British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 16

Testimony of Joseph B. Ismay, cont.

18329. Information which he would not give to everybody, but which he gave to you. There is not the least doubt about it, is there?
- No, I do not think so.

18330. He handed it to you, and you read it, I suppose?
- Yes.

18331. Did he say anything to you about it?
- Not a word.

18332. He merely handed it to you, and you put it in your pocket after you had read it?
- Yes, I glanced at it very casually. I was on deck at the time.

18333. Had he handed any message to you before this one?
- No.

18334. So that this was the first message he had handed to you on this voyage?
- Yes.

18335. And when he handed this message to you, when the Captain of the ship came to you, the managing director, and put into your hands the marconigram, it was for you to read?
- Yes, and I read it.

18336. Because it was likely to be of some importance, was it not?
- I have crossed with Captain Smith before, and he has handed me messages which have been of no importance at all.

18337. Surely he had had other reports which, as far as I follow from your evidence, he had not said anything about?
- Not a word.

18338. He had had other Marconigrams during this voyage, at any rate?
- I daresay he had, and I had no knowledge of them.

18339. So I understand. Therefore he singled out this one apparently to give to you for you to read it?
- Yes.

18340. And, as I understand you, you took it from him and read it?
- Yes.

18341. And you kept it for the time being?
- Yes, I put it in my pocket.

18342. Where was the message handed to you by Captain Smith?
- On deck.

18343. Were you alone?
- No, I was not.

18344. Were there other passengers present?
- There were.

18345. Did you read the message to them?
- I did not.

18346. Did you say anything to the passengers about it?
- I spoke to two passengers in the afternoon. At that time I did not speak to anybody.

18347. (The Commissioner.) When you say the afternoon, what time was it that the Captain handed you this message?
- I think it was just before lunch.

18348. (The Attorney-General.) That would be somewhere near 2 o'clock?
- I should think it would be somewhere about 20 minutes past one. No, I am wrong; I think it would be about 10 minutes to one.

18349. I rather think you must be making a mistake about that. When you were examined in America you said, "It is very difficult to place the time. I do not know whether it was in the afternoon or immediately before lunch. I am not certain." - I think I was rather trying to place the time by the time we had lunch. I know it was immediately before we had lunch, and now when I come to think of it, when we go west, we have lunch at 1 o'clock, and coming east we have lunch at half-past one, so that it must have been half-past one when he handed me the marconigram. That is to the best of my knowledge and belief.

18350. I suggest to you that probably what you said in America was accurate, that you were not certain whether it was in the afternoon or immediately before lunch?
- I am practically certain it was before lunch.

The Commissioner:
Now, just think. The information that we have at present is that this telegram, or whatever it is called - the marconigram - arrived on the "Titanic" at about 2 o'clock.

The Attorney-General:
1.40 really.

The Commissioner:
11.52, as I understand, by New York time.

The Attorney-General:
That is right. According to the evidence we have got that would be about 1.40 or 1.45.

The Commissioner:
Very well, that is 20 minutes to 2, and then he says 20 minutes past 1.

The Witness:
It was the hour of lunch I was trying to fix the time by.

18351. (The Attorney-General.) Very well. Now let us take it that you received it immediately before lunch. You said nothing about it then, as I understand you?
- No, I did not.

18352. But having read it, you put it in your pocket?
- Yes.

18353. And did you then go down to lunch?
- Yes, I went down to lunch.

18354. Were you alone at lunch?
- I was.

18355. You lunched alone?
- Absolutely.

18356. Then you spoke about it in the afternoon to two lady passengers?
- Yes.

18357. Will you tell me to whom you spoke?
- I spoke to Mrs. Thayer and Mrs. Ryerson. [Mrs. Marion Thayer and Mrs. Emily Ryerson.]

18358. Will you tell us what you said?
- I cannot recollect what I said. I think I read part of the message to them about the ice and the derelict - not the derelict, but the steamer that was broken down; short of coal she was.

18359. Did you understand from that telegram that the ice which was reported was in your track?
- I did not.

18360. Did you attribute any importance at all to the ice report?
- I did not; no special importance at all.

18361. Why did you think the Captain handed you the marconigram?
- As a matter of information, I take it.

18362. Information of what?
- About the contents of the message.

18363. The ice report?
- About the contents of the message. He gave me the report of the ice and this steamer being short of coal.

18364. It conveyed to you at any rate that you were approaching within the region of ice, did it not?
- Yes, certainly.

18365. Did Mrs. Ryerson say anything to you about slowing down in consequence of this ice report?
- I have no recollection of it at all.

