United States Senate Inquiry

Day 1

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

Senator SMITH.
You filled it full?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As full as I possibly dared.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have any difficulty in doing it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In what manner?

Senator SMITH.
Were the people ready to go?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Perfectly quiet and ready.

Senator SMITH.
Any jostling, pushing, or crowding?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
None whatever.

Senator SMITH.
The men all refrained from asserting their strength and crowding back the women and children?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They could not have stood quieter if they had been in church.

Senator SMITH.
If you had filled that third boat full, how many people would you have had in it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
What do you mean by full?

Senator SMITH.
To its full capacity.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Sixty-five.

Senator SMITH.
Beg pardon?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Sixty-five, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you think you had that many in it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Certainly not, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you have?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Thirty-five, I should say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Thirty-five?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About.

Senator SMITH.
And two men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Then the fourth boat. Was there any fourth boat on that side?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
There were eight boats to a side

Senator SMITH.
As to the fourth boat, you followed the same course?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The same order; the same conditions.

Senator SMITH.
You put two men in each?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think I was getting short of men, if I remember rightly. I started to putting one seaman and a steward in.

Senator SMITH.
One seaman and a steward?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes. That was the boat I had to put a man passenger in. I could only find one seaman. I had started to lower the boat. I had put two seamen in and then I wanted two for lowering. It is absolutely necessary to have a seaman on each fall. No one else can lower a boat. I was calling for seamen, and one of the seamen jumped out of the boat and started to lowering away. The boat was half way down when the women called out and said that there was only one man in the boat. I had only two seamen and could not part with them, and was in rather a fix to know what to do, when a passenger called out and said, "If you like, I will go."

Senator SMITH.
Did you know him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Was he an officer of the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; a first class passenger.

Senator SMITH.
You don't know who he was?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I have found out who he was since.

Senator SMITH.
Who was he?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Maj. Peuchen.

Senator SMITH.
Of Toronto?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Of Toronto. That is the name, yes.

Senator SMITH.
Is he an officer of the British Army?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I don't know what he is. He is not a Britisher, anyway.

Senator SMITH.
Did he volunteer?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did he say?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
He merely said, "I will go if you like." I said "Are you a seaman," and he said "I am a yachtsman." I said "If you are sailor enough to get out on that fall" - that is a difficult thing to get to, over the ship's side, 8 feet away, and means a long swing on a dark night - "if you are sailor enough to get out there you can go down." And he proved he was, by going down. And he afterwards proved himself a brave man, too.

Senator SMITH.
In what respect?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
From the accounts I heard of him after we were rescued.

Senator SMITH.
You mean as to his conduct?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As to his conduct.

Senator SMITH.
In the lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In the lifeboat.

Senator SMITH.
How old a man was he, about?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Forty-five or fifty.

Senator SMITH.
Did he have any family with him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I couldn't say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Had you ever seen him before?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Never.

Senator SMITH.
Have you seen him since?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I saw him on the Carpathia. I made it my business to find him.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you say you had in this boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Thirty-five; about the same, as far as I remember.

Senator SMITH.
That is the fourth one. How about the fifth?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I know, the conditions were the same.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have to call somebody from among the passengers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; I can not remember anything in particular about that boat.

Senator SMITH.
About the fifth?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; no particular incident, strikes me. I was getting along then just as fast as ever I could. I was too quick to bother about things.

Senator SMITH.
How many women were you caring for? How many did you have aboard the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether they were all cared for?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
All that would go?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In the case of the last boat I got out, I had the utmost difficulty in finding women. It was the very last boat of all, after all the other boats were put out and we came forward to put out the collapsible boats. In the meantime the forward emergency boat had been put out by one of the other officers. So we rounded up the tackles and got the collapsible boat to put that over. Then I called for women and could not get hold of any. Somebody said, "There are no women." With this, several men -

Senator SMITH.
Who said that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
On what deck was that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
On the boat deck.

Senator SMITH.
Were all the women supposed to be on the boat deck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir; they were supposed to be.

Senator SMITH.
Why?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because the boats were there. I might say that previous to putting this Berthon boat out we had lowered a boat from A deck one deck down below. That was through my fault. It was the first boat I had lowered. I was intending to put the passengers in from A deck. On lowering it down I found the windows were closed. So I sent some one down to open the windows and carried on with the other boats, but decided it was not worth while lowering them down, that I could manage just as well from the boat deck. When I came forward from the other boats I loaded that boat from A deck by getting the women out through the windows. My idea in filling the boats there was because there was a wire hawser running along the side of the ship for coaling purposes, and it was handy to tie the boat in to, to hold it so that nobody could drop between the side of the boat and the ship.

