Was Ismay really a villain?


Dec 29, 2006
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I have often thought that, irrespective of how we view his conduct on the night of the sinking, it was good that J.Bruce Ismay survived the disaster, because it meant that a senior figure in the shipping world was able to give evidence at the enquiries and, if necessary, could be held to account for the failures of the industry.

And thinking of his position in the shipping industry as President of the International Mercantile Marine Company, it seems unfair that he should have been singled out for attack by William Randolph Hearst - why did the Hearst papers not attack J.P.Morgan (who was presumably Mr Ismay' boss). Or was Morgan a friend of Hearst?
 
I'd also point out that there were quite a few crew members who survived...high ranking crew. Some were luck of the draw (Lightoller) and you can't fault them for it. But there were others that entered boats as well.

Why weren't they called out for it too? Why isn't Jim calling *them* bastards? Why weren't they vilified in the press and shunned?

As Michael pointed out, no one is obligated to die. The saying goes that the captain always goes down with his ship...now the president of the company always goes down with the ship that the company that he heads who happens to be sailing on.

If Ismay hadn't entered the boat, there still would have been 1500 people that died. He should have stayed behind so that the world could have had one *more* nose-bleeding, first-class snob in it?

As an aside, if the Titanic was viewed as simply the middle child of the three liners...did Ismay sail on the maiden voyage of the Olympic? Why would he make a point of sailing on the Titanic?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Ismay had no relevant skill or experience to contribute. The officers were seamen and trained to command, so their presence in lifeboats was justifiable. Pitman and Boxhall had in any case been ordered away by higher authority, and though Lowe made his own decision to leave his subsequent performance amply justified it. Many did question the presence in boats of members in particular of the victualing crew, who had no boat-handling skills to contribute. None of these, however, were of sufficiently high rank or high profile to attract individual condemnation.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Why weren't they called out for it too?<<

Because the officers who went into the boats were ordered to do so. One could try and fault them for doing so, but it would look pretty lame to blast somebody for doing what a superior officer told him to do. In any event, as Bob said, they were small fry.

Ismay was the BIG fish and he got fried! He may not have had a legal obligation to die, and while one could make the case for a moral obligation to do so, the fact is that he didn't. Ultimately, he may have wished that he had. It would have been quicker and easier that way.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Exactly. Ismay was an easy target.

He made himself so.

Had he been in , say, boat #5, no BFD. I'd say 'scapegoat.'

Had he NOT been on the port side and seen, first hand, the arbitrary decision that pointlessly widowed quite a few women being enforced, rigidly, I'd also cut him some slack.

And, had other men not been ejected from the same boat, presumably killing them, and had not the same cast of characters then turned a blind eye when Ismay and Carter entered C, I'd also be a little lenient.

BUT, I have quite a few reservations about Ismay. For some reason his presense in the crowd at C and not D strikes me as a bit...uhhh...too good a coincidence to be true. Particularly since when last reliably seen in the narrative he was aft on the port side getting on Lowe's nerves.

I strongly suspect that he knew fully well where the last boats to be lowered were located AND that he knew which one he stood a better chance of successfully entering.

His claim that there was no one around strains credibility for any number of reasons. Which tends to imply that HE knew he had done something shameful~ why else lie? I'm just a BIT skeptical that enough of a crowd gathered at the last port boat to warrant forming a human chain around it, while a few minutes earlier every last soul in the vicinity of C had either gotten into the boat or gone elsewhere. Leaving only lucky Ismay. Good thing that of every last soul on the forward end of the starboard boat deck only he lingered. Gosh, "suck ta be" those ejected cowards...had they only waited until THE ENTIRE CROWD VANISHED, as per Ismay, they too could have entered. No?

SO, while crew ineptitude was killing Edith Evans on the port side (while saving even bigger pr*cks than Ismay, Woolner and Steffanson, who knew where to go to jump into the empty seats Miss Evans did not get a chance to occupy) Ismay was safely away in C.

