Would The Britannic Have Sunk if...


A

Alicia Coors

Guest
A: He just didn't do anything that saved lives.

M: I know of 706 people who would say otherwise.

A: And I know of twice that many who would disagree. But this isn't a vote, and your hyperbolic reference is not only banal, but irrelevant.

Not only that, but your reasoning is flawed. The only thing that the entire crew were concerned with following the damage analysis was saving lives. The engineering staff were keeping the pumps and generators running, the deck department were preparing and loading boats, other personnel were calling for help by wireless and a variety of visual signals. The goal of all this activity was to get as many people as safe as possible within the constraints of available time and resources.

For Smith to fail to observe that men were being allowed to escape from one side of the ship but not the other indicates (which is not equivalent to prove, and I don't use it that way) that Smith wasn't managing his command with the rigor the situation demanded. "Micromanage" is defined as manage with great or excessive control or attention to details. To have ensured that his intentions were being carried out could hardly be termed excessive, given the importance of the task and the fact that he had over two hours to kill.

My point about hiring experienced musicians was intended to suggest that Titanic's crew were inadequately trained, nothing more. Nowhere did I imply that it was Smith's responsibility to hire or train them. Standart's analogy falls apart because a symphony conductor can expect that his crew are all masters of their instruments, and can interpret their parts the way the maestro wants them to, a luxury Smith did not have. Which returns to the central point - that the captain didn't micromanage enough, given the inexperience of his staff.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Now the experience of his staff in my belief is not only a relevant but important part of the Titanic story. All seven of the line officers had obtained the highest possible certificate for there age/experience level. In order for this to be accomplished they needed to have some many years of sea time. Lightoller had been shipwrecked once before and had served WSL and other fleets from an early age. Smith had around 20 years of command experience not to mention his time spent as a apprentice and time gaining a command. Wilde was also a noteable and trust worthy officer and unfortunatly I don't have enough information on him. Murdoch was also a experienced officer with high marks.

So in my opinion the three men directly ordered by their captain to lower the lifeboats (Wilde, Murdoch, and Lightoller) probably had upwards of 40 years of sea time between the three of them, to suggest that that there where inexperienced is a stretch at best. All three where well respected officers and thought highly of by the company and the crew they served.

Now the deck plate sailor is a completely different story. There are numerous debates about the quality and quanity of actual instructions not to mention formal teaching that these men had. David Haisman is around here somewhere and he would be the best man to ask about how one obtains an AB certificate across the pond. There is some training involved if I am not mistaken. As I have said in another thread, lowering a lifeboat isn't rocket science to a sailor with an AB (by American standards) however what the men knew of the new equipment is a question that in my mind needs further research. I might be poking around Rob Ottmers site for more info on just that.

Telling experienced sailors how to complete a task during an emergency situation is very excessive and is very uncalled for, as long as what they are doing is safe. In today's fleet the Captain would probably be very unaware of how who was lowering what lifeboats, and he would only be aware of the fact that the lifeboats where being lowered as per his orders. There is little to no reason for him to meddle otherwise.

This premise seems to be based around the difference between the way Murdoch and Lightoller lowered boats. In a post I made yesterday I referenced the Ectasy fire in which decisions where made that did not effect the safety of the passengers, but when the Captain reversed an order given by a suborniate more then a few people became upset and some degree of comotion (not to be confused with panic) arose because of this. As long as Murdoch was lowering boats with bodies in them, I don't really think that Smith cared, and the same goes for Lightoller, Lightoller was lowering boats as directed. The intent of the order (which was to get lifeboats in the water and free from the ship with some people in them) was being followed by both officers. How each man accomplished this is not of concern to the ships commander as long as the goal is being accomplished.

Now what the goal is goes back to something I said in a early post. You do what is possible, not what is probable. It was possible for Murdoch to fill the boats he had with the available folk on his side. It was probable that he could wait for more women and risk not being able to lower all of the boats due to the lack of trained personnel as the night went on and as a consquence he might not have saved as many as he did. Lightoller's side is somewhat different, I will admit that early on Lightoller could have admitted men with little to no problem and changed his policy as the night went on and the situation warranted, but for some reason (and I believe that reason is consistancy) he didn't. Lightoller filled all the boats with all the possible women around him, he did not wait in the hopes (or that it was probable) that he would be able to find more women and get the boats off.

