United States Senate Inquiry

Day 4

Testimony of Herbert J. Pitman, recalled

4164. As I recall it, Mr. Pitman, you were examined in New York with reference to the log only?
- That is right, sir.

4165. Did you, at that time, give your full name?
- Yes.

4166. You may repeat it now, please. - Herbert John Pitman.

4167. Where do you reside, Mr. Pitman?
- Somerset, England.

4168. How old are you?
- Thirty-four.

4169. What is your business?
- Sailor; officer.

4170. How long have you been engaged in marine employment?
- About 17 years.

4171. Did you have any marine education or instruction as navigator before entering that employment?
- None whatever.

4172. In what capacities have you served?
- Four years as an apprentice; three years as an officer in a sailing ship.

4173. In stating your employment, will you kindly state with what line or upon what ship you served?
- Yes. Four years with James Nourse (Ltd.), as an apprentice; three years as an officer in the same employ; about twelve months in the Blue Anchor Line, running to Australia; six months in the Shire Line, running to Japan; and five years with the White Star.

4174. In what capacity did you serve with the White Star?
- Second, third, and fourth officer; second officer for two months.

4175. On what vessels of the White Star Line have you served?
- On the Dolphin, the Majestic, and the Oceanic.

4176. And the Titanic?
- Yes.

4177. When did you first see the Titanic?
- In Belfast.

4178. Can you recall the day?
- I think it was March 27.

4179. Of this year?
- Of this year.

Mr. Burlingham:
I think he holds a master's certificate, Senator, too, if you care to bring that out.

4180. (Senator Smith.) Do you hold a master's certificate?
- Yes, sir. I have had it seven years.

4181. From whom?
- From the board of trade.

4182. You say you first saw the Titanic at Belfast?
- Yes, sir; March 27, if I remember right.

4183. March 27?
- Yes.

4184. Were you present during the trial tests of the Titanic?
- Yes, sir.

4185. Did you take any special part in them?
- Yes; I was on the bridge most of the time.

4186. Of what did these tests consist?
- Just steaming around and performing evolutions.

4187. Turning circles?
- Turning circles and adjusting the compass.

4188. How long did those tests take?
- About eight hours, sir.

4189. Were the tests made in the open sea, or in Belfast Lough?
- Both, sir.

4190. What tests were made in the open sea?
- Oh, simply steaming trials.

4191. What trials?
- Steam trials.

4192. Did you try out her speed? Did you try out the speed of the ship?
- It was not exactly a trial of her speed; because I understand we have none in the White Star Line.

4193. Then there was no trial of speed there to your knowledge?
- Not as regards the measured mile.

4194. Do you know how many boilers were working?
- I have no idea, sir.

4195. After the trial tests were made, where did you go then?
- We proceeded to Southampton.

4196. During the trial tests did you see any officer or director of the White Star Line, or of the International Co., aboard the ship?
- I did not know any of them, sir; so that I can not say.

4197. What time did you reach Southampton?
- At midnight on Thursday, the 29th of March.

4198. At midnight on Thursday, the 29th of March?
- I think that is the correct date.

4199. What was done then with the ship?
- She was simply made fast in her berth.

4200. What did you do?
- I kept my usual watch.

4201. Did you remain aboard the ship until her departure from Southampton?
- When it was my watch, sir.

4202. And when it was not your watch you busied yourself in other ways?
- Yes, sir.

4203. Off the ship?
- Exactly.

4204. I wish you would tell the committee the circumstances of the departure of the Titanic from Southampton - whether the weather was clear, whether there was any sea, and any other circumstance that you can recall.
- We left the dock at 12.15. The weather was very fine.

4205. You left at 12.15 a. m.?
- P. m. Nothing in particular happened.

4206. 12.15 p. m. of what day?
- Wednesday, April 10.

Nothing exciting happened, with the exception of breaking the moorings of the New York, which was caused by the backwash from our starboard propeller. We managed to get clear of that and proceeded to Cherbourg.

4207. Was that a serious detention?
- No, sir; about half an hour, sir; that is all.

4208. Did that occur immediately when you were ready to start?
- We had already started. We were away from our berth.

4209. Officer, what was the weather?
- Perfect weather. Summer weather.

4210. Was the weather good all the way to the place of the collision?
- From the time we left Southampton.

4211. You had no heavy sea?
- None whatever, sir.

4212. So far as you can recall, did you have a starlit sky?
- We had a starlit sky; yes. We had sky observations every night and every morning.

4213. You, of course, knew Officer Murdoch?
- Well, sir.

4214. The second officer? [Lightoller] - Yes.

4215. And but four of the officers of the Titanic survived?
- Four. That is correct, sir.

4216. Three besides yourself?
- Three besides myself.

4217. I wish you would tell the committee what your duties were when you were on watch.
- My duties comprised working out celestial observations, finding the deviation of the compass, general supervision around the decks, and looking after the quartermasters; also relieving the bridge if necessary.

