United States Senate Inquiry

Day 9

Testimony of James H. Moore, cont.

Senator SMITH.
Would it have been possible - I hesitate to ask you-and do you think, from what you saw, it would have been possible after the Titanic sank for that field of ice to have covered the place?

Mr. MOORE.
It is just possible, sir, and nothing more. Of course, that ice had been in the gulf stream and was going with the gulf stream. The gulf stream, as we know, is always flowing to the east-northeast, and it is just possible that when he struck he might have been in that ice pack. I do not know whether he got into it or not. Do the officers say they got into any field ice?

Senator SMITH.
They say they saw field ice all about them. Do you mean the officers of the Titanic?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
They saw considerable ice - field ice?

Mr. MOORE.
Did they see field ice or icebergs?

Senator SMITH.
Both.

Mr. MOORE.
From the time I got there, from about 12:30 - the time I received the call - until half-past 4, there would be a drift there of perhaps, say, half a knot an hour.

Senator SMITH.
There has been an impression among vessel men, and I think that same impression has extended to the American Navy, that a sinking ship - by the suction as it goes down - will draw into the vortex quite largely from the surface of the surrounding sea. That theory seems to have been exploded by the sinking of the Titanic, because every officer, thus far, has said that there was no suction and the wireless operator of the Titanic, who was the last to leave her, about 1 minute before she sank and disappeared under the water, says he left her by the starboard side and that there was an overturned, collapsible lifeboat on the starboard side that fell upon him and covered him up in the water and in that position - with the Titanic sinking - there was no suction.

Mr. MOORE.
I should hardly think that was possible, sir. Any boat sinking in the water like that, I think, is almost bound to cause suction. The time I heard there were so many people left on board I said, "then it is just possible those bodies might never be recovered," because there were so many decks, and if these people had been underneath those decks, the ship going down would cause the pressure to be very great and that pressure would have pressed them up under those decks and it is just a matter that they would never be released, because as they got lower down there would be such tremendous pressure that, even supposing the ship listed in any way, it was not possible for these bodies to withstand the pressure.

Senator SMITH.
This theory of suction is an old theory of the sea, is it not?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
It does not seem to have operated in this case and I think I may be pardoned for saying that when I found the Carpathia's captain saw no bodies, and then found from the testimony of those in the lifeboats that there were hundreds of bodies all around in the water, I came to the conclusion that they had either been sucked in with the sinking ship or that they were inclosed somewhere in the ship.

Some expressions of humor have been noted - rather unusual among the people-from an inquiry that I made as to whether or not watertight compartments in a ship would keep out as well as hold in water. I have received many telegrams and letters from people who lost relatives in this accident, who prayed that the Government might send divers to the ship, not knowing how far she was below the surface of the water. It seemed to me that the absence on the water of these bodies that you failed to see and which the other captains failed to see might indicate that these bodies were still inclosed somewhere within the ship.

Of course, I have known for many years that a watertight compartment is not intended as an asylum for passengers, because this same captain, who went down with the Titanic, showed me over his ship on one of my voyages and I am quite familiar with the uses of the watertight compartment. But that these sorrowing people might receive some official reply as to whether that would be possible or not, I took chances of arousing the humor of people not generally accustomed to much humor, by asking that question. I assume all responsibility for it. In view of what you say and what the other two captains say perhaps it had some importance.

Mr. MOORE.
It may have been that these bulkheads with the water coming in had collapsed. It may have been that the pressure of the air had started something up and allowed those bodies to escape. As the water escaped they might have been disturbed by the water underneath the decks or elsewhere and that may have brought these people out, sir. Of course, she had a very heavy list, I believe. She was struck on one side. Those compartments would fill. I dare say some bulkheads would go, but if she took a list as she was falling it would give some a chance to get clear of the decks, sir. I am almost sure that when a ship goes down like that the people underneath those decks would be held underneath them, because the ship is sinking all the time and the fact of her sinking would bring about that heavy pressure underneath those decks, as I have mentioned.

Senator SMITH.
Would you think it a desirable thing to have as part of the equipment of a vessel a permanent buoy made, as far as it could be so made, of indestructible material, fastened to an indestructible chain or wire, so that in the event of a ship sinking at sea that buoy might register on the surface of the water its exact burial spot?

Mr. MOORE.
It is quite possible to do that kind of thing, unless, of course, the chain - you mean to attach that to the wreck?

Senator SMITH.
Yes.

Mr. MOORE.
You see, there is such a tremendous depth -

Senator SMITH. (interposing)
I understand this boat is in 2 miles of water?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir, over 2,000 fathoms of water.

Senator SMITH.
But even admitting that, knowing exactly the depth of the sea from your chart, some such mark or register could be provided?

Mr. MOORE.
If it could be provided by having a good flexible steel hawser, sir, that would be quite possible. It would have to be small on account of the weight, but still I think it would be quite possible to have such a thing.

