Fascinating “Reports of obstruction to Navigation” sent to “The Commander” of the Titanic, seven pages, 8.25 x 13.25, dated from March 9 to April 10, 1912. The six individual reports included are dated as follows: March 9, 13, 20, 27, and April 6 and 10. Compiled by Hill Dickinson & Co., the maritime law firm representing shipping company White Star Line, the reports detail a variety of obstacles deemed detrimental to the safe passage of the Titanic.
The first, dated March 9, 1912, in part: “’Belfast Feb. 29th. Howth Head (s) from New Orleans arrived here today reports on Feb. 20, 6.50 a.m. 42.57 N, 57.21 W, passed a spar projecting about 5 feet out of the water, and surrounded by a mass of wreckage and from above position for a distance of 50’ E.N.E. passed through numerous pieces of wreckage tree trunks and undressed spars or logs.’”
The second report, on March 13, reads, “’British steamer Bengore Head…which passed the Tuskar March 7, reported having on board the crew of the Norwegian barque Illawarra, Leith for Valparaiso, which vessel was abandoned in Lat. 50.51 N, Long. 12.49 W, dangerous to navigation.’”
A week later, on March 20, a report concerning three submerged vessels and floating logs, in part: “’Louisiana (s) reports Feb. 23 lat. 32.44 N. long. 78.37 W. in 20 fathoms passed close to a wreck, with about 25 feet of a heel of a mast projecting out of water fast to wreckage. Could see under water what appeared to be sails.’”
The fourth and fifth reports, dated March 27 and April 6, are the first officially addressed to “Captain E. J. Smith,” and concern submerged ships with masts projecting from the water.
The final report, dated April 10—the day Titanic departed on its maiden voyage—notes three sunken wrecks, in part: “’Galway, April 8, French steamer ‘La Touraine,’ from New York, reports by wireless that in lat. 40.56 long. 66.18 she passed a broken mast emerging vertically, very dangerous.’” The packet bears the original clasp and concludes with a title page. In very good condition, with scattered creasing and soiling, and edge tears to upper right corners, not affecting any text.
Before he replaced Captain Herbert Haddock as commander of the RMS Titanic on April 1st, Smith twice played a role in the postponement of the ill-fated ship’s maiden voyage. As captain of the RMS Olympic, the older sister ship of the Titanic, Smith collided with the British Cruiser the HMS Hawke on September 20, 1911, and then lost a propeller blade during a crossing in February 1912—mishaps which pushed the ship’s subsequent departure date to April 10th. Five days later, on April 15, the Titanic sunk at the coordinates of 41.7 N, 49.9 W. Some of the reports included in this packet refer to potentially harmful waters in relative close proximity to Titanic's intended course of travel. Interestingly, although these reports inform of numerous submerged vessels and two instances of floating logs, there remains a notable absence of ice warnings. Originates from the offices of White Star Line lawyers Hill Dickinson & Co.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.