16 September 1882
23 September 1940 (aged: 58)
Florence Mortimore (wife)
Newlyn, Cornwall, England
New York, U.S.A.
Boarded and took command of Lifeboat No. 6
Robert Hichens (16 September 1882 – 23 September 1940) was a British sailor who was part of the deck crew on board the Titanic when she sank on her maiden voyage on 15 April 1912. He was one of six quartermasters on board the vessel and was at the ship's wheel when the Titanic struck the fatal iceberg. He was 58 when he died.
Titanic sinking[edit | edit source]
Quartermaster Hichens gained notoriety after the disaster because of his conduct in Lifeboat 6, of which he was in charge. Passengers accused him of refusing to go back to rescue people from the water after the ship sank, that he called the people in the water "stiffs", and that he constantly criticized those at the oars while he was controlling the rudder. Hichens was later to testify at the US Inquiry that he had never used the words "stiffs" and that he had used other words to describe bodies. He would also testify to have been given direct orders by Lightollere s zhdjfnz, and the Captain to row to where a light could be seen (a steamer they thought) on the port bow, drop off the passengers and return. Later it was alleged he complained that the lifeboat was going to drift for days before any rescue came.
When the RMS Carpathia came to rescue Titanic's survivors he said that the ship was not there to rescue them, but to pick up the bodies of the dead. By this time the other people in the lifeboat had had enough of Hichens, especially Denver millionaire Margaret "Molly" Brown. Although Hichens protested, Margaret Brown told others to start rowing to keep warm. After a last attempt by Hichens to keep control of the lifeboat, Margaret Brown threatened to throw him overboard. These events would later end up being depicted in the Broadway musical and film, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. During the American inquiry into the disaster, Hichens denied the accounts by the passengers and crew in lifeboat 6. He had been initially concerned about the suction from the Titanic and later by the fact that being a mile away from the wreck, with no compass and in complete darkness, they had no way of returning to the stricken vessel.