr. Andrews go about the ship?

Mr. ISMAY.
He was about the ship all the time, I believe.

Senator SMITH.
Inspecting and examining her?

Mr. ISMAY.
I think so. Naturally, in a ship of that size, there were a great many minor defects on board the ship, which he was rectifying. I think there were probably three or four apprentices on board from Messrs. Harland & Wolff's shipbuilding yard, who were there to right any small detail which was wrong.

Senator SMITH.
On the spot?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes. A door might jam, or a pipe might burst, or anything like that, and they were there to make it good at once.

Senator SMITH.
Did Mr. Andrews bring these men for that purpose?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you yourself have opportunity to confer with Mr. Andrews during the voyage from Southampton to the place of this accident?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; I did not. Mr. Andrews dined with me one night. We had no conversation, really, in regard to the ship. Indeed, the only plan which Mr. Andrews submitted to me was a plan where he said he thought the writing room and reading room was unnecessarily large, and he said he saw a way of putting a stateroom in the forward end of it. That was a matter which would have been taken up and thoroughly discussed after we got back to England.

Senator SMITH.
Were you in conference with the captain during this journey from Southampton?

Mr. ISMAY.
I was never in the captain's room the whole voyage over, sir, and the captain was never in my room. I never had any conversation with the captain except casual conversation on the deck.

Senator SMITH.
Were you on the bridge at any time?

Mr. ISMAY.
I was never on the bridge until after the accident.

Senator SMITH.
How long after the accident?

Mr. ISMAY.
I should think it might have been 10 minutes.

Senator SMITH.
Was the captain there at that time?

Mr. ISMAY.
The captain was there; yes.

Senator SMITH.
Was that the only time you saw the captain on the bridge?

Mr. ISMAY.
I saw him afterwards, when I went up the second time to the bridge.

Senator SMITH.
How long after?

Mr. ISMAY.
I should think it might be 35 minutes. It is very difficult to place the time.

Senator SMITH.
After the impact?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What, if anything, did he say to you about the collision?

Mr. ISMAY.
The only conversation I had with Capt. Smith was when I went up on the bridge. I asked him what had happened, and he said we had struck ice.

Senator SMITH.
I believe you said you dined on Sunday evening with the surgeon of the Titanic?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes. I was all alone, so I asked Dr. O'Loughlin to come and dine with me, and he dined with me in the restaurant at half-past 7.

Senator SMITH.
And no other person was present at that table except yourself and him?

Mr. ISMAY.
No other persons were present excepting the doctor and myself, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did the doctor survive?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know where the captain dined on Sunday evening?

Mr. ISMAY.
He dined in the restaurant.

Senator SMITH.
The same place that you dined?

Mr. ISMAY.
In the same room; yes.

Senator SMITH.
At the same hour?

Mr. ISMAY.
I do not know what time he dined. I saw him in the room dining.

Senator SMITH.
With whom?

Mr. ISMAY.
I believe he dined with Mr. and Mrs. Widener.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know anyone else who was at the table?

Mr. ISMAY.
I think Mr. and Mrs. Karger [Carter] were there, and Mr. and Mrs. Thayer.

Senator SMITH.
Was Maj. Butt there?

Mr. ISMAY.
I did not see him. I could not see the whole of the table; I could see only part of it.

Senator SMITH.
In what part of the dining room were they dining, with reference to yourself?

Mr. ISMAY.
They were dining at the forward end of the restaurant.

Senator SMITH.
On which side?

Mr. ISMAY.
The starboard side.

Senator SMITH.
And you were dining -

Mr. ISMAY.
I was dining in the middle of the room on the same side of the ship. They were dining in an alcove; part of their table was in an alcove. I could not see the whole of their table. In fact, I was sitting with my back toward them.

Senator SMITH.
How long did you remain at the table?

Mr. ISMAY.
I should think half or three-quarters of an hour.

Senator SMITH.
During all that time was the captain at his table?

Mr. ISMAY.
They were sitting at the table when I went out of the room, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When, with reference to his time of dining, did you next see the captain?

Mr. ISMAY.
On the bridge, sir.

Senator SMITH.
At the time just spoken of?

Mr. ISMAY.
After the accident.

