Fleet was one of the first people to see the iceberg, and he rang 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 he said it was a blue iceberg in calm seas on a moonless night. However, all other survivors who saw the iceberg said it was white.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early life[edit | edit source]
Fleet was born in Portsmouth 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 RMS Oceanic. His address was given as Norman Road, Southampton.
On the Titanic[edit | edit source]
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 crew members assigned to man the lifeboats, after the ship started to go down.
Later life[edit | edit source]
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 Titanic's sister ship RMS Olympic from 1920 to 1935 and signed on as ship's lookout and able seaman. He left because he found out that the crew members of the Titanic were reminders to the White Star Line of the Titanic sinking.
Death[edit | edit source]
When his wife died shortly after Christmas 1964, he was evicted and he then became depressed and committed suicide by hanging two weeks later on January 10th, 1965.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
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 all his life because he had lived while so many perished. Out of 2,208 passengers and crew in Titanic, he was one of only 712 who survived. Fleet was buried in a pauper's grave at Hollybrook Cemetery, in Southampton. The grave went unmarked until 1993, when a headstone bearing an engraving of Titanic was erected through donations by the Titanic Historical Society.
Portrayals[edit | edit source]
As one of the first to see the iceberg, Frederick Fleet is an important historical figure who appears in almost every film and television version of the Titanic. The only major Titanic's production that didn't feature him was the 2012 Miniseries Titanic.
Strangely, his role as a lookout was replaced by fictional lookout named Devlin, which was portrayed by James O'Hara.
In S.O.S. Titanic, Fleet is portrayed by Alec Sabin.
In the 1996 Miniseries Titanic, Fleet is portrayed by Byron Lucas.