Who was the most negligent Captain on the night of the Titanic disaster?

Jim Currie

Member
Jim I think you are a bit harsh on Rostron. As I respect you as a highly qualified seaman passing your master marine exams. Just like Rostron you went through rank and file to become a captain which I can see is a fine achievement. Your contribution to ET from the sharp end is a of great interested, but you do have a habit just going over the top at times when questioned.
As for Rostron he becomes the most decorated Cunard captain and finally the Commodore of the fleet which is quite an outstanding achievement.
After Titanic disaster he is awarded.
Congressional Medal from USA Congress.
The American Cross of Honour.
Freedom of New York City.
Decorated by the French and Hungarian Governments.
Knighted by King George V
Now he is found guilty braking law by using distress signals when not in distress, do you think for one moment this high ranking profile persons would ever be in a position to award him with those awards?
As I seeing the reply from Julian makes an interesting point. If its considered braking the law to safe lives that is acceptable. As an outside seamen myself I thought he did take safety percussion seriously.
Jim I ask you if you were in the same position as Rostron was, what would you done different?
I was also a Marine Accident Investigator for Lloyd's Underwrites, Mike. If you mean by "over the top" that I explain things in detail, then I plead guilty as charged. I cannot help it if my explanations are way over your head. If you, or others make accusations or wide , unqualified statements, then don't expect me to agree with you or them.
The awards have nothing to do with his actions as a seaman that morning and this is what this thread is about.
I wish you would read what you write before posting it.
Rostron was not found guilty of anything, nor was anyone else involved in the Titanic saga.
What I would have done is neither here nor there, since I am not the one under the microscope.
But guess who said this, and he WAS there:
" I thought of sending rockets up, but I thought it far better to let it alone, because if other ships - they thought they saw them - might be coming to me, and I had not seen anything of the Titanic and did not know exactly where she was; because I think, after all, the Titanic was farther east than she gave her position, or, in fact, I am certain she was."
 
I was also a Marine Accident Investigator for Lloyd's Underwrites, Mike. If you mean by "over the top" that I explain things in detail, then I plead guilty as charged. I cannot help it if my explanations are way over your head. If you, or others make accusations or wide , unqualified statements, then don't expect me to agree with you or them.
The awards have nothing to do with his actions as a seaman that morning and this is what this thread is about.
I wish you would read what you write before posting it.
Rostron was not found guilty of anything, nor was anyone else involved in the Titanic saga.
What I would have done is neither here nor there, since I am not the one under the microscope.
But guess who said this, and he WAS there:
" I thought of sending rockets up, but I thought it far better to let it alone, because if other ships - they thought they saw them - might be coming to me, and I had not seen anything of the Titanic and did not know exactly where she was; because I think, after all, the Titanic was farther east than she gave her position, or, in fact, I am certain she was."
Jim thanks for your reply. We may beg to differ or not on Rostron achievements. However the the last paragraph. Did not exactly know were Titanic was! Surely they have been given the position though was wrong, that is not Rostron to blame for. You think it far better not to send up rockets. If that was the case,
what was the chance of finding ship or survivors in time?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Jim thanks for your reply. We may beg to differ or not on Rostron achievements. However the the last paragraph. Did not exactly know were Titanic was! Surely they have been given the position though was wrong, that is not Rostron to blame for. You think it far better not to send up rockets. If that was the case,
what was the chance of finding ship or survivors in time?
I think I am wasting my time with you, Mike. Is English your first language?

This is my last answer to your posts.

1. The ships with good navigators headed for the given position which was wrong. They did not know it was wrong.
2. Rostron headed for the wrong position but arrived at the right one, therefore his navigation was bad .
3. It is only right to send up rockets of distress when you are in distress, otherwise, ships will come to your and change their original direction which. in the case of ships going to rescue someone, is criminal... not just wrong.
4. If a ship heading for someone in distress is diverted to someone using a distress signal in the wrong way, then those who are really in distress will possibly die because the recue ship was diverted.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
 
I think I am wasting my time with you, Mike. Is English your first language?

This is my last answer to your posts.

1. The ships with good navigators headed for the given position which was wrong. They did not know it was wrong.
2. Rostron headed for the wrong position but arrived at the right one, therefore his navigation was bad .
3. It is only right to send up rockets of distress when you are in distress, otherwise, ships will come to your and change their original direction which. in the case of ships going to rescue someone, is criminal... not just wrong.
4. If a ship heading for someone in distress is diverted to someone using a distr

I think I am wasting my time with you, Mike. Is English your first language?

This is my last answer to your posts.

