Whos at fault


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jennifer parsons

Guest
I have a question for all who think they might have the answer.
can anyone tell me if the fate of the titanic could have been prevented.
after captain smith lit the last two boilers on the titanic the ship started to move at a greater speed. he only dd this to make record time and reach there destination a day early. but he was going to fast to turn the ship in order to prevent the collision with the iceberg. therefore running the titanic straight into it. if the ship were going slower it could have had the time to stop,reverse,and begin to turn away from the berg.
am I right or does someone else have another opinion.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jennifer, the Titanic was never out to break a speed record. The turbine powered Lusitania and Mauratania held the Atlantic speed records and the Titanic wasn't even close to having the engine power neccessary to match these two. There is some speculation about that the Titanic was trying to beat the Olympic's time which is rather more credible, albit conjectural.

The Titanic could have avoided the accident by the simple means of heeding ALL the ice warnings and steering well to the south of the icefeild.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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James Armstrong

Guest
Jennifer,

Two rather delicious passages in the final report of the British inquiry exhonorates Capt. Smith and blames Joe Public witness...

"The question is what ought the Master to have done. I am advised that with the knowledge of the proximity of ice which the Master had, two courses were open to him: The one was to stand well to the southward instead of turning up to a westerly ourse; the other was to reduce speed materially as night approached. He did neither. The alteration of the course at 5.50 p.m. was so insignificant that it cannot be attributed to any intention to avoid ice. This deviation brought the vessel back to within about two miles of the customary route before 11.30 p.m. And there was certainly no reduction of speed. Why, then, did the Master perserve in his course and maintain his speed?
The answer is to be found in the evidence. It was shown that for many years past, indeed, for a quarter of a century or more, the practice of liners using this track when in the vicinity of ice at night had been in clear weather to keep the course, to maintain the speed and to trust to a sharp look-out to enable them to avoid the danger. This practice, it was said, had been justified by experience, no casualties having resulted from it. I accept the evidence as to the practice and as to the immunity from casualties which is said to have accompanied it. But the event has proved the practice to be bad. Its root is probably to be found in competition and in the desire of the public for quick passages rather than in the judgment of navigators."

and, thus refering to Capt. Smith...

"He made a mistake, a very grievous mistake, but one in which, in face of the practice and of past experience, negligence cannot he said to have had any part; and in the absence of negligence it is, in my opinion, impossible to fix Captain Smith with blame."

The report was that of Lord Mersey, a gentleman who took a seat in Britain's Upper House of Parliament, the House of Lords. One of the many avantages of being "elected" to this House which until recently could be achieved by birthright or appointment, not election, is that you can say what you like about the "man in the street" and not fear his wrath on at the ballot box.

James Armstrong
 

Mike Taylor

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Dec 13, 2005
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Titanic was never intended to break speed records it just wasn't going to happen. The fate of the Titanic could and I sugest would have been different if rather then ignore the ice warnings someone, anyone had pain attention to them
 
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Markus Philipp

Guest
IMO there was not any course alteration at the Corner. Some Officers, Pitman, and Boxhall said that they exspected the Corner being rounded a considerable time earlier.

This remarks were used by the WSL to construct a deviation to south as precaution.

With the daily mileages (Ismay, Pitman) and Lowes testimony (US-Enquiry) one can show that Titanic was 126 miles before the Corner at 12.00 Sunday. The wreckage is 133 miles behind the Corner. With these data one can calculate that Titanic passed the Corner between 5.40 and 5.50 p.m.

The real reason for the "late turn" was that the Titanic made 519 miles on the second day. Olympic made 534 miles during her maiden voyage. The runs on the first and third day were nearly equal. Therefore Titanic reached the Corner about half an hour late.

Markus
 
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Markus Philipp

Guest
IMO there was not any course alteration at the Corner. Some Officers, Pitman, and Boxhall said that they exspected the Corner being rounded a considerable time earlier.

This remarks were used by the WSL to construct a deviation to south as precaution.

With the daily mileages (Ismay, Pitman) and Lowes testimony (US-Enquiry) one can show that Titanic was 126 miles before the Corner at 12.00 Sunday. The wreckage is 133 miles behind the Corner. With these data one can calculate that Titanic passed the Corner between 5.40 and 5.50 p.m.

The real reason for the "late turn" was that the Titanic made 519 miles on the second day. Olympic made 534 miles during her maiden voyage. The runs on the first and third day were nearly equal. Therefore Titanic reached the Corner about half an hour late.

Markus
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Lord Mersey's report was true enough as far as the accident goes. Based on the accepted practice of navigation in 1912, Titanic's accident with the iceberg was "unavoidable human error." While with our 100% hindsight we can point to numerous ways in which Captain Smith might have avoided the accident, we cannot hold him legally responsible for the iceberg accident.

