United States Senate Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of Arthur G. Peuchen, cont.

5608. You say when the impact occurred, the ship shuddered?
- When the impact occurred, describing it I would say it would be like a wave striking it, a very heavy wave.

5609. How soon after that did the boat begin to list?
- I should think about 25 minutes afterwards.

5610. So far as you could observe, did the passengers have on lifebelts?
- They had.

5611. Before you left the boat, so you can say from your own knowledge they had them on?
- I say if they had not them on, I think they could have gotten them all right. I did not hear of any shortage of life preservers, or of any complaints, rather.

5612. Did you have any light on your lifeboat?
- Yes; we did.

5613. What was the color?
- Just an ordinary white light.

5614. Not a green light?
- No.

5615. But a white light?
- Yes.

5616. Did you see other lights on lifeboats?
- Yes. We could see those different lifeboats that had lights. They were all over. They were not all staying together at all. Some of them were going east, west, north, and south, it seemed to me, but there was one boat that had a sort of an electric light, and one a sort of a bluish light, as well, which we thought at first was a steamer or something.

5617. I believe you said you have had considerable experience as a mariner?
- Yes, sir.

5618. Can you say whether the Titanic listed to the starboard or port side?
- She listed to the starboard side; the side she was struck on.

5619. Did she go down by the bow or by the head?
- Eventually, you mean?

5620. Yes.
- She was down by the bow. You mean the head by the bow, do you not?

5621. Exactly.
- It is the same thing.

5622. No; not exactly the same thing. Where was this impact on the bow of the ship?
- It was aft of the bow about 40 feet, I should imagine, on the starboard side - about 40 or 50 feet, I should imagine from where the ice started to come off the iceberg.

5623. You say you saw some ice on the deck?
- Yes, sir.

5624. Do you know of anyone being injured by ice on the deck?
- No; but I know a great many of the passengers were made afraid by this iceberg passing their portholes. The ship shoved past this ice, and a great many of them told me afterwards they could not understand this thing moving past them - those that were awakened at the time. In fact, it left ice on some of the portholes, they told me.

5625. Do you know of your own knowledge whether any alarm was sounded to arouse the passengers from their rooms after the impact?
- There was no alarm sounded whatever. In fact, I talked with two young ladies who claimed to have had a very narrow escape. They said their stateroom was right near the Astor’s, I think almost next to it, and they were not awakened.

5626. They were not awakened?
- They slept through this crash, and they were awakened by Mrs. Astor. She was in rather an excited state, and their door being open - and I think the Astor door was open - they think that was the means of their being saved.

5627. On what deck were they?
- I do not know, sir. It was only conversation told me on the Carpathia.

5628. I think you said that from your judgment and from your own observation there was no general alarm given?
- No, I did not hear one. I was around the boat all the time.

5629. After getting aboard the Carpathia, did you learn the latitude and longitude in which the boats were picked up?
- No, sir; I did not. All I know is that when I made inquiries for the nearest port, I was told it was 36 hours' sail to Halifax.

5630. Did you see those lifeboats on the port side of the ship? Were you on the port side?
- I was on the port side.

5631. Did you see them on the starboard side?
- No, sir. We heard afterwards that the officers on the starboard side were more generous in allowing the men in than on the port side. That is what I heard afterwards; that some of the officers on the starboard side had allowed some of the men into the boats.

5632. You were on the same side with Mr. Lightoller?
- That was the port side; yes.

5633. The second officer?
- Yes.

5634. And on that side they did not permit but two men to get into the first boat?
- I think there were four sailors in the first boat, sir.

5635. Not more than four?
- I would not be certain about that, sir. They did not allow any male passengers; that is what I mean.

5636. Did you see any lifeboat that was caught in the gear or tackle?
- No; the boats I saw lowered away very nicely, indeed, in a very short time.

5637. Did you see any collapsible boat lowered?
- No; I think our boat left before they started to get those out.

5638. Were those lifeboats taken aboard the Carpathia?
- I think two or three boats were allowed to drift. One I think, had some dead bodies in it. I saw two, at least, drifting away. I was afraid they could not take care of more.

5639. You saw two or three drifting away?
- That is, after they let them go.

5640. Did you see any dead bodies in those drifting boats?
- No; I saw dead bodies in one of the boats that came up, lying in the bow. I do not know whether that was set adrift or not. I was told that one boat contained three bodies.

