The Deposition of Harold Godfrey Lowe
Before the British Consulate General
In New York, May 1912
(Transcribed by Samuel Halpern on 29 July 2010)
In the Matter
Investigation into the Loss of the
HAROLD GODFREY LOWE, being duly sworn, deposes and states as follows:
My name is Harold Godfrey Lowe. My home is Pennrallt, Bormouth, England. I will be 29 years old the Fall of this year.
I joined the Titanic in Belfast in the capacity of fifth officer on the 29th of March, 1912. I hold an ordinary master’s certificate of competency, issued by the British Board of Trade about 4 years ago, and the number I cannot at the present moment remember.
While the ship was at Belfast, lying fast alongside the wharf, at the direction of Mr. Murdoch, who was then chief officer, I in company with Mr. Moody, the sixth officer, inspected all the lifeboats, emergency boats and collapsible boats on the starboard side, together with their equipment.
On the starboard side there were seven lifeboats, one emergency boat and two collapsibles. The seven lifeboats rested on chocks under the davits with the falls attached. The emergency boat was hanging outboard on falls from davits. One collapsibles was resting on the deck that held the davits that held the emergency boat, and the other collapsible was directly opposite this and on top of the officers’ quarters.
There was a set and a half of oars in each lifeboat. In each of the lifeboats there were a mast, sail rigging, and tarpaulin bag to hold the same. There were a double set of thole pins and one veering rowlock. There were a rudder and tiller and a rudderrope, a painter, a sea anchor, bailers and breakers. There were two water breakers in each of the lifeboats, and one in the emergency boat. One bread tank in each of the lifeboats and in the emergency boats. I do not remember whether there were any bread tanks in the collapsibles. I do not remember whether there were any water breakers or bread tanks in the collapsibles. I do not remember whether there was water in the water breakers when I inspected them in Belfast; and there was no bread in the bread tanks when I inspected them at Belfast. But such of the bread tanks and water breakers as I saw in the Carpathia subsequently after the accident did contain bread and water.
I cannot remember having seen any lanterns in the lifeboats when I inspected them at Belfast. I do not know of my own knowledge whether there were any lifeboat lanterns on board the ship. After the lifeboats had been taken on board the Carpathia, I remember having seen some lanterns taken from some of the boats, but which I cannot remember, nor how many.
There were no liferafts on board Titanic. There were life buoys on board. There were life belts placed in every room on board.
On the trials the Titanic behaved splendidly and maneuvered very well.
We sailed from Belfast on the 1st, and got to Southampton about the 3rd. While the ship was lying alongside the dock at Southampton the whole deck department was mustered, and two of the lifeboats on the starboard side were manned and lowered away, I myself taking charge of one and the sixth taking charge of the other. This is the only time that I saw a boat drill take place on the Titanic.
After leaving Queenstown, Mr. Murdoch, the first officer, made out a boat list, stationing the men at their different positions at the boats, and there was an emergency boat list made out as well. I cannot say definitely whether either or both of these lists were posted in the forecastle. I do not now remember to what boat I had been assigned on this list. The general boat list passed through my hands in being sent to the captain for approval. I glanced at this list casually, and remember from this glance that there were three seamen assigned to some of the boats and four to others.
We left Southampton at about 12:05 P.M. on Wednesday, April 10th, and arrived at Cherbourg in the same evening. We sailed for Queenstown from Cherbourg the same evening, and arrived at Queenstown the following morning. We sailed from Queenstown about 2:30 the same afternoon.
All went well from Queenstown until Sunday, April 14th. We had fine, clear weather and smooth sea.
During my watch on deck from 6 to 8 I noticed that a chit had been placed on the officers’ chart room table. There was written on the chit the word “Ice” and the position underneath. I cannot remember what the position of the ice was. So far as I can remember, I figured it out roughly mentally and found that w e would not come within the limits of the ice regions during my watch.
At the beginning of each watch the Junior officer relieving the deck would immediately ring up the engine room and get the revolutions fir the last watch. I did this several times during the voyage, and the highest number of revolutions which I remember being reported to me from the engine room was about 74. During my watch from 6 to 8 the engine room telegraph indicated full speed ahead. The night was fine and clear, bright overhead and dark on the water; calm wind and sea. I did not particularly notice that it was very cold during the watch on deck. As near as I can remember, the barometer during the watch would be about 29.80. I went below at 8 o’clock, undressed, turned in, and went to sleep.
