Did Boxhall and Olliver Enter the Bridge Together?


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Aaron_2016

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Both men approached the bridge when they heard the bell in the crows nest and felt the collision just before they got there. Does anyone know who got there first? I understand Boxhall and quartermaster Olliver both arrived in time to see Murdoch close the watertight doors immediately after the collision - Olliver - "As I entered the bridge I saw him about the lever." Boxhall - "I saw him close them." Both men got there before the Captain did and they overheard what Murdoch said to the Captain, so it was right after the collision that both men appeared on the bridge. Olliver said he was at the standing compass and Boxhall was drinking tea in his room. There is a difference in space between them, but if they both arrived at the same time then I think Boxhall perhaps took a moment to dress appropriately and switch off his cabin light before going on deck so that both men would arrive at about the same time.


BoxhallOlliver.PNG


The trouble is both men had very different accounts of the same event when they should have been more or less exactly same. For instance Boxhall said he heard the bell ring and then approached the bridge about 60 feet away and as he approached he heard the engine telegraph ring and Murdoch order "hard a-starboard" and felt the collision when he was just outside the Captain's room and still approaching the bridge. Was there really time in that short walk for the bell to ring, for Moody to answer the phone, report the iceberg to Murdoch, for Murdoch to order "hard a-starboard", for Moody to repeat the order to Hichens, for Moody to confirm to Murdoch when the wheel was hard over, and for the ship to turn 2 points to port, and all of that to happen in the short space of time it took Boxhall to walk from his room to 'half way' towards the bridge and then he felt the collision as he passed the Captain's room while he continued to walk towards the bridge?


Does it make the whole "hard a-starboard" order slightly far fetched? Did he only hear the order "hard a-starboard" and nothing else ordered before or after that as he approached the bridge? Quartermaster Olliver said he heard none of that, and yet he arrived on the bridge at about the same time as Boxhall and saw Murdoch at the lever closing the watertight doors and yet he said the order was "hard a-port" after the collision and heard no orders before it.



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Jim Currie

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That's because QM Olliver heard the second helm order "when I was on the bridge" The problem with most folks is that they assume that the second order canme hard on the heals of the first order. There is no evidence to suggest it did. In fact according to Olliver, it was given when the iceberfg was "way down (a)stern.
Olliver also saw the engine movement "Half Ahead" given. That was the second last one. If you examine the evidence of Trimmer Dillon, you will discover that the ahead order came about 5 minutes after impact.
 
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Aaron is correct that Fourth Officer Boxhall and quartermaster Olliver gave very different accounts of the accident. This is a natural outgrowth of the duties which dictated their locations at the time.

First, the bells. Both men heard the three strikes of the lookout’s bell. It came after the sounding of seven bells and five to eight minutes before impact. At the time, Olliver was preparing the standard compass for Boxhall to do routine compass work (IMM/WSL Rules Paragraph 253) at 12 o’clock (unaltered April 14th time). Boxhall had just exited the officer’s quarters on his way to the platform. It took several minutes to steady the ship per standard and do other work. It is my contention that the “other work” referred to here was alteration of course 2 points to the left using starboard helm.

After performing the compass evolutions Boxhall started on his round as required by IMM/WSL Rule Paragraph 17. To follow that paragraph he would have walked forward on the boat deck to the scuttle directly opposite to the Captain’s quarters. He would then have gone down two decks to B deck, then walked across the open front of that deck before descending into the well deck. From there, Boxhall should have gone to the forecastle where on a Sunday evening the men of the Starboard Watch would have been in close proximity to the coffee pot. The Fourth Officer was in charge of the Starboard Watch and was to “go the rounds” of his men every hour.

At no time would Boxhall’s duties have taken him back onto the bridge during or immediately after the accident. This is backed up by one of his Starboard Watch crew spotting a junior officer (he was not sure which) in the well deck just after impact.

