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

Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
The whole purpose why lifeboats are built is for survival. After Smith knew the ship was lost his number priory becomes to save lives. The mistakes he has made by not making clear to his officers that no boat will leave with empty seats. Which resulted within over 400 empty seats.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
,The whole purpose why lifeboats are built is for survival. After Smith knew the ship was lost his number priory becomes to save lives. The mistakes he has made by not making clear to his officers that no boat will leave with empty seats. Which resulted within over 400 empty seats.
You make these bland statements, Mike.
Would it surprise you to know, that not including crew members to man them, there were little over 50 seats available for passengers in each of the main boats? That's 700 bums on seats
 
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Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
So what are lifeboats built for?
That is not the point, Mike You made the statement:
"The mistakes he has made by not making clear to his officers that no boat will leave with empty seats. Which resulted within over 400 empty seats."
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
Jim your self been an experience sea captain and have no choice to abandon ship. What is the most important and responsible thing to do as a captain?
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Jim your self been an experience sea captain and have no choice to abandon ship. What is the most important and responsible thing to do as a captain?
No point in me replying, Mike unless it is an answer you want to accept, so far I have been unsuccessful, so with respect, I'll sit this one out.
Good night, and stay safe.
 
Julian Atkins

Julian Atkins

Member
I am not going to reply to Arun directly.

I very much disagree with him on this as to his reply to my post.

Emergency lifeboat 1 was launched around 1.05am. Rated at an occupancy of 40 persons, it had but 12 occupants; 5 first class passengers, and 7 crew members.

Whatever excuses Boxhall and others made, and given that 5th Officer Lowe is regarded as having a hand in the launching of this boat with Murdoch (and I think we would all agree from the evidence that both Murdoch and Lowe did their best to fill boats), the simple unavoidable fact remains that this boat was only partially filled and from only first class and made up with crew.

By 1.05am, distress rockets had been sent off for some 20 minutes, the ship had ceased to move under it's own power for some 1 hour 20 minutes, and it was the fifth boat to be launched.

And yet many many hundreds of steerage passengers were below decks, and despite partially filled lifeboats being launched, particularly in the case of emergency lifeboat 1, no attempt was made to get steerage up to the boat deck etc to fill the lifeboats.

Symons (in charge of emergency lifeboat 1) notes around 1.17am water up to the second row of portholes under Titanic's name at the bow.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I am not going to reply to Arun directly. I very much disagree with him on this as to his reply to my post.
That is your privilege, Julian. We all have our opinions.

And yet many many hundreds of steerage passengers were below decks, and despite partially filled lifeboats being launched, particularly in the case of emergency lifeboat 1, no attempt was made to get steerage up to the boat deck etc to fill the lifeboats.
Once the order to load and lower the lifeboats was given, various crew members had different responsibilities, depending on practicalities and limitations. Captain Smith had to remain on the boat deck and bridge area to direct operations; he could not be expected to run up and down to every level checking that everything was being done properly. To that extent he had to trust his officers and crew. Officers like Murdoch, Lightoller etc, had to supervise loading and launching the lifeboats themselves and would have had their hands full with that responsibility. Other crew, mainly stewards and led by the pursers, would have been mustering the passengers and directing them upstairs towards the boat decks. From survivor accounts, we know that this happened to some extent; McElroy was busy directing passengers near the grand staircase and various passengers said that stewards came to their rooms and instructed them to dress warmly, wear their life vests and go upstairs to the boat deck.

I agree that this process was least satisfactory down in Third Class but I do not believe that there was any willful bias towards steerage passengers involved. Several factors played their part in what happened in what happened in third class.
  • Awareness of the seriousness of the situation came only gradually and at different times to the passengers and even crew in the lower decks. Those in the bow area realized it a lot sooner than those at the stern.
  • But once that happened, increasing numbers of people, some of them with children and speaking different languages would have been walking up and down the narrow corridors. The handful of stewards would have had a job controlling the situation, especially as they did not realize how serious it was right away. Look at the testimony of surviving Third Class steward John Hart.
9845. Very well, that is your room. Were you awakened by the collision?
- No.


9846. Did somebody else come and wake you up?
- Yes, somebody came along and woke me.

9847. You heard there had been an accident?
- Yes, they said there had been an accident.

9848. I think at first you did not think it was serious, and did not take much notice of it?
- Yes, and went to sleep.

9849. Who was it who came afterwards and gave instructions?
- The chief third class steward, Mr. Kieran.

9850. (The Commissioner.) Is he a third class steward?
- Yes.