18366. Will you pledge yourself that she did not?
- Yes, I think I can.

18367. Up to this time had you been increasing the number of revolutions?
- I believe the revolutions were increased from 70 to 72 and up to 75.

18368. You had begun at 70, I suppose?
- We began at 68.

18369. Was that when you left Queenstown?
- When we left Southampton.

18370. When you left Southampton you began at 68?
- Yes.

18371. What would that give in knots?
- I cannot tell you; it is easily worked out.

18372. Then we know, I think, that 75 gives between 21 3/4 and 22 knots; we have got that in evidence already?
- Yes.

18373. You started, you said, at 68. Did you then get to 70?
- I believe she went at 70 from Cherbourg to queenstown.

18374. When was it you first got to 75?
- I really have no absolute knowledge myself as to the number of revolutions. I believe she was going 75 on the Sunday.

18375. But really, Mr. Ismay, if you will just search your recollection a little. Remember that this question of speed interested you very materially. You, as Managing Director of the Company, were interested in the speed of the vessel?
- Naturally.

18376. And when the report was made to you, as I suppose it was, that she had increased to 75 revolutions, you were aware, I think, that it was not quite her full speed?
- 78 I believe was her full speed.

18377. Seventy-eight was her full speed, and she had got to 75?
- Yes, that is right.

18378. Your intention was, was it not, before you reached New York, to get the maximum speed of 78?
- The intention was that if the weather should be found suitable on the Monday or the Tuesday that the ship would then have been driven at full speed.

18379. Which would be 78?
- Yes, 78.

18380. So that your intention was to increase the speed at which she was travelling already on the Sunday of 75 revolutions, if the weather was satisfactory, to 78 on the Monday or the Tuesday?
- Yes, to increase the speed to 78 if the conditions were all satisfactory.

18381. When she was proceeding at 75 revolutions were all her boilers on?
- I believe not. I have no knowledge of that myself.

18382. Were the single-ended boilers on?
- I have no knowledge of it myself. I was told they were not - at least, I have heard they were not.

18383. That none of the single-ended ones were on?
- That is as far as I know.

18384. Then I will just refer you to what you said in America with regard to this?
- As far as I know the single-ended boilers were not on on the Sunday.

18385. "The full speed of ship is 78 revolutions?" - Yes.

18386. "She worked up to 80. As far as I am aware she never exceeded 75 revolutions. She had not all her boilers on, none of the single-ended boilers were on. It was our intention if we had fine weather on Monday afternoon or Tuesday to drive the ship at full speed." Is that correct?
- Yes, quite.

18387. With whom would you discuss this question of driving her at full speed on the Monday or Tuesday?
- The only man I spoke to in regard to it was the Chief Engineer in my room when the ship was in Queenstown.

18388. Is that Mr. Bell?
- Yes.

18389. The Chief Engineer?
- Yes.

18390. Can you tell me on what day it was that she first made the 75 revolutions on this voyage?
- I think it would be on the saturday.

18391. And when was it that you discussed the question of putting her at full speed on the Monday or the Tuesday?
- On the thursday when the ship was at anchor in Queenstown Harbour.

18392. Will you explain that. It is not quite clear why you should discuss the question in Queenstown?
- The reason why we discussed it at Queenstown was this, that Mr. Bell came into my room; I wanted to know how much coal we had on board the ship, because the ship left after the coal strike was on, and he told me. I then spoke to him about the ship and I said it is not possible for the ship to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Therefore there is no object in pushing her. We will arrive there at 5 o'clock on Wednesday morning, and it will be good landing for the passengers in New York, and we shall also be able to economise our coal. We did not want to burn any more coal than we needed.

18393. Never mind about that, that does not answer the question I was putting to you. I understand what you mean by that, that you did not want to get there till the wednesday morning at 5 o'clock, and that therefore it was not necessary to drive her at full speed all the time?
- No.

18394. But the question I am putting to you is this, when was it that you discussed putting her at full speed on the Monday or the Tuesday?
- At the same time.

18395. You have not told us about that?
- That was when Mr. Bell was in my room on Thursday afternoon, when the ship was at anchor at Queenstown.

18396. But what was said about putting her at full speed?
- I said to him then, we may have an opportunity of driving her at full speed on Monday or Tuesday if the weather is entirely suitable.

18397. Then you did know on the Sunday morning that in the ordinary course of things between that and the Monday evening you might be increasing your speed to full speed?
- I knew if the weather was suitable either on the Monday or the Tuesday the vessel would go at full speed for a few hours.

