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Captain Smith's role in the disaster

This discussion on "Captain Smith's role in the disaster" is in the Captain Edward John Smith section; RMS Titanic, Inc. has posted this on their blog: What role do you think Captain ...

      
   
  1. #1
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    RMS Titanic, Inc. has posted this on their blog:

    What role do you think Captain Smith played in the Titanic disaster? Was he a hero, or is he responsible for the deaths of those who didn't survive the sinking? Leave your feedback in the comment section...

    Innocuous question? What are your reactions?

    P.S. Happy 161st birthday to Captain Smith.

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    I'm not one of the experts on this subject this forum so I will leave that to Messrs. Standart, et.al.

    There seem to be so many myths and legends in this regard...either he was "a goat" or "a hero".

    Glad you asked. Maybe this will start another discussion.

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    As the commander of the ship, Captain Smith bears the ultimate responsibility for everything they got right and everything they got wrong. That includes the deaths of the nearly 1500 people who lost their lives that night, including his own. Pretty draconian, but that's the level of responsibility which goes with the authority.

    I think he did the best he could under the circumstances. I don't believe he was in the sort of catatonic shock so often portrayed in the pop histories and in the movies. The testimony given at the inquiries just doesn't bear that out. I'm not so sure I'd call him a hero, but he wasn't quite a zero either.

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    Hello,

    I think Captain Smith ultimately was responsible for the sinking. The reason is because Titanic received 7-9 iceberg warnings and still didn't stop! I know this wasn't his decision but Murdock ordered "Hard a starboard" and stopped all engines. This is not good because there were only thirty seconds until Titanic hit the iceberg and if they hit it head on the ship probably would've have stayed afloat with the damage in the first two compartments.
    Last edited by Mark Baber; 27th April 2013 at 09:54 AM.

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    Captian smith was busy entertaining the guests and praising how titanic was never going to sink.

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    I think Mr. Standart has one important thing right - Captain Smith bore the ultimate responsibility because of his authority.

    However, I have always felt that Titanic's sinking was a classic case of what I will genteelly term a clusterfudge - many small, seemingly unrelated events came together in just the wrong way at just the wrong moment, and there was little anyone could have done about it once she was in that ice field. Everyone did their best. Everyone's best was unavailing.

    It has been said Titanic's design and steel were faulty, but Olympic sailed with just such a design and just such steel without sinking. She should perhaps not have ventured into that ice field, but other ships traversed that year's ice safely. She was a new ship with a crew not quite used to her, but that too was a combination seen frequently, and most ships came through that period just fine. Other ships almost certainly had crew with personality quirks, and never met with disaster.

    Murphy's Law just plain damn ran off the rails that night, and Captain Smith had little to do with it, though he has been quietly accepting his responsibility at the bottom of the North Atlantic for the past 101 years.

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    Michael is correct Sandy. He illustrates perfectly the ultimate responsibility of Smith or any other ship's captain when at sea.
    The seemingly innocuous (harmless?) question is; was Smith a hero or a villain?
    None of us know for sure the answer to that question. Few, are qualified to make such a judgement. Only those who fully understand the implications of all the evidence available from that time can be reasonably confident of their conclusions regarding the guilt or innocence of Captain Smith of the Titanic.

    Few stop to consider the actions of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia; the hero of the piece. "There bit for the grace of God....."
    Not a few qualified critics shudder to think about it.

    Jim C.

    PS: crisshaw: Murdoch had less than 15. not 30 seconds to make his decision.
    EssaysFor: Smith was not entertaining guests at the time, he was in his day-room.

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    >>The seemingly innocuous (harmless?) question is; was Smith a hero or a villain? <<

    Realistically Captain Jim, I don't think he was either. I think he was a man in a very difficult position who...like I hope anybody would...did the best he could when everything went to hell. If what I saw in the testimony of both inquiries is any indication, he was a lot more active and involved then the popular hysterias make him out to be. He wasn't just standing around in a stunned daze.

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    Absolutely Michael!

    That's my take too. I get a little tetchy when I see all the speculative rubbish that has been written about the man by people who wouldn't know the sharp end from the blunt end. But then you know that.

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    >>I get a little tetchy when I see all the speculative rubbish that has been written about the man by people who wouldn't know the sharp end from the blunt end. But then you know that.<<

    Yes, and what makes it worse is that a lot of the "stunned daze" assertions in the popular hysterias come from regurgitating what was being said somewhere else, and anywhere except a primary source.

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    I fully expect to see people out on my front lawn with pitchforks and torches after they read what I'm about to say, but here goes, anyway:

    I think that - allowing for great simplification, some error and some dramatic license - that the Cameron film has it somewhat right. Captain Smith is shown as decisive at first, then progressively overwhelmed as events unfold. As who in his position would not be? After Andrews had described what would happen, it would have been abundantly clear that the most magnificent ship afloat, costing $7.5 million real and solid 1912 dollars, would be at the bottom of the North Atlantic in less than two hours, with two-thirds of her passengers and crew drowned. It would also have been well within the Captain's consciousness that he himself, above all other persons aboard, was absolutely, fully, unequivocally expected - required - to be among the dead. If anyone thinks Ismay caught Hell for surviving, a live Captain Smith would have been a pariah for the rest of his life, if not imprisoned.

    It would have required superhuman strength of character to have avoided becoming overwhelmed under the circumstances. Perhaps Captain Smith did. Perhaps he did not. But if he did, who among us could blame him? One of the horrors of human existence is that human beings are capable of setting events in motion that the human race has no psychic means to deal with.

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    Don't think so Sandy!

    Cameron and his script writers were guessing. They portayed Smith in the way they did because that was their perception of how some people might have acted in such circumstances. Unless one of the writers in question had been in a similar situation or had absolute proof of how Smith acted, the film portrayal of him was simply a preferred outcome.

    I can only speak from experience of witnessing many captains in tight situations. I only saw behaviour once which might be described by the uninformed as 'panic'. That was back in the 50s when a senior officer fouled his whites during a helicopter rescue operation in horrendous weather. The same man had gone through WW2 and suffered untold miseries during that time. He had been left with shattered nerves. In this instance, he did not panic or give up.. he was so bloody angry at the incompetence of those round him that he nearly busted a gut but decided to shit himself instead.
    As for Captain Smith: the man was highly experienced. He too had been in war and had spent many years in sailing ships.. not an arena for the weak at heart. In fact, following the sea as a career in the old days soon sorted-out the wheat from the chaff.
    The evidence from survivors paints a picture of a supremely confident, efficient officer who, because of his vast experience of personal danger, would not have taken time to lament his failures. As they say, "the song's not over until the fat lady sings". My guess is that Smith waited in vain to hear the end of that song. But hell! I wasn't there. More to the point - neither was James Cameron (blessings be upon his name)

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    >>It would have required superhuman strength of character to have avoided becoming overwhelmed under the circumstances. <<

    If what was offered in testimony at both inquiries is accurate, then Smith not only managed to avoid being overwhelmed, he was as proactive as his circumstances allowed him to be. Click on TIP | United States Senate Inquiry and read for yourself.

    It's occasionally been said...and in my opinion quite accurately...that if the captain is doing his job right, he'll be the most useless man on the ship. It's not his job to be in all places in all times doing every single job in sight, nor is it possible for him to do so. More to the point, no smart skipper even tries to be a micromanager. The ones who do burn out very quickly. The smart skipper, like the conductor of a symphony orchestra, keeps his eyes to the music sheet and his ear to the tempo but he let's his players do the playing.

    That was how Smith did business. He set the tone but let his people do their jobs while being someplace...the bridge...where he could be easily reached if he was needed to make a command decision.

    This whole "Stunned catatonic" thing strikes me as little more then projection: Assuming that since some of us would react that way, that Captain Smith must have as well.

    Well, MAYBE he did, but the available evidence doesn't support it.

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    Well said Michael!

    I know I'll get a blast but I have to say it. I have studied the Costa Concordia disaster in some depth. The 'hystery' - books will record it as dictated by the media. However if the history books are properly written after all the available evidence is properly scoured of ill-informed rubbish, I think we will find that the captain of that ship could not have behaved like the normal, experianced captain. He could not have done so because he did not have a bridge or even a level deck to stand on to rally his boys. and delegate duties. By contrast; most of the time the ship was being evacuated, the clown who was directing it for the Italian coastguard was 40 miles away up the coast.

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    Hmm.

    Well, I think anyone else's opinion is as valid as mine, particularly given that this is an event that occurred over a century ago. However, I did try to qualify what I said rather heavily, as follows:

    "I think that - allowing for great simplification, some error and some dramatic license - that the Cameron film has it somewhat right."

    Great simplification - error - dramatic license - somewhat right. That's not a ringing condemnation of the Captain, and I would remind everyone that Smith's bio here on ET contains the following:

    "Surprisingly little is known about Smith's actions in the last two hours of the ships life. His legendary skills of leadership seem to have left him, he was curiously indecisive and unusually cautious."

    When I say I think Captain Smith was overwhelmed, I don't mean that he gibbered or curled up into a fetal position under one of the tables in the Cafe Parisien. But I do think he was not himself, and I also think he had excellent reason for that.

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    Sandy, it's not a question of anybody's opinion being as good as another's. It's a question of what the evidence supports and the evidence which is a matter of public record taken from the testimony of the people who were ACTAULLY there that Cameron's team is mistaken.

    Please, do NOT make the mistake of confusing Hollywood for evidence. They're repeating the legend for dramatic effect, not the reality.

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    Mr. Standart:

    Please do not insult me by construing the very clear disclaimer I wrote as "confusing Hollywood with evidence." I am as much in favor of evidence as the next person.

    I think it is time for me to take a break from ET.

