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Testimony Of Joesph Bruce Ismay (Part One)

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Testimony of Joseph Bruce Ismay

Mr. J. Bruce Ismay, being duly sworn by the chairman, testified as follows:

Senator SMITH. Mr. Ismay, for the purpose of simplifying this hearing, I will ask you a few preliminary questions.

First state your full name, please?

Mr. ISMAY. Joseph Bruce Ismay.

Senator SMITH. And your place of residence?

Mr. ISMAY. Liverpool.

Senator SMITH. And your age?

Mr. ISMAY. I shall be 50 on the 12th of December.

Senator SMITH. And your occupation?

Mr. ISMAY. Ship owner.

Senator SMITH. Are you an officer of the White Star Line?

Mr. ISMAY. I am.

Senator SMITH. In what capacity?

Mr. ISMAY. Managing Director.

Senator SMITH. As such officer, were you officially designated to make the trial trip of the Titanic?

Mr. ISMAY. No.

Senator SMITH. Were you a voluntary passenger?

Mr. ISMAY. A voluntary passenger, yes.

Senator SMITH. Where did you board the ship?

Mr. ISMAY. At Southampton.

Senator SMITH. At what time?

Mr. ISMAY. I think it was 9.30 in the morning.

Senator SMITH. Of what day?

Mr. Ismay. The 10th of April.

Senator SMITH. The port of destination was New York?

Mr. ISMAY. New York.

Senator SMITH. Will you kindly tell the Committee the circumstances surrounding your voyage, and, as succinctly as possible, beginning with your going aboard the vessel at Liverpool, your place on the ship on the voyage, together with any circumstances you feel would be helpful to us in this inquiry?

Mr. ISMAY. In the first place, I would like to express my sincere grief at this deplorable catastrophe.

I understand that you gentlemen have been appointed as a Committee of the Senate to inquire into the circumstances. So far as we are concerned, we welcome it. We court the fullest inquiry. We have nothing to conceal; nothing to hide. The ship was built in Belfast. She was the latest thing in the art of shipbuilding; absolutely no money was spared in her construction. She was not built by contract. She was simply built on a commission.

She left Belfast, as far as I remember - I am not absolutely clear about these dates - I think it was on the 1st of April.

She underwent her trials, which were entirely satisfactory. She then [[|proceeded]] to Southampton; arriving there on Wednesday.

Senator SMITH. Will you describe the trials she went through?

Mr. ISMAY. I was not present.

She arrived at Southampton on Wednesday, the 3rd, I think, and [[|sailed]] on Wednesday, the 10th. She left Southampton at 12 o'clock.

She [[|arrived]] in Cherbourg that evening, having run over at 68 revolutions.

We left Cherbourg and [[|proceeded]] to Queenstown. We arrived there, I think, about midday on Thursday.

We ran from Cherbourg to Queenstown at 70 revolutions.

After embarking the mails and passengers, we [[|proceeded]] at 70 revolutions. I am not absolutely clear what the first day's run was, whether it was 464 miles or 484 miles.

The second day the number of revolutions was increased. I think the number of revolutions on the second day was about 72. I think we ran on the second day 519 miles.

The third day the revolutions were increased to 75, and I think we ran 546 or 549 miles.

The weather during this time was absolutely fine, with the exception, I think, of about 10 minutes' fog one evening.

The accident took place on Sunday night. What the exact time was I do not know. I was in bed myself, asleep, when the accident happened.

The ship sank, I am told, at 2:20.

That, sir, I think is all I can tell you.

I understand it has been stated that the ship was going at full speed. The ship never had been at full speed. The full speed of the ship is 78 revolutions. She works up to 80. So far as I am aware, she never exceeded 75 revolutions. She had not all her boilers on. None of the single-ended boilers were on.

It was our intention, if we had fine weather on Monday afternoon or Tuesday, to drive the ship at full speed. That, owing to the unfortunate catastrophe, never eventuated.

Senator SMITH. Will you describe what you did after the impact or collision?

Mr. ISMAY. I presume the impact awakened me. I lay in bed for a moment or two afterwards, not realizing, probably, what had happened. Eventually I got up and walked along the passageway and met one of the stewards, and said, "What has happened?" He said, "I do not know, sir."

