First Officer William murdoch 


An Officer of Fate

William Murdoch was born on the 28th of February 1873 in Dalbeattie, Scotland. He was the son of Captain Samuel Murdoch. 


Murdoch started serving his apprenticeship at the age of 15 in 1888 on board the Charles Cosworth of Liverpool. Its destination was San Francisco, which would mean the ship would have to navigate the infamous Cape Horn.


In 1893, Murdoch passed the exam and gained his 2nd Mates certificate. From there, he joined his next ship Lquiqe as second officer. His Captain was his father, Captain Samuel Murdoch. They would sail together for 18 months, and it was the only time they would sail together. Whilst on board, it is said that William Murdoch met another apprentice, by the name of Stanley Lord (who later became captain of the Californian).


In March 1895, Murdoch passed his 1st mate’s certificate. He would go on to join the Saint Cuthbert in May 1895.


In 1896, Murdoch gained his Extra Masters Certificate on his first attempt at the young age of 23. He would be the only officer on Titanic to pass all his exams on the first attempt. It is worth noting that both his superior officers on Titanic, Chief officer Wilde and Captain Smith, both failed this exam on their first attempt.


In April 1897, Murdoch joined the Lydgate as first mate, sailing from between USA and China, before ending up in Belgium where Murdoch would sign off on the 2nd of May 1899.


Murdoch trained in the Royal Naval Reserve during the Boer War, training to be a Lieutenant. This qualification allowed him to join the White Star Line in 1899.


On the 30th of June 1899, Murdoch joined the Medic as Fourth Officer, serving onboard until June 1901 where he would join the Runic as Second Officer. Both these ships served on the Australian route.


In 1903, Murdoch would move on again, this time onto the North Atlantic with the Arabic, departing on the 26th of June 1903. He is credited on this voyage for his quick thinking which lead to the Arabic avoiding disaster with another ship in the darkness, overruling his superior officers’ commands. He would be praised by his Captain for his quick actions.


In January 1904, Murdoch joined the Celtic, being promoted to First Officer for the voyage of the current largest ship afloat. Also in 1904, he would serve on board the Germanic under Captain Bartlett (who would later captain the Britannic).


In January 1905, Murdoch moved onto the Oceanic as second officer. He would remain in this role until February 1906, serving alongside Charles Lightoller under Captain John Cameron. Both Cameron and Murdoch would be transferred to the Cedric for two voyages in 1906.


After this brief stint, Murdoch returned to the Oceanic but as second officer. This was only for one voyage however, as after May 1906, he was promoted to first officer and sailed in this rank until April 1907.


In May 1907, Murdoch joined the new but last of the “big four” ships, The Adriatic. The captain of this ship was none other than Captain E.J.Smith. Murdoch would sail under Smith on this vessel until May 1911 as first officer