United States Senate Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of Frederick Fleet

(The witness was sworn by the chairman.)

5165. (Senator Smith.) What is your full name?
- Frederick Fleet.

5166. Where do you reside?
- Southampton.

5167. England?
- England.

5168. How old are you?
- Twenty-five next October.

5169. What is your business?
- Sailor; lookout man.

5170. How much experience have you had in that work?
- About four years. I was four years on the Oceanic, on the lookout.

5171. Four years as lookout on the Oceanic, of the White Star Line?
- Yes, sir.

5172. Is that all the experience you have had?
- Going to sea?

5173. Yes.
- Five or six years.

5174. Besides that?
- That is all; when I was in the training ship.

5175. Have you ever been lookout on any other ship?
- No.

5176. You were lookout on the Titanic, were you not?
- Yes.

5177. And sailed with the Titanic from Southampton, or from Belfast?
- I fetched her around from Belfast, on the lookout.

5178. And made this voyage from Southampton, to the time of the collision - the accident?
- Yes, sir.

5179. I want to get on the record the place where you were stationed in the performance of your duty.
- I was on the lookout.

5180. On the lookout?
- At the time of the collision.

5181. In the crow's nest?
- Yes.

5182. At the time of the collision?
- Yes, sir.

5183. Can you tell how high above the boat deck that is?
- I have no idea.

5184. Can you tell how high above the crow's nest the masthead is?
- No, sir.

5185. Do you know how far you were above the bridge?
- I am no hand at guessing.

5186. I do not want you to guess; but, if you know, I would like to have you tell.
- I have no idea.

5187. (Senator Fletcher.) You hardly mean that; you have some idea?
- No; I do not.

Senator Fletcher:
You know whether it was a thousand feet or two hundred?

5188. (Senator Smith.) Was there any other officer or employee stationed at a higher point on the Titanic than you were?
- No, sir.

5189. You were the lookout?
- Yes, sir.

5190. Where are the eyes of the ship?
- The eyes of the ship?

5191. The ship's eyes?
- Forward.

5192. At the extreme bow?
- Yes, sir.

5193. And on the same level as the boat deck or below it?
- Below it.

5194. How far below it?
- I do not know, sir.

5195. Mr. Fleet, can you tell who was on the forward part of the Titanic Sunday night when you took your position in the crow's nest?
- There was nobody.

5196. Nobody?
- No, sir.

5197. Who was on the bridge?
- When I went up to relieve the others?

5198. Yes.
- Mr. Murdoch.

5199. Officer Murdoch?
- First officer.

5200. Who else?
- I think it was the third officer.

5201. What was his name?
- The man that was here, Pitman.

5202. Mr. Pitman, the man who just left the stand?
- I do not know the officers on the bridge.

5203. You do not recall any more of them?
- No; I do not know whether he was there or not.

5204. I do not want any confusion if I can help it. I want to get this down right. Was the captain on the bridge?
- I do not know, sir.

5205. You did not see him?
- No, sir.

5206. What time did you take your watch Sunday night?
- Ten o'clock.

5207. (Senator Newlands.) Whom did you relieve?
- Symons and Jewell.

5207. Who was with you on the watch?
- Lee.

5209. What, if anything, did Symons and Jewell, or either one, say to you when you relieved them of the watch?
- They told us to keep a sharp lookout for small ice.

5210. What did you say to them?
- I said "All right."

5211. What did Lee say?
- He said the same.

5212. And you took your position in the crow's nest?
- Yes, sir.

5213. Did you keep a sharp lookout for ice?
- Yes, sir.

5214. Tell what you did?
- Well, I reported an iceberg right ahead, a black mass.

5215. When did you report that?
- I could not tell you the time.

5216. About what time?
- Just after seven bells.

5217. How long after you had taken your place in the crow's nest?
- The watch was nearly over. I had done the best part of the watch up in the nest.

