United States Senate Inquiry

Day 5

Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.

Senator SMITH.
When did the Carpathia arrive at the Cunard docks in New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I have not got the time, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you got the day of the week?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Thursday night.

Senator SMITH.
When, did you suggest to Mr. Ismay that he send this telegram?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I should think the first time was on Wednesday - whenever the first telegram was sent. It might have been Tuesday.

Senator SMITH.
But you have no recollection of the hour of the day when this talk took place?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir; I could not say exactly.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know whether he sent more than one telegram?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
So I believe. Mr. Franklin replied to that telegram and another one was sent, further urging him to hold the Cedric.

Senator SMITH.
But you are unable to say, of your own knowledge, what time on Wednesday this telegram was sent?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know at that time that an inquiry had been ordered by the Senate?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Certainly not or we should never have dreamed of sending the telegram. Our whole and sole idea was to keep the crew together for the inquiry, presumably at home. We naturally did not want any witnesses to get astray.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know when the Cedric was to sail?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes, Thursday morning. I think I even suggested, if they would not hold her at the dock, to exchange at Quarantine.

Senator SMITH.
You made that suggestion?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
To whom?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
To Mr. Ismay. Our whole idea was to get them on board the Cedric.

Senator BOURNE.
Your idea was to keep them together, take care of them, and furnish them transportation back to their homes, was it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Back to where the inquiry would be, and, naturally human nature will try to get the men back to their wives and families as soon as possible. Their income stops, you know, from the time the wreck occurs, legally.

Senator BOURNE.
It was one of the ships of your line?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Which?

Senator BOURNE.
The Cedric?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator BOURNE.
And it is customary in catastrophes of this nature to do that, is it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It is, in anything like that, to choose your own company's ships, because everything is more comfortable for them. They are your own fellows, and you can borrow clothing, etc., from them.

Senator BOURNE.
You said the other day that you were blown away by an explosion from the side of the Titanic twice, or by some force?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not exactly from the side; from the blower, which is in front of the forward funnel.

Senator SMITH.
I want to ask whether, in your judgment that was from an explosion or from the force of the air through the blower?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was certainly air through the blower, and behind that was a great force, and that force, in my opinion, was from the boilers. I have heard great controversy as to boilers exploding owing to coming in contact with salt water, by men who are capable of giving an opinion; but there seems to be an open question as to whether cold water actually does cause boilers to explode. I was speaking to a gentleman yesterday who said it was very probably the rush of cold water going down below at such a terrific rate, and then, the hot air being forced out. I do not quite follow that, myself. In my judgment, it was a boiler explosion - a rush of steam, anyway.

Senator SMITH.
You were forced away from -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER. (interrupting)
From this blower.

Senator SMITH.
And finally caught an overturned collapsible boat and got on top of it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Finally; yes.

Senator SMITH.
Your watch expired Sunday night at 10 o'clock. Did you see in the chart room of the Titanic any memoranda in the rack advising that you were in the vicinity of ice?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember seeing anything.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see a telegram from the Amerika?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember seeing any.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see a telegram from the Californian?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember seeing any.

Senator SMITH.
Did you see any such memoranda?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember seeing any such memorandum.

Senator SMITH.
Was such a notation made on the chart?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember seeing any, myself, because I did not look.

Senator SMITH.
Has anybody told you such notation was made on the chart?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes; I believe it was marked on the chart.

Senator SMITH.
Who told you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think it was Mr. Boxhall.

Senator SMITH.
What is his position?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
He is fourth.

Senator SMITH.
Fourth officer?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Was he on watch Sunday night, or at his post of duty?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
At his post of duty.

Senator SMITH.
On Sunday night?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Undoubtedly.

Senator SMITH.
What time; do you know?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I believe he was on the 8 to 12 watch.

Senator SMITH.
That would take him two hours beyond your watch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
More than two hours, considering what the clock went back.

Senator SMITH.
The clock went back some at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
I believe you said you did not see this chart record of ice, yourself?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The position marked on the chart?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; I do not remember seeing it.

Senator SMITH.
And no one called it to your attention at the time you left your watch Sunday night?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The mark on the chart?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
No one called your attention to any telegram or wireless from any ship warning you of ice?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Who?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know what the telegram was. The commander came out when I was relieved for lunch, I think it was. It may have been earlier; I do not remember what time it was. I remember the commander coming out to me some time that day and showing me a telegram, and this had reference to the position of ice.

Senator SMITH.
Giving what?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
An approximate position and presumably the maximum eastern longitude.

Senator SMITH.
A warning to you, of its proximity?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Giving the position. No warning, but giving the position - a mere bald statement of fact.

