Ismay's role in the ship's navigation


Mar 22, 2003
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Bill said,
The most significant thing here is that the time change is based on that predicted position not the actual. This is because it is implemented 12 hours before the noon that it applies to.
The fact of the matter is that the time change made at midnight was later adjusted during the forenoon the next day after they took a sun line a few hours before noon. The adjustment, if necessary, was from 1/2 to 1 minute in time at most (see Pitman/Lightoller testimoney Amer. Inq.), corresponding to a maximum of plus or minus 7 1/2 minutes of arc in ship's longitude.

As far as positions reached didn’t seem to always be on the great circle, that is of course correct. They were sometimes more northward of the GC and sometimes more to the southward of the CG by a few miles when they took their latitude at LAN. Nothing unexpected here. The target was to follow the GC path via rhumb line segments as closely as practicable. The practice appears to be to lay out the next segment after they got their LAN position. However, if they needed to make other adjustments like deferring a course change, or adding in a drift angle to compensate for a current set, that would be done as needed.
 

Bill West

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with regard to the speed/miles discussion:
Mark -indeed, my intent about the 32 minutes was only to show difference not the direction of difference. I should have emphasized the “if” .... “really was” in my last sentence.

with regard to the working of LANs:
Sam -yes, that’s what I expected for procedure too. But I would take Pitman’s comment as typical not as the worst that might occur. A huge 100 mile shortfall in the day’s run only brings the noon sight ahead 10 minutes. I suggest his statement needs to be taken as general because it is reasonable to think that a vessel will occasionally be delayed 25-50 miles from it’s predicted plan. A late departure would do it.

When we take this to speed/mileage discussions, a 2 minute difference in planned noon equals 0d 30’ of longitude. At 45N that’s 21 miles and will make nearly a knot difference in inferring the planned speed. I’m just wanting to caution that sometimes 2 minutes will leverage a back figuring calculation while at other times you’re right, it will mean nothing.

I also used the time change to hint at what their target was and what course would they may have been trying to follow.

Bill
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Mr. PITMAN. They are corrected in the forenoon, perhaps half a minute or a minute; that is all.

Departure delay has no place in any of this. God, if I navigated cross country flights based on times initially written into a flight plan and made my turns just at the times in the plan I would not be around to talk about any of this right now. Positions were taken in the dawn and dusk hours as well as at noon. Longitude lines were taken in the forenoon and in the afternoon. They just didn't run from noon to noon without making adjustments if needed. The speed of the ship over ground may have been off by up to 1/2 knot (maybe even 1 knot or so in some regions of the Gulf Stream) for some period of time due to current. But they would have seen this and updated expected arrival times at various points along the way. They recorded revolutions every change of watch and recorded the log every 2 hours so they always had good idea of the speed through the water that the ship was making. A +- 1 minute time correction seems to me about the expected maximum as Pitman alluded to. A +- 1/2 minute or zero minute correction in the forenoon to the ship's clocks were probably the more typical. It would not have been reasonable to expect 25-50 mile shortfalls in a daily run. That would only happen if they encountered unexpected 1 to 2 knots of currents for over 24 hours.
 

Bill West

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Sam -
I only meant my comments to be around adjusting and using the clock, indeed they don’t fit the other navigating activities.
I think you’re agreeing that where we arrive today is occasionally very different from what we put into a plan yesterday.
It is for those cases that there can be a several minute difference in LAN. Then either the clock has already had an extra change to enter this or there will be a noticeable remainder to considered at noon. I think Mr. Pitman is being assertive about the regular trips not the exceptions. And I think that between Wednesday’s delays and Ismay’s conversations, Thursday’s trip from Daunt was not entirely what would have been ordinarily planned that morning. For instance the actual layover was an odd amount of time, not the round figure you would expect in a schedule.
At this point I’m only trying to ease a small ‘maybe’ item into the speed/miles discussion.

Bill
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Sorry Bill if I came across as being harsh in my post above. It seems I had misinterpreted what you were saying.

