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God himself couldn't sink this ship

Discussion in 'Titanic the Unsinkable' started by Christa, Dec 14, 1999.

  1. Christa

    Christa Guest

    This is upsetting me that i've heard this quote and can't find a thing on it!I just want to know if this qoute was only use for the Titanic movie? Or, did the people of of Titanic actually thought this? If so, where can I go to find info on this quote?
    Thank you to those who can help me on this subject.
  2. Jaques

    Jaques Guest

    :In Southampton, Sylvia Caldwell asked a porter if the ship was really unsinkable. He said something
    :like "Yes mum, God Himself could not sink this ship."
  3. Katia

    Katia Guest

    Hi Christa!

    I've seen the reason for this quote somewhere in a brazilian Titanic's page I believe.

    The newspapers at the time started to wrote this quote about the Titanic because, one day, someone saw in the water the message "NO POPE" and like the Pope is the closest person to God the newspapers wrote that. The truth is that the message "NO POPE" was the reflection of the number of the ship in the water.

    Try this:

    Write 3909 04 on a paper turn it to a mirror and turn it upside down (I believe is like this). You'll see something like this
    "NO POPE"

    So this is what I know about it.

    The thing is that the men fought with God and they've losed!

    (sorry about the bad english!!!!)

  4. Remco Hillen

    Remco Hillen Member

    The quote comes from a newsmagazine, saying that titanic was ALMOST unsinkable.
    People forgot the almost.
    it was a nice advertising thing...

    That No pope is a rumour about titanic, people sad that Irish people wrote that on the hull before being launched.
    The numbers are right, but they are in no way connected to titanic.

  5. Katia

    Katia Guest

    Sorry Remco!

    I'm not sure about what the numbers are but they are realted to the Titanic. I believe they're some kind of serial number or something like that!!

  6. Alyssa Stell

    Alyssa Stell Guest

    The media did say that the ship was unsinkable.
    It was people who worked and were going to ride the "Titanic" some of them I think said even God couldn't sink it.
  7. Melissa Coe

    Melissa Coe Guest

    No ship is unsinkable, it's as simple as that.
  8. Hello Christa;

    The quote you refer to as did the guy with the French name above may have appeared in newspapers and magazines from the 1912 period. Maybe this is where Walter Lord got his information for his book, "A Night To Remember". It appears on page 73 of the 1976 deluxe re-print edition. Do you have a copy? Or maybe he interviewed Mrs. Caldwell while researching his best-seller in the 1950's. Anyway, this is where I first came across the line in the mid 1960's.

    Okay? Have a good day
  9. Noel F.Jones

    Noel F.Jones Guest

    Presumably God himself couldn't have sunk the Olympic either.

    This amusing anecdote, of which I've seen several equally improbable sources, derives from wherever the current author best thinks it will serve his narration.

  10. George Behe

    George Behe Guest

    Hi, Noel!

    >Presumably God himself couldn't have sunk the >Olympic either.

    I don't presume to know if God regarded the Olympic as unsinkable, but human beings did. See my website:


    Scroll down to the table of contents and click on "How the Titanic Became Unsinkable."

    All my best,

  11. For those who look for Divine Providence in the affairs of man...several of the witnesses at the inquiries spoke of the lack of panic until very close to the end. The reason given was a universal belief in the unsinkablity of the ship. Had people feared the ship was foundering, it is unlikely that anything the officers could have done would have prevented a rush on the lifeboats. Perhaps the myth of unsinkability is what allowed the boats to be launched safely. It is something to ponder.

    -- David G. Brown
  12. Tom Pappas

    Tom Pappas Guest

    Hello, George!

    In your article, you focus on the 1910 brochure's use of the qualifying "designed to be" as a deliberate ploy to convince travelers that the ships were safe without actually stating flat-out that they were unsinkable.

    In my opinion, the operative phrase in the sentence under discussion is "as far as it is possible to do so." To me, this represents an explicit stipulation that it is impossible to build a ship that won't sink. I cannot impute to the Line the motivation that you do, so I think that stating "the intent of the brochure's claim is unmistakeable [sic]" assumes facts not in evidence. Clearly, White Star was motivated by self-interest to want prospective customers to regard the Olympics as safe, but to suggest that they deliberately set out to brainwash the public is a bit of a reach.

