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Missing Binoculars could have saved Titanic.

One if is if Captain Smith of RMS Titanic had heeded the 4 icebeg warning messages received by the Marconi wireless operators on board RMS Titanic on the day of the disaster.  The last of these was transmiited just one hour before the collision by the wireless operator aboard the Californian.  At the Titanic Enquiry it was reported that the response to this warning message was "Shut up. I am busy. I am working Cape Race".

 

That night high above the ship's deck in the obversation port known as the Crow's Nest Frederick Fleet and Regionald Lee were almost at the end of their lookout shift to report of icebergs ahead when Fleet saw the iceberg straight ahead and sounded the alarm.  It took William M. Murdoch the First officer 37 seconds to shut down all engines, close the watertight doors and steer the ship away from the iceberg.

 

At that point the iceberg was just 274 metres away but the ship needed over 800 metres to stop so steering it away from the iceberg was the only option.  This resulted in the ship's side just gliding past the iceberg but underneath the waterline the iceberg was protruding and caused a gash just over 90 metres long.

 

The stongest parts of the ship were it's bow and stern so had it hit the iceberg head on possibly no major damage would have been done but the iceberg grazed the side of the ship which wasn't as strong and hadn't the stronger rivets used in the plating on the bow and stern ( see the separate article on the two diffeent types of rivets used on Titanic ).

 

Normally the look outs in the observation port would have used of a pair of binoculars to lookout for icebergs and had they been used that night it would probably have given sufficent time to avoid the collision.

 

Why were no binoculars used that night ?

 

The Titanic's Second Officer David Blair 37, from Broughty Ferry, Forfarshire in Scotland had sailed from Belfast on the Titanic to Southampton on 3rd April 1912.  He was in charge of the Crow's Nest.


He was scheduled to be the Second officer on the Titanic's maiden voyage departing from Southampton for New York on 10th April. Before leaving Southampton the ship's oweners White Star Line replaced David Blair with Henry Wilde a more experienced Officer from the Olympic, a sister ship of the Titanic.  This meant David Blair was not on board during the maiden and final voyage of RMS Titanic.

 

On the sailing from Belfast he had been seen with the binoculars but these were kept in a locked cupboard and on disembarking the ship at Southampton he forgot to hand over the key to the cupboard so no binoculars were available to the look outs on the maiden voyage.

 

The key was donated to the International Sailors Society by David Blair's daughter, and it was sold at auction in 2007 for £90,000 (about $130,000) by Henry Aldridge and Sons the Wiltshire based specialists in Titanic memorabilia.  The proceeds of the auction were used to set up scholarships in David Blair’s name.

 



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