Getting back to major point in this thread, the underlying question has to do with Ismay's influence on speed of the ship. In addition to what Henrik posted above, we also have:

Senator SMITH. You were not looking for any greater speed, and were not crowding her for that purpose?
Mr. ISMAY. We did not expect the ship to make any better speed than the Olympic; no, sir.
Senator SMITH. And you wish to be understood as saying that she was not going at her maximum speed at the time this accident occurred?
Mr. ISMAY. To the best of my knowledge, the ship was not going at full speed. I think if you will refer to my testimony which I gave to you on Friday, you will find I then stated that, assuming all the conditions were absolutely favorable, the intention was to have a run-out of the ship on either Monday or Tuesday, at full speed, assuming that everything was satisfactory.
Senator SMITH. Did you have any talk with the captain with reference to the speed of the ship?
Mr. ISMAY. Never, sir.
Senator SMITH. Did you, at any time, urge him to greater speed?
Mr. ISMAY. No, sir.
Senator SMITH. Do you know of any one who urged him to greater speed than he was making when the ship was making 70 revolutions?
Mr. ISMAY. It is really impossible to imagine such a thing on board ship.
Senator SMITH. Did you, in your position of general manager of this company, undertake in any way to influence or direct the management of that ship, from the time she left Southampton until the time of the accident?
Mr. ISMAY. No, sir; I did not. The matter would be entirely out of my province.

And we have this:

Senator SMITH. Were you aware of the proximity of icebergs on Sunday?
Mr. ISMAY. On Sunday? No; I did not know on Sunday. I knew that we would be in the ice region that night sometime.
Senator SMITH. That you would be or were?
Mr. ISMAY. That we would be in the ice region on Sunday night.
Senator SMITH. Did you have any consultation with the captain regarding the matter?
Mr. ISMAY. Absolutely none.
Senator SMITH. Or with any other officer of the ship?
Mr. ISMAY. With no officer at all, sir. It was absolutely out of my province. I am not a navigator. I was simply a passenger on board the ship.

But we know he was more than an ordinary 1st class passenger on board. We also have this:

Senator FLETCHER. Mr. Ismay, I believe some passengers state that Capt. Smith gave you a telegram reporting ice.
Mr. ISMAY. Yes, sir.
Senator FLETCHER. On Sunday afternoon?
Mr. ISMAY. Sunday afternoon, I think it was.
Senator FLETCHER. Is that true?
Mr. ISMAY. Yes, sir.
Senator FLETCHER. What became of that telegram?
Mr. ISMAY. I handed it back to Capt. Smith, I should think about 10 minutes past 7 on Sunday evening. I was sitting in the smoking room when Capt. Smith happened to come in the room for some reason - what it was I do not know - and on his way back he happened to see me sitting there and came up and said, "By the way, sir, have you got that telegram which I gave you this afternoon?" I said, "Yes." I put my hand in my pocket and said, "Here it is." He said, "I want it to put up in the officers' chart room." That is the only conversation I had with Capt. Smith in regard to the telegram. When he handed it to me, he made no remark at all.
Senator Fletcher: Can you tell what time he handed it to you and what its contents were?
Mr. ISMAY. It is very difficult to place the time. I do not know whether it was in the afternoon or immediately before lunch; I am not certain. I did not pay any particular attention to the Marconi message - it was sent from the Baltic - which gave the position of some ice. It also gave the position of some steamer which was short of coal and wanted to be towed into New York, and I think it ended up by wishing success to the Titanic. It was from the captain of the Baltic.

And this:

Senator BURTON. Did you have any conversation with a passenger on the Titanic about slackening or increasing speed when you heard of the ice?
Mr. ISMAY.. No, sir; not that I have any recollection of. I presume you refer to what Mrs. Ryerson said. I testified in New York, the day after we arrived, that it was our intention on Monday or Tuesday, assuming the weather conditions to suit, and everything was working satisfactorily down below, to probably run the ship for about four or six hours full speed to see what she could do.
Senator PERKINS. You did not have any conversation on that Sunday about increasing the speed, did you?
Mr. ISMAY. Not in regard to increasing the speed going through the ice, sir.

Of course, who would increase speed going through ice?

18397. Then you did know on the Sunday morning that in the ordinary course of things between that and the Monday evening you might be increasing your speed to full speed? - I knew if the weather was suitable either on the Monday or the Tuesday the vessel would go at full speed for a few hours.
18398. And I suppose you knew that in order to get the full speed of the vessel, the maximum number of revolutions, it would be necessary, presumably, to light more boilers? - I presume the boilers would have been put on.
18399. Do you know in fact that they were lighted on the Sunday morning? - I do not.


