United States Senate Inquiry

Day 1

The subcommittee met at 10:30 o'clock a.m. [Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, N. Y.]

Present: Senator William Alden Smith, chairman, and Senator Francis G. Newlands.

Present also: Mr. George Uhler, Supervising Inspector General, Steamboat-Inspection Service, Department of Commerce and Labor; Mr. J. Bruce Ismay, general manager of the International Mercantile Marine Co.; Charles C. Burlingham, Esq., and J. Parker Kirlin, Esq.; representing the White Star Line; Emerson E. Parvin, Esq., secretary International Mercantile Marine Co.; Guglielmo Marconi, president of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co.; Hon. John W. Griggs, representing the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co.; and others.

Senator SMITH.
For the purpose of executing the command and direction of the Senate of the United States, the inquiry in which we contemplate will now begin. The resolution is as follows:


April 17, 1912

Resolved, That the Committee on Commerce, or a subcommittee thereof, is hereby authorized and directed to investigate the causes leading to the wreck of the White Star liner Titanic, with its attendant loss of life so shocking to the civilized world.

Resolved further, That said committee or a subcommittee thereof is hereby empowered to summon witnesses, send for persons and papers, to administer oaths, and to take such testimony as may be necessary to determine the responsibility therefor, with a view to such legislation as may be necessary to prevent, as far as possible, any repetition of such a disaster.

Resolved further, That the committee shall inquire particularly into the number of lifeboats, rafts, and life preservers, and other equipment for the protection of the passengers and crew; the number of persons aboard the Titanic, whether passenger or crew, and whether adequate inspections were made of such vessel, in view of the large number of American passengers travelling over a route commonly regarded as dangerous from icebergs; and whether it is feasible for Congress to take steps looking to an international agreement to secure the protection of sea traffic, including regulation of the size of ships and designation of routes.

Resolved further, That in the report of said committee it shall recommend such legislation as it shall deem expedient; and the expenses incurred by this investigation shall be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate upon vouchers to be approved by the chairman of said committee.

By: H. M. ROSE,
Assistant Secretary.

I will ask Mr. J. Bruce Ismay to come forward and take the stand.


J. Bruce Ismay  –  Managing Director, I.M.M. (White Star Line); First Class Passenger, SS Titanic
Testimony - Biography

Arthur Henry Rostron  –  Captain, SS Carpathia
Testimony - Biography

Senator SMITH.
After the recess I should like to have Mr. Marconi appear before us for a few minutes.

I shall be very glad to do so, Senator.

Senator SMITH.
And the operator.

He will be here by 3 o'clock, Senator.

Senator SMITH.
That is, the operator from the Carpathia [Harold Cottam]. Also the operator from the Titanic [Harold Bride].

He is not able to come. I am afraid the committee will have to go to him.

Both his ankles and back are injured, although the last two days he was carried up in the Marconi operating room of the Carpathia to assist our operator all he could.

Mr. Chairman, I want to make a brief statement. A statement has been made in the press with reference to myself, concerning which I wish to say to this:

I received this telegram:


You are quoted in press reports declaring, following Mrs. Smith's story, that Ismay should be lynched. Please wire us, day press rate collect, 500 words, your view of Titanic disaster.


To that I have sent this in reply:


Huntington, W. Va., Press reports untrue. My daughter said nothing that would bring any such statement from me. I may have said, if investigation showed neglect of any officer, no punishment was too severe for him. Ismay was somewhat criticized by some for being among the men who were rescued. My daughter had no criticism of him. The press report will give full information as to details, Ismay gave what Senate committee considered a fair statement before the committee. He is subject to further call from the Senate committee. Captain of the Carpathia before the Senate committee testifying now. My daughter states all possible aid was given them by the captain on Carpathia and officers of the Carpathia.

Senator SMITH.
We will take a recess until 3 o'clock this afternoon.

Whereupon at 1.20 o'clock p.m., a recess was taken until 3 o'clock p.m.


At the expiration of the recess the hearing was resumed.

Senator SMITH.
The inquiry will now be resumed. I wish to ask Mr. Marconi a few questions.


Guglielmo Marconi  –  Chairman, British Marconi Company
Testimony - Biography

Charles Herbert Lightoller  –  Second Officer, SS Titanic
Testimony - Biography

Senator SMITH.
We shall hold an evening session, beginning at half-past 8 o'clock.

Whereupon, at 7.20 o'clock p.m., a recess was taken until 8.30 p.m.


The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 8.30 o'clock p. m., Senator William Alden Smith (chairman) presiding.


Harold Thomas Cottam  –  Marconi Operator, SS Carpathia
Testimony - Biography

Alfred Crawford  –  Bedroom Steward, SS Titanic
Testimony - Biography

Whereupon, at 10.30 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned to meet at 10 o'clock a.m., Saturday, April 20, 1912, at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York City.