Was Capt Smith lost in a daze during the sinking

Jonathan Granato

Jonathan Granato

Member
I don't think Smith was lost in any kind of daze during the sinking. Think of commercial airline pilots and cabin crew (with the exception of Ryannair's blubbering schoolgirls recently) during catastrophic emergencies. Their training kicks in automatically.

A case in point is United Air Lines flight 232.

I think Smith was perfectly in control and very much aware of what was going on and, yes, kept quiet about the lack of lifeboats so as not to cause a panic among those who would inevitably remain on board.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
I agree with you Jonathan 100%. Even before it became apparent that the ship could not stay afloat, Smith had taken the right steps. As a contingency, he had the lifeboats uncovered and swung out soon after the first reports of extensive flooding was received. He concurred with the order to muster the passengers and have them go up on deck with lifebelts on. He himself worked out the initial CQD position and gave it to Phillips before going on a personal inspection to see full extent of the damage. During that inspection, and after conversing with Andrews on the matter, the full and complete extent of the emergency became very clear. I'm sure he had a degree of disbelief when it was confirmed to him that the ship was going to sink and that they may have only an hour and half or so before it would founder. But instead of being dazed by those facts, he acted quickly and decisively. First thing was the order to load the boats with women and children and get them launched as quickly as possible, have Phillips send out the CQD, have Boxhall rework the CQD position based on the 7:30 celestial fix and get the revised position over to Phillips, try to maintain calm among the passengers by downplaying the severity of the emergency so as to not cause a panic thereby saving as many lives as can be saved. He certainly was not walking around dazed by all accounts given. He had much more important things to do.
 
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Susan Alby

Member
Very interesting topic of discussion...

It is truly a miracle that anyone on collapsible B survived. Colonel Gracie recollected that someone aboard collapsible B began the Lord's Prayer and that he and others joined him. This was a comfort to him at the face of death. Along with Lightoller's good leadership, might this also have contributed to their will for survival and eventual rescue?

Also, does anyone know any other Lifeboats where prayers (or hymns) were said among the passengers?

Sorry to waiver off topic...but I figure that this is a good a place as any to ask this question.

Thank you.

Susan
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Along with Lightoller's good leadership, might this also have contributed to their will for survival and eventual rescue?<<

It may have. It's hard to tell. What's important is that they didn't give up. Bolstered by religious faith or not, this is very important in a life or death situation and always has been. The ones who give up tend not to last whereas the ones who fight to survive, who do everything possible until no more can be done tend to come out of it alive more often then not. The incident with United Airlines Flight 232 is an interesting study in that. Training took over and the crew went aove and beyond the call in their attempts to make it to the Sioux City airport in an aircraft that was rendered unflyable when the hydraulic system was trashed by the centre engine compressor blades failing and blowing outward through the casing and into the tail. You can Read about it on this link. For all that was going against them however, they never gave up.

It's worthy of note that this superlative feat of airmanship was attempted with experienced pilots in simulators and every last one of them failed to make it to the airport.
 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
Their faith could indeed have been a factor, Susan. Both Gracie and Lightoller had a psalm in mind at their moment of greatest peril, when they went under. Who is to say what combination of good fortune (no doubt others who didn't make it were also praying), the focus of faith and sheer stubborn determination enabled them to survive.

Mental attitude has been demonstrated to be an important factor in survival situations. There was a case of three divers adrift in the Gulf Stream, left behind by their boat. As the hours wore on, two became despondant about their chances of rescue. The third, not wishing to be affected by their pessimism, swam away. Guess who survived.

Frank Prentice related in some newspaper accounts that, following the disaster, as people around him started dying in the water, he swam away from the crowd.

Strong leadership and a positive mental attitude are the components you want in a situation like that (and a bit of luck and ingenuity!).
 
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Erik Wood

Member
Some of that is some of othe best posting I have seen on the subject.

Also some of the actions Smith took that night and the order in which he took them where most likely to him foreign and strange. But that set is what is taught today.
 
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Ernie Luck

Member
You can only half believe what you read in the papers but in todays Daily Mail it is reported that on the 93rd anniversary of the sinking, James Cameron said Capt. Smith could have saved most of those drowned.

This could have been achieved by turning dozens of the enormous tables in the ship's banqueting halls into makeshift lifeboats. He is also reported to have said Capt. Smith became borderline catatonic and there was plenty of time if the captain had remained sane.

Where does this garbage come from? If Cameron did say this he has gone down in my estimation.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>Where does this garbage come from? If Cameron did say this he has gone down in my estimation.<<

Maybe, but don't make the mistake of assuming that the story reported the whole of what Mr. Cameron said. We've had researchers here provide examples of editorial hack jobs done to them where their remarks were taken completely out of context so that it looked like they were saying something which was very different from the whole of what they actually said. I've known a few reporters myself and to say that they were often at loggerheads with their own editors over this sort of thing is the grandest of understatements.

Say somebody was interviewing me and I remarked "Using the tables as rafts might have worked if they could have unbolted those tables and wrestled them up top side, and if they had been in warmer waters." but what ends up in the papers is "The tables could have been used as rafts."

Both would be *factually* correct but the latter would present an extremely misleading picture of what I said since it would omit the qualifyers.

Since I've never been interviewed by anybody, this is obviously a hypothetical example, but don't think it hasn't happened to researchers in the real world because it has.
 
