Captain Smith is remembered for carelessness, Captain Lord for inactivity and Captain Rostron for courage and forethought. Captain Moore of Mount Temple is remembered hardly at all. He deserves better, for he responded to Titanic 's SOS in the finest traditions of the sea, though fate decreed that his efforts were without result.
Mount Temple was a four masted steamer of 8,790 GRT. Just after midnight on April 15th, 1912, she was steaming towards St John, New Brunswick, in Canada, crammed with 1,609 people, 1,461 of whom were steerage passengers. She was doing around 11 knots or less, as her performance was quite limited. Captain Moore had strict orders to keep out of ice and he was staying south of the known icefields.
At 12-30 a.m. ship's time, her lone radio operator, John Durrant, picked up a distress call from Titanic. He called a steward, who took the message to the bridge. Captain Moore, like Captain Rostron, realized he was going away from Titanic, which was roughly ENE of his position. Like Rostron, he turned his ship onto a rough course for Titanic, before pausing to work out his own position more accurately. He decided he was in 41° 25' N, 51° 14' W, about 49 miles from the SOS position on a course of 65° True, and corrected his course accordingly.
At his stated full speed of 11½ knots (13 knots according to Lloyds) he steered for the SOS position, encouraging his firemen with extra rum. After three hours he estimated he was within 14 miles of the SOS position, but he now encountered ice and reduced speed. Even so, by 4-30 a.m. he was at what he judged to be the SOS position.
As dawn approached, he looked for signs of Titanic, but saw none. What he did see was a great barrier of ice in the east and this convinced him that Titanic had given a wrong position, for she could not have passed through the ice barrier, only to sink on the other side. After sunrise he took two sights for longitude and found it to be 50° 9' W, which placed him under 4 miles from the SOS position.
He was to learn that a steamer in the east and some distance beyond the ice was Carpathia and that Titanic had sunk far from the SOS position. He later told Boxhall of Titanic that his SOS position was at least 8 miles out. He was not so far wrong as it turned out, but his calculations were ignored, probably delaying the discovery of the wreck. After all, Rostron and Boxhall were convinced the SOS position was correct. Ironically, Captain Rostron, who steered the wrong course to the wrong position, found the lifeboats and earned undying fame. Captain Moore, who went almost exactly to the SOS position, found nothing and earned only a footnote in the history books. Today he is remembered mostly for his telling evidence against Captain Lord, whose ship he saw already close to Carpathia by 6-00 a.m. Like him, Captain Lord was picking his way through the ice in an effort to reach the SOS position.