Senator SMITH.
Did you regard it as a warning when you got that information?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We get those repeatedly and various other things, and we regard them as information.

Senator SMITH.
Had you received any other warning, from the time you left Southampton, of that character?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not that I know of.

Senator SMITH.
This was the first warning you got?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
As far as I know.

Senator SMITH.
Did it warn you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It informed us, naturally, and warned us.

Senator SMITH.
What did you do about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Worked approximately the time we should be up to this position.

Senator SMITH.
What did you find?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Somewhere around 11 o'clock.

Senator SMITH.
Did you report that fact to anyone?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I did.

Senator SMITH.
To whom?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The first officer.

Senator SMITH.
Murdoch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think when he relieved me at lunch time I spoke about it first. I spoke about it in the quarters, unofficially and I also spoke about it, naturally, when he relieved me at 10 o'clock.

Senator SMITH.
What was the conversation between you?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I remarked on the general condition of the weather, and so on, etc., and then I just mentioned as I had done previously, "We will be up around the ice somewhere about 11 o'clock, I suppose." That is all.

Senator SMITH.
That is all you said to him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
With regard to the ice; yes.

Senator SMITH.
Did you say anything more to him about it at the time you left the watch at 10 o'clock?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
Did you speak to the lookout?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
While you were on watch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
Did you admonish the lookout men?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What did you say to them?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I told the sixth officer, Mr. Moody, to ring up the crow's nest and tell them to keep a sharp lookout for ice, particularly small ice and growlers. That was received and replied to - and also to pass the word along.

Senator SMITH.
How do you know it was replied to?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Because I could hear it.

Senator SMITH.
You heard it yourself?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Did Mr. Moody survive?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
Did you do anything else about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You did not talk with the captain about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Nothing but the conversation I have already spoken of.

Senator SMITH.
This conversation was with Murdoch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; I saw the captain come out; I do not know when it was, but perhaps somewhere in the morning or at lunch time, and he showed me a telegram with regard to the position of the ice. We spoke about the ice then. You have it in my previous testimony, when the captain came out in the evening, that we spoke about the ice also.

Senator SMITH.
Aside from this warning that you say was received, did you have any reason to believe you were in the vicinity of ice?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
Are you required under the regulations of the White Star Line to consult the chart before going on watch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
What did you do when you consulted the chart?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We usually just take a glance at the chart and the dead reckoning, and that is sufficient out in the open water. We are usually informed by the senior officer, frequently during the watch, of the position of the ship. We take stellar observations and so on. We are continually in touch with the chart.

Senator SMITH.
What was the hour was nearly as you can recall when you were first advised of your proximity to ice?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Somewhere about noon.

Senator SMITH.
About noon on Sunday?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Somewhere around noon; yes.

Senator SMITH.
And the only persons to whom you spoke regarding the matter, that you can now recall, were Mr. Murdoch and the captain?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
And the captain; yes.

Senator SMITH.
What time did you speak to the captain about it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When the captain brought it out.

Senator SMITH.
What time did he bring it out?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I say he brought it out somewhere about noon?

Senator SMITH.
About noon?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Or possibly 1 o'clock.

Senator SMITH.
What time did you speak to Murdoch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When he relieved me at 10 o'clock, and when he relieved me at lunch.

Senator SMITH.
What time did you lunch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Half-past 12.

Senator SMITH.
Then you spoke both with the captain and with Murdoch some time about noon on Sunday, about ice?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Probably around about 12 o'clock.

Senator SMITH.
And you spoke to no one else about it until you were relieved at 10 o'clock that night, just before the collision.

Do you know what speed the ship was making when you were on watch at 10 o'clock?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
Do you know her position at 10 o'clock?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
My colleague suggests that you state whether it is customary for the officer of the watch to know the speed of the boat?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Approximately.

Senator SMITH.
How is he informed?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
By the junior officer.

Senator SMITH.
Are there any regulations regarding that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No.

Senator SMITH.
It is simply a custom of the ship.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It is the custom of discipline, not only of the ship, but everything else; it is discipline.

Senator SMITH.
I understand; but you say there are no regulations regarding it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not that I can recall at the present moment.

Senator SMITH.
It is merely custom?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Of course.

Senator SMITH.
You are not required to know it or to communicate it, but you may do so if you want to? Is that the way you say you do it?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
You are required to do your duty, and that is common in doing your duty.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know the speed of the ship during the time you were officer of the watch, from 6 o'clock on Sunday night until 10 o'clock?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Do I remember what she was steaming at that time? I should say about 21 knots.

