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Thread: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

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    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    I believe so. It was completely avoidable. And even if it did occur, casualties should have been minimal.

    -No drills. Nobody knew the emergency procedures, or the locations of the lifeboats on the ship deck... the captain couldn't be bothered to execute drills. Many of the lifeboats only had a few people in them, because the bulk of the passengers didn't know where they were on the ship.

    -All of the sane ship captains stopped their vessels outside the iceberg field. Smith plowed on through.

    -He hadn't bothered to properly brief or train any of his officers. The officer in charge of the bridge didn't know how to properly handle the ship when the iceberg was spotted. Instead of ramming the iceberg headon (Which the ship's hull was designed for), he turned it, allowing it to make a huge slit along the side.

    -The lookouts weren't equipped with binoculars. There was a pair in the quarters of one of the officers who was absent from the voyage. If Smith had bothered to address this problem, the binoculars could have been obtained and given to the lookouts.

    -He could have simply sailed over to a nearby ship WITHIN EYESIGHT, and unloaded the passengers there.

    -The Captain completely failed to carry out any form of damage control.

    -There weren't enough lifeboats. Not his fault, but he made no attempt to have more constructed after the iceberg hit. There were lots of ablebodied people standing around doing nothing. There were plenty of rudimentary tools and sources of building supplies.
    Last edited by Lord Bohemond; May 24, 2007 at 03:57 PM.
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    Odovacar's Avatar I am with Europe!
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    So far I can tell the ship sunk because both the captain and the owner company was silly and overly proud.
    They commited so many mistakes its hard to count.
    Especially the lifeboat case.
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    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    It was death from a thousand cuts. So many mistakes - not a big deal by themselves, but deadly when combined. Most of them were preventable by the captain, however.
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    Poisoner's Avatar Hastatas Posterior
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Who cares?



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    Adrian Laguna's Avatar Aquilifer
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Bohemond View Post
    -No drills. Nobody knew the emergency procedures, or the locations of the lifeboats on the ship deck... the captain couldn't be bothered to execute drills. Many of the lifeboats only had a few people in them, because the bulk of the passengers didn't know where they were on the ship.
    Not the Captian's fault, it wasn't procedure to do drills.

    -All of the sane ship captains stopped their vessels outside the iceberg field. Smith plowed on through.
    None of the reports of there being icebergs ahead reached the bridge. The Captain cannot be everywhere at once, thus he delegates tasks to officers and crew, that's what they're for. The Captain has a reasonable expectation that things of importance be relayed to him so he can act on them. Someone on the chain of command decided that it the warnings weren't worthy of the Captain's attention. It should be noted that when iceberg warnings had been relayed to the bridge, a few days earlier, he did act on them by changing the ship's course to a more southerly route.

    -He hadn't bothered to properly brief or train any of his officers. The officer in charge of the bridge didn't know how to properly handle the ship when the iceberg was spotted. Instead of ramming the iceberg headon (Which the ship's hull was designed for), he turned it, allowing it to make a huge slit along the side.
    They nearly dodged the iceberg, if they had then Titanic would have happily sailed into New York harbour without trouble. It was a snap judgement call and the First Officer almost nailed it. In fact his mistake wasn't ordering the ship to turn, it was also ordering full reversal of the engines.

    -The lookouts weren't equipped with binoculars. There was a pair in the quarters of one of the officers who was absent from the voyage. If Smith had bothered to address this problem, the binoculars could have been obtained and given to the lookouts.
    That's the First Officer's job, not the Captain's. The XO deals with ship internal to the ship, the Skipper deals with things external to it. Furthermore, was the Captain even informed about the lack of binoculars?

    -Once the ship was hit, Smith could have simply ordered a complete stop. This would have greatly prolonged the time to evacuate. Better still, he could have simply sailed over to a nearby ship WITHIN EYESIGHT, and unloaded the passengers there.
    The first did happen, Smith ordered "all stop" as soon as he came unto the bridge. The second is not procedure because keeping the ship moving makes it sink faster. If there are any ships nearby it's better to just have them come to you. There was no way the officers of the Titanic could know that Californian wouldn't respond and would interpret their distress rockets as fireworks.

    -The Captain completely failed to carry out any form of damage control.
    The watertight doors were closed and the pumps engaged, which is the extent of what could have been done. Repairing the gash was not an option on account of lots of water coming out of it and it being pretty dammed big.

