Titanic Sinking - Speed Cause of Wreck


British Court of Inquiry Makes Many Suggestions---Censures Board of Trade.


Also Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon---Liner Californian Blamed---Senator Smith Gratified by Findings.

LONDON, July 30.---The judgment of the British Board of Trade Court of Inquiry into the disaster to the White Star liner Titanic was pronounced to-day by Lord Mersey, the Presiding Judge, before a large audience.

The court finds that the collision of the Titanic with the iceberg was due to the excessive speed at which the ship was navigated, that a proper watch was not kept, that the ship's boats were properly lowered, but that arrangements for manning them were insufficient; that the Leyland liner Californian might have reached the Titanic if she had attempted to do so; that the track followed was reasonably safe with proper vigilance, and that there was no discrimination against third-class passengers in the saving of life.

Lord Mersey said it was not the business of the court to inquire into the attacks on the moral conduct of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and J. Bruce Ismay, but silence on the part of the court might be misunderstood. He continued:

"The very gross charge against Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon that he bribed the boatmen to row away from drowning people in unfounded. I do not believe the men in the boat were deterred from making an attempt to rescue others by any act of Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon.

Ismay Exonerated.

"The attack of J. Bruce Ismay," the Judge went on, "resolved itself into the suggestion that, occupying the position of Managing Director of the line, some moral duty was imposed upon him to wait on board until the vessel foundered. I do not agree. Mr. Ismay, after assisting many of the passengers, found the last boat on the starboard side of the Titanic actually being lowered. No other people were there at the time. There was room for him, and he jumped in. Had he not done so he would merely have added one more life to the number lost.

Blame for the Californian.

He said he was convinced that those on board the Californian had seen the Titanic's signals at a distance of eight or ten miles and could have reached her without serious risk and thus saved the lives of many or all. While not referring to the Captain of the Californian, Lord Mersey recommended that the attention of all masters of ships be drawn to the fact that it was a misdemeanor to fail to go to the rescue of a distressed vessel.

Lord Mersey expressed the opinion that the Titanic would have been safer with a water-tight deck, although there might be expert reasons against this. He thought she could have floated if divided into longitudinal instead of transverse water-tight compartments.

In conclusion, Lord Mersey severely blamed the Board of Trade for its failure to revise the shipping rules of 1894.

The New York Times, New York, NY 31 Jul 1912