British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry


Board of Trade's Administration
Powers of the Board re Design of Vessels

The "Titanic" was efficiently designed and constructed to meet the contingencies which she was intended to meet.

The bulkheads were of ample strength. They were sufficiently closely spaced and were carried up in the vessel to a height greater than sufficient to meet the requirements of 1894 Bulkheads Committee.

But I am advised that the ship could have been further subdivided so that she would probably have remained afloat longer than she did. The Board of Trade have, however, apparently no power to exercise any real supervision in the matter of subdivision. All they have express power to insist upon in this connection with respect to any steam vessel is that there shall be four watertight bulkheads - a provision quite inadequate for safety in a collision damaging the vessel about the collision bulkhead. They can also, if invited by the shipowner (but not otherwise), exercise supervision under Rule 12. This supervision, I am told, they have been invited to exercise in only 103 cases over a period of 18 years. In 69 of these cases the Board have expressed their satisfaction with the subdivision provided. It seems to me that the Board should be empowered to require the production of the designs of all passenger steamers at an early period of their construction and to direct such alterations as may appear to them to be necessary and practicable for the purpose of securing proper watertight subdivision.