Thomas Andrews, Shipwright


The inspection cartel claims credit for improving and assuring quality.  There’s no evidence that it does.  The inspection regime is claiming the good work of expert technicians is the cartel’s doing.  This is another way that unproductive zombies consume the more fruitful work of their victims.

To get back to Andrews, he was last seen a few minutes before the end by a surviving steward. He was in the first class smoking lounge, looking at a painting of the harbor of Plymouth, Massachusetts called “Entrance To the New World”. His life jacket was strewn over a nearby chair. The steward asked “Aren’t you even going to make a try for it, sir?”, but Andrews didn’t respond.

There’s no telling what he was thinking in those last moments. He clearly didn’t intend to save himself. At that point it was clear that saving himself would have cost the life of someone else.  It was that cut-and-dried. There were only so many places in the boats. Any place that he took could have been occupied by someone else.

Contrast his behavior with that of J. Bruce Ismay, the president of the White Star Line, which owned the ship. Like Andrews, he had been assisting people into the boats, but when no more could be found and his boat was about to launch, he jumped in himself. For saving himself when 1500 people were lost on his company’s ship, he earned eternal criticism. He was removed as president the next year, and lived as a recluse on his estate in Ireland until his death in the 30s.

Although Ismay had some defenders, the most potent case against him was made by Rear-Admiral A. T. Mahan (as quoted by Colonel Archibald Gracie (US Army) in The Truth About the Titanic):

“For all the loss of life the company is responsible, individually and collectively: Mr. Ismay personally, not only as one of the members. He believed the Titanic unsinkable; the belief relieves moral guilt, but not of responsibility. Men bear the consequences of their mistakes as well as of their faults…

“I hold that under the conditions, so long as there was a soul that could be saved, the obligation lay upon Mr. Ismay that that one person and not he should have been in the boat. More than 1,500 perished. Circumstances yet to be developed may justify Mr. Ismay’s actions completely, but such justification is imperatively required…

“We should be careful not to pervert standards. Witness the talk that the result is due to the system. What is a system, except that which individuals have made it and keep it? Whatever thus weakens the sense of individual responsibility is harmful, and so likewise is all condonation of failure of the individual to meet his responsibility.”

Andrews lived up to his responsibility when Ismay did not. When the system fails, when all our plans go awry, it takes extraordinary individual effort, and extraordinary self-sacrifice to save what we can. This is the kind of heroism that Thomas Andrews displayed.

Individual responsibility or faith in a perfect system?  Will the diseased minds that created the inspection regime save themselves? Many are still free to ditch accreditation.  Is it the expert technicians who keep feeding the inspectorate data who will eventually go down?

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