New inquiry ?

Mike Spooner

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I don't want to over stress this, but currently in the UK we have the Grenfell Tower Inquiry taking place, and has many parallels with the British Inquiry in 1912. The first witness at the Inquiry of the event, Micheal Dowden, is still giving his evidence today.

One can also compare with the above the deficiencies of the 1912 Inquiry so far, in so much as that the 1912 British Inquiry was hastily convened with no preliminary ground work or expert evidence obtained beforehand. (The same equally applies to the 1912 USA Inquiry).

Cheers,

Julian
Hi Julian,
Just a quick one I do not recommended a re- inquiry. The real TRUTH yes. The nearest we get to it is to write a book on the investigation of the inquires? Personal I am not author material to write a book but willing to give a hand. I see you trying to compare the Grenfell Tower inquiry with the Titanic inquiry. That's all very well I find already they are miles apart as I will explain later on.
Mike.
 

Rob Lawes

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in so much as that the 1912 British Inquiry was hastily convened with no preliminary ground work or expert evidence obtained beforehand. (The same equally applies to the 1912 USA Inquiry
Hi Julian.

Do you think the British Inquiry used the American inquiry as the ground work you describe in your post? I think in Senator Smith's haste to be seen to be doing something he unwittingly set the course of the subsequent inquiries. It could well be that the apparent lack of intensive scrutiny of certain areas of the British Inquiry were due to the White Star legal team being content to drive the Wreck Commissioner down the same path as the Senate. Closely reading the final arguments I find it quite surprising how much Sir Robert Finley, representing White Star was able to direct the conversation.

Regards Rob
 

Jim Currie

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I don't want to over stress this, but currently in the UK we have the Grenfell Tower Inquiry taking place, and has many parallels with the British Inquiry in 1912. The first witness at the Inquiry of the event, Micheal Dowden, is still giving his evidence today.

One can also compare with the above the deficiencies of the 1912 Inquiry so far, in so much as that the 1912 British Inquiry was hastily convened with no preliminary ground work or expert evidence obtained beforehand. (The same equally applies to the 1912 USA Inquiry).

Cheers,

Julian
Hello Julian.

As I watch the proceedings of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, a few things stand out as being common throughout the years.

1. The Inquiry is convened to determine, cause and effect and from that to assure as far as possible, the same thing will not happen again or at least the possibilities of it happening are reduced by producing recommendations.
2. The recommendations produced are the result of careful, forensic examination of the evidence by "experts" as it relates to a specific field of knowledge.
3. The method of questioning is exactly the same. The emphasis seemingly to be, on making the witnesses uncomfortable thus causing them to withdraw inwardly in the belief that each was being singled out as some sort of ogre.
4. The National Media are allowed to have a field...day-by-day,... I think the Americans call it a "Three Ring Circus". thus making it a "Trial by Public" which in turn makes the politician sit up and examinee the ways that selective evidence can further their political ambitions by using it against their political adversaries.

Like Senator Smith, Lord Mersey based his conclusions on his own assessment of the evidence but must have relied heavily on the assistance of "Experts". The conclusions of these experts were either based on extremely sloppy work or such conclusions were modified for public consumption. It follows that such conclusions cannot be relied upon.




 

Rob Lawes

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But as I keep saying, what part of the recommendations were wrong?

That's the key factor here. The making sure it never happens again bit.

Even in the case of Captain Lord and the Californian, regardless of the conclusions (separate issue), how many Captains in the wake of the Titanic disaster would not go and investigate reported flares at sea? Job done.

The purpose of the recommendations were to make sure something similar could never happen again.

The purpose of the conclusions were to state why it occurred and who if anyone was responsible.

We may disagree with the conclusions but the recommendations fully achieved their aim. Conclusions didn't save life, recommendations did.
 
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Kas01

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Hello Julian.
4. The National Media are allowed to have a field...day-by-day,... I think the Americans call it a "Three Ring Circus". thus making it a "Trial by Public" which in turn makes the politician sit up and examinee the ways that selective evidence can further their political ambitions by using it against their political adversaries.
As an American, I can tell you that the national media, regardless of if it is allowed to or not, will Goddamn well have a field day for as long as the inquiry runs. That's the nature of the beast.

