Tag Archives: Captain Arthur Rostron

Titanic 2017

New York Times Front Page 16 April 1912
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

In April 1912 the unthinkable happened: Titanic sank taking over 1500 lives to the cold North Atlantic. People were stunned. With the headline Titanic Sunk blazing across newspapers around the globe, it made people wonder what had happened to a ship that defined an age of progress. For those with family, either passengers or crew, it was even more dire. Did my husband live? What happened to that family down the road that decided to go to America for a new life?

In the aftermath two investigations would seek to answer the question of what happened. A short concise statement is that Titanic collided with an iceberg that punctured the hull in many places causing water to enter the forward compartments causing her to founder and sink. Yet the investigations showed all kinds of things that were not right: out of date government regulations about lifeboats, the lack of manning wireless communications during all ship watches, the inattention given to numerous ice warnings, the lack of binoculars for the lookouts and much more. Captain Rostron of Carpathia would be labeled a hero for racing to the scene and retrieving the survivors. Captain Lord of California would come under criticism for his indifference to rockets being seen and failing to investigate.

The world of 1912 was a world on a precipice. Ominous clouds were already gathering over Europe. Titanic represented perhaps the pinnacle of the dying Edwardian age. It had everything that a person of means wanted: a comfortable way to cross the Atlantic in style. Down below was the other side, immigrants desperate to leave home and find a new life in the United States. And sadly many of those third class (or steerage as they were called)would perish.  Titanic sinking left a mark on many that something was wrong and would be confirmed when war broke out in 1914. And that war would cut a wide swath in the upper classes that would have lasting effects.

The lessons of Titanic are many. The most important of all is to never become complacent nor think you are so clever as to be divine. It is a lesson that is sometimes forgotten resulting in tragedies like the Challenger explosion. Sometimes Greek mythology delivers warnings about complacency. Icarus forgot his wings were made of wax when he flew up to the sun resulting in his death. And saying Titanic was practically unsinkable comes pretty darn close as well.

Titanic Chronology April 15-16, 1912

Photograph of iceberg taken by chief steward of Prinz Adalbert on morning of 15 April 1912 near where Titanic sank. At the time he had not learned of the Titanic disaster. Smears of red paint along the base caught his attention. The photo and accompanying statement were sent to Titanic’s lawyers, which hung in their boardroom until the firm dissolved in 2002. Public Domain

1. Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm ship time on 14 April 1912. The night was moonless and the sea calm with temperatures at or below freezing. Titanic was moving quickly but did not see the iceberg until it was nearly upon them. An attempt to steer around it resulted in a collision on Titanic’s starboard side. The iceberg would puncture Titanic enough so that the first five compartments would flood. Since the compartments were not totally sealed all the way up, water would go from one compartment to the other making her sink at the bow.

2. Titanic would transmit signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The SS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.

RMS Carpathia (date unknown) Image: public domain
RMS Carpathia (date unknown)
Image: public domain

3. RMS Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.

4. SS Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 71o survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912. Public Domain(Wikipedia)
Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

*SS Carpathia was on her way to Fiume then part of Austria-Hungary in the Adriatic Sea. Today the city is Rijeka and major city in Croatia owning to its deep port and cultural significance.

Sources:
Books
Eaton, John P.; Haas, Charles A. (1994). Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens
Lord, Walter (2005) [1955]. A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin
Lord, Walter (1987). The Night Lives On. London: Penguin Books
Lynch, Donald (1998). Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion

Websites:
Encyclopedia Titanica: Titanic Facts, History and Biography

Take a look at  Amazon Titanic Books

Auction Results(Updated)

Mrs. J.J. "Molly" Brown presenting trophy cup award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron, for his service in the rescue of the Titanic. Photo:Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c21013)
Mrs. J.J. “Molly” Brown presenting trophy cup award to Capt. Arthur Henry Rostron, for his service in the rescue of the Titanic.
Photo:Public Domain (US Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c21013)

Among the other Titanic items that went up for auction at Henry Aldridge & Son on Saturday was a sterling silver cup presented to Captain Rostron by Molly Brown. The cup was given at a ceremony on 29 May 1912 to thank Rostron and crew for rescuing the Titanic survivors.

In grateful recognition and appreciation of his heroic and efficient service in the rescue of the survivors of the Titanic on April 15th 1912,and of the generous and sympathetic treatment he accorded us on his ship. From the Survivors of the Titanic.

Additionally the crew members, based on their rate, received a gold, silver, or bronze medal. The cup was estimated to bring in between $61,000-$91,000. It sold for an astonishing $200,000. The name of the buyer was not revealed.

Source:Molly Brown’s Titanic cup sold at auction for $200,000 (Fox News,26 Oct 2015)

Titanic Sunk

Front Page, New York Herald, 15 April 1912 Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress,www.loc.gov)
Front Page, New York Herald, 15 April 1912
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress,www.loc.gov)

23:40 (11:40 p.m.) Lookouts Fleet and Lee sight iceberg. Bell rung and call to bridge. Murdoch orders helm hard a-starboard and engines reversed. Starboard side scraped by iceberg for 300 feet puncturing hull in various places. Water fills forward compartments.

1200 (12:00 a.m.) Thomas Andrews tells Captain Smith ship is sinking estimating ship can stay afloat estimating no more than 2 hours. Lifeboats are lowered by hand, evacuation of passengers begins. Wireless is used to alert nearby ships. RMS Carpathia responds and begins moving towards Titanic.

02:20 (2:20 a.m.) Titanic sinks at 2:20 a.m.with over 1,500 lives lost.

0400 (4:00 a.m.) RMS Carpathia arrives and rescues approximately 710 from lifeboats. Captain Rostron of Carpathia said the area was an ice field with at least 20 large bergs measuring up to 200 feet in height and numerous smaller bergs.

18 April 1912 0930 (9:30 a.m.) RMS Carpathia docks at New York Pier 54. Prior to that it offloaded the only remaining piece of Titanic afloat, the lifeboats. Due to confusing communications, the initial reports were more promising about the the severity of the tragedy. The confusion was caused by mixed up bits of wireless communication resulting in erroneous reports of Titanic being towed to New York and less lives lost. By the time Carpathia arrived in New York, everyone knew that over 1,500 had died in the tragedy.


Sign of Times:Colne Museum Needs Money;Puts Titanic Binoculars Up For Sale

I suppose it was going to happen eventually. Many places are having trouble meeting Colne Titanic Binoculars For Saleexpenses due to the turbulent economic times we are in. The Titanic in Lancashire Museum in Colne (U.K.) has run into serious financial problems. So it has, with great regret, put binoculars presented to Captain Rostron of Carpathia (the ship that rescued Titanic’s survivors) up for sale at eBay. The starting bid is $600.00.

Museum curator Nigel Hampson said the venture would ‘absolutely, categorically prefer not to sell the binoculars’ but they needed to pay bills year-round. He added: “We do not want them to go. But we are between a rock and a hard place. Keeping the museum open costs money. “All the staff, myself included, are unpaid volunteers and all monies made are put back into the museum.“ But the fact remains that gas, electricity, phone and day-to-day expenses all have to be covered.

It is sad to see this happen but they are between a rock and hard place. However I hope this never has to happen. I believe there are a lot of Titanic enthusiasts in the U.K. and elsewhere that will want to help out. Donations can be made at their website.

Source: Lancashire Telegraph, Colne Museum’s Cash-Strapped Bosses Put Titanic Binoculars On eBay, 29 Nov 2012