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    Pity about that Sandy. But after all, you did begin this thread with

    "I fully expect to see people out on my front lawn with pitchforks and torches after they read what I'm about to say,"

    There's an old saying among seamen "He who pisseth into the wind gets his own back". Just joking! Or as they say, "taking the piss".

    Seriously; my only concern about Hollywood portrayal of any event in history is that the necessary dramatisation of it tends to fog the truth for posterity. Perhpas blur the edges of truth might be more appropriate?

    Reasons for making a film to-day are exactly the same as the reasons Shakespeare wrote his plays round events in history. However in the time of the Bard, the audience were mainly uneducated peasant types. The stage was a place for actors playwrights to exhibit their skills and earn a 'crust'. Best of all, it allwed the audience to get away from their mundane lives for a little while. Most important though, they went away with an over-heated version of what happened to Antony,Cleopatra and Ceasar. Same goes for what really happened to old King McBeth. They, like most of the folks who follow the Titanic story and who concentrate on individual passengers and their families were more interested in mythical characters like Falstaff and the people he associated with than what happened during the reign of Henry IV of England.
    Even to this day, many people view history through the eyes and pen of the Bard. I guess what I'm trying to say is; if James Cameron or others wish to see history faithfully recorded then they should not speculate as to the actions of individuals. There is plenty of actual, well-recorded, drama to make the film interesting and exciting without speculating as to the emotional actions of individuals. But Cameron et al are not in the business of recording history. Because of this, the fear is that they will distort it by making myth seem to be truth.

    Don't take too seriously what you see written herein. I'm sure no offence is meant by anyone. (well nearly anyone).

    Jim C.

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    Sandy, what you started with is ""I think that - allowing for great simplification, some error and some dramatic license - that the Cameron film has it somewhat right."

    That's essentially confusing Hollywood for...if not evidence...for documentary even though it's neither one. It's entertainment. It's not called Tinseltown for nothing. It's all glitz and appearances with no substance.

    Bottom line: If you're interested in the history as it ACTUALLY is, forget the movies and follow the evidence.

  20. #20
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    Take a break if you must, Sandy, but don't go AWOL for long as all contributions are needed and I for one enjoy yours. Here you offered an opinion and a couple of people offered alternative views. This is a debating forum, so that's to be expected. Keep posting!

    Mike, Sandy is saying that he thinks Cameron's take on Smith might have been on the right track. But I'm assuming that he is using the film portrayal not as a source but merely as a visual aid in making his own point. I'm sure Sandy doesn't hold the view he's expressed because that's what he saw in the film, but rather because of his own reading of the evidence quite independent of any fictional portrayal.

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    Bob:

    Thank you very much for some much-needed oil upon the water. I still think I should be absent from these pages for a bit, because I am having a lot of trouble with the didacticism I get whenever I touch upon the subject of the Cameron film.

    Like it or not, that film is part of Titanic's cultural significance, because it is the main source of information most people have about the event of her sinking. Whether or not it is accurate in every least detail is certainly cause for informed discussion, but I can get a little tired of the blasts that come my way when I mention it.

    For Mr. Standart: The eyewitness accounts of Captain Smith's conduct during the sinking are extremely valuable, but I consider them only one piece of a very large and very complex puzzle. It should be recalled that a number of eyewitness accounts - including Lightoller's - had Titanic sinking intact, leading to both the Senate's and the Board of Trade's finding that she sank intact, a view rather thoroughly disproved by later exploration and analysis.

    I leave all of you for a little while, and I hope to be back sooner rather than later.

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    >> I still think I should be absent from these pages for a bit, because I am having a lot of trouble with the didacticism I get whenever I touch upon the subject of the Cameron film.<<

    Sandy, this is a forum for discussion and debate. What you're getting is not "didacticism." It is discussion, and debate. Point and counterpoint. NONE of us gets to have all our way. (By the way, for a definition of didacticism, see Didacticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

    If you're getting the impression that this is hostile on some level, I would invite you to check out the debates we've had in the past on both the Californian and reincarnation. Those were hostile.

    >>For Mr. Standart: The eyewitness accounts of Captain Smith's conduct during the sinking are extremely valuable, but I consider them only one piece of a very large and very complex puzzle. <<

    And movies play no part in it on any level. At best, they reflect the levels of either understanding or the misunderstanding of the legend by the producer.

    >>It should be recalled that a number of eyewitness accounts - including Lightoller's - had Titanic sinking intact, leading to both the Senate's and the Board of Trade's finding that she sank intact, a view rather thoroughly disproved by later exploration and analysis.<<

    Yes they did. What of it?

    The way you trump evidence is with better testable evidence which falsifies what you had before.

    Movies don't get you there.

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    Here's the dilemma. Movies like JC's are absolutely brilliant so far as raising awareness and interest in the Titanic goes - aside from obviously being great value for Hollywood itself. However, they should never be taken as historical fact. That's how good script writers earn their crusts - they take realistic/plausible scenarios and embellish them.

    And that is where the dilemma occurs - such movies bring a huge influx of people into the Titanic world, but they unfortunately have gleaned most of their knowledge about the ship from the movie only. The best advice I can give is to watch the movies but couple them with historically factual accounts of the Titanic sinking, so that one is capable of deciphering the difference between fact, exaggeration and fiction.

    Sandy, there's nothing wrong with holding the views you do about Captain Smith and expressing them - this is, after all, a public forum. You will find, as I have repeatedly in my 11 years here that there are certain senior members who hold very strong views on a range of issues and will not be swayed from them. That is their prerogative but please don't allow it to drive you away from being interested in and discussing the Titanic.

    It would be boring if we all held the same views, after all!

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Hello Adam et al.

    I'm afraid I must confess guilt to the crime of didacticism. I very frequently pontificate too but my doctor is working on it.

    Having publicly confessed my guilt, allow me to offer mitigating circumstances and excuses.

    As some of you probably know; for 55 years from the age of 15, I was very actively engaged in the sea-faring world. During those long years, I served on ships similar to Titanic and many other ship types. I worked throught the evolution of merchant shipping right up until the year 2006. That included having been in many tight situations and seeing how men reacted to them.
    Although I thoroughly enjoy such films, I cannot hold my tongue. Consequently, my wife will not sit through a sea-faring film with me. I do not visit public film theaters. Otherwise I would have heavy medical bills. If I see something that I think needs correcting or guidance in these pages and I have something to offer in the way of clarification then again; I can't keep my opinion to myself.

    As for this forum; I thoroughly enjoy reading the opinions of all who post in these pages - professionals or otherwise. Both groups have a lot to offer. The one thing I have to offer is personal experience. It is my sincere hope that in offering it in an anecdotal way, I do not offend anyone.. particularly you Sandy. Like Bob, I enjoy your well balanced contributions

    Jim C.

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    Jim, I find you not guilty. In your postings you do not patronise or belittle the contributions of us landlubbers, even though your knowledge and experience of the sea and ships far outweighs that of some others who do. When an armchair sailor (like myself!) reveals his or her misconceptions you do not scoff or berate. You patiently explain, always with good humour. And long may you continue to do so!

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    I thank you sir for those kind words. You're an orifficer and a getelmun! I Try.
    Aaar Jim Lad.JPG
    No.9 will be along shortly.

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    Yes, Bob is quite right in what he says and it was not my intention to single out any particular members, especially not you Jim. However i've been around enough forums over the past decade or so to see countless researchers and other interested parties, many of an extremely high calibre, leave in frustration because of the way their views are treated by their peers - the very worst of these which we know as "keyboard warriors". Where possible, this should never be the case. It is in the best interests of the future study of historical subjects to encourage the participation of as many people as possible.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Captain Jim, don't let that parrot go! That's lunch!

  29. #29
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    Not really Michael I'm the parrot. I'm also a ventriliquist. The guy in the oilskin jacket is my alter-ego; a reflection of my former greatness.

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    Sounds like an evil twin! That's okay since Darth Vader is always looking for some good help.

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    Lightoller's description of the captain's actions at the American inquiry is too long to quote here, but it may show some of the origins of the 'stunned daze' idea.

    Read it with this in mind: Senator Smith is probing into whether the captain was negligent. His job is to find the reason for the sinking, and he wants to know as much as he can about the captain's actions. Lightoller is answering honestly -- the captain told him to put the women and children into the boats and lower away, and he went and did that. Lightoller only describes seeing the captain helping to lower away the last boat on the starboard side and walking on the bridge.

    Senator Smith jumps to conclusions, either directly stated or implied. He also jumps around in his line of questioning and he may not be clear about the sequence of events Lightoller is describing. The senator's conclusion is that Captain Smith was negligent, and he is not about to let Lightoller's answers get in the way.

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    Michael, well said.

