British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 11

Testimony of Charles Lightoller

Examined by the SOLICITOR-GENERAL.

13408. You are Mr. Charles Herbert Lightoller, I think?
- Yes.

13409. Were you Second Officer on the "Titanic"?
- I was.

13410. I think you hold a Master's certificate?
- Yes.

13411. You passed for Master in 1899?
- About that - yes.

13412. And do you also hold an extra-Master's certificate?
- Yes.

13413. Which you passed for in 1902?
- Yes.

13414. How long have you been in the White Star Company's employ?
- Nearly 12 1/2 years.

13415. That would be since about 1900?
- January, 1900.

13416. Sailing with that Company across the Atlantic many times, is most of your experience in the North Atlantic?
- Most, yes.

13417. We will just get from you first the names of the Officers, because you will have occasion to refer to them from time to time. Of course, Captain Smith we know of; he was the Commander?
- Yes.

13418. Then next in order comes the Chief Officer?
- Yes.

13419. Who was that?
- Mr. Wilde.

13420. Then the first Officer?
- Mr. Murdoch.

13421. All those three I think were lost?
- They were.

13422. Then you come next as Second Officer?
- Yes.

13423. Who was the third Officer?
- Mr. Pitman.

13424. And the fourth Officer?
- Mr. Boxhall.

13425. And the fifth?
- Mr. Lowe.

13426. And the sixth?
- Mr. Moody.

13427. And I think there are a number of Petty Officers who come next - four of them?
- Yes.

13428. Mr. Moody I think was not saved?
- He was not.

13429. So it is Mr. Pitman, Mr. Boxhall, Mr. Lowe and yourself who were saved?
- They are all the Officers saved.

13430. One other thing I should have asked you about your position; I think you do hold the position of First Officer with the White Star?
- Yes.

13431. But on this voyage you were second Officer of the ship?
- Yes.

13432. I will ask you the details later on, but I will ask you this now: Were you present at the trial trip of the "Titanic" at Belfast?
- Yes.

13433. And I think, with the exception of Mr. Wilde, all the Officers whose names you have mentioned were present on that trial trip?
- Yes, they were.

13434. And Mr. Wilde joined the ship a little later?
- Yes.

13435. Up to the time this vessel started her voyage from Southampton what was the greatest speed she had attained in practice?
- That is from Belfast round to Southampton we averaged about 18 knots.

13436. That is the average. Do you know what was the greatest she had got to?
- Perhaps 18 1/2; I do not think she got much higher than that.

13437. You left Southampton, as we know, on 10th April, and you went across to Cherbourg?
- Yes.

13438. You got there on the evening of the same day?
- Yes.

13439. And, I think, left Cherbourg about 9 o'clock on the 10th?
- About that.

13440. And went to Queenstown?
- Yes.

13441. When was it you left Queenstown?
- About 2 p.m., as near as I can remember, on the following day.

13442. On the 11th?
- Yes.

13443. Just give me, if you will, the arrangement about the watches between the Chief Officer, the first Officer, and yourself. I suppose you would count as the three senior Officers?
- Yes, exactly.

13444. How was that?
- The Chief Officer had from 2 until 6 a.m. and p.m.; the second Officer -

13445. That is you?
- Yes, Myself. The second Officer relieved the Chief at 6 o'clock and was on deck until 10 - 6 to 10 a.m., and p.m.. The first Officer was on deck from 10 to 2 a.m. and p.m.

13446. Then the Junior Officers would be divided into watches, I suppose, and would serve with one or other of the seniors?
- They are divided into watches - 3 to 5 and 4 to 6, 4 hours on and 4 hours off, with a dog watch, that is, the watch from 4 to 8 p.m., is divided into what we call the dog watches, 4 to 6 and 6 to 8.

13447. We will go to Sunday, April 14th. Your first watch, the morning watch, would be from 6 to 10, as I follow you?
- Yes.

13448. Then, having completed that watch, did you come to the bridge again about luncheon time?
- Yes.

13449. Just tell us about it?
- Lunch is at half-past 12. I relieve the first Officer, who has his lunch at half-past 12, and he comes on deck again about 1 o'clock or five minutes past; then I have mine.

13450. It really means that there is half-an-hour out of the first Officer's watch?
- Yes.

13451. Now, on this day, the 14th of April, did you follow that course?
- Yes.

13452. And relieved Mr. Murdoch from 12.30 to about 1?
- Yes.

13453. Do you remember Captain Smith showing you something during that time?
- Yes.

13454. Just tell us what it was?
- Captain Smith came on the bridge during the time that I was relieving Mr. Murdoch. In his hands he had a wireless message, a Marconigram. He came across the bridge, and holding it in his hands told me to read it.

