Sir ERNEST SHACKLETON, Sworn.
Examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.
25014. You have had a large experience of ice? - Yes.
25015. I want you to help the Court with your views, as a result of your
experience, first of all with regard to the visibility of ice in clear
weather. Take icebergs first? - That entirely depends on the height of the
iceberg. Take an iceberg of about 80 feet high, and the ordinary type of
iceberg that has not turned over, you could see that in clear weather about
ten to twelve miles.
25016. At night? - Not at night, no. I would say, providing it was an
ordinary berg, about five miles on a clear night.
25017. (The Commissioner.) At night? - Yes, at night.
25018. (The Attorney-General.) You said provided it was an ordinary berg? -
25019. Are there bergs which present a different appearance in colour? -
There are many bergs I have seen that appear to be black, due to the
construction of the berg itself, and also due to the earthy matter and rocks
that are in all bergs. In fact, in the South many of these so-called
islands, and charted as islands, must have been big bergs with earthy matter
on them. Again, after a berg has capsized, if it is not of close
construction it is more porous and taking up the water does not reflect
light in any way.
25020. Have you had large experience of this particular track? - Not much,
only four or five times I have seen ice in the North Atlantic.
25021. Have you ever seen ice of this particular dark character to which you
have referred in the North Atlantic? - Yes, twice.
25022. (The Commissioner.) In the North Atlantic? - Yes.
25023. (The Attorney-General.) Was that on the outward route to the States?
- On the outward route, yes - once outward and once homeward.
25024. Do you remember about what time it was of the year? - In about April,
I think, 1897, and again in May, 1903, and again in June, 1910, but that was
25025. Is this right that you have seen altogether on the North Atlantic
track ice on four or five occasions? - Yes.
25026. That is four or five voyages? - Yes.
25027. Extending evidently over a very considerable period of time? - That
25028. Beginning in 1897? - Yes.
25029. Out of those four or five times is it right that you twice saw these
dark-coloured icebergs? - I would not like to say on the last two occasions.
My memory will not serve me more than that. I have noticed on one occasion
at least more than one berg that did not reflect light.
25030. What I meant was - I want to follow your evidence - that of the four
or five occasions of which you have spoken, two of them were occasions on
which, as I understood you, you have seen ice of this dark colour? - Yes,
but I would like to add that I have seen at the same time other ice - ice of
a different colour.
25031. Yes, I see what you mean - there would be other ice of a different
colour, but amongst it you saw twice icebergs of this dark colour? - Of
darker colour, yes.
Sir Robert Finlay: I understood him to say that once he was sure of only.
The Attorney-General: No, he gave dates, one in 1897 and the other in 1903.
Sir Robert Finlay: I thought he qualified that.
25032. (The Attorney-General.) We will get it right. (To the Witness.) My
friend thinks that you qualified what you said about the twice suggesting
that you were certain of one, but not certain of the other occasion? - I was
certain of the "other occasion," but I qualified it only inasmuch as that on
the same occasion I saw different coloured ice.
25033. (The Commissioner.) Am I to understand that you saw several bergs on
these five voyages that you have spoken of? - Yes, my Lord.
25034. On only one berg on each occasion? - No, on one occasion there were
several bergs. On the first occasion, I remember it was a low lying berg
which was evidently a capsized berg.
25035. You only saw one berg? - That is all I remember.
25036. Then on the second occasion you saw several bergs? - Yes.
25037. Did you see several on the other three occasions? - No, my Lord; some
of them were just small pieces. I would not call them big bergs, not like
the southern bergs.
25038. Are they called growlers? - I have never heard that term applied to
them, but I believe it is a well-known term. I have read of such, but we
never call them growlers, we call them floe bergs when they were not the
height of an actual big berg carved off from the land, but a berg that had
capsized, having worn out underneath.
25039. (The Attorney-General.) You have spoken of the distance at which you
would see bergs. You told us, I think I am right in saying, 10 or 12 miles
in the daytime on a clear day, and 5 miles on a clear night? - Yes.
25040. How far would you see one of these dark bergs on a clear night,
assuming it to be 60 to 80 feet high? - It might be only three miles,
depending on the night and depending almost entirely on the condition of the
sea at the time. With a dead calm sea there is no sign at all to give you
any indication that there is anything there. If you first see the breaking
sea at all, then you look for the rest and you generally see it. That is on
the waterline. I do not say very high, because from a height it is not so
easily seen; it blends with the ocean if you are looking down at an angle
like that. If you are on the sea level it may loom up.
25041. That would rather suggest that your view would be that you could
detect bergs of that kind better at the stem than you could at the
crow's-nest? - Better, the nearer you are to the waterline. When we
navigated in thick or hazy weather there was always one man on the look-out
and one man as near the deck line as possible.
25042. That is thick or hazy weather? - Yes, that is thick or hazy weather,
or even clear just the same.
