Frederick Fleet

Mr Frederick Fleet

Frederick Fleet

(Daily Sketch 25 April 1912)

Mr Frederick Fleet was born in Liverpool on 15 October 1887. He never knew his father and his mother abandoned him and ran away with a boyfriend to Springfield, Massachusetts never to be heard from again. Frederick was raised by a succession of foster families and distant relatives via orphanages and Dr Banardo Homes until the age of twelve when he was sent to a training ship, where he stayed until he was sixteen. In 1903 he went to sea as a deck boy, working his way up to Able Seaman.

Before signing-on the Titanic he had sailed for over four years as lookout on the Oceanic. He address was given as Norman Rd, Southampton.

As a seaman Fleet earned five pounds per month plus an extra 5 shillings for lookout duty. And it was as a lookout that Fleet joined the Titanic in April 1912.

On April 14, 1912, along with Mr Reginald Lee, Fleet took watch at 10pm, relieving Mr George Symons and Mr Archie Jewel from the previous watch. Just after seven bells, Fleet saw a black mass ahead, immediately struck three bells and telephoned the bridge. He reported "Iceberg right ahead," receiving the reply "Thank you." While still on the telephone, the ship started swinging to port. The lookouts saw the starboard side of the ship scrape alongside the iceberg, and saw ice falling on the decks. They had thought that it had been either a close shave or a near miss. The lookouts remained in the crows nest until relieved about 20 minutes later.

Fleet then made his way to the Boat Deck where Second Officer Charles Lightoller put him to help Quarter-Master Robert Hitchins load and launch lifeboat 6, the first boat to be launched from the port side. After loading some 28 women and children, the boat was lowered to the water. As it was being lowered, Lightoller realized that it was undermanned and called for a experienced seaman. Major Arthur Peuchen volunteered that he was had experience as a yatchtsman. Lightoller told him "I you are sailor enough to get out there - then go down"; and he proved he was by going down the fall to the boat. In the morning, Lifeboat 6 was picked up by the Carpathia.

From June 1912, Fleet served briefly as Seaman on the White Star liner Olympic. He found that White Star looked at the surviving officers and crew as embarassing reminders of the recent disaster and he left the company in August 1912. For the next 24 years Fleet sailed with Union-Castle and various other companies, finishing with the sea in 1936. Ashore, he worked for Harland and Wolff as a shipbuilder, and later was the shore Master-at-Arms for Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co. As he moved into old age, he sold newspapers on a street corner in Southampton.

On December 28, 1964, Fleet's wife died. Her brother, with whom the couple lived, then evicted Frederick, and in a state of despondency, he committed suicide two weeks later, his body being discovered on January 10 1965. He was buried in an unmarked paupers grave at Hollybrook Cemetry, Southampton. In 1993, a headstone was erected through donations by The Titanic Historical Society.

Articles
Southampton Echo, 11 January, 1965, Titanic Survivor Found Hanged

Available Documents
Crew Particulars of Engagement
Copy of an Entry of Death General Register Office

Inquiry Testimony
(Courtesy of the Titanic Inquiry Project)
Senate Hearings, 23 April 1912, Testimony
Senate Hearings, 24 April 1912, Testimony
Board of Trade Hearings, Testimony

References
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic

Contributors
Phillip Gowan, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK

Pictures

FREDERICK FLEET / MAJOR ARTHUR PEUCHEN

(1912) 

FREDERICK FLEET / MAJOR ARTHUR PEUCHEN

 
Fred Fleet's Grave

FRED FLEET'S GRAVE

 
Crow's Nest Telephone Key

CROW'S NEST TELEPHONE KEY

 

Articles and Stories

Frederick Fleet sights an Iceberg

Titanic Timeline  (1912) 

FREDERICK FLEET SIGHTS AN ICEBERG

 
Lookouts : The Human Perspective

Titanic Research  (2003) 

LOOKOUTS : THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE

 
SEALING THE LIPS OF TITANIC'S CREW

The New York Times  (1912) 

SEALING THE LIPS OF TITANIC'S CREW

 
ALARM FROM LOOKOUT IGNORED, SAILOR SAYS

New York Times  (1912) 

ALARM FROM LOOKOUT IGNORED, SAILOR SAYS

 
Defending Fleet and Lee

Titanic Research  (2009) 

DEFENDING FLEET AND LEE

 
Titanic Lookout Is Dead by Hanging After Wife's Death

New York Times  (1965) 

TITANIC LOOKOUT IS DEAD BY HANGING AFTER WIFE'S DEATH

 
TITANIC SURVIVOR FOUND HANGED

Southampton Echo  (1965) 

TITANIC SURVIVOR FOUND HANGED

 
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    (2014) Frederick Fleet Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1332, accessed 24th October 2014 04:21:28 PM)

    URL : http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/frederick-fleet.html