Reversing Engines, Unfair Criticism of Officer Murdoch


Jim Currie

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Being a Master Mariner does not give someone carte blanche to expound their opinions and ram it down others' throats. That is exactly what Leslie Harrison, an MM with other credentials to his name, did in The Titanic Myth. Even when one considers that he was giving his opinion about a controversial issue, the book is so badly written, the 'evidence' presented so roundabout and irrelevant that the reader would be excused for forgetting what it was all about to start with.
Nor does it grant the same right to a rank amateur.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Nor does it grant the same right to a rank amateur.
But the amateur is entitled to have an opinion that is different from the MM. If the said MM does not like it, then it is his problem.

But yes, neither party should force their opinions on the other and pass insulting or patronizing comments when they disagree.
 
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Julian Atkins

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I am having difficulty keeping up with all this banter.

For what it's worth, my own view is that a lot of what a lot of the witnesses said must be treated with caution.

It is not enough to try and take everything at face value. One should always look for corroboration. This was something neither Inquiry did properly.

Indeed, if you look at the previous incarnation of this debate on here going back to 11th December 2000 ("Reversing Engines") I think it is fair to say that originally it never occurred to many of those who contributed that what certain witnesses testified to simply didn't make sense.

In the last 20 years or so there has been a much closer examination of all the evidence, and thanks to the internet a great deal more that is relevant is now easily available. It therefore ought to be possible to have an informed objective debate.

Do I consider Boxhall to be a reliable witness in all respects? No.

All the clues are there, and I would suggest that concentrating on Inquiry testimony alone is unlikely to assist.

The Ryan case and the Limitation of Liability hearings all need to be considered, and indeed the clearly stated aims of Senator Smith. The Harter Act.

Is it therefore any wonder that Lightoller's initial testimony to the USA Inquiry was evasive and full of untruths?
 
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Jim Currie

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But the amateur is entitled to have an opinion that is different from the MM. If the said MM does not like it, then it is his problem.

But yes, neither party should force their opinions on the other and pass insulting or patronizing comments when they disagree.
Arun, your above comments are 100% correct but IMO are too all-encompassing. Allow me to set the record strait.

First: I point out that in all the years I have been on this site, or any other, I have never, I repeat, never, instigated a personal attack on an individual member. I think those who keep us all in line can confirm this. However, I am not going to sit back and be publicly insulted by anyone and when enough is enough, as you have no doubt noted, I will give as I receive.
Just to set things in there proper place, here is the truth as I see it.
If I respond to what I know from experience to be an inexactitude or downright wrong by explaining my position in detail, I am accused of being almost dictatorial, or my style of imparting information is long -winded, self-opinionated and unacceptable. Or even that in some way, I am misusing the possession of knowledge and experience. However, you and others may have noted - very seldom, if ever, is the information I offer negatively or positively responded-to.
Here is approximate example of my dilemma that you, as a professional might appreciate.
If an amateur Historian wrote that an individual in the past had suffered from The Vapours and consequently lost control of the ability to walk, - how would you, as a Physician respond positively? Would you
A. Simply write "rubbish" because I say so and I am a doctor?
B. Write "rubbish" and offer a lengthy treatise on the signs and symptoms of the old disease?
C. "I have never heard of that but since those days etc....."?
I take it you get my point?

We are not dragged and screaming to the keyboard to write on these pages, Arun. I do so for pleasure and on -line company. I assume that we all do the same. In doing so, we are, as you point out, all entitled to an opinion and to freely express it. However, when that opinion is simply a statement of opinion or back-up to the opinion of another without a qualifying reason or reasons, problems of interaction arise.
As I see it, the problem here is lack of interaction and reminiscent of the Primary School and the school bully with his jeering entourage at his back. You will not be surprised to learn that when at school, I was often punished for fighting due to standing up to bullying. ;)
 
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Jim Currie

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I am having difficulty keeping up with all this banter.

For what it's worth, my own view is that a lot of what a lot of the witnesses said must be treated with caution.

It is not enough to try and take everything at face value. One should always look for corroboration. This was something neither Inquiry did properly.

Indeed, if you look at the previous incarnation of this debate on here going back to 11th December 2000 ("Reversing Engines") I think it is fair to say that originally it never occurred to many of those who contributed that what certain witnesses testified to simply didn't make sense.

In the last 20 years or so there has been a much closer examination of all the evidence, and thanks to the internet a great deal more that is relevant is now easily available. It therefore ought to be possible to have an informed objective debate.