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    Given the gravity of what he was presented with, he appeared to conduct himself pretty well. Yes, he did make the mistake of not slowing down, but when the ship hit the berg I'm fairly sure that popped up in the front of his mind. (Where did I fail/trip up?) He took care of business but as he did so, it would be safe to think he did lots of reflection. He knew he wasn't going to see land again. He knew lives were going to end, he knew his career was over. He knew that things had suddenly changed in a big bad way, and he knew this big brand new ship he was standing on and trusted to command would soon be gone. Gone. He knew that his decisions and and his alone brought the ship to this point, and he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to fix it. What a horrible place to be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shel Cooper View Post
    Given the gravity of what he was presented with, he appeared to conduct himself pretty well. Yes, he did make the mistake of not slowing down, but when the ship hit the berg I'm fairly sure that popped up in the front of his mind. (Where did I fail/trip up?) He took care of business but as he did so, it would be safe to think he did lots of reflection. He knew he wasn't going to see land again. He knew lives were going to end, he knew his career was over. He knew that things had suddenly changed in a big bad way, and he knew this big brand new ship he was standing on and trusted to command would soon be gone. Gone. He knew that his decisions and and his alone brought the ship to this point, and he knew there was absolutely nothing he could do to fix it. What a horrible place to be.
    Nice summary Shel. Only a little tidying to do; principally your remark "Yes, he did make the mistake of not slowing down,"

    Had Captain Smith survived, it is highly unlikely that he or any other North Atlantic captain would have reported that he considered slowing down. It simply was never done in clear weather.
    In fact, the Rules stated that "every vessel shall in fog, mist, falling snow, heavy rain storms, or any other conditions similarly restricting visibility, go at a moderate speed having careful regard to the existing circumstances and conditions." The conditions that night were perfect. Visibility was as far as the human eye could see. There was not a sea nor swell. There was not a wind and seemingly more than enough visibility to avoid danger should it present itself.
    Although dangerous ice had not been reported in their path; the only concern was the odd 'growler' which might damage the ship but not sink her. Smith had already expressed concern about that to Lightoller before 10pm.
    Previously. his officers had plotted the general positions where ice might be encountered. The Officer of The Watch and lookouts had been straining their eyes looking for "small ice" for over an hour before Titanic hit the offending iceberg. Given the conditions and intelligence, there would not have been any obvious reason for slowing down before it was necessary to do so.

    Captain Lord of the Californian did not slow down and he too had all the ice warnings.

    As far as we know, only one captain, Captain Moore of the Mount Temple diverted because of the ice but like the rest; he did not slow down. He might easily have encounterd the same iceberg that captain Rostron of the Carpathia made a last minute swerve to avoid just before he found the survivors.

    Jim C.

  35. #35
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    Whenever it is suggested that Captain Smith erred by not slowing down I become angry enough to chew steel and spit rivets. This bit of conventional nonsense passes for wisdom only because so many people have experience driving motorcars and so few have any experience conning ships.

    Let me point out once again that a car operates on a narrow strip of pavement lined by curbs, trees, utility poles, signs, and all manner of other things. When danger threatens there is literally nowhere to go other than the pavement, so slowing or stopping becomes the safe thing to do. But, the Atlantic ocean in 1912 (or today) has no painted centerline, no curbs, no poles, and no signposts along the shipping lanes. This means that ships were (and still are) free to maneuver – steer around – danger. It is far wiser to give plenty of sea room to a danger than slow down. After all, if you simply go slower, you'll still run into that iceberg eventually. All you're doing is delaying disaster.

    Captain Jim has quoted the International Rules regarding speed and the specific conditions when slowing the ship is required. Other sections of the rules also apply. Taken as a whole, the Rules of the Road require that ships always maneuver first to avoid danger. Only if maneuver (changing course) cannot by itself prevent a close-quarters situation is the mariner expected to reduce speed. So, the Rules by which vessels safely conduct their voyages look upon slowing as a second-choice option. Even today, Captain Smith would be correct in maintaining his speed on a night like that. He would, that is, provided that he took the precaution of maneuvering to avoid known danger such as a ice field across his bow. Which he did.

    We know that Smith returned early from dinner that night. It appears he wanted to get a full report from Second Officer Lightoller on the situation before the senior officer's change of watch. The two men conversed about the cold and ice. Smith gave instructions for keeping lookout. Then, he went inside where according to Fourth Officer Boxhall the ship's master began plotting ice reports on his private chart table. This process of updating ice information continued right up to impact on the iceberg. Stories of the captain snoozing are downright lies. The evidence shows that Titanic's master was quite awake and planning a strategy to take his ship south of the ice.

    Something for car enthusiasts to ponder. Slowing down would not have meant dropping from 22 to 20 knots, but rather from 22 to 11 knots or less. Every 6 minutes Titanic would have lost roughly a mile of forward progress; 10 miles every hour. But, even at that slower speed Titanic would have been forced to pick its way through the ice field – a dangerous occupation. However, by maintaining speed and maneuvering to the south Smith intended to avoid ice danger while still maintaining maximum velocity made good toward his destination. In other words, he chose what should have been the safest manner of passage that night.

    Navigational evidence presented to the inquires by Fourth Officer Boxhall when combined with Titanic's two CQD distress coordinates show that Captain Smith turned left, taking his ship south of its intended track at 11:30 p.m. April 14th time. This first turn was one compass point, or 11 degrees of arc. When the 24 minute retarding of the crew clocks is taken into account this means Smith altered course for the safety of Titanic some 34 minutes prior to impact.

    Yes, it can be argued that the captain's initial maneuver was too small for the circumstances. But, it is downright poppycock to suggest that a drowsy Smith “steamed blindly at high speed” into the ice. The facts do not allow such conclusions.

    -- David G. Brown

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    [QUOTE=Jim Currie;369700]Nice summary Shel. Only a little tidying to do; principally your remark "Yes, he did make the mistake of not slowing down,"

    You're right, Jim. He followed the established rules and when danger came, they were too close to avoid it. Like David said, you can go slow but you'll still hit ice. The moonless night doesn't help when you're steering by eyes only. I do wonder whether binoculars would have actually been of help that night because even with them you can only see so much in the dark.

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    "I do wonder whether binoculars would have actually been of help that night because even with them you can only see so much in the dark.


    There are a set of circumstances which escape the imagination. That's forgiveable for anyone who has not been at sea on a very dark night.
    During daylight, we look directly at an object on the water. Our eyes are drawn to it. However at night, unless we have a target to focus on, our eyes look in a straight line directly at the horizon. But we all do not look at the same horizon. It is nearer to an observer who is low down and further away to one who is higher up. Now apply that to the lookouts and Mr. Murdoch on Titanic.
    The lookouts would be staring ahead at their horizon. At the same time, Murdoch would be staring at his. Suddenly, Fleets sees a change in the line of sight. He does not know immediately what it is but keeps watching until he sees the 'dark shape'. He's been watching for 'small ice', not gigantic bergs and immediatly thinks correctly that there's 'small ice' right ahead of the ship. He leans back and gives the three bell warning then turns back to watch. Almost immediately he spots the ice and turns to the bridge phone.
    Meantine, when Murdoch hears the three bells, he looks first with the naked eye. then not seeing anything, raises his binoculars. At this point he now has superior vision and a target area to use it on. Immediately he sees the ice berg and gives the legendary "hard-a-starboard" helm order. The rest is history. I do believe that if the lds in the Crow's nest had been using glasses, they migh well have seen the icebergs for what it was a little earlier but I also thing that the speed of Titanic would have eliminated any such advantage.

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    Having stood lookouts underway under conditions of limited to non-existant visibility, I can well testify to just how next to useless binoculars are even in the daytime. At least for searching. Try scanning yourself sometime and see what it gets you. Your field of vision is severely restricted and if you don't scan and stop very slowly, you would be amazed at just how easy it is to miss something.

    I learned very early on to use the naked eye for searching. Binoculars were of use only to identify a target AFTER it's been spotted. Any other time, it's an almost sure fire way to miss seeing it at all.

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    Absolutely! Michael.

    I was taught to 'gaze' at the direction of the horizon and sweep. You will remember that if there was any anomaly at all, night or day, and you had young, healthy eyes, they were immediatelt drawn to and focussed on that anomaly, be it light or shape.

    Jim C.

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    I generally agree with Michael and Jim. One exception is that I find binoculars useful when looking for an object that I know is around and whose bearing is roughly known. A typical case is a navigational mark that is lost against the shore background.
    Dave Gittins
    Titanic: Monument and Warning.
    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

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    Right-on David!

    Willie Murdoch would have done exactly the same thing as you do. He had the 'rough' bearing indicated by the 3 bell lookout warning.

    Jim C.

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    >>One exception is that I find binoculars useful when looking for an object that I know is around and whose bearing is roughly known. <<

    So do I. The issue I have is the idea that the things are useful for searching as opposed to identifying. I was genuinely surprised the first time I ever tried it at just how useless they were for that, but it was a lesson I never forgot.

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    Captain Smith's role in the Titanic tragedy was huge – but it could not have been properly recognized in 1912. The concepts and the language to describe his error in bridge team management did not exist until late in World War II. We are at an advantage a hundred years on. Research into the causes of airplane, train, bus, car, and even ship accidents has revealed the primary cause is a condition known as “loss of situational awareness.” It was the real problem Titanic's master faced that night. This condition allowed his ship to run down an iceberg that had been spotted by the lookouts and of which the bridge team was fully aware.

    The iceberg was originally reported by the crow's nest when it was approximately 2.2 miles ahead. We can calculate this from the single most overlooked (deliberately so by some Titanic historians) piece of evidence: the testimony of seaman Scarrott. He was in the crew's galley and heard the sound of the three strikes on the crow's nest bell. In a sworn statement he said the bell sounded some five to eight minutes prior to impact. If we split the difference and use six minutes as the duration the math is easy. Six minutes equals 1/10th of an hour. So, at 22 knots the berg was reasonably about 2.2 miles ahead.

    It is vital to understand that neither lookout -- Fleet or Lee -- quantified the duration between bell strokes and impact. In fact Fleet painted himself the fool in his testimony when he stated that he couldn't differentiate between the passage of an hour or a minute.

    Lots of people use quartermaster Olliver's testimony to estimate the duration. They assume that Olliver was leaving the compass platform when the three strikes sounded Since the walk back to the bridge should have take under a minute, they assume the crow's nest bell sounded 45 to 50 seconds before impact. The problem with this is that Olliver never said he was just leaving the platform when he heard the bell, just that he was on the platform at that time. How much longer he remained there was never established. He could have climbed down immediately or remained there for five to eight minutes. Olliver did not say. For this reason it is impossible to use Olliver's testimony to determine the duration between bell warning and impact.