Yet Ismay was aware that the only boilers not lit by Sunday night were the 5 auxiliary single-eneded boilers, all double ended boiler were already lit up. In his opening statements to Sen. Smith he had said, "She had not all her boilers on. None of the single-ended boilers were on." Intersting specific from Ismay. Why mention that it was just the single-ended boiler that were not lit up. He was apparently aware that all double-ended boilers were lit up by that morning and probably knew full well they were connected up that night. Ismay played the role of an innocent 1st class pasenger when the part seemed to fit.

18440. Now, I want to put a statement to you. Do you know a Mrs. Douglas? - I do not.
18441. Do you know a Mrs. Ryerson, of Philadelphia? - Yes, I met her on board the ship.
18442. And she, I gather from what you said just now, was one of the two lady passengers to whom you mentioned the Marconigram in the afternoon? - That is true.
18443. You showed her the wireless message, did you not? - I read it to her, I think.
18444. Now, I want to put to you this: Did she say to you (I am speaking now of what took place on the Sunday. I will put the whole conversation to you, and see if it helps your recollection.): "Of course you will slow down," and did you reply, "Oh, no; we will put on more boilers to get out of it"? - Certainly not.
18445. It seems to have been rather in accordance with your view, that the faster you could get out of the region the better? - Assuming the weather was perfectly fine, I should say the Captain was perfectly justified in going full speed.

I think this says enough. He clearly was not just another passenger on board. By Sunday night we know they averaged 22 1/2 knots measured by log between 8 and 10 PM. That ice message from Smith to Ismay was Smith's way of telling Ismay that their plan to better Olympic's maiden voyage performance may be in jeopardy because of ice ahead. But the weather was perfectly clear and they were obviously not going to slow things up unless absolutely forced to do so.
 
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Hi Bill,

Mark -indeed, my intent about the 32 minutes was only to show difference not the direction of difference. I should have emphasized the “if” .... “really was” in my last sentence.
Thanks for the clarification. No worries, I just wanted to get it clear in my mind.

Hi Dave,

Dave Gittins wrote:
In the meantime, I have Olympic's departure time from Daunt Rock as 4-22pm. To me, that makes sense and explains most of the 56 mile lead. .
And I replied:
There’s something of a problem here in that 4.22 p.m. and 2.42 p.m. could be the same figure with a typo. thrown into the works. I think the former comes from a telegram sent by Smith.
I have since had access to the maiden voyage log card and its more specific navigational data, courtesy of my friend Gunter Babler. He was very generous in sharing the information. The log card also has the figure of 4.22 p.m., but otherwise agrees with all the well-known and often-cited statistics for the Olympic’s maiden voyage performance (and for good reason!). I was a bit annoyed at myself as I knew my Olympic book had the departure time at 2.42 p.m. and I hate getting these things wrong. However, after discussions with Sam Halpern I am convinced that the 2.42 p.m. departure time is correct. The 4.22 p.m. figure does not make sense at all IMHO.

Earlier, I wrote:
If I remember correctly, the Olympic maiden voyage time of 5 days 16 hours 42 minutes was for the Daunt Rock to Ambrose Light mileage; since Olympic arrived at Ambrose at 2.24 a.m. (from memory) then that would suggest a Daunt Rock departure of 2.42 p.m. Markus Philipp did this calculation on this board in 2001, factoring in the time difference.
Sam has confirmed that, for the arrival time and the voyage time, the Daunt Rock departure time must have been 2.42 p.m. He shares my view that the first two digits were reversed, making the correct figure of 2.42 p.m. become 4.22 p.m.. Sam writes:
There are only two ways to make the passage time, arrival time, and speed to come out as in the log card data quoted above. One is for a departure time of 2:42 PM on the 15th. The 2nd way is for the ship to depart as late as 4:22 PM on the 15th but then its arrival time has to change to 4:04 AM on the 21st. What that does to the numbers is to change the speed for day 1 from 18.95 to 20.46, but it also changes the speed for the final 317 mile run to Ambrose from 21.23 to 19.1. Everything else stays the same.
I agree with Sam that the first way is the most logical. For the second way, I don’t believe it is probable at all because:

