United States Senate Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Harold G. Lowe

The witness was sworn by the chairman.

5983. (Senator Smith) Will you give your full name to the reporter?
- Harold Godfrey Lowe.

5984. I would like to have you turn your chair so you are facing the reporter.
- I am facing you, sir.

5985. Turn your chair so you will look directly at the reporter. Where do you reside?
- In North Wales.

5986. How old are you?
- Twenty-nine in the fall of the year, sir.

5987. What is your business?
- Seaman.

5988. How long have you been engaged in that business?
- Fourteen years.

5989. What experience have you had?
- I suppose I have had experience with pretty well every ship afloat - the different classes of ships afloat - from the schooner to the square-rigged sailing vessel, and from that to steamships, and of all sizes.

5990. So you have been employed on sailing vessels - In pretty well every branch of the mercantile marine.

5991. Describe, if you will, the general nature of your employment as a mariner, beginning with your first experience. - As a sailor?

5992. Yes, sir. I would like to get on the record, Mr. Lowe, your full experience. - It will be very long, sir.

5993. Make it as brief as you can.
- I ran away from home when I was about 14, and I went in a schooner. I was in seven schooners altogether, and my father wanted to apprentice me but I said I would not be apprenticed; that I was not going to work for anybody for nothing, without any money; that I wanted to be paid for my labor. That was previous to my running away. He took me to Liverpool to a lot of offices there, and I told him once for all that I meant what I said. I said, "I am not going to be apprenticed, and that settles it." So of course I ran away and went on these schooners, and from there I went to square-rigged sailing ships, and from there to steam, and got all my certificates, and then I was for five years on the West African coast in the service there, and from there I joined the White Star Line.

5994. When did you join the White Star Line?
- About 15 months ago, sir.

5995. What was the nature of your employment with them?
- I was junior officer.

5996. On what ship?
- I was third on the Tropic and I was third on the Belgic, and then I was sent to the Titanic.

5997. On what routes? What were the routes?
- The Australian voyage, the two previous voyages.

5998. Had you ever been in the North Atlantic before?
- Never; never. It was about the only place I had never been before.

5999. When did you join the Titanic?
- I joined the Titanic on April 21, in Belfast - March 21, I believe; pardon me - in Belfast.

6000. Were you present at the trial tests in Belfast Lough?
- Yes, sir.

6001. Of the Titanic?
- Yes, sir; I was.

6002. What service did you render during those tests?
- My service, sir, was pretty well general, to do anything we were told to do.

6003. Tell, if you can, what you did do. - Worked out things; worked out the odds and ends, and then submitted them to the senior officer. We are there to do the navigating part so the senior officer can be and shall be in full charge of the bridge and have nothing to worry his head about. We have all that, the junior officers; there are four of us. The three seniors are in absolute charge of the boat. They have nothing to worry themselves about. They simply have to walk backward and forward and look after the ship, and we do all the figuring and all that sort of thing in our chart room.

6004. What did you do that day, if you can tell?
- What day?

6005. What part did you take or have that day to do on that day with the test, in making the tests. - I could no more tell you now than fly.

6006. I will ask you specifically whether you assisted in making any tests of the lifeboats?
- We overhauled them.

6007. In what way?
- Mr. Moody and myself and Mr. Pitman and Mr. Boxhall took the port boat - that is, I took the starboard, and they took the port, and we overhauled them; that is to say, we counted the oars, the rowlocks, or the thole pins, whichever you like to call them, and saw there was a mast and sail, rigging, gear, and everything else that fitted in the boats, and plugs, and also that the biscuit tank was all right, and that there were two breakers in the boat, two bailers, two plugs, and the steering rowlock; that is, the rowlock for the oar that you ship aft when there is a heavy sea running, because you can not steer by rudder when there is a heavy sea running, and you put an oar over and you have greater command over an oar and can put more power on it.

Everything was absolutely correct with the exception of one dipper. A dipper is a long thin can about that length (indicating) and about that diameter (indicating) - an inch and a quarter diameter - and you dip it down into the water breaker and draw the water. That was the only thing that was short out of our boats, and our boats were, respectively, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15, from 1 to 15-odd numbers, Then the even numbers were on the other side; that is, on the port side of the ship.

