Captain Smith's Ships

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Dean Manning

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I'm curious. Does anybody know who long, and if so the exact dates, that captain Smith commanded the Olympic? The reason is, I'm sorta wondering if Smith had any experience navigating a ship the size of Titanic through iceberg infested waters.

Thanks.

-Dean
 

Martin Pirrie

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Dec 30, 2000
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The Olympic left Southampton on its maiden voyage on 14 June 1911. Smith was the captain. From then until 20 September 1911, Olympic carried out the 3 weekly trans-Atlantic run. On 20 September 1911 Olympic collided with HMS Hawke coming out of Southampton harbour under pilot. Olympic was badly damaged in the bow and was patched up by White Star engineers at Southampton before sailing to Belfast for full repairs. Olympic salied again from Southampton on Thursday, 29 November 1911 and continued with the regular trans-Atlantic service. On 14 January 1912 she came through a very bad Atlantic storm. On 24 February 1912 Olympic shed one blade from the port propellor on the way back to Southampton from New York and had to steam on one engine back to England. Once again, she was taken to Belfast for more repairs and she rejoined the White Star trans-Atlantic service again on Wednesday 13 March 1912. Because Olympic was so big, she had to be repaired in the dry dock where Titanic was being fitted out. Titanic had to be hauled out of the dock to let Olympic in. This delayed the launch date of Titanic.Smith joined the Titanic as captain on 1 April 1912 for the sea trials and later the maiden voyage. Smith had captained White Star ships since 1887 and had crossed the Atlantic many times. He survived running aground: fires and other maritime mishaps up to the time he was made Commodore in 1904 and then captained the White Stsr's current flagship starting with the Baltic.
 
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Dean Manning

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Thanks Martin for your reply. The reason that I asked the question is because I wanted to know if Smith had any prior experience in navigating a ship the size of the Titanic through an ice field before. As far as I'm concerned, this helps support the arguement that Smith's experience was actually working aginst him the night of the disaster.

Anyhow, Thank you!

-Dean
 
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gerard brouillard

Guest
hi everyone. I sure could use some help on this one. I recently came across some old photos from 1911. one photo is capt.smith poseing beside a woman on board a ship. i don't think the ship is the rms titanic. along with the photos are a few of the kaiser de gross. question- does anyone know of capt. smith touring or visiting the De grosse or wilhelm's. i would really appreciate the help. I am trying to identify the woman.(by the ship).
 

Mike Taylor

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Dec 13, 2005
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Dean to my knowledge Smith had no problems with ice before the Titanic sinking. Not to say he had never seen any it had just not been a problem. It's interesting that Smith often pointed out that he did not lose a ship well it was not from lack of chances. In 1889 while the Captain of the Republic ran aground in New York Harbor , in 1891 the Coptic had the same fate in Rio. In 1901 the Majestic under his command had a fire to deal with although damage was small and he later said he was not made aware of the fire until it was put out. 1909 while in command of the Adriatic he again ran aground in New York and in 1911 while on the Olympic had the famous accident with the HMS Hawke.
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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Mike,

Could you give me the book in which you found these facts about Smith. I have been looking but I haven't been able to find such a book. Course I do have a bad habit of looking in the wrong places.

As to Smiths experience it is a good thing to point out that many Officers both Captains and below had very little to do with ice in those days. If you saw it you steered out of it. If you heard about you steered away from it. If you got caught in a field you waited until day light to get out of it. Icebergs and there make up where not really known then. Underwater ice shelfs, bulges beneath the berg where just things that nobody really saw.

A few seamanship books mentioned in other threads mention this. But it was most likely common policy to avoid it rather then get close to it.

The incidents that Mr. Taylor point out above could be used to argue that Smith was a dying bread. A fly by the seat of your pants kind of Captain.

Erik
 

Mike Taylor

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Dec 13, 2005
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Erik, The book I got that info from is "Titanic The Canadian Story" I have read many of the same reports in other books as well.
 
