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

Seumas

Seumas

Member
I understand what you are saying they need to clear the boat No1 so that boat C can be lowered. But letting the cutter boat sail away with so few on board. I am afraid Smith should made clear the boat should of stayed around to pick up more passengers. Much can be said for the same for other boats leaving half empty to. Smith knows there not enough boats to take all.
I can't believe I have to repeat myself yet again but here we go.

If they had kept Boat No. One any longer then there would not have been enough time to get away Collapsible C. They would have had to float C off the deck as a consequence which would have been hazardous and cost lives.

Keeping No. One around means denying Murdoch, Lowe and their AB's attention at other boats. They could not afford to hang around.

There is also doubt whether the two cutters really could have safely held forty adults. Twenty maximum is much more realistic.

Murdoch was entirely correct decision to clear No. One away when he did.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
The "Community must be using a different transcript from me, then, Thomas.
The timeline I refer to is the timeline as constructed by the writers of "On A Sea Of Glass" as well as Samuel Halpern, Mark Chirnside and another handful of researchers, most of these are here on this forum. I am aware from previous statements from you that you don't agree with a lot of the things on this timeline and made your own, with a lot of points the general consent doesn't agree with from what I've seen on this forum.
2. Ismay was on the bridge after impact, and Smith told him then, that it was serious. Shortly after that, the Chief Engineer told Ismay the same thing.
I am aware of that, I even mentioned it in my previous statement.
5 The only person who can order boat stations and clear the boats for embarkation is the captain.
I agree with that, and according to the earlier mentioned timeline captain Smith gave the order to do so. I never stated otherwise.
7 When Smith was doing his 'thing', the last idea in his mind was "Oh gosh - how lucky I am to have Andrews aboard." Andrews was a Supernumerary with a wandering remit which did not include working out Titanic's deteriorating condition. In fact, according to Ismay, he was more concerned with cabin layouts. The man simply gave his opinion based on knowledge. As far as I know, there is no record of Smith seeking him out for his opinion.
Thomas Andrews Jr was preoccupied with a number of matters on-board if one looks at his notes during the maiden voyage of the Olympic, these notes do not just mention passenger accommodation but several improvements for rooms such as the navigating bridge and a lot more matters which also relates to the crew. If you want to see them I would gladly supply these notes to you. It was Thomas Andrews Jr primary duty to oversee the performance of the Titanic on her maiden voyage, as he did with any large White Star Liner since the RMS Oceanic her maiden voyage in September 1899.

This included not just improvements for the accommodations as mentioned before. He regularly talked to high ranked crewmembers of the deck crew, engine crew, victualling crew and the staff of the á la carte restaurant, he even was good friends with high ranked crewmembers such as Dr. William O'Loughlin who he met on-board the Oceanic back in 1899 and ate at his table in the dining saloon nearly all every voyage he shared with him. Thomas Andrews Jr also had a blue surveyor he wore regularly when he went out to inspect certain areas below deck.

You are of-course referring to Ismay having dined with Thomas Andrews Jr on the 12th of April 1912 and told him that he noted that the reading and writing room wasn't that much used and proposed to remove the alcove and replace it with more staterooms.
8 Boat No.7 was loaded and launched before Lightoller got his order to load boats.
In the timeline I referred to before these two events are almost 15 minutes apart from one another (with the conversation in question happening near 12:20 and the lowering of lifeboat number 7 being at around 12:40).

As a matter of curiosity - what do the community" think Smith would have done if Titanic had survived her maiden voyage and this happened on the second one?
I cannot say what to think unless more demands are made (such as if the exact same happened and such).


I am sorry if I am a bit curt, I am feeling very unwell due some of my personal affairs.