In Lightoller's testimony he states that he was of the opinion that the ship would probably not sink until after help arrived, this opinion soon changed and that could have been part of the reason why he (Lightoller) did not completely fill the boats with those he had available (to include men).

It should also be noted that Murdoch was allowing men to enter boats where no women could be found, there seemed to be an excess of men on Murdoch's side and shortage of women, while Lightollers side seems to have been filled with both (later on in the evening of course). I am 99% sure that Murdoch did not allow a man to take a woman's place in a boat if a woman was there to take it.

The discussion about how live's could have been saved is an extremely valuable one, one that has contiuned to be discussed 90 some years after the accident and will continue to be discussed long after we are all gone. In my work with the NTSB I noticed that they do not place blame unless there is undoubtable and substainal proof that there was a single error which caused the incident, this is deteremined by investigators who for the most part have all had some sort of command experience. There for I am extremely reluctant to to call Titanic's officers inexperienced and Smith a bad commander.

From where I sit 90 years after the fact, he did the best that he could have done and the fact that he safely removed 706 passengers from an unstable platform, says something valiant of the efforts and ability of the crew under his command. There where definitly things that could have been handled differently and with the aid of 90 years of hindsight (something that the crew of Titanic didn't have) we can see what things we would have done differently and perhaps have been a little more successfull then those that came before us. But to call into question there ability, qualifications, experience and judgement is not only a dangerous stance, but a stance that is aided largely but theory and not experience, and one that in a maritime court wouldn't stand a chance.
 
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Alicia Coors

Guest
M'lud, if it please The Honorable Court. This "crack team" of Titanic officers (as their fellow mariners would characterize them):

a. Ran the ship at high speed in a known icing region, without extra lookouts, after having discussed the difficulty of spotting ice in the prevailing conditions

b. Incorrectly calculated their latitude and longitude (twice!) when summoning assistance

c. Failed to signal their distress as specified by all maritime conventions in force at the time

The NTSB investigations I have read culminate in a finding of probable cause which, in the case of air transport accidents, is often cited as "pilot error" on the part of men and women with 20 to 40 years experience in powered flight. Just showing up doesn't make one competent. If you would like me to, I will cite several hundred NTSB findings to document the notion that experience breeds complacency.

The mere suggestion that countermanding an order will induce panic is belied by the experience later in the evening, when those conducting the evacuation were less discriminating. I seriously doubt that simply saying, "Gentlemen may now board" would cause anyone to freak out.
 

Erik Wood

Member
We are talking about the abandonment of the vessel not what occured before or caused it, so let's keep our eye on the ball. Mistakes where made and there is no, and I mean NO doubt about that. But before we can pin a label or guilt on them we must understand that there are also previaling circumstances to some of these situations, and new research (I would STRONGLY encourage you to attend Captain Charlie Week's event in Maine as 4+ years of research by several individuals will be "released") which I can't fully devulge until after April shows another side to the story.

Titanic's Lat and Long would have been off no matter what. They didn't have GPS. 13 miles seems excessive in the days of accuracy down to less then 6 yards but Titanic was following the standard practice of the day and was using star sights (as did all ships of the era) that where nearly 4 hours old taken by Lightoller and there is some comment including several articles (one of the most valuable to read is by Captain L.M. Collins) on some of the reasons this may have occured.

As to the speed and conditions that night, I can only say that that has been a matter of intense research as of late and in April will become public. But what appears to have occured was definitly IMO not the right way to be doing things.

Having taken an active part to include being a lead investigator for maritime incidents I know how they are conducted and how the reports are written. I have done no research into air transport, as that is not my profession and I 110% agree that showing up in no way makes you competent, but your job performance prior to the accident dictates whether you are competent and in Titanic's case all 7 line officers where just that by all accounts I have reviewed, this is how it would be reviewed by a maritime court.

NOTE: it could be argued that Smith out of the other 6 had the worst record​

I will also completely agree that experience can breed and often does complacency, but you will find that in the maritime world that is what leads to the vessel coming into grief, and has nothing to do with what occurs after the fact. The abandonment of the vessel and vessel coming to grief are two completely different set of circumstances and are so noted in each and every accident report (if abandonment is required) as a seperate section and measured by completely different standards.

My suggestion was that countermanding MIGHT or COULD induce panic and there are at least 7 maritime accidents that are prime examples. The issue isn't with letting men in the boat, it is with Murdoch (which was the context in which I made the statement) stopping to allow men.

