Coming alongside or getting underway?

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The attached image is familiar, and seems usually to be captioned as depicting Titanic departing on her first and final voyage from Southampton. It is sometimes speculated that the gent seated on a block in the immediate foreground is White Star's Marine Superintendent, Captain Steel.

As a former ship's officer who has brought large ships alongside and gotten underway from piers it seems to me more plausible to see this as showing the ship coming alongside rather than getting underway. I note the following:

1. The marvelous tug to Titanic's starboard, in way of the bridge, is neither rigged nor positioned for pulling the liner away from the pier. Instead, she appears to be pushing Titanic into the pier.

2. When casting off you normally would have no reason to keep a messenger line such as that between Titanic's bow and the pier. It looks a lot more as if it's being brought in (following a heaving line) to permit the working crew on the forecastle to heave in the mooring line when they get a bit closer.

3. The lollygaggers on the pier look a lot more like line-handlers in waiting than well-wishers seeing off their friends and family. Most are wearing caps (indicating that they're working men) and the gents all seem to be wearing bowlers (suggesting that they're foremen rather than a random assortment of gentlemen, some of whom would be wearing homburgs in 1912, like the elegantly-dressed fellow in the immediate foreground). One of them has a megaphone and clearly must be expecting to shout orders.

4. If that is Capt. Steel, he'd have more reason to be seeing the ship in than seeing her off, since accidents are much more likely when coming alongside.

Any comments about my speculations? Any arguments that she really is getting underway, not coming alongside?

(I note that the fendering on the pier looks awfully skimpy. I shouldn't want to take a ship that size alongside with so little fendering.)

Titanic_in_Southampton.jpg
 
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That photograph was taken on April 10th when she left. Your analysis of the photo is sadly partly wrong. The two tugs visible are looking that the bow (which was towered by another tug) did not swing too much out to starboard. The ship had to made a turn at the end of pier 43 and turned into the river lagan.
 
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On closer examination I can see what is evidently a wire rope under strain leading to starboard from the bullnose, no doubt being hauled by a tug. Moreover, there are people who appear to be passengers standing on the upper promenade (02) deck, viewing the proceedings.

I still wonder where the well-wishers are, and what that messenger line is for.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello all. Here's a few points.

1. That is not a messenger but a 5 inch manila mooring rope running from the bow.
2. The wind is blowing onto the quay so the tugs were needed to keep her from contacting too hard.
3. The aft accommodation doors are still open.
4. That's not a fender but a floating work platform of sorts
5. The two tugs are belching black smoke across Titanic's decks.. a no-no when embarking passengers
6. The quay-side is not a regular passenger ship berth - too much clutter.
7. There is a large rail mounted mobile crane.. you can see the rails running under the legs of the man seated on the timber keel or dydock block. That crane has a very large radius and looks like the one mounted on the finger between the drydock and the outside river berth.
8. All people on the dockside seem to be men; one seems to be wearing a bowler-hat.. a manager or Foreman?
9. Titanic is not flying a Pilot Flag.
10. There seems to be a large Towns Gas storage gasometer at the dock-end astern of the large vessel. Is this the fitting-out berth on the river side from the drydock? Has Titanic just been warped out of the drydock and brought round to either complete the fit-out or embark the sea trials people? Vessels normally lay port side to at the final fit out stage.

My best guess is that the vessel is berthing and the aft doors are open ready to embark the crowd of workers seen waiting on the dock opposite said doors.

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

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Another point gentlemen. If the vessel in the photograph was leaving that berth, is it likely that her port side would be parallel to it? Anyone who has ever taken a ship out from a berth without thrusters and a bow and stern tug knows that it is almost impossible to keep her parallel to the quay so far off. Additionally, the wind is blowing onto the quay.. by the smoke, it seems to have been a fresh breeze. In that case, Titanic would have lain beam onto it and only the weight of a bow tug would be needed to keep her parallel to the quay, Oh! And think current.


Additionally: if that bow line is the last one and the tug was pulling the bow off.. why is it slack and who was standing by to let go at the pilot's command?

The structure seen in the background might well be the Belfast Gas Works gasometer which could easily be seen from Harlands ad was west of the yard. Perhaps this was them re-berthing Titanic after the aborted sea trials or her returning at about 6pm in the evening after her sea trials?

Jim C.
 
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Sorry to say but you both are wrong again. This photograph is one of 3 others from about that point showing Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10th. Belfast did not have any such docks and there was no re-berthing after the sea trials. She normaly docked in Belfast and left some hours later arriving in Southampton shortly after midnight on April 4th and placed on dock 44. The Ocean docks were not finished in April 1912 and there was still working going on.
 

