United States Senate Inquiry

Day 1

Testimony of Harold T. Cottam, cont.

Senator SMITH.
How far had you gotten along in your arrangements to retire?

Mr. COTTAM.
Well, I was about to retire.

Senator SMITH.
Had you disrobed - taken all your clothes?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Had you taken off your shoes?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Had you taken off any of your clothing?

Mr. COTTAM.
I had my coat off.

Senator SMITH.
When you took your coat off, did you have any instruments attached to your head?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What?

Mr. COTTAM.
Telephones.

Senator SMITH.
How did you happen to leave that on?

Mr. COTTAM.
I was waiting for the Parisian.

Senator SMITH.
How long would you have waited; just long enough to undress?

Mr. COTTAM.
I would have waited a couple of minutes. I had just called the Parisian and was waiting for a reply, if there was one.

Senator SMITH.
And you had just called her?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
And you did not know whether she had gotten it or not?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you were waiting for an acknowledgement?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
So you kept this telephone on your ears, on your head?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
On your head?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
With the hope that before you got into bed you might have your message confirmed?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was that what you had in mind?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you hear at that time?

Mr. COTTAM.
I heard nothing, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How soon? You heard something pretty quick, did you not?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; I went back onto Cape Cod again.

Senator SMITH.
And still left this apparatus on?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you send a message to Cape Cod?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did Cape Cod send a message to you?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Then, as a matter of fact, you did not get back to Cape Cod?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How?

Mr. COTTAM.
They were sending it for the trans-Atlantic two-man ships. They were sending the news to the senior ships.

Senator SMITH.
Where?

Mr. COTTAM.
These ships that contribute to the Marconi press.

Senator SMITH.
An intermediate communication, intermediate station?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; Cape Cod, which is the Atlantic station.

Senator SMITH.
You got into communication?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
With one of the Marconi stations?

Mr. COTTAM.
I did not establish it. I was receiving the press communications from Cape Cod.

Senator SMITH.
While you were undressing there?

Mr. COTTAM.
I was not undressing.

Senator SMITH.
After you had taken off your coat?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And then did you sit down to your instrument

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And received this message?

Mr. COTTAM.
I received about four.

Senator SMITH.
In how many minutes?

Mr. COTTAM.
About seven or eight minutes.

Senator SMITH.
You received four in seven or eight minutes?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did that include anything from the Parisian?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Simply this Cape Cod relay service?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; sending messages for the Titanic. I was taking the messages down with the hope of re-transmitting them the following morning.

Senator SMITH.
Let us understand that a little. When did you first know anything about the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
I had had communication with her late in the afternoon, half-past 5 or 6.

Senator SMITH.
A stray communication, or one addressed to the Carpathia?

Mr. COTTAM.
One addressed to the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
What did it say?

Mr. COTTAM.
It was a message for one of our passengers aboard.

Senator SMITH.
For whom?

Mr. COTTAM.
Mrs. Marshal.

Senator SMITH.
A commercial message, an official message?

Mr. COTTAM.
A commercial message.

Senator SMITH.
So that was the only message you received from the Titanic in the afternoon. Was the message answered?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know anything about how far you were from her at that time?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you no means of knowing?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
After you got through with this regular business, then what did you do?

Mr. COTTAM.
I called the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
You called the Titanic yourself?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Who told you to do it?

Mr. COTTAM.
I did it of my own free will.

Senator SMITH.
You did it of your own accord?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say?

Mr. COTTAM.
I asked him if he was aware that Cape Cod was sending a batch of messages for him.

Senator SMITH.
And did they reply?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did they say?

Mr. COTTAM.
"Come at once."

Senator SMITH.
Did you gather from that that they had received your communication?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And this was the reply?

Mr. COTTAM.
He said, "Come at once. It is a distress message; C. Q. D."

Senator SMITH.
Only the three words were used?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir, all the lot. The whole message was for me.

Senator SMITH.
When you received that message, what did you do?

Mr. COTTAM.
I confirmed it by asking him if I was to report it to the captain.

Senator SMITH.
Before you reported to the captain you asked him if you were to report it to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get an answer?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did it say?

Mr. COTTAM.
It said, "Yes."

Senator SMITH.
How did you happen to confirm it?

Mr. COTTAM.
By asking him if -

Senator SMITH.
(interrupting) I know, but what prompted you to confirm it before you delivered it to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Because it is always wise to confirm a message of that description.

Senator SMITH.
Do you always do it?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Are you instructed to do it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Or is that a matter of discretion?

Mr. COTTAM.
It is a matter of discretion.

Senator SMITH.
Had you been misled by messages that were without foundation that prompted you to confirm that message?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What would you have done if you had not received any confirmation?

Mr. COTTAM.
I should have reported the communication.

