Captain Edward Smith had the reputation of a “safe captain” in the White Star Line company. Some allegedly called him a “millionaire captain” because wealthy passengers preferred ships under his command.
Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic who commanded the ship during its ill-fated first voyage in 1912, was born on this day in 1850. In keeping with the saying that a captain goes down with his ship, Captain Smith refused to leave the sinking Titanic. He was 62 at the time of the disaster, and was allegedly planning to retire soon.
Smith was a member of the same generation that produced the legends of the Wild West, including Wyatt Earp (born 1848) and “Doc” Holliday (born 1851). Like many other mariners, Captain Smith wasn’t born on the coast, but in the town of Hanley in central England. At the age of 17 he moved to Liverpool and started to work as a mariner.
In 1880 Smith found employment in the White Star Line company, which later commissioned the Titanic and many other ocean steamers. Captain Smith had the reputation of a “safe captain” in the company, and some allegedly called him a “millionaire captain” because wealthy passengers preferred ships under his command. In 1904 he was given command of what was then the largest ship in the world – the Baltic (222.7 meters). He later also commanded the Adriatic, the first passenger liner with an indoor swimming pool and Turkish bath.
In time, it became customary in the White Star Line to give Captain Smith, one of the most experienced mariners in the world, command of the first voyage of the company’s largest ships. Thus he also became the captain of the Titanic during its first voyage. Sadly, the ship suffered a tragedy after hitting an iceberg, and Smith died after his ship sank. There are contradictory reports on the circumstances of his death. According to some, he was last seen on the bridge as it was flooded, while others claim they he died in the freezing water of the Atlantic.