Boxhall’s own testimony corroborates that he did not go onto the bridge. During the U.S. Senate inquiry he admitted to Senator Smith that he did not see the accident. “I could not see what occurred,” Boxhall said. “No, not at all.” Then, the Fourth Officer went on to describe in detail the iceberg in contact with the bow. “It seemed to me to strike the bluff of the bow. It is in the forward part of the ship, but almost on the side. It is just where the ship begins to widen out on the starboard side.”

Senator Smith must have turned his blind ear toward what Boxhall said. On the one hand, the officer claimed he did not see what happened. Yet, on the other, he described exactly the iceberg in contact with the ship’s bow. Smith should have caught the apparent contradiction, but he did not. The truth is that Boxhall both did not see the impact and he did see the iceberg at the “bluff of the bow” just as he said. The reason was the enclosed stairway from the boat deck down to B deck. The ship struck while Boxhall was inside that stairway. I could not see what occurred,” he testified honestly. He came out of the stairway on B deck to see the berg at the bluff of the bow. From there he went into the well deck were he was seen by men of his watch.

Olliver would have been a few steps behind Boxhall. After all, he had to close up and cover the binnacle. The quartermaster walked forward on the port side to the bridge. This was in keeping with nautical tradition that officers used the starboard side while ratings and crew the port. (That tradition replaced an earlier one in which officers used the weather side of the ship while crew the lee.) From Olliver’s description of events it is obvious he entered the bridge from the port side. This put his line of sight to the starboard where he was able to see the iceberg slide down past the emergency lifeboat.

As he entered the bridge First Officer Murdoch was closing the watertight doors. Both men felt the ship ride onto the ice and Olliver heard Murdoch yell, “hard a-port.) Seconds later the quartermaster saw the berg slide past the bridge wing. Olliver then stepped into the wheelhouse where he heard the man at the wheel, Hichens, sing out that the wheel was hard over. By then the berg was “away” (meaning not at the observer’s position) “up astern.” While Olliver’s words imply some distance astern in today’s language, a sailor of the late 19th or early 20th century would only have taken it to mean the iceberg was astern of where Olliver stood regardless of distance.

The biggest lie about Titanic’s accident was told by Fourth Officer Boxhall. He claimed to have been on the bridge when Murdoch made his report to Captain Smith. Balderdash! Boxhall’s own words and testimony of at least one man in his Watch prove he was never on the bridge until much later. Boxhall was forward, checking on his men. And, as an officer of initiative, he was also in the third class berthing areas of the bow.

The whole story of the “hard a-starboard” berg “too close” and “tried to port around” is a fabrication. A lie.

Testimonies from other members of the bridge team confirm that Boxhall was nowhere to be seen when Captain Smith questioned First Officer Murdoch. Proof is not in what the witnesses said, but what the did not say. None recalled Boxhall being present.

Second Officer Lightoller arrived moments after impact. He saw Captain Smith and Murdoch talking. He did not report seeing Boxhall.

Olliver saw his counterpart, Hichens, as well as Murdoch and Smith. Olliver never mentioned Boxhall on the bridge.

Hichens saw the captain, heard Murdoch’s voice, and spoke of Olliver taking the time of the accident at Sixth Officer Moody’s direction. Hichens never mentioned Boxhall.

While Boxhall’s account of Smith and Murdoch was fiction, both Olliver and Hichens overheard what the two men did say.

“An iceberg, sir,” was Murdoch’s answer to the captain’s question about what had happened.

“Close the Watertight doors.”

“They are already closed,” Murdoch replied.

None of the men who were on the bridge heard Murdoch say the words “port around.” This was not the only story Boxhall told on the witness stand. In London he was caught in another whopper. He said that he never saw a particular ice warning. Yet, he had to admit that he wrote the words on that piece of paper and posted it in the chartroom.

– David G. Brown
 
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Aaron_2016

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Aaron is correct that Fourth Officer Boxhall and quartermaster Olliver gave very different accounts of the accident. This is a natural outgrowth of the duties which dictated their locations at the time...........
Many thanks. Does that explain why Boxhall said this?

