Friday, March 9, 2012

Denormalising history

Such is the venom of the righteous to attempt to denormalise what are pleasurable activities that they appear to be going back in history to accuse the Captain of the Titanic of causing the ship to sink because he'd been drinking...
THE captain of the Titanic may have been under the influence of alcohol when the liner hit an iceberg and sank, an unearthed document suggests.
Captain Edward Smith was apparently seen drinking in the ship’s saloon bar before the collision. The history books record the skipper was woken in his cabin at the time of the impact before taking the brave decision to go down with the ship.
But the previously unseen account by survivor Emily Richards blames Captain Smith, 62, for the tragedy.
The allegation was made in a letter she wrote on board the rescue ship Carpathia two days after the sinking in April 2012. Mrs Richards, 24, and her two young sons were rescued but her brother George, 23, was one of the 1,522 people who died.
Mrs Richards, of Penzance, wrote: “The boat struck an iceberg at 11 o’clock on Sunday night. The captain was down in the saloon drinking and gave charge to someone else to steer the ship. It was the captain’s fault.”
I mean seriously come on, did the woman expect the captain to be steering the ship 24/7? That, plus what anyone does off duty so long as it doesn't affect their performance whilst on duty means that like anyone else whether at sea or not can choose to have a drink when they are not at work. It's a bit like accusing me of causing a crane fault at work when I'm on my days off or between shifts, it really doesn't make sense. Though I suspect it will be taken as evidence on the evils of alcohol; by certain pressure groups and used to advance their cause.
The real reason the Titanic sank (other than hitting an iceberg) is that the men on watch had no binoculars as for some reason they weren't requisitioned on board for the first trip, that meant owing to time limitations steering a very large ocean liner out of the path of the iceberg was a case of too little too late, though perhaps if they'd hit it head on the ship might not have sank either.
I expect this letter was part of the blame game that went on at the time, people look for reasons and then they look for scapegoats.
Doesn't mean now though that it wont be used as a further excuse to make a legal pastime more expensive and more prohibited...

3 annotations:

Captain Haddock said...

Since when did Captains (other than those of small vessels) actually steer ships ?

To the best of my knowledge & belief, that's what they employ Helmsmen to do ..

The Captain is in overall command, on the bridge, directing others in the way in which he requires his vessel to be handled ..

In his absence, this supervisory duty is delegated to either the First Officer, or Officer Of The Watch ..

Anonymous said...

Because Olympic had been damaged White Star Line were keen to get Titanic in service as soon as possible. Shipyard effort had been diverted from Titanic build to Olympic repair and as a result all of the programme 'slack' was taken up.

Titanic sailed on schedule but had had only half a day for sea trials. The only opportunity for 'shakedown' was the transit to Southampton with a skeleton crew. As a result her maiden voyage was as much a training exercise for the crew as a revenue raising trip for the company.

CJ Nerd said...

This puts me in mind of a question that's been knocking around in the back of my mind for some time.

Why didn't the Titanic have searchlights to look out for icebergs with?

Obviously radar would have been ideal, but that was still about 25 years in the future. But searchlights were available in those days, and icebergs were a well-known hazard.

So- why no searchlights?