The Maiden Voyage

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,046
57
208
UK
That's the spirit, John. We demand a new section in the forum for threads about The Tarnished Age! To your recommendations I'll add Lost Voices of the Edwardians, one of Max Arthur's compilations of oral history transcriptions. Covers every aspect of working class life in Edwardian Britain, in the words of those who lived it. Indispensable. Some members will be interested in another of Max Arthur's compendia: Lost Voices of the Royal Navy, which covers the period 1914-45. Most of the recollections concern combat, but many of the contributors also recall the details of everyday life in the Service.
.
 
B

Bob DiGiulio

Guest
I enjoyed Marcus's book, but along with various errors already mentioned I wonder what the source was for his statement that there was "miniature golf" available on the Boat Deck. It's certainly an original thought. Is it perhaps accurate?
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,588
378
283
Easley South Carolina
>>It's certainly an original thought. Is it perhaps accurate?<<

If it was, you would think that the passengers and certainly the crew would have noticed it.

They didn't.

There were a lot of superlatives being tossed around about the liners back then, but I'm not aware of any from the shipping lines that mentioned a golf course. Popular literature may well be another matter.
 
Dec 14, 2007
35
0
76
Found a 1977 paperback edition of this book today at a local thrift shop for 75 cents. This comes just a few hours after buying "Ghosts of the Abyss" for $12.99, so I'm naturally a bit giddy right now.

Bizarrely enough, this edition seems to be marketed as a sort of tie-in to Cussler's "Raise The Titanic." The front cover proclaims that it's a "revealing account of why we should raise the Titanic." Here's a transcript of the back cover:

1) How could such an experienced captain allow the ship to sink?
-
2) Warnings of icefields were flashed - Why would they be ignored?
-
3) Why didn't the Californian (a neighboring ship) come to the rescue of the Titanic's distress signals?
-
These puzzling questions and more must be answered...It's time to remove the lid on this tragic coverup!!!
-
-These questions cannot be answered unless we raise the Titanic from the ocean's bottom - and investigate it thoroughly.
-
For the first time...the startling facts are revealed inside this book.
-
For the first time...the evidence is here for you to judge for yourself what really happened on the Titanic's MAIDEN VOYAGE

Whoever wrote the back cover blurb makes the book seem like a bunch of sensationalist trash; I know the book is a classic but whoever wrote that deserves a good slapping!
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,588
378
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Whoever wrote the back cover blurb makes the book seem like a bunch of sensationalist trash; I know the book is a classic but whoever wrote that deserves a good slapping!<<

That sort of thing is quite common in the industry. In order to get it to sell, marketers frequently do their level best to make it look somehow fresh, new, or an Earth shaking revelation of "The Truth" whether it does anything of the kind or not.

Maiden Voyage, as you noted, was hardly sensationalist. While hardly without it's faults, and even the very best have some, it remains a solid piece of well researched history.
 

Tracy Smith

Member
Apr 20, 2012
1,646
0
66
South Carolina USA
*Found a 1977 paperback edition of this book today at a local thrift shop for 75 cents. This comes just a few hours after buying "Ghosts of the Abyss" for $12.99, so I'm naturally a bit giddy right now.*

That's the edition I have, but I bought mine in 1977 when it was new.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,588
378
283
Easley South Carolina
>>An advantage of the hard cover version is they included a large fold out facsimile of the first class accommodation plans.<<

Unfortunately, these plans don't always make it with the used copies that are out there today. Since this work is long out of print, the only way to get a copy is by way of the used book networks which can bring with it some fairly steep prices. If you make the effort to get it, try to make sure the plans are still with it. (It should indicate such in any description.) If you're going to pay the premium rates, you might as well make sure you get the goodies that go with the deal.
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
This is the first Titanic book I ever read- and my all time favorite...I was 13, and I read and reread my paperback 'The Maiden Voyage' until it was dog eared...
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
There are one or two differences between the UK and Yank printings in regards to photo content- The Brit edition had the Father Brown photo of Titanic's crowded 1st Class Dining room, which the US version lacked..