    -There weren't enough lifeboats. Not his fault, but he made no attempt to have more constructed after the iceberg hit. There were lots of ablebodied people standing around doing nothing. There were plenty of rudimentary tools and sources of building supplies.
    Okay, now that's just silly. Expecting people to build life-boats in a near panic situation, come on man. Also, what materials would you expect them to use? Ripping-up the deck is not exactly easy. In fact, has there even been a situation where anyone ordered the construction of improvised lifeboats?
    Last edited by Adrian Laguna; May 24, 2007 at 03:38 PM.

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    Adrian Laguna's Avatar Aquilifer
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoner View Post
    Who cares?
    This thread was sparked by this post of mine.

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    Poisoner's Avatar Hastatas Posterior
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Laguna View Post
    This thread was sparked by this post of mine.
    I just don't see why people obsess over the Titanic and go down into the ocean in a submarine. It sank and thats it so unless your mom was a passanger leave it alone.



  8. #8
    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Laguna View Post
    Not the Captian's fault, it wasn't procedure to do drills.


    Ships have been doing drills since the Hellenic era.

    -An Athenian galley captain had to know the capabilities and limits of his ship, his crew, and the slave rowers.

    -In the glory days of the British navy, good captains vigorously drilled their crews.

    -Coincidentally, two years after the Titanic sank, the same British navy proved to be notoriously bad. Some captains were so lazy about drills that they ordered shells dropped overboard, and then pretended that the those shells were used in drills that never happened.

    None of the reports of there being icebergs ahead reached the bridge. The Captain cannot be everywhere at once, thus he delegates tasks to officers and crew, that's what they're for. The Captain has a reasonable expectation that things of importance be relayed to him so he can act on them. The someone on the chain of command decided that it the warnings weren't worthy of the Captain's attention. It should be noted that when iceberg warning had been relayed to the bridge, a few days earlier, he did act on them by changing the ship's course to a more southerly route.
    It is a commander's responsibility to make sure your subordinates know what they're doing. If they don't, train them, or if you don't have time, find someone who does know what he's doing.

    According to your paragraph, I could put a monkey in charge of a nuclear submarine. When it gets sunk, I can claim that it wasn't my fault, because the monkey was in charge.

    They nearly dodged the iceberg, if they had then Titanic would have happily sailed into New York harbour without trouble. It was a snap judgement call and the First Officer almost nailed it. In fact his mistake wasn't ordering the ship to turn, it was also ordering full reversal of the engines.
    Ordering a full reversal and not turning at all was the textbook response to the situation. The ship's hull is strongest at the bow, and probably would have been undamaged by the collision. However, he turned it and exposed the ship's weakest area to the iceberg.

    Yes, if he was extremely lucky, the ship would have been unscathed. But it's an unwise idea to rely on luck.

    That's the First Officer's job, not the Captain's. The XO deals with ship internal to the ship, the Skipper deals with things external to it. Furthermore, was the Captain even informed about the lack of binoculars?
    Not quite. The day to day handling is of course handled by the exec. But if there's anything noteworthy, the captain needs to be informed.

    If one of our nuclear submarines crashes into a rock because it's sonar equipment was broken, that's the captain's responsibility. He can't just claim he "wasn't informed".

    You are contradicting yourself, offering two mutually exclusive courses of action. The first did happen, Smith ordered "all stop" as soon as he came unto the bridge.
    I'm sorry, I put down the original statement, but after I corrected it I forgot to delete it.

    The second is not procedure because keeping the ship moving makes it sink faster. If there are any ships nearby it's better to just have them come to you. There was no way the officers of the Titanic could know that Californian wouldn't respond and would interpret their distress rockets as fireworks.
    The Californian didn't move. If Mohammed can't come to the mountain... let the mountain come to Mohammed. If your first idea doesn't work, you don't just give up and let the water come up to your neck.

    The watertight doors were closed and the pumps engaged, which is the extent of what could have been done. Repairing the gash was not an option on account of lots of water coming out of it and it being pretty dammed big.
    This is the core of leadership. Assign teams to investigate every possibility. And you are also incorrect in saying there was nothing that could be done - there are ways to stop a breached hull, as the war would prove a couple years later.

    Okay, now that's just silly. Expecting people to build life-boats in a near panic situation, come on man.
    It was a panicky situation because the captain and officers were standing around like morons. People don't panic if they feel the situation is under control. The situation WASN'T under control, hence the panic.

