TIP | Limitation of Liability Hearings | Deposition of George Rheims

Limitation of Liability Hearings



Proctors for Claimants Frederick K. Seward et al,

In The Matter
The Petition of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company,
Limited, for Limitation of its liability as owner of the S.S.


Deposition of GEORGE RHEIMS, taken pursuant to notice before Robinson Leach, Esq., Notary Public, at No. 165 Broadway, New York, on November 14, 1913, at two o'clock P. M.


Hunt, Hill & Betts by Mr. Betts and Mr. Kinnicutt, for claimants, Frederick K. Seward, et al;
Mr. Houston;
Mr. F. R. Smythe;
Mr. F. L. Robbins;
Mr. Church;
Mr. Hency C. Quinby;
Mr. Frederick A. Stroh,
for other claimants.

Mr. Burlingham and Mr. Leach
for the 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 petitioner's proctors.

GEORGE RHEIMS, being duly sworn, testified as follows:


Q. Will you give your full name?
- George Lucia Rheims.

Q. And your residence?
- Paris, France.

Q. Were you a passenger on board the "Titanic"?
- Yes.

Q. Where did you embark?
- Cherbourg.

Q. Where did you buy your ticket?
- At Martin's in Paris.

Q. Was anything said to you by the person who sold you your ticket with regard to anything on the back of the ticket?

Mr. Burlingham:
Objected to.

- Nothing.

Q. On the night of the 14th of April, 1912, where were you at about 11:40 o'clock?
- I was coming out of the bathroom.

Q. On what part of the ship?
- On the forward part of the ship.

Q. What deck?
- Deck A.

Q. Did anything peculiar happen about that time?
- Just the time of the accident, the shock.

Q. Just state what you felt?
- Why I was coming out of the bathroom and I felt a slight shock, and I turned to see what had happened and in looking to the right I saw through the window something white; it seemed to pass rapidly; of course at that time I did not know what it was; I now suppose it was an iceberg.

Q. This was looking through one of the windows in the lavatory?
- In the passageway.

Q. In the passageway?
- Outside of the lavatory.

Q. In what general direction with regard to the ship were you looking when you saw this white object?
- I was looking to my right.

Q. Across the ship or lengthwise?
- Across the ship.

Q. Do I understand you correctly to say that you saw this white object not at right angles, but nevertheless on one side as you looked down with reference to the ship?
- Yes.

Q. What were you doing at that particular moment when you saw this object?
- I was just closing the door going into the bathroom.

Q. And you looked back before the door had been closed?
- I turned and looked to my right.

Q. While the door was still open?
- Yes.

Q. Where did you go then?
- I went to my stateroom.

Q. How soon afterwards did you find out that the ship had struck an iceberg?
- About ten minutes, I should say; 10 or 15 minutes.

Q. State what you did afterward with reference to the decks that you went on?
- I went to my stateroom, and as I was going into my stateroom.

Q. Where was your stateroom?
- A-21.

Q. Which side of the ship?
- Port. [A-21 was actually on the starboard side of the ship, as shown in the linked image.]

Q. Go ahead?
- And I met my steward there and I talked to him and asked him if he knew what had happened. He said he didn't know but thought that something might have happened to the machinery.

Q. Going back a minute, did you, after you felt this shock and saw this white object, notice anything else?
- No.

Q. Did you notice anything with regard to the progress of the ship? I ask you whether you noticed anything about the engines?
- I did not notice that the engines were stopped right away; they were not stopped right away; of that I am positive.

Q. When did you first feel any change with reference to the operation of the engines?
- A few minutes after the shock, possibly two or three minutes; might have been less.

Q. Could it have been immediately after the shock?
- No.

Q. You then felt some change in the engines?
- Felt that the engines were stopped.

Q. After this conversation with the steward did anything particular happen before you went on deck?
- Yes, my brother-in-law came up from his stateroom and he met me at the top of the stairway and we talked for four or five minutes more.