I loved this book- But was a bit at odds with the assertion that Lightoller was nearly sucked down the forward funnel-
 
B

Bob DiGiulio

Guest
I've always felt it a little unfortunate that so much of the basis of the Titanic legacy and subsequent storywriting originates from Lightoller's lawyer-guided testimony in 1912. (Ah, if only Murdoch's navigation had been as nimble as that of Lightoller's lawyers'!) Not all of Lightoller's testimony was baloney, of course, but what would survive would be the exotic "facts" like his getting sucked in against a grating, and with a powerful kick and/or fortuitous blast of air, being given a reprieve. (It's a powerful image: Archibald Gracie's 1912 account included the same thing allegedly happening to him.) Lightoller admitted years later to "having applied the whitewash brush" at the Brit/US hearings. Hey, it makes fun reading, no? And what is "truth" anyway but the stories we tell ourselves and others...
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,588
378
283
Easley South Carolina
>>but what would survive would be the exotic "facts" like his getting sucked in against a grating, and with a powerful kick and/or fortuitous blast of air, being given a reprieve.<<

That may not be so far fetched. Being sucked against a grating by a torrent of water being drawn into the ship is entirely plausible. I don't know of anyone, even Superman, who would be a match for that. As to the blast of air coming up from below, I suppose it would depend on where the greater ingress of water was. Air being expelled can be quite violent if it's pushed out of a rapidly flooding compartment quickly enough.

>>Lightoller admitted years later to "having applied the whitewash brush" at the Brit/US hearings.<<

No exactly. He was the one who said that the Whitewash brush was being used...and he was absolutely right...at least in the case of the Mersey Wreck Commission.

I'm not so sure I'd be quick to accuse Lights of being all that co-operative with that. At least not for White Star's benefit, though I'd certainly buy that he was protecting himself and some of his shipmates. Dave Gittins has done quite a bit of research in this, and he's mentioned on several occasions that Lightoller's testimony was very unhelpful for White Star in the civil litigation that followed.
 
Feb 14, 2011
2,447
3
68
A good companion to 'The Maiden Voyage' is Wyn Craig Wade's 'Titanic-End of a Dream- as both books dwell on the inquiries that followed the sinking-the latter on the US Senate hearing, the former on the British hearings...
Give the 'Pepsi challenge' to 'The maiden Voyage' and 'Titanic-End of a Dream'-which book do you think comes out on top?
 
Mar 22, 2003
5,359
742
273
Chicago, IL, USA
In particular his testimony regarding the conversation he had with Smith an hour before going off duty is anything but using a whitewash brush. If anything, just the opposite.
 
B

Bob DiGiulio

Guest
True, but White Star/IMM did not need any help from witnesses...after all, American law limited the Titanic's total financial liability to something around $80,000. British limits were higher, but still--even by 1910 standards--woefully inadequate to compensate victims. (After all, why worry about adverse testimony when you can write the laws defining and limiting liability! It's those 3rd class people who were really shafted by the whole deal, IMO...)
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,239
483
213
The financial limits under Admiralty law were not designed to insure "adequate" compensation to "victims." These are modern American tort ideas. The concept behind the Admiralty restrictions was to promote individuals and companies to take the risk of operating a vessel on the high seas out of direct oversight of the owners.

Anyone investing in a vessel risks 100% of the investment every time that ship sails. The risk is in the hands of a captain who is outside direct control of the owners. The idea behind liability limitations is to "level" the economic risk to the ship owners. That is, the owner of a clothing store may risk his investment on someone slipping and falling in his establishment. But, he does not risk the building, the contents, etc. by just opening the door to the first customer. The ship owner risks 100% of the investment in the ship, plus any legal liability just by boarding the first passenger.

Some of the shipping risk can be mitigated by requiring trained and licensed officers. Some of it can be mitigated by better design and construction of ships. But, the risk of legal penalties cannot be mitigated except by limitations on liabilities.

Quite obviously, without limitations on liability it would be difficult or impossible to get investors to put themselves at double risk compared to ordinary land-based businesses -- especially since that risk was outside of their direct care, custody, and control once the ship sailed over the horizon.

Instead of bewailing the "inadequate compensation," I believe it is better to understand that the limited liability of ship owners made possible all of the berths for the people crossing the Atlantic by ship. Without it, the great emigration to America during the 1800s would have been a trickle instead of a flood. History would be quite different.

By the way, air passengers face some of the same limitations on compensation, especially on international flights. The reasoning behind these limitations is the same as that behind limitation of Admiralty limitations.

Modern courts seem blind to the fact that moving people by wheeled conveyances, in ships, or in aircraft is dangerous. The truth is that for every Nth number of people moved, there will be a certain number of deaths and injuries. That is the risk the people being moved must take willingly; or live their lives more like rocks, and stay where they are put.