18398. And I suppose you knew that in order to get the full speed of the vessel, the maximum number of revolutions, it would be necessary, presumably, to light more boilers?
- I presume the boilers would have been put on.

18399. Do you know in fact that they were lighted on the Sunday morning?
- I do not.

The Attorney-General:
Your Lordship will remember that evidence; I will give the reference to it, but we have got the evidence I think that they were lighted at eight o'clock on Sunday morning, the five single-ended boilers?

Mr. Laing:
No, no.

The Commissioner:
Were they lit at the time of the collision?

The Attorney-General:
I do not think the single-ended ones were, but I think you will find that more boilers were lit on the Sunday morning; that is the point, but I think not the single-ended ones.

The Commissioner:
Where is the reference to these particular ones that you suggest were lit on the Sunday morning?

The Attorney-General:
I think your Lordship will find it at page 69, in Barrett's evidence, Question 2217, where he was asked, "Then, as far as you know, there was no reduction in speed?" And your Lordship will see that the answer to that is: "There were two main boilers lit up on the Sunday morning, but I could not tell you whether they were connected with the others or not. (Q.) You mean two main boilers which had not been lit up before? - (A.) Yes, they were lit up. (Q.) That is extra? - (A.) Yes. (Q.) On the Sunday morning. - (A.) Yes. (Q.) That is why you told me that there had been eight boilers out, and afterwards you thought there were only five or six out, is that it? - (A.) Yes." Then your Lordship says: "What he said was five boilers, certainly, and perhaps eight." Then it is cleared up at Question 2222: "(The Solicitor-General.) That is what you said, Barrett - you said five boilers were out, certainly, and perhaps eight. Now just explain why you say that?" And he said, "When you light a boiler up it will take twelve hours before you can connect it with the others to get steam on as a Rule in a merchant ship as far as my experience goes."

Then he is asked, "These three, the difference between the five and the eight, were they lit up? - (A.) Those three were lit up on the Sunday morning." Then at Question 2226 he was asked, "Do you know in which section they were? - (A.) In the after section - the next one to the after section. That would be No. 2 section." Now, the aftermost section your Lordship will see is the one in which there are the single-ended boilers. He is not referring to those. He is referring to the after boilers in No. 2 boiler room, which are the double-ended.

The Solicitor-General:
He is referring to those. (Pointing to the plan.)

The Commissioner:
That is a double-ended boiler.

The Solicitor-General:
Yes, that No. 2 is a double-ended boiler.

The Commissioner:
The other ones, further aft, are single ones.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, My Lord, that is right; and those were never lit. But if your Lordship will now look at Question 2232, you will see that Barrett was asked, "Can you tell me when those two or three main boilers were lit on the Sunday morning - about what time? - (A.) As near as I could say, 8 o'clock in the morning. (Q.) Then they may have been connected that same night? - (A.) Yes." There is some other evidence about it, but as far as I know there is no suggestion that this evidence is not correct. What it amounts to is that it took 12 hours apparently before they were connected. They were lit at 8 o'clock on the Sunday morning. That was the reason the question was put by the Solicitor-General, "Then they may have been connected that same night?" and the answer is "Yes." That is how the evidence stands.

The Commissioner:
This man is what is called a leading fireman.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, My Lord. He was a very important witness. He was a leading stoker.

The Commissioner:
He describes himself as a leading stoker.

The Attorney-General:
Yes, My Lord, I think that is right.

The Commissioner:
I do not know what the "a" means.

The Attorney-General:
In one particular section, I think.

The Commissioner:
How many leading stokers are there?

The Attorney-General:
I could not say, My Lord, but I imagine it means a leading stoker in a particular section; probably that is what it means.

Sir Robert Finlay:
He was the leading stoker in No. 6 Boiler room.

The Commissioner:
Can you tell me which is No. 6 Stokehold?

The Attorney-General:
Quite the foremost one of all, My Lord. We have had evidence about water going in there.

The Commissioner:
Quite the foremost?

The Attorney-General:
Yes, My Lord; it is described there as No. 6 Boiler room.

The Commissioner:
Was that the stokehold where he was located?

The Attorney-General:
Yes, that was Barrett's.

The Commissioner:
He was not located in this stokehold where the boilers were lit up?

The Attorney-General:
No, My Lord.

Sir Robert Finlay:
There is just one other question, Barrett was asked at 2358 on page 66: "With regard to the revolutions, did you keep the same revolutions all Sunday, so far as you know? - Yes."

