Chronology - Sinking of the Titanic

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Mar 22, 2003
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That attitude may have been widespread in those days. I have no difficulty understanding what he was saying. Rank and position had more weight in assigning credibility in those days. To a great extent it still does even today. But the point I was making is that that attitude causes one to loose some objectivity. It causes one to believe one person over another, not based on the evidence they give, but on factors that may not have any direct bearing on the issue at hand. The direction that Titanic was pointing in after she was stopped is another example that comes to mind.
 

Jim Currie

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I agree with you to a certain extent Sam - particularly if one is prone to thinking subjectively. However subjective thinking is sometimes the only way forward when presented with vague evidence given by a witness who is unclear as to how to describe what he or she is witnessing and who is obviously not an informed or expert witness. Alternatively when there seems to be a gap in continuity.
In these cases, the Questioner/ researcher has to go into subjective/interprative, mode and, if sufficiently knowledgeable, call up mental images based on previous observations of similar ,happenings.

The question of rank and therefore credibility in those days and as you say, even today is actually a much more complicated subject than it first seems to be.

In Victorian and Edwardian times - even up until the early 1960s, Rank - particularly in the high offices of Government the armed services and Industry of the UK was seldom earned by sheer ability but by accident of birth in the majority of cases. However, the Merchant Service was an entirely different kettle of fish. In that service, men from all walks of life could reach the top of the profession by sheer ability and determination. This is amply illustrated in the backgrounds of most of the officers who were principal players in the Titanic story.
It is because of this that the evidence given by the officers of all the ships involved was preferred to that of lesser ranks. Snobbery had nothing to do with it.
The questions asked of officers and other ranks were concerned in the main with matters of seamanship and ship operation. Without prejudice, I suggest there has to be a sliding scale of credibility between the answer to the same question given by a highly trained, experienced Master Mariner and that of an AB.
You should bear in mind, a UK Deck officer had also been trained as an AB but had gone way beyond that stage.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>In that service, men from all walks of life could reach the top of the profession by sheer ability and determination. <<

No argument there. Two books by Sir James Bisset (Retd. Commodore of the Cunard Line), "Sail Ho!" and "Tramps and Ladies," give the reader a very good feel for how it was to go up through the ranks from an Apprentice in 1898, to AB, and then 2nd Mate in merchant sailing vessels, and then up through the officer ranks in steam vessels after passing the BOT exam for 1st Mate in early 1905. He retired from Cunard in 1947.
 

Dag Bertelsen

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Everyone seems to accept that Titanic hit the iceberg at 23.40 and disappeared at 2.20. With linear time this will represent a time span of 2 hours and 40 minutes. However, a key question will be: Is there any change of clock included in this time span, yes or no? Does everyone agree on the answer?
 
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Dag --

There is much acrimonious disagreement over the methods used -- or not used -- for timekeeping in Titanic.

However, to my knowledge there is universal agreement that all ship's clocks remained unaltered between the moment of impact and when the taffrail disappeared beneath the Atlantic.

The debate centers on when the clocks would have been reset from time based on the ship's noon position of April 14 to one based on noon April 15. Somehow, 47 minutes had to be added to April 14 and those extra minutes had to be split equally between the Port and Starboard Watches of the crew.

Your question grows out of conventional wisdom which holds that the on-duty Starboard Watch would have worked until 2424 (24 minutes after "12") when the crew would have changed watches. At that moment, conventional wisdom holds the clocks would have been set to 2337 and the Port Watch then would have worked its extra 23 minutes until the next "12 o'clock" which would have been midnight marking the start of April 15.

Obviously, there was an emergency ongoing when the Port Watch came on deck in preparation of the midnight change of watch. Timekeeping was of secondary importance after that.

If the conventional wisdom is correct, then Titanic struck at 11:40 p.m. and sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later at 2:20 a.m. This assumes no setback of the clock was made.

Personally, I find the conventional version of timekeeping is full of inconsistencies. The biggest is that it does not match testimony of the crew. Universally, they said that impact came about 5 minutes prior to the warning bell that was to call out the Port Watch. That warning ring was scheduled for 11:45 p.m., or 15 minutes before the "midnight" change of watch. Check the testimonies of Symons, Moore, Bright, Hogg, and Clench.

If no adjustments had been made to the clocks, then the on-duty Starboard Watch would have gone off duty at "midnight." The Port Watch would have taken over with all 47 extra minutes in front of them before they started their full 4 hour watch. This is impossible according to testimonies of the crew. Both watches were to share more-or-less evenly in the extra time. Lookout Fleet was emphatic about this.

Because of this inconsistency, I believe that the crew clocks had been set back sometime prior to the accident. They had gone back 24 minutes so that the Starboard Watch could serve its extra time prior to the "midnight" change of watch. (Although it did not happen, the Port Watch would have reset the clocks to 11:37 p.m. and served its 23 extra minutes before starting its regular watch.)

If I'm correct, then we have to add the Starboard Watch's extra 24 minutes to the 11:40 p.m. time quoted for the accident. That puts the impact at 12:04 o'clock in April 14th time (2404 hrs).

But, the math isn't done. That 2:20 a.m. time for the sinking may not be correct. It may have been the time when the last lights went out. There is evidence in stopped pocket timepieces (Hartley and Partner) plus an eyewitness account (Robinson) that the darkened stern did not disappear until 2:23 a.m. some 3 minutes later.

If the stern floated 3 more minutes, then even the conventional wisdom duration between impact and sinking has to be corrected to 2 hours 43 minutes. Under my version, the duration is 2 hours 23 minutes. Either way, the ship sank too early for help to arrive.

Now, I believe there are several members of this board are so angry with me they're chewin' steel and spittin' rivets as they respond to this post. I graciously yield the floor...


-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Hello two 'Ds'! (Dag & David).

I can hear the worm can rattling already!

The answer to the problem should lie with the evidence given by the senior surviving officer - Lightoller who said the clocks were 1 hour 33 minutes ahead of New York time when Titanic struck the berg.

Although everyone ignores it, Lightholler at the US Senate Inquiry said:

"Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I believe he was on the 8 to 12 watch.

Senator SMITH.
That would take him two hours beyond your watch?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
More than two hours, considering what the clock went back.

Senator SMITH.
The clock went back some at that time?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.

Yes."

Why this evidence is ignored I know-not. However, Lightoller also said that ship time was 2 hours ahead of New York time at Noon on the 14th. If he wasn't lying about the clock set-back and why should he? then the bridge clocks were retarded 27 minutes at 10pm that night. The Passenger clocks would not be retarded before midnight.
There is a watch taken from the recovered body of passenger which shown a time of 7 minutes past three. This is probably the time it stopped - the time it was immersed in the sea. Obviously it's owner never put it back before retiring that night or it would have shown ship's time for the 15th of April.
Now if Lightoller was telling the truth and the bridge clocks were retarded by 27 minutes at 10pm that night; when Titanic hit the berg, a fully retarded clock would show 11-40pm, the bridge clocks would show 7 minutes after midnight and an unretarded clock would show 0053am on the 15th April.

There is another clue to the timing thing - the patent log reading; it was 260 miles from noon at time of impact. If impact was at midnight+ 7 minutes than Titanic had averaged just under 21.5 knots since Noon on the 14th. We know the log read 45 miles from 8 pm until 10pm 'old time' that night so the speed was definitely increased but there is a dispute as to what speed Titanic averaged between Noon and the time the speed was increased.
 
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