British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 8

Testimony of George F. Stewart, cont.

8803. Do you know what position was given to the Marconi operator?
- No.

8804. He will tell us. Assuming the position given to the Marconi operator was latitude 42.3 north, I find in your log latitude 42.5 north?
- Yes.

8805. What is the explanation of the two degrees' difference of latitude?
- Two miles on account of observation.

8806. Two minutes of difference - is that your explanation?
- I had the star then. I thought the star was more accurate.

8807. Is the explanation this: That at 6.30 the latitude given to the Marconi operator was latitude by dead reckoning from your noon position?
- Yes.

8808. But at 7.30, an hour later, you got an observation which enabled you to fix your actual position?
- Yes.

8809. Which differed two minutes north of the position by dead reckoning?
- Yes.

8810. And is that observation at 6.30 recorded in your log of this star an accurate one?
- Yes.

8811. Is there any room for doubt about the accuracy of that position there?
- No.

8812. Then at 10.21 there is an entry that the ship was stopped in latitude 42·5 north and longitude 50·7 west?
- Yes.

8813. Do you know who took that position?
- The captain gave us that position.

8814. Did you or not subsequently verify this position?
- Yes.

8815. When did you verify it?
- The next day.

8816. And did you find this position to be accurate?
- Yes.

8817. At noon on the 15th did you take observations to fix your position?
- Yes.

8818. Who was taking part in these observations?
- All the Officers took them.

8819. Did you get good sights?
- Very good sights.

8820. Did the sights taken by the various Officers agree?
- They all agreed.

8821. And was the position as ascertained by those sights latitude 41·33? Can you tell me?
- Yes, 41·3 N., 50·9 W.

8822. That is your noon position?
- Yes.

8823. Are you able from working back from that noon position to fix accurately the position of the wreckage which you came up to at 8.30?
- Yes.

8824. How many miles had you traveled between the time you proceeded on your course and when you took this position?
- About four or five miles.

8825. According to your log, you proceeded on your course at 11.20?
- Yes.

8826. And you stopped close to the "Carpathia" at 8.30?
- Yes.

8827. And remained until 11.20?
- Yes.

8828. And between 11.20 and noon you say you traveled some four or five miles?
- Yes.

8829. Were you encountering ice at the time?
- Yes.

8830. Is the position stated in your log as the position in which you were searching for the boats of the "Titanic" accurate or not - latitude 41·33 north and longitude 50·1 west?
- Yes.

8831. Was that the latitude and longitude in which you found the wreckage?
- Yes.

8832. How many miles was the position of the wreckage from the place where you had been stopped from 10.21 the night before until six o'clock that morning?
- About thirty miles.

8833. Do you know in what direction, thirty miles?
- About south a little east.

8834. Assuming the "Titanic" struck the iceberg in the position which was reported by the "Virginian" at 6 a.m., according to your log, latitude 41.46 north and longitude 50.14 west, how far was that position from the place where you were stopped?
- About 19 or 20 miles.

8835. And bearing how?
- Bearing about south-South-West - south, a little west.

8836. Could the "Titanic," assuming she was in either of those two positions, or was to the eastward of either of those two positions, by any possibility have been visible to anyone on board your ship while you were lying stopped in the ice?
- No.

8837. Do you think her rockets could have been seen in the latitude in which she was?
- I do not think so, Sir.

The Commissioner:
All this does not impress my mind much. It all proceeds upon the assumption that all these figures are right. The other evidence to my mind is of vastly more importance. However, I do not want to shut you out from it, you know.

8838. (Mr. Dunlop.) You have heard my Lord's observation. Have you any reason to doubt the accuracy of these latitudes?
- No, Sir.

The Commissioner:
The previous Officer told me, in answer to a question, that I think you yourself suggested, that he was satisfied that it was the "Titanic," and at present I do not mind telling you that is my attitude of mind. You may perhaps change it.

Mr. Dunlop:
I hope to succeed, my Lord.

The Commissioner:
What do you think?

Mr. Dunlop:
I submit, my Lord -

The Commissioner:
Oh no, I am not asking you - I am asking the Witness.

8839. (Mr. Dunlop - To the Witness.) What do you think?
- I do not know, Sir.

The Commissioner:
That is a very safe answer.

8840. (Mr. Dunlop.) Have you formed any opinion? I suppose you have been thinking about this a good deal and discussing it with the Officers, and may I say with others in New York?
- Yes.

8841. Have you ever considered whether the vessel which was reported to have been sending up rockets was, or could have been, the "Titanic"?
- I do not think it could have been, Sir.

8842. (The Commissioner.) What?
- I do not think it was, Sir.

