DEPOSITION OF JOSEPH BRUCE ISMAY.
Mr. JOSEPH BRUCE ISMAY,
being duly sworn, testified as follows:
EXAMINED BY MR. BETTS.
Q. Where do you reside?
- In Liverpool.
Q. Liverpool, England?
Q. How long have you lived there?
- Ever since I was born, 52 years.
Q. What has been your experience in the steamship business -- briefly?
- Well, I started as a boy in the office, and I worked up to be General Manager.
Q. In the office of what concern?
- The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company.
Q. And that Company is the owner, or was the owner, of the “Titanic”?
- Yes, the White Star Line.
Q. The White Star Line is the trade-mark or name under which the Company is known?
Q. Was that the Company that was operating the "Titanic" and the other White Star steamers?
Q. Hour many years were you in the White Star Line?
- 36 years, I think it was.
Q. Are you connected with the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company now?
Q. You are not a Director of it now?
Q. Are you connected with the International Mercantile Marine Company now?
- I am a Director.
Q. And is the International Mercantile Marine Company the owner of the stock of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company?
Q. Except the qualifying shares, I suppose, for Directors?
- Yes. I think there are seven outside of it: I think it is seven.
Q. In the years 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1912 what official connection did you have with the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Limited?
- As Chairman of the Company.
Q. Were you a Director also?
- Yes, Managing Director.
Q. What does the term “Managing Director" mean in the English practice: I mean to say, in a brief way what are his duties?
I object to evidence of the English practice, but I would not object to a question as to what were the duties of the Managing Director of the Oceanic Company.
Then I will withdraw that question and ask this: in your position as Managing Director of the Oceanic Company what were your duties, in a general way?
- The general control of the Company.
Q. Did you preside at the meetings of Directors?
Q. Did you have anything to do with initiating, the policy of the Company in business or finance?
- No, I did not.
Q. Who originated that?
- My father, the late Mr. Ismay.
Q. After his death, and after you became the Managing Director, what connection did you have with such matters?
- I followed in his footsteps.
Q. Did you then have charge of the policy of the Company?
- Yes, with my associates.
Q. With your associates, the Directors?
Q. How much of the time during the years 1909 to 1912 inclusive was engaged with the affairs of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, approximately: what proportion?
- It is very difficult to answer that question, because I had other interests outside the White Star Line.
Q. Do you mind telling me what those other interests were, briefly?
- I was President of the International Mercantile Marine Company, and Director of several other Companies.
Q. Were you actually connected with the other Companies, too?
- Yes, as a Director.
Q. Was most of your time spent in the affairs of the Oceanic Company or in the affairs of other Companies?
- In the affairs of the Oceanic Company.
Q. The Oceanic Company is an English Company, is it not?
Q. And the International Mercantile Marine Company is a New Jersey incorporation, is it not?
- That is so.
Q. In the years I have mentioned, 1909 to 1912 inclusive, the Oceanic Company was operating a line of steamers, was it not, between New York and Southampton, and New York and Liverpool?
- Yes, and several other places.
Q. In addition to other lines which it operated between Canada and Liverpool?
- Yes, and Australia and New Zealand and South Africa..
Q. Was the Oceanic Company one of the principal transportation Companies of the International Mercantile Marine?
Q. Who were the Directors of the Oceanic Company in 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1912?
- Lord Pirrie, Mr. Sanderson and myself.
Q. Were any of them besides yourself also Directors of the International Mercantile Marine Company?
- I think they both were.
Q. Were you an officer of the International Mercantile Marine Company yourself?
- I was.
Q. Were you President?
- Yes. I succeeded Mr. Griscom when he retired, in 1910 I think, but I am not sure -- it must have been before that. I do not know the date.
Q. Was Lord Pirrie during those years also a Director of the ship-building firm of Harland & Wolff, of Belfast?
- I believe so, but I have nothing to do with Harland & Wolff.
Q. I might refresh your recollection, if I may, by reading you Question 18280 in your Examination before Lord Mersey: Would you like to look at it yourself?
