Titanic II – Australian Billionaire to build Full-Scale Titanic Cruise Ship

April 30, 2012: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I just came across this interesting article from The Associated Press on Titanic. In short, the man (Clive Palmer) wants to recreate the Titanic as an actual working luxury cruise ship with all the lavish trimmings for a niche cruise ship market. With the fascination about Titanic, his venture just might work! However, like any venture associated with a disaster like the Titanic, one has to remember that over 1500 people lost their lives on the original ship and countless others suffered for the rest of their lives from their losses.

As always, I do not use my blog for my own personal soap box but I am always fascinated with your comments on the subject. So tell me what you think and I’ll be happy to post your thoughts. Debate is good but don’t make it personal and we’ll see what people have to say.




High-tech, full-size version of ship to be ready for 2016 maiden voyage

The Associated Press

Posted: Apr 30, 2012 7:08 AM ET

Last Updated: Apr 30, 2012 7:21 AM ET

An Australian billionaire said Monday he’ll build a high-tech replica of the Titanic at a Chinese shipyard and its maiden voyage in late 2016 will be from England to New York, just like its namesake planned.

Weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic, Clive Palmer announced Monday he has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the Titanic II.

“It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic, but … will have state-of-the-art 21st-century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems,” Palmer said in a statement.

He called the project “a tribute to the spirit of the men and women who worked on the original Titanic.”

More than 1,500 people died after the Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic on its first voyage. It was the world’s largest and most luxurious ocean liner at the time.

Real estate, coal mining

Palmer built a fortune on real estate on Australia’s Gold Coast tourist strip before becoming a coal mining magnate. BRW magazine reported he was Australia’s fifth-richest person last year with more than 5 billion Australian dollars ($5.2 billion).

Palmer said at a news conference that previous attempts to build a Titanic replica failed because proponents failed to raise enough money and commission a shipyard. The Titanic II is the first of four luxury cruise ships Palmer has commissioned CSC Jinling Shipyard to build.

Palmer did not provide a cost estimate. He said he had established a new shipping company, Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd., and that design work for the Titanic II has begun with assistance from a historical research team.

The diesel-powered ship will have four smoke stacks like the coal-powered original, but they will be purely decorative.

The most obvious changes from the original Titanic would be below the water line, including welding rather than rivets, a bulbous bow for greater fuel efficiency and enlarged rudder and bow thrusters for increased manoeuvrability, Palmer said.

‘Many will embrace it’

Brett Jardine, general manager for Australia and New Zealand in the industry group International Cruise Council, said Titanic II would be small by modern standards but could prove viable at the top end of the luxury market.

“From a marketing point of view, many will embrace it, and perhaps there’ll be some that wouldn’t,” Jardine said.

“If you’ve got a niche, it’s going to work. Why go out there and try to compete with the mass market products that are out there now?” he added.

While the Titanic II would carry around 1,680 passengers, most modern cruise ships create economies of scale by catering for more than 2,000 passengers, he said.

Among the world’s largest passenger ships, Allure of the Seas is 90 metres longer than the 270-meter Titanic and has 2,700 cabins.

© The Associated Press, 2012





Published in: on Monday, April 30, 2012 at '12:20 pm'  Comments (8)  
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Thank you to all who shared their Titanic stories with me

April 15, 2012: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I just want to thank everyone who shared their thoughts on commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy. Many of you used the information I posted in “What Time Did the RMS Titanic Really Hit the Iceberg?” to know the exact moment that the ship hit the iceberg and sank (in 2012 time).

For those of you who shared your thoughts with me both here on the blog, and in private emails, I can genuinely tell you that I was touched. Small gatherings, quiet memorials, lighting candles, prayers and moments of silence were just some of the ways you folks commemorated and remembered the victims of the Titanic. In a world where we become desensitized to death and destruction, it gives me great peace in my heart to know that so many of you still care about people.

I’m glad I could help in my own small way.



PS: Thanks Jen for helping me remember the importance of human kindness and caring.


Published in: on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at '8:00 pm'  Comments (3)  
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April 14, 2010: Barry Cauchon.

Today is the 145th anniversary of the night Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre. But as the title shows, it is also the 98th anniversary of the night the Titanic struck the iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank in the early morning hours of April 15.

Mr. Pat Toms of Bangor Co. Down, North Ireland contacted me last year. Pat is the president of the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society. He lives just 15 miles from where the Titanic was built. But more importantly, his grandfather, Andrew “Danny” John Shannon was a passenger on the Titanic and regrettably did not survive the disaster. Pat sent me a brief history of his own life and invites those interested in joining his society to write him. Pat’s story has many personal tragedies and he is open about them here. I want to thank Pat for his letter and his friendship over the past year. 