4218. Was it a part of your duty to drill the men?
- No, not exactly to drill them, sir; to give them work.

4219. Was it a part of your duty to go through practice with the men?
- No, sir. I gave them their work.

4220. You gave them their work?
- I told them what to do; the quartermasters only, sir.

4221. Are there any specified times fixed for drill of the men under the practice of the White Star Line?
- What do you mean, Senator? Do you mean boat drill, sir?

4222. Yes.
- Yes. We always have boat drill leaving Southampton.

4223. On leaving Southampton?
- Yes; which is witnessed by the board of trade. We also have boat drill in Queenstown.

4224. Of what did that drill consist?
- Lowering two or three boats into the water and pulling away.

4225. It consisted of lowering two or three lifeboats?
- Yes, sir.

4226. Were you present when that was done?
- It was not done this time, sir; not in Queenstown.

4227. I understood you to say at Southampton?
- At Southampton it was done.

4228. Were you present at that drill?
- I was, sir.

4229. How many boats were lowered?
- Two, sir.

4230. On the starboard or on the port side?
- On the starboard side.

4231. Both?
- Both on the starboard side; yes.

4232. What else was done at that drill?
- Well, there was nothing, sir. That drill took place simply to satisfy the board of trade that the boats were all right, and that the men knew how to pull an oar.

4233. But what I would like to know is just what it was necessary to do in order to satisfy the board of trade.
- Well, put a crew of men in the boat, lower her into the water, and pull her around the harbor and sail her back to the satisfaction of the board of trade officials.

4234. That was the lifeboats?
- Yes, the lifeboats.

4235. And two of them were lowered?
- Two of them were lowered.

4236. And manned?
- Manned.

4237. And rowed about?
- Rowed about the harbor, and sailed back. It is done every trip, and we vary the boats.

4238. How many men were in each boat that day?
- Approximately eight.

4239. Were there eight in each boat that day?
- Approximately eight.

Mr. Burlingham:
Mr. Chairman, may I suggest that you ask whether the men on board were assigned to the various boats?

4240. (Senator Smith.) I am coming to that. Tell me whether any further time was spent in practice than you have described?
- Not on this particular voyage. It is customary every Sunday to have boat and fire drill. If we can not have it on Sunday, if the weather does not permit that, we have it on some other day.

4241. As a matter of fact, no further drill was had on the Titanic after leaving Southampton, was there?
- No, sir.

4242. And this drill consisted in summoning how many officers and men to the deck?
- All the deck department were there.

4243. And they all witnessed, and approximately 16 of them participated in, the practical test of two lifeboats?
- Exactly.

4244. Were they both lifeboats, or were they of a different type?
- They were both lifeboats.

4245. There was no test, then, of the collapsibles?
- No; none whatever.

4246. Or of the smaller lifeboats?
- No, sir.

4247. And both these boats were lowered from the starboard side?
- From the starboard side.

4248. And you saw them lowered?
- Yes, sir.

4249. What officers were placed in charge of them?
- The fifth and sixth.

4250. Who composed the crews of these lifeboats?
- Quartermasters and sailors. I could not give you their names.

4251. They were sailors?
- Sailors; yes.

4252. I would like to know whether each officer had his especial and particular station assigned to him on the Titanic?
- Every man in the crew had his particular station on the Titanic.

4253. And your station was what?
- No. 5 boat.

4254. No.5 boat?
- Yes, sir.

4255. You say they were assigned. You were assigned to No.5 boat, and had responsibility for that boat while you were on watch in the event of trouble?
- Yes. It was not necessary that I should go in No. 5 boat.

4256. No; but you were assigned at that point?
- Yes; that was my boat for boat and fire drill.

4257. For boat and fire drill. Was there any fire drill aboard the Titanic after you left Southampton?
- There was not, sir.

4258. And the only practice drill was what you have described?
- That is all.

4259. Were you on the bridge during Saturday or Sunday preceding the accident?
- Oh, yes; part of the time, sir.

4260. What part of the time on Saturday?
- Saturday afternoon from 12 to 4

4261. During that time did you see any icebergs?
- No, sir.

4262. Or any field ice?
- No ice at all, sir.

4263. Did you hear anything about any ice on Saturday?
- No, sir.

4264. Did you hear anything about a wireless message from the Californian?
- No, sir.

4265. On Saturday or Sunday?
- Yes; I heard something about a wireless message from some ship. Or it may have been Saturday night; I am not sure.