5641. Did you see Mr. Ismay that night?
- I saw him - which night?

5642. Sunday night?
- I think I saw him standing for a moment without his hat on; just a moment, on the port side.

5643. On the boat deck?
- On the boat deck; yes.

5644. What time?
- I should say it would be probably an hour after we had struck the iceberg.

5645. An hour after you struck the iceberg?
- I would not be certain. I think it was Mr. Ismay. I think I saw him standing for a moment.

5646. What was he doing; anything?
- Not at that time.

5647. You did not see him after that?
- I did not see him after that except on coming aboard the Carpathia.

5648. Did you see Mr. Hays after he passed this word with you about the icebergs?
- Yes I saw him again on the upper deck just before I started to help with the boats. He said, "Peuchen, this boat is good for eight hours yet."

5649. That is the last time you saw him?
- Yes. I shook hands with him then and he said, "This boat is good for eight hours. I have just been getting this from one of the best old seamen, Mr. Crossley " - I think he mentioned his name "of Milwaukee," and some person else; and he said, "Before that time, we will have assistance." [Mr. Crossley was actually Edward Crosby]

5650. Did you know of the proximity of the Titanic to ice on Sunday?
- No, sir. All I know is that there was a big change in the temperature between the afternoon and the time I went on deck later on in the evening.

5651. Did that indicate anything unusual to you?
- I had only had experience once before among icebergs, and it was cold, and a similar change took place in the weather.

5652. Have you ever been in the vicinity of the Grand Banks before?
- No; this was on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, just as we were approaching the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

5653. (Senator Burton.) This change in temperature would not necessarily mean that there was ice in the immediate vicinity; it might occur just as the weather changes from morning to evening, or from evening to morning?
- Yes, sir; there was quite a change in temperature.

5654. (Senator Smith.) Who was the quartermaster? What was his name?
- His name was -

5655. Who was the quartermaster on your lifeboat, I mean?
- I do not know exactly how to pronounce his name, but it is spelled H-i-c-h-e-n. He was the man at the wheel on Sunday evening.

5656. Have you his initials?
- No. He was Quartermaster Hichens. I think probably you can find him; but he was the man at the wheel, and he was calling out to the other boats wanting to know what officer was on duty at that time. He did not seem to know which officer, at the time of the sighting of the iceberg, was on duty.

5657. (Senator Fletcher) What was the movement of the ship after the collision with the iceberg?
- After the collision it seemed to me not immediately, but after a short space of time it sounded as though we were reversing.

5658. What effect did that have upon the progress of the ship, if you noticed?
- She still was going, even if they were reversing for a certain period.

5659. Did you observe how long she continued to go ahead?
- No; I did not.

5660. Did you form any idea as to how far she had gone beyond the iceberg, after striking it, before she stopped?
- No. I was really too much interested in changing my clothes and in my friends, and I really did not pay any attention to that.

5661. Have you any idea how far you were away from the iceberg when you took to the lifeboat?
- We took to the lifeboat - I should imagine I was in the lifeboat probably an hour after we struck. We had been going ahead at a pretty good rate of speed, and then we had to reverse. I should imagine we would be 3 miles away from it, I think - at least 2 1/2 miles, probably.

5662. After you took to the lifeboat you proceeded to row in the direction in which the ship had been moving, westward?
- No; we started right off from the port side of the boat directly straight off from her about amidship, on the port side, right directly north, I think it would be, because the northern lights appeared where this light we had been looking at in that direction appeared shortly afterwards.

5663. When did you first see an iceberg?
- A year ago -

5664. (interposing). No, I did not mean that; I mean on that occasion. You did not see the iceberg the ship struck, I understand.
- No; I did not see that.

5665. When did you first see an iceberg there?
- Just after daybreak or just a little before daybreak.

5666. Can you give us an idea of how far you probably were at that time from where the Titanic went down?
- I should imagine we would be probably 2 miles, and we kept on rowing for this imaginary light for some time.

5667. How far away from you was this iceberg, and in what direction?
- There were several icebergs. There were at least three icebergs that you could see plainly. There was one toward the front, the way our boat was facing, and one on the west. I should think there was one toward the north and one toward the south. We seemed to be in a nest of icebergs, with some smaller ones, of course.

5668. About how many, in all, that you can recall?
- I think you could see - at least to count, I think - five.

5669. What were about the sizes of them?
- Two were large; another was sort of smaller in size. Some were jagged, but very high, and a number of them not so high.