Titanic Story.–At the age of 8 yrs old my grandmother Annie Matilda Shannon looked after me as my father was in the Army for round 2 of Germany vs. England. It was his second round. My mother was dead having committed suicide in 1942. Her brother Leonard Shannon was killed at sea by German raiders in the English channel in 1940. And my grandmother’s son was killed by the Turks at Gallipoli in 1917 at age 19 years old. In 1942, when I was 3 years old, my father’s relatives looked after me. In 1944, I went to a Church of England school. By then my father’s mother looked after me. I was then 5 years old and used to sleep under the table with my grandmother as German planes raided England, dropping bombs all over the place. Sleep was disrupted practically every night and during the day at school we were trained to run to the shelters in case of enemy aircraft attack.

At the age of eight my mother’s mother, my grandmother Annie Matilda Shannon, took me and looked after me and used to tell me about my grandfather Danny Shannon, who was drowned on the Titanic.

At 18 years old in 1957, I emigrated to Canada. Working on a farm in SW Ontario, I got a letter in Canada that my grandmother had died (committed suicide). Shortly afterwards, I joined the Canadian Army. In 1958, at the age of 19 years old, I was sent to the Gaza Strip with the U.N. Canadian Contingent. I then came back to England in 1963 and joined the British Army and was posted to N.Ireland on garrison duties. While there in 1963, I went down to Cobh Co Cork to try and find my grandfather’s relatives and ended up staying in the European hotel Cobh for Christmas. In 1985, I went to live in Bangor Co Down.

In April of this year,2010 I was invited by the Cobh Council to lay a wreath on the 11th April to remember Andrew John Shannon, my grandfather, born in Cobh Co Cork. Died on Titanic 1912.

If you would like to speak with Pat Toms or join the Shannon Ulster Titanic Society, he can be reached at the following address: 2B Beverley Hills, Bangor Co Down, N. Ireland, BT204NA. Email: pat.toms@btinternet.com

Society membership fees: £20-00, Britain and USA $40-00.

Thank you Pat.




Published in: on Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at '8:30 am'  Comments (24)  
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TITANIC: Did J. Bruce Ismay Order Captain Smith to Speed Up?

May 8, 2009: Barry Cauchon

J. Bruce Ismay was the chairman and managing director of the White Star Line on the night of April 15, 1912 when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic ocean. Ismay was also a passenger on board.


Joseph Bruce Ismay, the White Star Line Chairman and Managing Director

Yesterday I received a query from Ladybugge about J. Bruce Ismay’s rumored interference in the ship’s operation during its final and fatal voyage. Here is Ladybugge’s question.

“I think  that in the era [of the Titanic] there was a lot of arrogance! Could you tell me why Ismay demanded more speed? Besides what the movie said, [did he order] more speed so he could give the newspapers something to write about”?

Excellent question Ladybugge!


The scene from the movie TITANIC referred to by Ladybugge features an exchange between Bruce Ismay and Captain Smith which takes place a short time after the Titanic had sailed.

Ismay: So you’ve not yet lit the last four boilers?
Smith: No, I don’t see the need. We are making excellent time.
Ismay: The press knows the size of Titanic. Now I want them to marvel at her speed. We must give them something new to print! This maiden voyage of Titanic must make headlines!
Smith:Mr. Ismay, I would prefer not to push the engines until they’ve been properly run in.
Ismay: Of course, I’m just a passenger. I leave it to your good officers to decide what’s best. But what a glorious end to your final crossing if we were to get to New York on Tuesday night and surprise them all! Make the morning papers. Retire with a bang, eh E.J.?
Good man.

[Transcription courtesy of The Internet Movie Database].

As wonderful as the movie Titanic was, and I personally loved it, James Cameron still had a ‘fictional’ story to tell. Cameron used as many factual elements in the film as was possible and weaved his romantic fictional story within that framework. For the most part, much of the factual structure of the story was based on eyewitness accounts, historical documents and some unsubstantiated rumors and half truths. There was no Rose DeWitt Bukater or Jack Dawson on the passenger list and this particular exchange between Ismay and the Captain was based much more on conjecture rather than actual evidence. But the scene is still in the film because it certainly could have happened, and very well may have. If it did happen, why would this issue have been of such importance? Ladybugge mentions that arrogance and newspaper headlines could have been valid reasons for this occurring. Both are excellent points. However, let me give you a short historical explanation from both sides of the debate and you can make your own judgement on whether you think Ismay did, or did not, try to persuade Captain Smith to light the additional boilers and break the speed record for crossing the North Atlantic.