6008. One, three, five, seven, nine, and eleven were on the starboard side or the port side?
- One, three, five, seven, nine, eleven, thirteen and fifteen were on the starboard side, sir, and everything was absolutely correct.

6009. Did you personally examine every lifeboat?
- I did, sir.

6010. And every collapsible?
- Yes, sir; every collapsible as well, also. I should have mentioned them, but those were the boats I mentioned. We do not deem the collapsibles as boats.

6011. You do not deem them as lifeboats?
- These are the full lifeboats.

6012. That is the numbers you have given?
- Yes, sir; they are the outside boats, the boats that hang on the ship's side. Then there are two collapsibles on each side, two on port and two starboard, and we examined them. I could not quote from memory what we found in them, but we found 14 oars, and, anyhow, a set and a half of oars on one set of rowlocks. That is, if there were six rowlocks, there were nine oars in case of emergency. That is, if an oar got broke there was another extra oar to replace that oar, and there were three spare ones - that is, one and one-half sets.

If there were 12 oars in one boat, it was fully equipped. There would be 18 oars altogether - 6 extras - and dippers and everything else. Everything was absolutely correct; I will swear to that.

6013. You have detailed the equipment of a lifeboat as prescribed by the British Board of Trade regulations, have you?
- I can, if you wish me to.

6014. Have you done it already?
- Yes; pretty well.

6015. Hare you included everything?
- There is a compass -

6016. Any lights?
- A light, and oil to burn for eight hours; biscuits and water. That is all I can think of at present.

6017. All these things that you have mentioned are part of the equipment demanded by the British Board of Trade?
- Yes, sir. We went around those boats. We arrived there about noon on this 23rd, in Belfast, and on the 24th we went around everything, taking stock of everything on board the ship, and also noting the condition of these things. We took the starboard lifeboats and the other junior officers took the port.

6018. Now, Mr. Lowe, this inspection that you made was on the 23rd and 24th?
- On the 23rd only, sir.

6019. When did the Titanic leave Belfast for Southampton?
- That is more than I can tell you. We left Liverpool on Tuesday; we arrived on a Wednesday, and we inspected the boat on a Thursday. I think we left of the following Tuesday for Southampton. No; we ran around the Lough and afterwards proceeded for Southampton.

6020. The 23rd of March was on Saturday?
- Saturday? Then we are a bit mixed. (Consulting memorandum book.) It was the 26th that I left Liverpool, and I joined the Titanic on the 27th. I think you will find that correct. I distinctly remember now I received a telegram from the superintendent; word to the effect that I was to report to the office at 9 o'clock on the morning of 26th.

6021. No; you left Liverpool on the 26th.
- On the 26th; that is, the night of the 26th. You see we had to call there for the ticket, and then we went over by night, and we arrived in Belfast the next morning at noon.

6022. Now let us get it just as it is. You left Liverpool -
- We left Liverpool at 10 o'clock p. m on the 26th.

6023. And reached Belfast -
- We arrived at Belfast at about noon on the 27th.

6024. And did you go aboard ship immediately?
- We went straight aboard, sir, and reported ourselves to the chief officer. [William Murdoch was chief officer at the time. A later shuffling of officers in Southampton brought Wilde on as Chief, bumping Murdoch and Lightoller to First and Second, respectively. David Blair, the original second officer was bumped from the crew list.]

6025. When did the trial tests begin?
- I think it was Tuesday.

6026. The following Tuesday?
- Yes.

6027. That would be April 2nd.
- I do not know, sir. I suppose it would be if you say so.

6028. Well, look it up yourself. You are testifying. I am not testifying.
- We did not get any special notice of these things -

6029. I am not criticizing you -
- We have not started our voyage yet.

6030. I am not criticizing you. I simply want to know when you first saw this ship.
- March 2 was Tuesday, sir.

6031. April.2, you mean. Let us get this just as you want it to appear in the record. You left Liverpool on the 26th?
- Yes; at 10 o'clock p. m .

