Telling the Passengers and Crew Immediately


May 2, 2018
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I've always found one of the the most powerful scenes in the 97 film is when Thomas Andrews shortly after reporting to the bridge crew and Ismay that 'No matter what you do Titanic will flounder' is walking through the Grand Staircase still in shock. Rose pulls him aside and he admits to her the ship is doomed, looking around the opulent room he tells her 'In two hours all of this will be at the bottom of the ocean, tell only who you must... I don't want to start a panic... you remember what I told you about the boats'

While I know that precise scene is fictional it still underpins the understandable approach Andrews, Smith, Ismay and any bridge officers present at the meeting followed that night opting to commence an orderly evacuation without revealing the severity of the situation to the crew and passengers. I'm sure they no doubt were hoping upon hope that a nearby ship could be contacted and arrive within the hour and save everyone.

What I've wondered if how would things might have gone if they had taken the opposite approach. For example if Smith right after ordering the CQD/SOS quickly assembled as many people as possible on the boat deck and informed them in no uncertain terms the ship will sink in under two hours and the boats have to be launched immediately, anyone who can't fit on a boat needs to improvise and make a try for it. Pass the word...

While I'm sure this news would start a Lusitania level of panic and possibly a riot onboard I have to imagine subsequently that every lifeboat launched would have surely have 65-75 people on board them? Crew members getting over the initial shock might have been able to muster passengers to gather mattresses, chairs, tables, wall paneling. Anything that could possibly be tied together with bed sheets and hold a few people out of the water.

While I'm sure there would be no possible way to save everyone a terrified and highly motivated group with at least an extra hour to grasp the full extent of the situation might have been able to reduce the death toll among them by hundreds, primarily through packing the lifeboats. Then again perhaps a hysteria would have set in and would have made lowering the boats next to impossible.

All I can say is with hindsight is that if I had been onboard that ship I'd have rather been told its definitely going to sink at 12:15 than work it out for myself as the bridge disappears at 2:10.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Michael has brought us new thoughts about one of the classic mysteries surrounding Titanic's sinking -- why so little information was passed to passengers and crew about the ship's true condition. The answer is "we don't know and can never know." Passing the word was under the direct control of Captain Smith who did not survive. His thoughts, plans, and knowledge died in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. All we can do is speculate, which can make learning the truth a precarious proposition.

As I am fond of saying, "History does not reveal its alternatives." It's just as risky to predict what might have happened "if this," or "if that." The only way to find out would to build an exact replica of the ship using the original steel and rivets, put the original passengers aboard, run into the original iceberg in exactly the original manner...etc. ...and see what happens. Any takers on that experiment? Don't forget that if anything is not as it was, the whole endeavor would be without meaning. (Sort of like an historical butterfly effect.)

In my view, this question is really just an expression of human emotion. Nobody wants to die and few want to see other people die as well. In our guts we want to believe there is something, some neat solution to the problem of keeping everyone alive. Alas, it's just not possible. Icebergs come floating along in all of our lives.

-- David G. Brown
 
May 3, 2005
2,307
183
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I've always found one of the the most powerful scenes in the 97 film is when Thomas Andrews shortly after reporting to the bridge crew and Ismay that 'No matter what you do Titanic will flounder' is walking through the Grand Staircase still in shock. Rose pulls him aside and he admits to her the ship is doomed, looking around the opulent room he tells her 'In two hours all of this will be at the bottom of the ocean, tell only who you must... I don't want to start a panic... you remember what I told you about the boats'

While I know that precise scene is fictional it still underpins the understandable approach Andrews, Smith, Ismay and any bridge officers present at the meeting followed that night opting to commence an orderly evacuation without revealing the severity of the situation to the crew and passengers. I'm sure they no doubt were hoping upon hope that a nearby ship could be contacted and arrive within the hour and save everyone.

What I've wondered if how would things might have gone if they had taken the opposite approach. For example if Smith right after ordering the CQD/SOS quickly assembled as many people as possible on the boat deck and informed them in no uncertain terms the ship will sink in under two hours and the boats have to be launched immediately, anyone who can't fit on a boat needs to improvise and make a try for it. Pass the word...

While I'm sure this news would start a Lusitania level of panic and possibly a riot onboard I have to imagine subsequently that every lifeboat launched would have surely have 65-75 people on board them? Crew members getting over the initial shock might have been able to muster passengers to gather mattresses, chairs, tables, wall paneling. Anything that could possibly be tied together with bed sheets and hold a few people out of the water.