Lightoller was no less discriminating at the end then he was at the begining nor was Murdoch (based off what little info is available on him late in the evening) and to my knowledge there is little to no testimony to support this.

To my knowledge Titanic used both the required flares (aka rockets) and wireless transmissions for the era in accordance with Marconi operations and WSL policy. The rockets where white and according to the law at the time (as quoted in a thread involving the Californian) was that they could be of any color sent up an regular intervals.

Parks Stephenson would know best about the law regarding wireless transmission requirements and perhaps we can persuade him to state the record here.
 
>>M'lud, if it please The Honorable Court. This "crack team" of Titanic officers (as their fellow mariners would characterize them): <<

Alicia, would you care to show where anyone said where anybody was talking about a "Crack team?" I don't recall anyone saying that, and to build points around it is little more then a strawman.

>>a. Ran the ship at high speed in a known icing region, without extra lookouts, after having discussed the difficulty of spotting ice in the prevailing conditions <<

Amend that to read "ran their ship in a reported region where ice could be expected without extra lookouts, after having discussed the difficulty of spotting ice in the prevailing conditions" and I don't see anybody disputing that or suggesting that not doubling the lookouts was an especially swift idea. This is, however, entirely irrelevant to how the evacuation was handled, which is what you seem to have been taking issue with in this whole thread.

>>b. Incorrectly calculated their latitude and longitude (twice!) when summoning assistance <<

Quite right. What of it? As Erik said, they didn't have GPS so they had to muddle along with star sights, the old fashioned slide rule, tables, and all the errors that creep in with the deal. It was good enough, even with the errors, to bring the Carpathia right up to where the boats were without a lot of searching around.

>>c. Failed to signal their distress as specified by all maritime conventions in force at the time.<<

And curiously enough, I know of some historians and researchers who would agree. It would help however if you identified which conventions they failed to abide by. For the record, this list of conventions comes from the U.S Senate Inquiry Final Report"
When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance from other vessels or from the shore, the following shall be the signals to be used or displayed by her, either together or separately:

IN THE DAYTIME.

(1.) A gun or other explosive signal fired intervals of about a minute.
(2.) The international code signal of distress indicated by NC.
(3.) The distant signal, consisting of square flag, having either above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball.” 
(4.) The distant signal, consisting of a cone, point upward, having either above it or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball.
(5.) A continuous sounding with any fog-signal apparatus.
”  - This is purely a code signal, and is not one of the signals of distress given in the Rules of the Road, the needless exhibition of which entails penalties upon the master of the vessel displaying it.


AT NIGHT.

(1.) A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute.
(2.) Flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.).
(3.) Rockets or shells, throwing stars of any color or description, fired one at a time at short intervals.
(4.) A continuous sounding with any fog-signal apparatus.

>>The mere suggestion that countermanding an order will induce panic is belied by the experience later in the evening, when those conducting the evacuation were less discriminating.<<

And the officers who were running the evscuation would know this befor hand...how??? I don't recall any one of them being identified as a clairvoyant or a telepath, and the concern here is that countermanding an order can cause things to come unglued. Erik mentions seven incidents where this in fact happened, and cites the Ecstacy as a specific example. You can bet it's not the only one throughout history, and Titanic's officers would have been painfully aware of contemporary examples.
 
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Alicia Coors

Guest
Strawman: Erik and Michael say Titanic's crew were adequate to any task (specifically, handling the evacuation the best way it could be handled), based on their professional histories. I would say Erik's statement that "Wilde, Murdoch, and Lightoller had 40 years combined experience blah blah blah" carries the clear implication they were a "crack team." Wouldn't you? (Talk about irrelevancies!)

Ice region: there is no operational distinction between reported ice conditions and known ice conditions. When ice is reported, you can assume someone "knows." The relevance of the crew's response to the ice hazard, as with my other points, is that the crew were capable of exercising bad judgment. This, in response to the implication that they were infallible.

Boxhall's navigation: sent all potential rescue vessels (Carpathia, Californian, Mt. Temple) to the wrong location. But for random chance (and/or a complimentary error in Rostron's reckoning of his position), Carpathia wouldn't have found the survivors for days.

Signals they failed to exhibit: (I would think this should be fairly obvious to anyone who can read):

1. Gun
2. Flames
4. Fog-signal

Go ahead and argue that the audible signals (1, 4) would be more appropriate to an emergency in fog conditions. I agree. That still leaves 2.