D

Dean Manning

Guest
Mike,

I'm a little late getting to this thread, but I'd like to say thanks for the info anyhow. For what it's worth, my opinion of Smith is that even though he may not have had the experience of navigating a ship the size of Titanic through any sort of ice, I really think a captain is the one who is ultimately responsible for his\her ship.

just my $.02.
happy.gif


-Dean
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Was Captain Smith ever in charge of a ship called "Britannic" back in 1892 or so? I know this is not the same Britannic that was a sister to the Titanic and Olympic tho.
Thanks!
Darren
 
Apr 27, 2003
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Darren,
Yes indeed Captain Smith made four voyages in the Britannic (number 69368) in 1892 - in all he was in charge of her about 12-15 times.
Regards


Brian J. Ticehurst - Southampton UK
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Thanks for the info Brian! I was hoping he had because I just purchased a card with his signature on it and the original owner added under his signature "November 22, 1892- Master of S.S. Britannic" and the name of the ship made me wonder!!
Thanks
 
Apr 27, 2003
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Darren - glad to help.
Here is a list of his voyages from his Official Log at Kew Records Office for the period you want.
27.05.1891 US
19.08.1891
08.12.1891
13.01.1892
03.05.1892
02.08.1892
21.12.1892
18.01.1893
08.05.1893

All voyages started from Southampton to the United States and some covered two or three trips etc.

Captain Smith in the period of being a Master Captain Smith commanded 14 different ships
Service as Master - 37 years
Number of voyages in that period - 158.
Best regards

Brian J. Ticehurst
 

Robert Hauser

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Aug 18, 2005
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I've been trying to establish some chronology of Captain Smith's ships leading up to Titanic. Hopefully, Gary Cooper will see this, since I still haven't got his book! (cuz I'm, uh, currently unemployed you see!)

The only sources I've found so far, are 2 newspaper pieces written after the disaster, one from the NY Times, the other from the Washington Times (both are available on the Encycopedia Titanica site).

The New York Times version is the most complete of the 2, but they both agree on the names of the ships, and on the order. Both put the Senator Weber first, but they get the date wrong (1869 instead of 1867).

The papers say that Smith's first White Star command was Republic in 1887, but Stephanie Barczewski in "Titanic, a Night Remembered" says it was the old Baltic in 1888. Since the old Baltic was sold in 1888, and there is a mention of Smith grounding the Republic in 1889, it seems that the Baltic must have been first. After that, things get harder.

The NY Times has these ships in this order: Cufic, Runic, 1st Adriatic, 1st Celtic, 1st Brittanic, Coptic, Germanic, Majestic, 2nd Baltic ect.(we all know the rest). Just a few snags.

First, in the accidents and incidents of "Falling Star" we have Smith grounding the Coptic in December 1890 in Rio. Did he serve on Coptic twice?

Next, we have Cufic and Runic. These were both cattle boats. It makes sense that Smith would have had to pay his dues on these assignments, as he was still a White Star rookie. But then, in "Falling Star", there is an 1895 entry in which Smith reports dead cows on the Cufic. Since we also know he took over the Majestic sometime during 1895, it would seem that Cufic was the last ship before his 9 year residence on Majestic. Could this possibly have been the second ship named Cufic, (this new one an 8,000 tonner) that entered service in 1895? Perhaps the 2nd Cufic was Smith's first maiden voyage, since in definately wasn't Majestic like you sometimes hear, (Majestic's maiden run was in 1890).
So all the others on the list, (Adriatic I, Celtic I, Britannic I, Coptic, and Germanic), had to have been squeezed in between December 1890 and 1895.

Does anyone have any information that could help pin down which ships Smith has on during this interval?

One interesting aspect of this period that might actually tend to discredit the idea that Smith was somehow more accident prone than others is this: The first Adriatic and Brittanic were both very accident prone ships. In fact, they get their own chapter in "Falling Star". Both had numerous collisions, and were famous for running over sailing ships. But if you look at the accidents and incidents for these ships, there seems to have been a lull in their notoriously accident prone careers in the early 1890's, when Captain Smith had to have commanded them. This proves nothing of course, its just an observation. Unfortunately, the lack of accidents makes it harder to figure out which ship he was on, and when! _Cherio, Rob H.
 