Jim Currie

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Ioannis. I think the vessel in the photograph is Olympic, not Titanic and I'm positive she is in the process of berthing,not leaving.
However you're partly right. The photograh was take off the new Ocean Dock at Southampton which was completed the year Olympic made her first trip from Belfast. Perhaps that explains the workmens' hut and the baulks of timber on the quay side and the lack of well dressed well-wishers?

There is absolutely no doubt that these tugs are not pulling that ship off the berth. If it were the case, the bow line being last, the bow tug would already have been made fast and ready to tow frm her stern position not from her bow. Besides, the funnel livery on these two vessels is plain unmarked while the tugs assisting Titanic belonged to the Red Funnel Line. Six tugs asisted Titanic on April 10. Here is a quote from an article written by John P. Eaton in the Titanic International Society in 2005.

" But it is the six vessels from its fleet we now consider-six tugs which assisted Titanic when she departed Southampton on her maiden voyage 10 April 1912, two of which helped the departing liner avert an emergency that might have well caused cancellation of the sailing date and the start of her maiden voyage.
Wednesday, 10 April 1912, 12:15 p.m.
Albert Edward, Hercules, Vulcan, Ajax, Hector, Neptune

Southampton, Isle of Wight and South of England Royal Mail Steam Packet Limited Company (Red Funnel Line)

■Port of Registry: Southampton
■Flag of Registry: British
■Funnel: Red with black top
■Company flag: Divided by crossed lines into four equal triangles: Blue at hoist, white top, green at fly, red at bottom"


I think the vessel in the second picture is that of Olympic arriving at Southampton. Here is a picture of her leaving the same berth.

Ocanic leavinf dock 1911.jpg
I am not the only one who believes that we have been looking at a picture of Olympic. This from the web site of Joe Combs...

10.jpg

Note he missing plating between 'B' and 'A' deck. The vessel in the picture posted by William O' Neil is exactly the same one.


For your information; when leaving such a berth, with the assistance of tugs, the procedure would be as follows:

First the pilot would be on board and the 'H' flag hoisted on the triatic stay from the bridge. Then, taking into consideration the state of tide and the wind, the tugs would be made fast from their sterns to Titanic -one forward, one aft. Before this was done, all hull apertures, gangway doors etc above the waterline would be closed watertight.
Then the engines would be put on standby. The next operation would be to 'single-up' fore and aft. i.e. moorings would be reduced to a bow line, stern line and two springs. Next thing would be to let go the springs. when these were recovered and since the wind was onto the berth, the tugs would be instructed to take the weight and pull her off the berth. At the same time, the officers in charge at bow and stern would be ordered to slack off the remaining bow and stern lines together. The ship would begin to come off th berth. At this moment there would be two mooring handlers stationed on the quay at each mooring rope, ready to throw it off on order. When the pilot was atisfied that the vessel was well clear of the berth and that the stern was clear, he would order dead slow ahead together.

These photograph do not illustrate such a manoeuvre.

Another inconsitency: where are the SS New York ad the Oceanic? According to Lawrence Beasley, the New York was berthed ahead of the Titanic at the same berth. In our Picture, there is no sign of anothe ship ahead or astern of the one we see.

Jim C.

titanic-maiden-voyage-2-150x150.jpg


10.jpg


Ocanic leavinf dock 1911.jpg
 
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Actually Joe Combs 2nd has not really any idea what he is talking about. I know his website and his claims which are mainly wrong.

The ship is NOT Olympic it is Titanic. You can for example see how the bridge wings are going over A Deck, something only Titanic had (on Olympic this was chanced during the refit in 1912/13). If you look closely you will see the enclosed forward A Deck promenade. Also the fans in front of the 1st funnel show the configuration of Titanic (Olympic was looking different).

None of the tugs in Southampton had a black top, as it is visible on other photographs.

And to make it short, Oceanic and New York were docked at pier 38 and 39 alongside the river Test. That Titanic was pulled away from that dock in that way has a good reason it was mainly missing space. As you and others seemed not to know is that St. Louis, Philadelphia and Majestic were docked alongside at pier 46. With other words her stern was getting close to them when leaving the dock.

The aft E Deck Gangway door remained open as not needed crew members left the ship shortly after departure. This is visible on all the other photographs taken of her leaving Southampton.

And if you look close at the images you will see 3rd class passengers at the forward well deck and also 1st class passengers on the A Deck.
 
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Photograph taken by 1st class passenger Browne when leaving the dock.

And by the way, I was one of the contributors of the book "Titanic in Photographs" and one of the chapters I heavily helped with was the leaving of Southampton and the near collision with the New York. So I know what I am writing about.