  • The departure time is unnecessarily late (and from the times I have seen would have been the latest 1911 departure time for Olympic from Daunts Rock);
  • The arrival time was confirmed at 2.24 a.m., not 4.04 a.m.;
  • The second way would mean that the first stage of the voyage would be faster than the vast body of evidence indicates, and that the last stage would have been considerably slower — for instance, Chief Engineer Bell’s account was very specific that the ship’s speed was gradually increased to order, and a number of accounts of the latter stage put the Olympic’s speed much higher than 19.1 knots.

It is unfortunate that the digits seem to have been reversed, making the departure time read 4.22 p.m. instead of the correct 2.42 p.m., yet it does help clarify matters. In light of the fact that Titanic’s departure time was 2.20 p.m., 22 minutes ahead of Olympic, the Olympic’s first day’s run of 428 miles does compare poorly with Titanic’s 484 miles, as does her average speed. You wrote earlier that: 'Titanic obviously would not have gone 2 - 3 knots faster than Olympic.' While that is true in part, Titanic's average speed comes out about 11/2 knots faster than Olympic's for the first day.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 

Dave Gittins

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Mark, how watertight is your 2-24am arrival time?

I've dug up some evidence in favour of the 4-22pm departure. It would be easily tested if we could be sure of the arrival time. I have the NYT report that puts her 433 miles east of the Ambrose light and doing nearly 22 knots, but I can't read the time. Maybe it would help, (with the usual allowance for newpaper errors).

I'm sure something is fishy about the first day and it could be that Olympic's day was about two hours shorter than Titanic's.

We'll work this out one day!
 
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Hi Dave,

Mark, how watertight is your 2-24am arrival time?
It’s on the log card; it’s in Ismay’s message to the Line; it fits Smith’s estimated arrival time; it is (IIRC) mentioned in several newspaper reports; and it appears to fit the navigational details of the voyage.

I've dug up some evidence in favour of the 4-22pm departure.
I would be interested in seeing that, in light of the apparent mass of evidence against this departure time.

It would be easily tested if we could be sure of the arrival time. I have the NYT report that puts her 433 miles east of the Ambrose light and doing nearly 22 knots, but I can't read the time. Maybe it would help, (with the usual allowance for newpaper errors).
The comment was: ‘The Olympic was reported 433 miles east of the Ambrose Channel Lightship at 6:58 o’clock yesterday morning…’

However, it’s worth noting that Sam has cast doubt on this report as regards the time/distance. If this is your source, then even now it seems tenuous.

I'm sure something is fishy about the first day and it could be that Olympic's day was about two hours shorter than Titanic's.
I don’t agree with that, on present evidence, at all. You haven't really provided any reasoning as to why you are so sure.

As regards the first day, the time -- obviously -- influences the average speed and if true would put Olympic’s speed about ¾ of a knot behind Titanic. However, even if it were the case and Titanic had had a head start, I don’t see how it is a valid counter-argument to the view that Titanic was on course to arrive late on Tuesday (a view which you seemed to share when you wrote, above: ‘There's no doubt that, barring ice or fog, Titanic was going to reach the Ambrose light late on Tuesday night.’)

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Dave Gittins

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Thanks for that, Mark!

The 433 miles report actually squares rather well with your 2-24am arrival time.

I'll dig some more, if I ever stop coughing and spluttering.
 

Jessie M.

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It's commonly believed that at some point during the voyage Bruce Ismay - basically Smith's boss when you think about it - told Captain Smith he wanted to get to New York in a record time and Captain Smith really had no choice but to agree. (You can't say no to your boss unless you wanna get fired!)

But... Smith was going to retire once they got back to Europe, so what was he so afraid of? After all, you can't fire a retired person. What exactly could Ismay have done? The only thing I can think of is possible name slandering.

Forum, your thoughts?
 
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Mark Baber

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It's commonly believed that at some point during the voyage Bruce Ismay - basically Smith's boss when you think about it - told Captain Smith he wanted to get to New York in a record time
What Ismay is reported to have encouraged Smith to do was to beat Olympic's maiden voyage time, not set a record. The Olympics were not capable of beating Mauretania's record.
But... Smith was going to retire once they got back to Europe, so what was he so afraid of?
See Return Voyage and
Was Titanic really going to be Smith's last trip?
 