The next thing I remember was hearing voices. It must have been just about midnight. I half woke up; I was not fully awake; and I listened; and after listening awhile I got up and opened the door and looked out on deck, and saw passengers with lifebelts on and the crew clearing away the boats. I dressed and went to the starboard side, and assisted in getting over No. 7 lifeboat on the starboard side. I cannot remember whether all the seamen on the starboard side were engaged in working No. 7 lifeboat. I know that we worked the lifeboats one by one, and that before we proceeded to No. 5 lifeboat some men had cut off the covers. I cannot say definitely, or give any estimate for, the number of seamen on this side of the ship at this time.
We succeeded in lowering away No. 7, after having filled it with women and children and placed four men in it as well for a crew. I do not know whether these four men were seamen, or firemen, or stewards, or what they were.
Then I proceeded to No. 5 lifeboat and loaded it in a similar fashion, and then No. 3, and then the emergency boat, placing women and children in each of them until all the women and children that were on that side of the deck had gone. In No. 3 and the emergency boat we put men as well as women. The ship at this time was tipping rather badly, but she had no list that I noticed.
I then proceeded to the port side, and found sixth officer Moody filling boat No. 16 with women and children. I then carried on with filling No. 14 with women and children. No. 12 was also filled with women and children. I stated to Moody that I had seen five boats go away without a responsible person in them, meaning by this an officer. And I asked him who was it to be, him or I, to go in the boat, he said “You go. I will get away in some other boat.”
I went in boat 14. That was the boat I was loading. Boats Nos. 16, 14 and 12 were loaded much about the same time.
I saw no confusion whatever, either in the handling, loading, or lowering, of either the boats on the starboard or the port side.
I took two boats away with me; that is, excluding my own. I was in boat 14. I took them to a distance of about 150 yards from the ship. I then returned and escorted another boat to the other two boats. I then returned again to the ship and escorted a collapsible to these other three boats. I then made all the boats make fast to each other fore and aft, and also made them all set their masts ready for any emergency, such as wind. I then tied my own boat at the head of the string of boats.
The ship by this time was settling down rapidly by the head, and sank in about 20 minutes. The lights were burning up to 5 minutes before the stern disappeared. I did not hear anything that I should call explosions. A kind of distant smothered rumblings. I thought at the time it was produced by the sinking of the ship.
As I was putting over the starboard emergency boat somebody mentioned something about a ship on the port bow. I glanced in that direction and saw a steamer showing her red light about 5 miles to the northward of us.
At this time fourth officer Boxhall was firing off signals of distress, and we also Morsed to the ship by the electric Morse lamps on the bridge.
When I had got these boats tied together I still saw these in the same position, and shortly afterwards she seemed to alter her position and open her green. I knew a few minutes afterwards all the lights went out, and I did not see any more lights until I saw the lights of the Carpathia.
The cries of the drowning people had very much subsided, and I thought it safe to venture in amongst them; and to do this I had to transfer all my 58 passengers from my boat into the other 4 boats, and I evenly distributed them into the other four boats; and then went away with an empty boat with just a boat’s crew and no passengers. I searched the wreck thoroughly and found four persons, three of whom survived, and one died on board my boat.
During this time I was under sail, and, as I was sailing away from the wreckage, I saw the collapsible which was in my charge, and I sailed down to her and took her in tow. She was in a pretty bad condition, because a breeze had sprung up and there was some sea, and she was somewhat overcrowded because I transferred my passengers. Whilst towing this collapsible boat I noticed another collapsible boat, which had been pierced by wreckage, was settling fast; and I sailed down to her and took off approximately 20 men and 1 woman. I then made away for the Carpathia, and we were picked up by her.
In the morning I saw a number of male bodies about. They all had lifebelts on. I did not see a single female body.
The wreckage that was floating about consisted of tables, chairs, blankets, settees, and other wood furniture.
There were no compasses on any of the lifeboats so far as I can say.
As boat 14, of which I had charge, was being lowered two dark complexioned men tried to jump into the boat. One of them succeeded, and I threw him out; and then to prevent any repetition of the occurrence, I fired my revolver in the air as I passed each deck.
Signed and sworn to at the
British Consulate General
New York this day
of May, 1912, before me