5670. These large ones you think were about what height above the water, and what width and length, if you can give us an idea?
- They were at least 100 feet high, two of them, and of a width I should think of 300 feet and 400 feet long; somewhat like an island.

5671. Major, do you mean for us to understand that at the time lifeboat No. 4 and lifeboat No. 6 on the port side of the ship were loaded and lowered every woman in sight was given an opportunity?
- Every woman on the port side was given an opportunity. In fact, we had not enough women to put into the boats. We were looking for them. I can not understand why we did not take some men. The boats would have held more.

5672. If there had been more women there they could have found room in those boats?
- Plenty of room.

5673. Do you mean to say, too, that so far as you knew and heard and observed no general alarm was given throughout the ship, arousing the passengers, and advising them of their danger?
- I did not hear any alarm whatever.

5674. Do you know what the method is of giving an alarm in an emergency of that kind?
- I have never had the experience of an accident at sea before.

5675. Major, can you give us any idea why, if the passengers were equipped with life belts, and they were in good condition, those passengers would not float and live for four or five or six hours afterwards?
- That is something that astonished me very much. I was surprised, when we steamed through this wreckage very slowly after we left the scene of the disaster - we left the ground as soon as this other boat, the Californian, I understand, came along - that we did not see any bodies in the water. I understood the Californian was going to cruise around, and when she came we started off, and we went right by the wreckage. It was something like two islands, and was strewn along, and I was interested to see if I could see any bodies, and I was surprised to think that with all these deaths that had taken place we could not see one body; I was very much surprised. I understand a life preserver is supposed to keep up a person, whether dead or alive.

5676. You think the Carpathia passed in the immediate vicinity where the Titanic went down?
- No, I would not say the immediate vicinity, because there was a breeze started up at daybreak, and the wreckage would naturally float away from where she went down, somewhat. It might be that it had floated away, probably a mile or half a mile; probably not more than that, considering that the wind only sprang up at daybreak.

5677. Have you any idea which way that drift would tend, on account of the breeze or other conditions there?
- Which way the wind was blowing, you mean?

5678. Yes.
- The wind was. blowing, I imagine, from the north at that time.

5679. You heard sounds of people calling for help when you were, you say, about five-eighths of a mile away, when the Titanic went down?
- Yes, sir.

5680. And immediately you heard these cries and then you heard them gradually die out?
- Yes, sir

5681. Is it your idea that the water was so cold that a person could not live in it except for a short time?
- I feel quite sure that a person could not live in that water very long. Those who had been in the water had their feet frozen; that is, those who were standing up in a boat in the water. I happened to have the cabin with three of them who were rescued, and they said they sustained their life by punching each other during the two or three hours they stood up. The minute any one got tired and sat down in the water, or at least very shortly thereafter, he floated off the raft, dead, I believe.

5682. What was the temperature of the water, if you know?
- I do not know, sir.

5683. You say people were frozen?
- Their feet were frozen; yes, sir.

5684. Was that by exposure, after being taken out of the water on the boat?
- Yes, sir. A number of them swam, I know of three cases, at least, where they jumped from the big boat and swam and got on to a raft which was partly submerged in the water, and they stood up in the raft, and those are the ones whose feet were badly swollen or frozen.

5685. You assume from that that the water was very cold?
- I am sure it was.

5686. Was it below the freezing point?
- It must have been very near the freezing point, anyway. It probably would not be quite freezing; but it being salt water, of course it would not freeze very readily.

5687. Was there any floating ice, aside from these icebergs?
- Oh, yes; when we started to steam away we passed a lot of floating ice, I suppose several miles long.

5688. You mean the Carpathia steamed through the ice?
- Yes.

5689. Did you come into contact with floating ice while you were on the lifeboat?
- No, sir; we did not.

5690. Have you any idea as to how long a person could live in water like that?
- It depends on his constitution, but I should imagine that if a person could stay in the water a half an hour he would be doing very well.

5691. Would not the effort to swim, and exercise, prevent one getting numb for several hours?
- Up to a certain point; yes. But I do not think a man could live an hour in that water.

5692. Did you observe in this wreckage any broken pieces of life preservers, corks, and things of that sort.
- There was a very large quantity of floating cork. I am at a loss to understand where it came from. There were a great many chairs in the water; all the steamer chairs were floating, and pieces of wreckage; but there was a particularly large quantity of cork.

Continued >