British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 13

Testimony of Herbert J. Pitman, cont.

15129. Who put it on?
- Well, it was either Mr. Boxhall or Mr. Moody. Mr. Boxhall does not seem to have any recollection of it, so it must have been Mr. Moody.

15130. You saw it put on?
- I saw it there when I came on deck at 6 p.m.

15131. During your watches did the Captain come on the bridge, from 6 to 8 or from 12 to 4?
- Well, he frequently comes on the bridge. I cannot recollect - yes he was on the bridge from 6 to 8.

15132. Had you any conversation with him about icebergs or messages in relation to them?
- None whatever.

15133. Were you spoken to by any of your brother Officers with reference to the position of icebergs?
- I cannot recollect.

15134. In America you were asked this: "Did you personally direct your attention to the question of icebergs," and your answer was, "No, Sir"?
- That is right.

15135. Whether or not warnings had been received on the Sunday you had no impression up till you left the bridge at 8 o'clock that the course of the ship was tending in the direction of icebergs?
- No, it was not.

15136. (The Commissioner.) I do not understand that question, nor do I understand the answer. (To the witness.) You had a chart before you, "seven miles north," I think you said?
- I said "several," I think.

15137. The chart that you saw was marked?
- Yes.

15138. You did not know who marked it?
- No; it was either the fourth or sixth Officer.

15139. It was marked for the purpose of showing the locality in which, according to the marconigrams, ice had been seen?
- Yes, My Lord.

15140. And was that locality as marked on the chart several miles north of the course that you were making?
- Yes, My Lord.

15141. (Mr. Scanlan.) If I may return for a moment to this question of the message from the "Californian" about ice. It is your evidence, both in America and here, that you received no intimation from the Captain or anyone else that between 6 and 8 on the Sunday night the "Californian" had told you about ice?
- I had heard nothing about it, no.

Mr. Scanlan:
One of my friends has pointed out to me, My Lord, that in the evidence of Cyril Evans, the operator, at page 202, Question 8967, he is asked about the s.G. message, and he says he was prepared to offer information. "And what was the information that you were prepared to offer the 'Titanic'? - (A.) I told him 'S.G. ice report.' (Q.) That means that you were in a position to give him some news about ice? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) Is this shortly after half-past seven? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) What did the 'Titanic' say to you when you offered your ice report? - (A.) He said, 'It is all right. I heard you sending it to the 'Antillian,' and I have got it." If such a message was received between 6 and 8, say at half-past 7, which is the time mentioned here on the "Titanic," would it be in the course of duty for someone to bring that message immediately to the bridge?

The Commissioner:
Well, Mr. Scanlan, what occurs to me is this. That message had already been received earlier.

Mr. Scanlan:
At 6.30.

The Commissioner:
Well, whatever the time was it had been received earlier. The answer is, "We have already had that message."

Mr. Scanlan:
The answer is, "I have heard you sending it to the 'Antillian.'"

The Commissioner:
They had picked up the message to the "Antillian," so that they knew it already.

Mr. Scanlan:
It is on the same watch. There is evidence on the previous page from this officer.

The Solicitor-General:
Question 8943.

Mr. Scanlan:
Yes. Question 8943, page 201. "What was the message which you sent the 'Antillian' at that time? - (A.) It was a message reporting ice: 'To Captain, Antillian, 6.30 p.m., apparent time.'"

The Commissioner:
What does "apparent time" mean?

Mr. Scanlan:
Ship's time, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
What time would that be on the "Titanic"?

The Solicitor-General:
Two questions further up show it, I think, My Lord.

Mr. Scanlan:
8939, "Can you tell us what time it was that you were communicating with the 'Antillian,' and then tell us what the message was you sent?
- (A.) Five thirty five p.m., on the 14th. (Q.) That is New York time?
- (A.) Yes. (Q.) In ship's time then, that would mean 7.30, would it not?
- (A.) Yes."

The Commissioner:
What ship's time?

Mr. Scanlan:
It would mean the time on the "Californian." This operator would be speaking of the time on his own ship, I presume.

