Shameful Crew Conduct


John Jaeger

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Sep 11, 2015
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That a larger number of crewmen occupied lifeboats than steerage passengers shows the remarkable lack of discipline and responsibility by Titanic's crewmen. In what world are crewmen, other than lifeboat operators, entitled to take lifeboat seats from their passengers?

I trust that Bruce Ismay lived out his life in misery after his thoroughly inexcusable actions, beginning with the ship's design and ending in its evacuation.
 

John Jaeger

Member
Sep 11, 2015
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3
26
The crew members didn't take seats away from the steerage passengers, there were 466 empty seats in the 20 lifeboats.
Whose responsibility was it to load the lifeboats? It was the crew's responsibility. It failed, and failed very miserably. Rather than insist on passengers loading the lifeboats, hundreds of crewmen got in themselves. It seems strange to me how eager members of this message board are to defend actions which are indefensible, beginning with Captain Smith. Other competent captains slowed down or stopped for the night. Smith did not. He did not so much as order crew members to break open the locker containing binoculars, which might have saved the ship, passengers, and crew.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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Rather than insist on passengers loading the lifeboats, hundreds of crewmen got in themselves.
The lifeboats needed seamen to row them. All quartermasters and lookouts were ORDERED into the boats to command them to rescue. A few officers were ordered to do the same by their seniors.

Passengers didn't know how to fill the lifeboats, and they were very reluctant to enter the boats themselves. If you were a passenger on board, and you didn't know the ship was sinking and you weren't eager to enter the creaky lifeboats, would you tell others to get in?

It seems strange to me how eager members of this message board are to defend actions which are indefensible, beginning with Captain Smith.
I absolutely have no idea what you mean with that. I don't want to honor Captain Smith as the unguilty one. Being the captain of the Titanic, he carried the final responsibility for anything that happened to his ship. And sure, he did make errors the days before.

Smith did not. He did not so much as order crew members to break open the locker containing binoculars, which might have saved the ship, passengers, and crew.
That's a common Titanic legend which has proven to be wrong. The absence of binoculars was not a cause of the collision, Fleet would have seen the iceberg too late even if he had them.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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John -- without doubt you are expressing your honest feelings as you condemn the actions of the crew. The problem is that underlying your argument is the false premise that the people of 1912 on Titanic should have acted differently because of the outcome of the night -- that they should have known the ship would sink and have acted accordingly. The problem with this false premise is that you can't see the future and neither could they. It is only fair to judge their actions with regard to the general standards of the time, the technology of the time, and what they knew minute-by-minute as events unfolded.

You and apparently thousands of others are making emotional responses based on more than a century hindsight. Of course you're right about what better choices they could have made on Titanic's boat deck. That's irrelevant. What counts is that the people involved did not have the benefit of all those years of experience. Chances are you couldn't lower a loaded lifeboat using hemp rove falls that required surging on a bit. Not many sailors today could do it, either, as the need no longer exists. But seaman in Titanic's crew (all 48 of them) were familiar with the procedure. They might look upon all of us who could not do so as seriously lacking in skill and unfit to judge their actions. And, in the context of 1912, they would be right. The lot of us modern ET forum members working Titanic's boats would probably be dumping people into the sea port and starboard.

The fact is that Titanic's boats were not meant to carry the full load of passengers and crew. The underlying safety concept was to build a ship that could be "its own lifeboat" long enough for other ships to respond to distress calls. Then, the boats would be used as ferries to transport people to undamaged rescue craft. This concept was well thought out in view of the equipment available in 1912. Today, we have boats and gear that can be lowered with reasonable safety while filled with people. That was not the case in Titanic's day when one slip of a line through a sailor's hand could spill everyone into the sea. How would you view the crew's actions if they had dumped a boatload or two into the icy Atlantic that night?

Think what you will of Captain Smith. However, recall that you can't libel a dead man. Nor can dead men defend themselves. To me, the navigational evidence clearly shows the captain made a course change to avoid the ice that night at least 30 minutes prior to the accident. So, he didn't go blindly steaming into danger. The evidence of this lies in the difference between Captain Smith's original CQD coordinates and the so-called "corrected" coordinates of Fourth Officer Boxhall.

And, the binoculars. Sigh! They had nothing to do with the accident as anyone who has stood lookout at sea knows. You can't use binoculars at night the way Hollywood shows because they limit your field of view and force you to use the color receptors in the center of your eye that are the weakest at seeing dim objects. A good lookout knows to scan with his focus just above or below (personal preference) the horizon to use the black & white receptors surrounding the color vision area of the retina. Objects are often quite clearly seen when you don't look at them, but disappear from view when you do. So, binoculars would have degraded the work of Fleet and Lee that night in the crow's nest -- which seems quite good even by modern standards.

A suggestion if I might -- turn emotional anger into positive energy to search out the truth. Don't assume that what you saw in the movie was an accurate depiction of events that night. Instead of reading second-hand books and newspapers go to primary sources such as the transcripts of the hearings, navigational texts of the day (1912 Bowditch, for instance), and the scantling tables applicable when Titanic was built. Check out how the eye works at night. Study what it took to launch a lifeboat. Know the difference between the number of seamen and the rest of the ship's "crew." There is much yet to be learned about what took place both before and after steel met iceberg. It's much more satisfying to uncover the smallest grain of truth than to recite a litany of myths and misunderstandings.

Go for the gold, not the pyrite!

-- David G. Brown
 

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