Actions taken during evacuations on other vessels are totally irrelevant, because the results of any specific course of action are all over the map. Quietly instructing Lightoller to allow men to board the boats is what is under discussion, and comparing it to the Ecstasy situation is ludicrous.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Putting lit tar barrels on the deck and using the sound signals would have created panic (the fire that is and the only time I have seen this used is when the ship was stranded and needed to attract attention)not to mention that fire on ships is a bad thing, no matter if it is started intentionally or not and that ships of the pre WW1 era didn't have the ability to readily put out a fire had it gotten out of control, which could have made the situation worse. I don't know a mariner out there who would have used this in Titanic's situation.

The fog signal would have hampered beyond belief the ability evacuate the ship. During earlier events in the night Lightoller had to use hand signals to communicate to the crew (who knew how to understand those signals) due to the steam dump, and the steam dump would have been a lot quieter then a fog horn. Not to mention that enormous (Mark Chirnside would know best) amounts of steam (that was needed to power the lights and pumps) would have been needed to operate those horns, while the ship was both loosing steam (fewer and fewer boilers to produce it) and needed the quiet for peaceful communication to passengers.

The gun could have been used I would guess though wouldn't have been the best thing to do with passengers who have no idea what is going on around them. I am wondering if the term gun is meant in larger form, such as cannon or something.

Ice region: there is no operational distinction between reported ice conditions and known ice conditions.

This has been covered numerous times in other threads. Shipping companies write specific guidelines for Captains to follow, and there is a HUGE "operational difference". There is a big difference between where something is when reported, and where something is when you enter the area. There is no argument (that I am aware of) that suggests they shouldn't have slowed down, or put up extra lookouts but this is all post disaster debate and on recommendations of what could have been done to prevent the incident. That is not to say that Smith (Niether court found him guilty of this) was negligent in not doing either one.

NOTE: That is not to say that in some situations a warning can not be used as the sole reason for a vessel to detract from its intended course and speed, that decision ultimatly rests with the master and only the master. In the situation being discussed Captain Smith viewed that the information he had received did not warrant any further change in route or plan.​

The ocean going business is based solely and completely off money and nothing else. Slowing down for something that is traveling with a current when your reports (the ones that you recieve mind you) are hours if not days old is bad company practice and has never been done, now, nor then. The reason Captain Smith didn't slow down was because in his opinion there was nothing to slow down for. He based this decision (rightly or wrongly) on the information that he had received up to the point he and Second Officer Lightoller had a brief discussion prior to Smith entering the chart room or staying on "the square" as Fourth Officer Boxhall called it up until the moment of the incident.

This is where I believe a relevant debate could be had on how much Captain Smith and other Captains of the era relied to heavily on there experience. As an aside several other line officers and Captains of other liners testified that it was normal procedure to travel at full speed until the ice was sighted. The Titanic disaster changed that.

What Captain Smith received was a warning, that meant that ships passing the general area of the Lat and Long noted ice. At the time all these messages where recieved (with exception of the Californian and Mesaba messages which never made it to the bridge) earlier in day or days earlier. The two most important messages which should have given Smith cause to take more action never made it to his hand.

No two maritime incidents are alike, that is why in the preparation for report writing they are compared to other incidents and in the case of evcuations to other evcuations. Since this debate has evolved and included discussion about panic comparing it to real life situations where documented fact exsists (such as the Ectasy and AL) are very vaulable in comparison.

It is difficult for me to discuss a situation and make blanket statements about it, without having something else to include experience to compare it to. This in my mind is what makes a well rounded opinion.

My statement about Wilde and company, which didn't include "blah blah blah" was intended to show that the men doing the job where not amatuers and had been doing the job they where doing for some time, most of them being promoted at a steady pace. So they knew how to function and do the job they had, or they wouldn't have had it. In the world of MM and especially in the BMM (David Haisman would elaborate best) you usually don't get promoted with our reason. It is based off performance.
 
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Alicia Coors

Guest
"Putting lit tar barrels on the deck...would have created panic..."

Why? Because you say so? Color me dubious.

Maybe it would have encouraged more people to survive!
 
>>Maybe it would have encouraged more people to survive!<<

And maybe it would have stampeded the cattle. Titanic's officers could scarcely afford to take that sort of gamble. And as Erik said, fire on a ship is far from a desirable thing unless it can be confined to places where fire is meant to be. (The galleys and the boilers.)

As to the gun, Titanic didn't use one and couldn't have used one because she didn't have one to begin with.