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I think the vessel in the photograph is Olympic, not Titanic and I'm positive she is in the process of berthing,not leaving.

...

Jim C.
A very interesting analysis. It does leave one question in my mind, however: the wire rope, under strain, leading from the bullnose off beyond the lefthand side of the image frame. I had assumed that the strain was being taken by a tug.

I do have to say that I would think this bad seamanship. No one I ever sailed with would be comfortable with wire in such a situation because of its potential for kinking and its unpredictable and dangerous character at or near breaking strain. But if it's not being used for towing, what is it there for?
 

Jim Currie

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Thanks Ioannis. Just managed to get back properly on-line and my zoom function sorted-out. I can now see clearly several unusual things.

That last picture you posted was not taken at the same time as the one posted by William. In Wiliam's pic. he points-out a wire leading though the bow centerline fairlead. That is a wire leading to the pier head bollard on berth 47, not a tug wire. In your pic, the tug is made fast and the angle between it's tow line and the ship is much greater. The dock is only about 280 -300 feet wide at that point. It seems to be a warping wire.

If you zoom hard at the name in the picture on ET, you can't see a name at all. This is strange since the name was painted white before launch time and it can clearly be seen on the starboard side in other pictures taken from out in the river during the same time.

The vessel described as Titanic seen sailing from Southampton has 2 more portholes on the port bow forecastle crew accommodation than Titanic had when she was launched and fitted -out, Dr Paul Lee noticed this difference in his article "The Great Titanic Switch". If you look carefully at some of the pictures, it seems that two extras have been added at the aft end but these are not properly aligned with the originals. I'm not stating that these pics have been doctored but you know that so many fakes have been around and mistakes made between the two ships. A good professional can work wonders.

In the 'sailing' photograph, the North side of the basin.. berths 46 and 47 have not been anywhere near completed. There are no cargo sheds and no ships moored alongside it. No sign of St Louis, Philadelphia or Majestic, the ships you mention.

As for the remarks about the man Comb: how is anyone to decide what to accept and what to reject? Since you wrote "None of the tugs in Southampton had a black top, as it is visible on other photographs." does that mean that I must also completely disregard the writings of John P. Eaton regarding the funnels of the tugs assisting Titanic on departure day? It was recorded that the SS Vulcan assisted. Here's a picture of her.

Vulcan-02.jpg

Here' a plan of the White Star Dock in 1912. I have incribed 4 lines to scale... Titanic and the three ships on the other side of the Dock. If the others were there when Titanic left, why can't we see them in any of the departure pictures?

white star dock.jpg

Beasley wrote about the people waving farewell. These must have been on the quay when the ropes were cast off because they followed the ship along the quay side and round the knuckle at the end of the pier as she turned out into the river. Here's a picture of the event.
Titanic farewell.jpg

I'm sure there is a perfectly good explanations for the problems. As far as docking during day-light: perhaps becauseTitanic arrived in the dark, she was first berthed bow inward (as they do nowadays) and they waited until the early dawn to turn her and re-berth her in the position we see her in the picture? That would explain the warping wire stretched from the bow over to berth 47. That picture could have been taken the day of arrival and used as the departure preparation picture.

Jim C,

Titanic farewell.jpg


Vulcan-02.jpg


white star dock.jpg
 
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I am still surprised that this "nonsense" (sorry but meanwhile this is laughable) is still going on about a well known photograph taken on April 10th 1912.

I have posted the exact same picture as William. Only that my copy is a little better and show the name on the bow.
Sorry to say but most of you wrote is not right.

Titanic's name was not painted white before launch. This was written over on the glass negative to make the name visible. This is also one of the reasons why in some pictures the name is in a different position. Titanic had 14 portholes on the port side on C Deck during construction and launch (as has the Olympic). During fitting out she got 2 extra which made 16. This was also done on Olympic in March 1912.

Berth 46 was completed. The ships Majestic, St. Louis and Philadelphia are still at berth 46. It is the angle the photograph was taken and are hide behind the ship.
Here is a photograph taken by 1st class passenger Browne from the starboard side deck of the Titanic.

And this was taken from the Caldwels on B Deck of Titanic. The funnels of the other ships are visible. The Caldwell Family aboard RMS Titanic

Liners at Southampton.jpg
 
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Regarding your other questions, the tugs are in different other photographs visible and none had a black funnel top in 1912. Titanic was berth with the stern first shortly after midnight.

Here is another photo taken by Brwone after the near collision with the New York (visible in front) and the tugs can be seen here again with no black top.


The coloured departure photo you posted was taken and the end of pier 38. The bow on the right side by the way is that of the Oceanic.

