Edward John Smith is widely known as the captain of the Titanic, the ship that sank on its first sea trip.
We gathered 9 interesting facts about the life and career of Edward Smith that our readers may not know about. Let’s see what they are…
Edward John Smith: 9 interesting facts about the captain of the Titanic:
1. Edward Smith left school at the age of 13
Edward John Smith was born in January 1850 to the family of Edward Smith and Catherine Hancock. The family lived in Hanley, Staffordshire. His father was a potter and wanted his son to follow his steps, an interesting fact about Edward Smith. Therefore, he did everything possible to imbue young Smith with a love for pottery. His mother Catherine worked in a bank. When Edward turned 13, he was forced to leave school due to family circumstances.
2. Edward Smith started working at an early age
Edward’s father died when the boy was only 12 years old. His mother left the job in the bank and decided to open a shop. Even though the business was rather successful, the family lacked money. That’s why Edward left school and found himself a job at the Etruria Forge factory. His responsibility was to operate a steam hammer.
3. Edward Smith was always attracted to the sea
No matter how hard his father tried, Edward was never interested in pottery. His job at the factory also didn’t bring him satisfaction. It didn’t make him feel neither fulfilled nor happy. He always felt a deep desire to travel the world. Since early childhood, he wanted to become a naval captain and travel the sea, an important fact about Edward Smith.
4. Edward Smith was a hardworking, persistent person
When Edward was 17, he moved to Liverpool. 1867 was a turning point in his life. He became a member of the Senator Weber crew. His dream of life on the sea was becoming true. He worked hard to get the necessary experience, improve and develop necessary skills. His efforts were soon noticed. His career took off. In 1871, he earned certificates as a second mate. In 1873, he was promoted to the first mate. Two years later, he became a master.
In 1876, he commanded the Lizzie Fennel vessel that transported goods to and from South America.
5. Edward Smith had to start his career from scratch
Edward Smith dreamed of a career at the White Star Line company, an interesting fact about Edward Smith (In those days, one of the most prestigious shipping companies in the world).
His persistence and determination helped him to make the dream true. In 1880, he became a member of the company. The only issue in his case was that the company provided mainly passenger and not cargo shipping services.
Even though he had already managed to build his career as a captain, he had to start from scratch. Why? Because the process of operating cargo vessels was different from the process of operating passenger vessels.
However, this didn’t stop Smith. He started training; His efforts soon paid off. In 1885, he was the first officer of the Republic. His apprenticeship officially ended in 1887. The same year he was promoted to commanding officer. The first passenger vessel under his command was SS Celtic.
6. Edward Smith successfully commanded many ships
In the course of his career at the White Star Line Company, Edward Smith commanded many ships. The list of them includes the Majestic, the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Olympic.
7. Edward Smith was highly respected by passengers
The Majestic made two trips under the command of Edward Smith. Both without any incidents. In 1904, he was appointed the commander of the newest White Star Line ships on their maiden voyages. He commanded the Baltic with no incidents for 3 years. The first voyage of the Olympic also went smoothly, although a certain incident happened when the ship was docking in the New York harbor. Edward Smith’s skill and experience helped him to finish the trip successfully without any victims.
Edward Smith was highly respected among passengers for the level of security he managed to provide during the trips under his command, an important fact about Edward Smith. The majority of those who needed to sail the Atlantic chose the ships under his command.
8. Edward Smith was appointed as the commander of the RMS “Titanic”
Despite the financial troubles that occurred due to the incident during the Olympic docking, Edward Smith was appointed as the commander of RMS Titanic. Some people said that Smith was going to retire after the first trip of the ship was finished.
The Titanic departed from Southampton on the 10th of April 1912. The first days of the ship’s first voyage went smoothly. During the 4th day of the voyage, multiple warnings about drifting ice were received.
Even though the crew was aware of the possible danger, a decision to increase the speed was made.
9. Edward Smith didn’t leave the Titanic when the disaster happened
It is still unclear why the captain decided to increase the speed of the ship instead of decreasing it. Maybe, he decided that his experience would allow him to quickly avoid the danger. Maybe, he wanted to sail through the dangerous area as fast as possible.
Whatever the reason was, he failed to avoid the danger, an unfortunate fact about Edward Smith. The ship collided with an iceberg on the 14th of April, at 23:40 and sank approximately 3 hours later. Captain Edward Smith took part in the evacuation process. He sank together with his ship. His body was never found.
Edward Smith was an experienced seaman. He commanded ships for 27 years. Up until his very last breath, he stayed loyal to his passion – the sea.
We hope that the facts provided will help you to learn more about one of the greatest naval officers of all the times.
I hope that this article on Edward Smith facts was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Historical People Facts Page!