The Attorney-General:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
If, Mr. Attorney, they kept the same revolutions all the Sunday, which I understand means up to the time of the collision, then these three boilers had not begun to operate upon the engines, apparently?

The Attorney-General:
Probably not.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I understand that, even if the boilers were connected, it would not follow that there were more revolutions. That would depend upon what was done in the engine room.

The Attorney-General:
That would not follow.

The Commissioner:
I suppose, Sir Robert, the object of lighting up extra boilers is to get additional speed.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Not entirely, My Lord. The thing may work easier. Greater speed can be attained if they choose, but as a matter of fact the evidence is that they did not exceed the 75 revolutions, which the witness said they got on the Sunday, up to the time of the collision.

The Commissioner:
It leads me to think that Barrett, or whatever his name was, may be inaccurate about the time when these additional boilers were lit.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It may have been a little later, your Lordship means?

The Commissioner:
Yes.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It would probably take 12 hours before they could be connected.

The Commissioner:
You see, according to the evidence of Mr. Ismay, they would not want the additional speed until Monday or Tuesday.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes.

The Commissioner:
It is evident from Mr. Ismay's evidence that they did want additional speed. If the weather was clear and the circumstances favourable, they would want additional speed on Monday and Tuesday.

Sir Robert Finlay:
Yes, and coal being the object at the time one would suppose they were not lit up quite so hurriedly.

The Commissioner:
Well, I am not quite so sure. This was the first voyage of a new ship.

The Attorney-General:
Monday was very close at hand, after all.

Sir Robert Finlay:
But you do not want more than 12 hours.

18400. (The Attorney-General.) Very well. (To the witness.) At least we know this, Mr. Ismay, that certainly there was no slowing down of the vessel after that ice report was received?
- Not that I know of.

18401. You knew, of course, that the proximity of icebergs was a danger; you knew that much, did not you?
- There is always danger with ice - more or less danger with ice.

18402. I suppose you are familiar with the reason of the different tracks which are marked upon the charts?
- Perfectly.

18403. Different tracks for different seasons of the year?
- Yes.

18404. And that is for the purpose of avoiding ice, is it not?
- Not entirely.

18405. I will not argue with you about entirely, but, at any rate, it is an important factor?
- It is.

18406. And for that reason you get, I think, I am right in saying, a more southerly track during a certain period of the year?
- That is true.

18407. Had you no curiosity to ascertain whether or not you would be travelling in the region in which ice was reported?
- I had not.

18408. (The Commissioner.) I thought you said just now that you knew that this was the point at which you were approaching the region of ice?
- I knew we were approaching the region of ice, yes.

18409. (The Attorney-General.) How did you know that?
- How did I know what?

18410. How did you know that you were approaching the region of ice?
- By this Marconi message.

18411. The marconi message which you had received from the "Baltic"?
- Yes.

18412. And you knew, did you not, that you would be in the region of ice some time on that Sunday night?
- I believe so, yes.

18413. Now, I should like to understand who told you that?
- I think the information I got was from Dr. O'Loughlin, who said we had turned the corner.

18414. That is the doctor with whom you had dined that night in the restaurant?
- Yes.

18415. Was he the doctor who always travelled with the ship?
- He had been in the service over 40 years.

18416. As a doctor?
- Yes.

18417. But did you tell him about the marconigram?
- I did not.

18418. I do not quite understand then how you mean what he said to you?
- He made the remark at dinner, "We have turned the corner."

18419. Did you know what turning the corner meant?
- Yes, I knew that.

18420. You knew, I suppose, that you would alter your course then?
- Yes, I knew that.

18421. And you would alter your course, I think, More to the northward?
- Yes.

18422. And you knew that that would bring you nearer to the region of ice which had been reported to you?
- I could not say exactly where the ice was. I do not understand latitude and longitude.

18423. Do you mean that? You are giving evidence here in the Court. Would you reconsider that statement, that you do not know the meaning of latitude and longitude?
- I said the marconi message did not convey any meaning to me as to the exact position of that ice.

18424. Did it not convey to you that it was possible to ascertain whether the latitude and longitude designated in that Marconigram would be a track that you would have to cross?
- For me to ascertain that?

18325. Yes?
- No. That is for the Captain of the ship. He was responsible for the navigation of the ship. I had nothing to do with the navigation.

18426. Yet you were the managing Director and he thought it of sufficient importance to bring you the first Marconigram which he had shown to you on this voyage and to give it you, and then you put it in your pocket?
- Yes.

18427. And you, of course, appreciated that that report meant to you that you were approaching ice, as you told us?
- Yes.

Continued >