Binoculars


Georges Guay

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Which evidence Jim? Yours? Hitchens? The Commissionner? The Attorney-General? The inquiry had a prime goal; do everything possible to protect the British flag, her operator and owner. Lord Mersey has done the exact same in my home town during the Empress of Ireland inquiry; nobody knows what happened but the Norwegian were found entirely at blame. So I don’t really go by these said evidence. I use my own seaman sense from past ships handling experience & training and from data coming from Samuel Halpern studies & researches, which I do trust.

Jim there was a lag time between the wheel over and the rudder over. Nowadays, it takes a split quarter of a second to turn the wheel over but still takes 16 seconds for the rudder 35° over. At hard over instant, the vessel heels imperceptibly toward the apparent center of rotation (centripetal force) but keeps her heading. When that force is substitute by the centrifugal force, the vessel starts to heel away from the center of rotation and then, starts to swing very easily and accelerates until lateral pressures and forces equilibrates. We’re talking about a very stable and heavy machine.

As for the steam, the engine crew was not on destroyer missile attack standby mode. Titanic occurrence happened so rapidly that I would congratulate the engineer crew if they even had the time to start reducing the steam pressure. The center propeller was then fully operational while the berg was apparently seen passing by.

The Evidence !!! :oops:

Mr. HICHENS.

  • Just as she struck I had the order "Hard-a-starboard" when she struck.
  • The helm is hard-a-starboard. But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship's bottom.
  • Not immediately as she struck; the ship was swinging. We had the order, "Hard-a-starboard," and she just swung about two points when she struck.
  • Had you time to get the helm hard a starboard before she struck? No, she was crashing then.
  • Did you begin to get the helm over? Yes, the helm was barely over when she struck. The ship had swung about two points.
  • She had swung two points? Yes.
  • Before the vessel struck had you had time to get the wheel right over? The wheel was over then, hard over.
The Commissioner:

  • Let me see if I understand it.
  • Someone gave an order, "Hard-a-starboard"?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes.
  • The Commissioner: This was before she struck?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes.
  • The Commissioner: He put the wheel hard over?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes; and got it hard over.
  • The Commissioner: And got it hard over. The ship moved two points?
  • The Attorney-General: That is right.
  • The Commissioner: She did not move anymore, because, as I understand, the crash came?
 
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Mike Spooner

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If Titanic steering was that sharp on full lock why didn't they get any sensation on feel.
As in 2006 a modern cruise ship Crown Princess took a full lock by mistake with nearly 300 passengers and crew where thrown to one side with tables and chairs flying, and empty the swimming pools as well. Resulted in 94 required hospital treatment with broken bones, cuts and bruises.
The evening film show that day was to be the TITANIC! Surprises surprises the film was cancelled.
Now if we compare Titanic steering against the older ships like Lusitania and Mauretania, how do they compare to each other?
 

Seumas

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Not another god awful "I know why the Titanic really sank..." theory - this time involving faulty steering.

Isn't it funny how all the top experts missed this "revelation" in years gone by ?

Complete nonsense and it should be treated as such.
 

Georges Guay

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According to this graphic showing heel due to turning on a hard-a-starboard helm, Titanic would port heel less than 2° toward the center of rotation for about 3 seconds then, starboard heel to a maximum of 5.4° away from the center of rotation, to finally settling down to around 2° starboard list. The maximum rate of turn of 50° per minute would be reached 30 seconds after rudder over or about 40-46 seconds after wheel order.

We are far from a Jury rudder at deck edge immersion!
 

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Jim Currie

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Which evidence Jim? Yours? Hitchens? The Commissionner? The Attorney-General? The inquiry had a prime goal; do everything possible to protect the British flag, her operator and owner. Lord Mersey has done the exact same in my home town during the Empress of Ireland inquiry; nobody knows what happened but the Norwegian were found entirely at blame. So I don’t really go by these said evidence. I use my own seaman sense from past ships handling experience & training and from data coming from Samuel Halpern studies & researches, which I do trust.

Jim there was a lag time between the wheel over and the rudder over. Nowadays, it takes a split quarter of a second to turn the wheel over but still takes 16 seconds for the rudder 35° over. At hard over instant, the vessel heels imperceptibly toward the apparent center of rotation (centripetal force) but keeps her heading. When that force is substitute by the centrifugal force, the vessel starts to heel away from the center of rotation and then, starts to swing very easily and accelerates until lateral pressures and forces equilibrates. We’re talking about a very stable and heavy machine.