6032. And joined the Titanic at noon on the following day, the 27th?
- Yes, sir.

6033. When were the trial tests made?
- They were due, I think, to be made on the Monday, but there was a bit of a breeze and we had to postpone it because of the breeze. It was squall in fact.

6034. So the trial tests did not take place on April 1?
- No, sir.

6035. Monday, that would be. They did not take place, then?
- No.

6036. And they were postponed because there was a bit of a breeze?
- Yes; because there was danger in getting them off the wharf.

6037. Off the wharf?
- Yes.

6038. Well, when did the test take place?
- It took place the following day.

6039. On Tuesday, April 2?
- On Tuesday.

6040. In Belfast Lough?
- In Belfast Lough; yes, sir. We steamed down. After we had done a few turns and twists we steamed down two hours. I really forget the names of the lightships now, because I don't know that coast, but, roughly we went out two hours on the outward passage and then it took us the same time, naturally, to come back again. That means four hours total steaming. We did take a few extra twists and turns and then came back again.

6041. How long did it take?
- We left, I believe, at 2 o'clock and we anchored somewhere about 6.30 that evening. Altogether, the twists and turns took half an hour, and the steaming, maneuvering the ship, and testing her and all that. That is what I mean by twists and turns.

6042. Exactly; that is what I understood. During this test was her speed tested?
- No. She was not really put to it. She has not been put to it yet.

6043. And never will be?
- Never will be.

6044. You do not know how fast she could have gone?
- I reckon she could easily do 24 or 25 knots.

6045. Do you know how many boilers were working the day the tests were made?
- No, sir; I do not, because that is outside of our sphere; altogether. We have nothing whatever to do with them. We have our own business, and we attend to it. We look after it, and attend to nobody else's.

6046. Have you any idea yourself, of the speed that boat made during the trial trips - trial tests?
- I believe - but I am not sure - that it was about 20 1/2 or 21. I do not know, of course. I will not guarantee that what I state there is correct or true; but I state it to the best of my ability, that it was between 20 1/2 and 21 knots, that that is what she made.

6047. Do you know how many revolutions it would require to attain that speed?
- No. We were working out a slip table, and we had not quite finished when she went down. All of us were on, working out a slip table, how many turns of the engine it would require to do so many knots; and all this, and it tapered down.

6048. That was not worked out by any one, so far as you know?
- No; it was not.

6049. If it had been, would you have known it?
- Certainly we would, because it would be in the chart room.

6050. When the maximum speed was obtained in the trial tests, was the ship in the open sea?
- Yes, between the heads - I think it is Copeland Point, or Copeland Head - between that and I think - mind you, I do not say that it is - I think it was Black Rock Lightship, somewhere between; because I do not know the coast.

6051. I do not ask you to guess at anything; I just ask if you know.
- I just state to the best of my knowledge.

6052. When the turns or circles were made were they made in the open sea, or were they made inside?
- Just inside, under the Copeland.

6053. Were there any turns except -
- There was only the one turn in the open sea and that was when we were reversing our course, or when we were turning to make the return journey.

6054. Did you see any of the officers or directors of the White Star Line, or the International Co., aboard the Titanic when the tests were being made?
- No, sir; I did not. Anyhow, I would not know them if I did.

6055. Then you did not see them, of course; you did not know them, and could not tell?
- Because I am a stranger.

6056. You did not know any of them?
- No, sir.

6057. So. far as you know, were any of them aboard? Did you hear that any of them were aboard in the trial tests?
- I was told that Mr. Ismay was on board, and two or three more, but I do not know who they were; and some of Messrs. Harland & Wolff's people.

6058. They were the builders?
- Yes.

6059. Was Mr. Andrews aboard?
- Yes; he was on board.

6060. Did you see him?
- He was pointed out to me.

6061. Who was Mr. Andrews?
- As far as I understand, the working head of Harland & Wolff.

6062. The builders; he represented the builders of the ship?
- Yes.

6063. Did he make the voyage with the ship from Southampton?
- Yes.

6064. Did he survive the catastrophe?
- No.

6065. Was there any representative of the British Board of Trade on the Titanic during these trial tests?
- I can not say, sir; I do not know, because we had nothing to do with it.

