Another Titanic Story
Hadn’t posted one yet today and assuming somebody out there finds the stories interesting, here goes.
This story revolves around a last minute crew change on the Titanic. Wanting to make sure the maiden voyage went well the powers that be decided to transfer the Chief Officer (aka 2nd in command) from the Titanic’s sister ship Olympic to the Titanic for the first sailing.
This meant that the Titanic’s chief officer became 1st officer and the 1st officer became 2nd officer.
The 2nd officer, a man named David Blair, was bumped entirely and did not sail with the Titanic (as it turns out a good thing for him)
Blair left the ship on April 9th and it sailed the next day.
When he left Blair took his belongings with him, and as it turns out he accidentally took a key with him. The key was either to a locker in the crows nest or a locker in his cabin. In either case the locker held binoculars for the lookouts.
By the time the error was discovered the ship was at sea and since the seas were calm and they couldn’t do much about it, they decided to wait until they got to New York to buy new ones.
Which of course meant the lookout Fredrick Fleet did not have them on the night of April 14th.
Now it is debatable as to whether this really mattered. From my reading it seems the use of binoculars varied from ship to ship and it was not standard practice. Given the dark night it may be the binoculars wouldn’t have helped, though Fleet seemed to think they would have allowed him to spot the berg a bit sooner.
In addition, it was more common practice for lookouts to use binoculars not to see further, but to keep their eyes warm in the cold night air. We’ve all had the experience of slightly blurry vision on a cold day, so who knows how that might have impacted the vision of the crew.
Obviously there were many things which contributed to the disaster, and as I will discuss in a future posting, even with a faster warning the ship still might have sunk.
But it is an interesting story to ponder.