Do I consider Boxhall to be a reliable witness in all respects? No.

All the clues are there, and I would suggest that concentrating on Inquiry testimony alone is unlikely to assist.

The Ryan case and the Limitation of Liability hearings all need to be considered, and indeed the clearly stated aims of Senator Smith. The Harter Act.

Is it therefore any wonder that Lightoller's initial testimony to the USA Inquiry was evasive and full of untruths?
I this a statement, list of observations or an invitation to debate, Julian? I ask because, as you can see, it is a touchy subject.
I can offer you information going backto 1912 which you will not find n the internet unless you go to sites like "Ship's Nostalgia".
 
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Arun Vajpey

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We are not dragged and screaming to the keyboard to write on these pages, Arun. I do so for pleasure and on -line company. I assume that we all do the same. In doing so, we are, as you point out, all entitled to an opinion and to freely express it. However, when that opinion is simply a statement of opinion or back-up to the opinion of another without a qualifying reason or reasons, problems of interaction arise.
What you say is broadly true but there definitely have been instances where the 'other' (whoever that may be) has backed up his opinions with acceptable reasons, which you have rejected because you don't see those reasons as qualifying.
As I see it, the problem here is lack of interaction and reminiscent of the Primary School and the school bully with his jeering entourage at his back.
Continuing from above, that is where I feel that - sorry to say this - you have been bit of a bully yourself in using your marine background as your own 'jeering entourage' to sneer at others. I want to point out again that despite being the senior statesman of these forums and an extensive marine experience in various capacities, you start out with the same disadvantage as the rest of us as far as the Titanic is concerned because of the timescale involved and the fact that you too rely on interpretation of witness statements and whatever little evidence is available from the wreck. When it concerns opinions about whether Boxhall or Olliver was more reliable as witness, your experience is no advantage at all despite the fact that you pretend that it is.
You will not be surprised to learn that when at school, I was often punished for fighting due to standing up to bullying
That is one thing where you and I might have something in common. Aged 8 I finally stood-up to a notorious bully a year older and the outcome, without going into the details, surprised me more than anyone else. I was never bullied again.
 

Cam Houseman

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What you say is broadly true but there definitely have been instances where the 'other' (whoever that may be) has backed up his opinions with acceptable reasons, which you have rejected because you don't see those reasons as qualifying.
Continuing from above, that is where I feel that - sorry to say this - you have been bit of a bully yourself in using your marine background as your own 'jeering entourage' to sneer at others. I want to point out again that despite being the senior statesman of these forums and an extensive marine experience in various capacities, you start out with the same disadvantage as the rest of us as far as the Titanic is concerned because of the timescale involved and the fact that you too rely on interpretation of witness statements and whatever little evidence is available from the wreck. When it concerns opinions about whether Boxhall or Olliver was more reliable as witness, your experience is no advantage at all despite the fact that you pretend that it is.
That is one thing where you and I might have something in common. Aged 8 I finally stood-up to a notorious bully a year older and the outcome, without going into the details, surprised me more than anyone else. I was never bullied again.
Jim, Arun, the thread will be shut-down if we keep taking personal-jabs at each other. Is it that we have run out of things to talk about related to the ship herself?
Also, I don't think anyone was bullying anyone, but again, I don't know what was going on. I will now remove myself from the drama.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Is it that we have run out of things to talk about related to the ship herself?
You have a point. The odd part is that this thread started by asking about whether the Titanic's legacy shows unfair criticism of First Officer William Murdoch and that's just about one thing that most people - Jim, Sam, Iaonnis, Julian, others and myself seem to agree upon. It took a youngster to point out that we have funny ways of expressing it.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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And if Murdoch himself is somehow reading this thread from somewhere, he would not know whether to laugh or cry.
 
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Jim Currie

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You have a point. The odd part is that this thread started by asking about whether the Titanic's legacy shows unfair criticism of First Officer William Murdoch and that's just about one thing that most people - Jim, Sam, Iaonnis, Julian, others and myself seem to agree upon. It took a youngster to point out that we have funny ways of expressing it.

If Boxhall's name had not been mentioned, the thread would have ended after 3 posts, each of which we all approved, and/or any subsequent posts that supported the Skills of Murdoch. Even if Boxhall had gilded his evidence, all he was doing was enhancing the image of the man this thread is about.
 