Senator SMITH.
And how do you reach that conclusion?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
From the information I received from the junior officer with regard to the revolutions that the ship was making, from my own observations of the ship, and from what they were allowing in the dead reckoning.

Senator SMITH.
Did he tell you how many revolutions they were making?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I can not remember.

Senator SMITH.
It would be quite important, in order to ascertain the speed of the ship, that the revolutions should be known, would it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The revolutions are always known and are recorded.

Senator SMITH.
If the officer were taking the ship's position and did not note its speed it would be rather a difficult matter to note its correct position, would it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The officer of the watch takes the position, and the junior officers do the navigation at nighttime, so they are conversant with the ship's speed, and they allow that speed for working out the senior officers' observations.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I could not remember, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Was it Mr. Lowe?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It was whoever was on deck at that time.

Senator SMITH.
Was Mr. Lowe on deck at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; the fourth and sixth.

Senator SMITH.
Senator Perkins wants to ask a question.

Senator PERKINS.
When you were relieved on watch, Capt. Lightoller -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I am not "captain."

Senator PERKINS.
You have a certificate as captain, have you not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Yes.

Senator PERKINS.
Then you are entitled to the honor.

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No; I do not claim the honor of the title "captain." I am plain "mister," as yet.

Senator PERKINS.
When the officer is relieved on the bridge the course should be given to him, that he may know in which direction he is to steer, and he watches the compass during his watch to see the quartermaster is carrying out his instructions; is not that the case?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Well, in a sense it is. It is not, actually, in detail. The detail of that is this:

We have a standard compass and a steering compass. The standard compass is the compass we go by. That is the course that is handed over from one senior officer to another, the standard course. The junior officer goes to the standard compass which is connected with the wheelhouse by a bell, or by a bell push, wire and bell, and when she is on her course he rings that bell continually, showing the ship is on her course with the standard compass.

The other officer takes her head inside the wheelhouse from the compass the quartermaster is steering by. The standard course is on a board and the steering compass course is also on a board. Therefore, the quartermaster uses the board that is there for the steering compass. The senior officer of the watch looks to the standard compass board and passes that course along.

Senator PERKINS.
The duty of the officer in charge of the bridge, the senior officer, is to see that she is steering the course that has been given, is it not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The senior officers can not go inside of the wheelhouse to look at the compass after nighttime; they would be blinded. The junior officers look at it for them. They hold a captain's certificate.

Senator FLETCHER.
How many voyages have you made across the ocean?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I do not know; sir; I have been to sea for about 24 years.

Senator FLETCHER.
In what capacities?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
From apprentice right up to what I am - first officer.

Senator FLETCHER.
How long have you been first officer?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
About three years.

Senator FLETCHER.
How long have you been on ships sailing from Southampton or Belfast to New York?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
We do not sail from Belfast. We sail from Southampton. I have been sailing from Southampton since our boats went down there.

Senator FLETCHER.
How long is that?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I think it is about seven years since first we went down there.

Senator FLETCHER.
Then you have had considerable experience in navigating vessels and passenger steamers traversing the Atlantic Ocean?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
And assisting in the navigation, yes.

Senator FLETCHER.
Will you state to the committee whether it is customary for such ships to exercise any particular care or caution when in the midst of icebergs or approaching icebergs, or when warned and notified that icebergs are in the vicinity?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It is customary to exercise every precaution that is deemed necessary to a seaman's mind.

Senator FLETCHER.
What precautions are deemed necessary to a seaman's mind under those conditions on a passenger steamer?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Those that will prevent accidents and prevent loss of life.

Senator FLETCHER.
You would consider that a precaution would be reasonable and proper and might contribute to the saving of life - such, for instance, as the lessening of speed?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When it is necessary.

Senator FLETCHER.
Under the conditions that obtained that night on the Atlantic Ocean, a clear night, when you were notified a number of hours ahead that icebergs might be expected, would you consider it a reasonable precaution to keep at full speed?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
It depends altogether on conditions, and it finally rests with the commander's judgment.

Senator FLETCHER.
If the vessel had been running at a lower rate of speed would not the chances of avoiding that iceberg have been increased?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When a vessel is running at a low rate of speed, she is slower on the helm so the conditions would be totally different.

Senator FLETCHER.
That does not answer my question, quite.

Read the question, Mr. Reporter.

The stenographer read the question, as follows:) If the vessel had been running at a lower rate of speed, would not the chance of avoiding that iceberg have been increased?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
That I can not say. I merely state that the ship would be slower of helm, which means that she would take longer to swing on her helm in proportion to her reduced speed.

Senator FLETCHER.
She would have had more time in which to swing, would she not?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
She would have had more time in which to swing.

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