Senator SMITH.
Let me ask whether when you arrived at the scene of the Titanic's wreck if you had known that she had been equipped with one or two of these buoys, you would have been inclined to remain until you found that buoy or those buoys?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir. But, as you say, if this ice bad been moved to the eastward and gone over the position where the ship sank, then the chances are that we could not see that buoy among the field ice.

Senator SMITH.
But when the ice field had passed the buoy would assert itself above the water?

Mr. MOORE.
Providing the ice itself would not injure the buoy.

Senator SMITH.
If not injured by the ice or elements it would mark this burial spot?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Will you file that operator's report - or had you finished with it?

Mr. MOORE.
No, sir; I had not finished it.

Senator SMITH.
You may continue your reading of the operator's report then.

Mr. MOORE. (reading):

1.58. Birma thinks he hears Titanic, so sends. "Steaming full speed to you; shall arrive you 6 in morning.
Hope you are safe. We are only 50 miles now."
2.00. Carpathia calls Titanic.
3.00. All quiet. We are stopped amongst pack ice.

That is, our ship, the Mount Temple, is stopped amongst the pack ice.

3.05. Birma and Frankfurt working.

That is, the two of them are working together; are sending messages to each other.

3.20. Birma and Frankfurt working. We back out of ice and cruise around. Large bergs about.

That is our ship.

We back out of the ice.

3.25. Californian calls C.Q. I answer him and advise of Titanic and send him Titanic's position.
3.40. Californian working Frankfurt. Frankfurt sends him the same.
4.00. Californian working Virginian.
4.25. Californian working Birma.
5.20. Signals Californian. Wants my position. Send it. We are very close.

This is my ship and Californian, sir. When I get him to confirm my position, I ask him if he can give me his position. I understand he is cruising, because after we go up toward him he goes to the south and misses us, passes about a mile off, and then he gets where we came from. Then we go over the ground, and we have not seen anything of the ship, and we think we must cruise on farther.

6.00. Much jamming.

Senator SMITH.
That is, jamming his operators?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir:

6.45. Carpathia reports rescued 20 boatloads.
7.15. More jamming
7.30. Baltic sends service message to Californian," Stand by immediately. You have been instructed to do so frequently. Balfour, inspector."

That is, he sends word to the Californian to stand by, and he says, "You have been instructed to do so frequently."

7.40. Carpathia calls C. Q. and says, "No need to stand by him; nothing more can be done." Advise my captain who has been cruising around the ice field with no result. Ship reversed. Standing by rest of day. Carpathia and Olympic very busy.

Senator SMITH.
Is that all?

Mr. MOORE.
That is all, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I did not notice in that tabulated statement any report from the Frankfurt after 12 p. m., New York time. You picked that up, and it was intended for the Titanic?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir; but excuse me, sir, the Frankfurt was in communication with these other ships, sir.

Senator SMITH.
But this is the time when she gave her position?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
The Frankfurt's position?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
She did not give her position at any other time?

Mr. MOORE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you hear, or see anything of the Amerika on Sunday, Sunday night, or Monday?

Mr. MOORE.
I do not know. I did not see personally -

Senator SMITH.
I think I asked you what you would consider reasonable and proper precautions to take when approaching an ice field at night. Did I ask you that?

Mr. MOORE.
No, sir; I do not think you did.

Senator SMITH.
Well, will you tell us that?

Mr. MOORE.
I should certainly stop, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And increase your lookout?

Mr. MOORE.
I should stop. Then there would be no need to increase the lookout. If you stop, you then drift with the ice, if the ice is drifting. My instructions from my company are that I must not enter field ice, no matter if it seems only light. Those are my explicit instructions from my company. If I was to go through ice and my ship was damaged I would have pointed out to me that those were the instructions, that I was not to go into any ice, no matter how thin. As a matter of fact, I would not attempt to go through field ice if it was thick. The usual thing, on approaching ice, at night, is to stop and wait until daylight.

Senator SMITH.
Captain, from your experience and observation, extending over 30 years, 27 of which have been in the North Atlantic -

Mr. MOORE.
From 1885, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Knowing the position of the Titanic, or about the position of that ship, when this accident occurred would you think it was wise or discreet to run that vessel at a speed of 12 1/2 knots per hour?

Mr. MOORE.
It has been done so frequently, sir, in that position, that they are supposed to be clear of all the ice at that time, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Do you mean at that time of the year?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir. You may see bergs, but I have never in all my experience known the ice to be so far south.

Senator SMITH.
Suppose you had been warned in the afternoon of Sunday that ice was ahead; would you have considered it prudent or wise, under such circumstances, to have continued your speed as fast as 12 1/2 knots per hour?