But, what everyone seems to miss is that THE ICEBERG DID NOT SINK TITANIC. What caused the ship to founder was making way again after the original accident. Lord Mersy carefully sidestepped this issue, as did Senator Smith, and as has virtually everyone copycat historian ever since.

THE TRUTH IS THAT THE 1,200 DEATHS DID NOT OCCUR AS DIRECT RESULT OF THE ICEBERG. TITANIC WAS FLOATING AND THE PUMPS WERE "HOLDING THEIR OWN" UNTIL THE SHIP RESUMED STEAMING. THERE IS AMPLE EVIDENCE THAT THE SHIP SHOULD HAVE FLOATED WELL INTO THE NEXT DAY. TITANIC SHOULD HAVE BEEN FLOATING AFTER CARPATHIA DEPARTED WITH 100% OF THE PASSENGERS AND CREW AS LIVING SURVIVORS. THE DEATHS OF SO MANY PEOPLE WERE NOT CAUSED BY ICEBERG DAMAGE. THEY RESULTED FROM MOVING THE SHIP UNDER ITS OWN POWER AFTER THE ACCIDENT. FORWARD MOTION SIMPLY OVERWHELMED THE PUMPS AND CAUSED THE LOSS OF BOILER ROOM #6. IN TURN, THIS RESULTED IN THE COLLAPSE OF THE FIRE-DAMAGED BULKHEAD.

By focusing on the lookouts and by looking for holes in the side of the ship, modern historians simply perpetuate the lie. Those victims who died that night lost their lives to an act of negligent homicide that occurred at least ten minutes after the iceberg incident. There is no purpose to asking questions about the accident. The question of import revolve around who is was guilty of those deaths?

Sorry if this bursts anyone's romantic bubble about the ship and its tragic loss. However, it's time to face the facts. More to the point--we cannot honor the dead with lies. If we are going to honor them, we owe them the truth.

--David G. Brown
 
Dec 12, 1999
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David,

I've been making a similar point for some time on this board, i.e., that the 1912 hearings have locked us into an endless, and misleading debate about this or that.

Incidently, if I recall correctly the British Court did find that there was negligence. The American Court never ruled on that issue because Burlingham settled the case. So the Board of Trade didn't have the final say after all.

My question is this: if the Board of Trade hearings could be reopened to inquire into Stanley Lord's circumstances, why couldn't the Board of Trade inquiry be reopened to consider all of the new theories and evidence that have arisen about the disaster?

It seems to me that we need a huge mop up job on the facts, and findings. As long as that Board of Trade inquiry from 1912 remains closed, the myths about Titanic will be perpetuated. As you say, "we cannot honor the dead with lies."

An new inquiry, today, would be much more objective, and is needed.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Jan -- reopening the procedings might be a bit sticky as long as there are survivors alive. If criminal negligence were proven, who would be held accountable? And, who would have to pay any claims for wrongful death, etc.? It sounds to me like a retirement plan for admiralty lawyers.

However, it is time for the community of serious researchers to move beyond the misdirection and myths created by the 1912 hearings. It is the court of history that should render final judgement--not just on what really sank the Titanic, but also on those persons who initiated and perpetuated myths and lies about the fatal voyage.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm not really convinced any new inquiry would be more objective. While the principles involved are long dead (And arguably have to answer to a much higher power which cannot be snookered!) we have the problem of people today with their own mindsets, beleifs and agendas which they would act on. Conspiracy theories of every patch come to mind...whether they have merit or not!

The Californian Incident for example. This remains a thorny issue almost certain to start some fights even among freinds. What would be made of that one? It's not as if some interested parties wouldn't be drawing lines in the sand. And the fact that the witnesses are dead can't be helpful. Unless somebody has a Oujii Board or a for real medium to help out, it's not as if they could be cross examined. We can't just dismiss all the testimony offered in 1912 either. Some of the chaps taking the stand may not have been all that forthcoming or accurate, but they weren't always wrong either. I'm afraid we'ed end up...rightly or wrongly...dumping all the baggage from 1912 only to bring some of our own to the party.

The one thing we would have on our side from a technical standpoint is what science has uncovered and could potentially uncover in the future. Beyond that, welcome aboard the Good Ship Ambiguity.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Gavin Murphy

Guest
Hi J, D and others,

I don't know too much about admiralty law, but I do suspect you might be slightly wrong as per lawyers lining their pockets in this matter. It would really be a non-starter and any lawyer with a conscience would not take it on with a 10 foot pole.

