William Turner for Edward Smith

Arun Vajpey

Whatever you think of Captain William Turner of the Lusitania, the fact remains that he was a far more " down to earth" man than Captain Edward Smith of the Titanic and believed that his duty was the safety of his ship and its passengers over other considerations. It is also well known that he did not like to socialise with First Class passengers and left that sort of thing to Staff Captain James Anderson while he himself concentrated on running his ship.

I know that May 1915 was very different from April 1912 due to WW1, but I feel that Captain Turner's personality would have been the same even in peacetime. In that sense he was probably closer in nature to Captain Stanley Lord than he was to Captain Smith.

So, if William Turner had been the Captain of the Titanic instead of Edward Smith, would he have handled things differently, especially with knowledge of at least some ice warnings?
Different men...different thoughts...different lifelong experiences...of course the Turner and Smith would have handled things differently. That's a foregone conclusion not really worth a wet of beer. How would they have handled things differently? Arun, not to be a curmudgeon, but as I've said so often -- History does not reveal its alternatives which means this is a discussion about the unknowable.

-- David G. Brown

Arun Vajpey

History does not reveal its alternatives which means this is a discussion about the unknowable.

-- David G. Brown
True, but I asked the question because this particular thread is about suppositions. It would be interesting to know what people do think of alternatives even though they could never happen.

Personally, I feel that had Turner been the Captain of the Titanic, he would have been a bit more wary of risk of icebergs even before any ice warnings came in. His nature would have been known to his officers and so on Sunday perhaps they would have been more diligent in reporting ice warnings to him personally. Therefore, I feel that at the very least Turner would have slowed the ship down.

Importantly, he would never have attended the Widerner's dinner party, in the unlikely event that he was invited. Turner is supposed to have hated that sort of thing. So, he could have spent more time on the bridge before retiring, giving instructions.
We can speculate which captain would of handled the Titanic situation better. But having your boss on board would Smith acted different and been more cautious?

Arun Vajpey

But having your boss on board would Smith acted different and been more cautious?
I don't know whom you mean by 'boss' but once a ship is at sea, the Captain is - and has to be - the boss. Unless an organised structure like that exists, it would be chaos. Ismay might have been the Chairman of White Star but in theory at least was no more than any other First Class passenger. But how much it worked like that in actual practice is a different matter and varied from one situation to another, I guess.
The boss I meant Mr B Ismay. Ismay and Smith may be working for the same company, but there roles are very different. Captain role is to get the ship from A-B in a safe manner and within the time schedule.
As for Ismay is all about the business and finance for a profit. No profit no company!
I see both are under huge pressure for different reasons.
Smith job comes with pressure and stress having to deal with thousands on board and is full responsible for there well being. It would appear the standard retirement age of 60. Smith is passed that at 62. Added to his the stress of this job comes from the Olympic collision with HMS Hawke 20 September 1911. The inquiry is held on the 17 November 1911. That's two months of waiting for the inquiry, why is there a problem here? Smith and White Star are over confidence they will win the case hands down and the Admiralty will foot the huge repair bill for Olympic. Not only that who will pay for the loss earnings from the three cancel return crossings. Its only plain common sense that the Hawke could of move out of the way with ease. However Admiralty had other ideas and turn it into grand affair.
Instead of holding it in Portsmouth they decided to hold in London at the Royal Courts of Justice with a formidable line up not to lose the case. The man Smith faced was no other than that barrister Sir Rufus Isaacs. On the surface seem to be pleasant enough, but when he got going he was describe like a swordsman he switch back and forth between aspects of the case with intention to trip confuse Smith. Smith would have three hours of this intense cross-examining in attempt to blame him for the accident. The case dragged on for days with models ship from the National Physical Laboratory to prove the great theory hydrostatic suckering in from a large ship to a smaller ship. Yet to any sea men it was quite clear that the Hawke was to blame. The inquiry land up with a very unsatisfied result for White Star and Smith. After the repairs of Olympic Smith will face the worse rough sea crossing in his career.
They are very tiring as Captain must be on duty 24 hours. I personal think he should of never been the Captain of Titanic.
Ismay has is problem too. The Olympic and Titanic were a high risk business plan to counter Cunard Lusitania and Mauritania ships. The time you included the repair costs and lost revenue from the lost crossing he hasn't got much to show for it in profits. The Titanic costing more to build must succeed. The man who has invested so much into White Star is Mr JP Morgan a true utter ruthless successful banker. Bankers do not listen to excuses they want hear about the profits. Ismay may be the President of IMMC but that is far from a bed of roses working for Morgan who got him self into a huge finical mess with IMM. Ismay by January 1912 is talking of resigning from IMM he to like Smith is feeling the pressure and stress of the job.
Smith the captain indeed the man in command of the ship but having your boss on board, and yet to show so little or no profits in the two worlds biggest ships is not good news. What makes it worse for Ismay the ship is only 54% full. The first class section were the money has been spent on the ship is only 42% full. The second class section is not much better either at 44% full. Ismay is under pressure to put on a good show for that hard headed business man banker Mr Morgan. We know there is a conversation on the ship can reach New York by Tuesday evening and not Wednesday morning as schedule. Even though the port may be closed but Ismay knowns he can get a very good cover in the daily morning newspapers of his new magnificent ship. That's is why I believe Smith is to come under pressure from Ismay. Ismay may claim he is an original passenger coming a long for the crossing to see how things are running as he said in the inquiry! I don't believe a word of it from a sharp headed business man, and is all attempt to cover his own back side!
That's is my thoughts of the matter business comes first!