25043. What I want you to tell my Lord is, Do you think it is of advantage
in clear weather to have a man stationed right ahead at the stem as well as
in the crow's-nest? - Undoubtedly, if you are in the danger zone; in the ice
25044. And supposing you were passing through a zone where you had ice
reported to you, would you take precautions as to the look-out? Supposing
you only had men in the crow's-nest, would you take any other precautions? -
I would take the ordinary precaution of slowing down, whether I was in a
ship equipped for ice or any other, compatible with keeping steerage way for
the size of the ship.
25045. You would slow down? - I would slow down, yes.
And supposing you were going 21 to 22 knots, I suppose that would be the
better reason for slowing down? - You have no right to go at that speed in
an ice zone.
25046. (The Commissioner.) And you think that all these liners are wrong in
going at this speed in regions where ice has been reported? - Where it has
been reported I think the possibility of accident is greatly enhanced by the
speed the ship goes.
25047. We have been told that none of these liners slow down even though
they know that they are going through an ice region - that is to say a
region where there are icebergs? - I have been in a ship which was specially
built for ice, but I took the precaution to slow down because you can only
tell the condition of any ice you see; there may be projecting spurs and you
may suddenly come across them.
25048. What was the speed of the boat you were in? - She was only six knots
at full speed. She was 40 years old.
25049. Do you mean to say that you slowed down a vessel of six knots? - Yes,
I always did.
25050. Then what did you get to? - We got very near the South Pole, my Lord.
25051. What speed did you get down to? - We slowed down to about four knots.
At her best she did six knots.
25052. At her best she did six knots; that was not the ship that you got
near to the South Pole in? - Yes, that is the ship; she was very old; she
was very small.
25053. (The Attorney-General.) I still want you to give me your attention
with regard to the look-out. You have told me your views with regard to
speed. Suppose you had two men in the crow's-nest, and it was a clear night,
and you were going through a region in which ice had been reported, would
you put any person in the bow for a look-out? - I would put a look-out man
in the bow or as near to the waterline as possible, even on a clear night,
but I would only have one man in the crow's-nest.
25054. Your idea would be that of the two men when coming into an ice
region, one should go to the bow and one be in the crow's-nest? - My main
reason for saying one man in the crow's-nest is that I think one man gives
more attention to the work in hand than two men.
The Attorney-General: There is a good deal to be said for that.
The Commissioner: Yes, I think so.
25055. (The Attorney-General.) If I follow you correctly your view is, it is
better on a clear night passing through an ice region to have a man as near
the waterline as possible? - Yes.
25056. Which would be preferable, the bow or the crow's-nest? - I would have
a man in both, one in the crow's-nest and one in the bow; and if I may say
this, I would prefer in a liner to go where there is known danger than to go
in a Southerly route where you may occasionally get a berg, because some of
these bergs drift from the North, very big bergs drift down into navigable
waters, where no one would expect to find them; and then a ship comes to
damage; whereas if you are looking for danger you guard against it more, or
25057. I think we have been told they drift from North to South? - Yes, by
the Labrador Current.
25058. One other matter I wanted you to tell us about and that is with
regard to the use of glasses for look-out men. You know the point. It has
been suggested here that binoculars should be used by the look-out men,
particularly if they have had a report of ice. Will you tell my Lord your
view about that? - My Lord, I do not believe in any look-out man having
glasses at all. I only believe in the Officer using them, and then only when
something has been reported in a certain quarter or certain place on the
25059. The man would pick it up with his eyes and the Officer would find out
what it is with the glasses? - Yes, you have the whole range of the horizon
in one moment with your eyes and you localise it by using glasses.
25060. I ought to ask you this. Is there any indication of the proximity of
ice by the fall of temperature? - Unless the wind is blowing from a large
field of ice to windward there is no indication at all by the methods that
are used now, and it is a very poor thing to go upon, is the change of
temperature. The film of fresh water that covers the sea is so thin that by
dipping in a bucket you do not pick up that thin cold water; and if the
temperature of the air is approximately the temperature of the sea there is
practically no haze; it is only when the water is warmer or the air is
warmer that the haze occurs. There are no methods that I have heard of
before this that can really give you an indication of approaching ice by
ordinary temperature methods.
25061. Supposing you were approaching an ice region, that is a region in
which you had ice reported to you, and you found the temperature getting
colder, would that be any indication to you that you were getting close? -
No, it depends upon whether there was a wind or not.
The Commissioner: On this occasion we were told that, at all events, from 3
o'clock in the afternoon there was no wind.
25062. (The Attorney-General.) No wind, and the temperature fell very much.
The Witness: Then if there was no wind and the temperature fell abnormally
for the time of the year, I would consider I was approaching an area that
might have ice in it.
25063. (The Attorney-General.) According to the evidence - I am only dealing
with one part of it - perhaps the most striking part - during the afternoon
on this particular occasion on 14th April of this year, the temperature was
reported to be falling, so much so that the Captain ordered the carpenter to
see that the water in his tanks did not freeze. Would that be any indication
to you? - If I knew what the mean temperature of that locality was for that
month of the year and there was a great variation, then I would certainly
think there was some abnormal disturbance in the ice to the North. Of
course, that particular night was an abnormal night at sea in being a flat
calm; it is a thing that might never occur again.
