Limitation of Liability Hearings

Deposition of





- of the - 
COMPANY, LTD., for limitation of
liability as owner of the Steamship "TITANIC".




Proctors for Claimant
H. Benjamin Howard,
165 Broadway, Borough of Manhattan,
City of New York, N.Y.


IS HEREBY STIPULATED that the witness may be sworn before Robert McLeod Jackson, a commissioner of Deeds, in lieu of a Notary Public.

Deposition of EINAR JOHANNSEN, taken pursuant to notice, before Robert McLeod Jackson, Commissioner of Deeds, at No. 165 Broadway, Borough of Manhattan, New York City, N. Y., March 13, 1912, at four o'clock, P. M.

Hunt, Hill & Betts, by Mr. Kinnicutt.
Frederick M. Brown, Counsel for Claimant, H. Benjamin Howard.
Burlingham, Montgomery & Beecher, by Mr. B. W. Wells, for petitioner.



IT IS STIPULATED that the deposition may be taken by a stenographer, signing, filing and certification waived; stenographer's fees taxable in lieu of notary's fees; copy to be served on the proctors for petitioner.




EINAR JOHANNSEN, a witness on behalf of the claimant, being duly sworn, testified as follows:




Mr. Johannsen, have you a master's certificate?

- Yes.

Are you bound to sea very shortly, and on a voyage outside of the United States? You are going, I understand, on a ship which sails in a few days from Norfolk.

- Yes.

What nationality are you?

- Norwegian.

When did your experience at sea begin?

- I should say about twenty-five years ago.

You have been at sea pretty continuously since then?

- Yes, all my life -- since I was fifteen years old.

What is your age at present?

- Forty.

Tell me in a general way what kind of a vessel you sail on, and what voyages you have taken?

- Well, I could not say. I have been sailing on a great many ships, but the last years I have been on steamers.

How many years have you been sailing on steamers?

- About twelve years.

On what ocean have you been sailing?

- Nearly all over the world. Mostly here on the North Atlantic.

Have you ever cruised in the North German Ocean?

- Yes.

Have you ever been further north than that?

- Yes. I have been up in the Arctic in the ice many years and have been sailing in the Canadian and North Sea, crossing the Atlantic.

State what your experience has been in seeing ice and icebergs or field ice. I meant to say how often and where have you seen them.

- Well, for instance, I have seen them on the Banks of Newfoundland crossing the Atlantic.

Have you seam them in the Arctic Ocean?

- Yes; many of them.

What part of the Arctic Ocean?

- It has been from Norway up to Spitzbergen and to Greenland and so far as we could go with sailing ships in the sealing trade in the ice, safe to get back again.

You have just arrived from Norway?

- Yes.

Without counting that last voyage, when were you last sailing on steam vessels in the North Atlantic, when you saw ice?

- It was about four years ago on the steamer "Antares".

How long were you crossing on the "Ontaris" in the North Atlantic?

- We used to run between England and Canada in the lumber trade for about two years and in the autumn as well as in the spring time, when we were crossing we very often saw icebergs. We had to stear clear.

Did I understand you to say that you also crossed the Atlantic on sailing ships?

- Oh, yes.

As far north as the banks?

- Yes.

Did you see any icebergs or not when you were on those voyages?

- Yes, we saw a few.

I understand that you saw ice and icebergs when you were on the "Antares" on those voyages that you have just spoke of?

- Yes, we saw many of them.

Have you also seen icebergs on other steamers than the "Antares"?

- Yes, I saw one on an English steamer  the "Manchester City"; I saw an iceberg then too. Also saw icebergs on the voyage on the "Bergensfjord”, the steamer with which I came here.

From your experience with icebergs and field ice, I would like to ask you ---

Mr. Wells:
I object to that. He has said nothing about field ice.

Have you seen field ice in the course of your experience at sea?

- Oh, yes; plenty of it.

By field ice what do you mean?

- I mean ice miles long; flat as the table here.

Have you seen that in the North Atlantic?

- Mostly in the Arctic. Did not see much in the Atlantic.