Mr. MOORE.
I think it was very unwise, sir. My orders were to come down to the same position that the Olympic was in. At least, I was to come down to 42º north 47º west, and then to steer for Cape Sable. Before that, I received a message from the Corinthian saying that one of their vessels, the Corsican, had seen ice at 41 25' north and 50 30' west. I immediately steered down to pass 50º west in 41º 15' north, sir - that is, I was giving the ice 10 miles - and I came down and saw no ice whatever.

Senator SMITH.
You received the same warning as the Titanic, did you not?

Mr. MOORE.
I do not know whether I received the same warning, but I received this from the Corinthian, one of the Allan boats. Whether it was the same message or not, I do not know.

Senator SMITH.
The Titanic could have received that same message?

Mr. MOORE.
Oh, yes. It is quite possible that she received it, because she was bound to meet the Corinthian, sir.

Senator SMITH.
And had received substantially that same message from the Californian?

Mr. MOORE.
Well, directly I received that message I steered farther to the south, and I did not see any ice whatever, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Where were you headed for?

Mr. MOORE.
For 42º, 47º, sir.

Senator SMITH.
That is, when you turned around you headed -

Mr. MOORE.
No; I was coming down to come to 41º 15', sir. Before that I was headed for 42º, 47º, sir. That was the position given to me by my company.

Senator SMITH.
But when you went south, was it on your trip toward the Titanic?

Mr. MOORE.
No, no, outward.

Senator SMITH.
Or on your route?

Mr. MOORE.
On my route -

Senator SMITH.
And where were you headed for - what port?

Mr. MOORE.
I was bound to St. Johns, New Brunswick..

Senator SMITH.
Can you think of anything that will throw any light on this sad affair that you have not already spoken of?

Mr. MOORE.
As to the way the ship struck the berg or anything of that kind?

Senator SMITH.
Yes; any information that would help us.

Mr. MOORE.
My theory would be that she was going along and touched one of those large spurs from an iceberg. There are spurs projecting out beneath the water, and they are very sharp and pointed. They are like a jagged rock. My idea is that she struck one of those on her bilge, and that she ran along that, and that opened up her plates, the lining of her plates, and the water came in; and so much water got in that I think her bulkheads could not stand the strain, and she must have torn herself at a speed like that, because apparently her speed through the water was not stopped very much immediately, and, of course, that was a tremendous body, and she must have struck along on her bilge and opened herself out right along as far as the engine room, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Have you studied the plan of the Titanic at all?

Mr. MOORE.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
This opinion you are giving is the result of your own diagnosis?

Mr. MOORE.
Yes, sir; that is what I should say, sir. Of course, I have been fortunate myself. I have never yet had any injury from ice, although I have been master in this trade for a very long time.

Senator SMITH.
And in the ice region?

Mr. MOORE.
In the ice regions; yes sir; because we go through the Strait of Belle Isle in the summer time, and I have been 48 hours in the ice and have passed through 200 miles of ice, arctic ice, just fresh down from the coast of Labrador, and I have managed to get through without any accident.

Senator SMITH.
How far south have you ever seen ice?

Mr. MOORE.
I have not been much in the southern trade, sir. Our routes are nearly always down as far south as 42º north, but nothing farther, sir.

Senator SMITH.
What becomes of this arctic ice; does it go down into the south Atlantic?

Mr. MOORE.
I think in a great many cases that it is thrown back on the land, and a great many of these icebergs are thrown into these deep bays of Newfoundland, and no doubt a great many of them meet their death in there, because if there is any sea they will get crowded into these bays, and in time they will smash up and break each other up on the rocks.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know the captain of the Titanic or any of its officers?

Mr. MOORE.
No; I did not.

Senator SMITH.
You do not think of anything bearing on this inquiry that you would care to say, further than what you have said?

Mr. MOORE.
No, sir; that is the only thing - and about the bodies coming up, sir; of course never thought of it before. It may be that, as you say, the ice has covered the spot where the Titanic sank, and that has kept those bodies under. I think that is a very feasible suggestion that you have made as to that.

Senator SMITH.
I am very much obliged for the compliment, because I am not generally regarded as a mariner, or an authority on sea conditions.

Mr. MOORE.
I think you are perfectly right, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Is there anything further that you can think of?

Mr. MOORE.
There is nothing further, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I am very much obliged to you for your kindness in responding to our request to come here.

Mr. MOORE.
I was only too glad to come, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I do not want any wrong impression to get out concerning the course of the Mount Temple after receiving this warning.

Mr. MOORE.
I assure you that I did everything that was possible, sir, consistent with the safety of my own ship and it's passengers.

Senator SMITH.
While it may not be any consolation to you, or anybody else, I want to compliment you upon your care and solicitude for the passengers and the property that have come under your care.

Mr. MOORE.
I thank you, sir.

(Witness Excused.)