1. The ships with good navigators headed for the given position which was wrong. They did not know it was wrong.
2. Rostron headed for the wrong position but arrived at the right one, therefore his navigation was bad .
3. It is only right to send up rockets of distress when you are in distress, otherwise, ships will come to your and change their original direction which. in the case of ships going to rescue someone, is criminal... not just wrong.
4. If a ship heading for someone in distress is diverted to someone using a distress signal in the wrong way, then those who are really in distress will possibly die because the recue ship was diverted.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
Jim I have just one more question. If Carpathia has calculated Titanic CQD position is about 58 miles away and will take about 4 hour to get there. That means going through the icefield west which is an unknow danger factor. Jim do you think Rostron had taken in account the danger of crossing the icefield for his four hour estimated time?
 
I suggest Jim that you look a bit closer at the evidence. The timing of the distress rockets fired by the Carpathia is recorded both by the Caronia then the Mount Temple. It was as I understand it a general alert to other ships. I don't myself believe that personally Rostron thought that by circa 3.15am on the 15th Titanic had not sunk, and we have no evidence whatsoever that the warning of rockets being fired was directed to Titanic which had been out of wireless communication with the Carpathia by then for some 1 hour 20 minutes.

I grant you that we do not have the vital Marconigram Service Forms for this from the Carpathia, despite much else surviving as Marconigram Service Forms surviving from the Carpathia.

You would have thought that Rostron, with Cottam having told the USA Inquiry that he had left the CQD message on his desk on the Carpathia, once Cottam was detained in the USA might have done a bit of a better job to save vital evidence.

Obviously, those who for sure saw the Carpathia's distress rockets were Stone and Gibson on The Californian. Gibson saw more than Stone. Neither reported these further signals at the time to their Captain.

Captain Rostron took many risks that night, and gave an account that was riven with errors and mistakes, but ultimately he got there safely and rescued the survivors. That is not negligence legally. It had no adverse consequences.
 

Jim Currie

Member
I suggest Jim that you look a bit closer at the evidence. The timing of the distress rockets fired by the Carpathia is recorded both by the Caronia then the Mount Temple. It was as I understand it a general alert to other ships. I don't myself believe that personally Rostron thought that by circa 3.15am on the 15th Titanic had not sunk, and we have no evidence whatsoever that the warning of rockets being fired was directed to Titanic which had been out of wireless communication with the Carpathia by then for some 1 hour 20 minutes.

I grant you that we do not have the vital Marconigram Service Forms for this from the Carpathia, despite much else surviving as Marconigram Service Forms surviving from the Carpathia.

You would have thought that Rostron, with Cottam having told the USA Inquiry that he had left the CQD message on his desk on the Carpathia, once Cottam was detained in the USA might have done a bit of a better job to save vital evidence.

Obviously, those who for sure saw the Carpathia's distress rockets were Stone and Gibson on The Californian. Gibson saw more than Stone. Neither reported these further signals at the time to their Captain.

Captain Rostron took many risks that night, and gave an account that was riven with errors and mistakes, but ultimately he got there safely and rescued the survivors. That is not negligence legally. It had no adverse consequences.
I have taken your advice, Julian and re-examined the sworn evidence.

Rostron very clearly said:-
At 20 minutes to 3, I saw the green flare, which is the White Star Company's night signal, and naturally, knowing I must be at least 20 miles away, I thought it was the ship herself still. It was showing just for a few seconds and I passed the remark that she must still be afloat. In the meantime I had been firing rockets and the Company's signals every time we saw this green light again"


From the evidence, I should think it plain to any reasonable person that Rostron thought Titanic was still afloat; consequently, he was firing these rockets in response to the sighting of the green flare. - not as you 'understand it' - in general for the benefit of other ships. That idea to a professional would be viewed as irresponsible to say the least.

As for what Gibson and Stone saw? For sure it was Carpathia's rockets. However if they were truthful that they saw them on their horizon, then that clearly vindicates Captain Lord's evidence regarding separation distance. But that is unacceptable to the evidence-bending fraternity.

Leaving legal niceties out of it, Julian- Rostron was the most professionally negligent captain at the time and that is the answer to the question posed by this thread.

We had two separate Inquiries, - each loaded to the gunwales with 'legal eagles' and only the actions (or inactions) of one captain were judged to be negligent and these were those of Lord of the Californian - The Scapegoat.
The US Inquiry expressed an opinion about the Californian,
"her officers and crew saw the distress signals of the Titanic and failed to respond to them in accordance with the dictates of humanity, international usage, and the requirements of law."
In fact Lord complied with international understanding of such a situation and the law concerning it, to the letter.
They did have a little to say about Captain Smith:
" his indifference to danger was one of the direct and contributing causes of this unnecessary tragedy.
However, they passed the buck:
"We shall leave to the honest judgment of England its painstaking chastisement of the British Board of Trade, to whose laxity of regulation and hasty inspection the world is largely indebted for this awful fatality.