Q. Did you have any life preserver on at this time?
- No.

Q. Did you subsequently put one on?
- I did.

Q. What was the occasion of that?
- I was told to put one on.

Q. Who was it that told you to put on a life preserver?
- Andrews.

Q. Who was Andrews?
- I think he was a ship builder or ship designer.

Q. Did he have any on himself?
- I don't remember; I do not think so.

Q. Did he tell you why you were to put one on?
- No.

Q. How long was it before you went out doors on any deck after the time that you felt the original shock?
- Well, I went out on the A deck first about ten or fifteen minutes after the shock.

Q. Later did you go on another deck?
- I went up on the boat deck.

Q. That was say how many minutes after?
- About 25 minutes.

Q. That is altogether from the shock?
- Yes.

Q. State what you saw with reference to lifeboats at that time?
- When I got up there, they were lowering one of the lifeboats on the starboard side.

Q. Were any orders given as to who should get into the lifeboats?
- Yes, the officer who was in command said "Women and children first; men stand back".

Q. Was that order generally obeyed?
- Yes, but some men managed at the last minute just before they were lowering the lifeboats to scramble in just the same.

Q. To what extent was this first boat filled before it was lowered?
- About three-quarters.

Q. Did you see any other lifeboats loaded afterwards?
- I should say about five or six.

Q. This was on what side?
- Some on the starboard side and some on the port side.

Q. What will you say as to these lifeboats as to whether they were completely filled before being lowered?
- They were not completely filled.

Q. How many will you make that remark about?
- I could swear to at least four.

Q. Well by not completely filled, will you state about what you mean?
- About one-half or three-quarters filled.

Q. Did you hear any particular noise?
- Yes I heard two pistol shots.

Q. About how long before the ship sank?
- About 40 minutes before she sank.

Q. How long did you stay on the ship?
- I left the ship, I jumped off the ship about one-quarter of an hour before she sank.

Q. How high was the deck from which you jumped from the water on your side at that time?
- About 15 feet.

Q. What deck did you jump from?
- I jumped from the boat deck.

Q. What part of the boat deck did you jump from with reference to the length of the ship?
- I jumped on the starboard side near the gymnasium.

Q. Was that pretty well forward?
- I think about mid-ships.

Q. About midships?
- I think so.

Q. What happened to you, Mr. Rheims, after you jumped?
- I swam out to go away from the "Titanic" to avoid the suction, but there was no suction; I did not notice any; and while I was swimming I looked over my shoulder and saw the "Titanic" go down.

Q. Describe how she looked when she was going down?
- She went down straight; I saw the screws out of the water in the air; she went down perfectly straight; put her nose in the water; then when she disappeared I turned and tried to come back, where I thought she had gone down, in order to get hold of a piece of wreckage, and I saw some people who seemed to be standing in the water, when I got on this Engelhardt A, which was sunken in the water, and remained there all night and was picked up in the morning by one of the lifeboats from the "Titanic".

Q. What time did they take the people off this boat into the other life boat?
- Must have been 6 or 6:30 in the morning.

Q. Day break then?
- Yes.

Q. Light?
- Yes.

Q. How many people were taken off this collapsible boat?
- 13 or 14. The boat was sinking when picked up.

Q. How deep were you standing in the water on her?
- When we were picked up the water was up to my hips.

Q. How many other people were taken off?
- 13 or 14.

Q. And can you state anything as to whether any died on the raft?
- There were three bodies left on the raft and probably two or three more died during the night.

Q. Did you see any lights of any vessel other than the lifeboats before you left the ship?
- I did not.

Q. When did you first see the "Carpathia"?
- I saw her lights probably at four o'clock in the morning.

Q. Did you see her come to a stop?
- Yes I did.

Q. How far off was she from you when she stopped?
- I should say two miles.

Q. While you were on the Engelhardt was any attempt made to row the raft whatever?
- None whatever; it was impossible.

Q. Why?
- Because the boat was half sunken; we did not have any oars.

Q. Were the canvas sides up?
- No, they were not up.

Q. You did not see the collapsible get oft the ship, did you?
- No.

Q. When it became light did you see any icebergs?
- Yes I did.

Q. How many?
- About four or five large ones.

Q. Did you see any during the night?
- No.

Q. I show you a rough drawing. Will you state when and where you made it and what it represents?
- That represents the largest iceberg.