As for the steam, the engine crew was not on destroyer missile attack standby mode. Titanic occurrence happened so rapidly that I would congratulate the engineer crew if they even had the time to start reducing the steam pressure. The center propeller was then fully operational while the berg was apparently seen passing by.

The Evidence !!! :oops:

Mr. HICHENS.

  • Just as she struck I had the order "Hard-a-starboard" when she struck.
  • The helm is hard-a-starboard. But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship's bottom.
  • Not immediately as she struck; the ship was swinging. We had the order, "Hard-a-starboard," and she just swung about two points when she struck.
  • Had you time to get the helm hard a starboard before she struck? No, she was crashing then.
  • Did you begin to get the helm over? Yes, the helm was barely over when she struck. The ship had swung about two points.
  • She had swung two points? Yes.
  • Before the vessel struck had you had time to get the wheel right over? The wheel was over then, hard over.
The Commissioner:

  • Let me see if I understand it.
  • Someone gave an order, "Hard-a-starboard"?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes.
  • The Commissioner: This was before she struck?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes.
  • The Commissioner: He put the wheel hard over?
  • The Attorney-General: Yes; and got it hard over.
  • The Commissioner: And got it hard over. The ship moved two points?
  • The Attorney-General: That is right.
  • The Commissioner: She did not move anymore, because, as I understand, the crash came?
Seamus is spot on. This has very little if anything to do with binoculars. However, never having been one to avoid a challenge, I will make this last observation, Georges. Then it's up to you.

I'm sure that Julian (The Legal-Eagle Member) will tell you. that supporting evidence in the form of corroboration, although not essential, is, in this case, extremely helpful when making a judgement or conclusion.
Corroboration is evidence which confirms or supports a statement, theory, or finding; However, we, as contributors to this site, can only provided second hand corroborating evidence. To make a meaningful judgement,we need the first hand variety. Is there any such evidence? Damn-right there is. Did it corroborate the evidence of QM Hichens relative to the sequence of events? It sure does. Careful reading of the evidence given by the following witnesses provides it.

Leading Fireman Barratt
Fireman Beauchamp,
Trimmer Dillon
Greaser Scott..
4th Officer Boxhall.
QM Olliver.

You will discover that the evidence of these men confirms that there was a rapid sequence of helm order, impact, stop order, closing of the water tight doors and length of time berg was in contact with the sip's side.

Unless there is clear evidence that the helm and engine orders were events separated by measurable time, then you have to accept that the evidence of QM Hichens regarding the length of time between initiating the helm order and impact was a matter of seconds.

The evidence very clearly points to them being practically on top of that iceberg before avoiding action was taken. Which brings us back to binoculars.. Obviously had there been any in the nest, they would have been as much use as a chocolate fire -guard since even Murdoch, who most certainly would have been using them, did not see the berg before those in the nest did - and you can be sure he would have been sweeping the horizon ahead of the ship at regular intervals.
 

Mike Spooner

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It seem rather strange that Murdoch with a pair of binocular standing behind a windscreen didn't see the iceberg before the lookout men. Was he caught short on the call of nature he had to deal with first!
 

Jim Currie

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No Mike, as I told you... they were right on top of the thing. A bridge Officer was not allowed to leave the bridge for a call of nature. If desperate, he would make an officer with his "Acme Thunderer" and get himself a competent relief. (As well as a blessed one;) ).
 
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Mike Spooner

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Jim I just cannot believe Murdoch didn't see the iceberg before the lookout men did. So we have now eliminated the nature of call.
Jim with yours years experience at sea, can you give me some example that might distract you when in charge of the ship. I wont hold you at for the the gospel true over this. But just a point view, for one to think about?
Examples: Are you allow to smoke, can binocular mist up, looking the wrong way or possible a medical problem?
 

Mark Baber

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Mike, as has been explained several times, binoculars are used to identify items spotted with the naked eye, which has a wider range. Furthermore, it was not Murdoch's responsibility to keep a lookout; that was Fleet and Lee's job. Guessing at what Murdoch might have been distracted by is a red herring.
 
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Georges Guay

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WSL was just money too tight to provide the lookouts with binoculars.

Testimony of Arthur H. Rostron (Carpethia)

25436. Do you find that you pick them up (icebergs) better with the naked eye than with binoculars?
- It all depends. Sometimes yes, at other times not; it depends.

