Two Titanic Deck Crewmen Who Survived
The Titanic had 59 members on her deck crew. Some Titanic deck crew members ended up in lifeboats ahead of passengers. In fact, 40 deck crew members survived the sinking. As a result, other, less-qualified people had to be in charge of lowering and operating the lifeboats.
The following sections discuss two of the more notable crew members who survived the sinking.
Lookout Frederick Fleet
Lookout Frederick Fleet was on duty in the crow’s nest the night the Titanic struck the iceberg. His Iceberg right ahead call has become an iconic symbol of the great ship’s fate. Fleet, who had also served four years as a lookout on the Oceanic, was to receive an extra five shillings for lookout duty. Fleet survived the sinking by hopping in Lifeboat 6.
Interestingly, after the Titanic tragedy, from June 1912 to August 1912, Fleet continued to work for the White Star Line, serving as a seaman briefly on the Olympic. However, he was considered not only an embarrassment to the company, but also a token of bad luck and a jinx. He left the company and worked for other ship lines; built ships for Harland and Wolff; and even, in his later years, sold newspapers on street corners. Fleet committed suicide in 1965.
Quartermaster Robert Hichens
Quartermaster Robert Hichens is best known for arguing with Margaret (Molly) Brown. This description of him is a bit of a simplification, but his quarrel with Ms. Unsinkable in Lifeboat 6 has become the stuff of legend.
An incident in Lifeboat 6 involving Quartermaster Hichens stands out as memorable. Most notable was his refusal to go back to pick up passengers in the water. As officer in charge of the lifeboat, Hichens didn’t want the passengers to row toward the cries in the water. Brown was the one who took it upon herself to order the people in the boat to row. When Hichens protested, she threatened to throw him overboard.
After the sinking, Hichens continued to serve on steamships. He died of heart failure in 1940 aboard the English Trader off the coast of Hong Kong at the age of 58. He was buried at sea.
Note: If you choose to do further research on Quartermaster Robert Hichens, be on the lookout for alternative spellings of his name. Besides the spelling used here, his name also appears on websites and in books as Hichins, Hitchins, and Hitchens.