Q - Could you see what had occurred?
A - No, sir; I could not see what had occurred.
Q - Did you know what had occurred?
A - No, not at all. I heard the sixth officer say what it was.
Q - What did he say that it was?
A - He said we had struck an iceberg.


I asked my self why would Boxhall need to ask the 6th officer when he already heard the news from Murdoch - when he informed the Captain. Boxhall said the Captain arrived on the bridge practically at the same time he did (Hichens said the Captain rushed out), so if Boxhall had this conversation with Moody when did it take place because Hichens and Olliver made no mention of seeing Boxhall or hearing this conversation he had with Moody, and why did Boxhall need to ask Moody if he was present when Murdoch informed the Captain immediately after the collision?


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Rob Lawes

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From your quote Aaron there is no evidence to suggest Boxhall asked Mood what the ship had struck.

The passage you quote says he heard Moody say they'd struck an Iceberg.
 
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The trouble is both men had very different accounts of the same event when they should have been more or less exactly same.
I couldn't agree more. The real problem has to do with timing. From the distances each had to take, Boxhall should have been on the bridge way before Olliver, assuming they were where they said they were when 3-bells was struck in the nest. Olliver said he was on the compass platform amidships, while Boxhall said he was coming out of the officer's quarters at the time. Olliver had 4 to 5 times further to walk to get to the bridge than Boxhall. And Olliver said he just entered the bridge as the ship struck, while Boxhall said he was still abreast the captain's quarters when she struck. Even Hichens' account has some ambiguity. At one point he claimed that the ship was crushing ice as the order came to put the wheel hard-astarboard. Another place he claimed he just got the wheel over hard when the ship struck. Another time he claimed the vessel had turned two points before she struck.

It came after the sounding of seven bells and five to eight minutes before impact
David, you take this from what Scarrott had said despite Scarrott's own admission that he took no real notice of the time. 5 to 8 minutes places the berg anywhere from 2 to 3 miles ahead of the vessel, beyond what was visible on such a dark, moonless night. Fleet, Lee, Olliver, Hichens, Boxhall, all say something quite different.

IMM/WSL Rules Paragraph 253
The requirement in that rule dealing with compass comparisons requires it be checked once per 4-hour watch. The requirement for every half hour is for the OOW to see that the ship is steady on her standard compass course. It's a check on the helmsman, not the compass.

The quartermaster walked forward on the port side to the bridge. This was in keeping with nautical tradition that officers used the starboard side while ratings and crew the port.
Where is the citation for this one?

Testimonies from other members of the bridge team confirm that Boxhall was nowhere to be seen when Captain Smith questioned First Officer Murdoch. Proof is not in what the witnesses said, but what the did not say. None recalled Boxhall being present.
"From what I am given to understand, Mr. Boxhall was approaching the bridge." - Hichens.
By the way, the absence of evidence, is not proof.

Second Officer Lightoller arrived moments after impact. He saw Captain Smith and Murdoch talking. He did not report seeing Boxhall.
I thought Lightoller said he saw Murdoch on port bridge wing and Smith on the starboard when he got up to look around.
 

Jim Currie

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Perhaps you should all read the evidence again...carefully this time.

Oliver said he saw the extreme tip of the iceberg just abaft the starboard beam. It was after the sound of it contacting the ship fell silent. That must have been when it was opposite the forward end of lifeboat 3. At that time, he was adjacent to the Captain's bathroom and about half way between the barrier to the Officer's prom and the bridge. If he was there,say 8 seconds after impact, then he was about half way between the Compass platform and 100 feet from the bridge at the time of impact. At that moment, Boxhall was about 30 feet from the bridge.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Something else that is strange. Boxhall judged the iceberg to be - "very, very low in the water.....I do not think the thing extended above the ship's rail.....This rail I mean is on the C-deck."