You can feel free to get a copy of the book "Titanic in Photographs" and follow there the photos of her leaving Southampton.

This is now the last post from me as I don't see why to go over that one again. And for the case you did not know, I am dealing with Titanic and Olympic photographs for over 20 years now. I know the differences and also when which photograph was taken. So I do not care much about what a Joe Combs or Robin Gardiner is claiming.

Southampton Tugs, Hector and Neptune.jpg
 
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Oh and before I forget, regarding Beesley and the people waving farewell when she start to move, here a photo taken by 1st class passenger May Odell from the Titanic looking back.

clip_image01211_thumb.jpg
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Ioannis. (If you're still there)

You wrote

"I am still surprised that this "nonsense" (sorry but meanwhile this is laughable) is still going on about a well known photograph taken on April 10th 1912".........."And for the case you did not know, I am dealing with Titanic and Olympic photographs for over 20 years now."

I'm sorry that you find a challenge to your evidence laughable. Does that mean that you have nothing left to learn or discover? I have been a professional for over 60 years, some of them as a Harbour Master. I too know a thing or three about the subject yet I still learn something new every day about my chosen profession, about Titanic and about the past and present of the world around us.

In this particular part of the forum, I and another used our professional experience (mariners' eyes) on a photograph that suggested to us that it was one of a ship just arriving at a berth so we question the title of the photograph. What's "laughable" about that?
Without additional back-up. the photograph in question does not show a ship leaving or arriving at a berth but to an experienced eye points to the latter.

You can't just say "a well known photograph taken on April 10th 1912". and leave it at that. How can you be absolutely sure of the date of any picture taken in 1912? Up until very recently, the only way to try and prove the date a photograph was taken without separate unrelated witnesses was to take the photograph alongside a newspaper printed on the same day. That only told you the date before which the photograph could not have been taken.

I could go on a bit, but you have proved that the leaving photograph is a fake yourself. You did so with the attached picture in your post #19 stating that it was taken on departure day by Ms. May Odell. I remind you:

clip_image01211_thumb (1).jpg

Now compare the above photograph with the next image, the one claimed to be Titanic departing Southampton on her maiden voyage:

Leaving.jpg

Ms. Odell's photograph seems to have been taken as Titanics stern was clearing berth 44 and she was passing along Berth 43.
Each berth was equipped with two dockside cranes and a rail-mounted mobile 1st Class Gangway. When not in use, these facilities were parked at Berth 44. Their parking positions were marked on the dock plan and it can clearly be seen in this photograph that they were parked as intended. Additionally, many ladies can be seen among the well-wishers on the dockside and there is no sign of a workman's shelter on the quay side between berths 44 and 43 nor of the timber or rubbish. There does seem to be a small pontoon moored between the two berths

In the second photograph - the one you claim to be genuine - there are no track-mounted Gangways to be seen, a workman's shelter occupies the space between the rails behind the seated man and the rails at his feet are obstructed with steel angle an bits of timber.

You wrote:

Berth 46 was completed. The ships Majestic, St. Louis and Philadelphia are still at berth 46. It is the angle the photograph was taken and are hide behind the ship.
Here is a photograph taken by 1st class passenger Browne from the starboard side deck of the Titanic.

And this was taken from the Caldwels on B Deck of Titanic. The funnels of the other ships are visible. The Caldwell Family aboard RMS Titanic



Really? Here' another photograph by the same photographer on Friday, 5th April, the day the ship was 'dressed-overall'. In it, the laid up vessels Majestic and Philadelphia can be seen as well as their masts and rigging above Titanic's forecastle deck. In particular, note the funnels of Majestic and the bow-sprit of Philadelphia.

At the White Star dock in Southampton on Good Friday, April 5, 1912.JPG

Crucially; that aft funnel of Majestic was 233 feet from her stern, meaning that if Titanic was occupying the full length of Berth 44, we can plot the positions of Majestic, Philadelphia and St. Louis. The following sketch is to scale. In white, I have superimposed the plan shape of all 4 vessels, assuming the 3 laid-up ones were well tucked-in to Berth 46 and Titanic into Berth 44. Then I have drawn the positions of them relative to Titanic suggested by the bearing of Majestic's relative to the bow of Titanic.

Laid-up vessels048.jpg


Now you're the expert, you tell me which of the these three photographs showing Titanic at Southampton is the fake?

Jim C

Laid-up vessels048.jpg


clip_image01211_thumb (1).jpg


Leaving.jpg


Titanic 1.jpg


Laid-up vessels048.jpg


At the White Star dock in Southampton on Good Friday, April 5, 1912.JPG
 
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