Have you seen some?

- Yes, I have seen some, but never such big pieces as we see up in the Arctic.

What part in the Atlantic?

- South of the bank of Newfoundland.

Do you consider that ice is a thing you have to lookout for?

- Yes, we always keep a sharp lookout for ice.

Take a dark night, without any moon shining, what would you say about where you were expecting to meet ice what would you say would be a safe speed for the steamer?

Mr. Wells:
Objected to as incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial on the ground that it has no connection with the allegations of the pleadings. There is nothing shown that these conditions existed at the time when the "Titanic" encountered ice.

- Nine or ten knots. It all depends on what speed the steamer was doing.

What would you do if you were a captain of a steamer on a dark night in a part of the North Atlantic Ocean where you fully expected to meet ice and your ship was going at sixteen knots an hour?

Mr. Wells:
I object to the form of the question. It has no bearing on the action. It has not been shown that the "Titanic" fully expected to meet ice.

- Well, I would slow down to half speed. I would not let her go full speed.

To how many knots would you slow down?

- If she did sixteen knots, full speed, I would put her down to ten , nine or ten.

Do you think that would be required by prudent navigation?

- Yes, that is my opinion. That is what I would do.

I understand you often see icebergs at night on the North Atlantic Ocean.?

- Yes.

How close have you passed to icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean at night?

- Once we passed one two lengths of the ship.

How many feet is that?

- Five or six hundred feet.

Were you on the lookout at that time?

- I was alone on the bridge; I was second mate.

Were you on duty?

- Yes, I was on duty.

Were you expecting to meet ice?

- Yes, we were expecting to. I was told by the captain when he saw me to keep a good watch as we were expecting to see ice.

How far away was it when you first saw it?

- I should say it was about four lengths of the ship when we sighted; it. After we came clear, we were about a couple of ship's lengths from it.

And what kind of a night was it? Do you remember anything about the wear, were the stars shining?

- Well, I could see the stars, not all over the sky - a few stars I could see, but no moon light; no fog a rather clear night.

How was it in the day time before the sun set?

- It was fine. It would be cloudy, but not much.

What time did you go on duty, when you were on the bridge?
- I went on duty at eight o'clock at night and was on duty until twelve.

What would you say as to the common practice in your experience with meeting icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean as to navigating when icebergs are expected ahead on a dark night? What would you say was the common practice?

- Always to slow down and be careful and keep a good look out on a dark night. Would very seldom go full speed. I have never been on any ship going full speed. But in the morning, when daylight came, we can go full speed.

You stated that you just arrived from Norway, on what ship?

- The "Bergensfjord".

Did you see any ice on the way over?

- Yes, we saw some ice south of Newfoundland when we were crossing the Banks.

What time of the day was it when you saw the iceberg?

- We saw two in the evening.

Before it was dark?

- Before it was dark; far off we could see it and so the captain gave orders to go slow; to slow down the speed the whole night.

Did the vessel slow down?

- Yes, they did slow down the whole night.

Did it slow down before ice was sighted?

- Yes, it did slow down about eight o'clock at night until they saw the iceberg at about three or four in the morning, and it was not so far off either.

How long was the speed of the ship slowed down?

- Oh, I should say from eight in the evening to four or five in the morning.

What kind of weather was it?

- Well, it was a little bit cloudy, but no fog.

State what your experience has been as to other precautions than slowing down, if any, when you expected to meet ice on a dark night?

- I know nothing else, except sometimes instead of having one man on lookout, we have two and give them orders to keep very good lookout because we expect to see ice. They tell the lookout man about it and sometimes the captain would be on the bridge all night until daylight keeping good lookout on both sides and do all we can and as a rule we slow down and we very often tell the men that we might see ice tonight and perhaps that they may have to slow down and at any time to stop and do whatever the telegraph says - to stop or take her course. Sometimes the engine is rather slow and it would take some time when we are sailing in places where there is any danger. We tell them to be very careful and tell them the danger. We always do this when we  sail across the Banks in Newfoundland and wherever we expect to see ice.