13455. He showed it to you, I suppose?
- Yes, exactly; he held it out in his hand and showed it to me. The actual wording of the message I do not remember.

13456. Did you see whether it was about ice?
- It had reference to ice.

13457. Do you remember between what meridians?
- Yes, I particularly made a mental note of the meridians - 49 to 51.

13458. That would be 49 to 51 W.?
- Exactly.

13459. We have the message. I will just find it and read it to you, and perhaps you will be able to tell me if that is right. Do you know from what ship the message came?
- No, I cannot remember the ship.

The Solicitor-General:
It is better to have it now.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes, I think we had better have it, and the ship it came from.

The Solicitor-General:
My recollection is that the Attorney-General read it in opening.

The Commissioner:
What time was it?

13460. (The Solicitor-General.) So far, My Lord, he has said it was between 12.30 and one in the middle of the day. (To the witness.) Can you fix at all as between those times?
- About 12.45 as near as I can remember.

13461. Very well; about a quarter to 1?
- Yes.

Mr. Laing:
I have the wording of it.

The Solicitor-General:
Will you hand it to me?

Mr. Laing:

13462. (The Solicitor-General.) I think this is the message, and perhaps I can read it to the gentleman and he will tell us if it sounds like it. (To the witness.) We have independent evidence of a message being sent from the "Caronia." "West-bound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42 N. from 49 to 51 W."?
- I think that is the message that I referred to as near as I can remember.

The Solicitor-General:
This Witness says he was shown that about a quarter to 1, My Lord. Your Lordship will find the evidence of Captain Barr, the captain of the "Caronia," who was interposed on Friday, on page 273 of the print. The question is 12307. The Attorney-General asked Captain Barr, "On the morning of the 14th of April, that is, on the Sunday morning, do you remember sending this Marconigram to the 'Titanic': 'Westbound steamers report bergs, growlers, and field ice in 42 N., from 49 to 51 W.?' - (A.) Yes, I remember sending it. (Q.) That is sent, I see from your note, at 9 o'clock in the morning." That is the time when the message was sent from the "Caronia."

The Commissioner:
Does it go on to say that that message was acknowledged?

13463. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes, My Lord. Then the next question and answer is, "And did you receive a reply at 9.44 a.m. your ship's time? - (A.) Yes, as per that statement." (Q.) The reply is, "Thanks for message and information. Have had variable weather throughout - Smith"? (To the witness.) Now the "Caronia" as we know was coming from New York to Europe and as you see there is the message. The acknowledgment is 9.44 a.m. "Caronia's" time. You had not heard anything about that before you went off your watch at 10 o'clock?
- No.

13464. Can you help us: Would 9.44 a.m. Caronia's" time coming from New York be likely to be later than your 10 o'clock watch coming to an end? You see you went off duty at ten.
- Yes.

13465. (The Commissioner.) Did Captain Smith tell you when he had received the marconigram?
- No, My Lord.

13466. (The Solicitor-General.) And the first you knew of it was when Captain Smith showed it you at about a quarter to one?
- Yes.

13467. So far as your knowledge goes is that the first information as to ice which you had heard of as being received by the "Titanic"?
- That is the first I have any recollection of.

13468. What time of day would it be that your ship's course would be set?
- At noon.

13469. Would that be done by the Commander?
- [No Answer.]

13470. Add anything if there is anything we ought to know. Is that the incident as it occurred then?
- That is the whole of the incident, when the Commander came out and showed me the wireless, yes.

13471. And you told us you were relieving Mr. Murdoch while he was away at lunch. Did he come back?
- Yes, when he came back I mentioned the ice to him.

13472. When you mentioned this message about the ice to Mr. Murdoch when he came back at 1 o'clock did you gather from Mr. Murdoch that it was news to him or did you gather from him that he had heard of it before?
- That I really could not say, whether it was fresh news to him or not; I should judge that it would have been, but I really could not say from his expression - not from what I remember.

13473. Your impression is that it was news to him?
- Probably.

13474. Then did you leave the bridge at that time?
- Yes.

13475. And your watch of course would not return until six in the evening?
- Exactly.

13476. (The Commissioner.) Can you tell me what the ships course was at that time?
- The compass course?

13477. Yes.
- No, I cannot remember what it was.

13478. (The Solicitor-General.) You are able to tell us a little later in the day what it was?
- The true course.

