Lusitania

Limitation of Liability Hearings

Deposition of ANDREW COCKBURN

Senior Second Engineer

ss "Lusitania"


 


UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT,
Southern District of New York,

IN THE MATTER
of
The Petition of THE CUNARD STEAMSHIP COMPANY LIMITED,
as owner of the Steamship LUSITANIA, for limitation of its liability.
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DEPOSITION of ANDREW COCKBURN taken before R.V. WYNNE Esq. the Commissioner at the Law Institution Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2. on Friday 15th June,1917.

The Commissioner having duly administered the oath to CHARLES ALLAN HERSEE as Shorthand Writer administered the usual oath, of a witness to ANDREW COCKBURN.

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Examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

 

Q. Do you hold a Chief Engineer’s certificate?

- Yes.

Q. At the time of the loss of the “LUSITANIA” were you her senior second Engineer?

- Yes.

Q. Have you been in this service of the Cunard line for about 21 years?

- Yes.

Q. And was your position that of next in authority to the to the chief Engineer?

- Yes.

Q. Could you tell me that gentleman's name?

- Archibald Bryce.

Q. Unfortunately he was drowned?

- He was drowned.

Q. On the voyage back from New York on how many boilers were you carrying steam.

- 19.

Q. How many boilers in all had she?

- 25.

Q. In what boiler space were the 6 boilers that were not being used?

- No. 4 section.

Q. No.4 boiler section.

- Yes.

Q. And as a result of that of course you were not getting your maximum speed?

- No.

Q. Was it your watch on the morning of the 7th from 8 to 12?

- Yes.

Q. And when you came on watch that morning did you get instructions as to the speed you were to drive the ship at?

- I do net remember getting any special instructions that particular morning.

Q. It is some time back. Do you member at what speed the ship was travelling when you took charge of the engines at 8?

- No, I do not remember what speed she was travelling at that particular time.

Q. You might perhaps refresh your memory thus. Do you remember when you took charge of the engines at 8 whether there was any reduction in the number of revolutions?

- Yes, I got an order after I went on watch to reduce the revolutions.

Q. Do you remember from what you reduced to what you reduced them or again can you only guess at it?

- I can only guess at it. I think it was from 145 to 120.

Q. Do you think that is probably right or do you think it is just a mere guess?

- It is just a mere guess.

Q. Who did you get those instructions from?

- The chief engineer.

Q. Do you remember that he did give you such instructions?

- I cannot recall whether they came from the bridge, from the captain or from the chief engineer.

Q. After you had been in the charge of the engines for some little time did you maintain the speed at which you were going or was there any alteration in speed from weather conditions or what not?

- Yes there was an increase of speed before I came off watch.

Q. Whatever instructions you got did you obey them?

- Absolutely.

Q. At what time was it the ship was struck with the first torpedo?

- I had no idea of the exact time: I know it was somewhere about 2 o'clock.

Q. Were you on duty at 2 or not?

- No, I was off duty.

Q. Your watch ended at noon?

- Yes.

Q. When you were struck where were you?

- I was standing at my cabin door.

Q. Do you happen to know - if you do not say so - the speed at which your ship was travelling when the first torpedo struck her?

- I do not know.

Q. On what deck was your cabin?

- C deck.

Q. On which side of the ship?

- Starboard side.

Q. When you heard the noise what at first did you think had happened?

- I thought it was an internal explosion.

Q. What did you do on hearing the noise?

- I rushed down below to see that he bulk head doors were closed.

Q. Was that an important matter?

- I considered it all important at that particular time.

Q. Is it within your knowledge that certain precautions were taken before, the 6th, to deal with the possibilities of submarine attack?

- Yes, we were running with as many bulkhead doors closed as possibly could be closed allowing only for what was necessary to work the ship.

Q. Is it possible to shut them all and yet work the ship or must some be left open?

- Some must be left open.

Q. Quite apart from those some that were necessarily left open you say the others were closed?

- The others were closed.

Q. Where did you propose to go to when you heard the noise; to what part of the ship did you propose to go?

- I ran on to what is known as the fan flat.

Q. What is the fan flat?

- It is the deck above the boilers.

