Were the lookouts distracted?


Dan Kappes

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Sep 26, 2018
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Apple Valley, Minnesota, United States
In James Cameron's film, the lookouts are briefly distracted by the sight of Jack & Rose making out on the well deck, thus preventing them from seeing the iceberg in time.

If the lookouts were distracted by something on deck in real life, they could've chosen to keep silent about it during the inquiries if they were feeling personal guilt for causing the disaster. Maybe that's why Frederick Fleet later hanged himself.
 

Kas01

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May 24, 2018
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Probably not. There would have been severe light discipline breaches if they were actually able to see anything on the well deck or fo'c'sle.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
There is no evidence that they were distracted by anything. Some of the crew might have cause to be there for some odd reason but closing in on midnight and with the freezing conditions, any passengers would be comfortably in much warmer spaces and cabins.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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In James Cameron's film, the lookouts are briefly distracted by the sight of Jack & Rose making out on the well deck, thus preventing them from seeing the iceberg in time.

If the lookouts were distracted by something on deck in real life, they could've chosen to keep silent about it during the inquiries if they were feeling personal guilt for causing the disaster. Maybe that's why Frederick Fleet later hanged himself.
The Captain of the nearby ship Californian said:

"When I came off the bridge, at 10:30, I pointed out to the officer that I thought I saw a light coming along, and it was a most peculiar light, and we had been making mistakes all along with the stars, thinking they were signals. We could not distinguish where the sky ended and where the water commenced.........It was a very deceiving night. That is all I can say about that."

If the crew on the Californian were making mistakes about the stars on the horizon then perhaps the Titanic's lookouts had similar trouble. If the Californian could see the Titanic an hour before the collision, then one must assume the Titanic could see the Californian, especially as the Titanic's crowsnest was much higher and the smaller ship would come into view much sooner. Perhaps when the lookouts rang the bell the officer already had his binoculars focused on the other ship and he was trying to determine her bearing and if she had stopped on account of the ice reports, and when the officer heard the bell and took the binoculars away from his eyes he temporarily lost focus because his eyes had to adjust to the object now sighted directly ahead of their ship. By the time he regained focus and realized what it was, it was too late.


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Athlen

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Apr 14, 2012
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About Fleet, I don't believe his death was related to Titanic. He hanged himself at the age of 77, shortly after his wife died and his brother-in-law evicted him from his house. He worked as a lookout after the disaster -- and he even worked as a lookout on Olympic. That means long nights of the exact same view he saw a minute before the iceberg appeared. If he was deeply traumatized by Titanic's loss, or if he felt guilty, to the point that it drove him to suicide more than 50 years after the sinking, his post-Titanic career at sea doesn't reflect it.

Reginald Lee, the other lookout in the crow's nest during the collision, did have an untimely death; he succumbed to pneumonia in August 1913.

Were the forward well deck lights turned off at night? I know the forecastle lights were, and I know everything was supposed to be dark forward of the bridge, but I haven't seen the forward well deck mentioned specifically. I'm curious because of the stories of third class passengers kicking around chunks of ice in the forward well deck.
 

duke4172

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Jun 10, 2016
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I doubt they were distracted but the night the Titanic hit the iceberg was a bitterly cold night and the fog would have been terriable because the water was not as warm as the surrounding air and I bet the berg was not seen until the last minute like we see in the movie!
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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I would of thought the most serious distraction was the weather at -2-3 degrees. The time you have added the wind chilled factor of a ship doing 22 knots that's -12 degrees been blasted into your face. More concern in trying to keep your self warm that looking out. Cold air hitting a warm eyeball only make your eyes become watery giving a blurred vision.
What finished of lookouts was age, as they required an eye test certificate issue from the Board of Trade for one - two years. As for Fred & Lee there was a question if there certificates was still valid before setting sail on Titanic. But as for Fred his eye sight can't been that bad as did sail on the Olympic after the Titanic loss.