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Boxhall's reworking of the CQD position

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Paul Lee, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. Paul Lee

    Paul Lee Member

    Hi all,
    I'm hoping that someone can help me! I recall reading in one Titanic book that, at the British Enquiry, Boxhall said that he worked out the CQD position (41 44 50 24), started firing rockets and then reworked the position to the now famous 41,46/50,14. I have read the transcripts on the Titanic Enquiry project webpage but I can't find any mention of this. Did it happen?

    Best wishes

  2. Jamie Bryant

    Jamie Bryant Member

    I doubt it did happen as they had already sent numerous CQD messages giving their original position, and the fact that he had hours to live. Although, like Wilde, not many know about Boxhall's movements on the ship that night until about 2:00am, so there is a possibility, at which time it would have been pointless.
  3. Paul Lee

    Paul Lee Member

    Well, when the CQD position was sent out, it said 41/44, 50/24...about ten minutes later it changed. Maybe a slip of the wireless operator's hand, but then again I am sure that Boxhall said that he reworked it....
  4. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller Moderator Member

    Hi Paul,

    According to my copy of the book "Report On The Loss Of The S.S. Titanic" from the British Enquiry, this is what occurred:

    At approximately 12:15 am..."Mount Temple" heard Titanic sending C.Q.D. Says require assistance. Gives position. Cannot hear me. Advise my Captain his position 41.46 N. 50.24 W.

    At approximately 12:15 am...Cape Race hears "Titanic" giving position on C.Q.D. 41.44 N. 50.24 W.

    At about 12:18 am..."Ypiranga" hears C.Q.D. from "Titanic". "Titanic" gives C.Q.D. here. Position 41.44 N., 50.24 W. Require assistance (calls about 10 times).

    At approximately 12:25 am...C.Q.D. call received from "Titanic" by "Carpathia." "Titanic" said "Come at once. We have struck a berg. It's a C.Q.D. O.M. Position 41.46.N. 50.14 W."

    At about the same time Cape Race hears M.G.Y. ("Titanic") give corrected position 41.46 N. 50.14 W. Calling him, no answer.

    At approximately 12:26 am...M.G.Y. ("Titanic") says C.Q.D. Here corrected position 41.46 N., 50.14 W. Require immediate assistance. We have collision with iceberg. Sinking. Can nothing hear (?) for noise of steam. Sent about 15 to 20 times to "Ypiranga."

    I'm also unable to locate in his testimony where he says he changed the position, but I recall reading it as well.

    I hope this helps.

    Best regards,

    Jason happy.gif
  5. There is a story told by not just the two CQD positions, but also the location of the wreck.

    Boxhall apparently worked out the second position. Nobody has been given credit for the first, but only Captain Smith could have done it. Boxhall was off the bridge and Smith had been doing some sort of navigation just prior to the accident.

    The second position is almost exactly 20 minutes of steaming at 22 knots east of the first. And, it is 2 miles north of the first. Both differences have independent significances.

    Twenty minutes is pretty close to the difference between 11:40 p.m. and midnight. It would appear that somebody thought the first CQD coordinates were not for the ship's 11:40 location, but for the projected midnight position. By retracting the longitude this "error" would have been corrected.

    The 2 miles of northing are a different story. Here we have proof of a sort that Titanic did steam north after the accident. Given the fact that Boxhall was running around the bow, he probably did not have access to the ship's exact speed nor the time it steamed afterward. So, he would have had to form an educated guess. My supposition is that he took 12 minutes of steaming (12 = 2/10ths of an hour) at a speed of 10 knots (a bit more than bare steerageway). By simple multiplication, he got 2 miles of distance: 0.2 x 10 = 2.

    The story told by the difference between the first CQD position and the location of the wreck is more complicated. It hides the reason why an iceberg got in front of Titanic in the first place. That's part of the manuscript which I am trying to sell to a publisher, so I have to keep "mum" on this subject.

    -- David G. Brown
    Michael H. Standart likes this.
  6. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller Moderator Member

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your post. That's interesting that Captain Smith worked out the first position.

    All the best on your manuscript!

    Best regards,

    Jason happy.gif
  7. Jason - I didn't say for certain that Captain Smith worked out the first CQD position. I just said that nobody else appears to have been able to have done the work and taken it to the wireless office. And, Smith was doing navigation that night per Boxhall's testimony. I think it is a reasonable assumption to say that Smith did the first coordinates, but it is not proven.

    -- David G. Brown
  8. Jason D. Tiller

    Jason D. Tiller Moderator Member


    I realize that it's not for sure if Captain Smith drew up the first CQD position. What I meant was, it's an interesting possibility and may very well have occurred.

    Sorry for the confusion, I should have explained myself better.

    Best regards,

    Jason happy.gif
  9. Let me know when you sell it. I'd be interested in a copy.

    Now that aside, I think it helps to know that they worked out positions the hard way: By the use of astronomical data, sextant, chronometers and sliderules at a time when there were no agreed upon time zones as well as Deduced (Ded) Reckoning based on positions established with a local apparent noon as the baseline.

    Tables and skull sweat in other words. The wonder is not that they were sometimes far off the mark, but that they actually managed pretty damned well at a time when there was no such animal as GPS.
  10. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    withdrew last post...double entry. will repost later.
  11. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    There are a number of questions which need to be resolved before we can sensibly approach this subject. Either that, or we can degenerate back to the status quo of speculating. Here are the first 2 of a series of such question and answers which I will post on this thread. All sensible alternatives are welcome.

