Arthur Rostron

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I never had any ambition other than to go to sea.
Captain Rostron

Sir Arthur Henry Rostron, KBE, RD, RNR (14 May 1869 – 4 November 1940) was a British sailor and a seagoing officer for the Cunard Line. He is best remembered as the captain of the ocean liner RMS Carpathia when it rescued hundreds of survivors from the RMS Titanic after the latter ship sank in 1912 in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Rostron won wide praise for his energetic efforts to reach the Titanic before she sank, and his efficient preparations for and conduct of the rescue of the survivors. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress, and in 1926, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He rose to become the Commodore of the Cunard fleet and retired in 1931.


Capt. A.H. Rostron and under officers of Carpathia
Capt. Rostron, of the Carpathia, and his wife

Home From the Sea (1931)[edit]

  • I never had any ambition other than to go to sea.
    • p. 6
  • From apprentice in a crack full-rigged sailing ship to commander of one of the world's biggest liners is a long jump- one that covers much of the romance of travel by sea. In the eighties it was something of an adventure to cross the ocean; now it is little but a jolly holiday. Then people went because they had to; now they go because they like to. Then for the young sailor of the future always centred on beautiful sailing ships, long days in tropic seas, the shouted orders to clew up sail or man the lee fore-brace. Now his ambition is to wear gold braid and walk the deck of a luxury liner.
    • p. 212
  • Inspections should be taken seriously and should be by no means cursory.
    • p. 242
  • I can look back to the nights on a passenger ship when one wax candle afforded all the illumination between two cabins. Hot water was carried to the passengers in jugs; baths were luxuries. Smoke rooms were just being added; libraries were practically unknown. Progress has meant two things- speed and comfort, though with us there has always been the matter of safety first. Out of common experience a hundred devices have come into use that make for safety- inventions apart altogether from life boats, bulkheads and so on. Wireless, wireless direction finders, the fathometer for taking soundings, and smoke and fire detectors.
    • p. 225-226
  • Many people imagine the lot of a captain and his officers on a modern liner is one round of pleasure and good food. We do mix with the passengers and share with them the luxuries of the ship. We have excellent quarters which make the old berths look like the cheapest kind of doss houses. But that is not all. See these same men on the bridge. It is a wintry night. A gale is sending the spray over as high as the bridge though that may be ninety feet above the waterline. The rain beats into the face, striking like pellets from a gun- one of the penalties of great speed. The visibility is bad. It's bitterly cold. There are other ships somewhere in the vicinity. These officers have no time now for comfort or for laziness. All that luxury, all that sense of safety enjoyed by the passengers dancing below, is in the care of these men. A sudden emergency- a quick decision. Down below no one knows of it, that threat of trouble, but on the bridge a thrill has run up a man's spine, and is followed by a sigh of relief. All's well.
    • p. 226
  • There's a proverb that you can't teach old dogs new tricks. But all I can say is that any senior man who is incapable of assimilating a working knowledge of all the latest and most up-to-date gadgets in use on board the floating palaces had better swallow the anchor and moor up on shore. The sooner the better.
    • p. 254-255
  • A busy life and a good one. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every hour of my long seafaring experience. If I could go back I should want to do just what I have done- and a man is lucky if, when the time comes to retire, he can assert that. So with confidence I say to the young aspirant for a captaincy in the Merchant Navy: You will have many worries, hard times and responsibilities, but it's worth it all. And, as the real inspiration for your life's work, remember you are a unit in a great service with hundreds of years of honourable and stirring traditions behind it. It's a grand profession.
    • p. 255-256

Quotes about Rostron[edit]

Molly Brown rescue award titanic
Sir Arthur Henry Rostron Congressional Gold Medal, Merseyside Maritime Museum
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