HISTORY OF THE TITANIC
The world's interest in the fascinating history of Titanic has endured for more than 100 years.

The Captain of the Titanic

Captain Edward John Smith's Life.

Captain Edward John Smith

Who was the captain of the titanic ?

Captain Smith began his life at sea at age 17, as an apprentice on a Liverpool sailing ship called the Senator Weber. At the age of 30, he joined the White Star Line, a prominent British shipping company, as the Fourth Officer of the SS Celtic. He quickly moved up the ranks at White Star, receiving his first command at the age of 37. During this time, he also joined the Royal Naval Reserves.

Between 1899 and 1902, Captain Smith served in the Second Boer War, transporting British troops to Cape Colony. In 1903, King Edward VII awarded him the Transport Medal for these services, which increased Captain Smith's prestige at White Star. He rapidly became known as the "Millionaires Captain" because members of Britain's aristocracy and moneyed classes had a marked preference for sailing on ships he commanded.

In June 1911, White Star launched the Olympic, one of the first transatlantic ocean liners. Captain Smith was put in command. Although the Olympic completed her maiden voyage successfully, a tugboat almost sank during some mismaneuvers as the ship docked at Pier 59 in New York City. Four months later, the disastrous incident with the Hawke occurred, which put a considerable strain on the White Star company. The company saw the successful launch of the Titanic as a way to redeem itself.

Captain Edward John Smith and the Sinking of the Titanic

Reports about how Captain Smith spent his final hours contradict themselves.

Did Edward John Smith, the captain of the Titanic, cause the "unsinkable" vessel to go under on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City? Many historians believe he did.

The RMS Titanic pulled out of its Southampton berth on April 10, 1912. On the open seas, Captain Smith maintained a speed of 26 knots per hour. A steering mistake may have put the Titanic on a collision course with the iceberg that destroyed it. Once the mistake had been made, however, the ship's speed made it impossible to rectify the course.

Many historians argue that Bruce Ismay, Manger of the White Star Line, shared an equal role in the disaster. In conversations with the Titanic captain for two hours after the ship's collision with the iceberg, Ismay minimized the prospect of damage. He urged Captain Smith to continue forging ahead at top speed. This undoubtedly caused the ship to sink hours sooner than it might have other wise done.

Only one thing is certain: Captain Edward John Smith was one of the 1,517 people who perished when the Titanic sank on April 12, 1912.