>As Michael pointed out, no one is obligated to die.

Then why were the 'cowards' ejected from C and not Ismay or Carter? Their presense in the boat CANNOT be explained by necessity~ they possessed no skills that justified their NOT being forceably ejected. And, as for 'scapegoating' Ismay got off VERY easy on this point. It stank to high heaven then, and still does.


>Why weren't they called out for it too? Why isn't Jim calling *them* bastards?

I have. And worse. But, we're talking about Ismay, and not them.

>Some were luck of the draw (Lightoller)

He washed off the ship holding on to a lifeboat. That was NOT luck of the draw.

>If Ismay hadn't entered the boat, there still would have been 1500 people that died.

And he'd be remembered as a hero, like all of the others who, voluntarily or not, did not enter a lifeboat. BUT, he entered a boat from which others, equally deserving of life, had been ejected and, anecdotally, around which gunplay had erupted. He knew of the 'women and children only' bollocks on the port side. He was party to information that most of the others aboard were not (Smith should have sunk his fingers in jugular deep and asked "So, at what point did you become aware that men were allowed to leave the ship on one side but not on the other?" but, sadly, did not) and you have to be INCREDIBLY naive to attribute his last minute presence at C to pure coincidence. So, he chose life and I...for one....hope that every minute that remained to him became offal in his mouth, and that the rightful condemnation of the public clung in his nostrils like the reek of a festering wound until every last ounce of hope he carried in his breast died a'bornin. (My senior year English teacher wished that upon me in my final 5-week progress report. And later inscribed my yearbook with the same, followed by "Have A Gr8 Summer!"
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Jim’s interesting and highly detailed analysis of events on the boat deck is entirely valid, and it lends credence to his earlier claim that Ismay was a coward. I cannot dispute any of this detailed evidence, but would like to offer some more generalised comments in relation to the way in which JBI was subsequently portrayed.

Our perceptions of J Bruce Ismay have been coloured by adverse criticism in the American press, and by his portrayal in the films A Night to Remember (1958) and Titanic (1997). I say “American press” because the British press treated him with a greater degree of objectivity. Indeed, he was initially treated almost as a hero, insofar as he had helped women and children into the boats and was cheered when he set foot on British soil.

In reality, he was neither a hero nor a total coward; he had got into a boat on the spur of the moment when no more women or children were immediately available on that part of the boat deck (although he must have known that other women were in the immediate) vicinity. Lawrence Beesley had left the ship in very similar circumstances:

“The call for ladies was repeated twice again, but apparently there were none to be found. Just then one of the crew looked up and saw me looking over. Any ladies on your deck? he said. No, I replied. Then you had better jump”.

Beesley jumped into Boat 13, but nobody has called him a coward for doing so — he was not one of the Big Fish.

On another matter relating to the press, I note that, in the biographical feature on J.Bruce Ismay on this site, it is stated that the Times obituary published in 1937 did not mention Ismay’s role in the Titanic disaster, but this is incorrect. The obituary in question contained the following details:

“Mr Ismay was on board the Titanic when she was sunk by collision with an iceberg in April 1912. By his own account he was in the position of an ordinary passenger and exercised no influence or control of any sort over the captain. He stated that after the ship struck he helped for nearly two hours in clearing the starboard boats, helping women and children into them, and lowering them over the side, and when at last he got into the forward collapsible boat there was not a woman on the boat deck nor any passenger of any class. In view of the fact that more than 1,500 persons perished in the disaster, Mr Ismay was the subject of criticism, not well informed, both in England and in America, for his conduct in leaving the Titanic at all. From this criticism the late Lord Mersey, in his masterly report on the loss of the vessel, expressed complete disagreement. Nevertheless, the affair cast a shadow over Mr Ismay. In the following year he retired from the presidency of the International Mercantile Marine Company in accordance with an arrangement made some time before the disaster. In June, 1916, he resigned his position as a director of the company and a member of the British Committee.”