    The only specific reference to the duration between crow's nest bell and iceberg impact came from Scarrott -- five to eight minutes.

    Landsmen often make the mistake of assuming that objects can only be seen by light reflecting off their surfaces. Seaman (lookouts especially) know differently. Objects are often spotted not by the light they reflect, but the light they block. When a lookout sees a black area against an otherwise illuminated background, he knows that darkness represents danger. If it happens to be dead ahead, the dark spot requires 3 strikes on the lookout's bell. And, Titanic's lookouts reported just such a scenario. They noted a hazy look to the horizon. There was no possibility of meteorological haze that night, so this luminosity could only be starlight reflected from the ice floating across the ship's track. Then, the lookouts described spotting the iceberg as a "black mass" against that background.

    It is true that an iceberg can hardly be spotted a quarter mile ahead by reflected light on a moonless night. It just does not reflect enough light. But, a silhouette is something quite different. It can be seen as long as the luminous background remains visible. That distance can be enormous. Scientists now search for planets orbiting distant stars by the silhouettes which darken the light as the planets occult their stars. In Titanic's more mundane situation the lookouts simply did their duty. There was nothing particularly outstanding about their ability to report an iceberg more than two miles ahead of the ship because what they saw was the silhouette of that berg and not the ice itself.

    Now, back to the topic of this thread...Captain Smith allowed situational awareness to slip away during the hours after he returned from dinner. In essence the concept of loss of situational awareness means that while everyone is doing their job, nobody has a grasp of the overall situation. This was the result of Smith inadvertently splitting the two command functions of the senior officer in charge of the ship. Until Smith arrived, Second Officer Murdoch as officer of the watch had both "the deck" and "the con." Although these are naval terms not usually associated with merchant ships, they still describe the OOD's two functions. "The deck" means overall command of the vessel at the moment. "The con" refers to the officer actually issuing the rudder and engine orders. Naval ratings learn to listen only to the officer who has "the con."

    In Titanic that night, the presence of Smith as an active member of the bridge team silently moved "the deck" from Murdoch's shoulders and put it on the master. In itself, this did not have cause the accident. But, when Smith began issuing orders to alter course, he also unwittingly removed "the con" from Murdoch as well.

    If we look at Titanic's boat deck one thing is obvious: the standard compass is more than 200 feet aft of the bridge where Murdoch paced in the cold night air. Not as obvious is that anyone on the platform has no view forward. All vision is blocked by the huge bulk of funnel #2. To alter course it was first necessary for the navigating officer (Boxhall in this case) to apply variation and deviation to the desired new direction. This would give him the compass course to be steered on the standard compass. He would then go aft to the platform and use bell signals to instruct the quartermaster how to bring the ship's heading to the desired new course. Obviously, while directing the quartermaster Boxhall would de facto have taken “the con.”

    At this point the stage was set for disaster. Murdoch was still perceived as having “deck” and “con” but, in fact, had neither.

    Who was really in charge as the clock ticked down to disaster? Captain Smith assumed Murdoch was acting as the officer of the watch. Murdoch knew that Smith was calling the navigation shots. Boxhall was under the assumption that Murdoch had “the conn” when, in fact, he was instructing the quartermaster how to steer to make good Captain Smith's orders. Unfortunately, Boxhall could see nothing ahead of the ship because of funnel #2. Likewise the captain was blind to events outside his private navigation room. Murdoch knew about the iceberg report. He heard those three bell strikes with his own ears. But, he also knew that Boxhall had instructions to turn the ship to the left in order to go south of any ice danger. As the final seconds ticked away Titanic's bridge was a textbook case of loss of situational awareness. Each man was doing his duty, yet no one had the big picture until Murdoch looked into the gloom and muttered “oh excrement,” or words to that effect.

    Captain E.J. Smith may not have understood the concept of “loss of situational awareness,” but he was still master of Titanic. As such, he still held ultimate responsibility for conducting a safe voyage.

    – David G. Brown

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    [QUOTE=David G. Brown;369791] The concepts and the language to describe his error in bridge team management did not exist until late in World War II.

    That must have been on US Ships David. I went to sea just after WW2 and the term was never heard of at that time.

    “loss of situational awareness.”It was the real problem Titanic's master faced that night. This condition allowed his ship to run down an iceberg that had been spotted by the lookouts and of which thewas fully aware.

    "Situation awareness" and "bridge team" were unheard -of terms before the 1970's David.

    The iceberg was originally reported by the crow's nest when it was approximately 2.2 miles ahead. We can calculate this from the single most overlooked (deliberately so by some Titanic historians) piece of evidence: the testimony of seaman Scarrott.

    Another bit of evidence you overlook David is the fact that Scarrott hadn't a clue when he heard the three bells, he made a 'stab' at it:

    "336. What did you hear?- Three bells.
    337. Do you know what time that was?- Not to be exact I do not, but it was round about half-past eleven.
    [B,[/B] I could hardly recollect the time; but I should think it was - well, we will say about five or eight minutes; it seemed to me about that time.

    Hardly the sure-fire evidence on which to build a case!

    He was in the crew's galley and heard the sound of the three strikes on the crow's nest bell.

    If he "did not take much notice of the three strikes on the gong" That's contrary to what the man told his questioner David.

    It is vital to understand that neither lookout -- Fleet or Lee -- quantified the duration between bell strokes and impact.

    If you mean by quantify, they didn't give you a minute and second interval between events then your right. However, when their evidence is combined with that of the helmsman QM Hichen. then their is little doubt of the timing and sequence of events..
    Lee stated that he turned, trang the bell then went immediately to the phone and contacted Moody on the Bridge. The latter answered immediately. Fleet dropped the phone and turned to look ahead again. In the time between putting down the phone and turning, Titanic's bow began to swing left. "Ding, ding, ding...3 seconds. Turn round to phone...2 seconds? Murdoch orders hard-a-starboard (Fleet on the phone with Moody) 2 seconds. Helm hard over then impact. 6 seconds. Total 13 seconds at absolute most

    Lots of people use quartermaster Olliver's testimony to estimate the duration. They assume that Olliver was leaving the compass platform when the three strikes sounded Since the walk back to the bridge should have take under a minute, they assume the crow's nest bell sounded 45 to 50 seconds before impact. The problem with this is that Olliver never said he was just leaving the platform when he heard the bell, just that he was on the platform at that time. How much longer he remained there was never established. He could have climbed down immediately or remained there for five to eight minutes. Olliver did not say. For this reason it is impossible to use Olliver's testimony to determine the duration between bell warning and impact.

    Unless we have a typo in the transcript, QM Olliver stated he was at the "Standing", not "Standard". compass and when he heard the three bells he looked up. He also said he saw the top of the iceberg as it passed the bridge. To do that, he must have been at the entrance to the wheelhouse no more than 6 seconds after impact. This had to be no more than 13 + 6 = 20 seconds from hearing the three bells. The only way he could have done that was for him to have been at the steering compass outside and in front of the enclosed wheelhouse where Hichens was esconced. Remeber he looked up when he heard the bells. No point in that if he had been behind Funnel 2.
    .

    Landsmen often make the mistake of assuming that objects can only be seen by light reflecting off their surfaces. Seaman (lookouts especially) know differently. Objects are often spotted not by the light they reflect, but the light they block. When a lookout sees a black area against an otherwise illuminated background, he knows that darkness represents danger. If it happens to be dead ahead, the dark spot requires 3 strikes on the lookout's bell. And, Titanic's lookouts reported just such a scenario. They noted a hazy look to the horizon. There was no possibility of meteorological haze that night, so this luminosity could only be starlight reflected from the ice floating across the ship's track. Then, the lookouts described spotting the iceberg as a "black mass" against that background.


    First of all David, at night, a lookout looks directly at the horizon, not at the areas of water below it. In this case, the horizon was 11 miles ahead of the lookouts. For it to have been sticking above the horizon two miles away, it would have been towering above them when they were almost on top of it. it was not, it was below their eye level. It was a relatively small berg.. not much more than a big growler.

    Captain Smith allowed situational awareness to slip away during the hours after he returned from dinner. In essence the concept of loss of situational awareness means that while everyone is doing their job, nobody has a grasp of the overall situation. This was the result of Smith inadvertently splitting the two command functions of the senior officer in charge of the ship. Until Smith arrived, Second Officer Murdoch as officer of the watch had both "the deck" and "the con." Although these are naval terms not usually associated with merchant ships, they still describe the OOD's two functions. "The deck" means overall command of the vessel at the moment. "The con" refers to the officer actually issuing the rudder and engine orders. Naval ratings learn to listen only to the officer who has "the con."

    I'm not sure what you "class as situational awareness". I'm afraid that in pre 1970s British Merchant vessel term, that's gobbledigook David. It's also mis-leading.

    Smith was fully aware at all times what was going on within and out with his vessel. All heads of departmens would have his frequently updated Standing Orders. These would essentialyy require them to keep him constantly updated. That's what all compitent master did and still do. The master is always in command and will, if necessary, over-rule and action of the OOW. We know that he was on and off the bridge the entire time. He was on the bridge at about 9-30pm discussing the ice situation with Lightoller.

    In Titanic that night, the presence of Smith as an active member of the bridge team silently moved "the deck" from Murdoch's shoulders and put it on the master. In itself, this did not have cause the accident. But, when Smith began issuing orders to alter course, he also unwittingly removed "the con" from Murdoch as well.


    David, their is no evidence pointing to it and you do not know that Smith ordered a change of course. That's just an idea that you have.

    " He [Boxhall] would then go aft to the platform and use bell signals to instruct the quartermaster how to bring the ship's heading to the desired new course. Obviously, while directing the quartermaster Boxhall would de facto have taken “the con.”