8843. You think it may have been?
- I think if it had been the "Titanic" there would have been no doubt about it.

8844. Do you think it may have been the "Titanic"?
- No, Sir.

8845. (Mr. Dunlop.) You were proceeding to Boston?
- Yes.

8846. The "Titanic" is said to have been going to New York?
- Yes.

8847. (The Commissioner.) Have you ever found out what it was, if it was not the "Titanic"?
- No, my Lord.

8848. Has anybody found out what it was?
- No, my Lord.

8849. (Mr. Dunlop.) Have you ever found out what that steamer was which you yourself saw on the Monday morning?
- No.

The Commissioner:
That is the steamer which Stone, I think, said was not the steamer that he had seen the night before.

8850. (Mr. Dunlop - To the Witness.) But it was a steamer that you saw on the Monday morning?
- Yes.

8851. What kind of a steamer was she?
- A four-masted steamer with one funnel.

8852. Have you been able to ascertain what her name was?
- No.

8853. Does it surprise you that you have not been able to find out the name of the steamer that was firing rockets at midnight?
- Well, we never knew what ship that was that we saw to the southward.

The Commissioner:
Do not you think that if there had been a steamer firing rockets at that time we should have heard something about her by this time?

Mr. Dunlop:
Your Lordship may yet.

The Commissioner:
I know; but we have not so far, and you see it is a month since this happened.

8854. (Mr. Dunlop - To the Witness.) If you were proceeding to Boston and the "Titanic" to New York, if you proceeded on your ordinary course and she proceeded on her ordinary course, what difference of latitude would there ordinarily be between the tracks of the two steamers?
- At that point I believe it would be about thirty or forty miles.

8855. If you were both doing what you intended to do?
- Yes.

8856. Now I want to ask you about the reports which the Second Officer made to you when you came on duty at four o'clock. I do not think we have got this clearly. You told my friend the Solicitor-General that the Second Officer reported that about 1 o'clock the steamer he was referring to had fired some rockets?
- Yes.

8857. You remember saying that do you?
- Yes.

8858. When the Second Officer told you that, what did you say?
- I asked him what she did then.

8859. Did you ask him whether they were distress signals, for example?
- Yes, I asked if he thought they were distress signals.

8860. And what did he reply to you?
- He said, No, he did not think they were; they did not make any report.

8861. (The Commissioner.) Who said that?
- Mr. Stone, my Lord.

8862. (Mr. Dunlop.) The Second Officer. (To the Witness.) Did he give you any reason for thinking that they were not distress signals?
- He said he thought they might have been replying to somebody else to the southward.

8863. Did you ask him what kind of rockets they were - whether they made any report or anything of that kind?
- Yes, Sir.

8864. What did he say?
- He said, No, they did not make any report, and they did not leave any trail in the sky, and they did not seem to go any higher than the masthead lights.

8865. And did he mention these matters as reasons for thinking that they were not distress signals?
- Yes.

8866. But signals made by way of communication with some other vessel to the southward?
- Yes.

8867. Did you ask, or not, what he thought this vessel had been firing rockets for?
- Yes, Sir.

8868. Did he state any opinion to you?
- He said he thought she was answering to somebody else.

8869. Supposing a vessel had been to the southward of your position and between you and the "Titanic"; and supposing she had seen the signals of the "Titanic," would you be surprised if she had signaled in reply by means of rockets?
- No, Sir.

8870. If this vessel had no wireless telegraphic apparatus, or did not understand, or did not use the Morse signals, was there any other means of acknowledging the "Titanic's" signals than by these rockets?
- I do not think so.

8871. Did you see the nature of the ice, between six o'clock and 8.30, the next morning?
- Yes.

8872. While you were steaming in the direction of where you supposed the "Titanic" to be?
- Yes.

8873. Do you remember what course you had to steer?
- No.

8874. Were you able to proceed direct to the position of the "Titanic" given by the "Virginian," or had you to skirt the edge of the ice-field?
- We went along the edge of the ice-field, I remember that.

8875. Did you see what kind of ice there was to the South-West of the position where you were?
- It was thick field ice.

8876. Supposing this vessel which was seen during the midnight watch had in fact been proceeding to the South-West in answer to signals from the "Titanic" - proceeding in that direction - could she have reached the "Titanic"?
- I do not think so.

8877. Unless she skirted the ice in the same way that you were able to do at daylight?
- Yes.

8878. May that be the explanation of why you had not been able to find out the name of this vessel and why she was not there when you reached the "Carpathia"?
- Yes.

8879. Did the Second Officer say what the movements of the steamer had been which had fired the rockets? Did he report to you that at 4 o'clock?
- He said she steamed away to the South-West.