-- David G. Brown
 
B

Bob DiGiulio

Guest
Mr. Brown, I am not "bewailing" anything. I was pointing out that, given the number of people and families affected, and the property lost, limits on liability were too low, even for those pre-inflation days. That's all I said, as well as the fact that those who are able to set those limits serves as the most powerful way to ensure that what is paid out is within the corporation's budget. I include the Board of Trade, Lloyd's and the entire insurance industry. You don't need to lecture me on how airlines have limits--I am quite aware of that. Your statement that "modern courts are blind..." to the danger is hyperbole--I'm no lawyer, but I know that there are legal concepts (contributory negligence, for instance) that ameliorate, to a degree, the exposure of a defendant. Perhaps most frustrating, is the fact that you have pulled your reply out of context--my belief is that the Titanic was operated in a reckless fashion--even Capt. Roston, before he knew the Titanic had sunk--when he became aware of some of the same ice warnings received by Smith et al, remarked to Evans that those warnings meant that ships would have to slow down, including the Titanic, and it's a pity because she's on her maiden voyage. Disagreeing with Lightoller, I don't believe that speeding through a known ice field is "ordinary", or an act of God, or a result of everything "against us". Had they been hit by lightning or had hit an uncharted rock and sunk, I'm with you. But they were informed of the danger, they could have--and should have--avoided the crash but did not...that is to me is the difference between negligence and innocent, non-negligent behavior." Operators of cars, boats, trains, etc. have not only a fiscal obligation, but moreso a moral obligation to conduct their conveyances in a safe, non-negligent manner--that's all I am saying--and that the Titanic was not conducted safely. I'm not talking about <guaranteeing> immigrants' safety, either, or taking deaths as a necessary price for the "advantages" provided by industry, especially when those "advantages" (no matter what Ismay claimed) were speedy arrival. Just treat life with respect--don't risk it for ego or Blue Ribands. Yes, make a profit, but not at the cost of incurring unnecessary death and destruction. I draw the profit line a little further from the owners than, perhaps, you do.

PS Now that I have your ear (in a way I never intended), I have read & re-read your book "Last Log..." many times--it's the best "thinking person's" book on the Titanic, and I recommend it as such often.
 

Sam Brannigan

Member
Feb 24, 2007
896
8
88
"Anyone investing in a vessel risks 100% of the investment every time that ship sails."

Have to disagree with that - the risk was underwritten by insurers, as long as the shipping company and its employees were not negligent.

Apart from that I fully agree with your analysis of the concept of limited liability, David.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,239
483
213
Bob -- Thanks a million for the kind words about my book. If you are ever in the neighborhood, I'll be glad to sign it.

I must agree that life must be treated with respect. Each individual life is irreplaceable.

Regarding the liability limits, however, I still do not see why they should be in any way related to the value of the investors (i.e. "the company"). The reason for limitations is to encourage investment in vessels and maritime commerce. Naturally, the people and companies with money enough to purchase ships are by an ordinary person's definition "wealthy." So what? Without that wealth, there would be no ship. But, if building and operating a ship would expose the owners to total financial ruin beyond the risk of putting their money to sea, why would they do it?

As to Lightoller's comments about "speeding" through ice being "ordinary" -- he was correct for vessels operating prior to April 14, 1912. In my view, his use of the word, "ordinary," was not accidental. There is a long-standing tradition at sea which holds that the "ordinary practice of seamen" is by definition not negligence. I view Lightoller's choice of words as setting up a firewall against litigation and/or punitive actions by the Board of Trade.

As I have said before, speeding is a straw dog issue. Even if Titanic had been operating at bare steerageway, the legal finding would be that it was "speeding" at the time of the accident. Today, Titanic would also be charged with failing to have adequate look out--even though the berg was spotted by the men in the crow's nest. By definition the look out is inadequate if a ship runs into something. But, these are charges leveled by governmental bureaucracies seeking to sooth the public by showing that the guilty have been punished. Charges such as "speeding" do nothing to address the real cause of the incident.

In Titanic's case, the root cause was not speeding, look out, brittle steel, greed, desire for an early arrival, or any of the usual list. Titanic ran into the iceberg because the ship was in the wrong spot. There is no excuse for the ship not having been 60 or even 100 miles south of the accident location at 11:40 p.m. that night. Why was it on the regular shipping track when prior to sailing it was known that the regular path was ice strewn?

Ismay's presence aboard ship changes the whole financial responsibility debate. Limited liability is predicated upon the idea that the owners lose control of the vessel when it disappears over the horizon. But, as a manager of the line, Ismay was effectively "the owner" aboard. Under the law, if he had "privity and knowledge" of events relating to the accident, then White Star's limitation of liability would have been pierced and there would have been effectively no cap on damage awards.

Did Ismay choose the route? the speed? influence the dodging of ice? I really wonder how a modern court would view his presence, especially considering he appeared both on the bridge and in the engine room.

-- David G. Brown