The Blue Riband (or Ribband)

For over a century and a half, ships had battled for the coveted and high-profile Blue Riband (or Ribband), the prize awarded to the fastest ship on the North Atlantic. And although no physical prize or trophy actually existed called the Blue Riband, the recognition of being the fastest ship on the North Atlantic brought real rewards to the ship’s owners. These being in the form of lucrative contracts for mail, passenger and specialty services. At the time of Titantic’s maiden voyage, the Blue Riband was held by the Mauretania, a ship owned by the Cunard line, which won it in September, 1909. The Mauretania would dominate and hold the Blue Riband for an incredible twenty years after that. The Cunard Line was a direct British competitor with the White Star Line and the fight for passengers and mail service was intense.

So in April, 1912, White Star introduced their latest ship, the RMS Titanic which set off on its first North Atlantic crossing. Logically, it makes sense why the White Star Line would want to go after the speed record. It had the newest and most powerful ship ever built. And with the rewards for holding the Blue Riband being so great, they would have financially benefited greatly from winning it.

Recently, a book called “The White Star Line: An Illustrated History 1869 – 1934” by Paul Louden-Brown was re-released and comments on the Ismay debate above and gives a fascinating historical summary of the events from the time. I own the original version which came out in 1990 but this new one is totally revamped. It should be a great read for Titanic enthusiasts. The Titanic Historical Society website has published an excerpt from Mr. Lauden-Brown’s book (which I have included below). I urge you to take a look at their website as it’s a great place for learning so much more about the RMS Titanic.



ISMAY AND THE TITANIC by Paul Louden-Brown. Excerpted from The White Star Line: An Illustrated History 1869-1934″

J. Bruce Ismay at the time of the disaster, as chairman and managing director of the White Star Line, was held to blame for the loss of the Titanic by the American press; especially those controlled by William Randolph Hearst, a newspaper magnate and one of the richest and most powerful men in America. Ismay had met Hearst years before, when he was White Star’s agent in New York. The two men disliked each other intensely and Ismay’s refusal to cooperate with the press infuriated the newspaperman storing up problems for the future. Almost twenty years after their first meeting it was the Hearst syndicated press who prosecuted a vicious campaign against him, a full-page cartoon depicting Ismay in a lifeboat watching the sinking Titanic and captioned, “This is J. Brute Ismay” and “We respectfully suggest that the emblem of the White Star be changed to that of a yellow liver.” The Denver Post, another member of his syndicated press, published the following prose on 19 April 1912:

“In the middle of the North Atlantic a giant iceberg lifts its white cliffs 500 feet in air. It towers like a mighty marble monument above the graves of 1,500 heroes who died that the women and children might be saved.

“Soon this monument will dissolve and disappear, as sooner or later in the lapse of years all monuments disintegrate and disappear. But the memory of the noble deed of these brave and self-sacrificing men should live forever.

“Swept without need, without heed, without reckoning or reason into disaster which meant inevitable death, these heroes thought not of their own safety, not of their own lives, but only of the lives and safety of the weak women and little children confided to their care. Husbands embraced their wives, fathers kissed their children good-by, and men who were leaving wives and children desolate far away at home labored to save the children of companions of misfortune.

“Then when the dear ones, the dependent ones, had been sent to safety in the lifeboats and had drifted away into the dark night, these true men, calm and courageous, stood alone upon the deck of the doomed ship and went down to death and to glory. Who would not choose so glorious a death?

“Who would not rather die a hero than live a coward?

“These men have died as men should die. They performed their duty to their fellow men, their obligation to their God.

“So may God reward them and men remember them. And may the memory of them remain forever a noble record of past heroism for humanity, a splendid inspiration to future deeds of duty and devotion.” …WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST.

Hearst’s idea of what constituted a “man” or what a “glorious” death might be was a rather two-dimensional view of life and death but nevertheless one his readers, hungry for information about the disaster and eager to find someone to blame, were only to happy to accept. Countless wire stories asserted Ismay’s guilt at manipulating the Titanic’s master into driving his ship faster than he wanted; of cowardice in taking the place of a passenger in one of the lifeboats; and of resigning from the company after the disaster rather than face the public. None of these allegations were true, but despite the facts, the image created by Hearst survives to this day.

The most serious assertion concerned Ismay’s alleged interference with the navigation of the Titanic. Various books and a recent film about the disaster have enlarged upon the Hearst stories. What we now see is the stereotype of a businessman, only interested in power and money; a man determined to get his own way. If this was the case one would expect him to have taken every maiden voyage he possibly could, but during his entire business life, and as chairman and managing director of White Star, he took only three; Adriatic in May 1907, Olympic in June 1911 and Titanic in April 1912. Hardly a record for someone in his position, but reflecting the fact that Ismay had more important matters to deal with then worrying about maiden arrivals and what the papers might say.