Senator SMITH.
Did you dine with the captain at all on the trip from Southampton to the place of the accident?

Mr. ISMAY.
I think he dined with me on Friday night.

Senator SMITH.
Is that the only time?

Mr. ISMAY.
The only time. He left us immediately after dinner. I went into my own room with the people who were dining with me, and we sat in my room and played bridge. But I never saw the captain after we left the restaurant. He never came near my room.

Senator SMITH.
Had you known the captain of that ship some time?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes; I had known him a great many years.

Senator SMITH.
On what ships of your line had he been captain?

Mr. ISMAY.
I think he had been commander of a great many of them. The first time I remember Capt. Smith being commander of one of our ships was when he was in command of one of our cargo boats called the Cufic, a great many years ago. He was in command of the Olympic, he was in the Adriatic, the Baltic, and the old Britannic. I can not remember them all, sir. We have a record in the office of every ship he has commanded.

Senator SMITH.
In this journey from Southampton to the place of the accident did he seem to be in good health?

Mr. ISMAY.
As far as I saw, sir; as far as I was able to judge, at least.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know his age?

Mr. ISMAY.
I would not like to be absolutely certain about it, but I think he was about 62.

Senator SMITH.
Do you yourself know anything about the construction of vessels; I mean technically?

Mr. ISMAY.
No; I could not say I do.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether the Titanic was classed 100-A according to Lloyd's register?

Mr. ISMAY.
It was in no class, so far as I know. We never classed any of the boats.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether she was fitted with an inner skin or longitudinal bulkhead between the tank deck and the waterline?

Mr. ISMAY.
She had no midship bulkhead, but she had a double bottom. She had a double bottom fore and aft.

Senator SMITH.
Fore and aft?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes; the whole length of the ship.

Senator SMITH.
In ordering that vessel, did you give Harland & Wolff any special instructions with reference to her safety?

Mr. ISMAY.
We were very anxious indeed to have a ship which would float with her two largest watertight compartments full of water. What we wanted to guard against was any steamer running into the ship and hitting her on a bulkhead, because if the ship ran into her broadside on and happened to hit her right on a bulkhead, that would open up two big compartments, and we were anxious to guard against the possibility of that happening; and the Olympic and Titanic were so constructed that they would float with the two largest compartments full of water.

Senator SMITH.
You remember, I think, the statement of the wheelman, Hichens, that the last thing he did before striking the iceberg was to so turn his wheel as to avoid contact directly with the bow, the extreme bow?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you recall that?

Mr. ISMAY.
I think he said he was told "Hard aport," and then "Hard astarboard," if I remember rightly.

Senator SMITH.
And then that threw the vessel -

Mr. ISMAY. (interposing)
He wanted to throw his quarter up.

Senator SMITH.
Suppose that had not been done, Mr. Ismay, and the ship had met this iceberg bows on; what would have been the effect, in your judgment?

Mr. ISMAY.
It is really impossible to say. It is only a matter of opinion. I think the ship would have crushed her bows in, and might not have sunk.

Senator SMITH.
She might not have sunk?

Mr. ISMAY.
She might not have sunk. I think it would have taken a very brave man to have kept his ship going straight on an iceberg. I think he should have endeavored to avoid it.

Senator SMITH.
What I am getting at is this, whether in the construction of this ship, which was intended for the North Atlantic and in which naturally the designers and builders had planned for such exigencies as might occur off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, she was build with special reference to her resistance at the bow?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
For that purpose?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir. I think the only ships in which they do that are ships trading to the St. Lawrence. I understand that on the forward end those ships are very often fitted with double plates because they have to go through field ice.

Senator SMITH.
That has been for the purpose of concentrating sufficient resistance at the bow to stand the brunt of a collision with ice?

Mr. ISMAY.
No, sir; I think it is done for protection against the field ice.

Senator SMITH.
Against field ice only?

Mr. ISMAY.
Yes, sir; at least that is my understanding.

Senator SMITH.
Do you recollect the captain of the Carpathia saying that if the Titanic had hit this iceberg bows on she would have been in New York Harbor instead of at the bottom of the sea?

Mr. ISMAY.
I do not remember him saying that, sir.

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