Robert Hauser

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Aug 18, 2005
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Hey Daren,

where did you find that out about Smith on the Brittanic? I've been trying to find out about that period in Smith's career for ages!

P.S. Brittanic I was beautiful ship. I just moved to Chicago and they have a good library here. I've finally found some books with good pictures of those older Harland & Wolff classics. Brittanic I was personally designed by Edward Harland, and was a favorate of J.P. Morgan's. Thanks for the info, - Rob H
 

Mark Baber

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Dec 29, 2000
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All voyages started from Southampton to the United States

Ummm...1891-1893 would have been Liverpool-New York, no?
 

Gary Cooper

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Jun 5, 2003
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Hello Robert, yes, I can give you a list of his ships, or rather the order in which he served on them, no problem:-

5th Feb 1867 - 8th Feb 1868: EJ served as 'Boy' aboard his half brother's ship, Senator Weber.

9th Feb 1868 - 3rd Sept 1870: Served as 3rd mate aboard Senator Weber

18th Oct 1870 - 6th March 1871: Able Seaman aboard the Amoy.

24th March - 15th July 1871: Able Seaman aboard Madge Wildfire.

24th Aug 1871 - 19th Jan 1872: 2nd mate aboard Record.

28th Feb - 27th July 1872: 2nd mate aboard the Agra.

27th Sept 1872 - 3rd March 1873: 2nd mate aboard the Quebec registered N. Mosher.

15th July 1873 - 4th May 1875: Served three terms as mate aboard the Liverpool registered Arzilla.

May 1876 - Jan 1880: Smith's first command, the 1040 ton Liverpool registered ship Lizzie Fennell.

March 1880 - March 1882: Smith served as fourth and later third officer aboard the White Star S.S. Celtic.

March 1882 - March 1884: Second officer aboard the S.S. Coptic in the Pacific service.

March 1884 - July 1885: second officer aboard the S.S. Britannic.

July 1885 - April 1887: first officer aboard the S.S. Republic.

April - August 1887: Temporary command of S.S. Republic.

August 1887 - February 1888: first officer aboard S.S. Britannic.

April - May 1888: Commanded S.S. Baltic.

June - September 1888: Commanded S.S. Britannic.

December 1888: Command of the cattle transporter S.S. Cufic for her maiden voyage.

January 1889: Command of S.S. Republic.

April - July 1889: Commanded S.S. Celtic.

December 1889 - February 1890: Commanded S.S. Coptic in the Australian service.

December 1890 - February 1891: Back to the North Atlantic as commander of S.S. Adriatic.

March - April 1891: Commanded S.S. Runic.

May 1891 - May 1893: Commanded S.S. Britannic.

June 1893: Briefly in command of S.S. Adriatic.

July 1893 - January 1895: Commanded S.S. Britannic.

January 1895: Briefly back in command of S.S. Cufic.

January - April 1895: Commanded S.S. Britannic.

May - June 1895: Commanded S.S. Germanic.

July 1895 - November 1902: Smith's longest command, the S.S. Majestic, including two trips to South Africa, transporting troops to the Boer War.

December 1902 - May 1903: Commanded S.S. Germanic, while Majestic was refitting.

May 1903 - June 1904: Again commanded S.S. Majestic.

29th June 1904 - March 1907: Commanded the new R.M.S. Baltic.

8th May 1907 - February 1911: Commanded the new R.M.S. Adriatic.

May 1911 - March 1912: Commanded the new R.M.S. Olympic.

April 1912: Commanded R.M.S. Titanic.

The majority of these details come from Smith's own service records held at the National Maritime Museum in London. How accurate they are, I cannot say, the actual logs of particular ships may vary the dates. Anyhow, I hope they're of help.