Yours sincerely,


Thomas
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
The "Community must be using a different transcript from me, then, Thomas. because the evidence I am using states:
1 The Bosun piped the crew to boat stations about 10 minutes after impact.
2. Ismay was on the bridge after impact, and Smith told him then, that it was serious. Shortly after that, the Chief Engineer told Ismay the same thing.
3. When the lookouts left the nest 20 minutes after impact, the foc'sle was empty and the crew were already on the boat deck uncovering the boats.
4 20 minutes after (3), the relief lookouts saw the passengers and stewards on the boat decks wearing lifejackets.
5 The only person who can order boat stations and clear the boats for embarkation is the captain.
6. No sane captain would give such an order if he did not expect to follow through and load the boats.
7 When Smith was doing his 'thing', the last idea in his mind was "Oh gosh - how lucky I am to have Andrews aboard." Andrews was a Supernumerary with a wandering remit which did not include working out Titanic's deteriorating condition. In fact, according to Ismay, he was more concerned with cabin layouts. The man simply gave his opinion based on knowledge. As far as I know, there is no record of Smith seeking him out for his opinion.
8 Boat No.7 was loaded and launched before Lightoller got his order to load boats.
As a matter of curiosity - what do the community" think Smith would have done if Titanic had survived her maiden voyage and this happened on the second one?
2. Serious damage does not mean the ship is lost. There has many other case where ships are serious damage yet survived. Just remember Smith has never faced such a problem as this, or had a sea drill practice of a sinking ship. He has to apply caution here and convince himself that the ship is lost. He may give an order uncover the lifeboats and start to gather crew members to attend boats but that is only caution.
Andrews is the only one who has calculate the weight of the water will over whelm the ship buoyancy. That is a positive statement you cannot ignore. No doubt he was shocked to hear it and calculate that it was only an hour and half. I would of though any captain to hear that must of be stunned with a cold shiver down his back and speechless and left in deep thought. His head must of be buzzing with so many problems to face he was not train for. Just remember they thought the ship was unsinkable.
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
Cutter No2. was told to row around to the starboard side and await orders.
Jim are you talking about cutter boat No2 or No1? We say it was No1 await orders. If you where the captain wouldn't you be alarmed to see the boat sailing away knowing so few in the boat?
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
It might just be possible that Murdoch was hoping Boat No. 1 would later on be rescuing people from the water. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.
I think that Murdoch did hope that the earlier partially filled lifeboats like #7, #5 and #1 would later come closer to take on more people, including from the water. But it is possible that neither he nor anyone else expected how sudden and traumatic the break-up and final plunge would be. Even as late as 02:15 am the Titanic appeared to be sinking steadily but gradually. Then came that sudden loss of longitudinal stability, forward/downward lurch, the 'wave' that washed over several people, lights failure and break-up. Sam Halpern has described this very well in his Centennial Reappraisal book.
 
Last edited:
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
I may be of bit harsh what I expect of a captain duties, but that is part and parcel of his responsibility for the job and is highly paid for to. Yet at the same time I do see the situation Smith is facing. He has passed the standard age of retirement at 60 where it just the point you cannot think quick as a younger captain can. There is no shame in this its just the fact of life you are getting old. Life expectation in 1912 was 51.5. If are about 400 miles from land and in the middle of the night in the pitch dark and seeing the mountains of problems you are about to face and clearly crew members are not full trained for, he has a very serious problem on his hands.
I do feel sorry for this poor old captain. As for Andrews in his prime of life at 39 he can think and calculate at a quicker rate than Smith can. Been a top designer with ships he knows better than Smith to the point when the ship is lost.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I can't believe I have to repeat myself yet again but here we go.

If they had kept Boat No. One any longer then there would not have been enough time to get away Collapsible C. They would have had to float C off the deck as a consequence which would have been hazardous and cost lives.

Keeping No. One around means denying Murdoch, Lowe and their AB's attention at other boats. They could not afford to hang around.

There is also doubt whether the two cutters really could have safely held forty adults. Twenty maximum is much more realistic.

Murdoch was entirely correct decision to clear No. One away when he did.
Seumas, the problem that many have with getting their heads around lifeboat capacity problems is that they think in terms of a normal boat.

In fact, the capacity formula used for lifeboats was based on buoyancy and survivability of the boat itself. i.e. 40 10 stone people would weigh 560 lbs which is equal to 87.5 cubic feet of seawater. A cutter, floating at 2/3 depth would have displaced a total of around 250 cubic feet of seawater, so could quite easily have saved 40 people inside, and many more hanging onto the grab-lines becketed around the outside. Her is an example of what beckets looked like
 

Attachments

  • becket examples.jpg
    becket examples.jpg
    267.7 KB · Views: 14
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
You may be right that a cutter boat can take 40 on board, boy I would like to see this in real life, must of been pack in like sardines and with no room to row let a alone even consider putting up a sail.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
In fact, the capacity formula used for lifeboats was based on buoyancy and survivability of the boat itself. i.e. 40 10 stone people would weigh 560 lbs which is equal to 87.5 cubic feet of seawater. A cutter, floating at 2/3 depth would have displaced a total of around 250 cubic feet of seawater, so could quite easily have saved 40 people inside, and many more hanging onto the grab-lines becketed around the outside.
That is an interesting calculation. One has to suppose that the people on board the Titanic came in all shapes and sizes and there must have been many men and maybe a few women who weighed over 10 stone. But since most boats were initially loaded with women and children, the average weight was probably well under 10 stones per person to start with. IF men had been then allowed to fill the empty spaces, the mean weight would have moved closer to and maybe even slightly over 10 stone.