J. Bruce Ismay did not order or put pressure on the commander or chief engineer to make a record passage to New York for the Titanic’s maiden voyage. On the North Atlantic there were defined lanes or tracks which all passenger and cargo liners followed. The northern track, taken during the months of August to December, was approximately 200 miles shorter than the southern, used between January to July. The Titanic was sailing on the southern track, as her sister had done in June 1911. The Titanic, in common with her sister, adopted White Star’s policy of vessels of huge size and moderate speed, affording great comfort to their passengers. All thoughts of Atlantic speed records had been given up decades before, and far from the imagination of a few deluded passengers, speed records in ships not designed for high speed, was a costly venture both in fuel and potential engine damage. Several of the Titanic’s boilers had not been lit and because of the problem of fuel supply connected with the coal strike in Britain, economy was the watchword for this particular voyage. It was, and always had been, impractical for anyone to order the master of a transatlantic liner to arrive at a port ahead of schedule. The time for docking the vessel, supplying coal, water, fresh food and not least the arrangements made for hotel bookings and railway connections by her passengers, would all be upset. Some years ago an interesting collection of letters was discovered written between J. Bruce Ismay and various directors of the IMMC [International Mercantile Marine Company], which reveal that the directors of IMMC in New York wanted the Olympic to arrive ahead of her scheduled date, rather than Ismay, who rejected these moves; proving that White Star’s chairman wished to pursue company policy by keeping the transatlantic service running to its established timetable.

Extract from a letter from J. Bruce Ismay to P. A. S. Franklin dated 27 July 1911: Your strong recommendation that the Olympic, on her next voyage, should be allowed to dock on Tuesday evening, will receive consideration, and I note you say that she could have done this easily on her last voyage. I do not quite gather whether your recommendation goes so far as to advocate our always attempting to land passengers on Tuesday; perhaps you will let me hear from you on this.

I at once admit that docking on Tuesday evening would help you in turning the ship round, and give those on board a better chance of getting the ship in good shape for the Saturday sailing, and further, that if we could make it a practice to do this, it would please the passengers, but as I have repeatedly stated, I feel very strongly that passengers would be far more satisfied to know, when they left here, that they would not land until Wednesday morning, rather than be in a state of uncertainty in regard to this for the whole of the trip. I do not think you can have ever experienced the miseries of a night landing in New York; had you done so, I think your views might be altered.

Extract from a letter from J. Bruce Ismay to P. A. S. Franklin dated 31 July 1911: I am in receipt of your letter of the 20th. instant, confirming the cables which have passed between us in regard to the Olympic’s speed…

I am afraid, if you keep on writing me much more in regard to the Olympic docking in New York on Tuesday evening, I shall have to reply to you in the same manner as you did to Mr. Curry when he kept finding fault with the stamp of firemen you are supplying to the American Line steamers at New York.

As you are aware, I am not favourably disposed to trying to land passengers on Tuesday afternoon, but if, after talking the matter over with Lord Pirrie, Captain Smith and Mr. Bell the consensus of opinion is in favour of this being done, you may rest assured I will not allow my individual feeling to stand in the way.

Extract from a letter from P. A. S. Franklin (signed in his absence) to J. Bruce Ismay dated 4 August 1911: Mr. Franklin’s letter of July 20th which crossed yours under acknowledgment will have made it clear to you that his suggestion for a Tuesday evening arrival here applied generally and was not confined only to the steamer’s next voyage. We shall be very interested to hear the result of your deliberations with Lord Pirrie to-day on this subject and meanwhile, we are,

Yours faithfully, For P. A. S. Franklin F. T.

Letter from the White Star Line in Liverpool to Captain E. J. Smith dated 11 August 1911:

White Star Line
Steamship Department.
August 11th 1911.

Captain E. J. Smith,
R.M.S. Olympic,
White Star Line.
New York.

Per Mauretania
Dear Sir,
We confirm the verbal instructions given to you at Southampton last week that it will be right for you to go full speed when on the short track, subject to your considering it prudent and in the interests of safe navigation to do so. This instruction applies to both eastbound and westbound voyages when on the short track.

Yours faithfully,
(Signed) For Ismay, Imrie & Co:
H. A. S.
H. C.

Extract from a letter from Frederick Toppin to J. Bruce Ismay dated 18 August 1911: Olympic speed. We just learn from your mail advices of your decision to allow the steamer to come out full speed while on the short track, and this will insure her arriving here almost regularly on Tuesday afternoon, which will certainly add materially to her attractiveness and popularity on this side. It will also enable us to more satisfactorily handle her coaling here, as our experience is this voyage that if we can only get started coaling on Wednesday afternoon, we cannot get her finished in time on Friday to allow the ship’s people reasonable opportunity for cleaning her down that day, and having her in thoroughly satisfactorily shape for sailing about noon on Saturday.