Q. Of those that you saw?
- Yes, of those I saw.

Q. Have you a pretty clear recollection that that was the shape of it?
- Yes.

Same marked Claimant's Exhibit A for identification.

Mr. Burlingham:
I object on the ground that it has nothing whatever to do with the case; an iceberg seen by a gentleman in the morning.

Q. Did you make this drawing at our request?
- Yes, I did.

Q. How long ago?
- A few minutes ago, but I made one some time ago at the office.

Q. What can you state as to the color of these four icebergs that you saw in the morning?
- They were white.

Q. Wholly or partly?
- Wholly white.

Mr. Burlingham:
I object to this on the ground that it is immaterial, irrelevant and incompetent what the appearance of certain icebergs were in the morning.

Q. This applies to the iceberg of which you have made a drawing, marked for identification Exhibit A?
- It does.

Q. How far off was this iceberg when you saw it?
- About two miles.

Q. Did you see any field ice at that time?
- I did; I saw some floating ice.

Q. In the distance?
- Yes.

Q. Did you pass through any when you got on the "Carpathia"?
- Some small pieces.

Q. Did you see how far the field ice extended?
- It must have been three or four miles away from us.

Q. What was the area of this field ice?
- I do not know.

Q. Now going back to the time before the collision. Where were you that evening during the hour before the collision?
- I was in the smoking room.

Q. State whether or not you recollect any incident with regard to the speed of the ship at that time?
- Yes; I was in the smoking room with my brother-in-law, Joseph Loring, who was lost, and we were trying to figure on the speed of the boat to see what the run would be the next day; then the steward whom I think they called the Commodore Steward, because I think he is the oldest steward, came up to us and said, "Gentlemen, -".

Mr. Burlingham:
I object to anything said by the steward as incompetent,

Q. State what you and the steward did?
- We went outside of the smoking room in a hallway. I cannot say anything the steward said?

Q. Tell what happened with the steward?
- Well, the steward said we might figure on a bigger run.

Mr. Burlingham:
This is taken subject to my objection. (witness continuing) and we said, "Why?", and he answered "Because we are making faster speed than we were yesterday", My brother-in-law said "What do you know about it"; he said "I got it from the engine room". My brother-in-law said "That don't mean anything". He said, "Gentlemen, come out and see for yourself". He said, "you notice that the vibration of the boat is much greater tonight than it has ever been". We went out in the passage hallway right outside of the smoking room and we stood there and he said "Now you will notice the vibration", and we did notice the vibration, which was very strong that night, and my brother-in-law, whose stateroom was right underneath the passage, said: "I never noticed this vibration before; we are evidently making very good speed".

Q. You personally felt the vibration?
- Yes.

Q. Had you noticed the vibration before yourself?
- Never noticed it.

Q. Had you been in that part of the ship before?
- Constantly; every night went in the smoking room.

Q. Can you state anything as to the dimensions of this iceberg of which you have drawn a picture?

Mr. Burlingham:
Same objection.

A. Well, I suppose it was about two miles off and about 100 feet high, to the best of my knowledge.

Q. You cannot state anything as to the other dimensions?
- No.

Q. How did it compare in heighth with the other three bergs you saw at the same time?
- Larger, it seemed.

Q. When you saw this white object out of the window of the lavatory was it on a level with your eyes?
- I don't get that exactly.

Q. Could you see whether the white object extended above the window, or was it below the window?
- I think it extended above the window.


Q. When you looked out of the porthole and saw this white object, was that object above you or below you?
- I do not quite get that. It was evidently above me or I would not have seen it otherwise.

Q. As you looked out of the window; did it seem to be above you?
- Yes.

Q. And you were then on the A deck?
- Yes, A deck.


Q. In other words, all you saw was a white object passing?
- Yes.

Q. White bulk?
- Yes.


Q. How about the weather that night?
- Very clear.

Q. Did you see stars overhead?
- Oh yes.

Q. Did you notice whether there was any mist low down on the water that night?
- I did not see any.

Continued >