13479. Can you tell us the true course of the ship at this time?
- No, I am afraid I cannot.

13480. Here was a message shown you which referred to ice in latitude 42 N?
- Yes.

13481. Do you recollect, or can you help us at all, did that indication 42 N. indicate to you that it was near where you were likely to go?
- It would, had I taken particular notice of the latitude, though as a matter of fact, latitude with regard to ice conveys so very little.

13482. Is that because it tends to set north or south?
- North and south, yes.

13483. (The Commissioner.) I do not follow that?
- We take very little notice of the latitude because it conveys very little. You cannot rely on latitude.

13484. (The Solicitor-General.) For ice?
- Yes.

13485. (The Solicitor-General.) He answered that "because the ice tends to set north and south." (To the witness.) Then do you attach more importance to the longitude?
- Far more.

13486. I notice your recollection of the message is you recollect 49 and 51 W.?
- Distinctly.

13487. That is longitude. Did you form any sort of impression at that time as to what time of day or night you were likely to reach the area indicated?
- Not at that time.

13488. I know you worked it out, or helped to work it out later?
- It was worked out.

13489. But you did not form any opinion at that time?
- Not at that time.

13490. As far as you are concerned is there anything you deem important to tell us as between one o'clock and 6 o'clock when you came on duty?
- No, I cannot remember anything of importance.

13491. (The Commissioner.) At the time this message was given to you by Captain Smith, how many hours steaming would you be away from the ice-field?
- I did not calculate it at that time; later I told one of the Junior Officers to work out about what time we should reach the ice region, and he told me about 11 o'clock.

13492. At night?
- This was after I came on deck again though, at 6 o'clock. I knew that we should not be in the vicinity of the ice before I came on deck again. I roughly ran that off in my mind.

13493. (The Solicitor-General.) That is what I meant?
- Yes. I ran that roughly off in my mind - the matter of degrees.

13494. When you saw this message at a quarter to one you saw it was important but you thought the position could not be reached until your watch came round again?
- I was sure of that.

13495. You came on duty again at 6 o'clock?
- At 6 o'clock.

13496. In the afternoon. That would be to relieve Chief Officer Mr. Wilde, as I follow you?
- Yes.

13497. Did he hand the ship over to you at 6 o'clock?
- At 6 o'clock, yes.

13498. Can you tell us what was the course of the ship when she was handed over to you at 6?
- I cannot remember the compass course. I know from calculations made afterwards that we were making S. 86 true.

13499. S. 86 W.?
- Yes.

13500. That is within four degrees of due w. true?
- Yes.

The Commissioner:
Give me that again.

The Solicitor-General:
S. 86 W. true. That is only four degrees from due west.

The Commissioner:
It is what I should call making a westerly course.

13501. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes, My Lord. I think I am right, and Sir Robert confirms me. The Quartermaster at the wheel who gave evidence, who was at the wheel at the time of the disaster, said he was steering by compass a course of N. 71 W., so presumably N. 71 W. is the same thing as what this gentleman speaks of as S. 86 W. true.

The Witness:
Pretty nearly. The compass course is not the compass we go by. I believe by standard we were steering N. 73. 86 true I know it was, and I think that works out as 73 by compass, and 71 was the steering compass.

13502. Did you learn whether while you had been off duty during the afternoon any further information had reached the "Titanic" about ice?
- Not that I remember.

13503. Of course, in the ordinary course, Mr. Wilde would pass on to you any information that was necessary to help you during your watch?
- Yes.

13504. And you have told us what happened?
- Yes.

13505. Now what did you notice about the speed of your vessel?
- As far as I could tell, her speed was normal.

13506. Were they telegraphed at full speed ahead?
- At full speed.

13507. (The Commissioner.) What do you mean by normal?
- Full speed.

13508. What is full speed; can you give me how many knots?
- We were steaming, as near as I can tell from what I remember of the revolutions - I believe they were 75 - and I think that works out at about 21 1/2 knots the ship was steaming.

13509. (The Solicitor-General.) Is it the regular course for a message to be sent to the engine room from time to time, and a report to be got as to how many revolutions she is making?
- As a Rule, at the end of the watch, the Junior Officer rings up the engine room and obtains the average revolutions for the preceding watch.

13510. And is that one of the matters that would be brought before your notice when you go on duty?
- No, not necessarily. It is entered up in the logbook, and anyone who wishes to know can merely ask and the information is given him.

13511. When you say your recollection is that it was 75 revolutions, just help us. What is it you have in your mind?
- I could not say where I got that from, but it is in my mind that it was about 75 revolutions.

13512. In the course of the voyage across the Atlantic, had the engines, as far as you know, exceeded 75 at any time?
- On one occasion I have a recollection of one side turning 76, not necessarily both sides though.

