United States Senate Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

Senator SMITH.
When?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
On the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
En route to New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Or after she had arrived?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Before she arrived in New York.

Senator SMITH.
Give the information.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It is that Chief Officer Wilde was at the starboard collapsible boat in which Mr. Ismay went away, and that he told Mr. Ismay, "There are no more women on board the ship." Wilde was a pretty big, powerful chap, and he was a man that would not argue very long. Mr. Ismay was right there. Naturally he was there close to the boat, because he was working at the boats and he had been working at the collapsible boat, and that is why he was there, and Mr. Wilde, who was near him, simply bundled him into the boat.

Senator SMITH.
You did not say that before?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; but I believe it is true, I forget the source. I am sorry I have forgotten it.

Senator SMITH.
Did Mr. Wilde survive?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
He did not.

Senator SMITH.
Who relieved you on watch that night at 10 o'clock?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The first officer, Mr. Murdoch.

Senator SMITH.
Did he survive?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
He did not.

Senator SMITH.
Who told you that this powerful officer, Mr. Wilde, ordered Mr. Ismay to get into the boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
As I now recollect your testimony - and I have it here - you said you were not acquainted with Mr. Ismay.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I have known Mr. Ismay for 14 years, since I first met him.

Senator SMITH.
You did not speak to him that night?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
You told me that you looked at one another, and said nothing.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I might not have spoken and I might have said "Good evening."

Senator SMITH.
I mean after the collision -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
After the collision; no.

Senator SMITH.
One moment. After the collision, you said, you saw Mr. Ismay standing on the deck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Looking out at the sea?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know what he was looking at.

Senator SMITH.
You were standing out on the deck about 20 feet from him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You say now that you did not say that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Would not that be true?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not think so. I was walking along that side of the deck.

Senator SMITH.
How far from Mr. Ismay?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I walked past him, within a couple of feet of him.

Senator SMITH.
And he said nothing to you, and you said nothing to him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I might have said "Good evening." Beyond that I said nothing. I had work on hand; something else to do.

Senator SMITH.
Did he say anything else to you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not that I know of. He may have said "Good evening." Perhaps I said that, and perhaps I did not. I do not remember.

Senator SMITH.
In a great peril like that, passing the managing director of the company that owned the ship, you passed him on the ship, and said "Good evening"?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I would, as I would to any passenger that I knew.

Senator SMITH.
And he passed you and said "Good evening"?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
He was standing still.

Senator SMITH.
And he said "Good evening"?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say. I say I may have said "Good evening" and may not, and he may have said it and may not.

Senator SMITH.
I only want to know as well as you can recollect.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not say for certain.

Senator SMITH.
My recollection of the testimony is that you said you did not speak to him.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I am not certain. If I did speak, it was purely to say "Good evening" and nothing more and nothing less. I spoke to Mr. -

Senator SMITH.
How long was that after the collision?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think you will find that in the testimony.

Senator SMITH.
I know I will find it there, but I want it again. Your recollection is just a little better today than it was the other day, and I would like to test it out a little.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
My mind was fresher on it then, perhaps, than it is now.

(The question was read by the stenographer, as follows) "How long was that after the collision?"

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Oh, perhaps half an hour.

Senator SMITH.
How many lifeboats had been loaded?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
None had been loaded.

Senator SMITH.
Had the order been given to clear away?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Had you started to clear away?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir; I was, walking around the deck then distributing the men all around the deck, taking off boat covers.

Senator SMITH.
Removing boat covers and distributing the men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Distributing the men to the boats, and they were removing boat covers.

Senator SMITH.
What men were you distributing?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Seamen.

Senator SMITH.
How many at each boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As many as I thought necessary.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you think necessary?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As many as I had.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you get?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say. The watch below was coming up all the time.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get more than three or four?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say. About three or four.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get 8 or 10?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; about three or four.

Senator SMITH.
You were placing these men at the different stations, removing the covers from the lifeboats, and preparing to load and lower them?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
Well, the order had been given to clear away, had it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What did that mean?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I was in the act of clearing them. There had been no orders to load or lower.

Senator SMITH.
Had there been any orders in reference to the women and children, at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; not to my knowledge.

