British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry


Account of Ship's Journey across the Atlantic/Messages Received/Disaster
Sailing Orders

The Masters of vessels belonging to the White Star Line are not given any special "sailing orders" before the commencement of any particular voyage. (Ismay, 18625) It is understood, however, that the "tracks" or "lane routes" proper to the particular time of the year, and agreed upon by the great steamship companies, are to be generally adhered to. (18614-15, 18618) Should any Master see fit during this passage to deviate from his route he has to report on and explain this deviation at the end of his voyage. When such deviation has been in the interests of safety, and not merely to shorten his passage, his action has always been approved of by the Company.

A book of "General Ship's Rules and Uniform Regulations" is also issued by the Company as a guide; (18612) there are in this book no special instructions in regard to ice, but there is a general instruction that the safety of the lives of the passengers and ship are to be the first consideration. (18611-13, 18629)

Besides the book of Ship's Rules, every Master when first appointed to command a ship is addressed by special letter from the Company, of which the following passage is an extract: - "You are to dismiss all idea of competitive passages with other vessels and to concentrate your attention upon a cautious, prudent and ever watchful system of navigation, which shall lose time or suffer any other temporary inconvenience rather than incur the slightest risk which can be avoided." Mr. Sanderson, one of the directors, in his evidence, says with reference to the above letter: - "We never fail to tell them in handing them these letters that we do not wish them to take it as a mere matter of form; that we wish them to read these letters, and to write an acknowledgement to us that they have read them, and that they will be influenced by what we have said in those letters." (Sanderson, 19271)