Wed, 16 May, 2018Danielle McCarthy

The extraordinary story of the British sailor who could have saved the Titanic

The extraordinary story of the British sailor who could have saved the Titanic

In 1912, sailor David Blair avoided death when he was taken off the crew for Titanic’s maiden voyage.

It turns out, the sailor could’ve played an unknowing role in the historic tragedy by walking away with the key to a locker containing the vessels crow’s nest binoculars.

Historians believe if the binoculars had been accessible on the journey, the iceberg which caused the fatal sinking, may have been spotted earlier.

According to the Britain’s Burton Mail, Titanic survivor Fred Fleet told an official inquiry that if they had access to binoculars, they would’ve spotted the iceberg earlier.

“David Blair was standing by for three months in Belfast when the Titanic was being built and was signed on for the whole of the New York voyage,” retired Derby headteacher Murray Shaw told the Burton Mail.

"He would have been responsible for all the navigation equipment but was taken off the ship in Southampton, surplus to requirements. As a former Navy man myself, I can understand why he would have been upset."

Mr Blair was involved in sea trials to assess the Titanic prior to its maiden voyage to New York.

He was supposed to be the second officer on the trip when the ship’s owner drafted in senior officer Henry Wilde from sister ship the Olympic.

In a postcard to his sister, Mr Blair his expressed his disappointment that he was replaced.

"Am afraid I shall have to step out to make room for chief officer of the Olympic. This is a magnificent ship, I feel very disappointed I am not to make her first voyage,” he wrote.

On April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:45 and by 2:20am the next morning, it had sunk.

More than 1,500 passengers and crew, including Mr Blair’s replacement died.