    In making such an observation, you illustrate a lack of knowledge as to what went on a board a British merchant vessel. 99% of the time, a junior officer will not give a helm order. The OOW may do so but usually only when avoiding possible danger or on the instructions of the master or a Pilot.

    First and foremost: If Smith had intended altering the vessel's course he would have discussed it with Boxhall then Murdoch. Boxhall in particular would need to have that information for his on-going nav. work and for the log book. The procedure would be as follows:
    Smith would calculate the amount of course change. he would then alert Boxhall to the impending change. The he would discuss it with Murdoch.You must remember that in the vent of an accident to the master. the OOW musy know of his intentions. Smith would then, at the appropriate moment order Hichens to "bring her head rounf to **** Quartermaster". When she was on her new course, Hichens would report accordingly. Since they were using mmagnetic compasses, time would be allowed for the compasses to settle. Following that, Boxhall; would do a compass comparison with the standard compass. It would never be a 'seems like a good idea at the time' situation.

    I will take a rain check on your last paragraph David because regretfully it is not a situation I can identify on any of the very many ships I have sailed in.

    Jim C.

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    >>"Situation awareness" and "bridge team" were unheard -of terms before the 1970's David.<<

    I think that's the point overall he's trying to make. When making judgements about the way the Titanic's officers reacted, there's a lot of the woulda, coulda, shoulda language being thrown about, much of which assumes that they had the benefits of lessons learned over a centuries worth of time. Lessons which had NOT been learned in 1912, and operating and management concepts which had either NOT been learned in 1912 or were so poorly understood as to be unrecognizable.

    It's called "Anachronism." It's a pitfall we need to be wary of.

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    I agree Michael regarding the then and now thing. However, I firmly believe that on that sad night so long ago, modern management concept Lessons and operating and management concepts would have been as much use as mammary glands to a bore-hog as our southern cousins so picturesquely observe.
    Such management concepts require the back-up of modern management tools to be effective. I think principally of radar and vhf voice communications. At the end of the day, it's the ultimate decision which creates the outcome and that decision has always always lain with the peson in command. My experience of modern bridge management does not make me feel any more confident than it did way back in 1955 when I was first in charge of a ship's bridge. There seems to me to be a bit too much overloading. When you have too many segment to an operation, there can be a very long break in the chain from the second man position to the second last one. I believe the buzz phrase nowadays is 'joined-up management!

    Jim C.

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    >>However, I firmly believe that on that sad night so long ago, modern management concept Lessons and operating and management concepts would have been as much use as mammary glands to a bore-hog as our southern cousins so picturesquely observe. <<

    Maybe, maybe not. I don't much care to speculate on how things would have turned out if they had tools and management concepts at their disposal which were either poorly understood or simply did not exist. When you get down to it, there's no point.

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    To answer a few of Jim's comments --

    First, I agree that Scarrott's evidence is not the best, but there is no doubt it is the best evidence we have of the duration between the three strikes on the lookouts bell and impact on the iceberg. In fact, it is the only duration estimate. So, we are stuck with using it. That's why I split the difference between his maximum of eight minutes and minimum of five. My use of 6 minutes was based on that being pretty near the middle of that time range and also being 1/10th of an hour for convenient math. In my opinion, the fact that Scarrott made little of the three bell signal is significant. It indicates that such signals were routine and did not mean that a dire, life-threatening situation had developed as the movies depict.

    As far as Fleet's use of the word "immediately," it came in context with his claim not to have been able to judge the passage of time. To him, or so he wanted us to believe, an hour was the same as a minute. This really has the look of a coached witness. Only a lawyer would know that the word "immediately" does not mean "quickly," but rather the next occurrence in a series of occurrences. Thus, "immediately" does not really mean with great haste even though that's the way his words have been interpreted. Do you really think that Fleet would have claimed he couldn't judge the passage of time unless he had not been coached?

    Olliver is quoted in the transcript as saying "standing" compass. True. That's most likely a misunderstanding of his accent coupled with a lack of nautical knowledge on the part of the transcriptionist. I know of no compass object that is "standing," but we all know that the platform contained the "standard compass." The two words are so nearly alike I see no doubt as to Olliver's meaning. Besides, what other compass was both outdoors and would have needed trimming of the glim at that time of night?

    One place I really quibble with Jim (and we'd probably settle this issue quickly over sailor pop) is his misinterpretation of my description of Boxhall's actions regarding the 11-degree course change. I do not believe that he did this on his own. As a junior officer Boxhall could not and would not have changed the ship's course under any circumstance. That was the Captain's job alone. Only Smith had the authority to change Titanic's course from 266 to 255 degrees. But, Smith did not conduct the maneuver. That was done by sending a junior officer to the standard compass on the platform amidships. Once there, Boxhall (the junior officer on duty) would have adjusted the ship's heading in conformance to Captain Smith's orders. I am quite certain that Smith informed the OOW, First Officer Murdoch, of this course change. Most likely this was done by "word of mouth" through Boxhall, but the Captain may also have come on deck long enough to discuss it with the OOW. We have no evidence of that, however.

    I must apologize to Jim for one thing. I have not introduced the "kicker" to my theory. The 11:30 o'clock in April 14th time course change was not...repeat not...to dodge the fatal iceberg. It was to take the ship south of the ice becoming visible across the ship's track. It was not the two-point swing of the bow to the south talked about by Boxhall and Hichens immediately (word used as described above) prior to impact.

    Going back to the lookouts...I they did see and describe a hazy horizon against which there was a "black mass." This is a pretty good description of the silhouette of a nearby object against a lighter horizon. And, that observation was made after 7 bells, which puts it after 11:30 o'clock crew time. We know that crew time was 24 minutes behind April 14th time, so the three bell strikes came between 11:54 and 12:02 o'clock in April 14th ship's time. Where should Boxhall have been at roughly 12:00 o'clock in April 14th hours? The answer is on the compass platform conducting one of the compass checks/comparisons required every 30 minutes by White Star Line protocol and the 1912 conventions of good seamanship. And, where should Olliver have been? As the "runner" QM, he would have gone ahead of Boxhall to uncover the standard compass binnacle and check the oil lamps. We have pretty good circumstantial evidence that's what took place. When Fleet rang the three strokes Boxhall said he was just coming out of the officers quarters and Olliver said he was at the standing (sic) compass. Hmmm. Both men were doing exactly what was in their job descriptions just when they should have been doing it. That's what we expect to see in a well-run bridge.

    Boxhall even lied about events surrounding the accident. Hichens seems to have been more an evader than a liar. Even so, I have no doubt that from their testimonies Titanic turned left two points within a minute or so of impact on the berg. This is the left turn that has become characterized as an emergency iceberg evasion maneuver. I don't think the facts support that conclusion. First, if Murdoch did issue a "hard a-starboard order (turning to port in 1912 parlance), then given the advance & transfer characteristics of an Olympic-class vessel he perforce turned left for an object that was passing down his port side. That is, Murdoch turned left to run into an iceberg that Titanic should not have struck. I don't think Murdoch was such a dunderhead, quite the opposite. Beyond that, the lookouts said the ship approached that "black mass" straight on. A straight-on approach precludes the mythical "hard a-starboard" order shouted too late by Murdoch. It never happened.

    But, that two-point turn to the left did happen. No doubt.

    As Jim and I agree, a course change could only be issued by the Captain. And, since Boxhall was heading for the standard compass...and a course change was made...it seems logical enough to believe that the two-point swing of the bow reported by the fourth officer and Hichens was in response to an order by Captain Smith. If so, Smith must have decided to swing farther to the south to avoid the ice prior to the lookouts ringing the crow's nest bell three times. Boxhall must already have had Smith's instructions prior to when he stepped out of the officers quarters and heard those bell sounds. So, if I'm correct, as per standard operating procedures in Titanic, Boxhall mounted the platform and checked the compasses. He then conducted a two point turn to port in accordance with the captain's orders. There was now a minute to go before impact.

    Using trigonometry I discovered something interesting based on the ship's advance & transfer, a 22 knot speed, and 2.2 miles distance when the iceberg was first spotted. At about a minute before impact the berg should have been a bit over 22 degrees to port. Hichens and Boxhall confirmed a two-point left turn, which is a bit more than 22 degrees to port.

    At this point lookout Fleet did something very odd. He picked up the telephone to the bridge. That was against the unwritten SOP in Titanic. Other lookouts said so in their testimonies. The phone was for the bridge to call the crow's nest and never the reverse. Why did Fleet break protocol? I think the answer is clear. He was facing a situation not covered in the rules -- written or unwritten. An iceberg he had properly reported about six minutes ago was suddenly dead ahead. Again! So, Fleet took the unusual action of calling the bridge to report, "Iceberg dead ahead!" Fleet's breaking of protocol indicates something else. He had been snapped into reality. Any loss of situational awareness had been wiped from his mind. He took action.

    Oh what I'd give to know when Murdoch had the same epiphany. Boxhall was on his way forward at that time. Per White Star rules, his next duty was to go the rounds of the men of the starboard watch. That meant going down the stairway on the starboard side of the bridge to B deck and then crossing the beam to go down a ladder into the well deck. The fourth officer heard Murdoch ring down an engine command as he entered that stairway. Olliver was behind Boxhall. He did not hear the engine telegraphs ring, but he did see Murdoch at the switch to close the watertight doors. Olliver also heard Murdoch yell, "hard a-port" to push the starboard bow against the ice and swing the starboard side and stern away from danger. And, the runner QM also heard Hichens sing out when the helm was hard over. We know the rest of the story.