On 23 October 1937 The Times also published a glowing tribute to Ismay from an anonymous correspondent, who wrote:

“In the world at large, Bruce Ismay may possibly have appeared as a somewhat austere and taciturn man, as has been suggested, but to his devoted family and to the circle of his intimate friends he was known to be the possessor of all the attributes of a most vivid and lovable personality interested in a wide range of subjects and gifted with a delightfully keen sense of humour, his companionship was at all times a thing to be greatly valued. Of a reserved and extremely sensitive nature, he shrank from exposing to the world the kindness and sympathy which were in him, and no one but those very close to him was permitted to be aware of his innumerable kindly and generous actions. Of outstanding physique, he excelled naturally at every form of sport; a first-rate shot, especially at high pheasants, and a first-class fisherman, he yielded to no one in the higher ethics of sportsmanship in the finest sense of the word. In later years his heart was in the wonderful sporting estate which he owned in Galway, with his superb fishing; but keen fisherman as he was, he still had time to spare for the wants of the needy inhabitants of that part of the country, and there must be many there who are sorrowing very greatly at his passing and who will maintain a deeply affectionate memory of “his Honour” for many years to come. His passing leaves a blank in the hearts, not only of his devoted family, but of those of his many friends who were able to appreciate the sterling and lovable qualities which he possessed”.

Overstated and over-the-top, perhaps, but an alternative and much more sympathetic view of this controversial figure, who was clearly made a scapegoat for the loss of RMS Titanic when other individuals (notably J.P.Morgan?) managed to avoid even a hint of adverse criticism.
 
May 27, 2007
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Well the American Press may have gone overboard in attacking Ismay but then again there were women on that ship who didn't even get a chance to go in a lifeboat or even to get to the boat deck while they were loading the boats. Here in America we don't get in a lifeboat and leave women and children on board a sinking ship. Especially when we're the chairman of the company that owns the ship.

Myself, I don't give a fig for Ismay one way or the other but I still remember sitting in the theater watching Titanic and seeing the scene where Ismay got into a boat and him being booed and sworn at by the audience. Anyways when I do think about Ismay I think he got his just deserts because as Jim said he knew what was going on and he probably had an idea about there being passengers in steerage. I wonder why he wasn't looking around and helping 3rd Class women into boats. When it's all said and done J. Bruce Ismay was on the ship and knew how many passengers were on the Titanic and knew there wasn't or had an idea there wasn't enough boats and that there were Women and Children on the Titanic and left anyways.
 

Bob Godfrey

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"Here in America we don't get in a lifeboat and leave women and children on board a sinking ship."

Really, George? So none of the men in the lifeboats lowered from the Titanic were American?
 
Dec 29, 2006
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And what about the men, including officers and crew members, who jumped aboard the Morro Castle's boats, leaving women and children to burn or drown? And of course we should not forget the infamous case of the Arctic, when stokers and crewmen commandeered the boats, leaving the passengers to drown.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>"Here in America we don't get in a lifeboat and leave women and children on board a sinking ship."<<

Oh really? I'm sure that the ghosts of a lot of the women and children left stranded on SS Arctic would have a thing or dozen to say about that. Do some deeper research, and you'll find that this is far from the only such instance.

Shipping casualties of any kind are messy affairs. The sort where romantic notions of chivelry and nobless oblige tend to go out the window more often then not in favour of Every Man For Himself. American vessels were hardly the exception.
 