The Solicitor-General:
I remember putting the question, and it follows on Question 8935. I had asked the witness: "What is the difference between New York time and ship's time at the place where you stopped? - (A.) One hour and 55 minutes. (Q.) That means one would have to add one hour 55 minutes to New York time to get at your ship's time at the place where you stopped? - (A.) Yes." That is where the "Californian" stopped. He says one hour and 55 minutes, and it was on that answer that I put the following question: "Can you tell us what time it was that you were communicating with the 'Antillian,' and then tell us what the message was you sent? - (A.) Five -thirty-five p.m. on the 14th. (Q.) That is New York time? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) In ship's time, then, that would mean 7.30, would it not? - (A.) Yes."

15142. (Mr. Scanlan.) If a message was sent by the "Californian" at ship's time, at your ship's time, 7.30, could you expect that this message, indicating ice in a certain latitude and longitude would be reported to you on the bridge?
- Yes, the marconigram would have been brought to the chart room.

15143. It should have been brought to the chart room?
- It would have been.

15144. And if it had been, this is the message that is reported to have been sent: "To Captain, 'Antillian,' 6.30 p.m., apparent time; ship, latitude, 42.3 north; longitude, 49.9 west. Three large bergs five miles to southward of us. Regards - Lord." Would that have been indicated on your chart?
- We never received that.

15145. You had no intimation that that had been received?
- None.

15146. That would not have corresponded, I take it, with the position which had been marked on your chart already. You say the ice position was marked on the chart some time either on the saturday or Sunday?
- Sunday night.

The Commissioner:
Not on Saturday; Sunday.

15147. (Mr. Scanlan.) On Sunday. Was that position marked on Sunday northward of the position indicated by this message?
- I do not know.

15148. It is "42 deg. 3 mm. N., 49 deg. 9 min. W.; three large bergs five miles to southward of us"?
- I cannot say; I cannot remember the position of the other that was put on the chart.

Mr. Laing:
My Lord, it is within two miles of the "Caronia's" position; I worked it out.

15149. (Mr. Scanlan.) At what hour did you see the chart being marked - in the afternoon or evening?
- I did not see the chart actually marked; I saw the mark there when I came on deck at 6 p.m.

15150. The mark that you saw was the mark which was there at all events at 6 p.m.?
- Yes, it was put on there between 4 and 6.

Examined by Mr. HARBINSON.

15151. Did you know that your wireless operator, Phillips I think his name was, had been sending out a C.Q.D. message?
- No, I had no idea.

15152. And did you know prior to the time you went to lower the boats, whether or not any replies had been received or any information received as to vessels coming to your assistance?
- No, I did not know any had been sent or any received. I took it for granted that they had been.

15153. You did not know then that the "Carpathia" was coming?
- I had no idea.

15154. After the collision do you know if any general alarm was sounded on the "Titanic" to give notice to the passengers - to rouse the passengers?
- No; no general alarm.

15155. Is there any provision made on steamships of the "Titanic" class for giving a general alarm in times of emergency or danger?
- No more than sending people round to rouse the others; that is all.

15156. Do you not think it would be a very desirable and efficient way of giving information to the passengers generally to sound a general alarm rather than by sending individual messages round?
- No, I do not.

15157. I think you said that when your boat put off, that is No. 5 boat, you took some male passengers?
- Yes.

15158. And at that time there were no women around?
- Well, I saw two standing by, but they would not leave.

15159. Do you know as a matter of fact of your own knowledge that a large number of women were drowned in the "Titanic" disaster?
- I have no idea how many were drowned.

15160. I did not ask you if you knew how many?
- I have no idea.

15161. You do not know whether there was a large number drowned or not?
- I have no idea.

15162. You have not heard?
- No, I only know that there were 1,600 people.

15163. And you do not know whether many of them were women or not?
- No.

15164. There is no question that on this Sunday afternoon you knew that the "Titanic" was entering into a neighbourhood in which ice had been reported?
- No, we were not.

15165. You knew that ice had been reported from the "Baltic" and some of the other steamers which have been mentioned?
- Yes, but all the ice was reported north of us.

15166. Do you agree that there is a tendency for ice to drift from north to south?
- Yes.

15167. As a matter of fact, would it not be possible to mark with absolute accuracy on a chart the exact location in which you would expect to find ice?
- We could not stick it down to a few feet.

