After the collision, why Titanic did not sail torward the SS Californian ?


Just after the collision, there was one ship which was pretty close from the Titanic : the SS Californian.

As most of use us know, despite the many efforts of the Titanic, they never responded to the distress calls.

I think theTitanic stopped just after colliding the iceberg for at least two reasons :
- To stay afloat as long as possible : moving the ship would cause even more water to flood inside.
- To be able to deploy the life boats

Anyway since they were pretty close to the Californian (and that ship was stopped as well) : could they decide at some point to sail towards that ship and then stop there ? I think ship was 10 to 12 miles aways according to what I read on wikipedia, so it should not have taken that long.
Titanic was in no shape to move with 5 compartments open to the sea, especially in ice infested waters. It would have flooded faster, and none of the lifeboats would have been able to be launched. 10-to 12 miles is a very long way off.


Former Member
Perhaps if the Titanic had sailed into the ice field the surrounding ice would be drawn into her damaged side by the suction of water coming in and clogged up the holes, and greatly reduced the rate of water entering the ship in time for rescue to come?



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I don't think so because the surrouning ice is above water surface and AFAIK damage occured below waterline.
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Don't forget, Along with Samuel Halpern statement of Titanic being damaged, Smith, the officers or anyone else didn't know the Californian was even in the area. The light wasn't seen till the lifeboats began to be lowered AND we don't officially know if it was the Californian. Either way it wasn't feasable given the ship's condition and no one knew how far away the light was.
Captain Smith did try to go ahead on the main engines, but it made the flooding worse. What I would have tried in that situation was to run the engines astern and aim for the ship with lights. As it was some 10 miles away, even at 3knots it would cover some of the distance until the condenser intakes came out of the water, by which time and as the ship would be nearer, maybe they could have contacted it. If you are a sailing man, self-balers work with the venturi effect of the boat moving through the water, and going astern may have kept the bow up a little and possibly reduced the flooding, though not enough to save the ship of course. Interestingly, Lightoller during the war whilst on an RN ship, did exactly that after his bows were blown off, so maybe he thought the same thing after the event!
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The damage on the Britanic was of a different nature, one big gash on the bow, but the water tight door between boiler room 6 and 5 did not shut properly, and portholes were left open to let the morning air in. Captain Bartlett decided to make a run for it to the shore of an island. It seemed like Britanic sank faster because of that. And of course, the launching of lifeboats while the ship was racing to shore was ridiculous. Britanic took on as much water in ten minutes as Titanic did in one hour.

Jim Currie

This question should be re titled "
"After the collision, why Titanic did not sail toward the ship seen on her port bow?"
Let's get this right and stop perpetuating a myth.

After Titanic came to a complete halt and never moved again, the ship seen from her bridge appeared almost right ahead and sailed toward her. At that time Californian was stopped. It follows that the ship showing the lights could not have been Californian.

Right then!

When Captain Smith arrived on his bridge, he did not know if his ship had sustained damage. However he knew there was a possibility that it had done so. He therefore did what every experienced captain would have done in such circumstances...ensured that his ship came to a complete standstill and then sent his Carpenter to sound all compartments in the areas where damage may have been sustained. He would not resume passage until he knew it was safe to do so. That was and still is standard practice by prudent captains. For him to have started up his engines and proceed without knowing the full situation would have been totally stupid.
We have evidence that he ordered an ahead movement after impact. However that does not mean that the ship actually moved ahead. That order was given 4.5 minutes after impact and 2 minutes after that, Titanic's engines fell silent for ever. That was a total of about 6.5 minutes after impact and at least 3.5 minutes before the Carpenter told Captain Smith that the ship was taking on a lot of water.
I'm not familiar with the specific details, but could it be possible that Smith actually tried to reach the Californian at some point?
Perhaps this explains the distance between Titanic's last known position and her final resting place?