Taking those possibilities into consideration Jim, how many people in your estimation would it have been safe to launch via the davits
  1. The standard wooden lifeboat
  2. The two emergency cutters
  3. The 4 Englehardt Collapsible boats?
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
That is an interesting calculation. One has to suppose that the people on board the Titanic came in all shapes and sizes and there must have been many men and maybe a few women who weighed over 10 stone. But since most boats were initially loaded with women and children, the average weight was probably well under 10 stones per person to start with. IF men had been then allowed to fill the empty spaces, the mean weight would have moved closer to and maybe even slightly over 10 stone.

Taking those possibilities into consideration Jim, how many people in your estimation would it have been safe to launch via the davits
  1. The standard wooden lifeboat
  2. The two emergency cutters
  3. The 4 Englehardt Collapsible boats?
The size of the boat has nothing to do with it - It depend on the circumference of the manila rope used. Normally this would be common to all boats.
Deck Officers use a number of formulae depending on the construction and material used for ropes.
In the case of Titanic the lifeboat fall would have been of best Manila three strand RH lay. The strength of a rope is determined as follows:
SWL = Safe Working Load:
1: for continuous use.
2: for occasional use.
3. Ultimate Breaking strain.
4. Maximum shock load.
Due to the method of lowering - i.e. 'surging the lifeboat fall around a bollard -It is the fourth one we are concerned with - because any interruption of the lowering process causing a sudden jerk on the fall imposes a shock load at the point of restriction equal to the weight of the boat and it's contents. Seamanship Manuals recommended 1/6 of Ultimate strength of a manila rope to avoid breaking due to shock load.

To find the fourth, you must know the circumference of the lifeboat fall, how it is layed, and what it is made of.

Let us assume that Titanic's falls were 2.5 inch diameter Manila ropes. This means they had a circumference of 4.98 inches,. The formula for ultimate strength is Circumference squared divided by 3. This mean that in our example a 2.5 inch diameter manila rope would have an ultimate strength of 4.98 x 4.98 divided by 3 = 8 tons. However, to be safe against sudden jerks, the load should ideally be 1/6th of that = 1.3 tons which is totally impractical.
You could, of course increase the diameter to compensate, but then you would need mooring tope size falls which is nonsense, The designers of the lifeboat launching systems knew this as did the Officers on ships.
In 1912, lifeboat launching systems were still based on those designed for ships with single decks.
Consequently, the officers on passenger ships like Titanic were gambling if they lowered a fully loaded boat from any great height.
As for the answer to your question?

"How long is a piece of string?".
The same Seamanship Manual gives the safe working load of the rope in our example for continuous use as three times the circumference divided by seven

It might surprise you to know that shock loads were breaking lifeboat fall on vessels with modern wire systems as recently as the 1970s.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
As for the answer to your question?

"How long is a piece of string?"
OK, but please give your best estimate of the number of people (an 'average' mix of men, women and children) those 3 types of lifeboats could have safely held before launching as applied to the boats, falls, davits and everything else as available & applicable to the Titanic that night. That is what I'd like to have some idea of.
 
Jason D. Tiller

Jason D. Tiller

Staff member
Moderator
Member
Another manifestation of Iceblink can often be seen on a clear night at sea, and it involves different physics.

Unlike the kind you are referring to which reflects off the underside of clouds - above pack ice, there is invariably an inversion of temperature - i.e temperature is cold at the surface, but increases with height. Consequently, air temperature layers above the ice distort the reflected starlight, defusing it, and giving the appearance of s shimmering blanket over the ice, which at a distance, has the appearance of haze.
I see. Interesting information thank you, Jim.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
OK, but please give your best estimate of the number of people (an 'average' mix of men, women and children) those 3 types of lifeboats could have safely held before launching as applied to the boats, falls, davits and everything else as available & applicable to the Titanic that night. That is what I'd like to have some idea of.
The Lifeboat davits were designed to carry the weight of a fully loaded boat based on an internal weight of 19 tons for the stores and survivors and about 3 tons for the boat. say 22 Tons, so you can guess they were rated for about 25 tones. That would have been the test made by the builder after each set of davits was rivetted to the boat deck doubling plates.
The weight was suspended on a four fold purchase hooked to the underside of the davit head so five parts of 2.5 inch rope and a galvanised hook held the boat safely and fully loaded over the sea. No problem there. After that it is a pure guess which no professional would ever make..