15168. Or a few miles?
- Yes, you could.

15169. A few miles?
- Yes.

15170. You think so?
- I do.

15171. You knew, at any rate, that at some time or other of the passage you might be in the vicinity of ice?
- Yes, we might be.

15172. In view of what has occurred, do you not think now it amounted to culpable recklessness to drive the "Titanic" at a speed of over 21 1/2 knots?

The Commissioner:
I am afraid you cannot ask him that question. He is not the person to find the people in charge of this ship guilty or not guilty of culpable negligence.

Mr. Harbinson:
I submit respectfully to your Lordship's ruling. I was putting it to him more or less in the capacity of an expert witness.

The Commissioner:
You must leave me, I am afraid, for that.

15173. (Mr. Harbinson.) I will observe your ruling. (To the witness.) Do you know at what time the course that the steamer was to take was mapped out that day?
- Yes, noon.

15174. And, so far as you know, was the steamer's course deflected at all from the course that had been marked out at noon; did it vary to the south, or in any way from the course which had been marked out at noon?
- Yes, I considered we went at least 10 miles further south than was necessary.

15175. Do I understand you rightly that in marking the course at noon, the course was marked 10 miles further south than you considered necessary?
- No. We had a certain distance to run to a corner, from noon to certain time, and we did not alter the course so early as I anticipated. Therefore we must have gone much further south.

15176. When did you alter the course?
- 5.50.

15177. Who was responsible for the alteration?
- The Commander.

15178. To whom did he give the order?
- The Officers of the watch.

15179. Do you know their names?
- Mr. Wilde.

15180. Were you there?
- No.

15181. Do you know what conversation took place?
- No.

15182. But you say he gave instructions to alter the course of the ship?
- The course was altered at 5.50. They were the Commander's orders.

15183. Ten miles further south. Was any record made of that at the time?
- No, and I thought that the course should have been altered at 5 p.m..

15184. Why did you think so?
- Judging from the distance run from noon.

15185. What time did you think you were going to be in the neighbourhood of ice?
- I was not thinking about the ice at all.

15186. Had you made any calculation?
- No, I had not.

15187. It had not occurred to you although those marconigrams had been received?
- No, I saw that certain bergs were marked on the chart and that was quite sufficient.

15188. That is to say, you took matters as they were and made no enquiries. You accepted the position on the chart and you did not calculate or enquire?
- No, I had other work to attend to.

The Commissioner:
Whom do you suggest that he should enquire from?

Mr. Harbinson:
From the first Officer.

The Commissioner:
And what were his enquiries to be?

Mr. Harbinson:
As to what time and in what locality they should expect ice.

15189. (The Commissioner.) Do you take charge of the bridge?
- No.

15190. (Mr. Harbinson.) Who was in charge while you were on watch?
- Mr. Lightoller, from 6 to 8.

15191. It would not be your duty to bring this matter to the notice of Mr. Lightoller as an Officer or to mention the matter to him?
- About ice?

15192. Yes, or about the bearings of your ship?
- He could see the marconigrams as well as I.

15193. At any rate you do not consider that course within the scope of your duties. About the lowering of this boat No. 5. did you see any of the collapsibles lowered?
- I did not.

15194. And you did not know whether any of the three were lowered from the falls that lowered No. 5?
- No.

15195. Did you think there were a sufficient number of trained seamen, I mean deckhands, on the boat deck to secure the expeditious launching of the lifeboats?
- Quite.

15196. Did you see or have you read the report that was made from passengers on the "Titanic" who were rescued by the "Carpathia," on their arrival in America, to the effect that there were not enough trained seamen on the boat deck to secure the safe and expeditious launching of the boats?
- I do not think they are in a position to judge.

15197. (The Commissioner.) That is not the question: The question is, Did you read that report?
- I did not.

15198. (Mr. Harbinson.) Have you ever been in a shipwreck before?
- Yes, some minor affair.

15199. Do you consider that the system of launching boats from davits so high above the water, as the davits necessarily must have been on a vessel of the size of the "Titanic," is a safe operation?
- Apparently so; it was that night.

