June 17th, 2009

A Balance

Olympic and Titanic

I spent the evening with a strawberry milkshake and copies of the Agreement papers for the maiden voyages of the sisters Olympic and Titanic. I was curious to see how many sailors from the Deck Department had sailed on both maiden voyages (Olympic's in June 1911 and Titanic's in April 1912). I found a handful of able seamen who did so.

I was surprised to see that many of the able seamen had come from the ship Adriatic. I was expecting that most of them would have come from the Majestic, since they had planned to take Majestic out of normal operation sometime during the fall of 1911. I saw only one AB from Majestic - and he was later employed on Titanic as a quartermaster. He also testified at the US Inquiry in DC.

I was also surprised to see that the June 1911 lists for Olympic do not distinguish between quartermasters, lookouts, lamp trimmer/storekeeper, and able seamen the way that Titanic's lists do.

And as I sat here, sleepily looking at the two documents side by side, I noticed one other difference. The pages for Olympic were copied from the original paper documents, the sheets of which are in crisp and clean condition. The pages for Titanic were copied from microfilm and the images show that the originals are worn and torn. Many officials and researchers have handled those sheets over the years. Many eyes have scanned over the lines. How different it could have been...her maiden voyage documents could have been as neglected as Olympic's and the stories of so many forgotten in the normalcy of every day life. Peaceful daily life is such a blessing.