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

Tony Francombe

Tony Francombe

Member
The fact is that on the night Titanic struck an iceberg two other ships (Californian and Mount Temple) took precautions based on the same information that was available to Titanic. One anchored for the night and the other deviated to the south until clear of the icefield before resuming course to her destination (St. John); both ships had less experienced Masters than Titanic.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

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Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

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The fact is that on the night Titanic struck an iceberg two other ships (Californian and Mount Temple) took precautions based on the same information that was available to Titanic. One anchored for the night and the other deviated to the south until clear of the icefield before resuming course to her destination (St. John); both ships had less experienced Masters than Titanic.
I would agree what you are saying, but that anchored for the night? Must of been the longest chain in the world at 12,500ft!
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
The fact is that on the night Titanic struck an iceberg two other ships (Californian and Mount Temple) took precautions based on the same information that was available to Titanic. One anchored for the night and the other deviated to the south until clear of the icefield before resuming course to her destination (St. John); both ships had less experienced Masters than Titanic.
I think you should read the evidence again, Tony.
1. No one anchored that night...it is 12,500 feet deep in that area. (some chain locker!).
2. Californian was sailing along the 42nd parallel and had a warning of ice right on her track. Despite that, her captain did not avoid it, but entered it at full speed. He did not slow down, despite ship to ship warnings of ice a head of him and actually sighting ice bergs.
3. Mount Temple's captain had a similar warning of ice. but at 41-25'North, so he gave it a 5 mile margin and headed down for 41-20'North. This indicates that like everyone else, her captain obviously expected that ice ( which was 35 miles south of Californian's ice) to move eastward and northward from its last know position. He did not reduce speed and only did so at the very last moment when he sighted ice, and that was after 3 am that morning - around the time Rostron sighted ice. (The latter did not slow down).
4. Like the captain of the Californian, Captain Smith received one message containing a 2 day-old, second hand reference to ice containing coordinates of latitude and longitude along the 42.nd parallel. It was 10 to 12 miles north of his intended track. The second (Baltic)message was not an ice warning, but a second hand reference to ice contained within a general message and containing the coordinates of the ship reporting it - not the actual ice. These ships had a visible horizon of 8 t0 10 miles. so bergs would have been clearly seen in daylight, at very great distances.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
As described by Stanley Lord in his 1959 affidavit:

"On 14th April, the noon position by observation was 42° 05' N., 47° 25' W., and course was altered to North 61° West (magnetic) to make due West (true). I steered this course to make longitude 51° West in latitude 42° North on account of ice reports which had been received (Exhibits A and B).

At 8 p.m. I doubled the lookouts, there being a man in the crow's nest and another on the focs'le head.

At 8.5 p.m. I took charge on the bridge myself, the Third Officer, Mr. C. V. Groves, also being on duty. The weather was calm, clear and starry."

As far as speed goes, Californian was an 11 knot ship; Titanic was a 22 knot ship. Decision time cut in half.

In contrast, what did Smith do? After discussing current seeing conditions and the possible difficulty of seeing icebergs because of the lack of water breaking around the base, around 9:30pm Smith tells Lightoller, his OOW at the time, “If it becomes at all doubtful let me know at once; I will be just inside.”
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
Had Smith ever considered the crash stopping distance for Titanic at 22 knots? As for Californian weight at 6,223 and Titanic 46,323. Therefore what ever speed the lighter ship can crash stop at a shorter distance.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
As described by Stanley Lord in his 1959 affidavit:

"On 14th April, the noon position by observation was 42° 05' N., 47° 25' W., and course was altered to North 61° West (magnetic) to make due West (true). I steered this course to make longitude 51° West in latitude 42° North on account of ice reports which had been received (Exhibits A and B).

At 8 p.m. I doubled the lookouts, there being a man in the crow's nest and another on the focs'le head.

At 8.5 p.m. I took charge on the bridge myself, the Third Officer, Mr. C. V. Groves, also being on duty. The weather was calm, clear and starry."

As far as speed goes, Californian was an 11 knot ship; Titanic was a 22 knot ship. Decision time cut in half.

In contrast, what did Smith do? After discussing current seeing conditions and the possible difficulty of seeing icebergs because of the lack of water breaking around the base, around 9:30pm Smith tells Lightoller, his OOW at the time, “If it becomes at all doubtful let me know at once; I will be just inside.”
...and your point is?

By 8 pm Lord had already sighted 6 begs and had been getting updated by a Company ship ahead of him on the same course
Lord's reduction in speed had sod-all to do with caution - he was saving coal, and you know it.
You quote his Noon latitude which you do not believe or you do not believe his 8 pm latitude. Yet he altered course to make sure he was on the latitude where the ice was seen.

His alteration in course was also nothing to do with the ice as he plainly tell said in that interview.