With regard to this field ice which you have told us about, have you ever noticed the temperature near to field ice?

Mr. Wells:
I object to any reference to field ice. There is no question of field ice in this action so far as I know.

- We can as a rule feel the wind from the ice; it is very cold. The water used to be very cold and sometimes you can see a little bit of a haze on top of the ice a bit off. You cannot see that ice far off. In the dark nights it is very hard to see.

Tell me about these icebergs. Have you noticed what color they usually are?

- Yes, they are all white, especially in the spring time, because there is plenty of snow on them and they are white, so we can see the light from them far off.

Have you ever known an iceberg to turn over?

- Oh yes, I have seen many turn over up in the Arctic. I have never seen any turn over in the Atlantic.

What do they look like after turning over?

- They have all kinds of shapes. Those which have been below the water are mostly hard to see because there is more ice. They look blue -- blue white.

Is it a light color?

- Yes, a light color, but not snow white as those that have been above water.

How often have you seen icebergs that have been turned over -

Mr. Wells:
I object. He did not state that he has ever seen any actually turning over.

- I have seen many up in the Arctic, when we were sailing ships --- some times in the day time. But when the snow melts the ice a big piece breaks off from one side and then they turn around.

How often have you seen icebergs that look like those that had turned around?

- I have seen many of them on the Banks of Newfoundland, I could see them. I got experience when a young man.

As to that part of the Atlantic which is near the Banks and the Gulf Stream, does that happen in that neighborhood?

- Yes, it very often happens there, and when the iceberg gets out of water -- they used to capsize.

How do you explain that?

- Because that part of the iceberg that is laying in the water gets melted or shifted one way or another. The part that has been in the water is blue white, while the part that has been out of the water is white because the snow is on it.

Why do you think they turn over? What makes them turn over?

- I could not say. I think sometimes pieces break from them - a part of what is moving in the water falls off from one side and then they turn over.




Your master's certificate which you hold is from the Norwegian Government, I suppose?

- Yes.

You went to sea when you were about fifteen years old?

- Yes.

You went to see first as a young boy?

- Yes, I went first with my father up in the Arctic. He was a captain and he had a sailing vessel himself. He went sealing up there.

Before you went to sea, where had you attended school?

- In Norway.

You did not go to any school after you started to go to sea?

- Not except Mates & Masters School.

How long did you go to that just before you got your certificate?

- Six months.

You went to school as a boy in the Norwegian Public school?

- Yes.

And you have not been to any school or University sincethat? Except this six months at the Masters & Mates School.

- No.

On these sailing vessels that you were on, they have crows nests for the ice pilots up high?

- Yes, right on the top.

Sort of a barrel, usually way up at the mast?

- Yes, sir.

Did you have lookouts up there to keep a lookout for ice some times?

- Yes, they are always up there.

In your voyages across to Canada, were they performed all the year through?

- Yes, not in the winter time. We would start early in the spring and keep, going all summer and as late in autumn as we could.

How early would your voyages begin?

- I should say in February or March.

And what was the size of the "Antares"? How big was she?

- The length?


- Two hundred and eighty feet.

What was her usual speed?

- Ten knots. Some times  more, sometimes less. When she was empty she could do ten and a half and eleven knots.

You were a mate on her, were you?

- Yes.

Not in command of her?

- No. I was only a mate. Of course, I had my own watch during the night and day. When the Captain was asleep, I had to watch.

What ships have you been captain of? What steam ships?

- I have not been captain.

You were just going to take your first command as Captain?

- Yes.

So that when you were on the "Antares" you stood your regular turn on the bridge on watch?

- Yes.

But you did not have the responsibility of captain, did you?

- Not as captain, but I was responsible for my watch as mate.

Yes. But if anything unusual occurred, you called the captain??

- Yes. I had order to call him, if there was any danger. Whenever there was anything wrong.

You have never served on large, high powered steamers, have you? Large, fast steamers?

- No, sir.

Have you over served on a twin screw steamship?

- Yes.