Extract from a letter from P. A. S. Franklin to J. Bruce Ismay dated 19 August 1911: I was sorry the Olympic did not dock on Tuesday, but am pleased with her Eastbound bookings.

Ismay’s reply to Franklin, dated 5 September 1911, is full of sarcasm but nevertheless exactly described the situation he predicted would happen: Your sorrow that the Olympic did not dock on Tuesday night last voyage will, I hope, be mitigated by her docking on Tuesday this voyage, as we have just received a cable that at 9 o’clock last night she was 271 miles east of Nantucket, which we calculate would make her due at Ambrose Channel at 6 o’clock to-night, and I presume she will get up to the dock at about 10 o’clock, which will make an extremely comfortable (!!!) landing for her passengers, and I am sure they will much prefer this to dawdling away time and landing on Wednesday morning, to say nothing of their having had the pleasant uncertainty, from the time they left here, as to whether they would land on Tuesday evening, or not.

Because of the route the Titanic took on her maiden voyage, her date and time of arrival was set for Wednesday morning 17 April 1912, the company giving passengers notice that “should the steamer arrive at the New York Wharf after 8 p.m., passengers may land if they wish to do so and have their baggage passed by the Customs authorities immediately on arrival, but those who prefer to remain on board may do so, and have the whole of their baggage passed the following morning not earlier than 7 o’clock.” Passengers, with a long onward journey from New York, were further reassured that breakfast would be served to those that decided to remain on board overnight.

Far from the whim of an arrogant shipowner we read of business decisions taken only after advice was sought from all interested parties and before an instruction was given to the master. These instructions were made in writing and then cautioned with the words “subject to your considering it prudent and in the interests of safe navigation to do so.” Ismay always denied that he brought pressure to bear on Captain Smith to increase the Titanic’s speed or indeed that he had any knowledge of extra boilers being lit. Despite these denials, three passengers made statements contradicting Ismay. Most of this material came to light, not at the American or British inquiries, but at a United States District Court case which began in June 1913 regarding the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company’s attempt to limit its liability as owner of the Titanic in the United States. Because of the nature of the action, and considering the amount of money involved, witnesses were sought in the hope of providing strong evidence that Ismay had ordered Smith to “make a record,” thus, indirectly causing the loss of the Titanic. The evidence provided, at best circumstantial, at worst pure invention, an example of which is Mrs. Emily Ryerson’s answers given under cross examination concerning her conversation with Ismay on board the Titanic:

Q. He (Ismay) didn’t say anything to you about speeding the ship up to get out of the ice?
A. No, that was merely the impression that was left on my mind.

Q. My question is not whether he spoke about their putting on more boilers and going faster; but I am confining my question to whether he said, or suggested to you, anything that indicated that they were going to increase their speed in order to get out of the ice?
A. As I say, that was merely the impression left on my mind.

Q. Nothing was said?
A. No, not in so many words — that was the impression left on my mind.

Q. You don’t wish to be understood the Titanic was trying to make a speed record across the Atlantic?
A. I should say my impression was they were going to show — surprise us all by what she could do, on that voyage.

Q. As a matter of fact, was it discussed whether she should get in on Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning?
A. Yes.

Q. Among passengers?
A. Yes, and in this conversation with Mr. Ismay also, there was some question about it, because I discussed it with my husband after I got down to the cabin.

Q. You wouldn’t say Mr. Ismay said they were going to make a record?
A. No, I wouldn’t say he said those words — his attitude, or his language, we assumed that that was — that we were trying to make a record. I wouldn’t say he used those words.

There is no evidence to suggest that Ismay put pressure upon Captain Smith to increase speed or that he told passengers that the Titanic was out to “make a record.” This, along with other half-remembered conversations by passengers were no doubt improved upon in light of the vicious attacks made on Ismay in the American press. If Smith or Ismay were out to “make a record” why leave it until the voyage was almost over before lighting extra boilers? More importantly, none of the Titanic’s surviving officers, in constant communication with the captain and the engineers, gave evidence in support of these allegations.

Very little first-hand evidence survives of Ismay’s involvement or otherwise with the day-to-day running of a ship at sea. Several references to his attitude towards officers that did not obey the company’s rules are detailed in Oldham’s “The Ismay Line,” but these are letters sent by Ismay and the only surviving evidence of his behaviour towards officers comes from Captain William Marshall. Marshall, later to become commodore of the White Star Line, wrote several hundred letters to his wife during his time with the company. Hardly the romantic type, Marshall kept his letters very businesslike and, today provide us with a fascinating insight into how the company was run through the eyes of a serving officer at sea. He sailed with Ismay on a number of occasions and in one particular letter referred to him as “the Big White Chief.” Like all servicemen Marshall complained about the strict discipline the company, and particularly Ismay, demanded from employees, but there is never any mention of interference with the navigation of his, or anyone else’s, ship.

