Reply To: Titanic

Malcolm Lewis

    Thank you Sam for posting the talk about the sinking of the Titanic on the SNR Forum Podcast. Your talk with historian Dan Lynch was of great interest although the picture he conjured up of the passengers, many of which could not speak English, arriving on the boat deck and realising there was no life boat allocated to them, I found quite distressing. Presumably at that time it was not usual to have a life boat drill soon after leaving port. Of course, in reality there were only half the number of life boats on board for the number of passengers and crew. The chaos and panic must have been terrible.
    Much has been written about the sinking. There were two inquiries, one in England and one in America. Captain Edward Smith, who lost his life, was the most senior and most experienced captain in the White Star Line. He had made the North Atlantic crossing many times and was well aware of the risk of icebergs at that time of the year and Titanic had received several warnings of bergs on the course set by Titanic yet he and his officers made no changes to avoid them, deciding to continue steaming at her maximum speed of 22 knots through the icefield when other ships nearby had stopped awaiting dawn and better visibility. Titanic hit the iceberg at 11.40 pm and sank at 2.20 am.
    According to The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea “Captain Smith was not blamed for the sinking as it was not normal practise for liners to reduce speed in clear weather.” Further questions were raised about the lack of assistance from other ships in the area including the Californian whose Captain in particular received blame.
    I find it surprising that Captain Smith took no blame as he had total responsibility for the safety of his ship and its passengers and crew.
    Did the White Star Line pay out compensation to survivors and the families of those passengers who lost their lives does anyone know?
    Malcolm Lewis