What ship was that?

- It was an English ship, the “Manchester City”.

Do you remember how large she was?

- Well, I could not say how long, but I know she loaded eleven thousand tons.

What was her speed?

- Fifteen or sixteen knots.

You have handled vessels yourself under steam?

- Yes. When I was on watch, I had to slow down from full speed, I took precautions.

Ships when they ace slowed down to slow speed, they sometimes don't steer very well, do they?

- Oh no,  they don't steer so good as when they go half or full speed; they are very slow.

If you want to manoeuvre quickly, you can do that quicker by putting the engine full speed ahead?

- Yes, I can.

Of course, if you had twin screws to assist you, you could make the manoeuvre much quicker still?

- Twice as good as if she were a single screw.

You don't know anything about the practice on these large, high speed and high powered passenger vessels that cross the North Atlantic? You have never served on one of them, have you?

- Never served. What I know is what I have heard.

You said, I think, that on the "Antares" when you were on watch one night, you sighted an iceberg, four lengths away or something like that?

- Yes.

Did you ever stand lookout in the ice fields yourself?

- Yes, I have been.

You were a sailor before you got your license.

- Yes.

And I mean did you stand lookout as sailor?

- Oh, yes, many times.

Did the officers on the bridge have binoculars?

- Yes.

When you stood a lookout as sailor, did you have biniculars?

- No.

Never had binoculars for the lookouts?

- No.

Concerning field ice, Captain, you said that you could sometimes feel the cold wind from it?

- Yes.

That you sometimes tried the water?

- Yes.

And that sometimes there was a little haze from it?

- Yes.

These would all be indications -- all be warnings to you, would they not?

- Yes.

so that you could take precautions, if you saw these indications?

- Yes, we always do that.

In other words, if you felt a cold wind of that sort, or tried the water, and found that its temperature was going down, or if you saw a little haze ahead, a little haze or something of that sort, you would usually take some precautions, wouldn't you?

- Yes.

On the "Bergensfjord", the steamship that you just came over on, what personal knowledge have you as to the slowing down, etc.?

- Well, we had about seven hundred passengers aboard, and in the afternoon when we were going to cross the banks at Newfoundland, the Captain or the crew put up in the dining saloon a big paper and on the paper they wrote that there was no danger and that the passengers were not to be afraid if they heard the engine was going to be slowed, down, because the captain had to be careful with the ship, he was expecting ice and he would not go full speed during the night. That was put right on the paper on the wall.

That was the paper up on the board?

- It was for all passengers to see.

Did you stay up all night; were you afraid of it?

- No. But I was lying awake very often during the night and I could hear the ship when slowing down, when going slow or half speed.

But you did not know what the telegraph said about changing speed?

- No. I did not know whether half or slow speed, or whatever steam they cut down to. I should say she was going about half.

That was the only trip you made on the "Bergensfjord"?

- Yes.

So that you do not know how the "Bergensfjord" vibrates at different speeds?

- Not exactly. When she went full speed, she was quiet.

Less vibration. You could not tell what speed she was going at?

- I could not tell, but I got experience from many steamers, that did slow down. I travelled  on many. If going half speed she does not shake much.

Were you ever on a ship that shook most at certain speeds different from slow? Do you think every ship that you have been on shakes the most at slow speed?

- I think they shake most at slow speed.

And you think they shake less at full speed?

- Yes.

Do they shake any when stopped?

- No. I don't think that all steamers are alike. Some steamers shake  much and some don't shake much.

They differ - all steamers are different?

- Yes.

You said that some time during the night you passed an iceberg?

- Yes, we passed one.

Did you get up to see it?

- I did not see it; somebody told me about it.

How much of the time did you remember that the ship was shaking this way, so that you thought she was going slowly?

- I could feel the shaking about eight o'clock at night and then could hear the telegraph and I walked on deck and could see the sign. I was up in the night and heard the telegraph.

how long did she shake that way?

- She was shaking all night to late in the morning.

Were you awake all night?

- No, I did sleep. I would wake up and fall asleep again. At four o'clock I was on deck.