Senator SMITH.
You would have reported it to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How much time elapsed between the time when you received that distress call and the time you communicated it to the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
A matter of a couple of minutes.

Senator SMITH.
Only a couple of minutes?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you send any messages after that to the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
For whom?

Mr. COTTAM.
For the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
At the instance of the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What messages?

Mr. COTTAM.
Our position.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say?

Mr. COTTAM.
I simply sent him our position.

Senator SMITH.
Can you state it to the reporter?

Mr. COTTAM.
I can not remember what the position was now.

Senator SMITH.
You can not remember it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But you gave the position of your ship, its longitude; is that the idea?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you did that at the suggestion of the captain?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did he write out a formal message for you?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
He told you?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And you sent it?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir; he wrote the position out on a little slip of paper.

Senator SMITH.
And you sent that?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get any reply to that?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How long afterwards?

Mr. COTTAM.
Immediately, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Signed by anyone?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did it say?

Mr. COTTAM.
It simply gave me "Received."

Senator SMITH.
Is that all?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Signed by the operator or signed by anybody?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When did you next hear from the Titanic, or communicate with her?

Mr. COTTAM.
About four minutes afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
Did you communicate with her, or she with you?

Mr. COTTAM.
We communicated with each other.

Senator SMITH.
Who sent the first message?

Mr. COTTAM.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
Four minutes after this last message giving your position?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You sent another?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say in that?

Mr. COTTAM.
Confirmed both positions, that of the Titanic and ours.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get anything back from that?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; only an acknowledgment.

Senator SMITH.
What did it say?

Mr. COTTAM.
"All right."

Senator SMITH.
When did you next communicate or receive a communication?

Mr. COTTAM.
A few minutes afterwards.

Senator SMITH.
How many minutes?

Mr. COTTAM.
I could not say, sir, because there was another ship calling the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
How do you know?

Mr. COTTAM.
Because I heard it.

Senator SMITH.
What did you hear?

Mr. COTTAM.
I heard him calling the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
I understand, but what was said?

Mr. COTTAM. There was nothing but the call, sir.

Senator SMITH.
A distress call?

Mr. COTTAM. No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know what boat it was?

Mr. COTTAM.
The Frankfurt.

Senator SMITH.
A North German Lloyd boat?

Mr. COTTAM.
I do not know whether it is the North German Lloyd. It is some German line; I do not know which one.

Senator SMITH.
You heard this call?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
The German boat was calling the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And did that disarrange your signals?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But after that call was finished, then what did you get, if anything?

Mr. COTTAM.
I heard the Olympic calling the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
Did you hear the Titanic calling the Olympic?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir; not at first.

Senator SMITH.
But you heard the Olympic calling the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did the Olympic say?

Mr. COTTAM.
He was calling him and offering a service message.

Senator SMITH.
Offering their service?

Mr. COTTAM.
Offering a service message.

Senator SMITH.
Offering a service message?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Then what followed?

Mr. COTTAM.
Nothing, for about a half a minute. Everything was quiet.

Senator SMITH.
Nothing for about half a minute?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
By this time you were quite alert to the situation, were you?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Is that right?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
After this minute, then what?

Mr. COTTAM.
I asked the Titanic if he was aware that the Olympic was calling him, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was the reply?

Mr. COTTAM.
He said he was not.

Senator SMITH.
He was not aware of it?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Then what followed?

Mr. COTTAM.
He told me he could not read him because the rush of air and the escape of steam;

Senator SMITH.
That he could not read him?

Mr. COTTAM.
That he could not read him; yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Could not read what?

Mr. COTTAM.
The Olympic.

Senator SMITH.
That he could not read the message from the Olympic because of the rush of air?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And the escape of steam?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was the next thing you heard?

Mr. COTTAM.
Then the Titanic called the Olympic.

Senator SMITH.
Was there anything urgent about that or anything related to the Titanic?

Mr. COTTAM.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you do then?

Mr. COTTAM.
I told the Titanic to call the Baltic.

Senator SMITH.
What followed?

Mr. COTTAM.
The communication was apparently unsatisfactory.

Senator SMITH.
It was apparently unsatisfactory?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Well, go right ahead and tell us just what occurred as long as you were aboard that ship doing work to the time of the rescue of these people.

Mr. COTTAM.
I was in communication at regular intervals the whole of the time until the last communication gained with the Titanic.

Senator SMITH.
You heard that?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was said in that message?

Mr. COTTAM.
He told him to come at once; that he was head down. And he sent his position.

Senator SMITH.
And do you know whether he got any reply to that message?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What was it?

Mr. COTTAM.
"Received." He told him the message was received.

Senator SMITH.
Is that all?

Mr. COTTAM.
Yes, sir.

Continued >