Weapons on Titanic


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Melissa E. Kalson

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I'm not sure if this is the right category for this but here goes. This question begs to be asked: I was wondering what on earth was the necessity for having handguns on board a passenger liner at the turn of the century. Why was the Titanic equipped so and were other liners also equipped with handguns? I am very curious as to why. Thanks in advance. Sincerely, Melissa K.
 

Dave Gittins

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Melissa, it was a relic of the days when a captain might have to deal with a bunch of mutinous seamen. That was not so far back. Captain Rostron recalled carrying a gun at all times during a voyage with real hard cases.

By 1912, Lightoller thought the practice was outdated, but in view of events on Titanic, maybe it wasn't.

Fourth Officer Lowe had his own Browning automatic because he thought it might come in handy one day. A number of passengers also had pistols.

Perhaps Captain Wood can tell us about the current practice.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I think you'll find that these days, any weapons on a ship are kept locked up. Captain Wood and I had this discussion last year. Weapons are generally issued only as needed, say if something goes down on a ship or there are extra hazards to worry about in a particular port.

When you get down to it, there are very good reasons to at least keep some firearms handy then and now. Even in this allegedly "enlightened" age, human nature hasn't changed one bit. If something happens, the Captain of a ship is a long way away from any sort of help and has precious few people he can really trust in a pinch. It's not like he can dial up 9-11 if a passanger gets nasty or pirates try to get aboard ship.

And don't laugh at the notion of modern day piracy. In the region of southeast asia, it's a very real and ugly problem. The CargoLaw Website documents incidents all the time.
 
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Alex McLean

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I do beleive you mean Fifth Officer, Dave
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Melissa E. Kalson

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Thanks everyone for the replies. I guess you're right Michael about 'human nature' being as it is. I was and have for the most part been opposed to having a handgun in my own home but after being robbed three times this year (the lastest just this morning), I am inclined to take gun safety classes and purchase and register a gun as the police here do absolutely nothing. So I can see your point about the captain of the ship and being at sea far away from any help. (It's bad enough for us folks on land.) Thanks once again.. Melissa K.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Nothing like learning the hard way to get an understanding of the problem. The difference between yourself and the captain of a ship is that if you call the police, eventually, they'll get there. Out at sea, even under the best of conditions, help can be hours away. This assumes there's a government station or warship nearby. Put somebody out in the middle of the ocean, and they might as well be on the Moon.

BTW, glad to hear your taking the gun safety classes. If you feel a need to do this, it pays to make sure you know what you're doing. Suggestion; Make sure you consult with your lawyer so you know and understand exactly what the laws are concerning the use of deadly force.

Also, make sure you can lock the thing up somewhere. Especially if you have children in the house. An ounce of prevention now can save you from a whopping tragedy later. (E-mail me if you wish to discuss this matter further as this is not really appropriate for this forum.)
 
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Robert W. Collier

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Michael,
Given how human nature has reared its ugly head, we now see the arming of our nations airline pilots. I do not know how it is currently on cruise ships, but I would figure they would be considering arming themselves better in light of September 11. Just my opinion, Captain Wood would certainly be the authority here.
Respectfully,
Robert W. Collier
 
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Robert W. Collier

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Michael,
Let me correct myself here, I mean that Captain Wood probably knows what is the current situation on his ships. You certainly are an authority given your experience at sea. Sorry if I slighted you.
Respectfully,
Robert W. Collier
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Melissa, so sorry to hear about your latest horrible experience.

I just wanted to drop in a note to say that not ONLY were some of the crew carrying fire arms but some of the passengers as well. Norman Chambers springs to mind - he even mentions his pistol in the U S Hearings.

Best regards,
Cook
 
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Richard Coplen

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I know that a loaded revolver was found on the body of second class passenger Mr. Michel Navratil, would anyone care to speculate as to why he carried one and for what reason he may have used it - i know he was kidnapping his two sons at the time - does anyone think he was expecting a run-in with the law???
 
Jul 9, 2000
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He might have....or he might have been taking steps to protect himself and his two boys against any assorted nasties he might run into along the way. Bear in mind that attitudes towards personal weapons were very different from what they are today. An armed man would not have been considered that unusual or even remarkable.
 

Inger Sheil

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Here's an interesting passage from Bisset about life on the Ultonia:

quote:

Sailing day came, and our eastbound passengers from New York streamed up the gangway. The third-class passengers were nearly all Italians, who had lived for some years in America, and were now returning to Italy to visit their parents or other relatives and friends. They were laden with gifts, and it was known that many of them carried revolvers. What better present to take to the old folks at home than an American Cold?

But, at the head of the gangway, the ship's police frisked every passenger and temporarily confiscated dozens of revolvers. There were agonized protests, but it was explained tha thte weapons would be handed back to their owners when the passengers disembarked at Naples. A numbered check-ticket was given for each revolver seized, and the duplicate chits put under the trigger. This was doen at the suggestion of the Italian Police in Naples, but the passengers were unaware of that. The Captain had the absolute right to refuse to admit armed persons on board. It was no use arguing, but very voluble arguments occured before the weapons were handed over.
Obviously this was a specific scenario for this particular run, but it's interesting to note the degree of leeway the captain had in allowing or disallowing weapons.​
 
May 3, 2002
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Mmm, Now how about those rockets then?
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Find a way to safely aim and fire them horizontally and they could do some damage to life and property.

seriously though I still remember what went down on the ACHILLE LAURO back in the mid 80's.
I am glad things where I am aren't so bad I need a gun in the house. We do have to lock our doors at night and when we go out and I still keep some of my Kendo gear but otherwise we are "unarmed"

Melissa we have been burgled twice and understand the feeling that someone has been through your personal spaces. keep well strive to be happy.
cheers

Martin
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>but it's interesting to note the degree of leeway the captain had in allowing or disallowing weapons. <<

Even more interesting to note how attitudes, official and unofficial, have changed since then.

1912: Gotta gun? No big deal, but we;ll lock it up for you. (Or just keep it to yourself. We don't wanna know.)

2004: Don't even think of bringing something aboard a public transport convayance of any kind that could even be thought of as kinda, maybe, sorta having a distant passing resemblance to something that might have been a weapon of any kind. Even if all it really is, is a cigarette lighter. Don't even discuss it or we'll subject you to a day long interrogation followed by a strip and body cavity search.
 

Inger Sheil

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Yah - a different world.

WSL official logs are full of terribly sad episodes. The preferred method of suicide at sea was to jump overboard, but there were exceptions. In one case I came across, a man asked his cabin mate to go and fetch the ship's doctor. By the time they returned, he had turned a gun on himself and killed himself.
 
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