Limitation of Liability Hearings


The New York Times, Sunday, June 27, 1915:


Witness Says There Was Plenty of Room in the Fourteen He Saw.




Naval Constructor Asserts Ill-Fated Ship Should Have Had More Bulkheads


When trial was resumed yesterday in the United States District Court of the suit brought by the White Star Line to limit its liabilities resulting from the sinking of the Titanic in April, 1912, the first witness called was William J. Mellors of England, who was a second-class passenger on the ill-fated ship.

Mr. Mellors said that but half of the fourteen lifeboats he saw lowered were filled.  Because of excitement on the part of the crew, he said, many persons were prevented from entering the boats. The witness clung for hours to a collapsable boat, which floated, although not in working order, until he was picked up.  The witness said Mrs. Rose Abbott, another second-class passenger, was not permitted by the crew to enter an unfilled boat and saved herself by clinging with the witness to the collapsible boat.  Mellors saw officers of the Titanic threaten male passengers with  revolvers, to prevent them from entering the last lifeboat as it was being lowered.

Captain Robert Niss of the steamship Bohemia, who offered expert testimony on Friday, furnished detailed information from the log book of the Pisa, which preceded the Titanic by thirty hours.  The log showed that on April 13 the Pisa encountered an extensive field of ice and seven large bergs and he promptly sent wireless warnings to all quarters. Captain Henry Meyerdierks of the steamship President Grant, who also testified on Friday, was recalled.  He furnished expert testimony corroborating the testimony of Captain Niss on Friday regarding the difficulty of seeing icebergs at night.

Richard Robinson, President of the Lake Submarine Company, formerly chief naval constructor of the U.S. Navy Department, said the Titanic was built on a two-compartment theory, but that she represented such an unusual increase in size a new theory should have been mapped out by the builders before constructing a ship that was to represent so large an investment of money and carry so many passengers. He said there should have been more transverse bulkheads on the Titanic to insure reasonable safety.  The hearing was adjourned until next Wednesday morning.