    The rest of the descriptions of the ship's integrity come from individuals free to form their own opinions, but not from any source at either White Star or Harland & Wolff that could reasonably be termed "official". Even Capt. Smith's hyperbole can be disqualified as hearsay - Andrews (may have) told Smith told a passenger told the reporter. Furthermore, as the article points out, Smith sometimes said the ship would float if cut in two pieces, and sometimes he said three. This reinforces my impression that the crew's claims were made up of whole cloth.

    I also think it would be more fair to exclude from the discussion any quotations where the word "practically" is employed. The writers who apply this disclaimer are clearly acknowledging the reality that total immunity to sinking is unattainable.

    Best regards,

  13. Allan Clarke

    Allan Clarke Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I certainly agree that there is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. Do you know that the same statement was made about the oil rig, the Ocean Ranger, and she went down in a February storm with all 84 crewmembers!
    Didn't Lightoller make some inference to Captain Smith making the decision not to tell anyone, thereby avoiding all out panic?
    I do think that we are much more secular today than the people on the Titanic, and, consequently, we probably don't have the "faith in God" that they had. However, in my own concept of God, I don't see HIM/HER snuffing us out because we have become too arogant and need taking down a peg or two.
    Certainly, after the Titanic, the various churches had a field day with this topic.

  14. Erik Wood

    Erik Wood Member

    In regards to Captain Smith's claims. I think perhaps his claims or his statement where made due to his pride in commanding a new and large vessel. He wanted to reenforce to the general public that ocean travel was safe and probably safer then it had ever been up to that point. Smith was a Master Mariner with enough intelligence to know that there is no such thing as a unsinkable ship. I would even go so far as to say that Smiths talk was just that, to get publicity out to about his company and there new ship.

    As for a deliberate plot by White Star to "brainwash" as Tom put it, I have to agree with him, that there was no such thing in effect. I think White Star, like Captain Smith where attempting to describe the safety of there ship(s) and this some how got twisted by the press (as things usually do) into the ship is unsinkable.

    Knowing George though, I think he has other things and much more detail into his thinking that he probably can't share in public. I don't think that he would have made such a statement without further research to back it up. Having read through his link that he provided I can sway with some certainty that that is his opinion (something we are all entitled to) and he has seen evidence that he thinks points in that direction. The Shipbuilder apparently as Bill Sauder and George both point out relyed on White Star's on publicity machine. Remeber that companies are in the business of making money, advertisement gets clients, the flashier and more interesting the advertisement (in this case stating a ship is unsinkable or almost unsinkable) the more people will read and the more likely people will be to use a companies product, if not becasue of what the person has read, but because they recall reading a advertisement for the company.

    Think on it, if The New York Times (granted not the most trustworthy source for information) came out with a story that read: Captain Erik Wood stats that his ship is UNSINKABLE. People will read the article which will no doubt include my companies name. The next time you see a company adverstisement, you will remeber the flashy newspaper story, when you see more advertisments the companies name and the flashy news story will stick in your mind, when you go to book a cruise you will remeber my companies name, orginally because of the out landish statement I made in a newspaper that mentioned my company.

    This very thing happened during the Ectasy Fire.
  15. Tom Pappas

    Tom Pappas Guest

    The question of whether or not informing the ship's company that the ship was sinking would cause a panic is another issue, and probably should be the start of a new thread. If the officers of Titanic decided not to tell those on board that the ship was in jeopardy for that reason, then they must be blamed for the deaths of several hundred people who weren't convinced that getting in a lifeboat was a dire necessity. I don't think there would have been a panic, for the following reasons:

    Passengers and crew of sinking vessels of every kind have been informed of the ship's situation, and I do not have any knowledge of panic ensuing as a result. If the crew had gone quietly about the ship telling the passengers that the ship was sinking, and to form orderly lines to the Boat Deck, many more could have been saved. The rebuttal to this statement is that Titanic's case was different, because there were so few lifeboats. I would suggest that (Hollywood scripts aside) hardly anyone on board would have known that there weren't spaces for everyone. This calculation would have required a knowledge of the number of boats, their capacities, and the number of souls on board - none of which information would have been readily available to anyone but a few crew members. If Smith had held a lifeboat drill, of course, this state of affairs would have been drastically different.
  16. Erik Wood