May 27, 2007
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Really, George? So none of the men in the lifeboats lowered from the Titanic were American?
Yes, there were American Men who got off the ship but they weren't the managing director of White Star lines. I should of said "here in America we don't look to kindly on someone who gets in a lifeboat and leaves Women and Children on board a sinking ship." I apologise for my misrepresentation. But I since I didn't say what I meant it seems I'm reaping a bitter harvest. Very much like Ismay it seems but least I can take comfort in the fact that I not a managing director of anything and that I didn't get into a lifeboat and leave hundreds to perish on the icy north Atlantic.

quote:

And what about the men, including officers and crew members, who jumped aboard the Morro Castle's boats, leaving women and children to burn or drown?
As for the Officers and Crew on that ship I'm sure they were significantly punished by society for leaving passengers on the Morro Castle. You'd have to ask a Morro Castle Historian about that. I'm speaking of the effect on the American Press and Public at large after they heard that J. Bruce Ismay the Managing Director of the White Star Line saved himself while leaving a hundred or so Woman and children to perish on Titanic. It was quite a shock to the American Values.

Actually thinking about it and all the folks who lost their lives while Mr. Ismay who was the director of the line got off high and dry I think the American Press didn't over re-act. Mr. Ismay got his just deserts. Seems he learned that you reap what you sow. As I stated above he knew the odds regarding the lifeboat and left anyways.​
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Let us, however, keep this matter in its correct perspective. The Morro Castle and PS Arctic incidents were exceptions; American crew members do not normally get into the lifeboats leaving women and children aboard sinking ships. The same cannot be said of all nationalities. And as far as Britain is concerned, the famous Birkenhead episode was, from its inception, much exaggerated - although the women and children were indeed put into the only available boats, there were only about a dozen of them aboard the ship! (a very different situation in relation to the Titanic). Incidentally, the British press did not openly criticise the Morro Castle crewman, they simply reported the facts.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Let us, however, keep this matter in its correct perspective. The Morro Castle and PS Arctic incidents were exceptions;<<

Uhhhhhh....were they? I wouldn't get to cozy with that. Romantic notions of women and children first aside, this sort of behaviour was a lot more common then we like to think. American vessels were hardly the exception. If anything, this was more the norm, to say nothing of the stuff of some very sensational headlines.
 
May 27, 2007
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quote:

Let us, however, keep this matter in its correct perspective.
I can do that.
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Really I don't know what I'm doing in this topic anyways. I was just reading through and saw Jim posts and yours Stanley and thought to put my 2 cents in when I should of kept on walking.

Really my sentiments are an echo of Jim's but really thinking about it I must confess that I think Ismay forgot about the existence of the 3rd Class. He did work to get 1st and 2nd class women off the the ship. As for allowing men into the boats on one side and not letting them in on the other well I guess he was in passenger mode by then and thought the crew was doing a good job or he didn't want to get bawled out by Officer Lowe again.
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So I guess he thought all the women were off when he left. Still as Managing Director you would expect more of Ismay.​
 

John Clifford

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One can only wonder "what might have been", to borrow Walter Lord's statement in "Death of A Dream/The Legend Lives On": I am certain that things would have been much different if Ismay had remained on Titanic, and was, then, able to get to the Collapsible, with the others.

If Ismay had died, that night, his reputation might also have been sullied, as well; people might have said "Well, he deserved that!!".
The three episodes of the voyage attributed to Ismay may have heightened his negative standings, as well, even if the people overhearing him might not have felt that way:
1. His alleged remark, to either Mrs. Thayer and Mrs Ryerson, and/or to Mrs. Widener: "We'll go as fast as we can, so we can get out of the danger zone";
2. The conversation overheard by Mrs. Lines and her daughter, about trying to best the Olympic's crossing time, and arriving, early, in New York; and
3. The scene where Harold Lowe scolded him, saying "Let the crew do its job!!".

Again, we can only theorize as to how things would have been different.

Bruce Ismay did, though, have to live with the outcome of the tragedy, and his sullied reputation, such that Titanic was not a subject he wanted to discuss.
Whether that, truly, "ruined his life", as his wife, Florence, intimated, we can only speculate.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>>“The call for ladies was repeated twice again, but apparently there were none to be found. Just then one of the crew looked up and saw me looking over. Any ladies on your deck? he said. No, I replied. Then you had better jump”￾.

