The story of Edward J. Smith, the captain of the Titanic who was to retire after making the voyage

Known as “The Captain of the Millionaires”, Edward John Smithwas part of the prestigious shipping company for over 30 years White star line with a detailed curriculum vitae before sinking of RMS Titanic, April 14, 1912. The legendary sailor was due to retire after completing the ocean liner’s maiden voyage, but died aboard the ship amid various conflicting accounts.

His dexterity in the cabin, his good looks and a special gift for public relations made him a master of the big ships. He embarked at 19 for the first time as an apprentice sailor, and in 1880 he joined White Star as an officer until he was promoted commodore in 1904. Prior to commanding Titanic, he commanded some of the company’s largest ships, including Republic, Coptic, Majestic, Baltic, Adriatic and Olympic.

Born in 1850 into a Hanley pottery familyHe decided abandon the family tradition and traveled to liverpool join the merchant navy in the footsteps of his half-brother Joseph Hancock. In the British shipping company, he was responsible for ships on the routes to Australia Yes United Statesand her career was relatively uneventful until before the Titanic, being weathered by war missions and a collision with another cruiser in 1911.

The Titanic sank on the night of April 14 and in the early morning of April 15 after colliding with an iceberg.

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elite captain

In the mid-1890s Smith transported troops for the Second Boer War and received the title of honorary commander of the Royal Naval Reserve. At the beginning of the 20th century, his notoriety rose at the same time as his social status: his fees revolved around £1,250 per year (his chief officer Henry Wilde’s salary was 300) more $200 accident-free premium, He lived in a Southampton mansion with his wife and daughter and was a star in the newspapers of the time.

For this reason, I looked favorably retire at age 62, but White Star needed him for one last project: to cross the Titanic on his first trip from Southampton to New York. Even more than one distinguished passenger said that “I wouldn’t cross the Atlantic if it were not with him”, because of his good reputation for arriving at the port.

“When someone asks me how I can best describe my 40 years experience at sea, I’m just saying uneventful. Sure, there’s been storms and things like that, but I’ve never been in any kind of accident worth mentioning“, Smith had said in an old interview, according to the writer and founder of the International Titanic SocietyJohn P. Eaton.

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Although it is unclear how he died, most witnesses said Smith drowned on the deck of the Titanic.

His responsibility in the sinking of the Titanic

Big questions revolve around the figure of Smith. Was he guilty of the tragedy? Could this result have changed? Officially, the captain was cleared of all blame, but there are voices that think otherwise. It generated both homage and criticism for over a hundred years.

Before setting sail, the captain received warnings of large blocks of ice on his way. He ordered to sail 16 miles further south to circumvent them, but the situation became complicated and some sources say he spoke with the president of the company, Bruce Ismay, asking you to slow down. The order would have been to keep it to get a historical mark on the trip as an advertisement, but there is no concrete evidence of this.

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Harland & Wolff shipyards and White Star Line said the Titanic was “virtually unsinkable”.

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On the night of April 14, a dinner was held in his honor, hosted by the Wideners family, a group of Philadelphia millionaires who financed the Titanic. The ship’s collision with the iceberg occurred a few minutes before midnight, and after carrying out an inspection Smith decided that it would sink in a few hours, so he ordered distress signals to be given. Survivor testimonies describe a captain who has not lost his tempergave instructions and did not seek to save himself above the other passengers.

However, historian Paul Louden-Brown, a member of the Titanic Historical Society analyzed various myths for the BBC and said that Smith “passengers and crew broken down(about 1,500 dead and more than 700 survivors). ” She allowed the lifeboats set sail partially fullunnecessarily adding at least 500 names to the list of dead,” said Louden-Brown, who also blamed the British Board of Trade for allowing the Titanic to sail without enough boats.

Finally, on Friday April 15 at 2:20 a.m., the ship sank. And with him, the legend of Smith, whose his body has never been identified. A wax statue of him was made at Madame Tussauds in London and a monument to his figure was erected at Lichfield in Staffordshire.


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