The Maiden Voyage

Dec 4, 2000
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Sam B -- you are correct that some companies did/do insure their vessels. The law is blind to such arrangements. It only recognizes that the investment is 100% at risk by the nature of a seagoing endeavor. How the investor handles the risk (insurance, "running bare," etc.) is up to the investor and not Admiralty law.

A side topic could be how insurance at one point came to be a danger to the lives of sailors. A good part of the development of load lines (Plimsol marks) came about because shipping companies overloaded ships knowing insurance would cover the loss of the hulls and cargo if they sank. Sailors?

-- David G. Brown
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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A quibble!

"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."

That is invention by James Bisset, years after the event. In 1912, Rostron stated that he didn't get ice radioed ice warnings. He based his course on information from the Cunard office in New York. (You mean Bisset, not Evans)

A plug!

Far and away the most complete account of the civil actions in in my book. Among other things, I show how White State almost escaped paying damages in the US and Britain.
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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"...some companies did/do insure their vessels. The law is blind to such arrangements. It only recognizes that the investment is 100% at risk by the nature of a seagoing endeavor. How the investor handles the risk (insurance, "running bare," etc.) is up to the investor and not Admiralty law."

Do you mean by this that the law is not concerned about private insurance agreements regarding the vessels value, and is only interested in the human aspect - i.e. limited liability?

The only way that I can see the ship owners losing (if their ship is insured) is that their future insurance premiums may increase as a result of an accident or loss.

The ship owner would, however, recoup the financial loss of his ship and its cargo and also be well protected against the full brunt of any litigation regarding its passengers and crew.

That is not to criticise the shipping lines. As you said, they were working in a relatively dangerous, cut throat market - a market created by the very people who insisted on quick crossings, and as such they deserved a degree of protection beyond "regular" businesses.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Do you mean by this that the law is not concerned about private insurance agreements regarding the vessels value, and is only interested in the human aspect - i.e. limited liability?<<

I believe you'll find that this is exactly what David is saying. Insurance is really a seperate issue from that. A safety net if you will, which is bought and paid for by the owners just in case the ship runs into trouble.

You'll notice on the tickets that it stated very bluntly that the line's liability was strictly limited but that passengers could protect themselves against loss by buying their own insurance. In plain language, what the line was saying is that if something went wrong, they were on their own.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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"The ship owner would, however, recoup the financial loss of his ship and its cargo and also be well protected against the full brunt of any litigation regarding its passengers and crew."

Only if the owner chose to lay out a lot of money for a policy that covered all possible risks, if such policies could be had. In practice, they didn't do this. They insured the ship to whatever extent they liked (about 66% in the case of Titanic) and covered the crew under the Workmen's Compensation Act, as legally required.

White Star tried to avoid liability for passengers, as Michael mentioned, and thereby hangs a tale.
 
A

Andrew Williams

Guest
A good selection of feedback.

However not only did White Star try an avoid liability for the passengers as Dave Gittins has correctly mentioned, they were even dragging their own heals over the 'compansation payments' long after the First World War.

In the end they decided to use the Compassionate Fund to settle all the outstanding payments that were long overdue. There's only one dilemma in the way here, and that is the names of those people who handed in their own personal claim. No names are mentioned as this surplus of paperwork was destroyed. Perhaps those names were entered in the Minute Book belonging to the old Revisions Committee which doesn't survive now.

What I have confirmed above can be viewed at Southampton Archives and this source of information came from the Minute Book's associated with the Relief Fund.

A.W.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>and thereby hangs a tale.<<

Sure would be nice if more of the depositions would come to light. I've seen a few of them...Edward Wilding and Captain Turner's come to mind. Somewhere in some dusty legal archive, there's a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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My American e-mate, who knows US ways well, tells me that federal court records can be stored in places far from where the cases were heard. Something may yet turn up in some obscure repository.

A prize I'd like to see found is the record of claims settled out of court in Britain, after White Star lost the four test cases brought by relatives of Irish victims. We know that some claimants withdrew their claims in the US courts, with the obvious intention of pursuing them in Britain. I fear the records are lost, perhaps following the Cunard/White Star amalgamation.
 

Omar Khokhar

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Aug 27, 2008
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Hi,

I am thinking of buying the Marcus book and want to know:

1) how sound are the conclusions of the book?

2 any major errors?

3) does the book talk about the performance of Ismay at the USA investigation?

4) does the book hand out blame to the major palyers in the titanic story etc?
 
Aug 14, 2005
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I found this book an interesting read but noticed a few oddnesses in it. In the forward the author claims that the disaster featured in no histories before his book and then later acknowleges other authors having discussed the matter. Obviously he hadn't heard about Walter lord. He also states the ship had Quadruple expansion engines as opposed to four cylinder triple expansion engines and that the
olympic was launched before the titanic was even laid down. Otherwise an interesting read.
 
Apr 22, 2012
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I managed to purchase a copy of this book in excellent condition from Amazon.com. It even came with the fold-out map. I am very much looking forward to this read.

Kosta:

While I have not yet personally read the book, I am sure Geoffrey Marcus was very much aware of Walter Lord. Walter Lord, in fact, wrote an early review of the book.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Apr 21, 2009
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I liked this book when I first read it in 1982 and to some extent still do. But with the discovery and exploration of the wreck of the Titanic with subsequent research and reconstructions, it now seems dated and embellished. But there is mention of a trivial incident during the ship's departure from Southampton that for some reason has caught my imagination for more than 30 years. This might be because I am a doctor and a Titanic enthusiast, but I really don't know.

According to the book, as the Titanic went past Ryde, a young medical student in one of the seaside villas ran upstairs to get a view of the massive ship heading out to sea. If this is true, are there any references about this man, his identity and whether he left any memoirs about the event? Marcus must have found something to mention it in his book but so far I have not been able to get any information.