The UK lot were a bit more specific , but again, passed the buck - directly to Lord.
Have a look at the amended wording of Q24 posed by the UK Government and the manner in which it was answered:
" Q(b.) What vessels had the opportunity of rendering assistance to the "Titanic" and, if any, how was it that assistance did not reach the "Titanic" before the ss. "Carpathia" arrived?
A: (b.)The "Californian." She could have reached the "Titanic" if she had made the attempt when she saw the first rocket. She made no attempt."

The question was two part beginning with "what vessels" - plural. but the answer ignored any other vessel and zeroed-in on Californian. But that is another bone of contention as you very well know.

According to the Marconi Operator on Carpathia - he was too busy to keep records but was engaged in acting as a go-between for Phillips and other ships. yet there is no record of this anywhere. If you believe that and a lot more that was said by Rostron and his Operator Durrant, then you believe in Faeries.

My personal belief is that rather than challenge original findings based on a proper analysis of all available evidence - too many Titanic 'historians' (with a small initial letter) attempt to dot the eyes and cross the tees for those who made these original conclusions. However, to do so, they must "squeeze into a size too small for them." i.e do as was done originally.. make the evidence fit by bending, manipulating and selectively disregarding. If you add to this a propensity for romance, gossip, and public opinion, then it is an up-hill battle.
 
Its back to the definition of Negligent as in the English dictionary. Just some of the definitions:
Not being careful
Giving enough attention to people
Thinks that are your responsibility
Someone in a position of responsibility
They do not do something which they ought to do.
Captain Rostron took safety precaution before entering the icefield with extra lookouts for sharp version and was on the bridge at all times. Captain Lord and Moore also took safety precaution of the icefield to. Therefore are not in that category of negligent. With great regret I can not say the same for captain Smith as his safety precaution behand was a poor standard. With no extra lookouts, didn't slow the ship down, didn't check for correct navigation position and wasn't on the bridge at the time when approaching the icefield. When you look at all other ships coming to the rescue how come they to never run into an iceberg.
The only grey area of the law was Rostron using distress signal rockets when not in distress Did that count as negligent or just breaking the law?
 
The only grey area of the law was Rostron using distress signal rockets when not in distress Did that count as negligent or just breaking the law?
IMO, it wasn't negligence Mike. Rostron had a stated reason for doing what he did, but he probably thought it was worth the risk, especially since it was mitigated somewhat by having Cottam inform other vessels equipped with wireless as to what he was doing. IMO, negligence is when you take a risk without knowing that you are taking a risk. Rostron knew the risks he was taking, including risking the lives of his own passengers and crew once ice was sighted.
 

Jim Currie

Member
IMO, it wasn't negligence Mike. Rostron had a stated reason for doing what he did, but he probably thought it was worth the risk, especially since it was mitigated somewhat by having Cottam inform other vessels equipped with wireless as to what he was doing. IMO, negligence is when you take a risk without knowing that you are taking a risk. Rostron knew the risks he was taking, including risking the lives of his own passengers and crew once ice was sighted.
Sam, that answer of yours is known in Glasgow parlance as "As a stoater". It would also have had you thrown out of the Orals part of the examination for Master Mariner (FG).
Rostron did not stop to think about the effect that action would have on the minds of others seeing these rockets. read the evidence of Captain James Moore and try and think outside wireless.
According to Rostron, he set off at enhanced maximum speed - why? Titanic was only 58 miles away and initially, there was no request for speed...just help.
Rostron had no right in law to take a risk -whether balanced or otherwise - with the safety of the souls on board his ship The rules then and today were and are very clear on that subject.
IMO Neglegence is when you neglect to consider fully, all possible outcomes of all actions available to you, then, despite the evidence of clear and present danger, you take actions that necessitate risk to the lives of those who have no input into your deliberations.
 
IMO Neglegence is when you neglect to consider fully, all possible outcomes of all actions available to you, then, despite the evidence of clear and present danger, you take actions that necessitate risk to the lives of those who have no input into your deliberations.
Did Rostron really neglect to consider fully all possible outcomes? I believe he did not neglect anything, but thought that the actions he had taken reduced the possibility of a bad outcome.
 