Boxhall1.PNG



But Olliver said - "The iceberg was about the height of the boat deck; if anything, just a little higher........Just abaft the bridge when I saw it."


Olliver1.PNG


But who is correct? If the iceberg was by Boxhall's estimation as high as C-deck then was it possible for Olliver to see it passing aft of the main bridge from the boat deck, and if Olliver's estimation was correct and it was perhaps higher than the boat deck then would it strike the emergency boat on the starboard side?


Olliver was asked:

Q - Where was the iceberg when you saw it, abeam or abaft?
A - Just abaft the bridge when I saw it.
Q - What was the length of it along beside the boat?
A - That I could not say, the length of the iceberg, because I only saw the top. It was impossible to see the length of the iceberg from where I was standing. (Does this mean he was standing on the bridge and awaiting orders and was unable to venture over and look over the side of the ship to see the length of the iceberg?)
Q - What was the shape at the top?
A - The shape was pointed.
Q - You could not tell how wide it was?
A - I only saw the tip top of the iceberg.
Q - Did you notice the course of the berg as it passed you?
A - No, sir; I did not notice the course of the berg as it passed us. It went aft the after part of the ship. I did not see it afterwards, because I did not have time to know where it was going. (He did not have time? Was he needed on the bridge for an important reason?)



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B-rad

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Boxhall saw the berg after the impact, while it was astern the ship. He was judging from a distance, or so it seems. There is speculations though that perhaps he saw more than he says, as he described the glancing blow with the iceberg vividly, though he claims not to have known what had occurred until Moody said what it was. Moody is only noted to saying anything about an iceberg when relaying the lookouts message to Murdoch though the dialogue used matches more of Murdoch's brief to Capt, Smith. (Perhaps he got his officers mixed up). Did Boxhall actually see the collision? He did know where about to go on his inspection without having to be told by anyone where the damage ought to be (mind you he did not find any damage during his first tour, and the carpenter and mail clerk found him on his second tour). Just a theory, but perhaps Boxhall walked to the bridge, but did not enter the bridge, and looked over the railing to witness the collision. When he did enter the bridge he saw Murdoch at the watertight door controls and turned around to find the captain. Of course there is no evidence of this.

Interestingly enough both Lee and Fleets estimate of the iceberg being a bit higher than the forcastle is more in line with Boxhall's estimate. However, Rowe would claim the berg to be bigger like Olliver. (Rowe would write that the berg was 100ft high, but erroneously place the lifeboat davits at 80ft, which in reality was 60ft).
 

Jim Currie

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You must keep in mind that it is very difficult to estimate the height of an object viewed from the deck of a ship.
If you simply stand and look ahead, your eyes are lined-up with the horizon. However, if you look at an object which is nearer than your horizon, in day light, you will see the horizon beyond it. To look at that object directly, your eyes are drawn downward. Such would have been the case with Boxhall. He was looking aft in darkness through the glare from the side lighting of the ship at an indeterminately shaped object, If that object was the same height as he was when beside him, then as it drew away from him to ward the horizon, it would appear to shrink and his eyes would be drawn downward. Here is one of my terrible sketches to try and explain what I mean
Boxhall's stern view 001.jpg


By the same token, to QM Rowe, looking forward along the side of the ship, the berg would seem much higher than the boat deck level.
 

TimTurner

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Also, as a matter of possibly resolving an apparent contradiction between witnesses, the (most likely) iceberg which struck the Titanic had multiple peaks (or at least a shoulder). It is possible that Oliver only saw the very peak of the iceberg from his position on the boat deck. A man on the well deck or on the stairway from B deck would have seen the near shoulder most prominently (A shoulder the height of C deck would have been invisible from the boat deck unless you were leaning on the railing looking down).

Therefore, it is possible, that both men were describing the visible height of a different part of the iceberg.
 
