United States Senate Inquiry

Day 12

Testimony of John Bottomley, cont.

Senator SMITH.
Are Marconi operators absolutely under the control of the captains of the ships on which they serve?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
To the best of my knowledge, they are as long as they are on board ship. The captain is the absolute ruler of his ship.

Senator SMITH.
Is it not true that your operators can talk to each other and that, as a matter of fact, they are almost constantly chatting when in touch with each other?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
There is an absolute rule against such chatting or talking or exchanging matters not of proper business connected with wireless, but it would be impossible to follow each operator and find out that he did not chat or speak with another. As a general rule they do not do so. None of our best men follow that practice. If it was discovered, the operator would be severely reprimanded, and many times shore stations have picked up chatting between operators which has led, in some instances to discharge, and in others to very severe reprimanding of offenders. It is one of the rules which should be most strictly observed by operators. They are not there for their own purposes at all.

Senator SMITH.
You must admit, Mr. Bottomley, that no captain can know of these personal messages between operators.

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Oh, no; of course not.

Senator SMITH. (continuing)
Unless informed by the operator himself.

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
No, sir; he would not know anything about it.

Senator SMITH.
The testimony in this case clearly shows that there is more or less social and personal communication between operators on shipboard and at coast stations as well.

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
If that is so, it is very much to be deplored, and any instance brought to our notice will be severely dealt with. I speak for the whole allied Marconi companies in that respect.

Senator SMITH.
Do you not think this practice should be regulated by law; that it ought to be made the subject of the inquiry by the Berlin convention; in order to insure the proper transaction of public business?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I think the matter might be brought up at the Berlin conference or convention. I presume it will be.

Senator SMITH.
Mr. Bottomley, Mr. Marconi said he sent a personal message to the operator of the Carpathia two nights before that ship reached New York ordering him to send to the Associated Press a description of what happened to the Titanic. Can you give any reason why this request was not complied with?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
None but that the operator was unable to cope with the business which he had in hand.

Senator SMITH.
And as to that you are not fully advised?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
As to that I am not fully advised.

Senator SMITH.
Can the orders of the president of your company, or of any of its general officers be disregarded with impunity?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
The circumstances are so exceptional that I would be unable to answer that question properly. I think that an operator should do as I would do - give every possible attention to any request sent out by Mr. Marconi; but an officer of this company is of no greater importance than the smallest person on board the boat who has friends ashore.

Senator SMITH.
So far as I have been able to observe during the hearings before the committee, I have as yet seen no one whose message was either delivered to or sent from the Carpathia for a passenger. How can you account for that?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I am unable to account for it at all. We do not control the operator of the Carpathia in any way. He is under the direction of Marconi's International Marine Communication Co.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether he received any injunction of silence from that company?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I know that he received no injunction of silence from that company so far as any man can know that, because I am confident the company sent out no such injunction.

Senator SMITH.
Do you think that your operator on the Carpathia should have put aside important messages, such as this, in order that he might send messages bearing upon the personal comfort of passengers of that ship?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
That would be my opinion. I think the people on the ship were suffering tremendously, and the matter of news was of next to no importance except to satisfy the cravings of the public. That is my honest opinion.

Senator SMITH.
Do you believe that the failure to respond to this request was entirely to the operator?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I think so.

Senator SMITH.
What influence, in your opinion, did the plan of Bride and Cottam to market the news which was in their possession have in this case?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Absolutely none, in my opinion, because they knew nothing about any plan to market the news until after it was too late to send anything to the press or anywhere else.

Senator SMITH.
Do you not think they were aware of the success of Operator Binns in disposing of information in his possession at the time of the Republic disaster?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
They may have been. I do not know that they were. It was common talk. What one operator does not know about another one is very little. Still, I do not believe it would influence them in any way.

Senator SMITH.
Do you not think such matters should be under control by your company, or by the owners of the ships?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
If a way could be devised to find that better control, I think so; but I doubt if it can be done.

Senator SMITH.
Would you favor an international agreement for the control of information of disasters at sea?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Are you willing to submit the complete record of all messages sent by operators of your company from the first message of the Titanic until the arrival of the Carpathia in New York?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
So far as we are permitted by law, we will give every record in our office. We will throw our records open to Senator Smith or any member of the committee, provided promises of secrecy will first be made. They can then read every record that we have, and look over everything. I am instructed by our president to say that, and it is upon my request that I am permitted to say so.

Our records are absolutely open, in a case of this sort, to any member of the committee, with the promise of secrecy attached, as we are not permitted to divulge any private messages which come to our office or through our office.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know of your own knowledge, or have you been informed by any person by wire, wireless, or cable, by letter, word of mouth, or otherwise, that information regarding this disaster did reach any office of your company, or any officer or employee of the White Star Line, on Monday morning, April 15, prior to 10 o'clock?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
No. I do not know of any such message.

Senator SMITH.
Have you heard of none?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I have heard of none.

Senator SMITH.
Have you made any inquiry to ascertain this fact?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Has any officer of your company made such inquiry?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Not that I know of. No complaint or inquiry has been made at our office on the subject.

Senator SMITH.
Will you make such an inquiry?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I will make such inquiry, if you will give me the necessary particulars.

Senator SMITH.
The particulars are embraced in that question that I have just asked you solely.

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
If the question is given to me today, we will put an inquiry on foot at every station of the Marconi Co., and we will then tell you whether a message was sent or not.

Senator SMITH.
Or received?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Or received. If it was sent or received. If it is in Canada, you can issue an order and we can get it for you. If it is in our files, you will get it.

Senator SMITH.
You wish to be understood as saying that you had nothing whatever to do with the receipt or payment of any money to Bride or Cottam, from any source, for the special information which they disclosed?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Most emphatically, I do.

Senator SMITH.
What do you know about the wireless equipment of the Titanic?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Nothing, except from hearsay. I understand from what I have heard that it was the most up to date equipment that was ever put on a boat.

Senator SMITH.
What was the maximum wave length of that apparatus?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I am unable to say.

Senator SMITH.
What is the wireless equipment of the Olympic?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I believe it is somewhat similar to that of the Titanic, both being the most modern.

Senator SMITH.
What was the wireless apparatus of the Carpathia?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I believe it was what was termed a coil set, which would not be as effective, either as to distance or power, as the more modern or power sets; but it fully complies with the laws of the Berlin conference and the United States, in that it is perfectly capable of transmitting a message 250 miles under ordinary circumstances.

Senator SMITH.
What do you know of the wireless of the steamship Virginian?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Little or nothing.

Senator SMITH.
What do you know about the wireless equipment of the Mount Temple, of the Canadian Pacific Railroad?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Nothing. I believe they had a Marconi equipment.

Senator SMITH.
What do you know about the wireless equipment of the Frankfurt, of the North German Lloyd Line?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I do not know anything about it.

Senator SMITH.
Or about that of the Birma?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
Nothing at all.

Senator SMITH.
Or about that of the Californian?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I do not know anything about her equipment.

Senator SMITH.
Is there anything further you can say touching the inquiry we are making, which will in any way throw any light upon the causes leading up to this disaster or the subsequent conduct of your officers with reference thereto?

Mr. BOTTOMLEY.
I do not think that I could add anything to the testimony that had already been given by others, and especially by Mr. Marconi, all of which I thoroughly indorse.

Senator SMITH.
That is all. I am very obliged to you.

(Witness Excused.)