The Newfoundland Aboard The Titanic
by Mary lane Spackman, NCA Historlan
Rigel was a Newfoundlalid who belonged to William McMaster Murdoch. Mr. Murdoch served as the First Officer on the ill-fated Titanic. Rigel survived the sinking of the Titanic, and in typical Newfoundland-fashion, guided one of the lifeboats to the safety of the Carpathia (The Carpathia was the first ship to respond to the distress signals from the Titanic and would rescue some 900 Titanic survivors.) Rigel spent over three hours in the 28-degree water evidently searching for Murdoch before he would sound the life-saving warning to the Carpathia.
The following is a newspaper account of the heroism of Rigel, which was published in the New York Herald on Sunday, April 21, 1912:
Survivor's Cries Weak, Dog's Bark Causes Rescue of Boatload
Rigel, whose master sank with the Titanic, Guides the Carpathia's Captain to Suffering Passengers Hidden Under Rescue Ship's Bow.
Not the least among the heros of the Titanic was Rigel, a big black Newfoundland dog, belonging to the first officer, who went down with his ship. But for Rigel, the fourth boat picked up might have been run down by the Carpathia. For three hours he swam in the water where the Titanic went down, evidently looking for his master, and was instrumental in guiding the boatload of survivors to the gangway of the Carpathia.
Jonas Briggs, a seaman aboard the Carpathia, now has Rigel and told the story of the dog's heroism. The Carpathia was moving slowing about, looking for boats, rafts or anything which might be afloat. Exhausted with their efforts, weak from lack of food and exposure to the cutting wind, and terror stricken, the men and woman in the fourth boat drifted under the Carpathia's starboard bow. They were dangerously close to the steamship, too weak to shout a warning loud enough to reach the bridge.
The boat might not have been seen were it not for the sharp barking of Rigel, who was swimming ahead of the craft and valiantly announcing his position. The barks attracted the attention of Captain Rostron and he went to the starboard end of the bridge to see where they came from and saw the boat. He immediately ordered the engines stopped and the boat came alongside the starboard gangway.
Care was taken to take Rigel aboard, but he appeared little affected by his long trip through the ice cold water. He stood by the rail and barked until Captain Rostron called Briggs and had him take the dog below.