Limitation of Liability Hearings

Deposition of Frank Hennessey

Able Seaman - ss Lusitania.


Southern District of New York.


owner of the Steamship LUSITANIA, for limitation of its liability.



DEPOSITION OF FRANK HENNESSEY taken before R. V. WYNNE Esq. the Commissioner at the Law Institution Chancery Lane, London, W.C.2 on Thursday 13th June 1917.

The Commissioner having duly administered the oath to CHARLES ALLAN HERSEE as Shorthand Writer administered the usual oath of a Witness to FRANK HENNESSEY.




Examined by Mr. RAEBURN.


Q. Were you an able seaman on the "Lusitania"?

- Yes.

Q. I think you were also a special look out, we you not?

- Yes.

Q. How many years have you been at sea?

- About 24 or 25.

Q. On the 7th May, the day the "Lusitania" was torpedoed was it your watch from noon to 4 p.m.?

- 2 to 4.

Q. Where did you go at 2 o'clock?   

- I went to the crows-nest at 2 o'clock, on my look out.

Q. Was any one else in the crows-nest with you?

- Yes.

Q. Who was it?

- A man named Quinn.

Q. Was he also a special look-out man?

- Yes.

Q. On which side were you keeping the look out?

- I was on the port side and Quinn was on starboard side in the crows-nest,

Q. What was the weather like at 2 o'clock?

- Fine weather and clear.

Q. Could you see a good long way?

- Yes.

Q. Before you went up to the crows-nest had you been given any special orders and instructions?

- Yes.

Q. By the officer?

- Yes.

Q. What were the instructions?

- To keep a good look out and report anything that we could see if it was only a broom handle in the water.

Q. Did you know what that meant?

- Yes; I had an idea any way.

Q. What was your idea?

- I thought we were to keep a look out for submarines; that is how I took it.

Q. How long had you been in crows-nest before anything happened?

- I would not have been there more than 10 minutes as near as I could count; it might have been a little more but not much more.

Q. Then what happened?

- I heard a shout. Quinn saw the torpedo coming and he says "Here is a torpedo coming, Frank" and when I looked round it was in to us.

Q. Were you able to judge about where the torpedo struck the ship?

- As near as I could reckon I fancy it struck it between number 1 and 2 funnel.

Q. Abreast of any particular boat; can you tell us that?

- I think it was number 5 boat but I am not exactly sure.

Q. Did the explosion have any effect upon that boat?

- Yes, it blew the boat to pieces.

Q. What did you do before the ship had been struck?

- I jumped into the port rigging and went down the rigging to a boat.

Q. What boat did you go to?

- I could not tell you exactly, my boat was number 2.

Q. Did you know which your boat was?

- Yes, number 2.

Q. How had you learnt that?

- By the boat stations. It is up in the list in the forecastle.

Q. You knew by that list which your boat was?

- Yes.

Q. Number 2 was your boat?

- Yes.

Q. That would be on the port side.
A. Yes.

Q. Did you go to the port side?

- I went to the port side but I did not get to my Number 2 boat.

Q. Why was that?

- There were all the passengers on the deck there. I went to the first boat that I could and stood by her.

Q. Was there an officer in charge or officers in charge of the boats on the port side?

- Yes.

Q. Who was there?

- I think it was Mr. Lewis if I am not mistaken.

Q. Was it possible to get the boats out on the port side?

- It was a little bit impossible; she had a big list; we did get one down.

Q. Was it possible to get the others down?

- No.

Q. What was the reason for that?

- She had that much of a list on the starboard side that the boats swung in when they were swung out.

Q. I think you stayed on the port side, did you not?

- Yes.

Q. And when the vessel sank you went into the water?

- Yes, I went down with her.

Q. Did you afterwards get on to a collapsible boat?

- I got on to a boat chock and a woman came to this chock and I gave the woman the chock and got on to a collapsible boat but that was upside down; there were about 25 people on it and every time you got on to the bottom the boat would keep turning over all the time.

Q. You were picked up later on I think?

- Yes, 4 hours afterwards.


Cross-examined by Mr. SCANLAN:


Q. At the time you came down from your position in the crows-nest and went to your own boat No. 2 was it possible to lower it if the people had not been around?

- At the time that I would get to my boat you could lower the boat but I could not get to the No.2 boat.

Q. Was that on account of the number of passengers?

- Yes.

Q. If the passengers had been so regulated by officers and crew that they were kept from the boat you could have got to it then?

- Yes, but you would have a job to keep the passengers away I suppose.

Q. There was no one keeping them away from that boat as far as you could see?

- Of course I could not get anywhere near her; I was at the after boat then.

Q. What boat did you go to afterwards?

- I could not tell you exactly the number of them but it was about the middle boats on the boat deck.

Q. I think you said the weather was beautifully clear?

- Yes.

Q. And you said to Mr. Raeburn that you could see a long way in all directions?

- Yes.

Q. How many miles ahead could you see?

- I could see about 12 or 13 miles as near as I could count; it may been more.

Q. Without glasses?

- Yes, without glasses.

Q. Do you know that on both sides, on port side and on the starboard side a number of life boats collapsed while they were being lowered into the water or when they were got into the water?

- You could not lower them in the water without lowering the other boats.

Q. Do you know that a number of them turned over and capsized?

- No.

Q. You do not know whether that happened or not?
A No, I do not.


Witness made this mark.