Fog signals? To who and how far away??? The steam they had was needed to keep the generators running. They could hardly afford to use it anywhere else. Sound drops off dramatically with distance and the one ship that was seen to be close enough to see anything had no trouble seeing the socket signals that were being fired. Interpretation is another matter, but that's a flamewar for a different thread.

>>Ice region: there is no operational distinction between reported ice conditions and known ice conditions. When ice is reported, you can assume someone "knows." The relevance of the crew's response to the ice hazard, as with my other points, is that the crew were capable of exercising bad judgment.<<

Indeed they did. And I don't think you'll find anyone who would disagree with that. You will also note...if you actually read the inquiries...that this was a very common practice of the day, that is to run at full speed in all conditions if the people running the ship thought it was safe to so and if they thought that visibility was sufficient for them to do the see and avoid thing. A bad one to be sure, but stil the common practice of the day.

Think anything has changed in this regard since then??? Guess what...it hasn't.

I've seen this sort of thing done...with a warship yet! That doesn't make it excusable, but it's still there.

>>Boxhall's navigation: sent all potential rescue vessels (Carpathia, Californian, Mt. Temple) to the wrong location. But for random chance (and/or a complimentary error in Rostron's reckoning of his position), Carpathia wouldn't have found the survivors for days.<<

Quite right again. It did exactly that. What's your point??? Is the gravity of the situation a barrier to error? I recall pointing out in another thread that it wasn't. It still isn't. Boxhall could only use what he had. His calculated position would have been correct if the information was!!!! Unfortunately, when one navigates by dead reckoning and not GPS, errors creep in. Boxhall could only play the hand he was dealt. (And as you pointed out, Carpathia made complimentary errors as well. Shall we put Captain Rostron in the pillory as well???)
 
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Alicia Coors

Guest
If you will re-read (and re-re-read if necessary) my post here, you will find that I stipulated the inappropriateness of audible signals. Your protracted argumentation of points not in dispute is curious, to say the least.

The best way to save the most was a judgment call - and the officers of RMS Titanic had been making bad calls since sundown.

A quiet word or two from Smith to his officers would have saved dozens, perhaps hundreds, more people. "Mr. Lightoller, you may board the gentlemen if there are no women or children about. Mr. Wilde, please see to impressing more passengers with the necessity of abandoning ship. A general announcement will not be advisable."

The decision to maintain speed informed by the knowledge of the prevailing conditions was reprehensible. Smith's famous "if it becomes at all doubtful" reveals that he didn't already think it was doubtful - which Lightoller obviously did. Why the first officer didn't press the issue is known all too well to anyone familiar with the politics of a chain of command.

As far as excusing Boxhall's incompetent navigation with "errors creep in," I would say that a discrepancy of 8-10 miles on a 95-mile run is inexcusable. The information that he had was: a precise fix at sundown, a known course and speed, and sufficient knowledge of the current to dead-reckon within a mile or less.
 
>>If you will re-read (and re-re-read if necessary) my post here, you will find that I stipulated the inappropriateness of audible signals. <<

Which you prefaced by saying
Signals they failed to exhibit: (I would think this should be fairly obvious to anyone who can read):

1. Gun
2. Flames
4. Fog-signal
The caveat came afterwords. Since how you say something is as important as what you say, you might take note that "Failed to exhibet" implies a certain level of error which in this case is very debatable. Since you have now postively ruled out sound signals as being inappropriate, that leaves only the matter of flames and Erik has already spelled out why this is a bad idea.

>>The best way to save the most was a judgment call ...<<

Which they made and which you've been second guessing from the very start.

>>and the officers of RMS Titanic had been making bad calls since sundown.<<

And I don't recall anyone disputing this. However, the issue here is not the bad calls they made since sundown, but the way they handled the evacuation of the ship.

>>A quiet word or two from Smith to his officers would have saved dozens, perhaps hundreds, more people. "Mr. Lightoller, you may board the gentlemen if there are no women or children about. Mr. Wilde, please see to impressing more passengers with the necessity of abandoning ship. A general announcement will not be advisable."<<

Which could have stampeded the cattle as likely as not. Erik has already commented on the inadvisability of countermanding orders once things are going on. Now to add to that, do you have any idea just how quickly word of something like this can spread throughout the ship??? Remember the situation: Sinking ship plus a Surplus of bodies along with a shortage of boats. Now throw into this mix a couple of people "passing it on" and then having it heard and misheard on down the line until a situation with a reasonable level of calm degenerates into a panic because of the way the story would "improve" in the telling. Grapevine communications are funny this way. That's not to say it would happen, but it could and they couldn't take that chance.