>Beesley jumped into Boat 13, but nobody has called him a coward for doing so —

Okay, so I come close now. Beesley, like Ismay, jumped into a boat at the last second. And Beesley, like Ismay, was not fool enough to say what was probably the truth- "Self preservation kicked in, and I jumped for it." His claim that there were no women and children around...again...defies credibility. And does not seem to mesh with what others boarding the aft starboard boats recall of the scene. Beesley has created a wonderful rationale for being in the boat which, when you think about it, echoes Ismay's Vanishing Crowd canard.

As I've said before, the Titanic is NOT a satisfying disaster to research. People had time to ponder what they saw and did, interpret things, and employ selective memory and creative editing. By the time they had access to pen, paper, and press, any hope of getting straight-from-the-gut accounts was long gone.

What sets Ismay and Beesley apart was that Beesley A) did not play a part in what transpired to port and therfore his presence on the starboard side at that point in time is not suspicious, B) did not enter the LAST boat lowered from the side from which other men, subsequently dead, had been hauled out and, C) did not own the ship and therefore has escaped the cloud of "The officers knew who he was and cut him a break by not ejecting him" which hovers, like flatus, over Ismay.

>Shipping casualties of any kind are messy affairs. The sort where romantic notions of chivelry and nobless oblige tend to go out the window more often then not in favour of Every Man For Himself

Actually, quite the antithesis Michael. With the Lusitania, as you will soon see, social order prevailed to an extent that makes the Titanic look downright disgraceful. And, so too aboard the Empress of Ireland. And, yes, the Morro Castle, as well. The Columbia- gone in under 8 minutes, yet social order was maintained, boats got away, and the survival rate was BETTER for the passengers than aboard the Titanic. Panic among the passengers is something officers like to bruit about postfact to explain their own failure and, perhaps, mitigate their own guilt, but its fairly rare.

In fact, with the exceptions of Princepessa Mafalda and General Slocum, I can't really think of ANY example of passengers flying into a demoralized panic of the sort we hear so much about. And, yes, I've been looking. Exhaustively.

One must beware, however, of the officers (Arctic/ LaBourgogne/Morro Castle/ Yarmouth Castle, Oceanos...I could go on) and crew,(add Andrea Doria, Leopoldville) who DO often seem to slip into the animalistic phase of panic so often attributed to passengers, and who are not above abandoning ship first.

>Overstated and over-the-top, perhaps, but an alternative and much more sympathetic view of this controversial figure, who was clearly made a scapegoat for the loss of RMS Titanic

Two things:

He was made a scapegoat for jumping into the next-to-last lifeboat while 1500 other people did not. NOT for the loss of the ship. But, for his own craven actions.

and

Would you expect otherwise in an English paper of the 1930s? What was the editorial slant of the paper? Did the owners have any family or social connection to the Ismay family? And, would ANY mass market paper, given the...social unrest... of the era, have posthumously described him as the craven cad who used his position to get into the next-to-last lifeboat at the expense of women and children?

>when other individuals (notably J.P.Morgan?) managed to avoid even a hint of adverse criticism.

That's a stretch, Stanley. Morgan was not aboard. So, he can't be tarred with the cowardice brush. Nor can he be accused, correctly or not, of directly influencing the speed of the ship that night. So, even if one accepts that Ismay was somehow The Fall Guy (and I don't) one CANNOT accept the premise that Morgan, somehow, was MORE culpable. Or EQUALLY culpable. Or even slightly. He wasn't there. Smith and Ismay were.

>Mr Ismay was the subject of criticism, not well informed, both in England and in America, for his conduct in leaving the Titanic at all. From this criticism the late Lord Mersey, in his masterly report on the loss of the vessel, expressed complete disagreement.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...... *pauses for breath*

PLEASE, don't blindside me with things like that! Altho the levity provided WAS much appreciated....