Mike Spooner

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It's commonly believed that at some point during the voyage Bruce Ismay - basically Smith's boss when you think about it - told Captain Smith he wanted to get to New York in a record time and Captain Smith really had no choice but to agree. (You can't say no to your boss unless you wanna get fired!)

But... Smith was going to retire once they got back to Europe, so what was he so afraid of? After all, you can't fire a retired person. What exactly could Ismay have done? The only thing I can think of is possible name slandering.

Forum, your thoughts?
Hi Jessie,
I believe Ismay had more to do with it than he would ever own up to!
Quite frankly what he said in the US inquiry at times was just a pack of lies to save is own neck.
Smith a highly respectable captain may be and fully in charge of the ship whist at sea. But in the end of the day he is an employee working for the White Star Line and employed as a captain. He does not own the ship or the shipping company and has no power in the finance of running the company.
The power house of the company are the Directors and captains come below them. If he has a fall out or disagreement with them he putting himself in the firing line and can be removed from the company at five minutes notice.
Ismay on Titanic claims he is only a innocent passenger come along for the ride to see how things are running smoothly and may be looking at ways to make further improvements for the third ship Britannic. That's fine. But then went on to say he said in the US inquiry I had nothing to do within the running of the ship!
What a load of rubbish. As he keeps a carful eye on the RPM and miles per day. Discussions with chief engineer how get more performance out of the ship, Even knowns what boilers are fired up.
Why had Smith given Ismay a telegram of ice warning message as that message should of gone straight to the bridge. Smith only know too well the power of the man within the company.
Ismay is dead knee for the ship is to arrive New York by Tuesday evening and knows from Olympic performance this quite achievable as long they cut through the icefield and don't waste time sailing further south around the icefield or even worse still stopped over night as Californian did. Which I think would of been Smith first choice of both. But when your company chairman has spoken to you and has other idea you have to listen to him whether you like it or not!
What is the advantage to arrive Tuesday evening even when the port may be closed? Getting very good coverage in the daily morning newspapers. Looking at the turn around time for the ship back to UK seems to be incredible tight if arrival at noon Wednesday 17th and return 20th noon. That three days and coaling is not recommended in the wet weather. As arrival on Tuesday evening that gives them a extra half day.
Was Ismay daggling a carrot for Smith as he had in the past, by not crashing ship for a bonus? Certainty Smith had lost that on the Olympic after the Hawke accident.
Being the highest paid captain can work against you to! As in the finance department they will always look at ways can we find another captain less paid for the same job!
I can see Ismay under pressure to as the new Olympic class ships was a high risk business gamble. Olympic with Hawke accident very costly repairs and lost of revenue from the three return crossing so early in her career. Then spending more on Titanic build. Took over six months longer to build over Olympic. Two new tender ships Traffic and Nomadic built for Olympic class ships. Titanic passenger figures looking poor of just over 50% full. As for a business finance report doesn't look good.
Who does Ismay have to report too? The man who owns the company Mr JP Morgan. A truly a very hard headed banker who do not listen to excuses. Were is my profits from those two new costly built ships?
How Morgan escape the US inquiry is another story!
My two penny thoughts of the matter.
 
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cut through the icefield and don't waste time sailing further south around the icefield or even worse still stopped over night as Californian did. Which I think would of been Smith first choice of both.
Smith had no intention of stopping for the night. There was no reason to do that. Lord stopped for the night only after he actually saw ice blocking his path ahead. Otherwise, he too had no intention of stopping. As for going further south, if that was going to happen it would have have taken place by not altering course at 5:50pm. None of these decisions had anything to do with Ismay on board. Smith was known not to be an overly cautious commander as 2/O Lightoller pointed out very well in his book: Titanic and Other Ships.
 
