Page 28 - The Times Titanic Souvenir 1988
P. 28
*F1 TIIEIITI]IIC STllRY CHAPTER VI required to carry a minimum of 16 lifeboats, each with a capacity of 5,500 cubic feet, and rafts and floats equal to 75 per cent of the lifeboats'capacity. TheTitanic could carry a total of 3,511 passengers and Iheaftermath crew, but the regulations meant her owners were only required to provide lifeboat accommodation ior 962. In fact, the White Star Line provided her with four extra mllapsible FOR minutes and hours following the sinking of the boats, which increased capacity to I,178. Titanic, thousands of objects fell to the sea bed: pieces of Perhaps one of the most contentious aspects of the china from the d la carte restaurant, tiles from the gymnasi- tragedy concerns Captain Smith. The care and welfare of um floor, a woman's shoe, a boiler from the engine room. passengers and crew was his responsibility as commander, And, lying in the centre of this field of devastation, the shat- but his failings led to much unnecessary loss of life during tered hull of the vessel herself. the loading of the lifeboats. As the command structure fell More than 1,500 lives were lost - frozen or drowned - in apart that Sunday night, his officers dispatched lifeboats the icy waters of the north Atlantic. The statistics are filled to a fraction of their capacity. appalling enough, let alone the reality of such a magnifi- Any seaman would tell you that a boat designed to carry: cent ship sinking on her maiden voyage. Of the 1,324 pas- 64 could take 74 or perhaps more in a flat, calm sea;S sengers and 899 crew, just 706 survived. Only about 320 Lifeboat number one, with a capacity 40, was lowered bodies were recovered. No trace was ever found of others - the sea with just 12 people on board. But while the praised the heroic tain and a bronze ue was erec-ted memory of him, scapegoat for world's fury was president of the Star's controlling pany, the In Mercantile Mar In James Titanic, Ismay is trayed as an au businessman shown up by Winslet's character" fictional Rose Bukater, as ig and uncultured. real life, he was a more complex ter than the film's dimensional ste would have us Well-educated - Titarric's lifeboats were taken to New York by tfte Capathia the first ship to reach the sene of the tragedy familiar with the the Rice family, for instance. For Margaret and her five of the then{ittleknown psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud young children the only memorial is the RMS Titanic. disliked media attention and kept his personal life and The news reports of the disaster predictably generated a ily out of the public spotlight. His willpower turned furious clamour, including a spate of indignant newspaper ing IMM around, making a handsome profit for his editorials, and led to two official inquiries. One was held by directors and shareholders. On principle he would the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, chaired interfere with another's judgment, whether by senator William Alden Smith; the other by the British ship or driving a car, but we see the opposite in the Court of Inquiry, under lord Mersey. But these did little to llrcTitanicwas Ismay's dream, but on the night of help people understand how such a tragedy could happen. 14, 1912, Ismay found himself in a nightmare. He The enormous weight of material written in recent years to load passengers into the boats until the very last has, in many ways, only confused our understanding of the and, only then, secure in the knowledge he had disaster. In simple terms, the huge loss of life was caused his duty, he boarded one of the last life-boats. But by outdated British Board of Trade regulations, which treated Ismay very harshly for living through the allowed the Titanic to put to sea with an insufficient when so many other lives were lost. American number of lifeboats. Vessels of 10,000 tons or more were newspapers christened him (ontinued on page 7i) 30
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