The newspapers, particularly in the United States, expected Ismay to sacrifice his own life in the sinking. The story of a cowardly shipowner jumping into the first available lifeboat to save his own skin while passengers lost their lives is, from a journalistic viewpoint, an irresistible story to relate to the gullible reader, but like so much of Titanic history is just another myth. True, Ismay did escape in a lifeboat, but only after he had helped with the loading and lowering of several others and only when he was sure that no women were in the vicinity of the starboard Englehardt collapsible did he get in; acquitting himself far better than many other passengers and crew members.

On 23 April 1912 the London Times published Ismay’s personal statement cabled from New York: …Captain Smith gave the order to clear the boats. I helped in this work for nearly two hours as far as I can judge. I worked at the starboard boats, helping women and children into the boats and lowering them over the side. I did nothing with regard to the boats on the port side. By that time every wooden lifeboat on the starboard side had been lowered away, and I found that they were engaged in getting out the forward collapsible boat on the starboard side. I assisted in this work, and all the women that were on this deck were helped into the boat. They were all, I think third-class passengers.

As the boat was going over the side Mr. Carter, a passenger, and myself got in. At that time there was not a woman on the boat deck, nor any passenger of any class, so far as we could see or hear. The boat had between 35 and 40 in it; I should think most of them women. There were perhaps, four or five men, and it was afterwards discovered that there were four Chinamen concealed under the thwarts in the bottom of the boat. The distance that the boat had to lower was, I should estimate, about 20 ft. Mr. Carter and I did not get into the boat until after they had begun to lower it away.

When the boat reached the water I helped to row it, pushing the oar from me as I sat. This is the explanation of the fact that my back was to the sinking steamer. The boat would have accommodated certainly six or more passengers in addition, if there had been any on the boat deck to go.

These facts can be substantiated by Mr. W. E. Carter, of Philadelphia, who got in at the time that I did, and was rowing the boat with me. I hope I need say that neither Mr. Carter nor myself would, for one moment, have thought of getting into the boat if there had been any women there to go in it. Nor should I have done so if I had thought that by remaining on the ship I could have been of the slightest further assistance. It is impossible for me to answer every false statement, rumour, or invention that has appeared in the newspapers.

The Times published the following corroborating Ismay’s statement: MR. CARTER’S STATEMENT (From our own correspondent.) Washington, April 22.

Mr. William E. Carter, a well-known Philadelphian, gives the following story of his departure and that of Mr. Ismay from the Titanic. After seeing his wife and children into the boats on the port side of the vessel he went to the starboard side and there found Mr. Ismay with several officers filling boats with women. As the last boat was being filled they looked around for more women. The women in the boat were mostly steerage passengers.

Mr. Ismay and myself and several officers walked up and down the deck crying “Are there any more women here?” We called for several minutes and got no answer. One of the officers then said that if we wanted to, we could get into the boat if we took the place of seamen. He gave us preference because we were among the first-class passengers. Mr. Ismay called again, and after we had no reply we got into the lifeboat. We took oars and rowed with two seamen.

These statements were further corroborated by Augustus H. Weikman, the Titanic’s chief ship’s barber, who provided the following affidavit to the United States Senate Committee on Commerce inquiry chaired by Senator William Alden Smith:

I helped to launch the boats, and there seemed to be a shortage of women. When I was on E deck I met the Captain returning from G deck, who had been there with Mr. Andrews, and the Captain was on the bridge at that time. I did not think there was any danger. What happened after the orders were given? Instructions were given to get the passengers into lifebelts and get on deck from all the staterooms. Did you see Mr. Ismay? Yes. I saw Mr. Ismay helping to load the boats. Did you see him get into a boat? Yes; he got in along with Mr. Carter, because there were no women in the vicinity of that boat. This boat was the last to leave, to the best of my knowledge. He was ordered into the boat by the officer in charge, I think Mr. Ismay was justified in leaving in that boat at that time.

In the British Inquiry report Lord Mersey defended Ismay writing: As to the attack on Mr. Bruce Ismay, it resolved itself into the suggestion that, occupying the position of Managing Director of the Steamship Company, some moral duty was imposed upon him to wait on board until the vessel had foundered. I do not agree. Mr. Ismay, after rendering assistance to many passengers, found “C” collapsible, the last boat on the starboard side, actually being lowered. No other people were there at the time. There was room for him and he jumped in. Had he not jumped in he would simply have added one more life, namely his own, to the number of those lost.