Not well informed criticism? Lord Mersey masterly? Dear LORD can we get MORE Colonel Blimp than this? Is THIS is the best rebuttal to appear in the UK press?

The criticism was well informed, indeed. And much of it stemmed (stems) from Ismay himself. the crowd who tried to rush the boat suddenly vaporized? The officer and crew members, who wielded a gun and repulsed the rush on C, suddenly adapt garden party manners and invite Ismay and Carter, the sole beings who did not...en masse...calm down and go somewhere else, into the boat? And these are from his OWN words, not the press.

Wanna talk 'scapegoat?' Let's open a thread on Hichens whose rep was tainted forever more, by an account written by someone who, at best, was a histrionic prone to exaggeration and at worst may have been mentally ill. As for Ismay, the man was no victim and I hope that the rest of his life was a lingering agony.

And if Hearst fanned it, I say "Thank you Mr. Hearst."
 
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Heaping blame on J. Bruce Ismay for the 1500 deaths on the night of April 15, 1912 is about as sensible as blaming God for the more than 700 deaths of Titanic Survivors during the ensuing years. Ismay did not personally cause any of the deaths that night any more than he has caused the deaths of the survivors in the years since. Blame heaped upon Ismay was based on politically-motivated hindsight with the thinly-veiled purpose of social change.

Let's face it, Ismay was just the "lightning rod" for bolts hurled by those of socialist and progressive beliefs. This was as true of the Fabians in London as the Populists in Washington. It was and remains pure demagoguery in which Ismay is cast as epitomizing evil capitalists.

The issue of lifeboats was created ex post facto. It focused on one tiny aspect of a larger historical event to the detriment of a full understanding of the whole affair. What was overlooked in 1912 (and remains overlooked today) is the place lifeboats were intended to occupy in the overall lifesaving system of Titanic.

At the time Titanic was built and sailed, the overriding belief of mariners was that boats could not serve a sanctuary from a sinking passenger liner. They knew the purpose of boats was as transportation to ferry both passengers and crew of a stricken vessel to a nearby rescue ship. The idea that putting 2,200 people in separate boats floating at random on the North Atlantic at night would have saved every life would have been described as lunacy. Even fully supplied with water and bread, it is doubtful that many passengers would have made it to shore alive after rowing and sailing at least 600 miles to the nearest shore. Ismay knew this and so did everyone else with a whit of nautical sense.

Instead of relatively flimsy lapstrake wooden boats, Ismay and White Star more prudently spent money on steel bulkheads and steam-powered bilge pumps. The full lifesaving system of the Olympic class ships consisted of many parts — a double bottom, the 16 large watertight compartments, automatic W/T doors, pumps in every large compartment, additional bilge pumps in the engine spaces, a double-redundant system of bilge eduction, emergency backup electric power, and (lastly) lifeboats.

The lifesaving system chosen required boats only as a form of short-range transportation. In this limited role the actual number of boats fitted had no reason to be related to the number of persons on the larger ship. Instead, the number of boats became a function of the number of trained sailors in the deck department. To safely launch and man 16 boats required a minimum of two sailormen on deck and another two in the boat:

Forward falls — 1 line handler
After falls — 1 line handler

Boat Crew — 1 at tiller & 1 bowman

Multiply 4 times 16, and you get a minimum manning requirement of 64 trained seamen. The Mersey BOT report listed 66 members of the Deck Department including the ship's 8 officers. Assuming that the captain and chief officer were not intended to man boats, the full number of available hands (officers and ratings) in the Deck Department was needed to launch and man the boats. (This assumes the oarsmen would come from other departments such as stokers, etc.)

As it turned out, Titanic's boats worked quite well within their intended role. All 16 regular boats made at least one transfer ferry to Carpathia. They might have made more runs, but there was no longer a Titanic to service. The boats worked as planned, but the ship did not.