15200. But supposing the weather conditions had not been so favourable, would your answer be that it would not be?
- I do not know; I would not make any suggestion.

15201. You will not make any suggestions?
- No, I am not making any suggestions.

15202. Do you not think the system of lowering the boats to one of the lower decks and filling them either through the gangway doors or from the third deck would be less hazardous?
- It is too long a job.

15203. And less calculated to inspire passengers with terror?
- Oh, no, it is too long a job to lower them from there.

15204. To lower the boats empty and fill them from one of the lower decks?
- Yes, provided they had to get on a ladder it is too long.

15205. Apart from the rope ladders, were there companion ladders for this boat, the "Titanic"?
- Yes, one.

15206. Would it not have been possible to have lowered the boats half-filled and then filled them down the companion ladders?
- No, not if there had been the slightest bit of swell.

15207. But under the conditions that actually took place it would have been possible?
- Yes, but we did not know it was so calm until we got into the water.

15208. I suppose you knew that there was not a heavy swell on, did you not?
- We did not; you could not tell from that ship.

15209. (The Commissioner.) How often is the course laid down on the chart in the chart room, do you know?
- No.

15210. Perhaps I am not putting an intelligent question. You told me as I understood that this vessel was, in your opinion, several miles south of the customary course?
- Yes, My Lord.

15211. Now I do not understand that. She made for some time on the Sunday a South-Westerly course, did she not?
- Yes, My Lord.

15212. And at a point on the Sunday, I think you said about 5 o'clock, her course was altered?
- 5.50.

15213. And it became an almost due westerly course?
- Yes, My Lord.

15214. In your opinion did she change her course sooner or later than she ordinarily would have done. She changed it, you know, at 5.50?
- That was later.

15215. Then, in your opinion, had she gone in a South-Westerly direction longer than she ordinarily would have gone?
- I thought she had gone for three-quarters of an hour longer on that course than she should have done.

15216. That would take her several miles to the southward of the ordinary track, would it not?
- Yes.

15217. And in that connection would take her away from the ice-field?
- Yes, My Lord.

15218. Or from the proximity of these bergs?
- Yes.

15218a. But that apparently does not fit in with the position of the "Titanic" at the time that she sank as reported by her.

Mr. Laing:
I think it does. My friends and I have worked this out very carefully. The evidence is not complete about it, of course, yet, but I think it takes her just to the place. Will your Lordship look at my marked chart? It is marked in red.

The Commissioner:
If you will hand it up. (The same was handed to the Commissioner.) But whenever they altered their course, at the time of the accident this vessel was practically on her regular course.

Mr. Laing:
No she was some seven or eight miles to the south.

The Commissioner:
Is it your suggestion that that was done purposely.

Mr. Laing:
As far as we can see, My Lord, we think it was.

The Commissioner:
It was done for the purpose of avoiding the ice.

Mr. Laing:
That is our idea, as far as we can judge. Of course, we have not got the Commander here.

15219. (The Commissioner.) Have you followed what I was saying, Mr. Pitman?
- Yes, My Lord.

15220. Can you help us at all?
- No.

15221. You see, what I want to know is this, whether there was any deviation by the "Titanic" after the receipt of these advices about ice, Made for the purpose of putting the ship to the southward of the points where the bergs might be expected to be?
- Captain Smith did not mention it at all.

15222. And you cannot give me any information from what you saw in the chart room?
- No, My Lord. Captain Smith gives the orders to alter the course at the time he thinks fit.

The Commissioner:
Where do you get your red lines from, Mr. Laing?

Mr. Laing:
We have had to work it out from a Witness who has not yet been called.

15223. (The Commissioner.) Oh, very well. (To the witness.) How often when you are on watch do you mark the position of the ship on the chart?
- Only at noon.

15224. Do not you mark it again?
- No, not when we are well at sea.

15225. You do not mark it when you go off watch for the purpose of letting the man who succeeds you see at once on the chart where the ship is?
- No, only when we are making the land.

15226. Do you do it when you get a stellar observation?
- No, My Lord, unless we are making the land.

The Commissioner:
Yes, I understand that.

Examined by Mr. HOLMES.

