Collision and beyond in survivors‘ evidences

Engine Room Watch

Frederick Barrett (Leading Stoker)

British Inquiry, Day 3 (May 7th, 1912)

1854. Now can you tell me where you were or what you were doing just at the time the collision happened?
– I was talking to the second engineer [John Henry Hesketh]


1860. Now just tell us what happened that you noticed?
– There is like a clock rigged up in the stokehold and a red light goes up when the ship is supposed to stop; a white light for full speed, and, I think it is a blue light for slow. This red light came up. I am the man in charge of the watch, and I called out, „Shut all dampers.“

1861. You saw this red light?
– Yes.

1862. You knew that was an order to stop the engines?
– It says „stop“ – a red piece of glass and an electric light inside.

1863. Shutting the dampers, I suppose, would be?
– To shut the wind off the fires.

1864. To shut the draught off the fires. And you gave an order, „Shut the dampers“?
– Yes.

1865. Was that order obeyed?
– Yes.

1866. What was the next thing that happened?
– The crash came before we had them all shut.

1867. They were shutting them when the crash came?
– Yes.


1915. (The Solicitor-General.) I think we shall find out, my Lord. (To the Witness.) Can you tell me whether that is one of the watertight doors that is worked from the bridge?
– It is.

1916. At the time the accident happened it was open. You and Mr. Hesketh got through it just in time and it shut down behind you?
– Yes.


1926. Then what did you do when you got into No. 5?
– Mr. Hesketh shouted out „all hands stand by your stations.“ That is for the men to stand by the fires. My station was in the next boiler room, and Mr. Shepherd and I went up an escape and down to the boiler room, but we could not get in. There were 8 feet of water in it.

1927. (The Solicitor-General.) I do not know whether your Lordship caught that. I will ask it again. It is more satisfactory than my telling you. (To the Witness.) I was asking you, and I will get you to repeat it slowly and clearly, what happened when you got through this doorway and into No. 5? You told me that Mr. Hesketh gave an order?
– Yes.

1928. What was the order he gave?
– „Every man to his station.“

1929. Your station was No. 6?
– Yes.

1930. The one you had just come from?
– Yes.

1931. Then what did you do?
– Me and Mr. Shepherd, that is the engineer who is in my section, go up the escape of No. 5 and down No. 6 escape.

1932. You tried to go back into the place you had come from?
– Yes, we did go back, but we could not go in there because there were about eight feet of water when we got there.

1933. You could not get back to No. 6 through the doorway because it was shut?
– Yes.

1934. So you had to go up one escape and down another?
– Yes.

1935. When you came into No. 6 what water did you find in it then?
– Eight feet above the plates.

1936. That is a rise of six feet since you left it?
– Yes.

1937. (The Commissioner.) How long?
– It was not a quarter of an hour, just on ten minutes.


1965. Let us understand it. You said that the bunker in No. 5 had got some water coming into it?
– Yes; but the hole was not so big in that section as it was in No. 6 section. By the time the water had got there she had stopped.


1970. Now tell us what happened after that. We have come back to No. 5, and you say they were attending to the pumps there. What was the next thing that happened?
– They rang through from the engine room to send all the stokers up and me to remain there.

1971. They rang through from the engine room. The engine room is further aft, of course?
– Yes, right aft.

1972. It is under the after funnel?
– They have a telephone in every section.

1973. The engine room is between the third and fourth funnels? They telephoned from the engine room to No. 5 section did they?
– Yes.

1974. And what did you say the message was?
– Send all the stokers up.

American Inquiry, Day 18, taken by Senator Smith aboard S.S. Olympic (May 25h, 1912)

Q. Were you there [in 6 section] when the accident occurred? – A. Yes. I was standing talking to the second engineer. The bell rang, the red light showed. We sang out shut the doors (indicating the ash doors to the furnaces) and there was a crash just as we sung out. The water came through the ship’s side. The engineer and I jumped to the next section. The next section to the forward section is No. 5.


Q. The white light up there indicates full speed? – A. Yes.

Q. When you received the red signal the white disappears? – A. A bell rings when the signal appears.

Q. When the bell rings you look up there and see the signal light? – A. Yes, sir.

Q. The white light indicates full speed, and that was the light shown that Sunday night up to the time you got the red-light signal to stop, which was just before the collision? – A. Yes.