Arun Vajpey

Smith the captain indeed the man in command of the ship but having your boss on board, and yet to show so little or no profits in the two worlds biggest ships is not good news. What makes it worse for Ismay the ship is only 54% full. The first class section were the money has been spent on the ship is only 42% full. The second class section is not much better either at 44% full.
That's is my thoughts of the matter business comes first!
That's true but Third Class was more occupied and in the long run, they were an impostant source of income for the shipping companies. I think overall Titanic was not doing badly for a maiden voyage.

But getting back yo my question, I agree that Edward Smith might have been a bit too much of a 'business minded' Captain, certainly compared with William Turner. To my way of thinking, that is a loose end because on a voyage, a Captain should have full control and the final responsibility. On land Smith and Ismay might socialise together all they like (I don't know if they actually did so) but once the ship is at sea, they must revert to their designated roles. It is like a surgeon for example: he or she might socialise with the nurses and other operating room staff at other times but during actual surgery the surgeon is the boss and needs to retain control.
Hi Arun,
Maiden voyage of todays cruise ships is want different in the past. Sold out in days.
I would agree the third class passengers of just 700 is about just 70% full which should of made a profit for White Star as far the third class passengers but not for first or second class passengers.
Smith and Ismay both come from a working class family. Smith has done very well to get to position. As back in those days, who you know got you the top line job and not what you know! As for Ismay he inherited his position and one has to question if was the right man for the job?
Now I don't what to sound cruel here. When you are born in this world it's a complete lottery for brain power. As we know at our school days, some will be at the top of the class and other at the bottom end. As for Bruce he wasn't blessed the brain power as is father Thomas Ismay was. Bruce school work was below average and poor at maths. He would leave school with no qualifications and join White Star as a Office apprentice boy but very much under his father control.
Further Bruce problem is younger brother James was blessed with brain power and was a threat to Bruce to take over the company.
Bruce was a rather shy person and did not like public engagements.
Which is not very good for a company Chairmen or President you need to be out personality meeting people. This is were Smith and Ismay were miles apart. Bruce to cover up his shyness had turned into a rather arrogant and bombastic man and did not think out the problems through out before taking a decision. Not like his father who would look at all angles before making a decision.
I get the feeling B Ismay was rather impatient man not the most popular man in the company. Certainly if you our the Chairman you carry a lot of power within the company and needed to be respected at all times whether you like him or not!
I feel that is the situation Smith is to face. Smith indeed is the commander of the ship but take one step of the ship a Chairman has the swiping power to have you remove from the company at a snap of a figure. The overheard conversation with the first passenger Elizabeth Lines were Ismay is doing the dominating talking as Smith is just taking it in and probably and saying to himself, what an idol he is as the Tuesday evening arrival subject is brought up! I feel could of left Smith in a bit of a dilemma here for his future career with the company and certainly too old to join another company, as the only way to arrive Tuesday evening is the direct route through the icefield. Then the ice warning telegram which Smith gave to Ismay. Is that away of warning to Ismay to back off!
Smith is the true captain of the ship but at the same time does not own the company and is in disposable to!
Despite the time i have devoted to the Lusitania for my animations, i still cannot say im the most knowledgeable of Turner or the subject as a whole. But as someone who likes Turner, i think it can be generally agreed on that he was, shall we say less productive in the sinking of his ship than Smith.

As David brought out, both sinking's where so vastly different, it would not be fair to judge or compare each man in that situation.

But after the initial order of stopping the engines, turning towards land and ordering to stop the loading of the lifeboats, Turner did very little for the rest of the sinking until the water reached the bridge.

Smith on the other hand within a minute of the collision was on the bridge and would spend the next two & half hours running all over the place doing things.

Again the situations and environments are so different that one cant compare them, but it seems from the sinking's as a whole, Turner might have been more delayed in the Titanic disaster.
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Arun Vajpey

But in case of the Lusitania, the steam pressure had dropped and none of the controls were working. The engines could not be stopped and launching lifeboats from a moving and out of control ship would have been almost impossible. With the Irish coast in sight, Turner might have considered beaching his ship as one last desperate effort.

But what I was asking was what Turner would have done had he been in Smith's place right from the start. This does not mean his actions after the collision but as the ship sailed closer to known ice areas of the sea and the warnings started to come in. For example, IMO Turner would never have given Ismay the Baltic's ice warning and would have dealt with it more robustly.