Californian question and other ships...

Nov 14, 2005
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This is a question for the mariners here. The Californian had accommodations to carry 47 passengers. But as reported she carried no passengers on her trip during the April 15th 1912 time period. If a ship like her no passengers would the crew get to utilize those spaces? Sort of a like a little upgrade for the crossing or was that not allowed. Seems to me if the Captain threw them a bone like that when possible he would have a happier more productive crew. Or did company rules forbid that? Just curious.
 

Julian Atkins

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Sep 23, 2017
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South Wales UK
Hi Steven,

I am no mariner, but Leslie Reade compiled a list of all the crew from the Official Log and added to in some respects by other information.

There were only 6 of the crew (of 52 according to Reade's list) who were (as far as I can see) assigned to passenger duties. The Chief Steward William Hughes also looked after Captain Lord, a Second and Third Steward, a Mess Room Steward (for the crew but also probably doubling up), and 2 ship's cooks.

All the passenger accommodation was originally designated as 'State Rooms' as per Harland's article and the original plans that survive, and was above the main deck.

Passenger accommodation would have been strictly out of bounds for the crew. Ernest Gill and his cabin mate William Thomas were certainly in their original cabin below decks as per William Thomas's USA press interview. Groves clearly had his usual cabin which was diagonally opposite that of Stone, as he described certain things in the late 1950s to Walter Lord that rules out a change of berth.

What is known is that The Californian had a very easy crossing of The Atlantic to Boston till the 15th, in very fair weather, and I should imagine that the lack of passengers that crossing meant the food for the crew was probably better, and with better service, as the ships' cooks and Stewards had nothing else to do.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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Ok. Thanks for that information. I kinda figured it was against the company rules but you know what they say about rules. I don't really know much about the Merchant Marine business. Never been on a steamer/cargo ship. My experience was a couple years on a bird farm. Other than that a few times as a walk on passenger on car ferries going from Scotland to Ireland and in Italy. Makes sense they probably ate better without having to worry about passengers. (Off Topic) : My first duty station in the Navy was a fairly small Naval Air Station as far military personnel. It was test facility and was about 90% civilian contractors there. The Chief mess cook who ran the galley came from managing food for 5000 on a carrier to us with about 80 enlisted. He must have had a good budget because we ate like kings there. Then I went to the fleet and reality slapped me...LOL.