The Oceanic and other passerby ships


Richard Paola

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Nov 17, 2001
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I discovered from the Ellis Island website, that a relative of mine sailed on the Oceania (not Oceanic), in early May 1912...what are the chances that he may have witnessed some Titanic debris ? .. were passengers on these immigrant ships told by crew members where the Titanic sank as they sailed by ? ... It must have been quite alarming for the Oceanic passengers to witness the overturned lifeboat and 3 bodies..as a side note, is this the same Oceanic that was docked at the pier beside the New York as Titanic left with a near collision ? .. another irony.
 

Mark Baber

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is this the same Oceanic that was docked at the pier beside the New York as Titanic left with a near collision ?

Yes. For more on the career of White Star's Oceanic II, look here.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>what are the chances that he may have witnessed some Titanic debris ?<<

Fair to middling I suppose though I'm not aware of any specific accounts from that ship. As bodies were being found as late as June, it's not outside the realm of possibility that they might have passed close to whatever flotsum and jetsum that hadn't been dispersed by the currents, wind and the waves.

For obvious reasons of not wanting to shake up the passengers, if any debris was sighted, the crew on any ship, much less a White Star vessel would not have been anxious to call attention to the fact. Passengers didn't like being reminded that they were on a ship, much less have their noses rubbed into the evidence that the things have been known to sink. Especially when it's one of your own that sank.

It's embarrassing.
 

Richard Paola

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Nov 17, 2001
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thanks Michael...interesting to know that the possibility is there..although he's long since passed away, i may ask his daughter about it. i guess there must have been many ships sailing by during that time since it was the peak of immigrant travel
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Bissett has quite a moving passage in Tramps and Ladies about the way in which the sea lanes were 'haunted' for weeks and even months afterwards by bodies and debris, and said that shipmasters avoided the area. However, it's clear that some ships certainly did encounter debris and even bodies.

I agree with you, Richard - Oceanic II was an exquisite vessel. My favourite ship.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>i guess there must have been many ships sailing by during that time since it was the peak of immigrant travel<<

To say nothing of freighters, some of which also carried passengers. There was and still is a lot of commerce between Europe and the United States so it's a fair bet to say that the shipping lanes were fairly crowded. As Inger mentioned, ships at the time were said to have avoided the area where the Titanic went down like the plague. Superstition may well have played a part in that, but there was also the more substantive fact that traversing shipping lanes still choked with ice was a health hazard. (Ask the Titanic!) It's not surprising that there were so few who wanted to take that gamble, at least until the ice melted away.
 
I am not sure if this the right place for this question. If not I'm sure the moderators will correct me
happy.gif

I was recently viewing the web site of one of our own, Paul Lee, and reading "A collection of ice warnings, and reports of wreckage and bodies from April 1912." when I noticed that quite a few ships had mentioned bodies and wreckage (duh). My question is, was it not part of procedure for a ship passing debris, namely bodies, to pick them up or give them a proper burial. I understand that it may be fairly inconvenient and maybe it may upset the passengers, but it just doesn't seem right to me. I guess that is why I am not the captain of a ship. lol besides many other factors such as experience and knowledge, but we won't go there.

thanks,
Kendra
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>My question is, was it not part of procedure for a ship passing debris, namely bodies, to pick them up or give them a proper burial. <<

Apparantly, it wasn't. This isn't quite as difficult to understand as one might think. Few if any vessels of the time had the proper mortuary facilities or equipment so there was an obvious health risk which was at issue. They might have been able to give them a proper burial at sea, but there was little else they could have done.
 
Thank you for the quick reply
happy.gif
lol NOw my next question would be what is the procedure today? Not that it is very common, but I'm sure if not already, it will happen. Kind of makes me wonder how many bodies that weren't recovered could account for many of the missing. Not that there is any way to tell now, but if they were never recovered they may have sunk to the bottom? lol sorry I'm thinking and typing at the same time.......

Thanks,
Kendra
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I don't know if there is any set proceedure today. Some of it is up to the policies in place with the individual shipping lines but those would be dictated by the requirements of various laws on the books in a number of countries.

I think it helps some that some cruise ships at least have mortuary facilities in case they're needed. Perhaps Captain Charles Weeks can address this because his insights and information would be much better then mine.

Regarding the fate of any unrecovered bodies, I would think that anything which didn't end up as a snack for some hungry sea life would eventually have sunk to the bottom.
 
It just boggles my mind that so many were seen, I mean if it were my child, husband, etc. I can't imagine the thoughts that would pass through my mind. I guess I just never considered the fact that they would be floating around. Honestly I think I assumed they were all picked up by the Mackay Bennett and other ships they sent out. The ocean is a lot bigger than I put into consideration I suppose. lol

Thanks,
Kendra
 
Aug 10, 2002
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When I was on the S.S. Constitution she had mortuary facilities that would hold two. On cargo ships they put the deceased in the meat box, this tended to affect the menu till the next port.
Regards Charlie Weeks
 

PRR5406

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It wouldn't take long for fish and birds to have gnawed away at the residual flesh, eyes and nose in particular. It was probably determined the remains would not last long enough to warrant removing them from their ocean graves. Likely they were considered as if they had gone down with the ship in the first place.
 

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