Frederick Fleet

Frederick Fleet

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Frederick Fleet was a crewman
Crewman
Crewman is a generic term for a crew member of an aircraft, naval vessel, military unit, or team of professionals attempting to accomplish a goal. In some science fiction , Crewman is the lowest military rank on board a spacecraft.The term "Crewman" may also be related in the non-gender specific...

 and survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic after it struck an iceberg
Iceberg
An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

 on 14 April 1912. Employed as a lookout
Lookout
A lookout or look-out is a person on a ship in charge of the observation of the sea for hazards, other ships, land, etc. Lookouts report anything they see and or hear. When reporting contacts, lookouts give information such as, bearing of the object, which way the object is headed, target angles...

 aboard Titanic, it was Fleet who first sighted the iceberg, ringing the bridge to proclaim, "Iceberg, right ahead!" Fleet testified at the inquiries that if he had been issued binoculars, he would have seen the iceberg sooner, because it was a blue iceberg
Iceberg
An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

 in calm seas on a moonless night.

Life


Fleet was born in Liverpool on 15 October 1887. He never knew his father, and his mother abandoned him and ran away with a boyfriend to Springfield, Massachusetts never to be heard from again. Frederick was raised by a succession of foster families and distant relatives. In 1903 he went to sea as a deck boy, working his way up to able seaman.

Before joining Titanic he had sailed for over four years as a lookout in Oceanic
RMS Oceanic (1899)
RMS Oceanic was a transatlantic ocean liner, built for the White Star Line. She sailed on her maiden voyage on 6 September 1899 and, until 1901, was the largest ship in the world...

. His address was given as Norman Road, Southampton.

As a seaman, Fleet earned five pounds per month plus an extra 5 shillings for lookout duty. And it was as a lookout that Fleet joined the Titanic in April 1912.

Fleet was one of the Titanic crewmembers assigned to man the lifeboats, after the ship started to go down. As such, he survived the ship's sinking and later served in the merchant service through World War I and again in World War II, after having been unemployed in the 1930s.

Fleet served in Titanics sister ship Olympic
RMS Olympic
RMS Olympic was the lead ship of the Olympic-class ocean liners built for the White Star Line, which also included Titanic and Britannic...

 from 1920 to 1935 and signed on as ship's lookout and able seaman.

When his wife died shortly after Christmas 1964, he became depressed and committed suicide by hanging two weeks later in January 1965. Many have said that in many ways, Fleet was also the last victim of Titanic. People who knew him said that he suffered from terrible guilt
Survivor guilt
Survivor, survivor's, or survivors guilt or syndrome is a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not...

 all his life because he had lived while so many perished. Out of 2,227 passengers and crew in Titanic, he was one of only 706 who survived. Fleet was buried in a pauper's grave at Hollybrook Cemetery, in Southampton
Southampton
Southampton is the largest city in the county of Hampshire on the south coast of England, and is situated south-west of London and north-west of Portsmouth. Southampton is a major port and the closest city to the New Forest...

. The grave went unmarked until 1993, when a headstone bearing an engraving of Titanic was erected through donations by the Titanic Historical Society
Titanic Historical Society
The Titanic Historical Society, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in 1963, whose purpose is the preservation of the history of the famous ocean liner RMS Titanic, which sank on April 15, 1912, in one of the greatest maritime disasters in history.Headquartered in Indian Orchard,...

.