    Erik Wood Member


    You are discounting about 7 cardinal rules in ship evcuation that have been time tested. I have been involved in one passenger ship evcuation (not due to the ship sinking) as a JO. There was no immediate danger to the ship, but the fact that we where off loading passengers in mass, and the passengers left with the knowledge that they would not be returning caused some relatively minor panic. Familes had to be seperated due to errors by hotel staff (which caused even more panic). Those who new the ship was taking water paniced once they where told, realizing that the half hour mandated by international maritime law isn't nearly enough time to safely evcuate 3200 passengers. Once you have one paniced passenger it spreads like wildfire see an unrelated story about a fight onboard below. When you put hundreds or thousands of folks in a concentrated place, and tell them that they need to leave the ship for there safety (whether you use the word "precaution" in the sentence or not) it is going to cause some amount of panic. People and ship evcuations don't mix. In some intances or I could even venture to say most instances Titanic was abandoned in a proper manner by my schooling.

    The ships commander knew full well the situation regarding lifeboats, he also knew that his boat deck could only hold a fraction of the total number of passengers on board (Titanic was in the pre muster station era), and once all of the passengers where made aware of the situation, and as they saw lifeboats leave and fewer left to hold large numbers, those with any mark of intelligence would have realized that seats in a lifeboat where going to become hard to come by.

    In addition, the boat deck remained fairly clear in the sense that those lowering the boats had the room to do so, this no doubt aided in the safe lowering of all of the boats that left (with the exception of the two that washed off the deck). Inviting 2000 crew and passengers to the boat deck that couldn't hold half of that would not only have caused panic but probably killed a few in the rush and attempt to get there. People standing in mass and standing still is another good way to start a panic on a ship that you have just announced is going to sink.

    When you take into account the abandoning of the Andrea Doria or the Archilli Lauro, those ships not only had more then enough lifeboats but the ship although showing some signs of sinking was not in a immediate foundering situation. In the Andrea Doria's situation she had lost the use of all of the lifeboats on one side, but help was clearly on scene and available. In both instances the passengers knew the basic situation and where being told what to do, the ship layout and the systems and policies the ship had in place could support the type of evcuation and kept it in a orderly manner.

    Smith didn't sound an alarm because he wanted to retain command of his ship. He didn't have enough lifeboats, that is why in my opinion he shouldn't have given all of the information available to him to his passengers, it isn't there business.

    Remeber that ships don't run like a fire in a building. The ships commander is under no obligation (if it will retain order and safety to his passengers) to communicate any problems that the ship is having with his passengers or hotel staff (anybody that has taken more then 4 cruises has been onboard during some kind of fire or other emergency, and probably was completely unaware of it). During the recent Norwalk virus outbreaks no major passenger annoucments where made, this was done in order to prevent panic. The ships commander, once his ship is wounded in anyway shifts to the safety of his passengers and his passengers only. Usually this means securing or making the ship safe and putting/keeping it in a inhabitable condition, in others that means getting his paying passengers off. How he does this, whether sounding some mass alarm or not, does not matter, his decision SHOULD be based on getting the most passengers off in the safest, fastest and most prudent manner available to him. The trained seaman, firemen, engineers and such on most ships is outnumbered 3 to one. Which makes it like a jail situation. The passengers if they wanted to or if they where paniced, could take the ship over at any time and any thought of a safe and orderly evcuation can be kicked out the window. The only thing that prevents this is the belief that the officers and crew of the ship know what they are doing and a general belief in the laws of the sea. You see an officer you do what he says end of story.

    Suggesting that the deaths of 1500 passengers and crew is the fault of the officers and crew for not giving them all the information available is both IMO out of line, requires a lot more research and degrades each and every officers ability to use reason, his ability to be a seaman, and more importantly paints Captain Smith as not only a incompetent commander, but just plain ignorant. Niether of which IMO are true. The Captain of the Ectasy didn't disclose the entire situation to his passengers, nor did the Captain of the Archilli Lauro (I can't spell today), nor did Captain Turner of the Lusitania (so I have read).

    RULE #1 OF SHIP EVCUATION IS: Do not give cause for alarm to the passengers and in no way indicate that things are bad, remain calm cool and collected and release only what needs to be released. Or in simple terms: MAINTAIN ORDER AT ALL COSTS!!!