9851. (The Solicitor-General.) What were the orders to pass along?
- He passed several orders. To me he said, "Go along to your rooms and get your people about."

9852. Would your rooms be the third class passengers' rooms?
- Yes.

9853. Which part of the third class accommodation is it that you were responsible for?
- Section K and part of M, the adjoining section, on E deck.

9854. That is part of the after third class accommodation?
- Yes.


9855. K and M?
- Yes.


  • The passengers would not have had a clear idea of the path to the boat deck, particularly from the bow section. The route was convoluted and many, especially with those with children, would be reluctant to explore narrow and unfamiliar corridors. Further into Hart's testimony:
9891. Now you can tell us what happened. What further orders were given?
- He said, "Have you placed lifebelts on those who are willing to have them?" I said, "Yes." After that there was a large number of men coming from the forward part of the ship with their baggage, those that were berthed up forward - single men.


9892. Third class?
- Yes. When I saw that my own people had the required number of lifebelts, or those who were willing to have them, I placed the remainder of the lifebelts in one of the alleyways beside which these people would have to pass in case any came through without lifebelts from the forward part of the boat.

9893. This is also on deck E?
- Yes.

9894. You told us these third class passengers who were berthed forward came down to the aft?
- Yes.

9895. That would be down that alleyway?
- Yes, down to the afterpart of the ship.

9896. And whether a third class passenger is berthed forward or berthed aft, is the third class dining-room aft?
- The third class dining-room runs from almost amidships to aft.


9897. What I mean is the third class passengers who are berthed forward would know their way aft, because they had been accustomed to go to the dining-room?
- Yes.


IMO, 9897 is a simplistic assumption. There is a huge difference between gong passively to the dining room at meal times and trying to find their way up amidst crowded confusion. Moreover, at least some of the steerage bow passengers would have been searching for friends or relatives in the stern section rather than go directly up.

I think that the following testimony is very telling:


9903. I think the next thing you will be able to tell us will be the further instructions as to where these people were to go?
- I waited about there with my own people trying to show them that the vessel was not hurt to any extent to my own knowledge, and waited for the chief third class steward, or some other Officer, or somebody in authority to come down and give further orders. Mr. Kieran came back. He had been to sections S, and Q, and R to see that those people also were provided with lifebelts.

Also relevant

9950. At that time, when you took up your people by that route, was there any barrier that had to be opened, or was it open to pass?
- There were barriers that at ordinary times are closed, but they were open.


9951. They were open when you got there?
- Yes.


Hart testified that by the time her got to the boat deck with his big group, only Lifeboat #15 was left; that would have meant that #13 had been lowered to the A-deck because Hart clearly said that it was the Boat deck that they went to and not the A-deck.

Also relevant is the statement of Third Class survivor Helga Hirvonen (as posted by James Murdoch in another thread):
Most of the third cabin passengers were awakened I guess about midnight on that last Sunday. Grabbing whatever clothing they could they rushed forth. They were met by officers of the ship who said: ‘Get back to your places; there’s nothing wrong.’ All went back. However, there was considerable excitement. Some time later—I don’t know just how long—it seemed that the big steamer was tilting. Then there was another rush for the promenade deck. The officers couldn’t drive us back then. After some time there came a shouted order for the women to come up on another deck. Some of us understood and started.

There was great confusion and a babble of tongues. Many of the third cabin passengers could not understand English and didn’t know what was being shouted to them. The rest of us were too badly frightened and excited I suppose to help them much, and as a result half of the women and children and a majority of the men did not get away from the steerage at all.

I believe that just about sums up the situation down in the Third Class spaces, but there is one thing I'd like to add.

After it collided with the iceberg, the Titanic took 2 hours and 41 minutes to sink. Whether this is considered as a "long time" or "short time" depends on one's perception to some extent. BUT, if you consider that the ship was 882+ feet long, contained over 2200 people scattered in various parts (with a capacity for much more), had multiple cabins, public rooms and a virtual rabbit warren of corridors etc, those 161 minutes tend to shrink considerably and probably equivalent of less than an hour on a ship like the Californian. Steward Hart's testimony about reaching Lifeboat #15 with a load of passengers is an example of the difficulty involved.

