The Owner, the Chairman, the Captain, and the Officers

"What I remember about that night - what I will remember as long as I live - is the people crying out to each other as the stern began to plunge down. I heard people crying, '"I love you.'"

Second Officer Charles H. Lightoller, RMS Titanic


TITANIC'S' OFFICERS

 

Back row left to right:
Chief Purser Herbert McElroy, 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller

3rd Officer Herbert Pitman, 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall

5th Officer Harold Lowe

 

 

Front row left to right:
6th Officer James Moody, Chief Officer Henry Wilde

Captain Edward Smith, 1st Officer William Murdoch

 

 

The White Star Line went through several different ownerships in its 89 years of existence. For a complete history of the White Star Line, see The Beginning Years on this website. The following information pertains only to the White Star Line's ownership during Titanic's construction and demise.

The Owner

John Pierpont (JP) Morgan. American financier and founding owner of the International Mercantile Marine Company. (IMMC) This company was the controlling trust and retaining ownership of the White Star Line, Red Star Line, Dominion Line, American Transport Line, and the Leyland Line. Although Titanic was actually an American owned vessel, Morgan kept the ships of his trust under British registry with British crews. This was in order to escape being accused of violating the American Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. (The act that took down J.D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company)  Most of the vessels flew both American and British flags with the White Star Line burgee. Morgan also owned US Steel, General Electric and numerous banks and other financial institutions. JP Morgan and company continues to thrive today (JP Morgan Chase) Morgan had intended on accompanying Titanic on her maiden voyage but took ill. He died shortly after the Titanic disaster in 1913.

 

The President

Joseph Bruce Ismay, (Bruce Ismay) Managing Director of IMMC and President of the White Star Line. Ismay's father had owned White Star and passed it on to Bruce Ismay. Ismay was against IMMC's takeover of White Star but was out-voted by the WSL board of directors. Morgan asked Ismay to stay on as  Managing Director of IMMC and President of the White Star Line; which he reluctantly agreed to do. Ismay survived the Titanic disaster and was ridiculed for the rest of his life by the press and public for not going down with the ship, although he was exonerated by the formal British and American Inquiries of any wrongdoing. He resigned from IMMC after the Titanic disaster and the White Star Line would not allow him to retain his position. He was apparently thought of highly enough to be asked in desperation in 1933 by White Star Line management to come back and save the company from a merger with Cunard. But it was too late to be saved. Ismay died at home in Ireland in 1937 at the age of 74.

 

The Designer and Builder

Thomas Andrews Jr. was managing director and head of the drafting department for the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland. Andrews was the shipbuilder in charge of the plans for Titanic. He was the nephew of William James Pirrie, one of Harland and Wolff's owners. Harland and Wolff always sent a "team" on a White Star Liner's maiden voyage to make sure everything worked properly. With Titanic, Andrews wanted to personally accompany the vessel on her maiden voyage and traveled as a first class passenger. He was summoned by Titanic's captain shortly after striking the iceberg. After sounding the ship and making a few calculations, Andrews informed the captain that Titanic would in fact sink and within 2-hours; he was correct. Andrews assisted getting passengers into lifeboats and was last seen by a steward staring at a painting (entrance to Plymouth Harbor) in the first class smoking room. 39 tear old Thomas Andrews did not survive.

 

The Captain

Captain Edward John (EJ) Smith, Captain of the RMS Titanic and Commodore of the White Star Line Fleet. It has been speculated by some historians (including Night to Remember author Walter Lord) that ships had gotten too big for Captain Smith, in comparison to what he had mastered earlier in his career. Prior to Titanic, he had been involved in several collisions and near misses with the larger liners. He almost swung the Majestic completely about to avoid hitting an iceberg in 1902. Smith made two trooping voyages during the Boer War and was medaled as an honorary member of the Royal Naval Reserve. He was known as a gentle but firm shipmaster and thought of affectionately by his crew and passengers alike. Captain Smith had planed to retire with 38 years at sea after Titanic's scheduled return to England from New York. He was last seen going into Titanic's wheelhouse. 62 year old EJ Smith went down with his ship.

 

The Chief Officer

Henry Tingle Wild, Executive Officer RMS Titanic. He was transferred to Titanic from the RMS Olympic at Capt. Smith's request due to his familiarity with  Olympic Class Liners. Wild wrote a letter to his sister dated 4/11/12 (from Titanic) in it he stated, "....I still don't like this ship, I just have a queer feeling about it." Wild's last minute transfer to Titanic caused a shift in the positions assigned to Titanic's other officers. Everyone moved down a notch, and the original 2nd officer position assigned to David Blair was eliminated altogether. Wild is one the officers believed to have shot himself just before Titanic slipped beneath the sea. Wild being the officer to have done this was reported by two survivors in two separate letters to their respective families. He did not survive and was 39 years old at the time of the disaster.

 

Check back soon - There's more to come - not yet completed

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Post disaster photo of Titanic's surviving officers.
(seated) Third Officer Herbert Pittman, (standing left to right) Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, Second Officer Charles Lightoller, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall.
 

 

 

 

 

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Photo of Joseph Boxhall taken in the late 1960's shortly before his death. He served as a technical adviser for the 1958 film,  A Night to Remember based on the book by Walter Lord. (Photo property of the Walter Lord Collection)

 

 

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Pittman and Lightoller in New York City during the US Senate Sub-Committee Investigative Hearings 1912.

(Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

 

 


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