Titanic: Captain Went Down with the Ship

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Ship Not Unsinkable After All
Passengers Famously Separated by Class
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The Titanic had eight officers, including Captain Edward Smith.

Smith was a veteran, decorated sailor, having been with the White Star Line since 1880. He was captain of the Majestic for nine years, including a stint transporting British troops to the Boer War.

Beginning in 1904, he was the captain on all of White Star Line's new ships. He was captain of the Baltic when it sailed from Liverpool to New York in June 1904 and of the Adriatic when it made a similar voyage three years later.

Smith was captain of the Olympic, a ship as big as the Titanic, in September 1911, when the Olympic collided with another ship, the Hawke, resulting in the Hawke's losing its prow and the Olympic's losing one of its giant propeller shafts. Smith and the Olympic got the blame for this incident.

Despite this incident, the White Star Line appointed Smith captain of its newest ship, the Titanic, for its maiden voyage. His first major action was to ensure that the Titanic didn't collide with the New York, a ship that broke free from its moorings because of the huge amount of water displaced when Titanic initially sailed.

Smith did not survive the sinking of the Titanic. Various accounts of his last actions have him jumping into the sea at the last second, standing in the wheelhouse as the ship went down, and even rescuing a child as his final act.

His body was not recovered. He left behind a wife and daughter. A statue of him stands in Beacon Park in Lichfield, Staffordshire, in England.

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David White