I then went back into my [[|room]], put my coat on, and went up on the [[|bridge]], where I found Capt. Smith. I asked him what had happened, and he said, "We have struck ice." I said, "Do you think the ship is seriously damaged?" He said, "I am afraid she is."

I then went down below, I think it was, where I met Mr. Bell, the chief engineer, who was in the main companionway. I asked if he thought the ship was seriously damaged, and he said he thought she was, but was quite satisfied the pumps would keep her afloat.

I think I went back onto the bridge. I heard the order given to get the [[|boats]] out. I walked along to the starboard side of the ship, where I met one of the officers. I told him to get the boats out -

Senator SMITH. What officer?

Mr. ISMAY. That I could not remember, sir.

I assisted, as best I could, getting the boats out and putting the women and children into the boats.

I stood upon that deck practically until I left the ship in the starboard [[|collapsible boat]], which is the last boat to leave the ship, so far as I know. More than that I do not know.

Senator SMITH. Did the captain remain on the bridge?

Mr. ISMAY. That I could not tell you, sir.

Senator SMITH. Did you leave him on the bridge?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. His first statement to you was that he felt she was seriously damaged?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. And the next statement of the chief engineer was what?

Mr. ISMAY. To the same effect.

Senator SMITH. To the same effect?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes.

Senator SMITH. But that he hoped the pumps might keep her afloat?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes.

Senator SMITH. Did you have any talk with any officer other than the captain or the chief engineer and the steward that you met?

Mr. ISMAY. Not that I remember.

Senator SMITH. Did the officers seem to know the serious character of this collision?

Mr. ISMAY. That I could not tell, sir, because I had no conversation with them.

Senator SMITH. Did any officer say to you that it evidently was not serious?

Mr. ISMAY. No, sir.

Senator SMITH. All the officers with whom you talked expressed the same fear, saying that it was serious?

Mr. ISMAY. I did not speak to any of them, sir.

Senator SMITH. Except the captain?

Mr. ISMAY. Except the captain and the chief engineer. I have already stated that I had spoken to them; but to no other officer that I remember.

Senator SMITH. You went to the bridge immediately after you had returned to your room?

Mr. ISMAY. After I had put on my coat I went up to the bridge.

Senator SMITH. And you found the captain there?

Mr. ISMAY. The captain was there.

Senator SMITH. In what part of the ship were your quarters?

Mr. ISMAY. My [[|quarters]] were on B deck, just aft of the main companionway.

Senator SMITH. I wish you would describe just where that was.

Mr. ISMAY. The sun deck is the upper deck of all. Then we have what we call the A deck, which is the next deck, and then the B deck.

Mr. UHLER. The second passenger deck?

Mr. ISMAY. We carry very few passengers on the A deck. I think we have a diagram here that will show you these decks. Here it is, and [[|there]] is the room I was occupying (indicating on diagram).

Senator SMITH. What is the number of that room?

Mr. ISMAY. [[|B-52]] is the room I had.

Senator SMITH. You had the [[|suite]]?

Mr. ISMAY. I had the suite; I was sleeping in that room (indicating on diagram), as a matter of fact.

Senator SMITH. Do you know whether there were any passengers on that deck?

Mr. ISMAY. I have no idea, sir.

Senator SMITH. You say that the trip was a voluntary trip on your part?

Mr. ISMAY. Absolutely.

Senator SMITH. For the purpose of viewing this ship in action, or did you have some business in New York?

Mr. ISMAY. I had no business to bring me to New York at all. I simply came in the natural course of events, as one is apt to, in the case of a new ship, to see how she works, and with the idea of seeing how we could improve on her for the next ship which we are building.

Senator SMITH. Were there any other executive officers of the company aboard?

Mr. ISMAY. None.

Senator SMITH. Was the inspector or builder on board?

Mr. ISMAY. There was a representative of the builders on board.

Senator SMITH. Who was he?

Mr. ISMAY. Mr. Thomas Andrews.

Senator SMITH. In what capacity was he?

Mr. ISMAY. I do not quite follow you.

Senator SMITH. What was the occasion of his coming to make this trial trip?

Mr. ISMAY. As a representative of the builders, to see that everything was working satisfactorily and also to see how he could improve the next ship.

Senator SMITH. Was he a man of large experience?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes.

Senator SMITH. Had he had part in the construction of this ship himself?

Mr. ISMAY. Yes.

To be Continued.......

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