United States Senate Inquiry


The Rescue


The committee invites your attention to the course followed by Captain Rostron, commanding the Carpathia. Immediately upon the receipt of the wireless call of distress Captain Rostron gave the order to turn the ship around and set a definite course toward the Titanic and instructed the Chief Engineer to call another watch of stokers and make all possible speed to that ship.

Realizing the possible presence ice of ice, because of the collision, Captain Rostron doubled his lookouts and exerted extra vigilance, putting an extra lookout on duty forward and having another officer on the bridge. The captain immediately instructed the first officer to "prepare all our lifeboats and have them all ready for turning outboard." He further sent for the heads of the different departments and issued the following order, which the committee deem of sufficient importance to quote in full:

English doctor, with assistants, to remain in first class dining room.
Italian doctor, with assistants, to remain in second class dining room.
Hungarian doctor, with assistants, to remain in third class dining room.
Each doctor to have supplies of restoratives, stimulants, and everything to hand for immediate needs of probable wounded or sick.
Purser, with assistant purser and chief steward, to receive the passengers, etc., at different gangways, controlling our own stewards in assisting Titanic passengers to the dining rooms, etc.; also to get Christian and surnames of all survivors as soon as possible to send by wireless.
Inspector, steerage stewards, and master at arms to control our own steerage passengers and keep them out of the third class dining hall, and also to keep them out of the way and off the deck to prevent confusion.
Chief steward: That all hands would be called and to have coffee, etc., ready to serve out to all our crew.
Have coffee, tea, soup, etc., in each saloon, blankets in saloons, at the gangways, and some for the boats.
To see all rescued cared for and immediate wants attended to.
My cabin and all officials' cabins to be given up. Smoke rooms, library, etc., dining rooms, would be utilized to accommodate the survivors.
All spare berths in steerage to be utilized for Titanic's passengers, and get all our own steerage passengers grouped together.
Stewards to be placed in each alleyway to reassure our own passengers, should they inquire about noise in getting our boats out, etc., or the working of engines.
To all I strictly enjoined the necessity for order, discipline, and quietness, and to avoid all confusion.
Chief and first officers: All the hands to be called; get coffee, etc. Prepare and swing out all boats.
All gangway doors to be opened.
Electric sprays in each gangway and over side.
A block with line rove hooked in each gangway.
A chair sling at each gangway for getting up sick or wounded.
Boatswains' chairs, pilot ladders, and canvas ash bags to be at each gangway, the canvas ash bags for children.
Cargo falls with both ends clear; bowlines in the ends and bights secured along ship's sides for boat ropes or to help the people up.
Heaving lines distributed along the ship's side and gaskets handy near gangways for lashing people in chairs, etc.
Forward derricks topped and rigged and steam on winches; also told off officers for different stations and for certain eventualities.
Ordered company's rockets to be fired at 2.45 a.m. and every quarter of an hour after to reassure Titanic.

The committee deems the course followed by Captain Rostron of the Carpathia as deserving of the highest praise and worthy of especial recognition. Captain Rostron fully realized all the risk involved. He doubled his lookouts, doubled his fireroom force, and notwithstanding such risk, pushed his ship at her very highest limit of speed through the many dangers of the night to the relief of the stricken vessel. His detailed instructions issued in anticipation of the rescue of the Titanic are a marvel of systematic preparation and completeness, evincing such solicitude as calls for the highest commendation. The precautions he adopted enabled him to steer his course between and around icebergs until he stopped his engines at 4 o'clock in the morning in the vicinity of the accident, where he proceeded to pick up the Titanic's lifeboats with the survivors.


The first boat was picked up at 4.10 a.m. Monday, and the last of the survivors was on board by 8.30 a.m., after which Captain Rostron made arrangements "to hold service, a short prayer of thankfulness for those rescued, and a short burial service for those who were lost."

Upon the arrival of the Californian upon the scene, about 8 o'clock in the morning, the Captain of the Carpathia communicated with her commander, stating that all of the passengers had been rescued from the boats but that he thought one was still unaccounted for; and arrangements were made whereby the Californian made an exhaustive search in the vicinity for this missing boat.

Captain Rostron stated that the Carpathia picked up 15 lifeboats and 2 collapsible boats. Evidence was given before the committee by at least one occupant of every lifeboat, satisfying the committee that the 16 lifeboats with which the Titanic was equipped were all accounted for. Thirteen of these lifeboats were hoisted on board and carried to New York by the Carpathia.

After arranging for a thorough search of the vicinity by the Californian, Captain Rostron headed his vessel for New York, reporting immediately by wireless to the officials of his company in New York, as follows:

NEW YORK, latitude 41.45; longitude 50.20 west. - Am proceeding New York unless otherwise ordered, with about 800, after having consulted with Mr. Ismay and considering the circumstances. With so much ice about, consider New York best. Large number icebergs, and 20 miles field ice with bergs amongst.


The committee directs attention to the fact that Captain Rostron, of the Carpathia, although four hours in the vicinity of the accident, saw only one body, and that Captain Lord, of the Californian, who remained three hours in the vicinity of the wreckage, saw none. The failure of the captain of the Carpathia, of the captain of the Californian, and of the captain of the Mount Temple to find bodies floating in that vicinity in the early morning of the day following can only be accounted for on the theory that those who went down with the ship either did not rise to the surface or were carried away or hidden by the extensive ice floe which during the night came down over the spot where the ship disappeared, while those bodies which have been found remote from the place where the ship went down were probably carried away from the scene by the currents or by the movement of the ice.