Murdochs view of the lookouts


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matthew Sims

Guest
Interesting thing hit me as i was reading the testimoney of William Murdoch in its early stages, and how he viewed the lookouts. I believe his words were, when asked, that he personally placed no reliance on the lookouts, and viewed their function as to assist you. He went on to state that they tended to be most valuable during the day, because they could spot the smoke from steamers farther off in the distance than maybe the bridge could. He also went to great length to state that he and most others kept their own lookouts. And interesting to note also, that he claimed White Star and Titanic had the most available of any shipping comapny at that time..But, thought for fodder here..If that was the case, didnt i read that one of the ships, smaller than Titanic, that had passed through that same shipping lane a short time before, had 6 lookouts on duty because of the ice field? Id like to hear peoples thoughts
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Erm...minor point...

I think you're referring to Lightoller re the lookouts (Murdoch perished in the sinking).

Compare Lightoller's comments to those made by Rostron about lookouts and officers -

25444. Does it mean that on your bridge you and your Officers were quicker in detecting them (icebergs) than any of the men on the look-out? - Well, about 75 percent, of the objects that are seen at sea every day or night are picked up from the bridge first. Naturally the Officer will take more interest in these things than a look-out man. I always trust to the bridge preferably to the men.

25445. (The Commissioner.) That is the point I had in my mind. I do not see any advantage in putting men in the eyes of the ship if you can pick up things from the bridge before them? - It does not necessarily say we shall pick them up quicker from the bridge, but naturally an Officer is more on the qui vive; he is keener on his work than a man would be, and he knows what to look for. He is more intelligent than a sailor.


So Lightoller was probably not alone in his views on officers keeping their own lookout.

That being said, I believe that more lookouts should have been posted - they had already taken some elementary precautions (such as calculating when they thought they'd be up among the ice and darkening the area before the bridge).

~ Inger
 
Dec 4, 2000
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There is evidence in the testimony...from the mouths of the people involved...that Titanic had five men essentially "looking out" at the instant of the accident. Do not believe the traditional myth.

Lightoller wasn't wrong. Officers have a larger stake in the safety of a ship than the ordinary crew, so are often more attentive to details like looking out. This is human nature. The officer may face criminal charges and certainly will have to defend his license as the result of any accident. The lookout will only face criminal charges for deliberate failure to warn of a danger; and seamen do not have licenses to lose.

Capt. Erik and I have been discussing this aspect of the story for more than a year. We have found hard evidence that Murdoch properly placed his manpower for the safety of his ship that night. More details when we can pull everything together.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
David pretty much hit the nail on the head here. I've had some experience as a low visibilty watch (These are lookouts that are posted as far forward on the ship as possible during low visibility conditions such as fog) and I've been on or near the bridge of every ship I've ever been stationed on while underway.

I have yet to see an officer on watch that didn't keep a weather eye on everything that was going on, and he/she would be a fool to do otherwise. The lookouts constitute extra pairs of eyes, and extra insurance, but they are not foolproof.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Damn you, David & Erik! - putting the carrot out in front of us, and pulling it away!

Oh well, I'm waiting on other stuff - I'll just add this to the list!
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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Hrm - now that's piqued my curiousity! It's one element I've wondered about, given as I mentioned above that they had taken other precautions. I suppose our knowledge of what actions were taken is somewhat limited by what survivors who testified told us. Hemming, for example, could easily have perished had he not been able to swim to #4 - had he died, odds are we might not have known that Murdoch ordered the area before the bridge darkened. Looking forward to what you two have to say about this.
 
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matthew Sims

Guest
Lets take this down into its simplest forms...What did the actualk ringing of the bells indicate? i know 1 ring signified one thing, while as did another, but have never quite clear on the matter
 
Dec 4, 2000
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According to the American Merchant Seaman's Manual:

1 bell -- object to starboard

2 bells -- object to port

3 bells -- object dead ("right") ahead


Can't say for sure, but this appears to be the same system as used on Titanic.

-- David G. Brown
 

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