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Mark Baber

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What is the advantage to arrive Tuesday evening even when the port may be closed?
Although daytime arrivals were the norm, nighttime arrivals were not unheard of.
Looking at the turn around time for the ship back to UK seems to be incredible tight if arrival at noon Wednesday 17th and return 20th noon.
It was done all the time.
Was Ismay daggling a carrot for Smith as he had in the past, by not crashing ship for a bonus?
What do you mean by this?
As in the finance department they will always look at ways can we find another captain less paid for the same job!
I have never seen any instances where White Star replaced a commander except for mandatory retirement or wrecking a ship. In any event, whoever succeeded Smith on Titanic---probably Haddock---would not have been paid significantly less than Smith.
Who does Ismay have to report too? The man who owns the company Mr JP Morgan.
Morgan didn't own White Star or IMM. And IMM showed a profit of over $4.5 million in 1911 and almost $3.8 million in 1912.
How Morgan escape the US inquiry is another story!
He was in France.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Smith had no intention of stopping for the night. There was no reason to do that. Lord stopped for the night only after he actually saw ice blocking his path ahead. Otherwise, he too had no intention of stopping. As for going further south, if that was going to happen it would have have taken place by not altering course at 5:50pm. None of these decisions had anything to do with Ismay on board. Smith was known not to be an overly cautious commander as 2/O Lightoller pointed out very well in his book: Titanic and Other Ships.
Sorry for long delay in replying back.
Smith was known not to be an overly cautious commander as 2/O Lightoller pointed out very well in his book:
I am only thinking if his last crossing as quoted by one passenger Thomas Brown. Why would he want to take any risks to his final career?
Or had Ismay offered him a reward to get there by Tuesday evening and not Wednesday morning as schedule? Ismay did say in the US inquiry. The quicker we get through the icefield less chance of fog! Of course I expect Ismay denning all knowledge of such a reward and conversations with Smith to save his own neck. Like other reply's in the inquiry Ismay said were lies and not what you expect from a Chairman or company President.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Although daytime arrivals were the norm, nighttime arrivals were not unheard of.It was done all the time. What do you mean by this? I have never seen any instances where White Star replaced a commander except for mandatory retirement or wrecking a ship. In any event, whoever succeeded Smith on Titanic---probably Haddock---would not have been paid significantly less than Smith. Morgan didn't own White Star or IMM. And IMM showed a profit of over $4.5 million in 1911 and almost $3.8 million in 1912.He was in France.
Hi Mark,
The owner of White Star Line with JP Morgan is an intriguing question?
The main books with internet I am using for information are:
Viscount Pirrie of Belfast by Herbert Jefferson
The House of Morgan by Ron Chernow
Morgan American Financier by Jean Strouse
Biography of JP Morgan by Michael Leslie
There would appear many other books telling the similar story or are they using the same lines as quoted from others may be?
When statements are quoted of IMM company like: IMM was leveraged and suffered serious cash flow, pumping more money into the company, defaulted on bond interest payments, falling share prices, nearly 80% unsold shares, over vailed share prices, IMM was a fiasco from the start. Morgan biggest flop, worse business deal he ever did, the ocean was too big for the man, shipping companies in the syndicate losing money, paid too much for White Star Line, the stock had so much water that it inflated the value, couldn't get a New York stock exchange listing, made sure the losses were never see on record not to damage the reputation of his company, try to camouflage profits with the steel company, refused to believe that IMM would come right, New York stock exchange close the shutters down before it gets any worse, IMM shipping trust as a disaster, I don't mind losing money, but did object to a poor organisation, Morgan failing to understand dealing with the Governments of UK, Germany, France and US too, force to make more costly ships, the Titanic was the final coffin nails for IMM. You can hardly believe that IMM is a successful profitable company! Why is in 1914 when Morgan died 31/03/1913 where his son Jack took over is having paying off the diets of IMM? IMM defaulted on its bonds, when into receivership! On the bright side of IMM is that White Star was making a profit but enough to pay for Morgan huge investment plan in attempt a very ambition plan to dominated the North Atlantic routes.
Mark if there was a profit been showed were did that figures come from? Bankers can be quite deceiving when showing figures to suit for themselves especial when dealing with Mr JP Morgan!
The best years for IMM is the war years were huge amount of materials is required for
Europe. Then it eventually sold of its foreign interests.
Then there is human element to consider. When the word gets out the company is trading at a loss. The employee's will only become concern if they have a job tomorrow!
 

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