QM Rowe and the poop deck watch during the sinking

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Daniel Cox

Apr 5, 2004
There have been a few issues that have sprung to my mind during the sinking and they regard to QM Rowe.In all fairness he did alot of good things that night and played a heroic role in saving lives and rowing lifeboats ect.So please dont think of this thread as a attack on him.My questions are as follows:
#At 12.50am Titanic time , Rowe is on watch on Titanic poop deck and see lifeboat 7 in the water.He rings the bridge to ask them why , they order him to report to the bridge ASAP after informing him that the ship is sinking.Now if he was on the poop deck and had no idea , how could this be?
For example:
1)Would'nt he have felt the Titanic come to a stop (no engine vibrations?).
2) At 12.10 am the funnels where venting there excess steam.Would'nt of he had heard that?.
3) On the docking bridge on the stern , would'nt the telegraphs ring in conjuction with the orders the bridge was sending to the engine room and vice versa?.
4)Would'nt he have noticed that the ship was no longer sailing, as the noise from the wash at the stern (screws)would off been quiet.

Im just curious about these matters and would love to hear some feedback from others.Just remember im not here to bag QM Rowe as he was a well trained sailor and helped save many lives that night.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
Daniel, I'm sure he would have known that the ship came to a stop and that the ship was venting steam. He might have noticed all those things, yet been ignorant of the essential information concerning the Titanic's predicament. The thing one needs to be mindful of is that Rowe was on watch, and had an obligation to remain at his post until relieved. He may well have felt that it wasn't really "his place" to ask a lot of pokey questions about what was going on either.

It's also entirely possible that the people on the bridge simply forgot about him, and were just as surprised to find out he was still at his post as Rowe was to see that a boat had been launched. Even in day to day operations, communication on a ship is not always as good as it needs to be.

Chris Dohany

Dec 12, 1999
I think Michael is dead on in that the aft watch was simply overlooked in the commotion. Rowe, in both his US and UK testimonies, remarked that he was aware something was happening, but elected to remain at his post awaiting further orders from the bridge.

QM Bright testified that he went back to relieve Rowe at 1200. By that time Bright had been informed that the ship was sinking so one could assume that Bright passed this information on to Rowe, but neither man mentioned it (Rowe never even mentioned Bright's presence on the poop).

Rowe's assertion that he was waiting for orders coincides with Bright's account of their delayed inquisition: "We stood there for some moments and did not know exactly what to do, and rang the telephone up to the bridge and asked them what we should do."
Mar 18, 2000
And just to be picky -

Rowe did not claim to see Lifeboat No. 7. He first said 'a lifeboat', and later on, said he thought it was 13 or 15.

1) yes, he should have heard/felt it - but didn't say
2) Yes, he should have heard - but didn't say
3) Hmmm, interesting point! Mike S or others with ship experience - WOULD the docking bridge telegraphs have moved or rung?
4) Yes, he should have noticed - not to mention, noticing the lack of wind due to no forward motion.

When I got a look at the large model of Titanic at Mystic Conn. a few weeks back, I tried to get a look from Rowe's position on the docking bridge, up to the Boat Deck. He should have had a fairly decent view of at least the space by the last few lifeboats.

Jing Hua Wu

Hey guys, I'm new here. As a Titanic enthusiast, I have found this site to be quite useful and helpful.

I think Rowe might have thought that the ship stopped just to let the crew assess the damage to the ship (maybe he didn't really feel the impact with the berg cause he was so far back). And, he probably figures that it's not serious enough for him to abandon his post.

The interesting thing is that why didn't he at least ask the bridge about what exactly is going on. The funnels blasting noisy steam should be eyebrow-raising enough for him to query the officers.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>Hmmm, interesting point! Mike S or others with ship experience - WOULD the docking bridge telegraphs have moved or rung?<<

Honestly don't know, but since this was a spot that was manned up for a reason...like being able to conn the ship if the bridge was rendered unusable, it wouldn't make a lot of sense for any of the telegraphs to be disabled. Still, I'm not familier with this arrangement, so I can't say as I know.

I'm sure Rowe knew, but since the question was never asked at either inquiry, (As far as I know. I may have missed something.) he never volunteered the information. Rowe had a good vantage point to see what was going on, but being on watch, unless properly releived or dismissed, he would have remained where he was, and he did.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
See https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=5919&post=12918#POST12918 for discussion on all the ship's telegraphs.

As far as Rowe goes, he also saw the iceberg as it past with a few feet of him.
Mr. ROWE. It was so near that I thought it was going to strike the bridge.
Senator BURTON. Did it strike the bridge?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir: never.
Senator BURTON. Only 10 or 20 feet away?
Mr. ROWE. Not that far, sir.
Senator BURTON. Did you notice the iceberg when the boat got clear of it?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir; I went on the bridge then, to stand by the telephone.
Senator BURTON. Could you hear the ice scraping along on the boat where you were?
Mr. ROWE. No, sir.
And as Michael said, his place was to stay where he was until instructed by others. At least he had sense enough to take the reading of taffrail log right after the collision. This, along with other data, is part of the evidence we have in figuring out where she struck the ice relative to the ship's noon position.
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