Captain Smith


tony mac

Why was the Titanic on her sea trials and the short trip to Southampton not under the command of Captain Smith , i read the captain was Captain Charles A Bartlett?
You may have read about this in an early edition of Gary Cooper's biography, E.J: The Story of Edward John Smith, Captain of the Titanic. That's where I first read about it. Then I placed the detail in my own book, The Watch that Ends the Night, so you may have read it there. I have corresponded with Gary recently and he explained that the early edition of his book has got it wrong. I'm not certain where Gary came up with this himself. But as far as I know at this point, Smith really WAS aboard Titanic for the sea trials and delivery trip. I might add that Gary Cooper's book is otherwise excellent and very thorough. He has an updated version of the book coming out from History Press that corrects the error. I highly recommend it.
Many thanks,Allan i read this in Wikipedia encyclopedia, i think Bartlet was on Olympic.
Anthony, I also read that Bartlett was in charge of the Titanic for her sea trials and delivery trip and then there is the fact that Captain Haddock's name is listed as the Titanic's captain on the crew agreement. However, as Mark Baber pointed out to me Haddock was actually in command of the Olympic when the Titanic was coming from Belfast - the Ellis Island records show this in that ship's arrival on 10th April. The Particulars of Engagement for the Titanic (TRANS 2A/45 381)held at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Belfast have a contemporary hand-written note from Smith stating that he had not had time to sign the agreement and would do so on his return. Then there is the Port of Southampton Arrivals and Departures ledger, which notes that Smith brought the Titanic in from Belfast. Novellist Ann Victoria Roberts who has herself just had a book 'The Master's Tale', published has seen this herself. Her husband is a master mariner who worked out of the port and who drew it to her notice. Here's her story of how she got involved in her own research about Smith: anic-out-of-isolation/

Hello again Allan, thanks for the kind words. I've just received my complimentary copies and they look good. Still not sure when my book will hit the shops, my publishers are trying to sort something out with the press first.
A detailed explanation, Gary, which serves to illustrate how difficult it can be to establish the accuracy of events.

Congratulations on the publication of your recent book by History Press, under the title of 'Titanic Captain'. I fully support Allan Wolf's endorsement of this excellent book.
I don't know how Captain Bartlett got dragged in. Since January 1912 he'd been a Marine Superintendent for White Star, a shore job. See Mersey's court.
When the Olympic left Belfast in March 1912 following repairs to her propeller, the Titanic had to be moved out of the way and once the Olympic was clear the Titanic was manoeuvred back again. According to the local papers Captain Smith was in command of the Olympic and Captain Bartlett was on the Titanic. A few questions. The Titanic was not officially complete and had not conducted her sea trials yet. Would this make Captain Bartlett more of a supervisor aboard the ship rather than the commander? Would he need to sign papers or was his command taken with such short notice that the legal formalities were skipped owing to the urgency to get the Olympic back to Southampton. Would Captain Bartlett require a full compliment of deck officers and crew, or was he merely helping out and offered to give his assistance that day? Would he communicate with Captain Smith in any way as both ships passed each other? If the Titanic had collided with the Olympic who would be at fault? A number of gentlemen were involved in the event. Did one in particular have responsibility over the departure of the Olympic and the movement of the Titanic, or was that responsibility held by Captain Smith and Captain Bartlett?

Gentlemen who were on duty.


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  • I would say that Capt Bartlett was more of an «adviser», like a private docking pilot on behalf and account of the shipbuilder under contract with the future owner.
  • I do not think that he had any official paper to sign. The vessel was under construction, not certified and over a share responsibility between the shipbuilder and the owner.
  • Only the needed yard crew to assist as directed.
  • Whistle Salutes?
  • Either Titanic or Olympic at fault; It would’ve been a complex share between the shipbuilder, the owner and the underwriters, versus established responsibilities.
  • The shipbuilder and/or the yardmaster made, discussed and agreed upon the passage planning with both masters. Captain Smith and Capt Bartlett must have been exceptionally careful…