While I'm sure there would be no possible way to save everyone a terrified and highly motivated group with at least an extra hour to grasp the full extent of the situation might have been able to reduce the death toll among them by hundreds, primarily through packing the lifeboats. Then again perhaps a hysteria would have set in and would have made lowering the boats next to impossible.

All I can say is with hindsight is that if I had been onboard that ship I'd have rather been told its definitely going to sink at 12:15 than work it out for myself as the bridge disappears at 2:10.
The scene in the 1997 "Titanic" movie where Thomas Andrews tells Rose the ship is sinking, etc., appears to be copied from the scene in the1958 "A Night To Remember" movie :
Thomas Andrews tells a passenger ("Mr. Lucas" ? ) almost the same speech.
Mr. Lucas tells Thomas Andrews "I'm not the panic-ing type."

Thomas Andrews does not appear in the 1953 "Titanic" movie, but Captain Smith tells "Richard Sturges" that the ship will sink. Richard tells Captain Smith : "Captain, I won't be put off ! Is this ship going to sink ?" Captain Smith replies : "Yes. She will."
 
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May 3, 2005
2,307
183
133
Michael has brought us new thoughts about one of the classic mysteries surrounding Titanic's sinking -- why so little information was passed to passengers and crew about the ship's true condition. The answer is "we don't know and can never know." Passing the word was under the direct control of Captain Smith who did not survive. His thoughts, plans, and knowledge died in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. All we can do is speculate, which can make learning the truth a precarious proposition.

As I am fond of saying, "History does not reveal its alternatives." It's just as risky to predict what might have happened "if this," or "if that." The only way to find out would to build an exact replica of the ship using the original steel and rivets, put the original passengers aboard, run into the original iceberg in exactly the original manner...etc. ...and see what happens. Any takers on that experiment? Don't forget that if anything is not as it was, the whole endeavor would be without meaning. (Sort of like an historical butterfly effect.)

In my view, this question is really just an expression of human emotion. Nobody wants to die and few want to see other people die as well. In our guts we want to believe there is something, some neat solution to the problem of keeping everyone alive. Alas, it's just not possible. Icebergs come floating along in all of our lives.

-- David G. Brown
Once again, that old quote : "But you weren't there !" ("Ensign Willie Keith" (Robert Francis) "The Caine Mutiny" (1954) )
 
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Kas01

Member
May 24, 2018
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As I am fond of saying, "History does not reveal its alternatives." It's just as risky to predict what might have happened "if this," or "if that." The only way to find out would to build an exact replica of the ship using the original steel and rivets, put the original passengers aboard, run into the original iceberg in exactly the original manner...etc. ...and see what happens. Any takers on that experiment? Don't forget that if anything is not as it was, the whole endeavor would be without meaning. (Sort of like an historical butterfly effect.)
Just as an addendum, Dave, this experiment has to be in the North Atlantic as well. I guarantee you that was a factor in the lifeboat loading process as well. No one wanted to get into a dinky little rowboat in the middle of the North Atlantic even after they knew Titanic was going down, dead calm seas or not.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
The scene in the 1997 "Titanic" movie where Thomas Andrews tells Rose the ship is sinking, etc., appears to be copied from the scene in the1958 "A Night To Remember" movie :
Thomas Andrews tells a passenger ("Mr. Lucas" ? ) almost the same speech.
Mr. Lucas tells Thomas Andrews "I'm not the panic-ing type."

Thomas Andrews does not appear in the 1953 "Titanic" movie, but Captain Smith tells "Richard Sturges" that the ship will sink. Richard tells Captain Smith : "Captain, I won't be put off ! Is this ship going to sink ?" Captain Smith replies : "Yes. She will."

The scene was originally in the 1943 Titanic film. The scene almost plays out word for word at the foot of the Grand Staircase.




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If the captain and officers had informed the passengers that the ship would sink I think it would cause an immediate panic. When a panic starts it causes all rational thought to go out the window and instincts to kick in. Passengers and crew might rush for the lifeboats, families would be separated in the stampede, rumours would spread quickly that the ship would sink in a very short time and misinformation would be spread that she had just minutes to stay afloat, or accurate information might be passed around that there were not enough lifeboats for everyone.

Mrs. White told the US Inquiry:

"Nobody ever thought the ship was going down. I do not think there was a person that night, I do not think there was a man on the boat who thought the ship was going down. They speak of the bravery of the men. I do not think there was any particular bravery, because none of the men thought it was going down. If they had thought the ship was going down, they would not have frivoled as they did about it. Some of them said, "When you come back you will need a pass," and, "You can not get on tomorrow morning without a pass." They never would have said these things if anybody had had any idea that the ship was going to sink."


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