At six?

- At four, and then they were going half speed or slow, or ----

You don't know what rate they were going?

- No, but not they were not going full speed up to six o'clock. They were going full speed when I fell asleep.

But you slept during the night?

- Yes.

You have no idea how you were going when you were asleep?

- No, but I don't think they could go full speed a few hours and then slow down and go full speed again because she was shaking in the evening about twelve o'clock and also when I went out on the deck she was shaking. I slept during the night and I thought she was going half or slow.

You just base your judgment on what you felt during your waking moments?

- Yes.

But you have no real knowledge as to what they did while you were asleep, of course?

- No. I only know what happened ----

I suppose, Captain, that if you think that if there were two officers on the bridge that would be a precaution, would it not, proper to take?

- Yes.

Two lookouts?

- Yes.

That would be proper precaution with regard to lookouts?

- Yes.

If there were three officers on the bridge, it would be still better?

- Yes, it might be.

Of course, you usually have seen the Captain and the officer on watch on the ships that you have been on?

- Yes.

If they had plenty of officers, another officer would be still better precaution, would it not?

- Yes, of course. But there were not so many. They would not have so many.

Never on the ships that you he been on?

- No.

You have talked about icebergs that capsize, Captain?

- Yes.

Did you state that those icebergs capsized, that is the ones that you saw capsize, the ones that you actually saw, I want to find out just exactly about them.

- A I was mate as a young boy up in the Arctic where I as travelling with my father and with a sealing vessel. We saw them all hours and sometimes we nearly got icebergs over the ship. We were so used to it, we took little notice of it.

Did you ever see any iceberg actually capsize on your voyages over to Canada?

- No, I did not see any actually capsized in the Atlantic.




Captain, you spoke of taking certain precautions when you expected to meet ice at night -- on a dark night. Now would it matter or not if you knew that you were going to meet the ice? Or would you take those precautions in any event?

- Well, I knew it was night. I would take that precaution for I knew I was sailing in places where there was ice. I would do everything to prevent any dangers, whatever I could meet.

Are you speaking of the precaution that you have already testified to?

- Yes, that is the only thing we could do, to be very careful; to give good lookout, and if the weather seemed to be foggy or not, to slow down and go at less speed, give a good lookout from the bridge.

What do you think you ought to slow down to on a night which was dark and where the sea was calm. Where you expected to meet ice?

- I would slow down to half speed and if I did not slow down I would put another lookout up -- be ready at any time to slow down, keeping steam on top.

Would that make her go faster?

- It makes her go a little bit slower.

Take this “City of Manchester” that you were on, she was of a speed of how much?

- I would say fifteen or sixteen knots.

Under these weather conditions that I have spoken of, have you known her to slow down?

- I know when we were passing those banks and where there was a fear of ice, we used to slow down, but I could not say whether she slowed down to half speed, she would slow up,  -- less during the night and in the morning we would go full speed again.

And that was irrespective whether there was any fog or not?

- That was in the night time, when they did expect ice.

Is it your opinion that the Captain ought to slow down?

- Yes that is my opinion. They have to slow down. Never go full speed when they expect to see ice.

You are speaking now of day time, or night time?

- At night time. In the day time when they can see far off, they can go fast, full speed, unless the fog should be very thick. Yes, in the day time they have to slow down too sometimes.




You are just speaking from the experience you have gained from the character of ships you have served on, I suppose?

- Yes, just speaking from my own experience and from what I have been learning from Captains and where I have been.

Just on ships you have been on?

- Yes.

On the "Manchester City", can you state that every communication that the Captain received concerning ice was communicated to you?

- He never told me anything about it. That is all only what I heard, because I would ask why they slowed down and they would tell me because they were afraid of meeting ice, so they --

What was your position on the "Manchester City"?

- I was chief boatswain.

You were not an officer on her?

- Not officer at that time nothing to do on the bridge.

So that you don't really know, except by hearsay from the other people around.

- No.

The captain did not tell you every time he got a message of ice, did he?

- He never told me.