Captain Smith Believed Titanic To Be Unsinkable

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Koda Chrome

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No credible sailor of any rank ever believes that any ship is unsinkable. They can say all kinds of things, brag about the most unimportant stuff, talk big, and get drunk like the best of 'em, but no man who ever gone to sea, believes any ship is unsinkable. They know too well, the power of the sea.
 
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Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston
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There's also the question as to whether Smith said any of these things. Did they verbatim record the actual words of the captain or are they skewed for some apparent reason? Newspapers, especially the tabloids, aren't always known for accuracy.
 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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No credible sailor of any rank ever believes that any ship is unsinkable. They can say all kinds of things, brag about the most unimportant stuff, talk big, and get drunk like the best of 'em, but no man who ever gone to sea, believes any ship is unsinkable. They know too well, the power of the sea.
Typhoon while aboard ship taught me that lesson well. Engines and boilers falling thru the hull of the ship and still staying afloat? Unless he was extremly drunk I can't believe that he would actually think that.
 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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There's also the question as to whether Smith said any of these things. Did they verbatim record the actual words of the captain or are they skewed for some apparent reason? Newspapers, especially the tabloids, aren't always known for accuracy.
They were bad in 1912. Even worse today.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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The "man" who allegedly told that story was blowing smoke. Today it's called fake news.
 
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TheBigFourth

TheBigFourth

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This made me curious, so I looked up the article which can be found here. Interestingly, page 3 of said article contains illustrations of Carpathia with 3 funnels and Baltic with 4 funnels.
 
TheBigFourth

TheBigFourth

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However, this theory doesn't seem too far fetched, since Smith believed that the Adriatic, if catastrophically damaged, wouldn't founder before rescue would arrive. Furthermore, the collision with HMS Hawke had proven that one of the worst case scenarios wouldn't sink Olympic or her sisters, and it's not far fetched to say that the ship would stay afloat if she was cut cleanly in half. Heck, Andrews claimed she would float if she was cut into thirds, although this was probably just him trying to reassure himself after her bump with the iceberg. It's not Impossible that Smith or any other crew member referred to the ship as unsinkable, as the Olympic class were touted as being practically unsinkable everywhere in the press.

But, all of this is Not evidence to suggest that the crew of Titanic were being reckless during the night of the collision. Believing that your ship won't sink, even if seriously holed, is not reason enough to risk a collision in the first place. The last thing you want is to damage your ship, since, assuming nobody is injured or dies, repairs tend to be very costly.
 
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Dan Parkes

Dan Parkes

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It is interesting how the term "unsinkable" is often used to claim that Smith was overconfident in his ship and hence reckless. But those who peddle this ignore that the term "unsinkable" was being used as early as 1906 in reference to the Mauretania. It was nothing new. It only became ironic due to what happened.

During the Senate Inquiry, Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia interjected at one point the following insightful comment:

"The ships are built nowadays to be practically unsinkable, and each ship is supposed to be a lifeboat in itself. The boats are merely supposed to be put on as a standby. The ships are supposed to be built, and the naval architects say they are, unsinkable under certain conditions. What the exact conditions are, I do not know, as to whether it is with alternate compartments full, or what it may be. That is why in our ship we carry more lifeboats, for the simple reason that we are built differently from the Titanic; differently constructed." (Senate Inquiry, Day 1).

It shows the importance of understanding context, rather than simply hindsight.
 
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Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

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Heck, Andrews claimed she would float if she was cut into thirds, although this was probably just him trying to reassure himself after her bump with the iceberg.
Thomas Andrews Jr didn't say that to reassure himself of the floating capacities of the ship, he claimed it to reassure two passengers who earlier in the voyage shared the doctor's table with him (this being Eleanor Cassebeer and Henry Anderson). It is believed he just came from the navigating bridge (there are recent claims made that it was before this visit, which doesn't make much sense to me considering his lack of questions of what happened to the passengers on the forward A-deck promenade under the bridge at the time) and it was said to ensure there was no worries raised, considering the uncertainty the ship was still in at the time.

While unrelated to your post, but related to this topic there is some additional details. Earlier during the voyage Thomas Andrews Jr told two different table companions he regularly ate with and befriended (this being Albert and Vera Dick) that despite that he considered the Titanic nearly as perfect brains can make he always resisted labelling the Olympic class liners as unsinkable, since there are no unsinkable ships in shipbuilding according to him. Thomas Andrews Jr believed however, and understandingly so considering the watertight subdivision was it's time many years ahead and still would be approved to this day, that the Olympic and Titanic were safe vessels in terms of their watertight subdivision.

Edward Ritchie, Thomas Andrews Jr his first secretary who enlisted as part of a police force in South Africa in 1910, also told the same views. Alexander Carlisle (the chief designer of the Olympic class liners until his retirement due to his declining health in June 1910) and Edward Wilding (the deputy chief designer who succeeded Thomas Andrews Jr in that position when Alexander Carlisle retired due to his declining health in June 1910 and later succeeded Thomas Andrews Jr as chief designer of Harland and Wolff due to his death on the Titanic disaster) also firmly stated that Harland and Wolff never considered the Olympic class liners as unsinkable.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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The ships are supposed to be built, and the naval architects say they are, unsinkable under certain conditions. What the exact conditions are, I do not know
If ever there was an ambiguous comment this one would be it and Rostron probably had his tongue in his cheek when he quoted that source. How do you explain the phrase "unsinkable under certain conditions"? That's like saying that the Titanic would remain afloat as long as certain conditions were met but not otherwise; to my mind, that would translate int anything but 'unsinkable'.

Whatever Captain Smith or Thomas Andrews said or did not say, neither man - nor anyone else with deep nautical experience - believed that the Titanic was unsinkable. But they might have said words that sounded like it to people who really did not understand what was being said or those (like reporters) who were only too happy to distort the comment.
 
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Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

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A similar but more accurate statement would be - Airplanes are built not to crash under most conditions. However, they do at times.
The term unsinkable under certain conditions for a ship makes no sense. Either its unsinkable or it not unsinkable. A more accurate statement would be that ships are designed not to sink under most conditions.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I have read that certain small merchant vessels designated as refrigeration ships in the 1940s and 50s were practically unsinkable because of the amount of cork lining they had. One such was the famous (or infamous, depending on the way you look at it) MV Joyita which disappeared on the night of 3rd-4th October 1955 in the South Pacific, only to be found adrift over a month later on 10th November with the entire crew and passenger complement missing. Its bilge and lower decks were flooded due to a substantial leak and the boat had a heavy port list but had drifted for 4 weeks without sinking. Apparently, due to the cork lining in the hold the boat was actually unsinkable.
 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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A similar but more accurate statement would be - Airplanes are built not to crash under most conditions. However, they do at times.
The term unsinkable under certain conditions for a ship makes no sense. Either its unsinkable or it not unsinkable. A more accurate statement would be that ships are designed not to sink under most conditions.
It doesn't make sense. But there were people at the time that were alluding that it was unsinkable. I chalk it up to good old fashion "spin". As some here have previously stated the question is how accurate were the quotes being reported. As Dan Parkes said earlier, context is important. And sometimes its down right dishonesty as we often see today. Can't tell you how many so called news articles today where they only give you part of a qoute to spin their narrative. Cheers.
 
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