This is the point, Arun - no one can give a 'best estimate'. for that particular situation or any other lifeboat launching operation in 1912.
It was even possible that when lowering the boats empty, it could have resulted in a rope break.
The case came down to the skill an coordination of those slackening off the falls. It had to be done smoothly - equally and evenly without any sudden jerks One simple jerk could have resulted in disaster.
The later, single drum wire fall release and lowering system is a direct result of this very problem.
That is why it is nonsense for present day "experts" to pontificate as to what should or should not have been done, a hundred odd years ago.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
The size of the boat has nothing to do with it - It depend on the circumference of the manila rope used. Normally this would be common to all boats.
Deck Officers use a number of formulae depending on the construction and material used for ropes.
In the case of Titanic the lifeboat fall would have been of best Manila three strand RH lay. The strength of a rope is determined as follows:
SWL = Safe Working Load:
1: for continuous use.
2: for occasional use.
3. Ultimate Breaking strain.
4. Maximum shock load.
Due to the method of lowering - i.e. 'surging the lifeboat fall around a bollard -It is the fourth one we are concerned with - because any interruption of the lowering process causing a sudden jerk on the fall imposes a shock load at the point of restriction equal to the weight of the boat and it's contents. Seamanship Manuals recommended 1/6 of Ultimate strength of a manila rope to avoid breaking due to shock load.

To find the fourth, you must know the circumference of the lifeboat fall, how it is layed, and what it is made of.

Let us assume that Titanic's falls were 2.5 inch diameter Manila ropes. This means they had a circumference of 4.98 inches,. The formula for ultimate strength is Circumference squared divided by 3. This mean that in our example a 2.5 inch diameter manila rope would have an ultimate strength of 4.98 x 4.98 divided by 3 = 8 tons. However, to be safe against sudden jerks, the load should ideally be 1/6th of that = 1.3 tons which is totally impractical.
You could, of course increase the diameter to compensate, but then you would need mooring tope size falls which is nonsense, The designers of the lifeboat launching systems knew this as did the Officers on ships.
In 1912, lifeboat launching systems were still based on those designed for ships with single decks.
Consequently, the officers on passenger ships like Titanic were gambling if they lowered a fully loaded boat from any great height.
As for the answer to your question?

"How long is a piece of string?".
The same Seamanship Manual gives the safe working load of the rope in our example for continuous use as three times the circumference divided by seven

It might surprise you to know that shock loads were breaking lifeboat fall on vessels with modern wire systems as recently as the 1970s.
Great post, Jim. Many thanks.

When would the officer's have learned the detail above, that is at which point of their career? Is it something Able Seamen would have learned as well?

Would they know the different diameters of ropes instinctively through experience or would they have a reference manual of sorts on board? I know it sounds a bit silly as we all kind of expect 1912 sailors to "just know" how to operate a new ship, but would they have received special training from the shipyard or would they have just absorbed knowledge of operations from senior colleagues as ship design advanced incrementally?

I can imagine a reference manual for rarely used equipment such as the method to move the collapsibles above the officers' quarters to the davits, and even the safe dispatch of lifeboats (similar to the checklist pilots have these days when faced with certain situations). Is there any evidence that H&W provided instructions for running an Olympic class ship? :)
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Great post, Jim. Many thanks.

When would the officer's have learned the detail above, that is at which point of their career? Is it something Able Seamen would have learned as well?

Would they know the different diameters of ropes instinctively through experience or would they have a reference manual of sorts on board? I know it sounds a bit silly as we all kind of expect 1912 sailors to "just know" how to operate a new ship, but would they have received special training from the shipyard or would they have just absorbed knowledge of operations from senior colleagues as ship design advanced incrementally?

I can imagine a reference manual for rarely used equipment such as the method to move the collapsibles above the officers' quarters to the davits, and even the safe dispatch of lifeboats (similar to the checklist pilots have these days when faced with certain situations). Is there any evidence that H&W provided instructions for running an Olympic class ship? :)
Thank you Sam.
In the ealy days, many ABs could not read or write, hhowever, as time progressed, the BoT started traing Deck Boys . Eventally Deck hands sat and were tested in formal examinations and issued certificates. The level of knowledge required was not as high as an Officer.
Also in the early days, lads went to sea and worked up to become an officer, but it did not preclude them having to sit and pass formal examinations including Seamanship.
At the time of Titanic, a Deck Apprentice would have been able to perform the same calcuations I did.
As for measuring rope? They did have little boxwood rope gauges much like a Stilson wrench with a brass plate engraved with diameters.
However, the 1 inch adult thumb was, even in my day, used a lot. This involved using a piece of spunyarn to measure the circumference then using your thumb to measure the length of the yarn representing the circumference hence the term "rule of thumb"..
addendum;

I forgot to answer part of your question..
The Officers on Titanic all held a Master Mariner Certificate. This was only awarded by the UK Government to those who had passed formal written and oral examinations in the following subjects:
Maths
English
Navigation
Chartwork
Cargo Work
Ship Construction and Stability.
Engineering
Meteorology.
Electricity and Magnetism
Seamanship
Rule of the Road.
The examinations lasted over 5 days and were held at theMoT officer
 
Last edited:
Top