In summary, I do not believe that there was any attempt to discriminate against Third Class passengers that night. The size of the ship, the anatomy of the cabins and the sheer numbers involved made it appear like so when one looked just at the survival/victim statistics from the three classes. It was just that the Third Class passengers, in their larger numbers, were much further away from the boat deck and due to a combination of circumstances just could not get there in time. Of course, several reporters at the time and later some authors picked-up on that and had a field day.
 
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Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
I don't think that boat No1 was reserved for 1st class passengers, It was just the case the boats where in the 1st class area. But I still find it unacceptable that so few where in the boat.
I still come back to the BoT lack of updating procedures for lifeboats which hadn't change for 16 years. The BoT where in charge of regulations to issues the certificates of seaworthy for ships. Clearly they got careless by not insisting proper training on lifeboat drills with full amounts of passengers and the required crew members to operate the boats. I think the officers did there best working against outdate regulations.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I still find it unacceptable that so few where in the boat.
Yes, it was not right, but as I said, I believe the circumstances at the time led to Lifeboat #1 being lowered with so few people. As it was already ready and swung out, many passengers might not have realized that #1 was also a lifeboat that could and would be used like the rest. There were very few people around it and Murdoch had to make-up numbers by allowing a few additional crew members (more than those needed just to row) to board.

One argument with hindsight could be that Murdoch could have temporarily left Lifeboat #1 alone and after launching #3 moved to #9. That way, they could have come back to #1 a bit later when there were more people around. But that's with hindsight that we have, which Murdoch did not; at the time, he did not know the mechanics of the sinking process. Lifeboat #1 was at the bow section, which was sinking and so he might have felt that it might not have been practical to leave it unattended.

There is also the issue of what happened with Lifeboat #2, the port side emergency cutter, when it was left unattended approximately between 01:05 and 01:15 am. Over 20 crew members got in while Captain Smith and the senior officers were at the "firearms meeting"; Captain Smith had to order them out. Although that happened after Murdoch had lowered Lifeboat #1, he might have been reluctant to leave it unattended for similar reasons.
I still come back to the BoT lack of updating procedures for lifeboats which hadn't change for 16 years
Agreed. There had not been a marine disaster of the scale of the Titanic before but it finally made them wake-up and take notice.
 
A

Alex Kiehl

Member
I am not going to reply to Arun directly.

I very much disagree with him on this as to his reply to my post.

Emergency lifeboat 1 was launched around 1.05am. Rated at an occupancy of 40 persons, it had but 12 occupants; 5 first class passengers, and 7 crew members.

Whatever excuses Boxhall and others made, and given that 5th Officer Lowe is regarded as having a hand in the launching of this boat with Murdoch (and I think we would all agree from the evidence that both Murdoch and Lowe did their best to fill boats), the simple unavoidable fact remains that this boat was only partially filled and from only first class and made up with crew.

By 1.05am, distress rockets had been sent off for some 20 minutes, the ship had ceased to move under it's own power for some 1 hour 20 minutes, and it was the fifth boat to be launched.

And yet many many hundreds of steerage passengers were below decks, and despite partially filled lifeboats being launched, particularly in the case of emergency lifeboat 1, no attempt was made to get steerage up to the boat deck etc to fill the lifeboats.

Symons (in charge of emergency lifeboat 1) notes around 1.17am water up to the second row of portholes under Titanic's name at the bow.
That's how I feel when Ioannis slams me down when trying to correct me. I wish we could all just be nice to each other....
 
HankStone

HankStone

Member
Hi all,

Here we go for May.....enjoy!

In your opinion, who was the most negligent Captain on the night of the Titanic disaster - Smith, Lord, Rostron or perhaps another? Why? Has one or more of them been unjustly portrayed - be it in a good or bad way - by the media and/or popular culture since 1912?

Cheers,
Adam.
The root cause really with Telegraph Operator, Jack Phillips. Had Jack delivered the ice warning to Smith, this all would have been avoided.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
The root cause really with Telegraph Operator, Jack Phillips. Had Jack delivered the ice warning to Smith, this all would have been avoided.
To which exact icewarning do you refer? The one from the SS Mesaba or the one of the SS Californian? In either case, I don't think they wouldn't have made much of a difference.

The positon ice warning of the SS Mesaba (42° 41' 25 N 50° 30W) is only a few miles removed from the reported ice by either the RMS Caronia or SS Noordam which the Titanic did receive and delivered while the icewarning of the SS Californian was more nearby, two other icewarnings of the RMS Baltic and SS Amerika, which the Titanic already recieved and were already delivered, were actually much closer to the iceberg which sank the Titanic.
 
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