4266. When you were on watch?
- No; I was not on watch.

4267. When did you hear it, as near as you can recollect?
- I have not the slightest idea, sir; it was either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

4268. Not when you were on watch?
- No, sir; because Mr. Boxhall put on the chart the position of the iceberg.

4269. And did you know about that?
- I knew about that; yes, sir.

4270. Did you see him put it on or see the chart?
- Yes; I saw the mark there.

4271. What kind of a mark was it?
- He would just simply make a cross and write "ice" in front of it.

4272. Which indicated ice?
- Ice; yes, sir.

4273. This was Sunday?
- It may have been Saturday night.

4274. Saturday night or Sunday?
- Yes, sir.

4275. Now, officer, did you have an talk with Mr. Boxhall or Mr. Murdoch or Mr. Lowe regarding the proximity of the Titanic to ice?
- I did not; sir.

4276. Did you have any talk with the captain about it?
- It was not my place to talk with the captain about such things.

4277. I understand; but I did not know but what you might have done so.
- No, sir.

4278. Did the captain speak to you about it?
- He did not, sir.

4279. Were you with the captain on the bridge at all on Saturday afternoon or Sunday preceding the collision?
- Yes; he used to pay periodical visits to the bridge.

4280. How often?
- I did not particularly notice that.

4281. About how often; how many times?
- He may have been up there a half a dozen times in a watch.

4282. Half a dozen times in four hours?
- Four hours: yes, sir.

4283. And during those visits to the bridge you can not recall hearing the captain speak about proximity to ice?
- No, sir.

4284. Did you see any ice, yourself, on Sunday? Did you notice any change in the temperature of the weather?
- Yes. That would not denote anything at all, sir.

4285. You do not think that would denote anything?
- No, because in this country and in our own country we will probably want no clothes on at all, and the next day we will want overcoats, winter clothes, and that is not due to ice.

4286. You have been a navigator for a good many years?
- I have been an officer for about 14 years.

4287. Have you ever been u p to the Grand Banks before?
- The Banks of Newfound and?

4288. Yes; crossing them in the months of August to January? Did you ever cross them before in the month of April?
- We never did, sir.

4289. Have you ever seen any ice in that part of the sea, the North Atlantic?
- One small berg.

4290. Where?
- I can not recollect exactly where it was, sir.

4291. As a matter of fact, do you not know that before ice is seen at all from the deck of a ship the ice will often indicate its presence? Does not the reflection of the rays from the sun or the moon tell some definite story about the proximity of ice?
- It may do so in the Arctic region, but never in the Atlantic Ocean.

4292. Never in the north Atlantic Ocean?
- There is not sufficient ice there to cause that.

4293. On a clear day, over the ice on the horizon is it not true that the sky is much paler or lighter in color and distinguishable from that overhead?
- No, sir.

4294. In the north Atlantic?
- No, sir.

4295. On a clear day icebergs can be seen for a long distance, can they not?
- It depends on their size.

4296. If they are, say, a hundred feet high.
- Oh, yes.

4297. Readily?
- Oh, yes; they can be seen some distance. Of course it depends on the atmosphere, and whether the sun is shining or not.

4298. Does foggy weather make any difference in seeing an iceberg?
- Of course you would not see it so far.

4299. As a matter of fact, during foggy weather are not icebergs seen through the fog by their apparent blackness?
- That may be so. I have never seen them, though.

4300. You have never seen them. Are there any other signs known to mariners by which icebergs may be discovered, or their proximity known?
- I do not think there are any signs at all, sir.

4301. Is it not a fact that there is an echo in the vicinity of an iceberg?
- I never heard of it, sir.

4302. From a steam whistle or foghorn?
- I never experienced it, sir.

4303. You heard what Mr. Boxhall said yesterday about knowing that there were icebergs because he could hear the wash while he was going in the lifeboat from the Titanic to the Carpathia?
- Oh, that is quite possible, because we were only about half a mile from them then, or possibly less than that. There was perfect silence.

4304. Have you ever heard such noises as that?
- Never, sir.

4305. Do you know how the proximity of an iceberg can be tested, mathematically?
- No, sir.

4306. Did you ever hear of it?
- No, sir. As regards the temperature of the water, it is absolutely useless.

4307. The temperature of the water is absolutely useless?
- Absolutely useless.

4308. In your opinion?
- I have proven it.

4309. Has anybody ever told you that, knowing the time between the blast of a whistle at sea and the reflected sound the distance in feet may be found by multiplying by a certain numeral?
- No, sir.

4310. Five hundred and fifty?
- No, sir.

4311. And none of these signs were familiar to you?
- None; whatever, sir.

4312. Did you ever hear anything about them before?
- No, sir.

4313. How about the explosion of an iceberg? Do you know that icebergs explode when they come down from the Arctic region and strike the warmer Gulf stream; that the cold and the heat often cause a loud explosion?
- Scientists say so, but we have no proof of that.

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