The hugely misunderstood number of lifeboat seats (or, the supposed lack thereof) did not cause a single death that night. It was a different part of the lifesaving ship's lifesaving system that failed. The cause of those 1,500 deaths was the inability of the bulkheads and pumps to keep the ship afloat. Yet, those where the areas where Titanic was in fact over-supplied by the standards of the day.

Several times this E-T Forum has noted that even if more boats had been fitted, there was not time to launch all of the 20 boats Titanic carried. More boats could not possibly have resulted in more boatloads of survivors because there was not enough time to load and launch them.

We have no idea what really went through Ismay's mind that night with regard to either the sinking or saving his own life. However, we cannot blame him if he was a bit mystified and even angry over what was taking place around him. He had ordered built what should have been the safest vessel on the sea. White Star had spent a lot of money on bulkheads and pumps that were not performing their function. It was unthinkable, but that was reality.

The lack of lifeboats was not a craven decision by a money grubbing capitalist–rather it was the result of a failure of a large, expensive, and well designed lifesaving system.

After Titanic it became moot to discuss real passenger safety with regards to boats. "Lifeboats for all" became the cry. It was a satisfying idea because it was understandable by people who did not really understand the full situation. It was even more satisfying as a political issue for Populists like LaFollette in the United States.

But, has "Lifeboats For All" really increased passenger safety? Ask the passengers who found themselves on the slanting deck of Andrea Doria. They each had a seat in the lifeboats clearly visible above their heads. Perhaps they might have been better served by a better system of bulkheads and subdivision that could have kept the ship afloat.

Ismay discovered that despite your best efforts, "the Sea will find you out." But, in those last minutes of Titanic's life he was no longer in charge of White Star, the ship, or anything beyond his own life. He chose to live. Another man may have chosen otherwise. But, the decision was his to make and not ours.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Kalafus

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>However, we cannot blame him...

Yes, we can.

>But, the decision was his to make and not ours.

HUH?

As far as I know, never has anyone, myself included, opined that it was ours to make. And if what you meant to say is that it is not our place to judge...well.... I disagree.

The theme of the thread is not WHY Ismay was perceived as a villain, but if he WAS one. Introducing Hearst was a bit of a digression. And, since Ismay:

~Boarded the last boat on the starboard side
~From which other male passengers had been ejected
~And around which gunplay had erupted
~And, had been on the port side and understood fully well what was going on vis a vis forced separations based on gender.
~And likely possessed the specific knowledge (that others, such as Rhoda Abbott, lacked) that men were fairing better along the starboard side than on the port.

~ And that this knowledge most likely influenced his shift from aft on port to forward on starboard. Are we REALLY to think that, from a distance, he saw an agitated mob, possibly heard gunshots, ambled forward out of curiosity and just HAPPENED to be smack in the middle of a now-empty deck at the very moment an officer suddenly turned courtly? Bullshit.
~And he lied and claimed that there was 'no one' around at the time when he entered C, despite the agitated mob others saw there.
~And over 150 women and children died.
~And many MANY other noted Socialist favorites like Astor, Widener, Guggenheim, Butt, died honorably leaving BUT ONE male VIP survivor. Ismay.

All of which qualifies him for villain/cad/bastard, take your pick.

>But, has "Lifeboats For All" really increased passenger safety? Ask the passengers who found themselves on the slanting deck of Andrea Doria.

Really bad analogy David. Among the worst. If the crew abandons ship, as happened in that case, and the passengers are left to their own devises, it does not matter if there are boats for all, boats for 1/3 of those on board, 1/2, draw your own number. You really ought to have thought before using that example. Because, had the crew been inclined to actually formulate a rescue rather than abandon ship, quickly, there WAS sufficient space in the remaining boats to have evacuated the bulk of the passengers in the first wave. And the remainder, along with the crew, by ladder and rope into the boats as they returned, as well as into the boats from the Stockholm. As was done anyway, with no organization and with at least 3 additional fatalities (Grego/Watres/DiSandro)-upon the arrival of the Ile de France.