    In the aftermath, the surviving bridge team members were like three-legged cats in a sandbox trying to cover up what they'd done. The truth was that a maneuver ordered by the captain caused Titanic to run down an iceberg. Worse, it was the second attempt to avoid the ice -- the first course alteration having failed to get the job done. And, even worse, the accident took place despite adequate warning from the lookouts. Scratch, Scratch -- Scarrott's five to eight minute duration between warning bell and impact was discounted. Scratch, scratch -- Boxhall lied about not seeing an ice report he wrote out in his own hand. Scratch, scratch -- Fleet said he couldn't tell a minute from an hour. Scratch, scratch -- Boxhall and Hichens implied the two-point turn to port was a last-ditch attempt to avoid the iceberg. Scratch, scratch -- everyone ignored the "hard a-port" helm order in Olliver's testimony. Scratch, scratch -- the myth of the "iceberg from nowhere" was born. But, as anyone with cats knows, even if the mess is covered up the smell remains.

    -- David G. Brown

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    I've stayed out of this for one until now. But I can't resist any longer.

    David just said: >>First, I agree that Scarrott's evidence is not the best, but there is no doubt it is the best evidence we have of the duration between the three strikes on the lookouts bell and impact on the iceberg. In fact, it is the only duration estimate. <<

    That is not exactly correct.

    Lee was up in the crow's nest along with Fleet. This is what he said:

    2420. Then what was the first thing you did report? - The first thing that was reported was after seven bells struck; it was some minutes, it might have been nine or ten minutes afterwards. Three bells were struck by Fleet, warning “Right ahead,” and immediately he rung the telephone up to the bridge, “Iceberg right ahead.” The reply came back from the bridge, “Thank you.”

    Well I don't know anyone who would quantify 'immediately' as 5 to 8 minutes of elapsed time. Do you?
    A more quantifiable interval from that 3-bell warning to when the order to turn came comes from Hichens.

    969. (The Attorney-General.) I think we can get at it in this way. What was the first notice to you that there was something ahead? - Three gongs from the crow’s-nest, Sir.
    970. That you would hear in the wheelhouse, would you? - Certainly.
    971. And you knew what that meant? - Certainly, Sir.
    972. That meant something ahead? - Yes.
    973. How long was that before the order came “Hard-a-starboard”? - Well, as near as I can tell you, about half a minute.

    Then there would be some added seconds seconds for the ship to respond to her helm before striking the berg.

    I wouldn't necessarily take Hichens' half a minute as precisely 30 seconds, it being a subjective estimate, but it certainly is more in keeping with a phone call coming down from the nest within a few seconds of the 3-bell warning, followed by Moody's report to Murdoch as to what Fleet reported to him on the phone before Murdoch ordered his famous 'hard-astarborad' call.

    As far as Olliver, it clear that he was on the standard compass platform when those 3 bells were struck. (Yes, the transcriber put it down as 'standing' but that was a misunderstanding of what Olliver, who spoke with a Jersey accent [not a New Jersey accent like me] actually said). Olliver said he looked up, a natural thing to do, but could not see anything. Of course the 2nd funnel was directly in front of him which would block his view of anything that was between 1 point to either side of dead ahead. He said he then left the compass and headed back to the bridge. He also said he was just entering the bridge when the ship struck. The timing of this dove tails nicely, more or less, with what Hichens described.

    >>The truth was that a maneuver ordered by the captain caused Titanic to run down an iceberg. Worse, it was the second attempt to avoid the ice -- the first course alteration having failed to get the job done<<

    That is the truth according to your overly imaginative mind David.

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    "Then there would be some added seconds seconds for the ship to respond to her helm before striking the berg."

    How many 'added seconds' Sam? Perhaps that's why Titanic was so far off course before Noon that day?

    Think about that for a moment. If Titanic took 'added seconds' to respond to a hard-over action, how long do you think she would have taken to react with the small amounts of corrective helm required when steering from minute to minute in calm weather during the voyage? Worse still;what would have happened to the steering with a following sea?
    A vessel moving at 22 knots+ needs almost instant helm response. Hardly possible I know but to have to wait for 'some seconds' for a response is totally unacceptable. By the way, I do know about the limitations of steam-assisted stearing gear.

    This Olliver thing is a bit of a puzzle that needs to be properly thought-out. Let's think constructively.

    The deffinition of a 'brisk walking pace - i.e. when you start to breath hard, is between 3.5 and 4 mph. That's between 5 and 6 feet per second. QM Olliver had no need to run, the three bell signal had nothing to do with him. If he was at the Standard Compass Platform behind funnel 2, he would not be able to walk in a straight line between there and the wheelhouse. He also had ladders to negotiate therefore it is highly unlikely that he would have been able to achieve an averge walking speed greater than the lower value of 5 feet/sec. He would have had a distance to travel of 230 feet. This means he could not have arrived at the entrance to the bridge less than 46 seconds after the last bell was sounded. In reality, probably nearer 50 seconds.

    David, if you and Sam want to get a proper handle on QM Olliver's movements in the interval between 3 bells and impact, read all of the evidence and interpret.... with a little informed imagination if need-be. Sometimes if you forget about how it was, a little bit of constructive imagination can make things a lot clearer

    After the third bell, QM Olliver was still wherever he was. He did not move off until after the last bell sounded.
    3 bells had nothing to do with him. Even then, Olliver would not leave wherever he was until he had finished his duty and, if doing compass work, replaced either the compass cover, the hood over the compass light or both. His evidence tells us that he had not completed his work when he heard the 3 bells. He heard three bells then looked up after the last one, saw nothing then must have completed doing his work. If so then it must have taken him at least three seconds after hearing the last bell to see that all was in it's proper place before he left his location and headed back to the wheelhouse.
    Meanwhile, what was happening on the bridge and in the Crow's nest?

    We know from Lookout Fleet that he one after the other performed six (6) separate actions. Almost without a pause, he(1) rang 3 bells, (2) turned to the the phone, (3) called up the bridge, (4) spoke briefly to Moody, (5) put the phone down then(6) turned back to his lookout duty. However at the moment he did so, he saw that Titanic was already turning to the left. If we allocate time to each action they might look like the following:

    Action (1)..3 seconds.
    1. second.
    Action (2)..1 second.
    1 second.
    Action (3)..2 seconds.
    1 second.
    Action (4)..3 seconds.
    1 second.
    Action (5)..1 second.
    Action (6)..1 second.

    I have allowed a 1 second interval between actions 1 to 4. The total time from the first bell until the end of Action (6) comes to 15 seconds. If you subtract three seconds for the bells and 1 second for Murdoch ordering hard-a- starboard then we have an intrval of 11 seconds between the last bell and when Murdoch ordered the emergency helm order.
    Since we know that it took about 6 seonds maximum to apply full left rudder and that impact came almost at the moment it was fully applied, we can then deduce that impact occurred no later that 17 ((11 + 6) seconds after the last bell was sounded. Further more, since Titanic was making 38 feet/seconds, the lookouts clearly recognised danger when it was no more than 600 feet ahead of the ship. They would have seen something earlier but would have waited to be certain. No doubt that accounts for Fleet's remark that "it was so close to us. That is why I rang them up."


    Here is a reminder of Fleet's sworn evidence given on Day 4 of the US Senate Inquiry when the event was still very fresh in his mind.

    "Mr. FLEET.
    I struck three bells first. Then I went straight to the telephone and rang them up on the bridge.I got an answer straight away ..Did you get a prompt response?
    Mr. FLEET.
    I did.
    Senator SMITH.
    The fact that you did ring them up on the telephone indicated that you thought there was danger?
    Mr. FLEET.
    Yes, sir.

    As you now Fleet's mate in the Crow's Nest was . Here is his corroboration of Fleet's evidence. It was given under oath on Day 4 of the Wreck Commisioner's hearings.

    "2420. Then what was the first thing you did report?
    - The first thing that was reported was after seven bells struck; it was some minutes, it might have been nine or ten minutes afterwards. Three bells were struck by Fleet, warning "Right ahead," and immediately he rung the telephone up to the bridge, "Iceberg right ahead." The reply came back from the bridge, "Thank you."
    2425. Did you notice what the ship did?
    - As soon as the reply came back "Thank you," the helm must have been put either hard-a-starboard or very close to it, because she veered to port, and it seemed almost as if she might clear it, but I suppose there was ice under water."


    Unless you both want to rubbish the evidence of these men who were actually there, I think you have to completely re-think the evidence of QM Olliver. There is absolutely no way he could have been at the standard compass platform after the last bell had been struck and have arrived at the bridge 17 seconds later as Titanic hit the ice berg. To do that he would have needed to have been running at a speed of over 9 mph. That would put him in the 4 minute-mile league.

    Incidentally David, the above corrobarative evidence completelty contradicts the evidence of AB Scarrott.


    Jim C.

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    Scarrott's testimony about the “five to eight” minutes between the three strikes on the lookout's bell and impact is not contradicted by the testimonies of Boxhall, Hichens, Fleet, or Lee. Rather, it fits into the standard pattern of the every half hour compass checks done in Titanic.

    As Jim points out, Olliver was already on the standard compass platform when the lookouts sounded their bell. And, his words strongly suggest he had not completed his work there when the sounds of those bell strokes faded in the wind. Since those three strikes had nothing to do with Olliver's work, Jim is correct in saying that other than taking mental note the quartermaster would otherwise have disregarded them as he resumed trimming the binnacle lamps. My objection to Jim's analysis is that he assumes Olliver left the platform within a few seconds of the crow's nest bell. Truth is, we don't know how long he remained. However, we can make a reasonable estimate by putting Olliver's actions into context with the bridge routine, and particularly the duties of the fourth officer, Boxhall.