Even if you could prove criminal negligence in a court action, (BTW all evidence would be hearsay so that creates a serious problem), who would be liable and whose law would apply? Regardless, even if successful, so what? The White Star Line has long been out of business. Hollow victory there. All the T officers and crew dead.

On the civil side, sue for wrongful death? Sue who? White Star? The builders? How could you prove it 90 years later? On the basis of what evidence? Mersey led an inquiry, not a trial, although Stanley Lord may not agree. Even if you could prove wrongful death, to repeat, White Star is out of business. All the crew are dead and even if they weren't, the principle of vicarious liability would likely apply, throwing us back on White Star.

Harland & Wolf has likely gone through a number of owners since 1912 and surely there would be a save harmless clause demanded by a new owner in the event of a negligence action brought against the company because of the actions of a previous owner/builder.

I therefore agree it would be sticky to bring an action with the few survivors (4) still alive today. To launch an action of the type suggested here would raise vague and unfulfilled expectations. I would be appalled to think that any lawyer would even consider taking it on, etc.

Finally J, and I could be wrong here, but did Mersey find negligence? I don't seem to think so. And the BoT matter of a decade ago was to examine into the petitions made on behalf of Lord to determine his geographic location, not an appeal to exonerate him in a legal proceeding. He was merely a witness, not an accused at the 1912 BoT hearings. Admittedly, he was hosed by Mersey and was the convenient scapegoat for the BoT own inadequacies for its outdated lifeboat regs.

For what it's worth, etc.

Regards,

G
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Gavin, I wasn't really suggesting that a bunch of lawyers should start sharpening their pencils. My point was the improbability of accomplishing anything approaching an official re-hearing by either a governmental agency or a court of law.

However, as I understand admiralty law, the vessel has a personality "in rem" and can be found guilty of infractions of the law. It can also be sued for damages. The Titanic still exists, so the possibility of a court action cannot be ruled out. Don't forget, in the United States you pay more for lawyers when you buy a ladder than you do for the ladder.

But we digress. I don't want to see any court action. What I want is for historians to start thinking for themselves instead of blindly following the myths and coverups created almost 100 years ago. After all, it's not history if it's not true.

--David G. Brown
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm going to have to check my BOT and Senate reports. (I have both) on the negligence thing, however, my recollection was that while negligence was established, criminal negligence was not because everybody else was navigating their ships much the same way. To wit; cracking on in nearly all conditions except bad visibility.

Under conditions like that, it was only a matter of time befor somebody's luck ran out, and it was the Titanic which finally rolled snake eyes.

FWIW, I'll stick with the inquiries as a primary source. For all their faults, the witness testimony is there for all to see and refer to. However, I would always check what was concluded back then against what the hard evidence of scientific investigation uncovers now.

As to ambiguity, perhaps I should have added anachronism as any judgements made now would almost certainly be made using contemporary standards of law and maritime practice. The laws and practices accepted in 1912...all of which White Star appears to have gone with...were very different.

Not that modern day revisionists would be troubled by that minor detail....

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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I think that I read in the Eaton and Haas book "Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy," that the British Court (not the Board of Inquiry) made a finding of negligence. Therefore, many survivors and relatives of victims filed their claims in Britian, as opposed to the U.S. (although claims were filed in the American case as well).

In the American lawsuit, as I understand it, the issue was, in part, whether limited liability laws would apply. As such, the Titanic's owner's could not be liable for Captain Smith's negligence. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the trial court's ruling that limited liability applied, under American maritime laws, even with respect to a British ship. As such, and here I'm pretty much guessing, the remaining issue was whether the owners (such as Ismay) were somehow directly involved in the Captain's negligence, as opposed to some respondeat superior or principal-agent theory. There were probably two issues: (1) whether Smith was negligent, and (2) whether the owners, Ismay and the others, could have been negligent, too. Ismay could have been tied to Smith's negligence, because Ismay was there all the time, and interacting with Smith - - even to the point of taking ice warnings and pocketing them. Further, the owners very obviously involved in the inadequate life boat issue, and as Ernest Shackleton testified, they pressured Captains such as Smith to run ships at top speed, and take risks.

Again, I think, that it was on this issue that White Star Line's Charles Burlingham settled the case for $600,000 - - even though he thought that he would win at trial. Hearings were held, and Captain Turner testified (I think adversely to WSL) on the matter of Smith's negligence. Interestingly, I understand that he testified in the lawsuit just a week or two before he sank his own ship, the Lusitania.

On the matter of legal standards, it appears that the legal standards of negligence existed then. Check out the mock trial on the Anderson Kill website, at:

http://www.andersonkill.com/titanic/home.htm

The case law cited in the plaintiff's petition is from 1911, 1865, etc. Also, regarding the actual petition for limited liability, the victims and survivors' attorneys argued the various theories of negligence that would be argued today.