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Seaman Scarrott’s quite lucid testimony is always discounted by those who what to defend conventional wisdom. However, what the man said makes perfect sense in the context of a seaman’s life in 1912. He noted the time from the striking of ship’s bells – specifically 7 bells. From there he estimated the time of impact just as would anyone else of his era or modern times. What makes his testimony particularly compelling is that it puts impact on the iceberg into chronological context with the half-hourly compass evolutions. So, Scarrott and reality coincide no matter how painful that may be to defenders of the orthodoxy.

The lookouts never claimed they saw the iceberg at a range of over two miles. What they described in fact was the opposite of seeing the berg (or anything else). They complained of a light, hazy horizon. Then, Fleet in particular described what he thought became the fatal berg not as an “iceberg,” but as a “dark mass” against the horizon – a silhouette. And, a silhouette is the absence of light. More critical, everyone who has been trained as a lookout knows that when something dark – a silhouette – occults light on the horizon, then that silhouette must be a solid object between the observer and the source of the light. And, that requires an appropriate warning to the OOD.

Silhouettes can be seen over enormous distances. Astronomers use them to discover planet around stars at a far greater range than the two plus miles ahead that Fleet saw his “black mass.”

Indeed, IMM/WLS rules required comparing the standard and steering compasses once each watch. However, the ship was required to be “steadied” by standard compass every half hour. This meant somebody had to observe the standard compass and issue any necessary instructions to the quartermaster every 30 minutes. This half-hourly events amounted to a double check on the whole system of standard/steering compass and human the human factor of the quartermaster. There was no possible way to verify in any respect that the steering compass was working and/or that the quartermaster was on course than to check against the standard instrument.

Because of Titanic’s unusual placement of standard compass (midships on a platform instead of on a monkey bridge above wheelhouse as was more commonly done) it required an officer to go to that platform every half hour. Otherwise, he might just as well of been trying to ascertain direction by extending a wet finger into the wind.

Sam wants a citation for port side crew; starboard side officers. It wasn’t a absolute rule. But, it did grow out of the Rules of the Road established in the 1860s. Specifically, the Rules put the “danger side” from dead a head to two points abaft the starboard beam. Every vessel in a crossing situation with another approaching from within that danger zone must give way – maneuver or slow or stop – to the other. So, it became common for officers to be given a clear view of this side of the ship. After the Rules were published it the captain’s quarters of new-build ships tended to move forward and to the starboard with a view of the danger zone.

But, port or starboard side crew or officers is not the issue. It’s just background on why Olliver obviously walked back from the platform on the port side to have viewed things as he described them. It is the man’s testimony that indicates what he did.

As Sam says, absence of proof is not proof of absence. However, in Boxhall’s case he should not have been on the bridge at the moment of impact. He should have been going forward to the forecastle to check on his men of the Starboard Watch. So, you would not expect anyone to have reported him being on the bridge. And, nobody reported him present which matches expectations of reality under the rules that governed Titanic. So, in this case his absence is a pretty good indication Boxhall was doing his duties as assigned by IMM/WSL rules.

And, Boxhalls own testimony corroborates he was doing his duty. He said he did not see the ship impact on the berg. True enough. His path down to B deck, via an enclosed stairway would have prevented him seeing that event even though, as he said, he would have felt it. He then exited forward just in time to see the berg at the "bluff of the bow." That's the picture he would have seem coming out of the doorway from the stairs. So, the physical design of Titanic corroborates Boxhall was, indeed, on his way forward as he should have been to check on his men.

So, Boxhall wasn’t on the bridge. He never heard a word that Murdoch said to Captain Smith. The whole “port around” story was a concoction by the fourth officer.

– David G. Brown




PS – Take a look at the berthing arrangement of Titanic’s officers. The captain was forward to starboard. All of the other officers, save one, were on the port side. The only other officer quartered on the starboard side was the fourth officer. Why? Well, which officer had direct charge of the Starboard Watch? Life at sea is much ruled by often unspoken traditions.
 