>>The decision to maintain speed informed by the knowledge of the prevailing conditions was reprehensible.<<

Also, unfortunately, the practice of the day and not just on the Titanic. It's amazing how often this factor keeps getting missed.

>>Smith's famous "if it becomes at all doubtful" reveals that he didn't already think it was doubtful - which Lightoller obviously did.<<

I wouldn't make that assumption. There was nothing unusual about the order that Smith gave. It's practically the standard instruction every ship's master gives in both the merchent service and the military even to this day. Yes, they knew of reported ice conditions ahead, discussed it and acted on it. (Otherwise, why instruct the lookouts to be alert for possible ice in the first place.) In hindsight, it obviously wasn't enough, but back then, doing business this way had served the ships on the North Atlantic run quite well for a very long time. Why change a system which...up to that time...had worked quite well?

>>Why the first officer didn't press the issue is known all too well to anyone familiar with the politics of a chain of command.<<

Since Murdock didn't survive, I'm afraid I don't know the reasons for this, and neither do you. I can only guess at them. Being rather inconveniently dead, he can't speak for himself as the others had the opportunity to do. What little we know of what he said or what concerns he may have expressed comes to us second hand from fallible memories. Your opinion on this might be bang on the money. It might also be so far off base that it's not even in the ballpark.

For all we know, he may not have been in the least bit concerned, or he was, but kept the difference of opinion private. I'm all to aware of the politics of the chain of command on a ship. Well enough in fact to know that some things...like differences of opinion...are not discussed in front of the troops.

>>As far as excusing Boxhall's incompetent navigation with "errors creep in," I would say that a discrepancy of 8-10 miles on a 95-mile run is inexcusable. The information that he had was: a precise fix at sundown, a known course and speed, and sufficient knowledge of the current to dead-reckon within a mile or less.<<

And sufficient knowladge of what else? What possible course changes and speed changes that may never have made it into the record? What of his illness which may and very likely did handicap his judgement??? We assume an awful lot when we come to the idea that we know all the factors involved when all we have is what came from those who survived.
 
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Alicia Coors

Guest
"Since how you say something is as important as what you say...

Now I know where to come to have my diction, spelling, grammar, and punctuation corrected!

...a couple of people "passing it on" and then having it heard and misheard on down the line until a situation with a reasonable level of calm degenerates into a panic because of the way the story would "improve" in the telling. Grapevine communications are funny this way.

I agree - rumor and garbled communication is a constant. Which means it would take place in any event. Which means that no additional risk would be assumed were Smith quietly to clarify the boarding policy.

What possible course changes and speed changes that may never have made it into the record?

You mean the historical record, which is not what Boxhall had access to. But if all course and speed changes weren't available to Boxhall, the operation of the vessel verged on the criminally negligent. And if he was too sick to function, he should have been either relieved or backed up.
 
Now let's go back and take a look at the whole of what was said in context.
>>A quiet word or two from Smith to his officers would have saved dozens, perhaps hundreds, more people. "Mr. Lightoller, you may board the gentlemen if there are no women or children about. Mr. Wilde, please see to impressing more passengers with the necessity of abandoning ship. A general announcement will not be advisable."<<

Which could have stampeded the cattle as likely as not. Erik has already commented on the inadvisability of countermanding orders once things are going on. Now to add to that, do you have any idea just how quickly word of something like this can spread throughout the ship??? Remember the situation: Sinking ship plus a Surplus of bodies along with a shortage of boats. Now throw into this mix a couple of people "passing it on" and then having it heard and misheard on down the line until a situation with a reasonable level of calm degenerates into a panic because of the way the story would "improve" in the telling. Grapevine communications are funny this way. That's not to say it would happen, but it could and they couldn't take that chance.
Note the underlined portion! Granting rumours would start anyway, why add fuel to the fire by starting something that would ultimately be distorted beyond belief??? Things were getting dicey enough as it was and doing so well befor 2 am. The officers didn't resort to threatening people with guns and firing warning shots because everybody was bahaving themselves. They did so because things were already starting to get out of hand.

