Why didn't officers check for ice warnings


Bill McMillan

Member
Sep 18, 2010
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Hello everyone,
I've recently joined ET, and I'm really enjoying the various discussions going on here.
One question that has always intrigued me about the sinking is why (as far as I know) none of the officers went to the radio room to check for ice warning messages from other ships. They certainly knew that some ice warnings had been received, and that the water was getting colder, so it was quite likely that they would encounter ice. The radio room was just down the hall from the bridge, but no-one from the bridge bothered to walk down there to ask about warning messages.
Lightoller went off duty at 10:00 pm, and spent some time doing a routine walk-around inspection, but apparently did not include a visit to the radio room, even though in his book he emphasizes the point that the delay in transmitting a message to the bridge was the main factor that caused the collision.
In Cameron's movie, Lightoller is depicted as being concerned and uneasy when Captain Smith orders him to maintain speed and heading. If this depiction is accurate, why didn't Lightoller check the radio room a few minutes later when he went off duty?
I don't mean to pick on Lightoller - any of the officers could have done it, or asked someone else to do it, but it seems that they weren't thinking that way.
I would be very interested in any comments on this question.
Thanks.
- Bill McMillan
 
May 3, 2005
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Just my observation, which may be completely in error.:

I think it was the responsibility of the Marconi Operators to deliver the messages from them to the Bridge and not the other way around. The Officers probably rarely visited the Marconi Room if at all. (Except for the Captain, of course.)

On a small ship, such as Californian, relations might have been a bit more informal between the Marconi Operators and the Officers , as depicted in "A Night To Remember."

I don't know about the civilian ships such as the Titanic, but that was my perception of the way it was when I was in the U.S.Navy. It was the duty of the communications personnel to communicate with the Bridge and not the other way around.

I would think it was something in "the chain of command" in this respect.

(Correct me if I'm wrong in my assumptions, Mr. Standart.) LOL.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>I would think it was something in "the chain of command" in this respect.<<

That's my understanding of how it works as well. An officer on watch has a lot on his mind and doesn't need to be the one who is personally going back to the radio shack to see if something else is going on. It's the responsibility of the people in the radio shack to get any messages where they need to be, be it a humble passenger or the captain of the ship.

If the Officer Of the Deck wants to check on that sort of thing, then what he does is delegate that task to one of the ratings on the bridge.

In the case of the Titanic, it may be a moot point. Ice warnings were recieved and the officers were aware of them. Even if they didn't know about all of them, they still had a complete enough picture to know about when they would be in the region of ice and the watch was instructed accordingly.

Whatever else can be said, they can't plead ignorance. They knew.
 

Bill McMillan

Member
Sep 18, 2010
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Thanks for all of your comments.

I agree with Michael that they had a pretty good picture of what they were heading into, so maybe Lightoller's insistence that the delivery of one more ice warning to the bridge would have saved the ship is really off the mark. If they were going to slow down and play it safe, they would already have done it.

- Bill McMillan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>so maybe Lightoller's insistence that the delivery of one more ice warning to the bridge would have saved the ship is really off the mark. <<

More like misdirection and long after the fact as well, since this assertion appears in the book which he wrote.