- No, certainly not.
I object that the witness is not in a position to refresh his memory by some memorandum not made at the time of the occurrence.
I will read to you the answer: "(A). I do not quite follow you there. For instance, Lord Pirrie, who is a Director of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, is also a Director of Harland & Wolff, but he is the only gentleman that has an interest in both the Company and the ship-building yard". Does that refresh your recollection at all?
- That is quite true.
Q. It is true that he was a Director of Harland & Wolff?
- I believe he controlled Harland & Wolff.
Q. Will you tell us who gave the order to Harland & Wolff for the construction of the steamships "Olympic" and "Titanic"?
- I have no doubt I did.
Q. By whom were the plans prepared for those steamers?
- Harland & Wolff.
Q. And were they submitted to you for the Oceanic Company?
Q. Can you give us approximately any idea as to how often the plans were submitted to you or discussed between you and the representative of Harland & Wolff?
- That would be impossible.
Q. Would it be a few times or many?
- Very frequently.
Q. Have you produced here the plans of the steamship "Titanic” that were called for by the order and subpoena under this Commission?
- No, I have not.
Q. Why is it you have not produced them?
- I am afraid I did not know that they were asked for.
Q. Did you not receive a copy of the subpoena that was issued for you in this Commission?
- I did.
Let me ask you, with regard to the question of the subject of the admissibility of this evidence, have you the custody of any of these plans?
- Myself personally?
I assume the plans are in the possession of the Petitioners, the Oceanic Company, are they not?
- I could not answer that.
Q. Where were they when you were last connected with or were a Director of the Oceanic Steamship Company?
- I could not answer that question: I should say with Harland & Wolff.
Q. Did not your Company have a set of those plans, that is the Oceanic Company?
- I could not answer that.
Q. You do not know that?
Q. Have you made any enquiry of the Oceanic Company for these plans since the subpoena or the order was served upon you?
- I have not.
Q. Who is the officer or person in the Oceanic Company who would have the custody or control of the plans such as those of the “Titanic” or “Olympic”?
I object that this question is irrelevant, and that it is cross-examination with regard to a matter which is not the subject of the litigation.
I submit that the question is a proper question and can be ruled on by the Court when the time arrives. (To the Witness) Will you answer that, subject to that objection?
- At the present time?
- I should say the Managers.
Q. Are they still Ismay, Imrie & Co.?
Q. Who are they?
- Mr. Concanon, Mr. Cauty and Mr. Fletcher.
Q. Is Mr. Sanderson now the Managing Director?
- I could not answer that question: he is the Chairman, but whether he is Managing Director or not I could not answer.
Q. Is he the chief officer of the Company, in control?
Q. And the others that you have mentioned are subordinate to him?
- They are his Managers. You are rather asking me questions on a subject which I know very little about, because I have not been connected with the Company for nine months now.
Q. During the years 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1912 were you the Manager of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company?
- I was Managing Director; Mr. Sanderson was the General Manager.
Q. At the time that you were connected with the Company, and at the time that the "Olympic" and "Titanic" were built and operated, were your vessels from Southampton to New York carrying the mails of the British Government?
Q. Also of the American Government?
- Yes; we had no contract with the American Government, not for the White Star Line.
Q. Was there any requirement as to the speed of the different vessels for the mail-carrying?
If there was such a requirement was it verbal or written?
- From the British Government?
Q. From either Government.
- With the British Government it was a printed contract; it was a public document.
What was it with the American Government?
- That I do not know; I did not make the contract; it was made by Mr. Franklin.
Q. Do you recollect what speed of vessels was required under the arrangement with the British Government?
- I am not quite clear, but I think there was a clause in the agreement --
I object to the contents of a written agreement being given by oral testimony.
I do not think there is any dispute about this.
There is a printed agreement. My recollection is we were not allowed to put any steamer on that was capable of maintaining a speed of less than 16 knots.