George W. Beauchamps (Fireman)

British Inquiry Day 3 (May 7th, 1912)

661a. (Mr. Raymond Asquith – To the Witness.) Did you notice the shock when the ship struck?
– Yes, Sir, I noticed the shock.

662. Was it a severe shock?
– Just like thunder, the roar of thunder.

663. And immediately after the shock was any order given?
– Yes.

664. What order?
– To stand by, to stop. The telegraph went „Stop.“

664a. (The Commissioner.) You got that order from the bridge, „Stop“?
– Yes.

664b. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) And were the engines stopped at once or not?
– The
telegraph rung off „Stop,“ so I suppose they were.

665. Did the engineer in your section give you any order?
– Yes; the engineer and the leading stoker shouted together – they said, „Shut the dampers.“

666. Did you shut the dampers?
– Yes, immediately; „shut everything up.“

667. Was anything done to the watertight doors after that time?
– Yes, immediately the telegraph rang „off“ and the order was given to shut up everything the watertight doors dropped.

668. The watertight doors dropped?
– Yes.

668a. (The Commissioner.) How soon do you suppose after the order to „Stop“ came from the bridge did the watertight doors close?
– In less than five minutes.


George Cavell (Trimmer)

Britsh Inquiry, Day 5 (May 9th, 1912)

4210. When you got there [the stokehold] did you find that the signal for „stop“ had appeared on a red disc?
– Yes.


4219. Did you notice whether the watertight doors fore and aft of your stokehold had been closed?
– I heard the bell go and I knew in a minute what it was for.

4220. You heard the warning bell?
– Yes.

4221. And so you knew they had closed?
– Yes.


Thomas Dillon (Trimmer)

British Inquiry, Day 5 (May 9th, 1912)

3715. Did you feel the shock when the ship struck?
– Slightly.

3716. And shortly before that had the telegraph rung?
– Yes.

3717. Can you say at all how long before she struck that was?
– Two seconds.

3718. What was the order given by the telegraph?
– I could not tell you.

3719. You just heard it ring. Then a few seconds after that you felt a slight shock?
– Yes.

3720. Was anything done to the engines? Did they stop or did they go on?
– They stopped.

3721. Was that immediately after you felt the shock or some little time after?
– About a minute and a half.

3722. Did they continue stopped or did they go on again after that?
– They went slow astern.

3723. How long were they stopped for before they began to go slow astern?
– About half a minute.

3724. For how long did they go slow astern?
– About two minutes.

3725. Two or three did you say?
– Two minutes.

3726. And then did they stop again?
– Yes.

3727. And did they go on again after that?
– They went ahead again.

3728. For how long?
– For about two minutes.

3729. Then did they stop the boat after that?
– Yes.


3734. Was anything done about the watertight compartments?
– Yes.

3735. Were they closed?
– In the meantime.

3736. How soon after the ship struck was that done?
– Three minutes.


Frederick Scott (Greaser)

British Inquity, Day 6 (May 10th, 1912)

5521. You felt something; what was it?
– I felt a shock and I thought it was something in the main engine room which had gone wrong.

5522. We know it was about 11.40?
– Yes, about 20 minutes to 12.

5523. Did you notice the two telegraphs in the engine room?
– Yes; four telegraphs rang.

5524. Were there four telegraphs?
– She got four telegraphs, two emergency ones.

5525. Two emergency?
– Yes, and two for the main engine.

5526. What did you notice?
– I noticed „Stop“ first.

5527. To which telegraph did that come?
– On the main engines.


535. Was the telegraph signal that came the emergency or the ordinary telegraph?
– That is to the main engine room. It is different. They ring the two on the main engine room, and then they ring two others just afterwards, the emergency ones.

5536. Did you hear the two?
– All four went.

5537. Did you hear the two ordinary ones ring first?
– No, they all four rang together.

5538. What did they ring?
– „Stop.“

5539. Was that before or after the shock?
– After the shock.

5540. What was the next thing?
– Then the watertight doors went.

5541. Was any reply given to the telegraph orders from the bridge?
– Yes, they rang back from the engine room; the two greasers at the bottom rang back.


5546. Then the next thing that happened was something with reference to the watertight doors?
– Yes, the watertight doors all closed.