8880. Did he say what happened to her lights, and what he saw of them?
- He said he saw a stern light as she was going out of sight, and it got very faint, so faint that he had to use the binoculars to get the bearing of it.

8881. Was there any report made of the lights having disappeared in the sense of a vessel having foundered?
- Not at 4 o'clock.

8882. Or anything of that kind?
- No.

8883. Was that the impression which his report created on your mind?
- No.

8884. When he reported that the vessel had steamed away, what did you gather from the way in which he made his report of what he told you that had happened to this steamer?
- That he had gone down to the other ship.

8885. Gone down to the South-West?
- Yes.

8886. Did you ask him whether he had seen anything else?
- He said he thought there was a light to southward about 20 minutes to 4.

8887. And when he stated that, what did you do, if anything?
- I looked and I could see a light to the southward.

8888. What was the vessel which was showing the light which you saw to the southward at 20 minutes to 4?
- I saw the lights at 4 o'clock. She had two masthead lights and a few lights amidships.

8889. That was the light which the Second Officer, as I understand, had told you he thought he saw - the light to the southward at 20 minutes to 4?
- Yes.

8890. He told you that at 4 o'clock, and then you say you looked at it and you picked up the light?
- Yes.

8891. Was that the light of this four-masted one funnel steamer which you afterwards saw at daylight?
- Yes.

8892-3. Did you draw the attention of the Second Officer to that light?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Now, Mr. Dunlop, do get on.

8894. (Mr. Dunlop.) And it was then that there was some discussion as to whether that was the vessel that had been exhibiting the rockets which he had seen during the middle watch?
- Yes.

8895. Did he say whether he had seen this vessel before or not?
- He said he had not seen that ship before.

8896. Is it easy or not to say from what particular lights distress signals may be exhibited - whether it was this vessel or some other vessel? Is it different from lights only or masthead lights? You see what I mean? Was it easy for him to be able to be sure whether the vessel that was exhibiting the rockets was not the vessel which you drew his attention to shortly after 4 o'clock?
- No, I do not think so.

The Commissioner:
I do not very well understand the question, and I certainly do not understand the answer.

8897. (Mr. Dunlop.) My Lord, I will try and put it again more clearly. (To the Witness.) The Second Officer, as you told us, said that he did not think the vessel which you pointed out to him was the vessel that had previously been firing the rockets?
- Yes.

8898. Is that a thing that he could be sure about?
- I do not think so.

The Solicitor-General:
He has given evidence, you know.

8899. (Mr. Dunlop.) I want to know your opinion, because you were there and you saw this vessel and the position in which this vessel was. Did the Second Officer report to you the direction from which he had seen these rockets?
- Coming from the steamer?

8900. Yes?
- He said she had gone away to the South-West.

8901. And in what direction was it that you saw this light which you were able to pick up?
- About south.

Mr. Edwards:
May I suggest that your Lordship asks this Witness this question: How many funnels the "Carpathia" has?

8902. (The Commissioner.) Can you tell us how many funnels the "Carpathia" has?
- One funnel, my Lord.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

8903-4. How many masts has the "Carpathia" got?
- Four masts.

8905. Is it in your mind at all that it was the "Carpathia" you saw?
- No; I thought it was a yellow funnel boat when the sun was up.

8906. Are there any instructions issued by your company about the Marconi apparatus in time of trouble, either on your own ships or any other ships?
- No, I do not know of any.

8907. None at all?
- No.

8908. What took you to the Marconi House at the time you went there?
- The Captain sent me to call the Marconi man to see what ship was to the southward.

8909. The Captain sent you?
- Yes.

8910. What time did the Captain come up to the bridge?
- Half-past four.

8911. When did you first hear that the "Titanic" had sunk?
- When I went to the Marconi House.

8912. How long after you had got to the Marconi House did you find out that the "Titanic" had sunk?
- I could not exactly say how long it was - the time I took to get the operator out and to his machine.

8913. He was in bed?
- Yes, asleep.

8914. And he got to his machine?
- Yes.

8915. Did the Marconi operator tell you where he had got the information from?
- He said he had the "Frankfurt."

8916. Would it not have been the right thing, I ask you, as Chief Officer, assuming that you saw these lights in close proximity to the ice and rockets also going up - would it not have been the right thing to have gone immediately to the operator, and asked him to get into communication if possible with this ship?
- Yes, I think so now.

8917. But would not you do it as your duty?
- I saw a ship to the southward there, but she would not answer.

8918. But assuming that you could not get any definite reply from her, would it not have been the best thing to have gone and got the Marconi instrument into operation to see if you could get into touch with her?
- Yes, now I think so.

(The Witness withdrew.)