    Those same strikes on the crow's nest bell were heard by Boxhall as he came out of the officers quarters. The man never said what mission sent him out into the cold night on the boat deck. We know, though, that ever half hour he had to do a compass check or comparison. That involved him going to the standard compass and settling the ship on its correct course per standard compass so the reading on the steering compass could be verified. And, we know from the White Star/IMM Rules that as fourth officer Boxhall was to go rounds of the men of the Starboard Watch, those men being his responsibility. Logic dictates that both of these jobs be done on the hour. And, it would be rational to combine them into one departure from the bridge – first to the standard compass and next to check on the men of the Watch.

    As we have shown, the time of the accident was 11:40 on the crew clocks, which corresponded to 12:04 o'clock based on April 14th ship's time. Knowing the actions required of Boxhall, we would expect him to start for the compass platform a couple or three minutes before 12 o'clock. The middle of Scarrott's “five to eight” minutes is 6.5 minutes. I round this down to 6 minutes for mathematical convenience. Six minutes before impact puts Boxhall exiting the door of the officers quarters at 11:58 o'clock in April 14th time. Expressed in crew time, that was 11:34 o'clock, or about four minutes past seven bells (struck at 11:30 o'clock crew time).

    Boxhall should have taken nearly two minutes just in walking to and from the compass platform. That gives him four minutes on the platform to make the compass check and do any course change maneuver Captain Smith may have instructed. Added up, in six minutes we should find Boxhall nearing the bridge on his way forward. In his testimony the man says just that. But, he obfuscated somewhat by combining the three strokes on the lookout's bell with another set of three bells.

    We know from various testimonies that some sort of engine order was sent by Murdoch on the telegraphs. In this sort of situation, it would have been common practice to “double ring” this unexpected order to call attention to it. Murdoch would have pulled the telegraph handle all the way back to Astern Full, then pushed it up to Ahead Full before rotating the handle to the desired order. In this case that order was apparently Astern Full. Each of those movements of the handle would have caused a distinct ringing of the telegraph bells. Boxhall said he heard three bells both when he was just coming out of the officers quarters. He also said he heard three bells when he was opposite the captain's quarters just abaft the starboard bridge wing. Those two locations are about 45 feet apart. It is impossible for Boxhall to have heard one set of bells in two locations simultaneously. So, despite the implications of his testimony, the fourth officer must have been talking about two different sets of bells. Logically, the first was from the crow's nest and the second set sounded about six minutes later when Boxhall was returning forward from the compass platform. This second set of bells was Murdoch's engine order.

    Quite obviously, Boxhall needed some time to move from the doorway of the officers quarters to the compass platform, do his work, and return to the forward end of the starboard boat deck. That time span is provided by Scarrott's testimony. In fact, without Scarrott's “five to eight” minutes, Boxhall's story is a physical impossibility. Nobody can be in two places at one time.

    The lookouts, Fleet and Lee, quite obviously tried to imply that things happened bangity-bang in rapid-fire order. As I have said many times, however, it is obvious they have been coached. And this applies particularly to Fleet's testimony. No professional lookout would so willingly admit he was so blind as to not see some danger until it was too late. Fleet's willing support of this version of events calls into question his veracity. But, he then compounded things by claiming he could not tell the difference between a minute and an hour. Huh? The man obviously did not want us to know how long transpired between sounding the warning bell and that famous phone call to the bridge.

    Yes, Fleet did use the word “immediately” in his testimony. And, he was correct. The strict definition of the word refers to the next event in an unbroken series of events. Certainly, the events in the crow's nest from spotting the “black mass” through the bell strokes, phone call, and impact were “immediate” one upon another. But, the use of this word does not refer to the duration of time between those events. It is often taken to mean “quickly,” which would apply in this case. But, “quickly” does not me only a second or two interval between events. And, to a man who could not judge the passage of time, a few minutes would have seemed no time at all.

    Boxhall did not stop even when he heard the telegraph bells. His task was not to maneuver the ship, but to oversee the men of the Starboard Watch. Note that he said he was opposite the captain's quarters when he heard the second set of bells. That's exactly in way of the companionway entering the stairway down to A and B decks. To check on his men, Boxhall would have had to go down that stairway before crossing over to the port side on B deck to descend another ladder into the well deck. An oddity in Boxhall's testimony is that he said he did not see the ship hit the berg, but he went on to give a vivid and detailed description of the ice at the “bluff of the bow.” How could he have been so specific in his description of something he did not see? The answer is the stair enclosure leading down to B deck.

    Impact occurred while Boxhall was descending that stairway. The steel enclosure blocked his line of sight. He came out on B deck just in time to observe the berg alongside what he described as “the bluff of the bow.” Moments later he was in the well deck where he saw and was seen be members of his Starboard Watch.

    What about Olliver? When did he return to the bridge? White Star/IMM Rules required those compass checks every half hour. It is critical to understand that these evolutions were done on 30 minute intervals – the position of the hands on the clock being of no consequence. So, when the crew clocks were retarded 24 minutes, there was no change in the pattern of compass comparisons. The 12 o'clock compass check in April 14th hours now had to be done at 11:36 on the crew's clocks. Olliver's responsibilities in these compass evolutions was to assist the officer by removing the canvass cover from the platform, adjusting the oil lamps, and generally preparing things for the work to be done. That meant he had to go to the platform a few minutes before Boxhall. We would expect that at 11:34 on the crew's clocks Olliver should have been doing exactly what he said – trimming the standard compass lamps – when the lookout's sounded their three strokes on the crow's nest bell.

    As discussed, Boxhall needed some time between the bells he heard at the doorway and those he heard near the bridge wing. We also know that as fourth office he should have made a trip to the standard compass virtually at the moment the lookouts sounded their bell. Logic, White Star/IMM Rules, and the ordinary conduct of ships in 1912 all indicate Boxhall was going to the standard compass when the bell warning sounded. Olliver was already there to assist. When the compass checks and other work was done, Boxhall would have departed and been just at the companionway oppsite the captain's quarters when Murdoch double rang an engine order. Olliver would have been a bit behind Boxhall. The quartermaster had to close up the standard compass before he could return to the bridge. So, he did not hear the telegraphs ring. By the time Olliver got there Murdoch was closing the watertight doors and about to issue a “hard a-port” helm order.

    --David G. Brown

  52. #52
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    There is an aphorism from the late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not to his own facts."

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    Hello Sam,

    I once received a present of a coffee mug from my son. It had a graphic of an extremely smug gremlin on it with the banner advice: "Everyone is entitled to my opinion" . That is so true but some how, I don't think he was making a factual point. He has since been disiherited.

    Unfortunately David, I think you mis-read my opinon concerning QM Olliver. I remind you:
    If the bells, phone, helm and impact all came as described in the factual evidence available then he did not have time after the third bell to look-up, look down, replace the cover and head for the bridge to arrive there at the moment of impact. Not unless he was moving at a fast jog. He would not so jog. That was a no-no on a passenger ship's passenger decks.. at least the ones I was on. Because of this, I doubt very much that he was where we all think he was or where his evidence suggests he was when he heard the last of those three bells.
    The engine room evidence picks-up from the evidence of QM Hichens at the moment of the first crucial engine order and takes us to the forward end of boiler room 5 when Titanic broke loose from the berg. Thus, we have firm markers to work with.
    We are discussing a continuous flow-line of evidence here David. You are basing your entire theory on the evidence of man who quite clearly had at best, a vague idea of when he heard the 3 warning bells.
    You must read Boxhall's evidence carefully. You must also have faith in your own convictions. If you believe that impact happened at or about 4 minutes after midnight April 14th time, then you will understand that Boxhall would not go to the Standard Compass platform before about 12-15am April 14 time. The end of Watch Log Book entries on any vessel - not just Titanic - have to be the very latest intelligence for passing-on to the relieving Watch. Boxhall would leave final checks until the latest moment before the end of his Watch. That would be midnight April 14 time plus 24 minutes.

    Incidentally; Rules are written to be broken.

    Jim C.

  54. #54
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    I was always curious about the rationale behind that particular IMM rule 253. I fully understand the requirement within that rule that says that compasses must be compared every watch. But once the difference between standard and steering compasses are noted, steadying on a particular standard compass course should correspond to a particular steering compass course. The course for the helmsman to steer by was noted on the steering course board in the wheelhouse after the ship was steadied. There is also a standard compass board which shows the standard compass course that the ship was steadied on. Why the need to steady by standard every 1/2 hour during a watch if the course is not being changed unless there is reason to suspect that differences in deviation error will change over a run of a 1/2 hour? And why should that be?

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    There's no technical reason why compasses should be checked at such short intervals except following multiple course changes. I suspect that the Rule in question has less to do with ascertaining the accuracy of the compasses and more to do with checking-up on the Quartermaster on the wheeel at the time. If the man n question knows that the OOW or one of his juniors will be looking over his shoulder at such regular intervals, he'll be less inclined to let his mind wander.
    Additionally, such practices become standard, acceptable and reduce adverse phsycological resentment in the lower ranks. i.e. "don't you trust me to do the bloody job I've been doing for years?"

    Jim C.

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    The only ships I've sailed on had a gyro compass in addition to a magnetic compass. We relied on the gyro compass for steering and for taking bearings from gyro repeaters. We considered the magnetic compass an obsolete throwback to times of yore, there to be used in an emergency. If we had to rely on magnetic compasses, which only Titanic had, there would have been a major increase in nervousness. My impression is that magnetic compasses tend to be a bit erratic, and subject to variation and deviation, unlike gyros.

    Would these concerns have occasioned the seemingly obsessive cross-checking prescribed by White Star's rules?

  57. #57
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    Hello Doug.

