Abandon Ship

Dec 16, 2008
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I just finished watching A Night To Remember. If you recall, towards the end of the film when Titanic's bow starts going under Smith calls out 'Abandon ship, every man for himself!'. Does this line have any basis in fact? It seemed odd to me. What was the point of him saying that? All it did was increase the panic.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I don't know if Captain Smith really said it. All sorts of words are attributed to him, usually with no real verification.

The cry of "Abandon ship! Every man for himself!" is traditionally given when the situation is totally desperate, at any rate in movies.
 
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Alyson Jones

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Hi Eliott, All i know is that captain smith said to his officers "BE BRITISH BOYS".I never knew about Aboandonship, but i have heard that captain smith may of said Every man for himself.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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In Harold Bride's exclusive statement given to a NY Times reporter while on the Carpathia:
quote:

Then came the Captain's voice: "Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your cabin. Now it's every man for himself. You look out for yourselves. I release you. That's the way of it at this kind of a time. Every man for himself."
 

Shea Sweeney

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Apr 1, 2007
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Here's some evidence to that:

"A Night To Remember" by Walter Lord (pg. 89)

(Captain Smith has just told Phillips and Bride to forget about SOS and try and save themselves)

"Captain Smith returned to the boat Deck, walked about speaking informally to men here and there. To Fireman James McGann, 'Well, boys, it's every man for himself.' Again to Oiler Alfred White, 'Well, boys, I guess it's every man for himself.' To Steward Edward Brown, 'Well, boys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves.' To the men on the roof of the officers' quarters, 'You've done your duty, boys. Now, every man for himself.' Then he walked back on the bridge."

Walter Lord interviewed many survivors for his book; so I would say some credit should be given to his book.

I double checked on this website, all of the individual men Capt. Smith apparently briefly spoke to survived.

To my thinking, Smith probably did not call out into a bullhorn the last order a skipper can give, but it would seem in character of him to announce it to just small amounts of his crew.
 
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Alyson Jones

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>>To my thinking, Smith probably did not call out into a bullhorn the last order a skipper can give, but it would seem in character of him to announce it to just small amounts of his crew.<<

Shea.
I agree with you,i'll add something to go with you're post.lightoller ask Smith- Women and children first!Smith replied by just nodding his head up and down,with out no words spoken.More likely seems that Smith would rather speak to crews in small amounts, which you mentioned in you're post.I can't see Smith yelling in to a bull horn either.
wink.gif
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Based on the eyewitness accounts, Captain Smith did reportedly say quotes such as these. He was seen giving last orders to the men working on Collapsible A through a megaphone, before reentering the bridge. Edward Brown and several others testified or described this. Harold Bride and a few others claimed to have seen him jump overboard from the port side near the bridge, which if true, meant this was after he was seen on the starboard side.

Take care,
Tad
 
May 1, 2004
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Capt. Smith might have shouted "Abandon Ship!" or other commands, using a megaphone or his unaided lung-power. He might have needed one, to make himself heard over the noise of several hundred murmuring people over a wide and deep deck area, and over the noise of escaping steam, cranks turning, creaking on the davits, other commands, whistles, shots [?] made by the officers.

As for "Abandon Ship!" in the movie "A Night to Remember", it was probably said to hype up the viewers' nerves. It's like saying "This is IT! The ship's going Under NOW!"
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
I thought that the order to abandon ship is given on British ships when there is no longer any hope of saving the vessel, and crew are therefore released from their duties. (The same order is presumably guven on American ships?)

In understand that this order was given by Captain Sam Salt of HMS Sheffield during the Falklands conflict 1982, when the fires that had been started by the Argentine missile reached the nuclear ordnance in the magazine.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
>>Capt. Smith might have shouted "Abandon Ship!" or other commands, using a megaphone or his unaided lung-power. He might have needed one, to make himself heard over the noise of several hundred murmuring people over a wide and deep deck area, and over the noise of escaping steam, cranks turning, creaking on the davits, other commands, whistles, shots [?] made by the officers. <<

Marilyn. You got that right.Lightoller stated that the noise of the escaping steam was so loud,that even if you scream on the top of you're lungs no one heard a single word what you were saying. But on the other hand, Captain Smith would some times want private talk with his officer's with out arlamming the passenger's. To do this he may not use the mega horn.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>(The same order is presumably guven on American ships?)<<

Depends on the circumstances. If they have time for an orderly evacuation, there really wouldn't be any need for any drama.

If the situation is so bad that you know it's time to get the hell outta Dodge, I would expect that nobody would even be listening for the order, they'ed be diving off the side. In Navy practice, one expects that one will have time to do some things by the numbers even in extremis, but if it's really that bad, the order which is supposed to be given is "Abandon ship without delay."

The fly in this ointment is if it's really that incredibly bad, it's not at all likely that the PA system will be working.

>>reached the nuclear ordnance in the magazine.<<

What nuclear ordnance? Did they have depth bomb versions of the WE-177 aboard?
 

Shea Sweeney

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Apr 1, 2007
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"the noise of the escaping steam was so loud"

Yes, that was true for the beginning of the sinking after the Titanic came to a stop but I'm pretty sure the noise of the steam dying down coincided with the beginning of the lifeboat launches. However, there were a multitude of other noises for sure.

Mr. Standart, you would know - I read in "Ships of Ghosts" (about the USS Houston in WWII) that it is standard Navy procedure to remove one's shoes and place them neatly on the edge of the deck before abandoning ship. Is that true?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I read in "Ships of Ghosts" (about the USS Houston in WWII) that it is standard Navy procedure to remove one's shoes and place them neatly on the edge of the deck before abandoning ship.<<

Removing your shoes...yes. You just don't need that kind of dead weight on when you're in the water swimming for your life. Placing them neatly on the deck edge?

Maybe in a drill, but in the real event, with fires, explosions and other fun things happening?

I don't think anybody is going to care.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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>>What nuclear ordnance? Did they have depth bomb versions of the WE-177 aboard<<

It is rumoured that as HMS Sheffield had proceeded to the South Atlantic without returning to the UK to pick-up conventional ordnance, she could well have been carrying nuclear depth charges. This would account for the decision to scuttle the still-intact ship after the fires had subsided, as everything would have been radio active (when Captain Salt re-boarded the vessel he was wearing what appeared to be a N&BW protective suit).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>It is rumoured that as HMS Sheffield had proceeded to the South Atlantic without returning to the UK to pick-up conventional ordnance<<

There really wouldn't have been a need to. She already had her loadout of missiles, torpedos, and gun ammunition and any short fall could have been made good by way of underway replenishment.

>>This would account for the decision to scuttle the still-intact ship after the fires had subsided, as everything would have been radio active <<

What would have been radioactive? Unless one of the high explosive train exploded (Unlikely in the extreme since weapons of this era used insensitive high explosives for the trigger assemblies) the weapons would have been completely intact.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Most of the ships in the British task force sailed directly from the UK with conventional armaments, but the Sheffield was already at sea and she did not return to port so that any nuclear depth charges that might have been aboard could be removed. There was no danger of explosion when the fire reached the magazine, but rumour has it that there was some fear of contamination by smoke, fumes, or whatever else might happen when nuclear material is subjected to fire.