    Also, what materials would you expect them to use? Ripping-up the deck is not exactly easy. In fact, has there even been a situation where anyone ordered the construction of improvised lifeboats?
    Anything that buys time. A table, a stack of boards nailed together... anything that keeps people dry for a little while longer. Remember, all they had to do was float until rescue arrived.


    Let me introduce you to the Basic leadership principles we learn in the USMC.


    know yourself and seek self-improvement.
    be technically and tactically proficient.
    develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.
    make sound and timely decisions.
    set the example.
    know your marines and look out for their welfare.
    keep your marines informed.
    seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
    ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.
    train your marines as a team.
    employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.

    Captain Smith practiced NONE of these principles.
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    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Who cares?
    If you don't care about history, I think you're in the wrong forum.
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    RusskiSoldat's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Ships have been doing drills since the Hellenic era.

    -An Athenian galley captain had to know the capabilities and limits of his ship, his crew, and the slave rowers.

    -In the glory days of the British navy, good captains vigorously drilled their crews.
    Captain Smith wasn't a military officer, he was in charge of a civilian pleasure cruise.
    The closest he got to army work was transporting troops (on a cruise liner) during the Boer War.
    -Coincidentally, two years after the Titanic sank, the same British navy proved to be notoriously bad. Some captains were so lazy about drills that they ordered shells dropped overboard, and then pretended that the those shells were used in drills that never happened.
    Uh what?
    The Royal Navy wasn't notoriously bad.
    It fought one major battle with the Germans (at other times both fleets mostly stayed in harbor) where it took some damage and did some damage in a way that, tactically, wasn't decisive and strategically did the best thing it could: kept the German fleet bottled up.
    It is a commander's responsibility to make sure your subordinates know what they're doing. If they don't, train them, or if you don't have time, find someone who does know what he's doing.
    People driving the Staten Island Ferry tend to not be the smartest bunch and I certainly don't expect them to do anything heroic or decisive.
    Why?
    Because they're civilians working a job, not a group of marines on a mission.
    According to your paragraph, I could put a monkey in charge of a nuclear submarine. When it gets sunk, I can claim that it wasn't my fault, because the monkey was in charge.
    A nuclear submarine is a military object.
    The Titanic wasn't.
    Not quite. The day to day handling is of course handled by the exec. But if there's anything noteworthy, the captain needs to be informed.
    A lack of a single item of equipment is noteworthy?
    White Star had its margins to worry about, I doubt they would be thrilled at creating any sort of delays or trouble out of nothing.
    The Californian didn't move. If Mohammed can't come to the mountain... let the mountain come to Mohammed. If your first idea doesn't work, you don't just give up and let the water come up to your neck.
    No, you apparently go full speed ahead and drown at a much quicker pace.
    This is the core of leadership. Assign teams to investigate every possibility. And you are also incorrect in saying there was nothing that could be done - there are ways to stop a breached hull, as the war would prove a couple years later.
    Again, he was a civilian.
    It was a panicky situation because the captain and officers were standing around like morons. People don't panic if they feel the situation is under control. The situation WASN'T under control, hence the panic.
    The presence of 3000 people who weren't in any way affiliated with the military (among them many women and children) also contributed to the panic, if only a little.
    Let me introduce you to the Basic leadership principles we learn in the USMC.


    know yourself and seek self-improvement.
    be technically and tactically proficient.
    develop a sense of responsibility among your subordinates.
    make sound and timely decisions.
    set the example.
    know your marines and look out for their welfare.
    keep your marines informed.
    seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
    ensure assigned tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished.
    train your marines as a team.
    employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.

    Captain Smith practiced NONE of these principles.
    If only Captain Smith was a marine, the whole Titanic thing would never have happened.
    Words to live by.





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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    let us remember, that nearly every one of the ships (whether or not you believe the titanic was a makeover or not) built by the company from which the Titanic was sprung, sunk as well

    just an addition

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    mightyfenrir's Avatar Senshi
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by RusskiSoldat View Post
    Captain Smith wasn't a military officer, he was in charge of a civilian pleasure cruise.
    The closest he got to army work was transporting troops (on a cruise liner) during the Boer War.
    and I don't think cruise ships do drills anyway, taking blame away from the captain and placing it on the industry. Just like with airlines. Your first flight you don't actually ahve to pass a safety test or do the bus evacuation they made you do in elementary school

    Quote Originally Posted by enoch View Post
    let us remember, that nearly every one of the ships (whether or not you believe the titanic was a makeover or not) built by the company from which the Titanic was sprung, sunk as well

    just an addition
    Didn't one of them get (supposedly at least) sunk by a torpedo in WWII though? I don't think that's the company's fault.


