Carpathia To The Rescue
The Cunarder Carpathia was thundering through the ocean at a remarkable speed of over 17 knots. The fastest speed she had ever achieved in her career.
Every bolt and plate in her 600 foot hull rattled, groaned and vibrated under this extreme speed. The engineers were alert for any sign of danger as more coal was stoked into the boilers. The needles on the steam gages were constantly in the red!
On Carpathia’s bridge, Captain Rostron had ordered extra lookouts far forward in the ships bow to look for icebergs. The night was pitch black and the sea a dead calm. No waves to give warning of an icebergs presence ahead.
All preparations were completed and the crew were standing by to begin the rescue operations upon arrival at Titanic’s last reported position. They were getting closer and the captain ordered his First Officer to have rockets ready to be fired off at five minute intervals to let Titanic know they were nearby. After checking with the radio room the captain asked what further news his operator, Cottom had from Titanic.
He was told that nothing had been heard from her directly in over an hour. Possibly the wireless had failed. He had traffic from other ships also inquiring of Titanic’s plight. “Keep trying Titanic. Let her know we are less than an hour away and coming fast”.
Captain Rostron returned to the bridge and informed his officers. “It doesn’t look good, men. No new word from Titanic in over an hour”. Ice was sighted ahead and Carpathia took evasive action. As more and more ice materialized the ship kept her extreme high speed and weaved amongst the icebergs and ice flow patches.
Titanic had now disappeared from the surface forever. The small flotilla of life boats scattered over the area were desperately waiting for rescue. Many in the crew knew the Carpathia was coming to their assistance, but had no idea how far away she was.
The lifeboat passengers were quietly praying for rescue. The screams and pleas for help from those struggling in the frigid water were dying off, one by one. Finally, an eerie deathly silence over the surface of the sea. Most of the boats refrained from returning to pick up survivors in the water out of fear of being swamped. Only two boats returned to the site and managed to rescue a handful of survivors. Many later died of extreme exposure.
Denver socialite, Margret Brown manned an ore in boat six. He cheerfulness and good humor kept up spirits. In another boat, the Countess of Rothes manned a tiller. In collapsible boat D, Chairman of the White Star Line, Bruce Ismay, sat in stunned silence and shock. How could he explain why he survived when so many women and children had not? How could he possibly justify taking a seat in a lifeboat while so many innocents died around him?
Suddenly, to the south east there was a flash of light. Hardly noticed by many. But then, another and another. A ship was firing rockets. Another flashing streak of light was soon noticed shooting upward into the sky by the boats. After what had seemed like an eternity, rescue was at hand. The Carpathia had finally arrived.
She was firing rockets to let the boats know where she was. It was now around 4 am. The first signs of dawn were on the eastern horizon. Every boat was on high alert. They slowly turned about and headed for the fast approaching steamer.