This was a situation in which:

~Three passengers were still likely alive, in A-230, when the ship finally began her death roll around 9:30 AM. The bridge was alerted to their presence, did not follow thru to see if the search party arrived (it didn't) or if the passengers had been freed.

~A third passenger, according to her family, was trapped in the A deck impact area, still alive behind a jammed door, with the same results.

~A fourth, injured, passenger was abandoned but managed to climb overboard after dawn.

~And the majority of the survivors waited for announcements which never came, on the port side, while a fair number of crew decamped for the Stockholm in the Doria boats, from the starboard.

So, of the 44 who died from the Andrea Doria, as many as 7 were victims not of the collision but of crew ineptitude. (Disandro fractured skull during evacuation. Grego broke back. Watres died of a heart attack. Corvino/Iazetta/Carola trapped in A-230 behind jammed door. Woman traveling in cabin adjacent to A-230 also believed alive. Russo family of four in cabin not penetrayed by the Stockholm's bow~ were THEY also alive and injured behind a door that was never opened? As of yet no one has come forward to claim that they MIGHT have been...but, still...) So, this is not so much a model for a discussion about the effectiveness, or lack of same, of boats for all, as much as it is a model for what happens when...once again... a calm group of people is left to their own devises until order begins to break down. Again, the hoary "There must be no panic among the passengers" mindset assured that there eventually WOULD be.

The arguments AGAINST boats for all remind me VERY much of the arguments put forth...incessantly...by builders regarding the stringent 1938 NYC building code. You may recall that. Two sets of fire stairs in remote corners of the building. Each building had to have a "fire tower", which was a concrete enclosed stairway that had to be entered through two sets of doors placed on opposing sides of a vestibule which serve as a smoke buffer.

Developers, of course, hated this. It reduced rentable floor space, eliminated at least one lucrative corner office, and was costly to implement.

"Builldings don't burn like they used to thanks to advances in fireproofing"

"Too many exits can KILL people by fostering confusion"

"If the fire is big enough, the smoke will get to most of those in the affected areas BEFORE they can get to the stairs"

..and so on.

And so, after 1968, the law was changed.

And we had TWO 110 story buildings constructed with all of the stairs tightly grouped in a central core. None of which were encased by concrete and constructed of terra cotta. And, none of which were entered thru the old double-door system.

You MIGHT recall what happened as a result. At least 1000 people in the north tower, above the impact floors, who MIGHT have had a fighting chance, had NO chance because the stairs were clustered in a single group and constructed of sheetrock.

Likewise, only 18 people in Tower Two from above the impact area escaped, after clearing away the sheetrock that had collapsed into Stair A, blocking it.

My point is, things like concrete "fire towers" and remote corner staircases that take way valued office space are costly and, in 99% of the cases, will NEVER be used for their intended purpose. Same with lifeboats. BUT, when one finds one's self trapped on a sinking ship, on a calm sea, with all the boats gone or in a burning 110 story tower in which all 3 staircases were located beside one other and collapsed, one wishes one HAD those redundant choices.

(WTC Tower 1. Plane entered at banked angle. Triangle of destruction pointed inward, destroying stairs. TWO remote corners of the building on the impact floors survived, as unfortunately, did the office workers, who can be seen in the early photos jamming into, and then jumping from, the windows located EXACTLY where the fire tower WOULD have been pre-1968. Distressing to ponder, isn't it....)

Cost management is great until you need that which has been eliminated...

But, back on topic. He was a villain.
 
May 27, 2007
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I, myself don't blame Ismay for the actual disaster although if the speed rumors are true then that's a different take on that ruling. But I do blame him for abandoning the ship built by company he managed.

Of course for all I know Captain Smith probably had the attitude of "Ismay is gone! Good, let him go. Pity the fellow did not leave sooner."
 

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