Now as far as recommendations go, having enough lifeboats is one thing, letting them remain open rowboats in the middle of the North Atlantic in early spring and lowering them from the top deck is another. But that was the nature of lifeboat building at the time and would remain so for another half a century. Would that have saved another 400-500 people? Probably. But Pirrie, Andrews, et al didn't have that luxury and were thinking in terms of a Republic-type incident anyway.

If COL Astor, Lucien Smith, and Nicholas Nasrallah had the luxury of convincing their wives to get into enclosed, weathertight, motorized lifeboats, maybe others would have followed them in and we wouldn't have had #1 Boat lowered away with a dozen people instead of 40-odd people. Instead, people saw them head back and heard COL Astor say that he'd rather take his chances on the ship than out in that little boat. People followed that, and so the early boats were lowered away damn near empty and no one wanted to try what Lightoller proposed (the Jacob's ladder from the boarding hatchway into the boats).

If you can convince your newlywed wife to get into an open rowboat in the middle of the North Atlantic, dangling 80-90 feet above the waterline and with a gaping chasm between the gunwale and the ship's rail, then my hat's off to you, sir. Maybe the fact that you've convinced her that it's safe convinced other people. I don't know, but all the better to you. Hell, let's take COL Astor's case, and have your five-months-pregnant wife crawl through an open window and across a shifting, hellaciously unstable gap filler made from a deck chair, 20-30 feet above that same freezing water, without you. If you can convince her to do that, all the better to you.

Honestly, I can't blame the people who wanted to stay on the ship and tough it out. Dumb decision, yes. But getting into an open rowboat in the middle of the North Atlantic was only a marginally less-dumb decision and, luckily, one that worked out for the 700+ people who did get in.
 

Jim Currie

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That's the key factor here. The making sure it never happens again bit.

Even in the case of Captain Lord and the Californian, regardless of the conclusions (separate issue), how many Captains in the wake of the Titanic disaster would not go and investigate reported flares at sea? Job done.

The purpose of the recommendations were to make sure something similar could never happen again.

The purpose of the conclusions were to state why it occurred and who if anyone was responsible.

We may disagree with the conclusions but the recommendations fully achieved their aim. Conclusions didn't save life, recommendations did.[/QUOTE]

Hello Rob.

Recommendations are simply that...the opinion of experts after examining the evidence. They were made to the Board of Trade which had commissioned the Inquiry. Thereafter, it was up to the B.o.T to take action regarding these recommendations.
There were 24 recommendations made.
1 to 5 was about WT subdivisions and integrity.
5 to 17 was about ship's lifeboats.
17 to 24 were of a general nature.

Of all these recommendations, only one, if followed by Captain Smith and the White Star Company, would have lessened the chance of the Titanic disaster.
I quote:

"21. That instruction should begin in all Steamship Companies' Regulations that when ice is reported in or near the track the ship should proceed in the dark hours at a moderate speed or alter her course so as to go well clear of the danger zone."

In fact, there was absolutely nothing in the recommendations which, if followed by Captain Smith, would have prevented the accident from happening or from a similar accident occurring again, not even to a WSL ship.
The recommendations were limited to "foreign-going passenger and emigrant steamships." That description in itself was, to say the least,..elastic.
Most of the recommendations were directed at limiting the effect after a passenger ship like Titanic had hit an iceberg. In fact most of the recommendations were condensed into the last one, No.24. Again I quote:

"24. That (unless already done) steps should be taken to call an International Conference to consider and as far as possible to agree upon a common line of conduct in respect of (a) the subdivision of ships; (b) the provision and working of life-saving appliances; (c) the installation of wireless telegraphy and the method of working the same; (d) the reduction of speed or the alteration of course in the vicinity of ice; and (e) the use of searchlights."
 

Julian Atkins

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To my mind an Inquiry in the UK consists of 2 functions in it's terms of reference

1. To establish what happened.. why when and where

2. To make recommendations to prevent a re-occurance

In the case of the Board of Trade investigations into railway accidents most if not all these are now online. The marine side of things in the Board of Trade does not appear to be so accessible.

I don't want to dwell too much on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, but today Michael Dowden completed his witness testimony after a gruelling 3 days, none of which involved cross examination.

One might paraphrase much of his evidence as 'I was out of my depth, did not assess the situation I saw correctly, and did not communicate properly with others'.

