Friday, April 6, 2012

Titanic’s Wake: Shipwreck of the Century Retains Its Grip

Good article at Daily Beast/Newsweek, with video.

This part is my image of Fixer getting ready to go down like a gentleman. Except for the mistress part, of course:

[...] Among the plutocracy there were stylish stoics — most notably Benjamin Guggenheim, traveling with his valet, chauffeur, and (clandestinely) his mistress, the singer Leontine Aubert, and her maid. Guggenheim saw the women into a lifeboat and then returned to his cabin to don his tuxedo. “We have dressed in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen,” he reportedly said, adding, “if anything happens, tell my wife I have done my best in doing my duty” (not mentioning that he did it by Leontine).

But then, some guys have all the luck:

Plenty of the dollar dukes went down like gents on the Titanic: an Astor, two Wideners, and a Thayer. But its real heroes were often among the crew, none more stirring than Second Officer Herbert Lightoller, who had survived one shipwreck and a cyclone before getting his position on the Titanic. He had gone off watch when the ship struck the iceberg but was the most energetic and resourceful in getting as many women and children as he could into the boats, which he knew very well would only have room for around half of the passengers and crew even when fully loaded (and many weren’t). Told at the end to get in one himself, his reply, without irony, was “not on your life.” Attempting to make the last “collapsible” lifeboat usable, the rush of water swept him away. The force of an engine explosion brought him back to the surface, where he managed to struggle to the capsized collapsible to which 30 men were desperately hanging. Such was the brutal frigidity of the - water—28 degrees -Fahrenheit — that hypothermia did half of them in during the night. Eventually transferred to another lifeboat, Lightoller was the very last of the survivors to board the Carpathia. He went on to serve in the First World War and took his converted yacht Sundowner to Dunkirk, where he got 130 off the doomed beach.

From swells and heroes, a look at steerage:

[...] Although the Titanic was memorably characterized by Walter Lord in his classic A Night to Remember as a “small town,” it was in fact made up of villages from an astonishing diversity of cultures. There were whole communities of Lebanese and Syrian peasants and townspeople, many on their way to Wilkes-Barre, Pa., where some of their countrymen must already have settled. A community of Flemish sugar-beet farmers were headed to Ohio to work in the fields for American sugar companies. There were also Croatians and a big contingent of Finns, Swedes, and Danes.

Many had come from worlds embittered not just by poverty but by brutal class conflict: strikes, strike-breaking, and quasi-military industrial lockouts. Some of this acrimony touched the White Star Line directly and the crew closest to steerage — the stokers, firemen, and stewards — knew it. Titanic’s original master during trials at Belfast — one Captain Haddock (yes, honestly)* — faced a strike precisely over the inadequacy of lifeboat accommodation on the liners: the very thing that condemned 1,500 to death.

*I got this gag because I just watched The Adventures of Tintin which is a comic book made into a movie. Nicely done (Spielberg has a habit of that) and I recommend it as good light fun entertainment.

The Titanic might have avoided the iceberg altogether had one piece of technology been better suited to the monstrously sized ship. The rudder wasn’t up to moving the vessel with the speed it would need in an emergency. When Captain Smith had to turn the liner hard to starboard to try to avoid the berg, it took a full 37 seconds between the tiller’s command and the rudder changing course.

I can picture throwing a hard countersteer into my bike when some idiot driver turns left in front of me and the bike waiting a loooong second before turning. And the ensuing crash. Ships today pretty much have that fixed with all kinds of steering devices. The problem today seems to be even more dumbass skippers than Titanic had.

Enjoy the rest.


garage equipment said...

Titanic is an epic history since that tragedy happened. It still retains and unforgettable just because of that movie.

garage equipment said...

Titanic is an epic history since that tragedy happened. It still retains and unforgettable just because of that movie.