If there was any single chance that an object could be seen sooner by the use of glasses, especially when approaching a known ice field, the neglect to not provide or not using glasses constituted a bad look-out. Neglect to comply with the Regulations render the shipowner liable for damages and if death ensues, render the person in charge liable for manslaughter. 1912 Rules of The Road.

The lookout achieved by the OOW was assisted by the look-out man. An Officer is more on the qui vive; he is keener on his work than a lookout man would be, and he knows what to look for. He is more intelligent than a sailor. About 75 percent, of the objects that are seen at sea every day or night are picked up from the bridge first. Naturally the Officer will take more interest in these things than a look-out man. I always trust to the bridge preferably to the men. Etc.

25431. Who was it saw it (iceberg) first, do you know?
- Yes, I saw it first.

25432. Before the look-out men?
- Yes, we saw all the icebergs first from the bridge.

25434. And each time, if I follow you, that an iceberg was seen, you picked it up first on your bridge?
- Either one of my Officers or myself, before the look-outs.

25435. Did you pick it up by sight, or by naked eye, or with binoculars?
- At first with the naked eye.

25436. Do you find that you pick them up better with the naked eye than with binoculars?
- It all depends. Sometimes yes, at other times not; it depends.

25437. How was it neither of the look-out men saw it or reported it to you? Why did not they see it before you?
- Well, of course, they had all had warning about keeping a look-out for growlers and icebergs, previous to going on the look-out, and on the look-out also. You must understand, unless you know what you are looking for, if you see some very dim indistinct shape of some kind, anyone could take that as nothing at all - merely some shadow upon the water, or something of that kind; but people with experience of ice know what to look for, and can at once distinguish that it is a separate object on the water, and it must be only one thing, and that is ice.

25438. So that what it really comes to is this, if I follow you correctly, that it requires a man with some knowledge of icebergs, some experience of picking them up before he can detect them at night?
- Precisely.

25444. Does it mean that on your bridge you and your Officers were quicker in detecting them than any of the men on the look-out?
- Well, about 75 percent, of the objects that are seen at sea every day or night are picked up from the bridge first. Naturally the Officer will take more interest in these things than a look-out man. I always trust to the bridge preferably to the men.

25445. That is the point I had in my mind. I do not see any advantage in putting men in the eyes of the ship if you can pick up things from the bridge before them?
- It does not necessarily say we shall pick them up quicker from the bridge, but naturally an Officer is more on the qui vive; he is keener on his work than a man would be, and he knows what to look for. He is more intelligent than a sailor.

25447. He relies upon his eyesight, assisted by the look-out?
- Yes, that is the position; we are assisted by the look-outs.
 

Scott Mills

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Seamus is spot on. This has very little if anything to do with binoculars. However, never having been one to avoid a challenge, I will make this last observation, Georges. Then it's up to you.

I'm sure that Julian (The Legal-Eagle Member) will tell you. that supporting evidence in the form of corroboration, although not essential, is, in this case, extremely helpful when making a judgement or conclusion.
Corroboration is evidence which confirms or supports a statement, theory, or finding; However, we, as contributors to this site, can only provided second hand corroborating evidence. To make a meaningful judgement,we need the first hand variety. Is there any such evidence? Damn-right there is. Did it corroborate the evidence of QM Hichens relative to the sequence of events? It sure does. Careful reading of the evidence given by the following witnesses provides it.

Leading Fireman Barratt
Fireman Beauchamp,
Trimmer Dillon
Greaser Scott..
4th Officer Boxhall.
QM Olliver.

You will discover that the evidence of these men confirms that there was a rapid sequence of helm order, impact, stop order, closing of the water tight doors and length of time berg was in contact with the sip's side.

Unless there is clear evidence that the helm and engine orders were events separated by measurable time, then you have to accept that the evidence of QM Hichens regarding the length of time between initiating the helm order and impact was a matter of seconds.

The evidence very clearly points to them being practically on top of that iceberg before avoiding action was taken. Which brings us back to binoculars.. Obviously had there been any in the nest, they would have been as much use as a chocolate fire -guard since even Murdoch, who most certainly would have been using them, did not see the berg before those in the nest did - and you can be sure he would have been sweeping the horizon ahead of the ship at regular intervals.

Correct; however, by both Beachamp and Barratt's testimony, the orders to 'shut the dampers' came almost immediately preceding the collision, and shutting the dampers requires time.