5218. How long a watch did you have?
- Two hours; but the time was going to be put back - that watch.

5219. The time was to be set back?
- Yes, sir.

5220. Did that alter your time?
- We were to get about 2 hours and 20 minutes.

5221. How long before the collision or accident did you report ice ahead?
- I have no idea.

5222. About how long?
- I could not say, at the rate she was going.

5223. How fast was she going?
- I have no idea.

5224. Would you be willing to say that you reported the presence of this iceberg an hour before the collision?
- No, sir.

5225. Forty-five minutes?
- No. sir.

5226. A half hour before?
- No, sir.

5227. Fifteen minutes before?
- No, sir.

5228. Ten minutes before?
- No, sir.

5229. How far away was this black mass when you first saw it?
- I have no idea, sir.

5230. Can you not give us some idea? Did it impress you as serious?
- I reported it as soon as ever I seen it.

5231. I want a complete record of it, you know. Give me, as nearly as you can, how far away it was when you saw it. You are accustomed to judging distances, are you not, from the crow's nest? You are there to look ahead and sight objects, are you not?
- We are only up there to report anything we see.

5232. But you are expected to see and report anything in the path of the ship, are you not?
- Anything we see - a ship, or anything.

5233. Anything you see?
- Yes; anything we see.

5234. Whether it be a field of ice, a "growler," or an iceberg, or any other substance?
- Yes, sir.

5235. Have you trained yourself so that you can see objects as you approach them with fair accuracy?
- I do not know what you mean, sir.

5236. If there had been a black object ahead of this ship, or a white one, a mile away, or 5 miles a way, 50 feet above the water or 150 feet above the water, would you have been able to see it, from your experience as a seaman?
- Yes, sir.

5237. When you see these things in the path of the ship, you report them?
- Yes, sir.

5238. What did you report when you saw this black mass Sunday night?
- I reported an iceberg right ahead.

5239. To whom did you report that?
- I struck three bells first. Then I went straight to the telephone and rang them up on the bridge.

5240. You struck three bells and went to the telephone and rang them up on the bridge?
- Yes.

5241. Did you get anyone on the bridge?
- I got an answer straight away - what did I see, or "What did you see?"

5242. Did the person who was talking to you tell you who he was? [Sixth Officer Moody]
- No. He just asked me what did I see. I told him an iceberg right ahead.

5243. What did he say then?
- He said: "Thank you."

5244. Do you know to whom you were talking?
- No; I do not know who it was.

5245. What was the object in sending the three bells?
- That denotes an iceberg right ahead.

5246. It denotes danger?
- No; it just tells them on the bridge that there is something about.

5247. You took both precautions; you gave the three bells, and then you went and telephoned to the bridge?
- Yes, sir.

5248. Where did you have to go to telephone?
- The telephone is in the nest.

5249. The telephone is right in the crow's nest?
- Yes.

5250. You turned and communicated with the bridge from the nest?
- Yes, sir.

5251. Did you get a prompt response?
- I did.

5252. And you made the statement that you have indicated?
- Yes.

5253. Then what did you do?
- After I rang them up?

5254. Yes, sir.
- I kept staring ahead again.

5255. You remained in the crow's nest?
- I remained in the crow's nest until I got relief.

5256. And Lee remained in the nest?
- Yes.

5257. How long did you stay there?
- About a quarter of an hour to 20 minutes after.

5258. After what?
- After the accident.

5259. And then did you leave this place?
- We got relieved by the other two men.

5260. The other two men came?
- Yes.

5261. Did they go up?
- They came up in the nest.

5262. And you got down?
- We got down; yes.

5263. Can you not indicate, in any way, the length of time that elapsed between the time that you first gave this information by telephone and by bell to the bridge officer and the time the boat struck the iceberg?
- I could not tell you, sir.

5264. You can not say?
- No, sir.

5265. You can not say whether it was five minutes or an hour?
- I could not say, sir.

5266. I wish you would tell the committee whether you apprehended danger when you sounded these signals and telephoned; whether you thought there was danger?
- No; no, sir. That is all we have to do up in the nest; to ring the bell, and if there is any danger ring them up on the telephone.