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Ernie Luck

Member
Well I qualified what I said by expressing some doubt as to the accuracy of the report but that is what he is alleged to have said over the weekend, Michael.

I am surprised it's not been reported on your side of the pond?
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
I guess the thing to do is have Cameron clear up what he actually said or didn't say.

If there is an impression that is held by some that Capt. Smith was ineffective after the collision, then the question is where does such an impression come from? My guess is that the basis of this impression is to some extent given by the accounts of Boxhall and Lightoller. It always seems they would be the ones to suggest doing something and Smith would reply with a "carry on." Murdoch and Wilde probably had closer dealings with Smith that night, but none of them lived to tell about it. Lightoller didn't arrive on the scene until about 30 minutes after the collision took place and was ordered by Wilde to take charge of uncovering and swinging out the port side boats. Despite Boxhall's two inspections during the 1st half hour, where he saw the flooding for himself, it was from Smith that Boxhall learned that the ship was doomed, probably after Smith came back from his own inspection where he met up with Andrews who gave him the information that the ship would not last. Apparently everyone was too busy doing what had to be done than to study the role that Smith played or didn't play in detail after that time. Those that were in a position to tell did not survive. But one thing is perfectly clear, Smith did a lot of things from immediately after the collision to the time that the order was given to load the boats and send out the initial CQD message. And we know he was involved later on as well, as Bill pointed out, with the lifeboats. This doesn't sound like a man who was "borderline catatonic" to me.

Now the idea of using tables to make makeshift lifeboats when you are told by Andrews that ship has an hour to an hour and a half to live makes absolutely no sense at all. They had enough to do to launch what they had under the davits without creating a panic situation.
 
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Ernie Luck

Member
Samuel

Cameron does show Captain Smith to be a bit non-plussed in the movie, so what he is alleged to have said is perhaps the way he sees things.

I would prefer to take the view that Capt Smith was completely focussed on the one thing that could save everyone, i.e. locating another ship in the vicinity that could get to them in time. He could rely on his Officers to get the lifeboats away.

Being focussed, trying to get to grips with the situation, then it would be natural to shut your mind down to everything else which was to some extent irrelevant - without outside help two thirds were going to die.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Not much for Smith to do personally in contacting other ships. Only three things to work on: wireless, rockets, and morse lamp signaling. He had people doing all that. Once it became clear he really needed assistance, he had Phillips send out the CQD. Once the lights of another ship was spotted, he left Boxhall in charge of sending up socket signals and using the Morse lamp with the assistance of two quartermasters in a failed attempt to get a reply. The thing about the use of wireless, we have from Bride a picture of a captain who was very much proactive. In the case of the socket signals and Morsing, we have from Boxhall a picture of a captain who was reactive. The one mystery that I cannot account for is the relatively large time gap between the spotting of the light of that steamer (should I dare mention the name?) and the time that the 1st socket signal was fired. It seems to me like some time was a wasted.
 
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Noel F. Jones

Member
And has this ubiquitous Cameron fellow done a feasibility on the flotation properties of these hypothetically unshipped dining tables?

I would surmise that even the largest of them would revert to neutral buoyancy under the weight of one adult.

If that were the case then their deployment as contingency LSA might have altered the deathrate as between drowning and hypothermia but given the prevailing conditions there would have been no net gain on the figures.

I make no comment as to the difficult of transferring personnel from the ship to the tables!

Noel
 
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Erik Wood

Member
Smiths actions or what some consider to be inactions that night have been discussed at length several times over.

I think that some of it bears repeating in context to Camerons comments. First I don't know but if I had to bet I would wager that Cameron has never been to sea as a professional sailor, held a license of any kind (to include a Z card) and wouldn't know what Smith's real job was if it bit him in the rear.

Remeber that there is the fictious version of what Smith was supposed to do, and the actual job he was tasked with as the vessels commander. The tradional story and those with little or no knowledge of life at sea get caught in this trap. Of course I defer to Captain Haisman for information on the British system, but in his abesence I speak in generality. There is a vast difference between what most think Smiths job was and what it actually is. For some reason everybody wants to give Smith the same label that applies to the skippers of other doomed ships who acted less then admiralably. Smith did his job as vessel commander post accident, better then probably any of us could have done without hindsight.

Sam hit it on the head. Once Smith gives the order for the vessel to be abandoned his job is essentially done. He remains of course in over all control. But Wilde, Murdoch and Lightoller should have been left to there own judgement and where charged with carrying out the masters order, if one officer needed the masters approval for something and as long as it was not strange, Smith would have most likely concurred with the officers judgement as they where the one actually on deck. Smith is watching the big picture, and after ordering the vessel abandoned there isn't much to watch.

Also remeber that Smith did not have the luxury of the communication equipment that we have today. Orders had to be given to a runner and that runner had to find who ever the order was intended for, and relay it. In addition information came back to Smith in much the same manner, therefore decisions took twice as long to make. Simple tasks took longer to get accomplished, which is why I believe the note delivered to Bell from Smith was a blanket order giving him permission to do what he thought was best. The phones (what few they had) didn't really seem to be used much.

Just a nickels worth this time
Happy
.
 
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Parks Stephenson

Member
Well, if Cameron's professional experience across a spectrum of disciplines is to be questioned because of what has been attributed to him, I certainly hope that he was quoted correctly by the Daily Mail. I wonder what he might have said about Britney Spears's baby?

Sam, what have you guys concluded on this subject in the more exclusive forum?

Parks
 
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