The Titanic sets sail from Southampton on April 10, 1912
Captain SmithThe popular press expected men to die like heroes in 1912. After all Captain Smith had done just that, or had he? In a strange quirk of history the man directly responsible for the loss of Titanic is remembered as a hero, whilst the man who tried to save lives is labelled a coward.
Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. He failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path and allowed lifeboats to leave the sinking ship partially filled, unnecessarily adding at least 500 names to the list of the dead.
But what organisation or individual was ultimately to blame? The British government's Board of Trade allowed Titanic to sail with insufficient lifeboat accommodation. The government simply had not kept abreast of advances in marine engineering and based all life-saving regulations on ships up to 10,000 grt (gross registered tons) which were required to carry 16 lifeboats. Titanic was 46,329 grt. A ship designed to accommodate 3,511 passengers and crew was only required to provide lifeboat accommodation for 962. In fact, White Star provided her with four extra collapsible boats, increasing capacity to 1,178.
Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic.
Titanic, famous for that terrible disaster, today stands as a memorial to mankind's over-confidence in technology and a reminder of how weak we are compared with the forces of nature. But Titanic should also stand as a reminder of an era when millions of emigrants made the voyage across the Atlantic seeking a new life, in a new world - a memorial to a unique event in history.