It is clear from the examination in chief that Michael Dowden's evidence in certain material respects is not corroborated by other fire officers, and is contradicted.

One might perhaps draw certain parallels with the evidence of Second Officer Herbert Stone on The Californian? It is much harder to apply the same to Boxhall on Titanic, but I think one can make a similar argument, and also in respect of Captain Lord of The Californian.

I just find it all fascinating and absorbing, having a legal background.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Mike Spooner

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I don't want to over stress this, but currently in the UK we have the Grenfell Tower Inquiry taking place, and has many parallels with the British Inquiry in 1912. The first witness at the Inquiry of the event, Micheal Dowden, is still giving his evidence today.

One can also compare with the above the deficiencies of the 1912 Inquiry so far, in so much as that the 1912 British Inquiry was hastily convened with no preliminary ground work or expert evidence obtained beforehand. (The same equally applies to the 1912 USA Inquiry).

Cheers,

Julian
Hi Julian.
Seeing you are the legal profession I have a question? The more I looked into the inquires and compare todays inquires my essay just keeps grows in sizes,what may be acceptable in the past just show how lacking there were as today standards! The question I asked myself, how much experience did the two in charge have? Senator William Smith and Lord Mersey dealing with lost ship inquires? As I see it for Senator Smith had NONE! As for Mersey I see much the same story to. Or is there a way of finding out? As can see both are making basic mistakes by not gathering all evident in before coming to the final decision of the outcome.

The only parallels I can see with the Grenfell Tower and Titanic inquiry is, both have a retired judge in charge. The evident for the Grenfell Tower is coming in by the bucket load, makes the Titanic inquires look like a bunch of amateurs in charge!
Regards,
Mike.
 

Rob Lawes

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In the mid 19th century, retailer William Henry Smith of book sellers WH Smith fame, went into politics and swiftly rose to be First Lord of the Admiralty. Lack of knowledge of ships and the sea was never a block on advancement in high society.
 

Kas01

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I have no doubt that Senator Smith would have been in his element with regards to an ICC investigation of, say, the Great Train Wreck of 1918, but the method of questioning Smith used in the inquiry certainly didn't do much with regards to public confidence in his knowledge (or lack thereof) in shipping.

Mike, stupidity in government is nothing new. We had a Congressman express concerns about a military buildup on Guam causing the island to capsize.
 
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but the method of questioning Smith used in the inquiry certainly didn't do much with regards to public confidence in his knowledge (or lack thereof) in shipping.
Actually, it was pretty clever. Senator Smith was....first and foremost...a lawyer who thought and acted in that fashion. His method of asking what looked like dumb questions as well as repeatedly asking the same question even if superficially reworded was and still is an old trial lawyers trick to see if they can get the same answers or catch somebody contradicting himself.

Don't forget, Senator Smith was the guy who caught Lightoller in a whopper. When Lights tried to play the "We didn't know" card, Senator Smith produced the process verbal of the wireless communications which proved that they DID know.
 

Kas01

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Yeah, I know, leading questions and all that. Which, incidentally, if you try on direct questioning, will be thrown out by any semi-competent judge.
 

Jim Currie

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As far as I can see, Lord Mersey didn't even obtain an LL.B from a British University, let alone have any marine knowledge whatsoever.
The Attorney General, Sir Rufus Isaacs went to sea as a deck boy!
Of the total number of legal representatives active or watching, 5 were sitting Members of Parliament, none, as far as I know, had any formal training in marine matters. However, to assist these legal eagles, there were 5 professional Assessors.
I have to say that since they concurred with Lord Mersey's report, they must have been asleep for most of the proceedings.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Yes I have seen the Wikipedia write up for Lord Mersey and Senator William Smith and cannot see they have any experience in inquiry investigation. Leaving the impression the inquires are to become a stab in the dark for the real real truth. Senator Smith as a Lawyer had become an enemy with JP MORGAN over railroads issues. Ismay had no choice to support Morgan. What a personal clash before the inquiry even started!
The safety improvements were well on the way before the inquires had finished. After all it was the BoT who had failed to move with times as the ships were ever increasing in size.
Book on the investigation in to the inquires is a great idea. Then us members can have a great time tearing that one to pieces like the inquires who said what and didn't!
Mike.