Titanic Officer Swears Wreck Due To Company's Neglect
According to The Tacoma Times, dated Tuesday 23 April 1912, in Tacoma, Washington, there was headlines that broadcasted that the "Titanic Officer Swears Wreck Due To Company's Neglect." A week after the sinking of the Titanic, we were hearing news stories of vivid stories told of how the great ship sank, 16 April 1912.
There was sworn testimony that neglect on the part of the White Star company to provide marine glasses for the lookout on the Titanic was responsible for the creates sea disaster of modern times was the sensation on this afternoon of 23 April 1912, in the investigation.
Frederick Fleet looked out in the crow's nest of the Titanic when the giant liner smashed into the iceberg, made oath that not a single lookout on the Titanic was provided with marine glasses and declared that had his request for such glasses in Southampton not been refused the Titanic might yet be afloat. Fleet was quoted saying, "I could easily have sighted the iceberg with marine glasses in plenty of time to have the vessel steered out of the way."
Although all other liners were so provided, Fleet swore his request was flatly refused and he was told there were no glasses for him. Third officer Pittman admitted that the Titanic had been warned that icebergs were prevalent but said he did not see any on the Sunday of the disaster. He declared that in his 14 years experience he had seen only one iceberg before.
Pittman started his testimony in a laconic and brusque manner. Comments on his stolidness were audible in every part of the room. Then the committee began questioning him on the scenes on the Titanic when it was found that there was no hope of saving the vessel. Pittman's demeanor underwent a complete change, and in a choking voice he begged the committee not to press him regarding the death cries of the trapped victims.
Pittman proclaimed, "The prayers and moans of the passengers arose in a mighty chorus of woe when they learned that hope had vanished. It was a continual moan for an hour, and it died away gradually. I wish you had not referred to this."
Pittman told of J. Bruce Ismay was standing near a lifeboat and he heard him ask about a boat loaded with women. Captain Smith followed out Ismay's suggestions in issuing orders." Pittman declared that his boat saved 40 passengers and six members of the crew. He heard four explosions just before the Titanic sank.
Officers admitted that if every lifeboat had been crowded they would have accommodated only 1,200 persons. He asserted that he transferred two men, a woman and a baby from his boat to lifeboat No. 7 at their request. Pittman said that when he retried at 10 p.m., the vessel was making about 21 1-2 knots. The Collision awakened him and he said it sounded as if the ship was coming to anchor. Pittmann was half asleep and wondered why. He rushed to the deck undressed, saw nothing and returned to his bunk in the belief that he had a nightmare.
The Fourth Officer Boxhall came to Pittmann's room and said the Titanic had struck an iceberg. When they got to the deck he found that the lifeboats were being lowered. He saw the firemen coming up from the engine rooms. Women were crawling over the hatch and Pittmann rushed out to help load the lifeboats. He helped to lower boat No. 5, which was assigned to Pittmann. A man in a dressing gown told Pittman, "You had better get those women and children over there and load them in that boat." Pittmann later learned that it was Mr. Ismay that had told him that. When the boat was almost filled, Pittman shouted, "Are there any more women?" There did not seem to be, so Pittmann let some men get on.
First Officer Murdock shook hands with Pittmann, saying, "Good bye, old man, and good luck."
Pittmann never saw Murdock after that. He believed that only two or three of the compartments had filled and never had the faintest idea that the Titanic would sink. All the passengers in Pittmann's boat behaved admirably. Women in Pittmann's boat were not permitted to row, although some of them wanted to do so that they could keep warm. It was about 3 degrees above zero and very chilly.
Pittman declared, "If the impact had been bow on, the Titanic would be afloat now. If two or three steamers had collided with her, she would not have sunk. It would have required about six steamer to sink her by collision."
Pittman stated that he left J. Bruce Ismay on the Titanic and did not see him again until they were both on the Carpathia. Pittman went on to say, "I know that my boat might have held more and I told my men to try to pick up passengers from among those who were struggling in the waters. Many of my passengers begged me not to do this, fearing that the boat would capsize. I turned the boat around to go in the direction of cries which I heard. When I saw that the passengers thought the swimmers would swamp up, I did not go back to the spot where the Titanic sank. We took in our oars and drifted for an hour. Gradually the cries f=grew fewer and finally ceased."
Pittman said, "We sighted the Carpathia at 3:30, when she seemed about 5 miles away. This was at daybreak and all cries had stopped long before." The officer stated that he saw no bodies floating in the water. At 1:30 o'clock he said he saw a white light on the horizon but was unable to tell whether it was from a lifeboat or a steamer.
In that same newspaper in another article there were charges that the lookout on the liner Titanic was asleep when the vessel struck the iceberg which cost more than a thousand lives, and that members of the crew were drunk at the time from champagne given them by the stewards from the late banquet served to the first cabin passengers. Lewis Klein, a Hungarian who claimed to be a member of the Titanic's crew, was placed under arrest, 22 April 1912, and detained on a technical charge of mutiny, pending the arrival of a subpoena from the senate investigating committee. The arrest was ordered by Senator W. A. Smith, chairman of the committee. Klein did not speak English and his peculiar story was interpreted by the Austrian vice consul.
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