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Aaron_2016

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QM Rowe wrote to Walter Lord and said "I had to call the Middle Watch at 11.45pm but about 11.40pm I was struck by a curious movement of the ship. It was similar to going alongside a dock wall rather heavy." Does this mean QM Olliver was also about to call the middle watch as well? Did Boxhall go down to the crew's quarters to call them on duty?

Boxhall was involved in the making of the film 'A Night to Remember' and I think he attended the film premier, and just 4 years later he gave a very detailed interview to the BBC and could remember the smallest details such as the name of the song the band were playing, but he incredibly made no mention of the hard a-starboard order and actually said Murdoch had reversed the port engine which swung her bow out of the way. This is completely against his own testimony in 1912 and against the film 'A Night to Remember'. How could he remember things like having a cup of tea when he heard the bell ring and knew exactly which room he was passing when he felt the collision, and yet he made no mention of hearing "hard a-starboard" and instead of that, he said he heard Murdoch informing the Captain that - "I'm going full speed astern, sir, on the port engine"? I appreciate it was 1962 but owing to his remarkable memory on the smallest details in that interview and that he watched the film I wonder why he said that?


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and if Olliver's estimation was correct and it was perhaps higher than the boat deck then would it strike the emergency boat on the starboard side?
You are assuming that the peak of the berg was right along the side of the berg where the ship struck as if there was a vertical wall of ice from the base to the peak. It doesn't take much of an angle inward for the peak to easily clear any of the boats hanging outward even if the high side of the berg was close to side where the ship struck.

Olliver's observation is in agreement with what Lee testified to during the Ryan trial a year later. "It was higher than the fo'c'sle. It was as high as the boat deck."
 
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It’s just background on why Olliver obviously walked back from the platform on the port side to have viewed things as he described them.
If Olliver was on the port side of the bridge when he entered it then he could not have seen the peak of the berg abaft the bridge over on the starboard side. On the other hand, if he entered on the starboard side, and then turned around after hearing the grinding sound, then he would have a clear view of the peak passing aft of the bridge wing.

Regarding Scarrott. I think Scarrott was somewhat confused in his 5 to 8 minutes estimate between hearing bells and the ship striking. More likely it was the time between 7 bells to when he hear the three bells. But the one thing he was very clear about, is that he did not pay much attention to the time. But you are placing a great deal of weight on his 5 to 8 minutes, despite there being nothing to support that, so that you can use it in your otherwise unsupportable theories.
 
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Aaron, the QM stationed out on the poop deck would never be the one to call the middle watch. It would mean leaving his post out on the poop deck abandoned. The only QM used in calling someone off duty would be the standby QM, in this case, Olliver. And Olliver was on the standard compass platform when 3-bells was struck from the nest.
 

Jim Currie

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Take your own advice before you draw conclusions. Olliver said "Just abaft the bridge when I saw it."
Deary me! In your anxiety for one-upman-ship, you've done it again Sam; not reading what is written. You did not read my post properly. Read it again. If you do, you will note that I did not quote QM Olliver direct...no quotation marks. I simply pointed out in seaman's terms, the direction in which he saw the tip of the iceberg.

"Six of one and half a dozen of the Other"?or perhaps "a rose by any pother name"?:rolleyes:
 
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And, Boxhalls own testimony corroborates he was doing his duty. He said he did not see the ship impact on the berg. True enough. His path down to B deck, via an enclosed stairway would have prevented him seeing that event even though, as he said, he would have felt it. He then exited forward just in time to see the berg at the "bluff of the bow." That's the picture he would have seem coming out of the doorway from the stairs. So, the physical design of Titanic corroborates Boxhall was, indeed, on his way forward as he should have been to check on his men.
And where exactly did he said so? Where is the evidence that he was on his path down to B Deck (or as you have stated some time ago in a different topic) "by his own words"?!
And by the way the stairway on B Deck was not really "enclosed" which is another point against your false theory.
 

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