Ismay

David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
John -- any conversation between Ismay and Captain Smith regarding the conduct of the voyage had great legal significance. The White Star Lines' limitation of liability under Admiralty Law would have been nullified if Ismay had "privity and knowledge" of things like the courses chosen, the speed of the ship, or changes to either. White Star enjoyed a limitation of liability of about the value of the ship as long as Ismay could claim he lacked "privity and knowledge." If that claim had been debunked, it would have opened the door to unlimited civil liability.

This "privity and knowledge" issue is why the corporate heads of shipping lines quite often refused to sail on their own ships. By sailing on the competition there was no chance of breaching the limitation of liability.

-- David G. Brown
 
G

George Behe

Member
Hi, Michael!

>After she had taken a seat, Captain Smith and >Bruce Ismay came and sat at a table nearby, and >began discussing the possiblility of having the >last boilers lit.

If that's what the biography says, it's mistaken; Ismay never specifically mentioned the addition of new boilers per se.

>While Ismay may well have kicked this around with
> Captain Smith, we know from sworn testimony that >the boilers in BR#1 were never lit off.

However, on the evening of April 14th Alfred Shiers was told by one of the Titanic's engineers that the ship's last three *main* boilers had been connected to the engines at 7 p.m. (A considerable number of passengers later remarked how easy it had been for them to detect the additional vibration caused by the increased speed of the engines.)

All my best,

George
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
And Trimmer Thomas Dillon specifically denies these boilers were ever lit. Granted he was talking about Boiler Room # 1 which may have served an auxilary function, but it's there. He does however affirm that BR#2 was lit off.

3745. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Did you open the watertight doors? - Yes, I assisted to open them as far as we could forward.

3746. And did you go into the stokehold? - Yes.

3747. Do you know which stokehold that would be? - The after-stokehold.

3748. The one immediately forward of the engine room? - Yes.

3749. Were the boilers lit in the stokehold? - No.

3750. None of them? - No.

3751. Did you go on to the next stokehold? - Yes.

3752. Where the boilers were lit? - Yes.
 
G

George Behe

Member
Hi, Michael!

>And Trimmer Thomas Dillon specifically denies >these boilers were ever lit. Granted he was >talking about Boiler Room # 1

I never said anything to the contrary regarding boiler room #1, old chap. As I emphasized in my last posting, I was talking about the addition of the last three *main* boilers (which were of course in boiler room #2.)

>He does however affirm that BR#2 was lit off.

Thanks for the confirmation.

All my best,

George
 
C

Christine Geyer

Guest
From Mrs. Line's pure statement that she overheard Ismay and the Captain "discuss the possibility of having the last boilers lit" I would not automatically conclude that Ismay exerted pressure on the Captain to do so. To Ismay's credit I'd say it was quite normal for them to discuss this possibility, given he fact that the trip so far was smooth and trouble-free and they had a brand new liner whose maximum capacity has never been tested before. Please tell me if I'm overseeing something here but it seems to me that people rarely consider the possibility that Captain Smith might well have supported the idea of lighting the last boilers himself. I don't want to declare Ismay to be the innocent choirboy but could it not be he was simply asking the Captain if he'd plan to light those further boilers and if so - when and for how long, or suggested the idea to him, asking for his opinion, without rushing him, leaving the final decision in the Captain's hands?

Just my 2 cents...

Best regards
Christine
 
G

George Behe

Member
Hi, Christine!

>From Mrs. Line's pure statement that she >overheard Ismay and the Captain "discuss the >possibility of having the last boilers lit"...

As I mentioned above, though, Mrs. Lines never said she heard Smith and Ismay discussing the possibility of lighting additional boilers per se; if the Lines biography makes that assertion, it is mistaken.

>Captain Smith might well have supported the idea >of lighting the last boilers himself.

IMO it's fairly certain that no speed increase would have occurred that evening if Captain Smith had not given the order for it to take place; whether or not Smith actively *supported* the idea of a speed increase at that point during the voyage is something we'll probably never know.

All my best,

George
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>I would not automatically conclude that Ismay exerted pressure on the Captain to do so.<<

Nor would I assert that Ismay didn't. Ask any merchent officer or seamen and one of the things you'll see them agreeing on is that owners aboard ship are an aquired taste...and so far, none of them had aquired the taste. These people don't mind throwing their weight around, however subtle they may be about it.

There are aspects of Ismay's role in the accident that I'm afraid are unknowable. If he didn't pressure Smith to stomp on the gas, there wouldn't be anything to talk about. If he did, Ismay was obviously smart enough to avoid saying it strieght out.
 
Donald J A Smith

Donald J A Smith

Member
Christine's "2 cents" were a contribution of great value to the discussion. And, with George's, invaluable.
 
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George Behe

Member
Hi, Donald!

>Christine's "2 cents" were a contribution of >great value ....

Absolutely! Christine's posting was very incisive and thought-provoking. (The habitual brevity of my own postings sometimes causes me to fail to pay compliments where they are due, so I'm glad you took the time to express your appreciation for Christine's posting.)

All my best,

George
 
S

Sandra Sadowski

Member
Hello everyone. I'm new to the site and have thoroughly enjoyed the reading. This is one topic im greatly interested in.

Just other ideas I thought worth pondering on the subject...

I do not think Ismay acted in the best interest of his company in his actions but I do agree that under such extreme circumstances, its not unusual that he boarded a lifeboat when the opportunity presented itself.

Regarding Captain Smith's actions regarding speed and other navigational issues, I really dont think Ismay had any actual or intended influence, nor do I believe it would have been necessary for him to try. My father was a US Navy captain and its been my experience that after years of command, a captain tends to have his own agenda on board his ship. From my own research, it appears that Captain Smith had made numerous questionable decisions with regard to his commands, for example his collision with the Hawke while on the Olympic. He seems to have been a proud captain who would have wanted to make the maiden crossing one to be proud of. The speed he chose and the daring with which it was executed was possibly borne out of self confidence after years of experience and numerous close calls that ended with no loss of life. A certain amount of egotism is apparent in many sailors with that many years behind them. It is a necessary egotism that allows them to make the life and death decisions that they do. So I find it hard to believe that Ismay would have even NEEDED to encourage Captain Smith to stretch Titanic's legs on this voyage. I'm sure he probably wanted to show what she could do on his own. Besides which, his own comments in prior years demonstrated his own belief in the ships he captained that any situation could be dealt with without fear of foundering. He was also most assuredly a proud man that would never have made decisions based on threat of job loss. He had that job in the bag, so to speak. As the most popular captain on the seas, his rank was assured. My guess is he made the decisions he did based on his belief in his ship and his abilities. I believe his actions AFTER the collision support this. He appeared to be dumbfounded at the loss of his ship and the proven inaccuracies of his navigational decisions. Just my opinion but it makes sense to me...

Thanks for the opportunity this site affords. Ive never seen a more comprehensive study of what, to me, is the most fascinating subject.
 
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robert s hauser

Guest
Is there any way one could get some idea of the relationship between Smith and Ismay? Like on on a human level? Does anyone know where there might exist some written correspondence between them in the past? I've become really interested in who these two men REALLY were behind all entrenched stereo types. Are there biographys of either man? Anyone who could answer, I'd be much obliged. Thanks Rob
 
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