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  13. #13
    RusskiSoldat's Avatar Equites Alares
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Although a stunningly high amount of its ships did end up sunk, the circumstances seem to be responsible for that.





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    redirflow's Avatar Kirā
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    I dont know.

    But, there was a tale about the Titanic - "The Mummy on the Titanic".

    http://www.catchpenny.org/titanic.html

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    Darth Caesar's Avatar Hastatas Prior
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by redirflow View Post
    I dont know.

    But, there was a tale about the Titanic - "The Mummy on the Titanic".

    http://www.catchpenny.org/titanic.html
    no you didnt, not that one please....

    mmmm, all the debates aside, it was the basis of a good movie


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    kapow32's Avatar Yoshihara
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    i'd say it was the icebergs' fault
    kapow!

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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    personally, I have always blamed Leo......................

  18. #18
    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Quote Originally Posted by RusskiSoldat View Post
    Captain Smith wasn't a military officer, he was in charge of a civilian pleasure cruise.
    The closest he got to army work was transporting troops (on a cruise liner) during the Boer War.
    Just because you're a civilian doesn't mean it's okay to not train your people.

    Uh what?
    The Royal Navy wasn't notoriously bad.
    It fought one major battle with the Germans (at other times both fleets mostly stayed in harbor) where it took some damage and did some damage in a way that, tactically, wasn't decisive and strategically did the best thing it could: kept the German fleet bottled up.
    Remember, the British suffered more losses than the Germans... even though the Germans aren't exactly famous for their sailing skills.

    Or how about the battle with the Bismark in WWII? The battleship gunners were performing so poorly, the fleet ended up just sending in destroyers and finishing off the hulk with torpedoes.

    People driving the Staten Island Ferry tend to not be the smartest bunch and I certainly don't expect them to do anything heroic or decisive.
    Why?
    Because they're civilians working a job, not a group of marines on a mission.
    Yes, but you don't recruit morons to run the largest ship in the world full of passengers. The captain and his officers were smart and experienced people. They should have known better.

    A nuclear submarine is a military object.
    The Titanic wasn't.
    Responsibility is the same in both a civilian ship and a military ship. It's still the captain's fault.

    A lack of a single item of equipment is noteworthy?
    White Star had its margins to worry about, I doubt they would be thrilled at creating any sort of delays or trouble out of nothing.
    Sending two guys to break open the box with the binoculars wouldn't exactly be a catastrophic plan-alteration.

    No, you apparently go full speed ahead and drown at a much quicker pace.
    If he got to the Californian then nobody would have drowned.

    Again, he was a civilian.
    You don't need to be military to know this. Heck, a scoutmaster knows this. This isn't secret knowledge of brigadier generals.

    The presence of 3000 people who weren't in any way affiliated with the military (among them many women and children) also contributed to the panic, if only a little.
    Actually, that's a big contribution. But keeping them calm isn't too difficult if you have a plan laid out and properly trained subordinates.

    If only Captain Smith was a marine, the whole Titanic thing would never have happened.
    Words to live by.
    Can't argue with that one. lol



    I think the real mistake here was having Smith in charge at all. He was due for retirement - he was just too old. His behavior is consistent with a nervous breakdown. The old codger had just seen too many winters for the job.
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  19. #19
    Zuwxiv's Avatar Bear Claus
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Fault? It's almost as if you see the Titantic as a bad thing. Yes, it was horrible for that many people to die - but the scale of the disaster caused safety awareness at seas.

    It is quite likely that, were the Titantic diaster averted, there would be exponentially more deaths at sea. Another larger event could have occured, or many many small events. The Titantic made sea travel safer - at a horrible cost - but overall, lives have probably been saved over time.

    Of course, that stems from a cold, heartless hypothetical. But remember that element in your judgement - the sinking of the Titantic caused good things to happen as well.

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  20. #20
    Lord Bohemond's Avatar Segoe
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    Default Re: Was the Titanic sinking Captain Smith's fault?

    Very true. But I'm not sure I'd want a captain who was thinking Maybe I should let us all sink and die, so we'll be an example to others!
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