Share This Post

09th May, 2022

David Blair, born on November 11,1874, was a British seaman working with the White Star Line (WSL). During the early 20th century, WSL was one of the most prominent shipping lines in the world, providing passenger & cargo services.

While its competitors believed in making ships that were fast, WSL concentrated on making large luxurious ships with high service standards.

David had the opportunity to work on the largest ship in the world at that time, the RMS Titanic.

He was involved during the ship’s test runs and was chosen to be the ship’s 2nd Officer during her maiden voyage from South Hampton to New York City. On April 10, 1912, when the ship was ready for departure, the shipping line decided to make a change.

They decided to replace David Blair with Henry Wilde, the Chief Officer of Titanic’s sister ship RMS Olympic. Henry had more experience than David and better skills at running large ships.

Due to this last-minute change, Blair had to pick up his stuff, execute the handover process and leave the ship in a hurry.

Being in a rush, David did everything he had to, but forgot to handover a key to one of the cabinets to Officer Wilde.

That key was the only key to the locked cabinet that held the binoculars on the ship. By the time David and the rest of the crew realized the mistake, the ship had sailed. On the night of April 14, 1912, Titanic hit a large iceberg. The ship, that was considered ‘unsinkable’, was badly damaged and descended to the bottom of the ocean.

Out of the 2224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1500 died, making the sinking, one of modern history’s deadliest peacetime commercial marine disasters.

Fred Fleet, the seaman who was assigned the duty of lookout on that fateful night, survived, and said in an investigation, that if he had a pair of binoculars with him, he would have been able to spot the iceberg from far.

This would have given the Ship’s command bridge more time to steer away and possibly avoid the disaster.

We make mistakes quite often & cannot rely on memory to execute critical tasks. To err is human but sometimes a small slip-up or a lapse in judgement can cost us dearly.

This applies to life as much as to any other field which relies significantly on human judgement.

Can we reduce these errors by increasing training or using better technology? Not much.

Even experts are prone to mistakes, so training beyond a point doesn’t help.

Technology creates its own complexity too and hence it is difficult to find a solution just by changing or upgrading technology.

The answer lies in a simple tool called the “Checklist”.

Checklists reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. They help to

ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task.

Create your own Checklists & stay blessed Forever.