5267. The fact that you did ring them up on the telephone indicated that you thought there was danger?
- Yes, sir.

5268. You thought there was danger?
- Well, it was so close to us. That is why I rang them up.

5269. How large an object was this when you first saw it?
- It was not very large when I first saw it.

5270. How large was it?
- I have no idea of distances or spaces.

5271. Was it the size of an ordinary house? Was it as large as this room appears to be?
- No; no. It did not appear very large at all.

5272. Was it as large as the table at which I am sitting?
- It would be as large as those two tables put together, when I saw it at first.

5273. When you first saw it, it appeared about as large as these two tables put together?
- Yes, sir.

5274. Did it appear to get larger after you first saw it?
- Yes; it kept getting larger as we were getting nearer it.

5275. As it was coming toward you and you were going toward it?
- Yes.

5276. How large did it get to be, finally when it struck the ship?
- When we were alongside, it was a little bit higher than the forecastle head.

5277. The forecastle head is how high above the water line?
- Fifty feet, I should say.

5278. About 50 feet?
- Yes.

5279. So that this black mass, when it finally struck the boat, turned out to be about 50 feet above the water?
- About 50 or 60.

5280. Fifty or sixty feet above the water?
- Yes.

5281. And when you first saw it it looked no larger than these two tables?
- No, sir.

5282. Do you know whether the ship was stopped after you gave that telephone signal?
- No, no; she did not stop at all. She did not stop until she passed the iceberg.

5283. She did not stop until she passed the iceberg?
- No, sir.

5284. Do you know whether her engines were reversed?
- Well, she started to go to port while I was at the telephone.

5285. She started to go to port?
- Yes; the wheel was put to starboard.

5286. How do you know that?
- My mate saw it and told me. He told me he could see the bow coming around.

5287. They swung the ship's bow away from the object?
- Yes; because we were making straight for it.

5288. But you saw the course altered? And the iceberg struck the ship at what point?
- On the starboard bow, just before the foremast.

5289. How far would that be from the bow's end?
- From the stem?

5290. From the stem.
- About 20 feet.

5291. About 20 feet back from the stem?
- From the stem to where she hit.

5292. When she struck this obstacle, or this black mass, was there much of a jar to the ship?
- No, sir.

5293. Was there any?
- Just a slight grinding noise.

5294. Not sufficient to disturb you in your position in the crow's nest?
- No, sir.

5295. Did it alarm you seriously when it struck?
- No, sir; I thought it was a narrow shave.

5296. You thought it was a narrow shave?
- Yes, sir.

5297. Did any of this ice break onto the decks?
- Yes; some on the forecastle light and some on the weather deck.

5298. How much?
- Not much; only where she rubbed up against it.

5299. Did Lee and you talk over this black object that you saw?
- Only up in the nest.

5300. What did you say about it? What did he say about it to you or what did you say about it to him?
- Before I reported, I said, "There is ice ahead," and then I put my hand over to the bell and rang it three times, and then I went to the phone.

5301. What did he say?
- He said nothing much. He just started looking. He was looking ahead while I was at the phone and he seen the ship go port.

5302. Did Lee survive this wreck, or was he drowned?
- He is one that survived it.

5303. You can not recollect just what he said to you when she struck?
- No, sir.

5304. Nor when you first sighted this black mass?
- No, sir.

5305. Who sighted the black mass first; you or Lee?
- I did. I say I did, but I think he was just as soon as me.

5306. Were you both looking ahead?
- We were looking all over the place, all around.

5307. All over the sea?
- Yes, sir.

5308. Had you been especially directed to look carefully?
- Yes, sir.

5309. By whom?
- By the mates we relieved; by the other two lookout men.

5310. Were you told to do so by Officer Murdoch?
- No, sir. We got our order from Mr. Lightoller, and passed it on to the lookouts as they get relieved.

5311. Mr. Lightoller gave the order to your mates?
- And they passed it on to us.

5312. Is that usual?
- Yes, sir; as we get relieved we pass it on to the other men.

5313. If any orders come in the meantime to you, you pass them on?
- To the next two lookout men.

5314. Do you know what time it was when you saw that iceberg?
- I have no idea, sir.

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