13513. That would be one or other of the sets of reciprocating engines?
- Port or starboard reciprocating, yes.

13514. Subject to that as far as you know, did she ever attain a greater number of revolutions than 75?
- Not to my knowledge, and I think I should have heard of it if she had.

13515. And during your watch which extended from 6 till 10, did she maintain the same speed, as far as you know?
- As far as I know.

13516. Then who would be on the bridge - is it one or two of the Junior Officers would be on the bridge with you?
- Two Junior Officers on watch at all times.

13517. There would be a Quartermaster at the wheel?
- And a stand-by Quartermaster.

13518. Another Quartermaster standing by?
- Exactly.

13519. And there would be two look-out men in the crow's-nest?
- At all times.

13520. What was the practice in the "Titanic" as far as this voyage is concerned about having a look-out man anywhere else?
- In anything but clear weather we carry extra look-outs.

13521. But where do you put them?
- If the weather is fine, that is to say if the sea allows it, we place them near the stem head; when the weather does not allow us placing them at the stem head, then probably on the bridge.

13522. And as far as your watch was concerned, 6 to 10 on the evening of April 14th, was there any look-out except the two men in the crow's-nest?
- No.

13523. What was the weather?
- Perfectly clear and fine.

13524. Had there been, as far as you remember, any occasion since she left Southampton to have extra look-out men?
- Yes, and we had had them.

13525. And you had had them?
- Yes.

13526. But at this time it was clear and fine?
- Yes.

13527. Of course the sea was calm?
- Comparatively smooth.

13528. Could you see the stars?
- Perfectly clear. There was not a cloud in the sky.

13529. There was no moon, I think?
- No moon.

13530. During your watch was any change made in the course?
- Not to my recollection.

13531. Then when you had taken the ship over from Mr. Wilde and gathered this information, I think you gave some directions to one of the Junior Officers?
- I directed the sixth Officer to let me know at what time we should reach the vicinity of the ice. The Junior Officer reported to me, "About 11 o'clock."

13532. Do you recollect which of the Junior Officers it was?
- Yes, Mr. Moody, the sixth.

13533. That would involve his making some calculations, of course?
- Yes.

13534. Had this Marconigram about the ice with the meridians on it been put up; was it on any notice board, or anything of the sort?
- That I could not say with any degree of certainty. Most probably, in fact very probably, almost certainly, it would be placed on the notice board for that purpose in the chart room.

13535. At any rate when you gave Mr. Moody those directions he had the material to work on?
- Exactly.

13536. And he calculated and told you about 11 o'clock, you would be near the ice?
- Yes.

13537. That is to say an hour after your watch finished?
- Yes. I might say as a matter of fact I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Moody did not take the same marconigram which Captain Smith had shown me on the bridge because on running it up just mentally, I came to the conclusion that we should be to the ice before 11 o'clock, by the marconigram that I saw.

13538. (The Commissioner.) In your opinion when in point of fact would you have reached the vicinity of the ice?
- I roughly figured out about half-past nine.

13539. Then had Moody made a mistake?
- I should not say a mistake, only he probably had not noticed the 49º wireless; there may have been others, and he may have made his calculations from one of the other Marconigrams.

13540. Do you know which other Marconigrams he would have to work from?
- No, My Lord. I have no distinct recollection of any other Marconigrams.

13541. Because it is suggested to me that there was no Marconigram which would indicate arrival at the ice-field at 11 o'clock?
- Well, My Lord, as far as my recollection carries me, Mr. Moody told me 11, and I came to that conclusion that he had probably used some other Marconigram.

13542. It did not agree with your conclusion?
- No.

13543. (The Solicitor-General.) Your Lordship will find in the print, at pages 12 and 13, when the Attorney-General was opening another Marconigram from the "Baltic." I would like to follow this a little. I think my Lord will agree. (To the witness.) You have just said you came to the conclusion that Mr. Moody had been working on some message other than the one Captain Smith had shown you?
- Exactly.

13544. When he came to you on your watch - of course, you are responsible up to 10 o'clock?
- Yes.

13545. When he came to you on your watch and said you would get to the ice, as he calculated about 11, did you, as far as you remember, say anything to him about it?
- No.

13546. It was important to you?
- I quite see your point, and I had reasons for not doing so. As far as I remember he was busy - what on I cannot recollect, and I thought I would not bother him just at that time. He was busy with some calculations, probably stellar calculations or bearings, and I had run it up in my mind, and I was quite assured that we should be up to 49 degrees somewhere about half-past 9.

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