Wednesday, November 12, 2008

J. Bruce Ismay

My dad and I had a short discussion last night about Ismay, and about how the choice me made shaped the rest of his life! So I though I would re-post this blog to give everybody something to think about.

Joseph Bruce, Ismay has received a lot of criticism over the past decades. Why? Because he got into a lifeboat when there were still women and children aboard. But is there any just foundation for this serious criticism? We'll look at the two sides of the story, 1. reasons for staying aboard, 2. reasons for getting on a lifeboat! Now this will be rather hard for me, since I already have an opinion of Ismay, but I will try to not let that come through..... you decide for yourself what he should have done!

1. First we'll look at the reasons that J. B. Ismay should have stayed aboard the sinking Titanic!
After the Titanic collided with an iceberg at about 11:45, it did not take long for Captain Smith to figure out there was not enough places for all the men, women and children in the lifeboats. So he gave the well known order, "women and children first." Now, did the Captain mean that there was no men to be allowed in the lifeboats? NO! The lifeboats needed officers, and sailors to make sure they were operated safely, and correctly. It was the spirit of the order that counted, if you did not have a legitimate reason for getting in a lifeboat, you had no place in one. Some fantastic men of measure did get off in a lifeboat, such as Harold Bride the wireless operator, Lightoller the Titanic's Second Officer, Archibald Gracie, Jack Thayer, and the list could go on.
Whats noticeable about these men, is they did not receive the criticism that Bruce, Ismay did, why is that?
Did Ismay have a responsibility to stay with the Titanic till she sank beneath the waves, like the Captain did? Lets look at some things that took place years earlier..... When the Titanic was still on blueprints the planning of how many lifeboats the Titanic would carry came up. The Titanic's designer at the time Andrew, Carlyle was pushing for 48 lifeboats which would have been enough for everyone one on board in case of a disaster. But there was one man standing in his way, John B. Ismay! When the rubber met the road Ismay said no, for various reasons. But when you get to the night of April 14, 1912 its a different story. Because of his choice, it puts him under some obligation to stay aboard and take whatever comes.
Here's possibly another reason that he should have stayed aboard. J. B. Ismay owned the White Star Line, which means he owned the Titanic. If a person owns something that is used for the public, and if fails in some way, and death follows, or injury, it seems that whoever owns it should take whatever other had to take as well. He was responsible for the passengers as well!
I guess one more thing that should have binded him to the Titanic in time of trouble, is the fact that there were still women and children on board, and he owed them all the safety that was in his power as a man. By giving up a spot in a lifeboat, and doing the courteous thing, and not to mention the polite thing!

2. It wouldn't be fair to explain one side of the story, so we'll make an argument for the opposite side. In this kind of situation we have to be fair, because Ismay is no longer around to speak for himself!
J. B. Ismay claims that there were no women in sight, and there are witness to back up the fact. Since that being true why should he stay on a sinking ship and face certain death? And if there was no women sight was he really breaking a rule? I think that if your standing on the side of a sinking ship, and there's an empty spot on a lifeboat, there are no women and children about, would we have the fortitude to remain on the ship? There are a lot of questions that come into play here, and what it comes down to is, was he doing something really out of the ordinary?
Why should he stay on a sinking ship if he could get off, and go back to his family, we can't really say that he had motives of the baser sort. He was the managing director of the White Star Line, he had a lot of responsibly back on shore.
Was there really a need to end his short life, just to make a name for himself?
And after all, you can't blame the entire construction of the ship on him, Thomas, Andrews obviously didn't have a problem with 20 lifeboats!
Just because countless men stayed aboard, doesn't mean that Ismay did if a opportunity presented himself.
To call this man a coward just because he got off a sinking ship, doesn't seem right! What would you have done in his position?



I know that I believe that he gave up his rights to a lifeboat when he voted to know have enough lifeboats aboard for everyone. There was always the possibility of it sinking. Even if they truly believed it to be unsinkable. So, yes, he should have stayed aboard and took his chances in my opinion. Grandma

Daniel said...

It's a tough decision to make about somebody with all the circumstances involved, but I would have to agree with you! He should have stayed.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that he voted down having more life boats and then bailed out on everyone in the moment of crisis. But I guess it's hard to pass judgment on someone telling them that they should choose death when we have never faced a situation like that. I would like to think that I would have done the right thing, but perhaps faced with that situation, I would cower like a child.

Daniel said...

Yes, considering the situation he played in the construction of the ship, it is a difficult decision to make!

