WRECK COMMISSIONER'S INQUIRY

REPORT

NAVIGATION OF THE SHIP


At the request of the Attorney-General part of the evidence in the Enquiry was taken in camera. This course was adopted in the public interest. The evidence in question dealt, firstly, with certain advice given by the Admiralty to navigators generally with reference to precautions to be taken for the purpose of avoiding submarine attacks; and secondly, with information furnished by the Admiralty to Captain Turner individually of submarine dangers likely to be encountered by him in the voyage of the "Lusitania." It would defeat the object which the Attorney-General had in view if I were to discuss these matters in detail in my report; and I do not propose to do so. But it made abundantly plain to me that the Admiralty had devoted the most anxious care and thought to the questions arising out of the submarine peril, and that they had diligently collected all available information likely to affect he voyage of the "Lusitania" in this connection. I do not know who the officials were to whom these duties were entrusted, but they deserve the highest praise for the way in which they did their work.

Captain Turner was fully advised as to the means which in the view of the Admiralty were best calculated to avert the perils he was likely to encounter, and in considering the question whether he is to blame for the catastrophe in which his voyage ended I have to bear this circumstance in mind. It is certain that in some respects Captain Turner did not follow the advice given to him. It may be (though I seriously doubt it) that had he done so his ship would have reached Liverpool in safety. But the question remains, was his conduct the conduct of a negligent or incompetent man. On this question I have sought the guidance of my assessors, who have rendered me invaluable assistance, and the conclusion at which I have arrived is that blame ought not to be imputed to the Captain. The advice given to him, although meant for his most serious and careful consideration, was not intended to deprive him of the right to exercise his skilled judgment in the difficult questions that might arise from time to time in the navigation of his ship. His omission to follow the advice in all respects cannot fairly be attributed either to negligence or incompetence.

He exercised his judgment for the best. It was the judgment of a skilled and experienced man, and although others might have acted differently and perhaps more successfully, he ought not, in my opinion, to be lamed.

The whole blame for the cruel destruction of life in this catastrophe must rest solely with those who plotted and with those who committed the crime.