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Sam, that answer of yours is known in Glasgow parlance as "As a stoater". It would also have had you thrown out of the Orals part of the examination for Master Mariner (FG).
Rostron did not stop to think about the effect that action would have on the minds of others seeing these rockets. read the evidence of Captain James Moore and try and think outside wireless.
According to Rostron, he set off at enhanced maximum speed - why? Titanic was only 58 miles away and initially, there was no request for speed...just help.
Rostron had no right in law to take a risk -whether balanced or otherwise - with the safety of the souls on board his ship The rules then and today were and are very clear on that subject.
IMO Neglegence is when you neglect to consider fully, all possible outcomes of all actions available to you, then, despite the evidence of clear and present danger, you take actions that necessitate risk to the lives of those who have no input into your deliberations.
According to Rostron, he set off at enhanced maximum speed - why? Titanic was only 58 miles away and initially, there was no request for speed...just help.
Rostron had no right in law to take a risk -whether balanced or otherwise - with the safety of the souls on board his ship The rules then and today were and are very clear on that subject.

If they are receiving messages like: Come at once we struck a berg, require assistance immediately ,we are putting passengers off in small boats, engine room flooded. As an outsider that tell me Captain Rostron needs all the speed to get there ASAP.
With safety in mind he took on a calculator risk by adding extra lookouts and was on the bridge at all times. I see it he wasn't careless or irresponsible therefore cannot be negligent for his action.
 
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Jim Currie

Member
Did Rostron really neglect to consider fully all possible outcomes? I believe he did not neglect anything, but thought that the actions he had taken reduced the possibility of a bad outcome.
When a ship sends out a distress call, it does not automatically mean she is in dire circumstances. A distress call is always an urgent request for help. In fact, if we are to believe the Carpathia wireless operator, he was simply told Titanic was in distress and asked to come at once - no detail. - just that she needed immediate assistance.
IMO, Rostron charged into "the fire" before ascertaining the severity of it and by sheer luck rather than intent - arrived, undamaged at the right place. As for his daft distress signals - in what way did they reduce "the possibility of a bad outcome"?
If truth be known, the answer as to why he set off as he did was all to do with £££-$$$ = Salvage money. He had no idea of the extent of the damage to Titanic.
I know this idea will be received with outrage by romanticists but if you remember, It was Lord who pointed out that "dream".
 

Jim Currie

Member
According to Rostron, he set off at enhanced maximum speed - why? Titanic was only 58 miles away and initially, there was no request for speed...just help.
Rostron had no right in law to take a risk -whether balanced or otherwise - with the safety of the souls on board his ship The rules then and today were and are very clear on that subject.

If they are receiving messages like: Come at once we struck a berg, require assistance immediately ,we are putting passengers off in small boats, engine room flooded. As an outsider that tell me Captain Rostron needs all the speed to get there ASAP.
With safety in mind he took on a calculator risk by adding extra lookouts and was on the bridge at all times. I see it he wasn't careless or irresponsible therefore cannot be negligent for his action.
Nonsense!
Rostron started off without any idea how bad the situation was. He was initially told that Titanic was in distress and to come at once. Read the evidence in full, Mike.
You cannot depend on the evidence of Carpathia's wireless man. In New York he stated the distress call was "Mr. COTTAM...He said, "Come at once. It is a distress message; C. Q. D." No mention of positions at that time.
However in tne UK, he changes that to "- She said, "Come at once; we have struck a berg," and sent his position, and then he sent C.Q.D." He even changed the times of hearing these messages.
This man was an abject liar or in fear of something, because he was not very good at it.

However, If you would all look at the pv of the Olympic, which incidentally was a long way off and Captain Smith knew this - you will see that at 11-20 pm EST well over an hour after hitting the iceberg, Titanic was telling them to get their boats ready. That was the first indication of how serious the situation was. The time on Carpathia was then 1-06 am and she had been running at excess full speed for at least 30 minute.
Twenty minutes after that came the "putting women in children in boats" message. Only then would the enormity of the situation become obvious.
At no time, did the operator on Titanic use the word "sinking" n his communications with Olympic.
THINK!
 
Jim I can't understand why you are so ante Rostron. You sound like a politician who rather argue about the fine points of life. By hook and crook Rostron done the job rescuing 700 without any loss to himself and no damage to the ship. Sod all the back chat and insults to the man. If the rescue people heard you taking about a chancer captain, no doubt the lynch mob would be out there after after your blood.
If he was such a lousy captain wasn't he prosecuted?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Jim I can't understand why you are so ante Rostron. You sound like a politician who rather argue about the fine points of life. By hook and crook Rostron done the job rescuing 700 without any loss to himself and no damage to the ship. Sod all the back chat and insults to the man. If the rescue people heard you taking about a chancer captain, no doubt the lynch mob would be out there after after your blood.
If he was such a lousy captain wasn't he prosecuted?
You cannot understand, Mike, because you are incapable of doing so. This thread was not entitled " Who was the most gallant captain " on the night.
PS I threw my rose-coloured glasses away a very long time ago and I do not subscribe to the "Californian way of life"
 
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