Thank you for your thoughts!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response, Daniel. Don't get me wrong, I think that he should have done the right thing and stayed on board and focused on getting the women and children off board. I just know how week I am and I fail in situations that don't even require as much dedication to right as that would have required.

Great site you have going here, by the way!

kate said...

getting back to the whole ismay thing ... ok he got on a lifeboat to "spread his knowledge and keep this from happening again" tell us of mr ismay's fate ...

Billy said...

Your blog is cool. I also have a blog about ships. I am also a
Baptist!! In Southern Oklahoma! I found your blog while looking for pictures for mine!
here's my address stop by anytime.

Will said...

Hey Daniel
I havn't read your blog in a while, but I think your thoughts about Ismay are in depth. I have talked to some people who thought it was unfair for the officers and sea men to get in a boat and leave fathers and brothers onboard the sinking ship. But, if he wanted a fair chance he should have put enough lifeboats on the Titanic.
Before I forget there is a group of Christian fathers and sons meeting in D.C. to remember the sinking of the Titanic in April.

Anonymous said...

It is really cool to see another titanic fan out there like myself. i remember being in the 5th grade when our class was listening to the radio about how the titanic wreck had been discovered! ever since, i was hooked. i used to draw picture after picture of that ship, usually sinking.

since then i have completely drifted away from the titanic stuff, but i still find it snags my attention. it is a good lesson in human behavior and of course, history.

i would like to say that, unlike ismay, i would have stayed. but as nicholas posted, it would be a really hard decision to make if i were actually in that situation. the only true judge should be God.

i hope you continue your fandom with the titanic and pursue your dreams along with it. the titanic will always be tragedy that i will never forget. maybe i was on that ship in a past life or something. i dunno. :)

Anonymous said...

As it is almost the anniversary of Titanic's great tragedy, I thought I'd pop over here, since I hadn't been here in a long while. (It looks like you haven't been here in a while, either!)

So Daniel, hope you've been doing okay, and life's been good for you. I'm probably going to post something about Titanic on Wednesday, but there's been a lot going on in my life lately, so I'll have to see how to weave that in.

cody said...

There is a lot Bruce Ismay had to answer for. The new Welin Quadrant Davits that Andrew had installed could have carried and maintained four lifeboats per davit. There were 16 on board meaning a total of 64 lifeboats, enough for everyone on board but Ismay didn't want there to be so much clutter and fear put into his passengers. He was responsible for the number being dragged down to 32 and then 16 with the exclusion of the four collapsible lifeboats. Here is a good quote made bu Ismay himself and another by Thomas Andrew, i'll let the rest of you be the judge.
Control your Irish passions, Thomas. Your uncle here tells me you proposed 64 lifeboats and he had to pull your arm to get you down to 32. Now, I will remind you just as I reminded him these are my ships. And, according to our contract, I have final say on the design. I’ll not have so many little boats, as you call them, cluttering up my decks and putting fear into my passengers."
-J. Bruce Ismay, Director of the White Star Line
"You weren’t there at my first meeting with Ismay. To see the little red marks all over the blueprints. First thing I thought was: ‘Now here’s a man who wants me to build him a ship that’s gonna be sunk.’ We’re sending gilded egg shells out to sea."
-Thomas Andrews, Managing Director of Harland and Wolff Shipyards
See this site for more quotes:

Anonymous said...

Not one of us was there so it actually wouldnt be fair to pick sides, but from my point of view, Theres not a single doubt in my mind that Ismay seen these women and children, not only that but there was 7 first class DOGS saved, so someone please explain to me why so many 3rd class children died? I believe instead of worrying about who was first class and who wasnt as a owner and a person that these passengers put faith in, he should have done as much as possible to ensure the safety of these people. Maybe not only helping the women and children but also the other men. Or did he have the excuse that he didnt see any other males either? Point is how I look at it is, even being a female, if I owned a ship and something was to happen, then I would thinking making sure as many as possible of my passengers was safe.Before I protected myself

Anonymous said...

He may not have seen "Any women in sight" but he darn well knew there were plenty of people still on the ship. As the person who made the decision to deny all persons on board a place in a boat he should have made every effort to ensure all the boats were full and then watched them sail away. He was a coward.

The 'droid'

Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

louisabenjamin said...

1500 people running around trying to get on a life boat...and Ismay said there was no-one around...are you having that. He was a major cause in the disaster. It was his ship, he ordered the head of the boiler room to go faster - behind the captains back. In my opinion he should have been the last off and his entire fortune ordered to be shared amongst every dead passengers family.