But then, the limited liability maritime standard existed, too. And maritime law still limits liability, as it did then. For example, I saw the U.S. Supreme Court's Titanic opinion cited in a 1989 opinion from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Assuming the same evidence, what would be different? Probably the system. For one thing, judges and juries would be so aghast at what happened that in the end, someone would pay - - and probably a lot more than what was paid in 1915.

But more importantly, there would be new evidence to present. In particular, the evidence set forth in David's book that it was Ismay who was directly the cause of the sinking - -would make a big difference, even back then. An expert, such as David, could be called to the stand. He would testify, and be cross-examined. Depending largely on how effective a witness he is, and on how well his testimony could be corroborated from the other facts, I think that the owners would be shown to have been directly involved in the sinking.

The problem is that some of the factual basis for David's conclusions about the iceberg not having sank the ship are mostly from evidence of ship disasters since Titanic, including, inter alia, the Exxon Valdez, Britannic,and other ships. The investigations of these accidents fundamentally underlies many of David's conclusions about what actually sank the ship, I think. All this wouldn't have been available in 1912.

David probably would have been able to argue his theory about Murdoch's hard a starboard manuever, quite effectively, in 1912. That would have left the issue of what sank the ship fairly uncertain. Whether the witness testimony that David relies on would have been enough to convince a jury that Ismay sank the ship, back then, would be a serious question, in my mind.

Again, some of the key points I found persuasive in David's arguments were the analogies to other post-1912 ship disasters, and in particular, the sinking of Britannic.

So I don't think that "revisionism" is so much the issue, as is whether the plaintiff's lawyers would be able to put on a much stronger factually based case than they could in 1912. Obviously, they would be able to make a much stronger case that tied liability to the owners, today, than in 1912.

From what I recall, David's theory wasn't even remotely considered in 1912. Am I wrong on that? If I'm wrong, it would be interesting to know that it was considered, and brushed aside as part of the general whitewash by the British Board of Inquiry.

Again, I would like to emphasize that I'm speculating, or going by my memory on a number of points set forth above. Obviously, I don't have the full record of the lawsuits before. Maybe Gavin, or someone can help on that.
 
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Jason Bidwell

Guest
Jan-

I'm going from memory here, but as I recall the reason why the survivors filed claims in Britain rather than the U.S. was because of the different salvage laws. In the US, I believe, claims could only be made on what was salvaged from the wreck: in the Titanic's case the lifeboats. The laws in Britain were, I think, more reasonable and claims could be extended to the company itself. I repeat, from memory.
 
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Jan -- your legal analysis is work well beyond the intent of my comments. You obviously spent a lot of time and effort, which I salute. It was not my intention to seriously suggest that lawsuits should be filed. If anything it was an off-the-cuff remark intended to be humorous about modern American life.

I have one slight question of your analysis. I believe the limitation of liability in admiralty cases refers to a limit on damages. It does not protect the owners of the ship from the actions of the vessel or its crew. In the case of Titanic, the limitation would have been the value of the hull and the income from the tickets and cargo on the voyage.

However, I must reiterate that my intention is to get historians to study the "WHY" of Titanic with the same enthusiasm they have shown for the romantic "WHAT." For instance, most books give no more than a dozen paragraphs to the iceberg incident and absolutely no coverage to the ship re-starting after the accident. It is the Court of History that should re-try the Titanic affair, not and Admiralty Court.

Now, as far as being an "expert" goes, I'm flattered to be considered as such. However, there are people on this forum who leave my knowledge far in their wakes. My claim to fame is simply getting the information into print after nearly a century of deliberate myth and coverup.

-- David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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I still think that it is key to remeber that before the ship hit the iceberg all was well. Right after the ship hit the iceberg all was well. Then we have the making way again which I am still in the deep throws of research on but I am working on it.

I watch the Discovery of Titanic again last night and it occured to me that the common thought of Smith going "balls to the wall" in a heavy ice field just doesn't make sense to me. What make even less sense is the fact that she regained steaming after she hit. There is no doubt that there is a cover up of some kind staged by White Star but what of??

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I think it was less a cover up then spin control to limit liability. It's an old art form after all. Politicians do it all the time for their own reasons.

As to getting underway again, I'm still looking at that one. Sounds like sloppy damage control proceedure was at work here. Moving a damaged ship befor one knows the full extent of the casualty is grade "A" dumb!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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bill m jones

Guest
Smith new of the Ice and did not move south or slow down. The Iceburg didn't sink it but it surely help.
 

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