    The cross-checking of compasses on Titanic was a very necessary part of the Watch-keeping routine. I agree it seems to have been 'obssesively' frequent but on a GC course across 'The Pond', there would be frequent planned course changes and enforced ones due to external influences such as weather and ocean currents. An additional problem was the frequency of heavy cloud cover which normally prevented obtaining regular fixes by cellestial observation. This would mean that it might be a long time before the captain knew exactly where his vessel was.
    A wonky compass would be dangerous making land-fall and coastal navigation, not foregetting that it might cost delayed arrival and hence money.

    After WW2. vessels were fitted with gyro and many of us had additional qualifications in the use and maintenance of Gyro and Radar. Like you, we exclusively used the gyro for all navigation purposes. (It wasalso hooked-into the radar ppi.)

    However, the magnetic compasses were considered every bit as important at that time as they were was back in 1912. If you've ever seen a master gyro take a severe 'tilt' you'll understand why.
    We were all trained in Deviation and the use of the Deviascope and had to pass a BoT exam to show in theory that we knew about the subject and to demonstrate in practice that, if need be, we could correct a magnetic compass.
    We still had pelorus rings for the magnetic versions but did not use them unless there was a serious gyro failure. Never-the-less, the readings of all compasses were recorded at the end of each Watch and after a significant course change. At the same time, the Magnetic Deviation of the compass was noted. It was also recorded every time a Gyro error was obtained. Variation was usually obtained from the Compass Rose on the chart.

    Does that bring back memories?

    Jim C.

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    Sorry for this belated post, but I've been laid up with a sprung port shaft. Confined to drydock until the docs figured out how to straighten it.

    Anyway, check or comparing the steering compass against the standard was serious business. I have somewhere a record that eludes discovery of an "SOP" from the Titanic era spelling out the navigator's "days work" beyond position fixes, etc. It includes half-hourly compass comparisons. Lacking that for the moment, I found the same information in a rather contemporary U.S. Navy training document: NAVEDTRA 144220 "Quartermaster 1 & C." (www.hnsa.org/doc/pdf/quartermaster.pdf) The training manual was published in April, 1995. On page 2-18 it contains the statement, "When under way, the compasses must be compared every one-half hour and at each course change."

    Anyone who has been in the military knows the power of the word "must." There is no alternative but to do the work.

    The 14220 manual goes on to say that when in formation making frequent course changes each course change does not need to be recorded. "Use the following statement in the Remarks column," the manual advises, "Steering various courses while alongside (in formation)." The next sentence once again is quite specific. "A comparison must still be made every one-half hour."

    -- David G. Brown

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    Hello David.

    In the British Merchant Service, "Day's Work" was a specific examination exercise. It simply meant a recording in tabular form, all the specific events which might effect navigation during a specific period. It was done to ensure that as much as possible, a reasonably accurate record of events was available for the working of a DR position after a period without an opportunity to obtain a fix.
    In many cases, it was not a formal requirement but was taught by navigation schools as a means of working methodically. In most cases, a practical navigator would not, as was done for an exam, rule a page and set-up a table; the Deck or Scrap Log Book contained all the required information. These included Compass Course, Deviation, Variation, Wind direction, Leeway and Distance Travelled between positions.. Fixed and/or DR. Here's an example from the examinantion papers:

    At Noon. log 0, a point in Lat.51-23'N., Long 9-36'W., bore E.S.E., by compass, distant 7 miles : ship's head S.W. by compass, dev. 10 W., var. 22 W. This course was steered till 6pm. when a/c to W.S.W., dev. 13 W., log 64. At 4am. a/c to W. by S., dev. 15 W., log 169. This last course was maintained till noon when the log read 252.
    Find noon position and the course and distance made good during the 24 hours.



    Hope you get things traightened-out for Xmas.

    Jim C.

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    Jim -- I put "days work" in quotes because I was sort of making a pun on the traditional daily round of fixes, etc. that are traditionally called a "day's work." However, checking or comparing compasses wasn't a direct part of those duties. It was one of the background jobs that had to be done so the navigation of the ship could be done with certainty of effort. It didn't surprise me that an ol' sailor would recognize this.

    My point in the post, of course, is that there are supporting documents to show that in the days when magnetic compasses were the only way to determine direction sailors paid a lot of attention to them. It's interesting that when gyro compasses came into the picture that the timing of comparisons gyro-to-magnetic compass dropped from every 30 minutes to once an hour.

    -- David G. Brown

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    Hello David.

    After WW2, it dropped to the middle and end of each Watch and at such times when azimuths were being worked. However you must not forget that the OOW very frequently - and purposely not at regular intervals - squinted over the shoulder of the man on the wheel. The Gyro repeater was invariably on its own pedestal to the right of the helmsman and the binacle of the magneric steering compass was right in front of him. The binacle for the standard compass was usually on the exposed deck directlyabove the helmsman's position in the wheelhouse. That's when the projector persiscope came into it's own. The OOW would tell the helmsman "Let me know when you're right on[course]". When the helmsman replied "Right on now", the OOW would note the equivalent readings on the steering compass and on the standard compass. The readings would be noted and compared with those already chalked on course board in the wheel house and amended as necessary. Only the final Watch-end and perhaps mid-Watch readings would be recorded in the log. In a one Mate/Watch ship, the OOW wouldn't leave the bridge to make such notations. At night, even a minute away from the bridge was a no-no. That was usually the job of an Apprenctice or Cadet. Think night vision.

    Jim C.

  62. #62
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    I can only speak from experience of witnessing many captains in tight situations. I only saw behaviour once which might be described by the uninformed as 'panic'. That was back in the 50s when a senior officer fouled his whites during a helicopter rescue operation in horrendous weather. The same man had gone through WW2 and suffered untold miseries during that time. He had been left with shattered nerves. In this instance, he did not panic or give up.. he was so bloody angry at the incompetence of those round him that he nearly busted a gut but decided to shit himself instead.
    As for Captain Smith: the man was highly experienced. He too had been in war and had spent many years in sailing ships.. not an arena for the weak at heart. In fact, following the sea as a career in the old days soon sorted-out the wheat from the chaff.

    Yes, your correct, i believe.

    I can only speak from experience through my family that chuaferred two ex military commandors.

    Both had mental problems through the stress from thier high powered job. They both were the highest ranked captain /comando of military ships and airforce.

    One tried to commit suicide after leaving, both my father and brother chuaferred him and one manage to half way chop through his hand ( only to stop because he was in so much pain) my sister was the one that chuaferred him. She saw his injuries and asked questions.

    They both became mental cases after thier miliatry life.

    It may be the same case for captain smith, he was the highest ranked officer and higest ranked captain within WSL. I believe he couldve gone through mental stress through the sinking. I do believe, if smith did survive (i dont believe those sitings in NY after the sinking) he would've been a victim of metal stress through stress of a high profile job, like the two i'd spoke about.

    I do not believe Smith was in the right state of mind during the sinking. Would any of us be fine and ok, if we were in his shoes? No.

    I hope this helps.

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by ayj View Post
    I can only speak from experience of witnessing many captains in tight situations.
    What was the role, ayj, that put you in a position to witness those situations?

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Baber View Post
    What was the role, ayj, that put you in a position to witness those situations?
    No your right. I never "quote" the original poster. My original post starts half way through, responding to another poster. Sorry for that.

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    Moderator's hat on:
    Quote Originally Posted by ayj View Post
    I never "quote" the original poster.
    Well, you need to. Do not copy someone else's message without indicating that you've done. "I never quote the original poster" is not acceptable.

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    hey,

    if the captain had survived wouldn't he have been discriminated like Bruce Ismay for surviving when so many others didn't. I think when he realised that the ship would sink and so many would die he went into shock and accepted his responsibility to go down with his ship.

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    Circumstances alter cases. Ismay was vilified for many reasons ranging from public indignation to populist socialism. But he made himself a target by climbing into the last lifeboat at the last minute. In the culture of the time this was viewed as an act of cowardice. Had Ismay helped get people into the boats (which to some extent he did) and then been washed into the sea before being rescued (like Lightoller) the public reaction to the White Star executive's survival would have been different. We can't say what that difference would have been because history does not reveal its alternatives.

    The same goes for Captain Smith. If he had survived we can say for certain he would have been forced by virtue of his rank to shoulder blame for the tragedy. However, he would have been able to defend himself with first-hand knowledge which remains lost to us because he, in fact, did not survive. His method of survival would also have played into public opinion. If he had stayed until the ship left him before being plucked from the water, that would have been viewed in his favor. But, none of this happened. So, I must repeat myself, “history does not reveal its alternatives.”

    Make up whatever “what if” story you want. Just don't confuse such flights of fancy with reality. In the end, Ismay survived ignominiously and Smith died with questions about his command unanswered.

    – David G. Brown

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    Actually Ismay helped a lot during that night, pushing passengers into the lifeboats. The circumstances how he enter the boat are not quite clear as there are witness who show that Ismay was ordered into the boat. That he was seen as the "bad guy" in the public was mainly the result of William Randolph Hearst who did not like Ismay and had in most of his newspapers nothing good to say about him. (Then also the made up myth years later starting in the 1980s about the lifeboat and other stuff which is not based on any facts.)

  69. #69
    Junior Member
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    Sep 2014
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    6
    Captain Smith helped with women and children, and he gave away his life-belt
    I am Ryerson, the great-great grandson of Victor Francis Sunderland, who was a third class passenger on the Titanic who survived. He jumped into the icy water without a life-jacket on with mr. Lightoller, and climbed on top of the over-turned lifeboat.

  70. #70
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    221
    Quote Originally Posted by VictorFrancisSunderland(GGgrandson) View Post
    Captain Smith helped with women and children, and he gave away his life-belt
    What is the reference for his giving up his life belt?

 

 

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