As for Smith? He arrived on the bridge just after 9 pm:
"16925. At what intervals did he come on the bridge?
- The first that I remember seeing of Captain Smith was somewhere in the vicinity of 9 o'clock, but from 9 o'clock to the time of the collision, Captain Smith was around there the whole of the time; I was talking to him on one or two occasions."
Now why do you think he was hanging around at that time?
Smith relied on young eyes and he had three sets of them dedicated to looking out for danger, and another two sets of them in the chartroom if circumstanced indicated that they were needed.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
...and your point is?
Smith had options which I will not repeat. He decided, however, not to do anything different than what he would have done if there were no reports of ice ahead. Yet, others like Lord and Moore did take other measures. Lord decided to not head straight for Boston after his noon sight but to head down to 42°N until 51°W. He also posted an addition lookout and stayed on the bridge once it started to get really dark. Moore headed further south to get around the reported ice. Point is, some masters thought additional precautionary measures were warranted. Smith did not.
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
Even captain Rostron took safety precautions by having more lookouts and he was on the bridge at all times.
With his reduce speed as to Titanic had the advantage to see icebergs sooner. Also with his lighter ship he was in a better place to dodge the bergs, or to crash stop the ship at a shorter distance.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
If you include the Captain, Titanic had double the number of bridge officers when compared to The Californian.

The Californian's Captain took all necessary precautions and stayed on the bridge with his 3rd officer. Warnings were sent via the Marconi apparatus to other ships of the sighting of icebergs.

I don't believe Lightholler's account of his conversation with Captain Smith lasted nearly half an hour as he claimed. Read it out loud. It takes a few minutes.

Then at the watch change at 10pm we have just Murdoch and Moody and Boxhall 'in charge' and on watch. It looks like 3 officers available. But Boxhall, by his own admission, never ventured onto the bridge to assist Murdoch or Moody, and at the critical moment only Murdoch was on the bridge.

On the Carpathia, Rostron shared a watch with 2nd Officer Bissett just prior to the receipt of the CQD, by which time they had both retired for the night, but then did a double watch if not considerably more.

One thing I might add as a bit of a throw in - the description of icebergs in the latter part of the Carpathia's rescue dash, and the description of the many icebergs seen when it was daylight. The Californian corroborates this, and there are other sources of corroboration.

The 'fancy' that Titanic struck a lonely solitary iceberg is (it seems to me) to contradict other evidence that there were numerous other icebergs of various sizes in the vicinity.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I don't believe Lightholler's account of his conversation with Captain Smith lasted nearly half an hour as he claimed.
I have never believed that part of Lightoller's testimony. Captain Smith almost certainly did excuse himself from the Widener's party table at around 20:55 hours and went to the bridge. But IMO he probably spent around 5 to 7 minutes there with Lightoller and it was somewhere during that time that Boxhall emerged briefly from the chart room to see the two men together.

To me, the big question is, when he came to the bridge, did Captain Smith give Lightoller the Baltic's ice message, which, until then was still in his pocket? If not, what happened to it? By all accounts, it was not posted in the chart room; had it been, Murdoch and Moody would have seen it when they came on duty about an hour later. Since Boxhall survived and made no allusion to the Baltic's ice warning, one has to assume that he did not know about it.

So, if Lightoller was grossly exaggerating - which I believe that he was - when he claimed that Captain Smith spent around 30 minutes on the bridge with him, one has to wonder WHY?
 
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Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
Reading all the about comments it becomes clear that Smith did not have 100% control over his ship.
His leadership was not up to scratch. Ice warnings from wireless room where not been delivered ASAP to the bridge. Failed to check on the cockup with the junior offices of incorrect navigation position, Boxhall was not on the bridge as should be. Murdoch in charge was on the wing of the bridge leaving the centre point of command untended. Smith the most experience and highest pay captain in the world, with some of those ice warnings should of know better of icefield ahead in the pitch dark, therefore need to slow the ship down and put on extra lookout. I am afraid if there was ever a high court case against Smith of his leadership he would not too well.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Smith had options which I will not repeat. He decided, however, not to do anything different than what he would have done if there were no reports of ice ahead. Yet, others like Lord and Moore did take other measures. Lord decided to not head straight for Boston after his noon sight but to head down to 42°N until 51°W. He also posted an addition lookout and stayed on the bridge once it started to get really dark. Moore headed further south to get around the reported ice. Point is, some masters thought additional precautionary measures were warranted. Smith did not.

Lord did not, as you declare "decide not to head straight for Boson"
. At Noon that day. He found his ship was 5 miles north of his planned track, consequently, he made a minor adjustment to his course to bring him back onto it.
"Parallel Sailing " wasn't just a maths formula. Do you know why he did that? :rolleyes:

Do you expect us to believe that if icebergs had been seen from the bridge of Titanic before dark, that Smith would have remained in his cabin or have even considered the idea of dining with the passengers? Really?:eek:

The point is - every captain "had options" and took action according to his particular circumstances.
You and others are suggesting that Smith took the wrong option simply because his ship hit an iceberg which he could never have known was there and had no indication to suggest to him that it would be there. That is totally illogical, Being wise after the event is fine - but be wise. ;)
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Murdoch in charge was on the wing of the bridge leaving the centre point of command untended.
No. Incorrect.

Murdoch was still on the bridge. The wing bridge is still part of the same structure. He was exactly where he was supposed to be.

In fact, Murdoch may* have seen the ice a couple of seconds sooner than Fleet and Lee because of where he was standing at the moment of the sighting.

*Historians do not all agree on this admittedly.
 
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