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Jim Currie

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What you say is broadly true but there definitely have been instances where the 'other' (whoever that may be) has backed up his opinions with acceptable reasons, which you have rejected because you don't see those reasons as qualifying.
Continuing from above, that is where I feel that - sorry to say this - you have been bit of a bully yourself in using your marine background as your own 'jeering entourage' to sneer at others. I want to point out again that despite being the senior statesman of these forums and an extensive marine experience in various capacities, you start out with the same disadvantage as the rest of us as far as the Titanic is concerned because of the timescale involved and the fact that you too rely on interpretation of witness statements and whatever little evidence is available from the wreck. When it concerns opinions about whether Boxhall or Olliver was more reliable as witness, your experience is no advantage at all despite the fact that you pretend that it is.
That is one thing where you and I might have something in common. Aged 8 I finally stood-up to a notorious bully a year older and the outcome, without going into the details, surprised me more than anyone else. I was never bullied again.
No, Arun, I do not "start out with the same disadvantage as the rest of us as far as the Titanic is concerned because of the timescale involved " Athough, since like you and everyone else, I was not there as you point out and I " too rely on interpretation of witness statements",
However, unlike you and everyone else on this site, I can get a very clear picture of what the witness statement is painting because I only have to close my eyes and think back to a time when I was in a similar situation, doing exctly the same things . Not only that, and I have told you and others this before... the training and manning of an MN vessel when I started - apart from Gyros, Radar and the dying use of triple expansion engines - was exactly as it was in 1912. e.g. Consequently, if a witness used the term lazereet, not only do I know exactly what he was talking about... I can close my eye and to this day, see the inside of one. (and it is not a French toilet) Can you or any other on this site do that without Google?

If Julian is reading this, he should also know that the mind and motivations of a pre- 1960s seafarer was very unlike that of those who spent their life on land. It was completely alien to what today is accepted as normal. Lying and dishonesty was something that was very quickly discoveredon a ship, and I can tell you, resulted in some very unpleasant experiences for the exposed perpetrator. Living in close proximity in an environment where there can be no individality or privacy will do that. ANY Serviceman will also tell you that. However, sailors the world over, were known for telling harmless tales and for exaggerating the mundane. It was what was called "swinging the lantern". In 1912, exposed liars at the Uk hearings face double jeopardy and the crew of the Titanic knew it. Not only could they have been fined or even imprisoned for lying under oath, (1911 Act) but any Certification they had could also be down graded or even revoked by The Court and they would find it hard to get future employment at sea. The stakes for thse lads were very high.

As for your remark "as your own 'jeering entourage' to sneer at others"? I leave it up to others to determine the motivation for that return to playground language from an obviously very well educated individual.
 
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And we would be none-the-wiser.
3 points:
1. Agree probably not wiser but maybe a little more informed. Not for a lot of the Titaniac's but for some. So many of the 97 movie watchers took at face value that Murdoch shot himself. Hopefully some casual surfers of this site or others might learned that that hasn't been proven. Although I liked the 97 movie I never liked that Cameron put that in his movie.
2. Yes its true its getting hard to talk about new stuff in the general sense..I mean the big picture of Titanic. A recent thread pointed that out very well. I answered some questions but after providing a link I realized everything I said had been covered in it...back in 2001. But that being said I learn something new almost every time I come here..especially nautical and mechanical information.
3. You can learn a lot from some of the younger crowd. Especially when it comes to the digital world. I know a lot about computers. I came up thru ranks so to speak. Started when you actually had to walk inside the computer to fix it. But I had to learn all that and have to think about it when something doesn't work right. I've had one of my 16 year old relatives point out stuff to me that I wouldn't have thought of. Coding is almost like their primary language. Its in their DNA now. I was impressed with his grasp of digital logic. Now if I could get him to change a tire I might put him back in my will...*S*
 
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Cam Houseman

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the training and manning of an MN vessel when I started - apart from Gyros, Radar and the dying use of triple expansion engines -

As for your remark "as your own 'jeering entourage' to sneer at others"? I leave it up to others to determine the motivation for that return to playground language from an obviously very well educated individual.
I wish Ocean Liners would come back. Not one single Liner was the same-including Olympic and Titanic. The Lusitania, the Aquatania, the Mauratania, all great Vessels. If I ever start a company, It's going to be for ocean liners. These days, Ships, especially Cruise Ships, look so...ugly, Copy 'n Pasted. I hate the look of them. Ocean liners, were beautiful, with different colors, trim, furnishings, Grand Staircases, Dining Rooms, Lounges, Turkish Baths...... these days its just about the Slip 'n Slide, or the Casinos!!!

Ok rant over. As for Jim's 'entourage', what entourage?
 

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