Senator SMITH.
How soon after that time were the orders given to put the women and children into these lifeboat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I dare say about 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour.

Senator SMITH.
About 10 minutes?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Or a quarter of an hour.

Senator SMITH.
That would be 45 minutes after the impact?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
How soon did you get to loading the lifeboats on your side and under your direction?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As soon as the boats were cleared away.

Senator SMITH.
I asked you with reference to time. Did you get ready to lower them within an hour after the boat was struck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I dare say so.

Senator SMITH.
How long was the boat above the water, if you know, after she was struck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
About how long?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I know, she sank at 2.20.

Senator SMITH.
And what time was she struck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I am only going by what I have heard. I do not know. About 20 minutes to 12, I believe.

Senator SMITH.
She struck at 11.40.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
She was struck.

Senator SMITH.
She was struck. And sank, then, at 2.20?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
2.30.

Senator SMITH.
Between the hour she was struck and the time she sank was 2 hours?

Senator BOURNE.
From 11.40 to 2.20 would be 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Senator SMITH.
That would be 2 hours and 40 minutes; yes. It took an hour to prepare the boats, did it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not say; it would only be guesswork.

Senator SMITH.
You are the ranking officer, and I want you to tell us as near as you can.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Very well. I would have to go absolutely into all the details as to what is required in working the boat. There are a great many details. I think also the circumstances might be taken into consideration. I consider that the seamen did their duty, and were as smart as anyone else, and those boats were put out. But it is very difficult to be pinned down to a question of a few minutes. The boats were gotten out, and they were gotten out with all promptitude, I can say; but further than thin I can not say.

Senator SMITH.
Were they gotten out with their full complement of oarsmen?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We were not undertaking a boat drill then; sir; we were saving life, and were using the men to the best of my knowledge and ability.

Senator SMITH.
How many men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As a rule, I put about two seamen in a boat. There is no use in sending too many men away and then finding yourself short. The idea was -

Senator SMITH.
You knew how many boats you had?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
How many did you have?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We had 16.

Senator SMITH.
You could not send very many men away if you sent four in a boat.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
And I sent the boatswain and about half a dozen men down to open the doors. That took some time.

Senator SMITH.
I heard you say that. No matter about that. Now, let us get along a little easier. You say you put two oarsmen in each boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Two seamen as far as they would run; toward the latter end, I think one man and a steward.

Senator SMITH.
You put an officer, did you not, or two?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Or a quartermaster or two?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
When you put the quartermasters in, how many of those did you put in?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say.

Senator SMITH.
Several?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I only found out later on. I could a only tell by the men who reported to me as having been in certain boats.

Senator SMITH.
Yes; but the point I am coming to is what you said in your testimony the other day, that being unable to get seamen to man these boats you took quartermasters.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Well, quartermasters, you may say, rank with seamen.

Senator SMITH.
Ah. But I wanted to know whether you -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER. (interposing)
When I speak of seamen I mean also quartermasters.

Senator SMITH.
Do the quartermasters take charge in the lifeboat drills?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Undoubtedly.

Senator SMITH.
And do they handle the oars?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
They do what they are told to do.

Senator SMITH.
Did any quartermasters handle oars when the tests were made of the two lifeboats in Southampton before leaving?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say. As a general rule there would be enough men in a boat without the quartermaster having to take an oar. If an officer goes in a boat the quartermaster takes an oar, and if an officer is not in a boat the quartermaster takes the tiller.

Senator SMITH.
Did you put any passengers into the boats that you lowered, because of their ability to handle oars and properly man the lifeboat

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I put the men in because they said they were seamen - or rather he said he was a seaman. I put one man in because he said he was a seaman, or rather a yachtsman.

Senator SMITH.
Who was he?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Maj. Peuchen.