25064. That is what Mr. Lightoller says. You say apparently it is very rare
to get such a flat calm as there was that night? - I only remember it once
or twice in about 20 years' experience - the sea absolutely calm, without a
swell, as it was recorded to have been.
25065. And if I followed correctly what you said earlier it would make it
more difficult to pick up an iceberg with the eyes? - Decidedly.
25066. If you had this calm sea? - Yes, decidedly so.
25067. Although it was a clear night? - Yes.
25068. There would be no indication of the water breaking round it? - No,
there would be none in a condition like that. It takes very little sea and
very little swell, with the Northern bergs which are submerged about seven
times to one above, for what we call a splash to get up and give you an
25069. We have been told of the phenomenon of the ice-blink? - Yes.
25070. Would that be effected at all by the night we have had described or
is it a variable thing? - On a night such as you have described, if there
was a big field of ice, the blink would most certainly be seen very, very
clearly. If there was really what we call big fields, miles and miles of
ice, then you would see the edge, what we call the water-sky, that is where
the ice-field ends.
25071. But you would not expect to get the ice-blink with an iceberg? - No,
I would not.
25072. Does that mean it does not throw off any of its luminosity? - Well,
it does not reflect any light that there may be, one single berg; it takes
ice in the mass to do that; it is like a whole lot of deck lights along the
side of a ship; they look one glare instead of isolated things.
Examined by Mr. SCANLAN.
25073. Just one question, Sir Ernest: Do you frequently find a haze in close
proximity to an iceberg? - Generally when the temperatures are different -
the temperature of the water and the temperature of the air.
Examined by Sir ROBERT FINLAY.
25074. What was the tonnage of the boat you went to the South Pole in? - Two
hundred and twenty-seven.
25075. How high was it on the forecastle at the stem above the water? - When
we were loaded it was about 14 feet, 14 feet from the forecastle to the
waterline. From the crow's-nest it was about 90 feet.
25076. About 90 feet? - Yes.
25077. Then the comparison you are making is between the height of 90 feet
in the crow's-nest on your foremast? - Yes.
25078. And a height of 14 feet on your stem? - I do not make a comparison. I
say from 90 feet, which is the crow's-nest of the "Titanic," we will say,
which equals our crow's-nest, and from the waterline, as near as we can get
it. If we could have got right down to the waterline we would have done so.
The advantage lies in being as near the waterline as possible. You suffered
from a disadvantage, certainly, in the "Titanic" by not being able to get as
near to the waterline as we did in the "Nimrod."
25079. If I gather rightly, your view is that if you are near the waterline,
it is an advantage in seeing icebergs? - Yes.
25080. And that is an advantage which a small boat like yours, which most of
us have read about, has. You had that advantage in that boat? - We had that
advantage over other vessels to a certain extent.
25081. Your outside rate was six knots? - Yes.
25082. You slowed down in ice to four knots? - Yes.
25083. You say you slowed down. I suppose you experienced in going to the
South Pole a very great deal of ice? - Yes, a great deal. We first got into
the vanguard of the ice before we got to the heavy pack, and then we got
into the region of icebergs, where we had to turn and twist. Sometimes we
would have 8 hours' run, but ice suddenly comes up in front of you, and then
you slow down at once.
25084. The pace you speak of, four knots, was when you were in among the
ice, turning and twisting, as you have described it? - Yes, when we were in
the ice region. I would not like to compare in any way the North Atlantic,
with its comparatively few bergs, with the South, but if I were going 20
knots, I would want to get down to the steerage way just the same as when I
am going six knots I want to get down to four knots.
25085. But you do not compare the state of things which you found, as you
were approaching the South Pole, where you had to turn and twist among the
icebergs and masses of ice, with what prevails in the North Atlantic? - No,
I do not compare it. The point I look at is, when you get a very fast speed,
you must slow down, even as we in narrow waters had to slow down in our
25086. Slow down to four knots? - We did.
25087. What do you suggest a liner should slow down to? - I am not qualified
to give an opinion, but I should suggest a liner should slow down
sufficiently to give her steering way, which is, of course, more than the
full speed of my own smaller ship.
25088. What do you estimate would give a vessel like the "Titanic" steering
way? - I am not qualified to say. I do not know enough of the turning
movement of ships over 10,000 tons; I should say 10 knots.
25089. (The Commissioner.) That would be half-speed, practically? - Yes, my
25090. (Sir Robert Finlay - To the Witness.) Is your suggestion that all
liners in the Atlantic should slow down to 10 knots as soon as they know
that they may come across an iceberg? - As soon as they know they are in an
absolute ice locality, which they can tell now because of the wireless.
25091. My expression was, "As soon as they know they may come across an
iceberg"? - No, I do not say that.