Do you mean that was not capable of maintaining; a speed of 16 knots?
- Yes, that is my recollection, but I am not certain about it: it may be 18.
Do you recollect boarding the "Titanic" on her first and last voyage?
Q. Where did you board her?
- At Southampton.
Q. About what time of the day?
- I should think about half past 9 or 10 o'clock in the morning.
Q. Would that be Wednesday the 10th, April?
Q. She had come round from Belfast, had she not?
Q. You had not been on her from Belfast?
- I had not.
Q. Had Mr. Sanderson been with her on that trip?
Q. What time did she sail from Southampton?
- 12 o'clock, I think.
Q. Do you recollect generally what weather you had from the time you sailed until the disaster?
- Fine weather with the exception of a few minutes fog one day.
Q. Do you recollect with whom you dined on the night of the accident?
- Dr O'Loughlin, I think it was.
Q. Was that in the restaurant or in the ordinary dining saloon?
- In the restaurant.
Q. Do you remember what time you had dinner with him, and about how long it took that night?
- I think we must have dined somewhere about half past 7, between quarter past and half past, I think it was.
Q. While you were at dinner that night did you not see Captain Smith at dinner in the restaurant?
- I saw him at dinner that night.
Q. Do you remember whom he was dining with?
- He was dining with some ladies; I think Mrs. Widener.
Q. Was Mrs. Thayer there?
- I do not know whether she was there or not. Mrs. Carter was with them, I think.
Q. Were the gentlemen with them also?
Q. Were Mr. Widener and one or two others also there?
- I do not know; I do not remember now.
Q. Did you dine with Captain Smith in the restaurant any night during the voyage?
- I believe he dined with me one night.
Q. When you left the restaurant after you dined with Dr O'Loughlin, did, you leave Captain Smith and his party at the table still?
Q. Do you remember about what hour that would be?
- I cannot remember; I do not think I was in the restaurant three-quarters of an hour.
Q. When was this fog that you spoke of for a short time?
- I really do not remember. I gave it in my evidence at the time. Whether it was Saturday or Sunday I do not know; it lasted about 10 minutes, I think.
Q. Do you remember what your revolutions were during that time of the voyage?
- No, I do not remember.
Q. Do you remember whether there was any change in speed?
- I have no idea.
Q. Had you made previous maiden voyages on White Star steamers before this one on the 'Titanic"?
- I had.
Q. Had you made the maiden voyage to New York on the "Olympic"?
- I had.
Q. Do you remember the other ones that you made the maiden voyage on?
- No, I do not.
Q. Was it your practice to usually make the first voyage on your new ships?
Q. Were you going to return on the “Titanic" from New York?
- I was.
Q. What was your object in making the voyage on the new ship?
- Simply to see whether any improvement could be made with regard to the passenger accommodation.
Q. You wanted to see how she behaved and how things worked out on board ship?
I object to the question as a leading question and in the nature of cross-examination.
(To the Witness). Now you may answer subject to the objection.
- Yes, so far as the passenger accommodation was concerned.
Q. You were actually building another new ship at that time were you not?
- We were.
Q. Was the only reason why you wanted to make the voyage in the "Titanic" to see what could be done in reference to improvements in the new ship?
- My object in going in that ship was to see whether any improvements could be made in the "Britannic".
Q. Was there any other business that you had in hand on that trip except the taking of observations on the “Titanic”?
- On board the ship?
Q. Any business that you had in New York, for instance?
- No particular business.
Q. Was it a pleasure trip?
- No -- I do not know quite what you mean by a pleasure trip.
Q. You were not taking it for a vacation or anything of that kind?
Q. You went connected with the business of the Company so far as observing what improvements could be made on the "Titanic" was concerned?
- I went there to see if any improvements could be made in the passenger accommodation on the “Titanic” so that we could introduce it into the “Britannic”.
Q. The steamer proceeded, did she not, from Southampton to Cherbourg?
Q. And from Cherbourg to Queenstown?
Q. And then towards New York?