>>You mean the historical record, which is not what Boxhall had access to. But if all course and speed changes weren't available to Boxhall, the operation of the vessel verged on the criminally negligent.<<

Perhaps...and if there were no course and speed changes? Do we know that there were? Do we know that there weren't? That's what makes the sort of contemporary value judgements you're making so dangerous, to say nothing of anachronistic. They didn't have all the information we do. Likewise, we don't know the whole of what was available to them or how it was handled.

>>And if he was too sick to function, he should have been either relieved or backed up.<<

By who? The list of available officers was a short one and they worked some pretty tough hours as it was. If the illness wasn't on the verge being completely disabling or life threatening, or at least something where the ship's doctor orders you to bedrest, you stood your watch. (You still do be it underway or just minding the store inport. Been there, done that!) It's a question of choosing the lesser of two evils. Unfortunately, this can lead to a situation where one can make errors. A number garbled here, a number garbled or misunderstood there, that's all it takes. Frankly, I'm amazed Joe Boxhall did as well as he did.
 
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Alicia Coors

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Getting a few more people into the boats early on wouldn't have caused panic, because that wasn't a significant risk as long as most people didn't think the ship would sink. People don't panic when they think they're safe. Even when it did occur to people that they were in jeopardy, the crew still managed to ramp up the occupancy of the last few boats.

Perhaps...and if there were no course and speed changes? Then Boxhall's task would be much simpler. Do we know that there were? No. So what? Do we know that there weren't? ibid That's what makes the sort of contemporary value judgements you're making so dangerous, to say nothing of anachronistic. That's not a value judgment. That's high-school logic. They didn't have all the information we do. What? The position of the wreckage? Likewise, we don't know the whole of what was available to them or how it was handled. That's right. And it's totaly irrelevant. If there were no course and/or speed changes, Boxhall's computation would be simplified. If there were, but they weren't available to him, somebody screwed up, because that's no way to run a 50,000 ton ship.

By who[m]? If there were officers available to assist with the sundown position, they would have been available four hours later. Especially when the computation was critical to the survival of 2,200 people. Frankly, I'm amazed Joe Boxhall didn't have his work checked by everyone on the bridge.
 
>>Getting a few more people into the boats early on wouldn't have caused panic,<<

Do it your way and it just might. As I pointed out, things were already starting to go sour fairly early on.

>>Perhaps...and if there were no course and speed changes? Then Boxhall's task would be much simpler.<<

If there were no course changes. Let's not forget to factor in the manuevering done after the ship struck the iceberg. We know from the accounts of Gracie and Beesley that the ship made way again. That some engine orders involving manuevering were given is corroberated by the testimony of survivors from the engine room.

>>Do we know that there were? No. So what?<<

Because in order to get an accurate fix, you have to know the whole of what the ship was doing. Where she went, how fast she went, etc. C'mon Alicia, you're pretty good at crunching numbers. Tell me how you can get an accurate fix with only part of the equation?

>>That's what makes the sort of contemporary value judgements you're making so dangerous, to say nothing of anachronistic. That's not a value judgment. That's high-school logic.<<

No it isn't. It's armchair quarterbacking.

>>They didn't have all the information we do. What? The position of the wreckage?<<

They didn't have that information. What they had was whatever numbers were available to them so they could calculate what they thought was the position of the ship.

>>Likewise, we don't know the whole of what was available to them or how it was handled. That's right. And it's totaly irrelevant.<<

An accident investigator would disagree and so do I. Befor making any sort of judgement, it's entirely relevant to have all the facts you can get ahold of.

>>If there were no course and/or speed changes, Boxhall's computation would be simplified.<<

And if there were, it would be complicated.

>>If there were, but they weren't available to him, somebody screwed up, because that's no way to run a 50,000 ton ship.<<

Ahhhhh....the Zero Defects Mentality strikes again! Too bad the real world is full of flaws.

>>If there were officers available to assist with the sundown position, they would have been available four hours later. Especially when the computation was critical to the survival of 2,200 people.<<

For the record, the Titanic had seven officers who were expected to keep a lid on things 24/7 in a rotating watch. Seven...that's it! As they had a full plate all the time and rest was essential, unless you were completely indisposed, you stood your watch.

>>Especially when the computation was critical to the survival of 2,200 people. Frankly, I'm amazed Joe Boxhall didn't have his work checked by everyone on the bridge.<<

And as I've pointed out, the gravity of the situation is no barrier to mistakes. And in the middle of an emergency, you don't have all the officers crunching the numbers when they're needed someplace else. Like on those boats and getting them away.
 
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