Senator SMITH.
The man who testified here yesterday?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Did you say that there were no seamen there to put into that boat, and therefore he was ordered in?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
What about it; is that true?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As a matter of fact, I ordered two seamen into that boat, as far as I remember, and then, when I turned around to lower away, when I asked if everything was all right, I got an answer from the after fall, but I got no reply from the forward fall. Then I turned around and asked for a seaman, but apparently no seaman was there. While I was asking for a seaman some one sang out, "Aye, aye," and then I gave the order to lower away. When the boat was half way down some of the women sang out that they had only one man in the boat. This, was owing to the fact that this seaman stepped out of the boat, unknown to me, going to the fall. He knew I was short of a man to lower away the fall, and therefore he left his station in the boat to go to the fall. Then Maj. Peuchen who stood right alongside, said that he would go, or offered to I asked him if he was a seaman, or whether he was sailor go out to the fall from where he was. It was seaman's work to get out to the fall and then get down to the boat, so I told him if he was sailor enough to get out to the fall and get into the boat to go ahead and so he did, and he went in the boat.

Senator SMITH.
How many seamen were there in that boat, and what was the number of it, if you know?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No. 6, I believe.

Senator SMITH.
How many people did it contain when you got ready to lower it into the water?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think I have given all that in my testimony.

Senator SMITH.
I know; but I have forgotten it.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Well, I have forgotten it, too.

Senator SMITH.
And you do not care to make any statement about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; I do not.

Senator SMITH.
As a matter of fact, the first boat was rather difficult to load, was it not, on account of passengers hanging back a little?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say. They were not at all eager to get into the boat, anyway, any of them. I had to sing out. Naturally, no one looked on it as serious and they were not in any hurry to go down to the sea in a boat.

Senator SMITH.
How many people do you think you had in that first boat, No. 6?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say.

Senator SMITH.
Twenty?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir; as near as I can recollect I have already given you.

Senator SMITH.
What was the capacity of that boat - water capacity and lowering capacity?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The cubical capacity was 665 feet.

Senator SMITH.
How many people would that accommodate?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
In absolutely smooth water, under the most favorable conditions, the board of trade allows 10 feet to each person.

Senator SMITH.
How many persons would that be?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That is 65 1/2.

Senator SMITH.
That was a clear night, was it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Perfectly clear, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Everything was favorable for the lifeboat if it had its maximum capacity so far as you know?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When they were in the water, so far as I could see from the deck.

Senator SMITH.
How much difference do you make between the safe capacity of the lifeboat in the water, and up at the boat deck, hanging at the davits?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Well, with a brand new ship, and all brand new gear, brand new boats, and everything in the pink of condition, a boat might be safely lowered - you can not guarantee it - she might go down safely with perhaps 20 to 25 in her.

Senator SMITH.
But If the boat happened to be a boat that had been across the sea enough times to impair her as a lifeboat on such a vessel, how many people would such a boat hold?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But, in your judgment, in order to hold 25 people safely while being lowered into the water, everything would have to be new and in the pink [peak] of condition?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Precisely.

Senator SMITH.
You made a statement a few minutes ago about Mr. Ismay which evidently was a voluntary statement. No one asked you about it. Why did you not make that statement in New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because the controversy in regard to the telegram had not been brought up then, or brought to my knowledge; I mean all this paper talk there has been about this telegram.

Senator SMITH.
Has there been paper talk about a telegram?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Undoubtedly there has.

Senator SMITH.
And that is the reason you were prompted to make this disclosure?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because I think I am principally responsible for the telegram being sent.

Senator SMITH.
And you sent it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
You delivered it to the wireless?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Who did?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
Did you write it out?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Did you speak to the operator about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did not.

Senator SMITH.
Have you spoken to him about it since?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I have not.

Senator SMITH.
But you wish to be understood as saying that you urged Mr. Ismay to send it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether it was sent or not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I know it was sent.

Senator SMITH.
How do you know it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because Mr. Ismay told me it had been, and showed me the reply.

Senator SMITH.
What time was that that he showed you the reply and the message with reference to the arrival of the Carpathia in New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not say, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was it before your arrival in New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was.

Senator SMITH.
It was on board the Carpathia?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Mr. Ismay apparently sent the telegram after I had advised him. He then received a reply, as I understand, from Mr. Franklin, which he read to me, and asked my further advice with regard to holding the Cedric; and I advised him further.

Senator SMITH.
I understand you did not get into a lifeboat yourself on the deck of the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I got in, yes; I was in them all.

Senator SMITH.
Did you get into them all?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes; and got out again.

Senator SMITH.
But you did not get away in a lifeboat from the deck?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Continued >