On top of the testimony from these two gentlemen, with the time frame we are talking about here, the dampers were shut (and steam pressure began bleeding away), seems to have occurred almost simultaneously with the collision itself; meaning, I think, I do not think it is outside the bounds of the possible to make an assumption that perhaps the center propeller had no appreciable slowing, and as a consequence no appreciable affect on Titanic's turning, in the the lead up to the collision.

Edit

Thankfully we are all on the same page here at this point and agree that the 'full astern order' did not actually occur.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Mike, as has been explained several times, binoculars are used to identify items spotted with the naked eye, which has a wider range. Furthermore, it was not Murdoch's responsibility to keep a lookout; that was Fleet and Lee's job. Guessing at what Murdoch might have been distracted by is a red herring.

Mark sorry for my rather late reply. Unfortunately for me I have very sick wife who consume quite a bit of my time at present. Probably have to drop out for now.
Now if one looks at a thread from David G Brown 19/07/2016. He has lookup the IMM/WSL Rules and Regulation book 07/07/1907.
Officer of the Watch.
Rule 251: Station Officer on watch is on the bridge, Which he must on no account leave, either night or day, without being relived.
Rule 252: Duties he must remember that his first duty is to keep a good lookout and avoid running into danger. Also must no account neglect his lookout to do so.
That tell me he is sharing the same reasonability as the lookout men.
Still begs the question why Murdoch didn't see the berg before lookout men and never reported the haze to the captain immediately.
However seeing that book mention IMM/WSL Rules and Regulation 07/07/1907.
Is there some where can one read what all the rules where. and I guest all Officers must know of by heart.
 
Jan 28, 2020
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Hi, a new member here:

I didn't see it mentioned, but something about binoculars and optics before late 1940s often not remembered any longer: nearly all optical devices had uncoated lenses. This applied even to high end camera lenses, binoculars and rifle telescopic sights. Ways of coating lenses did exist, but they were prohibitevly expensive even for "professional" optics. Only optics with lens coatings were expensive static or mounted devices like naval rangefinders and large astronomical telescopes.

This is relevant to Titanic, since uncoated optics are really quite bad for low light use and detection in particular. They have very poor contrast by modern standards and the uncoated lens surfaces reflect a lot of light, making darkness even darker. Even ignoring their limited field of view, using binoculars for detecting anything in low light conditions would have been counterproductive.
 
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Seumas

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The whole debate about the binoculars has kicked off again on another thread. Arun and I both agreed in a PM that it was more constructive to move that discussion here.

I lean towards the notion that binoculars were of no use to Fleet and Lee.

Arun believes they would have provided some advantage to them.

So what was it ?
 
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Jim Currie

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The whole debate about the binoculars has kicked off again on another thread. Arun and I both agreed in a PM that it was more constructive to move that discussion here.

I lean towards the notion that binoculars were of no use to Fleet and Lee.

Arun believes they would have provided some advantage to them.

So what was it ?
Binoculars are only necessary to verify the identity of something, not to detect it. A Lookout's job is simply to detect and report.
The only indication of the presence of an iceberg at night is the sea and swell breaking on it and the inevitable phosphorescence generated. Such conditions were not present that night, so even good binoculars were of no use. However, when the three bell warning was given, Murdoch would have raised his binoculars and scanned the horizon ahead to try and define what he was being told about by the lookouts. He would know that their height above sea level would enable them to see a light before he did, never-the- less, just in case he had missed seeing a light, it would have been an automatic reaction The evidence tells us that he immediately saw the iceberg.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Arun believes they would have provided some advantage to them.

So what was it ?
I confess that what I have to say is hypothetical as far as the Titanic situation is specifically concerned. It is also based on an experiment that I did myself in May 2015 which I will describe below. I know that it is nowhere near conclusive but despite what master mariners of the past (Rostron et al) said or the current expert opinion, this is one area where I remain unconvinced.

Like most people, I also firmly believe that BOTH lookouts (speaking in 1912 terms) should and would keep scanning the sea and horizon in front of them with their naked eyes only. But I also believe that a pair of high quality binoculars should be available as a back-up in the crows nest. As Jim and others have said, these should only be used to identify something that one or both lookouts had already seen in the horizon with naked eyes. In doing so, it is possible that in some cases the lookout would be able to identify (which is different from spotting it in the first place) the object in the horizon earlier than he would have done with naked eyes and if necessary, take action. I believe that this situation might have arisen in the crow's nest of the Titanic on the night of Sunday 14th April 1912.