    Q1: How far was Titanic from the turning point of The Corner at Noon, April 14, 1912?

    A1: The Calculated distance to run from Daunt Rock departure to The Corner is exactly 1673 nautical miles. The distance is made-up of 55 miles from Daunt Rock to 1 mile south of the Fastnet Rock, then 1618 nautical miles on a Great Circle course to The Corner.
    According to 3rd Officer Pitman, Titanic had covered a total of 1549 miles since FaoP...Full away on Passage...at Daunt. That left 124 miles, not 126 miles left to run at Noon, April 14.

    Q2: Captain Smith determined the time of 5-50 pm as when to turn the ship. To do so, he would need to assume an average speed over that time. So what speed was used between Noon and the turning point?
    A2: Titanic averaged 22.1 knots between Noon, April 13 and Noon April 15. However, unless exactly the same conditions expected after Noon as before it, Captain Smith would revert to a speed indicated by propeller revolutions per minutes... in this case 21.5 knots at RPM of 75. At that time, they had yet to calculate Slip Tables for Titanic.

    Like Captain Moore of the Mount Temple and Titanic's 4th officer Boxhall, Captain Smith would expect to meet an easterly setting current of about 0.5 knots near The Corner. Not immediately after Noon but certainly between 3 pm and the time of the turn. It is inconceivable that Smith, like any other experienced Navigator familiar with that part of the ocean would not make allowances for such an event. Consequently, I suggest this is how Smith worked his ETA The Corner.
    A...Noon to 3 pm at 21.5 knots...64.5 miles.
    B...3 pm to 6 pm at 21.0 knots... 63.0 miles
    Distance steamed by 6 pm........127.5 miles (6 hours steaming)
    Subtract distance to go............... 124.0 miles. (from Noon)
    Difference.........................................3.5 miles.
    3.5 miles at 21 knots = 10 minutes...!0 minutes from 6 pm = 5-50pm.(5 hours 50 minutes steaming from Noon).

  12. Michael, that was posted 15 years ago. :oops:
  13. What do you think you're doing? It all speculation.
  14. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Well then, I tell you what, Sam. Why don't you - instead of adopting the automatic negative - do as I have done - ask yourself the very simple question: "Why did Smith order a turn at 5-50 pm".
    I don't have to speculate.
  15. Because that is when Smith expected to be at the Corner. No big deal. A more interesting question is why did Pitman say he expected the ship to be at the Corner at around 5-00pm? And why did Boxhall say that he told Wilde that if they wanted to turn at the Corner then the course should be altered a considerable time before the time that Smith had set?
  16. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Cut the avoiding tactics, Sam.
    Smith ordered a turn at a certain time and he based that order on knowledge. The ship turned at that time. Forget about Pitman and Boxhall for the moment, concentrate on building a picture based on happenings.
  17. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Next questions:

    Q3: What course did CaptainSmith set Titanic on from Noon to the turning point at The Corner?
    A3: 240.5 True.
    Q4: The calculated final course to The Corner turning point on the last bit of the Great Circle Track being followed by Titanic is 236.5 True, so why did Smith set a course 4 degrees to the left of that...240.5 True?
    : Because at Noon April 14, when the exact position was found by observation of the Sun, Titanic must have been at a position 5.5 miles South East of where she should have been at that time. Smith would then have calculated the true course to point Titanic directly at The Corner.
    Q5: What chance was there that Titanic would follow the new course exactly and arrive exactly at the position of The Corner.?
    A5: About as much chance as a snowball on a fire-guard.

    So far I have not speculated for a second. For those of you who prefer pictures, here is a rough idea of what I am getting at.
    Noon to the Corner.jpg
  18. I guess you don't want to say or speculate why two of T's officers swore that the ship should have been at the Corner well before the time that was set. Boxhall's exact words were: "Yes, I saw it and I remarked to the Chief Officer between 4 o’clock and 6 o’clock that I considered the course ought to have been altered some considerable time before 5.50 - that is, if it was meant to be altered at the corner, 42 N., 47 W."
  19. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I was always under the impression that a ship's position is only as good as it's last fix? All the discussion of the timing and location of the turn to the final course seems a bit 'smoke and mirrors' to me.

    What I find strange is that 2 highly experienced navigators couldn't work out the ships position after 4 hours (give or take) in a straight line from a known good fix. Conditions that night were pretty much perfect for taking fixes and for keeping on track. Clear skies, flat seas and light airs. The QM could hold the ship on course with the tips of his fingers.

    Boxhall worked up the fix taken at around 19:30. All he needed to know was the speed of his ship and the course to know where they were at 23:40.

    That's 4 hours and 10 minutes at, between 21 and 22 knots.

    Captain Smith's position was about 20% too far and Boxhall's about 10%. Ships don't end up 20 and 13 miles from a known good fix in 4 hours unless someone screwed the maths.
    Mike Spooner likes this.
  20. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Is it possible that the Titanic was fighting against the current and both Smith and Boxhall did not realize the current was stalling their progress, and as a consequence they both plotted their ship's position further west?

    Similar to this video. Fighting the current.