British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 5


2239. The Commissioner: I do not want you to tell us what you hope was the case, or what you fancy was the case. I want you, as far as you can, to tell us what according to your observation really was the cause. Now, can you tell me this: Did you see these collapsible boats sufficiently to enable you to say that when the ship sank they would float?
- I did, my Lord.

2240. Mr. Dunlop: Which boats are you referring to - the port boats or both the port and the starboard boats?
- I refer to any boat in the ship.

2241. First of all, taking port boats, in your evidence, you told us that after the ship was torpedoed and you went on deck, you loosened all the collapsible boats on the port side?
- That is so.

2242. What did you do in order to release these boats on the port side. What did you remove?
- I removed the gripes. Had we been able to use the falls for the ordinary boats, then after we got back the falls we could have got number 22 a into the water and then got numbers 22 d und 22 c back under the davits for lowering again.

2248. Did you loose everything in the port side boats that would prevent those boats from floating when the vessel sank?
- I removed everything.

2244. What did you do with the starboard boats?
- After I came up from getting my lifebelt I noticed that number 21 d and 21 e were still fast. I removed the gripes from those boats.

2245. Were they in a condition in which they could float?
- That side was all clear. Both sides of the ship were clear at the after-end.

2246. Were the canvas coverings of these boats removed?
- The canvas covers were not removed but that would not prevent the boats floating. The canvas covers would burst as soon as the boats entered the water. They were just hanging over the boats.

2247. Do you say nothing more could have been done to these boats than you did do?
- Nothing.

2248. In order to enable them to float when the ship sank?
- That is so.

2249. Were any of them carried down with the ship, do you know?
- I do not think so. I think all the boats turned up on the after-end of the ship.

2250. All the collapsible boats?
- I think so.

The Commissioner:
Do you know what has become of all these boats. Have any then been picked up.

Mr. Dunlop:
No, my Lord, I do not.

The Commissioner:
Do you know, Mr. Aspinall, whether any of these boats have been picked up?

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
I know six lifeboats were picked up, und some of the collapsible boats, but I do not know the number.

2251. The Commissioner (To the witness.): You remember the collapsible boats on the after-end of the ship?
- Yes, My Lord.

2252. There were eight there, I think, four on each side?
- Five on each side.

2253. I am talking about the collapsible boats which had no large lifeboats above them?
- Yes, that is so.

2254. There were eight of those?
- Yes.

2255. Four on each side?
- Four on each side.

2256. Two and two, and two and two?
- That is so.

2257. What arrangements were there for dropping those boats into the water. Were there any davits?
- Yes.

2258. Where?
- We had to bring the boats along on the rail on the deck.

2259. In order to lower those collapsible boats into the water you had to push them along a rail until they got under the davits which supported the regular lifeboats. That was the way in which it was intended to be done?
- That is so.

(The witness withdrew.)