In various Titanic works and even here in another thread, there has been mention of a 'haze' that Fleet saw in the horizon a short, unspecified time before he realized that there was a solid object in front of the ship and directly in its path. Elsewhere what Fleet saw has been described as 'something' that was obscuring his view of the horizon over a small area directly ahead. On a clear, starlit night as it was then, IMO that 'something' could only have been Fleet's very first sighting of the iceberg.

The next point, which AFAIK has not been specifically discussed before, is how much time elapsed before Fleet first saw that 'haze' or 'something' or whatever and identified it as a solid object directly in the ship's path. It was only after Fleet made that identification that he rang the 3 bells which in turn alerted Murdoch and................. we all know the following sequence of events. If, for example, Fleet had seen that 'haze' some 30 seconds before he was able to identify it with naked eyes as a solid object and ring the bell, the question could be could that identification (and so the warning bells) happened earlier if he had binoculars? Since Fleet knew exactly where he had seen the haze with his naked eyes, I calculated that it would have taken him no more than 15 seconds to grab the binoculars, raise it to his eyes, look at that spot and identify the 'something' as a solid object in front and in the ship's path. If that was the case, he might have rung the bells about 15 seconds before he actually did, but then again, it takes other calculations and debate as to whether those 15 seconds would have made the vital difference in case of the Titanic. I don't know the answer except to say that it might have done; but either way, it left me with the impression that a pair of binoculars in the crow's nest was not as useless as some made out at the time and if properly used as back-up, can make a vital difference in some cases (even if not specifically in case of the Titanic). That has been my impression since 1985 when I became a real Titanic enthusiast despite polarized arguments about the subject.

Between 2006 and 2017 I was an avid scuba diver and went on 23 liveaboard sea cruises, each 7 to 11 days long. I always took a pair of binoculars with me and tired to determine what the sea ahead and horizon looked like at daytime and night from the sundeck, the highest point on such a yacht. The best opportunity arose in May 2015 when I went on a diving cruise to the Revillagigedo Islands in the Pacific Ocean on board the Rocio del Mar. Since the itineraries of such trips are described in detail beforehand, I had checked the routes in diving forums with others who'd been there before and planned an 'experiment' carefully.

On arrival at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the evening before the trip, I contacted the Manager, explained my request and was put in touch with the Mexican Captain. You have to understand that the overall atmosphere on such small yachts is very informal and the Captain in most cases is very approachable and friendly. My request was relatively simple and not in any way intrusive to anyone else and so both the Captain and the senior dive guide agreed to co-operate. We had a 22 hour trip to get to the first of the islands which helped me to practice what I wanted to do.

After the third day of the trip there was an overnight journey from San Benedicto island to Roca Partida, almost directly due westward. Roca Partida is a small rocky outcrop in the Pacific Ocean, about 100 metres long, 10 metres wide and a summit about 30 metres (almost 100 feet) high but with some excellent pelagic diving around it. We were expected to arrive there at around 04:30 am in the morning and since the Captain and crew had done that exact same route more than 50 times before, they knew when they would be approaching the rock.

As arranged, I was ready on the sun deck - about 30 feet above the sea level and directly above the bridge - by 4 am with the dive guide next to me and with my Bresser 7x50 multicoated binoculars. I was looking at the horizon with my naked eyes when the guide, using my binoculars, alerted me that he could see Roca Partida in the horizon. I took the binoculars from him but continued to scan with naked eyes till I was sure that I could see a distant obscuring of the horizon in the dark - that's all. It was only then that I raised the binoculars to my eyes and although the sea was not quite 'glass like' was able to visualize the rock right away. I put the binoculars down and continued to look at that spot but it took me almost a further minute before I could identify the rock with naked eyes. I was later informed that we were just over half a mile away from Roca Partida when it was first seen by the guide.

I know that this does not prove anything, especially as my multi-coated binoculars were significantly more advanced than anything available 103 years earlier, but I thought it gave me some idea.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I put the binoculars down and continued to look at that spot but it took me almost a further minute before I could identify the rock with naked eyes.
I wanted to add that in May 2015 I was in my 60th year and was not a trained lookout. A younger, well trained man might have seen the rock with naked eyes in about half the time that it took me that night. That is what led me to think about my "30 second hypothesis" for Fleet.