15227. Can you tell us whether the "Titanic's" head was going round at all under her helm when you left the ship, or after the collision?
- She remained stationary from the time I left the ship till she disappeared.

15228. No altering her heading?
- No.

15229. At the time your boat was lowered was she very much down by the head?
- It was noticeable.

15230. Would it make very much difference in the amount of drop that you had to the water?
- Slightly, yes.

15231. Not very much?
- No.

15232. And you lowered your boat without any difficulty?
- Oh, yes.

15233. Can you, therefore, say whether at the time the ship had much of a list on?
- None whatever.

15234. None at all when you were launched?
- No.

15235. Did you watch the list change after you were in the water?
- She had no list when I left the ship.

15236. But afterwards, before she went down, did the list increase?
- I could not see that she had a list at all at any time.

15237. (The Commissioner.) He said she had no list at the time his boat was lowered into the water. (To the witness.) Did you see a list to starboard, ever?
- I saw no list at all, My Lord.

15238. Do you mean to say that before the ship went down you did not notice a list?
- No.

15239. You only noticed her down by the head?
- That is all.

15240. (Mr. Holmes.) Did you hear anything in the nature of explosions before she went down?
- Yes, I heard four reports.

15241. What do you estimate they were?
- Boilers leaving the bedplates and crashing through the bulkheads.

15242. When the ship actually went down, did you experience any suction in your boat?
- Oh, none at all.

15243. Although you had no lamp in your boat, did you see other of the ship's boats in the water with lamps in them?
- Several.

15244. Was the boat into which you transferred some of your passengers one that had a lamp in it?
- I cannot recollect.

15245. Did you tie up your boat eventually to that boat in order to keep together during the night?
- Yes, we did for some time.

15246. And did you arrive at the "Carpathia" in that way?
- No.

15247. You cast loose again before that?
- Yes, they cast off some time before the "Carpathia" came in sight.

Examined by Mr. COTTER.

15248. Have you been in any other White Star boat?
- Yes, I have been in five of them.

15249. Were you in the "Olympic"?
- No.

15250. Have you been in a White Star ship with these iron gangway doors?
- I really forget - the "Oceanic" may have them. I forget.

15251. Yes, she has them. Is it not part of the duty of an Officer to take charge of these gangway doors on the arrival of a ship in port?
- Yes, we go and attend to them.

15252. Have you ever carried out that duty?
- Yes, I have been there.

15253. Can you give us any idea of the size and weight of the forward iron doors on the "Titanic"?
- No, I cannot give you any size or weight. Probably the builders can.

15254. Will you tell us how many men it would take to open one of those doors?
- Four.

15255. Four men?
- Yes.

15256. And are not they very awkward to close again once they are opened - once when they are pushed back against the ship's side?
- No.

15257. What is the method of closing them again?
- Simply attach a rope to them and pull and they come up themselves.

15258. I suggest to you if you put a rope against an iron door flush against the ship's side, it would be very awkward to pull round unless you had some leverage to fetch it away from the ship's side. Is not that the fact?
- Of course if the thing had not been opened for years, yes.

15259. Did you hear Mr. Lightoller's evidence yesterday?
- Yes. I heard part of it.

15260. He states he sent the boatswain down to open these doors. Now I am suggesting if those doors were opened and he found out he had made a mistake, he would have a hard job to get them closed again; is not that a fact?
- No, they could be closed easily enough.

15261. Did you ever see them opened?
- Yes, the carpenter usually does that with about two hands.

15262. And he could close them with two hands?
- Yes.

15263. How many people do you say you took away in your boat?
- Between 40 and 50.

15264. How many would the boat hold?
- I do not know - 60, I think, according to the Board of Trade Regulations, or something like that.

15265. Were there people on the deck when you left the ship?
- Oh, yes, there were a few there.

15266. Why did not you take in 60 then?
- Simply because the people did not want to go - they thought they were safer on the ship.

15267. We have heard it stated by Mr. Lightoller that he lowered the boats because he thought there were enough people in them to lower with safety. Will you tell us what you consider is the weakest part of the tackle for lowering a boat? Is it the block or the falls or the shackles or what. We want to find out, because Mr. Lightoller said he was afraid of something giving way?
- I do not know.