Q. Immediately above the boilers?

- Immediately above the boilers.

Q. What deck is that?

- I do not remember.

Q. At any rate that particular part of the deck is known as the fan flat, is it?

- Yes.

Q. Did you intend to remain at the fan flat or did you intend to go further?

- I intended to go further: I simply went there to see that the doors were closed.

Q. When you got there did you see whether the doors were closed or not?

- Yes, they were closed.

Q. Having ascertained that fact, what did you next do?

- I think I came back to my cabin and got a life belt.

Q. Having done that what did you next do?

- I returned to the engine room.

Q. Did you appreciate whether the ship had taken a list or not?

- Yes, she had taken a list.

Q. Did you get into the engine room?

- Yes, I went down into the engine room.

Q. Did you meet any of the officers there?

- I met the chief engineer and the intermediate second engineer: he had been on watch at the time.

Q. What was his name?

- Mr. Smith.

Q. Has he been saved?

- No.

Q. He was drowned?

- He was drowned.

Q. By the time you got there were the engines still working or were they out of working?

- They were not working.

Q. What had caused them not to be working?

- As far as I could make out there was no steam. All the steam had gone.

Q. What had caused the steam to go?

- I could only draw my own conclusions that the steam pipe must have burst between the boilers and engines.

Q. Do you still think that was the cause of it?

- I still think that.

Q. What did you think had caused the steam pipe to burst?

- The torpedoing of the ship.

Q. Was it as far as you could hear and see a character of explosion that might do a great deal of internal damage?

- Oh yes.

Q. And you think the explosion was of such a character that it might possibly damage the bulk heads?

- Yes.

Q. If it did do so and water came into the ship that would give a fairly free run to the water?

- Yes.

Q. If your bulk-head is disturbed it is obvious the compartments of which the bulkhead is one end is no longer a water tight compartment?

- That is so.

Q. What had happened to the lights by the time you had got down into the engine room?

- The lights were all out.

Q. Under these circumstances was it possible for you with the best will in the world to do much? A. No I could do nothing.

Q. That being so what did you do?

- I spoke to the chief engineer. I think he asked me what could we do and I said nothing and I never saw him again. Then I was in conversation with the second engineer when we heard water coming into the engine room.

Q. Where was the water coming from?

- That I do not know.

Q. Were you able to form any reliable opinion as to whether it was coming through one of the bulkheads or over it or at the side?

- No any more than that I thought it was coming from the starboard side by the sound.

Q. Was it coming in any considerable flow or just trickling through?

- There was no great flow judging by the sound.

Q. Where did you go to then?

- I went up on deck and went to the port side of the ship and I just had about a minute to jump on to the rail when she went down and I went down with her.

Q. You did not get into a boat?

- No.

Q. You went down with the ship?

- I went down with the ship.

Q. And fortunately you were subsequently saved?

- Yes.

 

Cross-examined by Mr. MEECH (for Mr. SCANLAN.)

 

Q. I think you told us for reasons you explained you were not getting the full possible speed out of the ship at the time?

- No.

Q. You were not able to tell us exactly the speed when you went on duty.

- No; I do not remember exactly what speed she was going when I went on duty.

Q. Did not you have some special instructions about the speed when you went on. I do not know whether you have refreshed your memory from the evidence you gave before the commission.

- Whatever my evidence was in the last enquiry it will be correct.

Q. You said “Very shortly after I went on after 8 o'clock I got instructions to slow down to 18 knots”. I take it that is correct?

- Yes.

Q. And then you said when you went off watch at 12 o'clock you were going at 18 knots?

- Yes. I know we got orders to increase the speed before I went off watch at noon.

Q. That increased speed would take place after you went off?

- No, before I went off watch.

Q. Will you look at answer 746 of page 25 of the print of the commission?

- Yes, that is right: I got instructions to slow down to 18 knots.

Q. Then look at 754 in the next column?

- Yes, that is right.

Q. She was going at 18 knots during the time that you were on duty?

- Yes.

 

Signed by the witness
after the deposition had
been read to him and the
alterations had been made
and initialed.
A. Cockburn [sig.]
R. V. Wynne [sig.]