The incident between the Hawke And Olympian


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steve b

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i was just staring to read through the testimony of the BOT hearings, and something jumped out at me. i have not been able to gather many facts about the incident thus far, and was wondering whether some here could.as the commisioner was citing Capt Smiths qualifications for having earned command of Titanic, his service record with the White Star Line was cited, as impeccable..save except for one incident..the incident with the Hawke.when apperently the Olmpian was under his command (no date was given in testimony for the incident, therefore my hard time in attaining facts on it). things were interesting in the short exchange about the incident, 1 being that at the time of the incident, Capt Smith was not in charge of the vessel, rather it was under the guidance of a pilot. when asked whether the subsequent hearings of liability to Capt Smith, the commisioner replied "not by the judgement", which i found a rather curious reply, leaving it open to various forms of interpretation. so i ask the knowledgeable people of this group to see if they remember th aforementioned incident, what exactly occured, and when...god bless as always, steve
 
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Daniel Rosenshine

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The Hawk collision occurred on 20 September 1911, when Olympic was leaving Southampton on its 5th round crossing. Needless to say that sailing was cancelled and Olympic didn't return into service until (I don't have my timetable here but I think it was) 29 November 1911, thus missing about 3 transatlantic runs.

Daniel.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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Were Isidor and Ida Straus really aboard the Olympic when the collision took place, or is that yet another Titanic legend?
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo, Steve -

Under maritime law, neither the WSL nor its agents (i.e. Smith and his officers) were culpable, as the ship was under compulsory pilotage at the time. Somewhere here I've got the exact wording of the original verdict, which was not overturned by the WSL's subsequent appeals.

The man in command of the ship at the time was the Pilot George Bowyer. Bowyer made the point later - and according to his daughter always insisted on it - that the WSL never held him culpable for the incident, continuing to have absolute faith in his abilities.

The case is not a cut and dried one - researchers have suggested that the admiralty case might have been assisted by outside influences. If you're interested, there are several boxes of fascinating evidence in the PRO files at Kew in England - they haven't yet been microfilmed, so you can handle items like Ismay telegrams and correspondence with Winston Churchill.

I've got her down as travelling from Southampton to Belfast on the 4-7 October 1911, returning on the 19 - 22 November 1911, and - as Daniel says -sailing again for NY on the 29 November 1911.
 
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The PRO files are certainly well worth looking at, as Inger says. I looked through them about a year ago in my research work and found them fascinating, if only I had had more time.

"The president accepted in all material respects the evidence from the Hawke and found that the collision was solely due to the fault navigation of the Olympic. He consequently dismissed the action brought by her owners against Commander Blunt, but as he held that the defence of compulsory pilotage set up by them had been made out, he also dismissed the action brought by the Admiralty against the Olympic."

There may be a few mistakes, my copy isn't that good.

Among the passengers were twenty millionaires worth $500,000,000, including Mr. Waldorf Astor, M.P., and His Highness Prince Jaisinh Gaekwar. ‘It is stated that the number of the vessel’s first class passengers was the largest ever carried in a single ship for New York,’ a reporter noted. King Alfonso of Spain, the Queen and Princess something or other were aboard some time during the first year and were given a personal tour by Captain Smith; the following year, the King sent a special message of condolence to Smith's widow. Isidor and Ida Strauss might have been onboard, but it isn't mentioned in the information that I have.

I think the Admiralty's witnesses were merely more well-rehersed and more credible, so much of the Olympic's evidence did not sound as credible.

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Inger Sheil

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Hey there, Mark -

I know the feeling about frustrations with time. In my case, there has also been the problem of not enough technical knowledge to meaningfully process what I was looking at - I'd like to see someone with the necessary background and skills have a decent go at those documents. As it is, I confine myself to taking copies of the testimony from Smith, Murdoch, Andrews, Wilde, etc.

Here's the portion of the judgement brought down on the 19 December 1912 that dealt with the Pilot's culpability:

The collision was due soley to the faulty navigation of the pilot, and there is not a shadow of foundation for saying that negligance of any of the owner's servants caused it. The owners of the "Olympic" therefore succeed on the defence of compulsory pilotage.

Bowyer, in "Lively Ahoy", wrote that:

I had a clear conscience that I was right and still hold a clear conscience which nothing on earch can alter. The case was taken to the House of Lords, but the verdict was not altered. However, the company thought we were right and I have piloted the Olympic, Homeric and Majestic up to my retirement on December 31, 1929.

All the best,

Inger
 
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steve b

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Hmm interesting Inger, and thank you all for the in depth replies you mentioned. I fully intend on researching this subject more, because as you aptly pointed out Inger, it doesnt seem as cut and dry as it appears. The reason i included the commisioners response from the BOT exchange is because, going on words alone, it sounds as if there was some room for doubt in his mind. "Not by the judgement". those words will have me curious for awhile. By the way, out of pure interest and nothing else, what was the 2 vessels capacity for passengers and crew, and maximum speeds? does anybody know? And also, was, was weather any factor?
 
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Steve,

HMS Hawke was a twenty-year-old (1891) twin-screw first class protected cruiser 360 feet long, 60 feet wide, with a mean draught of 23 feet 5 inches and a displacement of nearly 7,600 tons, which had just completed engine power trials and was returning to Portsmouth. Her maximum speed was 19½ knots on power trials two decades earlier, but she was doing 15¼ knots at the time of the collision according to testimony. However, others put her speed at over sixteen knots.

If memory serves (and it may not) the weather was fine.

It is interesting that the Olympic's fifth round voyage which ended in the collision was nearly prevented by another minor mutiny; two non-union members had to go at the last minute because other crew objected to them. History has covered-up that incident so far.

Olympic's maximum speed in the report was stated to be '22½ to 23 knots,' while I know 22¾ knots was attained during the first year and she later did well over that. Captain Smith, if memory serves, (I haven't got my notes on his testimony) said his ship's maximum speed was 22½ knots, but I remember thinking that he may have been telling of her fastest crossing up until then, which was done at this speed.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
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steve b

Guest
So fascinating to me is the narrow time frame of the 2 incidents. i mean we talking maybe a mere 7 months apart. Mark i thank you for the information, that was fascinating. What makes the whole thing kind of mind boggling, is how does something like that occur in clear weather and ships traveling at relatively low speeds? Im no expert but 16 knots does not sound excessive. Was there a deeper problem being masked in the opinion of those of you in the know? Just curious
 
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There's an extensive idea about the cause of the collision, an invisible force. Hawke was literally in some people's general opinion drawn into the Olympic's starboard quarter because the two vessels were too close. Two large watertight compartments were flooded and four hundred tons of water entered a third, but Olympic only went down one foot to 35 feet 6 inches, at the stern. This quote should help...


‘Any ship’s movement through the water is accompanied by a change of pressure. In the centre there is a reduced pressure, and when in shallow water that increases. If anything is put within that field they will feel reduction of pressure. When they get further aft they are partly in the reduced pressure and partly in the field of increased pressure. When a vessel overtakes another and is so placed that the bows feel the power of the reduced pressure and the stern is in the field of increased pressure, the bow will turn in and the stern move out.’

Best regards,

Mark.
 

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