British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5


2281. The Commissioner: I think it happened in this case, or there is some evidence that it did, or, if not, it happened in the case of the "Falaba," that the stern post of a lifeboat had been wrenched away when the lifeboat has not dropped evenly. Do you know that?
- Yes. I did not know it had been stated in this case.

2282. Perhaps I have some confusion in my head about it; but you have heard of it?
- Yes.

2283. The effect of wrenching away the stern post would be to cast the boat adrift, would it not?
- It would.

2284. To loosen the whole boat and make it useless as a lifeboat?
- It would.

2285. I want to ask you this question. How are these boats lowered at that end where the stern post is - what is the attachment to the stern post that tears the stern post out of its position?
- It is not really attached to the stern post at all. A bar goes through the keel and it is screwed into a plate on the underneath side of the keel and then clinched over. But what causes the stern post to come out is that when one end drops the pull on the hook and bar through the bottom is sideways and pulls the little portion of deck that exists at each end towards the stern post and bursts the planking and gunwale away.

2286. Can you suggest to me any means by which an accident of that kind can be prevented?
- By altering the structure.

2287. In what respect?
- All the arrangements that I have any experience of are open to some disability, but one of the arrangements which will not cause that particular damage to happen is, having the boat supported by a chain sling in a fore and aft direction. It is all arrangement in use on many boats.

2288. But could not you obviate it by preventing that strain in some way that you say comes upon the stern post?
- Yes, by supporting the hook from the keel it could be done, in a fore and aft direction.

2289. Can you tell me why that is not done?
- I think boat builders consider that the deck which is fitted at each end a short piece of deck is sufficient to support the hooks sideways; but the shock is usually a very severe one, and a sudden one probably carries all that away.

2290. Then the arrangement does not prevent the sudden wrench of the falling boat from pulling the boat to pieces?
- No, it would be very difficult to prevent that.

Further examined by Mr. COTTER.

2291. You have heard the evidence about the boats swinging out from the ship's side a distance of six feet?
- Yes.

2292. Which would make it difficult for women and children to get into them?
- It would.

2293. Can you suggest anything to the Court which would prevent such a thing taking place?

The Commissioner:
That is on the side on which the list is?

Mr. Cotter:

It is not a matter that I have considered, and I should not care to offer an opinion without due consideration, because, of course, we must remember that nothing must be allowed to interfere with the getting out of the boats, and I think that any arrangement, which would have to be, of course, a collapsible arrangement, for providing access to the boats, would interfere with the getting out of the boa ts. There would have to be some special arrangement, probably brought up from underneath.

2294. You cannot suggest anything?
- Not at the moment.

(The Witness withdrew.)