    This usually means giving them only half of the story if that. In the situation I mentioned that I was involved in the Captain only said the ship had grounded, and was taking a small amount of water, but for the safety of the passengers and crew the ship needed to be evcuated. He didn't mention that he had no tanks below the engine room floor, or that he had a aux machine space flooded or that when the tide changed the ship could break in two and roll over. The evcuation was slow, controlled and for the most part panic was averted by the likes of officers and trained crew.

    If Captain Smith had made a blanket statement that the ship would sink and all passengers and crew needed to report to the boat deck with lifebelts on, what would have happened?? None of us will know for sure, but common sense says that 2200 people going to one place that can't hold half of that, and letting them know that the boat they are on is about to disappear beneath there feet is a bad thing. You have 2 master at arms to quell problems on 882 feet of ship, while the rest of the officers and trained seaman are attempting get lifeboats ready while folks push and shove to get in line. There are some very large logistical problems involved here.

    That is why shipping companies and law makers developed the Muster Station. You are breaking up the body of passengers into smaller managable groups, and escorting them to the boat they need to be in. Everybody in each group is getting a seat at the same time. There is no fight for a seat it is assigned. Boats are leaving the ship (if all goes according to plan) 4 at a time. Now you have smaller more manageable groups of passengers organized by a large group of crew or personnel trained to deal with the situation. Titanic didn't have this luxury.

    This also goes to the heart of why a Captain is the Captain. People are under the illusion that the Captain (in Smith's situation) was to get ALL of the people off. Smith didn't have the resources, equipment or time to get that accomplished, and IMO the testimony shows that he understood that. Smith's job was to save as many as he possibly could, he had to load lifeboats and tell others that there turn was coming, full well knowing that there wasn't a seat for everybody, this also meant restricting the flow of information. The Captains job is to save as many as possible (hopefully that is everybody and until he can know otherwise he assumes everybody). The Captains job is to look at the big overall picture, not the small picture. Smith knows the eventual out come, he knows that he only has so many lifeboat seats and almost twice that number in persons needing a seat, he also knows that he is in a time frame to get people off (which isn't flexible), given the resources and trained personnel on hand he has to make a decision on how best to save as many of his passengers as he can (NOTE:Smith can't save all so he has to save what he can) and that every minute that goes by the deck gets steeper and the ship sinks faster (not technically speaking) and harder it will become to load lifeboats.

    Tom said: ". If Smith had held a lifeboat drill, of course, this state of affairs would have been drastically different.

    While I agree 110% that a lifeboat drill should have taken place, it wouldn't have done much good. There where still not enough lifeboats, and no system in place to make a orderly evcuation, and that would have been more then obvious to passengers once required to show up to there boat station, especially to the third class would have been last to arrive.

    The point of this next bit is that every shipboard alarm or emergency isn't always dire, and that alerting passengers and telling them the whole story could create and would create more trouble then it is worth:

    Every morning at about 0430 on the SS Norway a fire alarm goes off on the bridge alerting the bridge and galley crew that there is excessive heat in a corridor next to one of the resturants. The fire alarm sounds in the corridor, the galley and the bridge and fire doors close. They man a fire team and send a officer to investigate. Every day it is the same thing, the grill when heating up warms the metal bulkhead and warms up a crew corridor and causes the heat cenors to trip. But everyday they do the same thing. Do they wake everybody up no. When a passenger asks they tell them. When early risers see crewmen in fire gear running with hoses people tend to wonder what the heck is going on.​

    Panic is a disease on a ship, once one person has it, it can spread rapidly and uncontrolled and every second that is wasted in attempting to stop this panic order is slipping away.

    Captain Smith and his officers and crew deserve a hand shake for there handling of the evcuation. Now the handling of what occured before contact with the berg....well....that is another story.
  17. George Behe

    George Behe Guest

    Hi, Tom!

    >Even Capt. Smith's hyperbole can be disqualified >as hearsay -

    Well, Elmer Taylor heard Captain Smith tell the 'cut-in-three' story with his own ears and described Smith's words in a private account that he authored himself. No 'filtering' by newspaper reporters took place in this particular instance.

