Titanic Sinking - Thought All Were Saved


Only the Latest Morning Newspapers Contained an Inkling of Real Disaster.

Debate on the Relative Safety of Big Ships Is Started by the Recent Accidents.

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

LONDON, Tuesday, April 16.---After a day of great anxiety Londoners went to sleep last evening believing that all the passengers of the Titanic were certain to be saved, and that even the great ship herself might yet be brought to port.

All the leading morning papers carry editorials on the Titanic disaster, though all were written on the assumption that the vessel would be saved and no lives lost. In each case much praise was devoted to the triumph of the wireless. Not one paper up to 3 o'clock even suggests the loss of life, although news is now coming in which tells of the extent of the disaster.

It is interesting to relate that THE NEW YORK TIMES office was probably the first to be informed of the disaster. It made the news known to the principal hotels, where it was received with incredulity at first, and caused the greatest consternation and anxiety until later afternoon dispatches brought some reassurance.

Most of the excitement during the day centerd[sic] about Lloyd's. Describing the scene, The London Telegraph says:

"When the room opened there was a rush among some of the underwriters who had heavy lines to rid of their liability, and for this they had to pay 50 guineas per cent, at which a considerable amount of business was done. Before luncheon the rate rose to 55 guineas, and after 2 o'clock it reached 60 guineas.

"The ideas of the experts were many and varied, but the fact that had most influence in taking the rate to 60 guineas for a steamer so splendidly equipped with water-tight compartments as the Titanic, was the sudden cutting off of the wireless messages, which some thought might mean that the vessel was sinking, while others imagined that the shock of the collision might have brought down the pole of the wireless apparatus.

"Just before 4 o'clock a telegram was received at Lloyds to the effect that the Titanic was being towed toward Halifax. On this the rate dropped to 25 guineas, giving those who had written earlier in the afternoon a profit of 35 guineas."

Great commiseration is expressed for Capt. Smith, who is one of the best-known shipmasters of the North Atlantic. It is pointed out here as a coincidence that the Baltic should have been called on to perform a similar service to the Titanic as she did to the ill-fated Republic. In each instance the Baltic had passed the distressed vessel, being about two hundred miles away, when called on to turn back and go to her assistance. As a further coincidence it is stated that R. L. Barker, purser of the Titanic was also purser on the Republic when she went down.

One of those who keenly felt the Titanic's loss was the Right Hon. Alexander Carlisle, who had charge of the building of the Titanic and who affectionately dubbed it "the last of my babies." He intended making the voyage in her, but decided not at the last moment. He was dreadfully upset by the news, but preferred to wait until the receipt of more details before discussing it, although he had insisted from the first that the boat was unsinkable.

Another representative of Harland & Wolff, when interviewed, said that if the liner had sunk, the collision must have been of great force, for the aim of Lord Pirrie and his colleagues had been to make the vessel practically unsinkable.

The suggestion that suction was in any was responsible for the present accident to the Titanic is scouted by those able to judge. Sir William White, the famous ex-Director of Naval Construction and Assistant Controller of the Royal Navy, in conversation last night said:

"In these cases speculation regarding the cause of the accident is premature. I think that until the circumstances are known in greater detail there can be no question of suction in the case of the Titanic. Moreover, suction depends upon relative speeds. Now an iceberg is a very slow-moving thing, almost stationary as you might say. There is so much under water that it is not at all like a ship.

"No, it seems that the Titanic simply struck an iceberg. It is not an unknown thing."

The disaster to the Titanic following the misfortune to her sister ship, the Olympic, has caused the question to be raised whether these mammoth liners can be handled as safely as the smaller vessels which they are so rapidly displacing. It is recalled that disaster was only narrowly averted when the Titanic left Southampton on Wednesday, the American Line steamship New York, which was only about one-fifth of her tonnage, having been torn from her moorings as the Titanic was passing, and almost drawn into collision. On the other hand, there is a definite theory among shipbuilders, founded on exact mathematical calculations, that vessels even twice the size of the Titanic would be as perfectly safe as any of the smaller liners that have crossed and recrossed the Atlantic without ever having a single accident.

There were 3,418 bags of mail on the Titanic when she left Southampton, and it is stated that the proportion of registered packets was heavier than usual. There were no parcels for Canada on the ship, but the letters consisted of the usual midweek mail for North and South America, Canada, and the islands in the Pacific, a total of 569 bags.

The New York Times, New York, NY 16 Apr 1912