Senator SMITH.
Which one was that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is No. 4; No. 4 boat.

Senator SMITH.
That was filled from there?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That was filled from there, loaded, and sent away. Then we went to this Berthon boat.

Senator SMITH.
In the fifth boat; how many seamen were there?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I remember, two seamen.

Senator SMITH.
Two?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many people did you put into it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I might have put a good deal more; I filled her up as much as I could. When I got down to the fifth boat, that was aft.

Senator SMITH.
You were still using your best judgment?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I was not using very much judgment then; I was filling them up.

Senator SMITH.
At that time you felt -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I knew it was a question of the utmost speed, to get the boats away.

Senator SMITH.
To get them away?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
In that situation you were quite sure that they were filled to their capacity?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir. I don't say to their floating capacity, I don't say 65.

Senator SMITH.
But about the same number of persons were in each boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I should say 35 or 40.

Senator SMITH.
Was the sixth one loaded in the same manner?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think the sixth one put down was this one from A deck that I spoke of - no, the fifth one would be from A deck. I think the chief officer, under his direct supervision, lowered a boat from the after-end. Of course I can not be absolutely certain. But when I came forward, as I say, I put the one down from A deck which I told you about. Then we went to the Berthon boat, which is the last boat on the port side, the collapsible boat.

Senator SMITH.
The fifth boat was lowered in the same manner?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir. I think it was the fifth from the A deck.

Senator SMITH.
With two seamen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
And the balance women.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Women and children.

Senator SMITH.
Women and children? Up to this time, so far as you recollect, no men had been permitted to get into these boats?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
None had attempted to do so; no, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How about the sixth boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is the collapsible, the surfboat?

Senator SMITH.
That is the collapsible. Did you take the same course with that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is a much smaller boat.

Senator SMITH.
How many seamen did you put in that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think there was one seaman and one steward. I could not say.

Senator SMITH.
Do you recollect whether there was a light on that boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; I was not looking for lights.

Senator SMITH.
Do you recollect whether Mrs. Douglass, of Minneapolis, was in that boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know her at all, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you had any talk with her about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Never have spoken to her or seen her, to my knowledge.

Senator SMITH.
How many people were put into this sixth boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
ifteen or perhaps 20. Between 15 and 20.

Senator SMITH.
And two seamen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know what seamen -

Senator SMITH.
Or one?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think one seaman probably, if I had one seaman there. Perhaps it was two stewards. I do not know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Would the two stewards answer the same purpose?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They would have to.

Senator SMITH.
Did you select the men to take that boat the same as you had before?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
You mean whether I ordered them in?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I ordered them in.

Senator SMITH.
But you can not recall who they were?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I was just thinking. No, not with any degree of certainty.

Senator SMITH.
Were any of them officers?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you have any difficulty in filling it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
With women; yes, sir; great difficulty.

Senator SMITH.
But you filled it to its capacity?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I filled it with about 15 or 20 eventually mustered up. It took longer to fill that boat than it did any other boat, notwithstanding that the others had more in them. On two occasions the men thought there were no more women and commenced to get in and then found one or two more and then got out again.

Senator SMITH.
How long a time do you think you had been in loading these six boats?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I don't know, sir.

Senator SMITH.
If it took 15 to 20 minutes to a boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About an hour and a half.

Senator SMITH.
About an hour and a half?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is about right.

Senator SMITH.
The vessel must have been going down?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I lowered the last boat 10 feet and it was in the water.

Senator SMITH.
You lowered it 10 feet and it was in the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When you began lowering, the boat was about 60 feet up from the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Seventy feet.

Senator SMITH.
From the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I mean the deck.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
From the deck; exactly, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What did you do with the seventh boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That was the finish.

Senator SMITH.
What was that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The seventh boat was the one on top of the quarters.

Senator SMITH.
That was the last boat that was lowered by your orders?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was the last. It was not lowered.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see Mr. Ismay at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Mr. Ismay, as far as I know, from what I have gathered afterwards, was on the starboard side of the deck wholly, helping out there.

Senator SMITH.
He did not enter the boat from the port side?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many people do you think were in the seventh boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
There were not any in it.

Senator SMITH.
I mean the sixth boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The last collapsible boat?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I say about 15.

Senator SMITH.
Wouldn't it hold any more than that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Perhaps 20. They won't hold many. They are canvas. They will not stand many.

Senator SMITH.
They won't stand very much?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Oh, no, sir.

Senator SMITH.
So that they really do not answer the purpose of a lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They are not as good as a lifeboat; no, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have neither the capacity nor the resistance?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir. They are merely stowed in a smaller place. Perhaps you can stow at least three of those where you can stow one lifeboat. You can stow them one on top of the other.

Continued >