    >Furthermore, as the article points out, Smith >sometimes said the ship would float if cut in two >pieces, and sometimes he said three. This >reinforces my impression that the crew's >claims >were made up of whole cloth.

    Unless I'm mistaken, I think we can all agree that anecdotal claims of unsinkability (containing varying degrees of exaggeration a la Captain Smith) were widespread prior to the Titanic disaster; IMO the only uncertainty is whether or not these anecdotal claims of unsinkability evolved from *qualified* statements of unsinkability that originally appeared in White Star publicity material. For what it's worth, my own opinion is that they did.

    I do not believe that White Star heinously set out to deliberately delude its prospective passengers; rather, I think the Line 'blew the Titanic's own horn' right up to the very limit of reality ("practically unsinkable") and then did absolutely nothing to discourage its employees from 'improving' on that qualified horn-blowing. (After all, the Line was covered in the event of a mishap: "Hey, we can't help it if Captain Smith said the Titanic was unsinkable; the Line itself is on record as having said only that she was *practically* unsinkable.")

    Opinions may vary, though.

    Erik wrote:

    >Knowing George though, I think he has other >things and much more detail into his thinking >that he probably can't share in public.

    Hi, Erik!

    No, I assure you that my brain is now empty on this subject. :)

    All my best,

  18. Tom Pappas

    Tom Pappas Guest

    Thanks, George.

    But if you truly "do not believe that White Star heinously set out to deliberately delude its prospective passengers", can the statement "the intent of the brochure's claim is unmistakeable" (from the article) stand without qualification?

    Cap'n Erik,

    I have never suggested that all 2,200 people on board be simultaneously directed to report to the Boat Deck (even if a PA system had existed), but rather that the people who were near a boat be told something more persuasive than "it's just a precaution."

    My mention of the boat drill was to point out that if one had been held, everyone on board would have known half of them were doomed, and there would have been widespread panic.

    Fair seas and following winds,

  19. Hi, all:

    To provide some evidence that there was actually a fairly widespread campaign among the shipping companies to ascribe the quality of "unsinkability" to their ships -- for public consumption, at least -- I offer the following link from the Gjenvik-Gjonvik Archives:


    In this example from a 1907 handbook for Norwegian Cunard passengers, the illustration specifically describes the two Cunard liners as the "FIRST UNSINKABLE [synkefrie] STEAMERS". (Though the caption is not in English, it's fairly easy to decipher, and others here can verify my translation.)

    Despite this marketing claim, the Board of Trade insisted as late as 1912, during the British Titanic Inquiry, that there was NO existing ship that fit their technical definition of "unsinkable". (Yes, it was definitely *codified* and attainable as a design standard.)

    So although those two ships were NOT absolutely unsinkable, such allegations seem to have been commonplace in overall marketing schemes as early as 1907. (Consider as similar the modern terms "fire-proof" and "unbreakable".) And if Cunard was exercising the ploy, it's doubtful that White Star would deliberately *avoid* such tags. To the contrary, we know that, in the case of the Olympic class ships, they used the term "unsinkable" whenever possible, short of actually guaranteeing it.

    To the public mind, "practically unsinkable" is not very different from the unqualified label "unsinkable", and I suspect White Star was probably well aware of the potential impact of its wording.

    [Note: The full 1907 immigration brochure, plus the rest of this outstanding site, can be accessed via http://www.gjenvick.com/research/1907_cunard_liniens_haandbog/index.html .]

  20. George Behe

    George Behe Guest

    Hi, Tom!

    >But if you truly "do not believe that White Star >heinously set out to deliberately delude its >prospective
    > passengers", can the statement "the >intent of the brochure's claim is unmistakeable" >(from the article) stand
    > without qualification?

    No, it can't, and I'll definitely have to modify the wording of that sentiment. Thanks very much for pointing out the inconsistency between my true opinion and my article's careless misstatement of that opinion.

    Hi, John!

    Thanks very much for sharing that brand new -- and very important -- addition to our discussion of ship unsinkability and the publicity campaigns that contributed to public belief in that supposed characteristic. Outstanding!

    >To the public mind, "practically unsinkable" is >not very different from the unqualified label >"unsinkable", and I
    > suspect White Star was probably well >aware of the potential impact of its wording.

    I absolutely agree.

    All my best,