Bridge Telegraphs

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Alex McLean

Hello once again (bet you're all getting sick of me ^_^ )
I would like to know what the seperate bridge telegraphs on Titanic/Olympic/Brit annic were like. I bring this up under the influence of James Cameron's movie, at about 1:30am.
What I would like to know is what each of the telegraphs were used for, and to just ask a few questions about their use in the movie (sorry if this is in the wrong section - too late)
It appears that the starboard telegraph controlled the port propeller (judging from the little sign on it saying 'Port Prop' or something), the centre one controlled the smaller centre prop and the port controling the starboard one.
First little annoyance here:
In the movie, Murdoch runs to the starboard side telegraph and puts that to 'Stop' 'Full Astern', runs past the centre one, then does the same on the port side one. The centre one is already on stop, even though he clearly runs past it, but in the scene where the props slow then turn the other way, the middle one slows too, but does not turn the other way.
Secondly, it appears that both the side ones need to be activated for messages to get through to the ... room... thing (really sorry, forget what it's called, once again, too late). What was done to make the wash that moved the New York away from Titanic so as the Captain of the Vulcan could attach the line?
I apologise for this post, but it is just something I have been meaning to ask for the last 15 minutes since I spotted it.

I'll be better tomorrow, sorry all.

Paul Rogers


There was a thread (started in November 2000) which discussed the arrangement of telegraphs on the bridge. The link to it is here.

Hope this helps.


Stefan Christiansson

Hi Alex,

If I recall correctly, the turbine engine was not designs to run in reverse. Therefor the middle propeller would only have stopped.
Please correct me anyone if I'm wrong.

I know that in the past there has been debate with regard to the navigating bridge telegraphs, and -- in particular -- whether they were 'double handled,' i.e. you were able to operate two of the main engines with one telegraph.

I'd be grateful if someone could outline briefly (I don't want to waste anyone's time) the current line of thinking. I've located some excellent resources to solve the problem, but current thinking would be good to compare.

Best regards,


Bill Sauder is preparing a description of the individual telegraphs to be published at some point in the future. He is the only active member of this forum who has personally examined the interior mechanisms in each of the telegraphs recovered from the wreck. Unfortunately, he's not here at the moment...he and his brother Eric left yesterday for a visit to the UK. Actually, you have a better chance of running into him now than I.

Based on what Bill has described to me and my own experience with similar controls, I can assure you that each of the outboard telegraphs, as well as the emergency telegraph in the centre of the bridge, were what you called, "double-handled." This is not speculation, this is fact. Bill has the definitive proof and will present it when he's ready.

Hi Parks,

Thanks for your post. I'm pleased to hear that Bill is doing something on the telegraphs -- anything he writes is worth it. Telegraphs are of interest to me, though I'm not doing anything on them for I do not have the time nor the expertise.

I'm also pleased that Bill's own data from your post has confirmed my own research with regard to the telegraphs being double-handled. My own data came from Olympic -- and it was from c. 1927 -- so there is some ground that needs to be covered to confirm that such an arrangement would be the same as Titanic's in 1912.

As you know, Olympic saw various changes to her bridge, instruments and navigating appliances. It seems that although some telegraphs might have been added, those original ones remained -- or at least identical ones! While I have definitive data on Olympic's arrangement in 1927, Bill's research seems to confirm that Titanic's was the same in 1912 -- at least with regard to 'double handles.'

Thanks again.

Best regards,

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