5547. Did you hear any bell ring first?
– No, not for the watertight doors.


5565. Did you hear any signal given to the bridge?
– From the engine room?

5566. Yes?
– Yes.

5567. What?
– When they rang the stand-by. Is that what you mean?

5568. Yes?
– That is all I heard, and then they rang down, „Slow ahead!“


5608. And you told us you heard what was going on in the main engine room?
– The telegraph?

5609. Yes, I want you to tell my Lord what it was?
– They rang down „Stop,“ and two greasers on the bottom rang the telegraph back to answer it. Then they rang down „Slow ahead.“ For ten minutes she was going ahead. Then they rang down „Stop,“ and she went astern for five minutes.

5610. (The Commissioner.) The orders were „Stop,“ „Slow ahead,“ and then „Astern“?
– No, it was „Stop,“ and then „Astern.“ She went astern for five minutes. Then they rang down „Stop.“

5611. „Stop,“ „Slow ahead“ – 10 minutes, you say?
– Yes, about 10 minutes.

5612. Then „Stop“ again?
– Yes, „Stop“; then she went astern for about five minutes.

5613. (The Attorney-General.) Did you hear the order about „Astern“?
– Well, it was on the telegraph.

5614. What was the order?
– „Go astern“ – „Slow astern.“ Then they rang down „Stop,“ and I do not think the telegraph went after that.

5615. A telegram came „Stop“?
– Yes, and I do not think the telegraphs went after that.

5616. (The Attorney-General.) The first order you heard was „Stop“?
– Yes.

5617. Did the engines stop before the order came „Slow ahead“?
– Oh, yes.

5618. They did stop?
– Yes.

5619. Then when the engines had stopped the order came „Slow ahead“?
– Yes.

5620. Can you tell us at all what time passed between the order „Stop“ and „Slow ahead“?
– I should say about 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour.

5621. „Stop,“ of course, comes at once?
– It comes at once. They cannot stop the engines at once.

5622. That is what I want. They cannot stop them at once?
– No; they are bound to let the steam get out of the cylinder first, otherwise they would blow the cylinder covers off if they tried to stop them at once.

5623. You would not know how long it would take to stop the engines?
– No, I do not.

5624. I think you said ten minutes to a quarter of an hour „stop,“ then ten minutes „slow ahead“ and then again „stop“?
– Yes.

5625. Then how long between „stop“ and „slow astern“?
– I suppose that was a matter of about four or five minutes.

5626. That is between „stop“ and „slow astern.“ And how long between „slow astern“ and „stop“ for the last time?
– Five minutes.


You remember the order to stop?
– Yes.

5807. That, I suppose, was obeyed instantaneously by the men in the engine room?
– Yes.

5808. The next order was „Slow ahead“?
– Yes.

5809. Now, what time elapsed between the order to stop and the order to slow ahead?
– About 10 minutes.

5810. And what was happening during that 10 minutes? Had the ship ceased to move and the engines ceased to move?
– When they rang down „Stop“ they shut the steam off, and then it is bound to go on until the steam is right out of her.

5811. How long does that take?
– About 10 minutes.


5812. (The Commissioner.) Let us get it clear. There comes the order to stop?
– Yes.

5813. And that is obeyed by the engineers instantly?
– Yes.

5814. But you say there is some steam that has to be exhausted?
– Yes.

5815. And while that steam is being exhausted, although the engineer has stopped his engines – that is, say, done what is necessary to stop them – the engines continue to revolve?
– Yes.

5816. Now how long after the engineer has put on the stop do the engines revolve?
– About five revolutions.


5817. (The Commissioner.) And then they remained in that stopped condition for 10 minutes?
– Yes.

The Attorney-General:
That is the point.

The Commissioner:
And then came the order, „Slow ahead.“

The Attorney-General:
That is it.

5818. (Mr. Laing.) The point I am upon is whether you felt the shock before the stop came or after?
– After – no, before. It was when the shock came that they rang down to stop the engines.

5819. Do you say the shock came first?
– No, afterwards.

5820. After the order to stop came the shock?
– No.

5821. Very well, then you put it the other way?
– When the shock came they rang down, „Stop the engines.“

5822. (The Commissioner.) The shock comes and then the order to stop?
– Yes.

5823. That is what I understood?
– We thought it was something in the engine room that had gone wrong.

Mr. Laing:
That does not agree with Barrett and it does not agree with Dillon. Both of those Witnesses put the stop order first and the shock very shortly afterwards.