The Commissioner:
I do not know that he said he thought the tackle might give way, but he thought the boat might break.

Mr. Cotter:
Yes, the boat might break; the boat might buckle.

The Commissioner:
Yes.

15268. (Mr. Cotter.) Is that your idea, that the boat might buckle or the shackles might give way?
- I do not know whether they would or not.

15269. Do you think it would be safe to lower 60 people in one of those boats from a height of 70 feet?
- I do not know what I might do if I was placed in that position.

15270. I say now supposing you had to go through the operation again do you think it would be safe to put 70 people in or 68 people?
- I would do now, yes, because I have found out since you could lower 80 in them.

15271. When you were in the "Oceanic" did you ever see bulkhead door drill take place?
- I did not witness it, no.

15272. Is it not the duty of the Officer, either the Chief Officer or First Officer, to go round at 11 o'clock each day and see the bulkhead doors closed?
- The Commander does, yes.

15273. Was it done on the "Titanic"?
- That I cannot say.

15274. You do not know. Do you know where the hand bulkhead doors are situated there?
- Yes, I know where some of them are.

15275. Did you see any closed that night?
- I did not go below that night.

15276. You said you took two men off in the boat. Do you know who they were?
- I took two men?

15277. Yes?
- What do you mean, Members of the crew?

The Commissioner:
Six men passengers.

15278. (Mr. Cotter - To the witness.) Six men passengers you took. Who was in the boat with you? Do you know any of the crew that were in the boat with you?
- Yes, a steward by the name of Guy was one.

15279. Were the rest seamen or firemen?
- One seaman, one fireman and two stewards.

The Commissioner:
Do you want to ask anything, Mr. Laing?

Mr. Laing:
Yes, My Lord, one or two questions.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

15280. Was it any part of your duty to attend to the navigation of the ship, or does the Commander do that - the setting of the courses, and so on?
- The Commander always sets the courses.

15281. And as Junior Officer have you got specified duties in the chart room?
- Yes.

15282. To work up observations, and so on?
- Yes.

15283. And make rounds, I think, later on in the watch?
- Yes.

15284. You have nothing to do with setting the course, or anything of that sort?
- The Commander is the only man who does that.

15285. A question was asked you about bulkhead doors. Whose duty is that - is it the stewards or the deck, to look after the doors?
- The stewards; the bulkheads come into their department.

15286. Does the Commander make rounds every day?
- Yes, weather permitting.

15287. At Belfast did you yourself, with Mr. Boxhall, go round the boats with a view of taking an inventory of their equipment?
- Yes, the starboard side.

15288. You took the starboard side, or was it the port side?
- No, port side, that is right.

15289. Did you go through the whole of the equipment of each of these boats?
- Yes.

15290. Did you find all the regulation equipment there?
- Not all in the boats, but it was on board the ship.

15291. That is what I want. Did you find, for example, on board the ship everything that the boats ought to have?
- Everything.

15292. Although they may not have been exactly in the boat at the moment?
- I found everything that was required.

15293. Do you know where they keep the lamps in these boats?
- In the lamp room.

15294. Do you know where they keep the compasses?
- Yes, in a locker on the afterpart of the boat deck.

15295. Are the boat axes, and those things, kept in the locker too, or in the boat?
- They are usually kept in the lamp room.

15296. Did you go through the lifebelts and check them?
- I did.

15297. How many were there?
- I think about 3,600.

The Commissioner:
I have not heard it suggested that there were not sufficient lifebelts.

15298. (Mr. Laing.) I thought it was, My Lord. I thought I had better get it.

The Witness:
I checked them all.

15299. Can you tell us if your clock is put back at noon?
- No, the clocks are always put forward or back as the case may be at midnight.

15300. Not at noon at all?
- No.

15301. The Engelhardt boats which were called the collapsibles here, are they fitted with rudders or with a steering oar?
- Steering oar.

15302. Did you find all their equipment?
- All intact, yes.

Re-examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

15303. I ought to have asked you this before. Would a fall in the temperature indicate the proximity of icebergs to you?
- No.

15304. It does not fit with your experience?
- No.

(The Witness withdrew.)