In June 1913, Ismay retired from the presidency of the IMMC. He had made the announcement of his impending retirement in January 1912 as he wanted to allow his old friend Harold Sanderson, the opportunity of holding the most senior position within the company before he too, retired.

The following statement was published in the Tenth Annual Report of the IMMC:
New York, June 2, 1913

It is with very great regret that the Board of Directors, in accordance with Mr. Ismay’s wish expressed in January, 1912, accepted on January 2, 1913, the resignation of Mr. J. Bruce Ismay as President of the Company, effective June 30th, instant.

The Board takes this opportunity to express its high appreciation of the value of the services rendered the Company by Mr. Ismay since its inception, and to acknowledge with gratitude his unvarying devotion to its best interests.

By order of the Board,
Emerson E. Parvin,

Privately, Ismay’s request, following the loss of the Titanic, to remain as a director of the White Star Line was rejected by the board of IMMC, due no doubt to the treatment meted out to their former president in the press. He did remain a director of the IMMC and a member of its British Committee, but without the prospect of re election to the board of OSNC, he resigned from these positions in June 1916, severing, after 47 years, the Ismay family connection with the White Star Line.

Another part of the Titanic myth concerns Ismay’s life, post-Titanic, which has always been shrouded in mystery, most writers stating that he left public life in disgrace and lived the rest of his life as a recluse on his estate in Ireland. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ismay was certainly a private person, yet from the date of his early retirement from IMMC, virtually to the day he died, he was involved with the chairman and directorships of several important companies in Liverpool and London. Surprisingly one of these companies dealt with the huge number of insurance claims resulting from the disaster, Ismay reliving the disaster at virtually every meeting of the directors. The Liverpool & London Steamship Protection & Indemnity Association Limited had been set up in 1881 by his late father and some of his business friends as a private insurance company or “club” for shipowners; one of the Liverpool & London’s largest and most important customers was White Star. Hundreds of thousands of pounds were paid out in insurance claims to the relatives of the Titanic’s victims; the misery created by the disaster and its aftermath dealt with by Ismay and his directors with great fortitude, this, despite the fact that he could easily have shirked his responsibilities and resigned from the board. He stuck with the difficult task and during his twenty-five year chairmanship hardly a page of the company’s minutes does not contain some mention of the Titanic disaster. J. Bruce Ismay’s coat of arms carried the motto “Be Mindful,” which in light of the Titanic appears horribly ironic, but one he attempted to live up to throughout the rest of his life.



Here is the link to this article on the Titanic Historical Society website.


Ladybugge, I hope this information helped to answer your question.

I invite everyone to comment on your thoughts (Pros or Cons) as to whether you believe Mr. Ismay urged Captain Smith to ‘speed up’ or not. I look forward to hearing from you.





History books do a pretty good job in covering the circumstances leading up to, and including, ‘major historical events’ but rarely seem to offer as much attention to the aftermath. The details of a tragedy, such as the sinking of the Titanic, have been captured over the years in hundreds of books, articles, films, newsreels, magazines, etc.  But not as much information is found on the trials and inquests that followed. I believe that if you ever want to transport yourself back to those days and get a real sense of the mood, the times and the events themselves, you need to review these transcripts and read the actual words of the people who were there and experienced the event first hand.

The sinking of the Titanic resulted in not one, but two inquests (one US and one British) where witnesses told their stories. In the case of the US Senate hearings, which began on April 19, 1912 (just 5 days after the disaster), you know you are reading the fresh recollections of the survivors whose memories of the events have not been changed by time or opinion.  

According to Amapedia of Amazon.com … “The Titanic hearings were conducted by a special subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee and chaired by Senator William A. Smith, a Republican from Missouri (UPDATE NOTE: June 11- Thanks to a reader, the state of Missouri is mistakenly named in Amapedia’s information. The correct state that Senator Smith represented was actually Michigan). The hearings began on April 19, 1912,  in New York City. The Senate inquiry is particularly useful because it was the most immediate. The inquiry began at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York the day after the survivors landed. James Cameron used the Senate transcripts extensively in researching his Oscar-winning movie. “The Senate records, for example, provide the exact words spoken by the bridge officers in the moments leading up to the collision,” Mr. Cameron has written. “Those scenes in my film are scripted and staged precisely as the event was described by witnesses.”

A week after the proceedings began, the hearings were moved to the new caucus room of the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. They were the first hearings to be held in that room. A total of 82 witnesses testified about ice warnings that were ignored, the inadequate number of lifeboats, the ship’s speed, the failure of nearby ships to respond to the Titanic’s distress calls, and the treatment of passengers of different classes. The hearings concluded on May 28, 1912, when Senator Smith visited the Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, at port in New York, to interview some of its crew. When the Titanic sank, the Olympic was about 500 miles away.