6066. You did not understand that there was from anyone?
- Even if there was, they would not come and tell me.

6067. Exactly, but I mean, did you understand that there was any representative of the British Board of Trade aboard; did you hear it from anyone?
- No, sir. You must understand -

6068. That is enough. I do not ask you to elaborate it. After these trial tests, that took about four hours, where did the ship go?
- She anchored in Belfast Lough.

6069. And how long did you remain there?
- As near as I could tell, half an hour or three-quarters of an hour.

6070. Then what happened?
- We sent all workmen ashore by tender to Belfast; and then, after sending all the workmen ashore by tender, we proceeded on our way to Southampton.

6071. That is, these were the workmen of the Harland & Wolff Co.?
- Yes.

6072. Then where did you go?
- We went down to Southampton.

6073. When did you reach Southampton?
- We reached Southampton, I do not know just when. Anyhow, it was in the night, sir. I do not know of what day.

6074. What night?
- I could not tell you, sir. I do not remember.

6075. What night, with reference to your sailing from Southampton; the night you sailed?
- That would be about 30 hours - Tuesday, Wednesday - Thursday night.

6076. You reached Southampton on Thursday night, about midnight?
- Yes.

6077. Did you anchor or did you go to the wharf?
- We went right up to the wharf.

6078. Did you remain on the ship?
- Yes, sir.

6079. Were you on duty that night?
- I was on duty that day, sir; that is, from, half-past 9.

6080. In the morning?
- A. m.; until half-past 5 p. m.

6081. And you were not on duty when the boat reached the wharf?
- I was not on duty from the time the Titanic was taken out. It was taken in tow at half-past 9 that morning. I was below.

6082. This was Thursday night, midnight?
- Yes.

6083. When did the ship sail from Southampton for New York?
- It sailed at noon on the 10th instant.

6084. Between Thursday, April 4, or Friday morning, April 5, and Wednesday noon, April 10, were you aboard ship performing your duties?
- We are always on board performing our duties; that is, when it is our watch on.

6085. Exactly. And you did your work while the boat was at Southampton?
- Yes.

6086. During the time you were doing your work, did you have anything to do with drilling the men?
- In what way, sir?

6087. Did you have fire drill or other practice while you were at Southampton?
- We had it once, but I really forget where.

6088. You had it once at Belfast, before leaving?
- I do not know, I do not know, sir. We had it somewhere to other.

6089. Once?
- Where I can not say.

6090. You can not say whether it was at Belfast or at Southampton?
- No, sir; I can not remember.

6091. Was it at one or the other of these places?
- I do not know certainly.

6092. That is, it was not on the voyage?
- It was not after we left Southampton.

6093. It was not after you left Southampton. Of what did this drill consist?
- It consists of -

6094. No; not what it "consists" of. What did that drill consist of?
- Well, you muster your boat's crew.

6095. Go ahead.
- And see that everything is all right, see that everything is in going order, and then you report to the officer that is going the rounds, and then he reports again to the chief officer, and then the chief officer reports to the commander of the ship.

6096. In the performance of that service does each officer have a station?
- Yes, sir.

6097. Where was your station?
- My station was No. 11 boat.

6098. Which side of the ship?
- That would be the starboard side.

6099. What other officers were on the starboard side?
- I do not know, sir.

6100. Did you know any of the other officers at that time?
- I was a total stranger in the ship and also to the run.

6101. Is that the reason why you are unable to tell who the officers were on the starboard side at their respective stations?
- I do not know, sir. I suppose it will have something to do with it.

6102. Are you able to say that the officers were at their respective stations?
- When, sir?

6103. At the time of this drill or inspection?
- Certainly they were, sir.

6104. What was done at that drill? Were any of the lifeboats lowered?
- I was lowered away and sent around the dock - no, let me see, now. This was at Southampton?

6105. At Southampton.
- After the general muster at 8.30 - on the 10th that was - we manned two boats, Mr. Moody, the sixth officer, and myself.

6106. On which side of the ship?
- On the starboard side, because you must remember that we were laying alongside of a wharf, now.

Continued >