Would the press still have chewed out Ismay?


Nov 13, 2014
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They conversation between Ismay and Smith is very telling in the reception because of the way Ismay is speaking: "Well, we did better today than we did yesterday. We will beat the Olympic and get in to New York on Tuesday night." The first sentence is the most important because to me the way Ismay is talking ensures that he is part of a project or a work in progress with the objective of getting to New York a day early. That is why he is being told this information by Smith, because he is influencing the speed. If he wasn't Smith would have no reason to tell Ismay anything.
The Titanic was never built for speed, but for size and luxury, and both Ismay and Smith knew this. Smith was not steaming reckless and full-speed to New York to beat the Olympic, 2 of the 29 boilers weren't lit.

Captains are always under pressure, their ships HAVE to arrive on schedule at the destination. The only reason I see to speed up was to deal with a delay of an hour caused in Southampton (the New York incident). Titanic speeded up to 22,5 kn, with that speed she would arrive in New York right on schedule.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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The Titanic was never built for speed, but for size and luxury, and both Ismay and Smith knew this. Smith was not steaming reckless and full-speed to New York to beat the Olympic, 2 of the 29 boilers weren't lit.
I do not know where you have this from.
Only 24 boilers were lit, the 5 single ended boilers in BR 1 were not.

Titanic was doing better than Olympic and would have beat her MV time, so this is right.

Captains are always under pressure, their ships HAVE to arrive on schedule at the destination. The only reason I see to speed up was to deal with a delay of an hour caused in Southampton (the New York incident). Titanic speeded up to 22,5 kn, with that speed she would arrive in New York right on schedule.
The one hour delay did not play a role. Titanic was already doing well and on the night of the collision she was going 22,5 knots and would have arrived on Tuesday night. To arrive in New York "on schedule" she had to slow down several knots!
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Captains are always under pressure, their ships HAVE to arrive on schedule at the destination. The only reason I see to speed up was to deal with a delay of an hour caused in Southampton (the New York incident). Titanic speeded up to 22,5 kn, with that speed she would arrive in New York right on schedule.

Ismay was a business man and a promoter of his trade. Like all such people. he "spoke with forked tongue". He was in the passenger ship business and knew very well how to use his public conversations with Captain Smith to further his business. He had two types of conversation.. a public one and a private one. While as owner he was perfectly entitled to discuss operational matters with Captain Smith, he was in the end, simply a passenger with a bit more influence than the average passenger. Captain Smith was ruled not by Ismay but by the British Board of Trade. While Ismay might stop him working for WSL, the BoT had supreme influence as to whether he worked or did not work at his trade of seafarer.

There is no evidence that Titanic's speed was deliberately increased between Noon April 14 and the moment of impact.

Titanic did nor speed up. The last of the double ended boilers were lit am Sunday and put on line after 6pm that evening. However when that happened,the firemen were ordered to "ease firing". At that moment, Titanic's main engines were turning at 75 revs per minute. The order to ease firing meant that for the time being and until further notice from the bridge, engine revolutions were to be maintained at 75/min. The reason the speed increased to 22.5 knots was that for the first time while running at 75 rpm, there was no wind, current or sea to slow the ship down. Add to that the fact that she was brand new and her bottom was clear of any marine growth. Almost 100% perfect, text book conditions.

The captain of a liner on any regular route has to take into account the possibilities of delay during the voyage. He therefore keeps 'a little up his sleeve" as we used to say. He cannot be sure that his vessel will maintain a desired average speed for the entire voyage In Smith's case, he knew very well that on his route he had three major causes that might slow his ship down. These were the prevailing south westerlies which often were storm force at the Equinoxes...the Gulf Stream which although always met-with, was unpredictable in strength and direction and in April, fog when less than 1000 miles from the US coast. To suggest that he was able to ensure the exact time of arrival is nonsense. He had a desired ETA. Most of the time he would keep to the schedule. It all depended on how much he had "up his sleeve". His skill lay in his ability to determine the amount to keep. He had no allowance for an "Act of God".

Jim C.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Jim --

I think you're letting the facts get in the way of charming old myths. As the reporter said in the movie, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," -- 'when the myth becomes fact, print the myth.'

No matter how strongly the facts support your argument (and in this case they do), you can never overcome the power of myth.

-- David G. Brown
 
Nov 13, 2014
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I thought the NGC Seconds From Disaster documentary about the Titanic was quite reliable, but it seems like they made some serious errors. They said that only 2 of the 29 boilers were out, and that the plotted speed would make Titanic arrive in New York right on schedule.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Documentaries are not always good. I saw this one 1 or 2 times but remember it has several mistakes.

Sadly there are a few others which also have made up stuff.