Within two weeks after the sinking of the Titanic, the British Board of Trade established a Commission of Enquiry, chaired by High Court Judge Lord Mersey. The hearings were opened in the Wreck Commissioner’s Court, Royal Scottish Drill Hall, Buckingham Gate, Westminster, on 2nd May, 1912. The British Inquiry cleared Captain Smith and the White Star Line of any negligence in the loss of the Titanic. The conference confronted issues such as subdivision of ships, lifeboat provisions, wireless telegraphy, the reduction of speed in the vicinity of ice, and the use of searchlights.”


One of the best books that I’ve read on the Titanic Inquest is “The Titanic Disaster Hearings” by Tom Kuntz (March 1998). It records the actual transcripts and testimonies from many of the names you’ve read about from Titanic history. Fascinating reading. It’s gripping and you feel like you are right there hearing them tell their story to you for the first time. This book is avaiable at all major book stores or on-line book stores.


Published in: on Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at '10:13 pm'  Comments (1)  
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1. Did you know … that on April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln’s autopsy was performed in the 2nd floor guest room at the front right hand corner (northwest corner) of the White House?

At some point on the day before, April 14, 1865, Lincoln is quoted as saying to his bodyguard, Mr. William H. Crook … “Crook, do you know I believe there are men who want to take my life? And I have no doubt they will do it …. I know no one could do it and escape alive. But if it is to be done, it is impossible to prevent it.”

 2. Did you know … that Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, the couple who attended the play at Ford’s Theatre with the Lincoln’s had a tragic ending. 

 Clara Harris & Major Henry Rathbone

On July 11, 1867, the Rathbone’s were married and began raising a small family. Over time, Major Rathbone became ill with severe mood swings. And then in 1883, while the family was living in Germany, Rathbone finally lost his sanity and attempted unsuccessfully to kill his children. He then shot and stabbed his wife to death. He also tried to kill himself but could not complete the job. After his arrest, he was found insane and sent to an asylum for the rest of his life. Rathbone died in 1911 at age 73.


3. Did you know … that on April 27, 1865 at approximately 2:00am, the worst marine disaster in United States history took place. The steamship SULTANA, blew up, caught fire and sank in the Mississippi River killing over 1700 passengers.

The Sultana had been contracted by the US Government to transport Union soldiers released from Confederate prison camps, up the Mississippi River to Ohio. In the early morning hours of April 27, the boiler(s) exploded destroying part of the ship and engulfing the remainder in flames. There were well over 2000 people on board at the time of the disaster (legally the Sultana was allowed to carry a capacity of 376 people). No confirmed number exists on the casualty and survivor count, however it is estimated that upwards of 1800 people perished in the disaster with another 700-800 surviving.

To put this in perspective, the Titanic disaster had a loss of about 1517 lives.

According to Wikipedia, the accepted cause of the tragedy was “determined to be mismanagement of water levels in the boiler, exacerbated by “careening.” The Sultana was severely overcrowded and top heavy. As she made her way north following the twists and turns of the river, she listed severely to one side then the other. The Sultana’s four boilers were interconnected and mounted side-by-side, so that if the ship tipped sideways, water would tend to run out of the highest boiler. With the fires still going against the empty boiler, this created hot spots. When the ship tipped the other way, water rushing back into the empty boiler would hit the hot spots and flash instantly to steam, creating a sudden surge in pressure. This effect of careening could have been minimized by maintaining high water levels in the boilers. The official inquiry found that Sultana ‘s boilers exploded due to the combined effects of careening, low water level, and a faulty repair to a leaky boiler made a few days previously.”

The reason so few people have ever heard of this disaster is because it happened when so much else was in the news of the day. The Civil War had just ended; Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated just two weeks before; but most prominent in the news was that Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, had been cornered, shot and killed the day before (April 26) in Bowling Green, Virginia.

LINKS to the SULTANA story:








To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         



If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts:


“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)


“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)




In the coming weeks I will be including entries from a number of historical events including much more on Abraham Lincoln. However, you will also see information on the era of the Great Airships (such as the Hindenburg), the great Ocean Liners (such as the Titanic), the space program of NASA, and even some fascinating unique facts about Jack the Ripper. Please let me know some of the subjects that you would like to know more about.

I usually don’t post the ‘well known historical facts’ as there are vast amounts of this information written in books and found online. However, I do like to bring to you the ‘little known stuff’ from history. Sometimes they are small and seemingly insignificant, but they are all part of the historical record.

So stay tuned. Give me your feedback and let me know what you would like to know more about. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

You can reach me at outreach@awesometalks.com