Course Before & After Corner


B-rad

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I am trying to understand or make sure I understand the following information presented with some questions. Hope it makes sense. Any Insite?

Two compasses, the standard and the steering. Standard is the one the Officers go by and is the course for which they pass on. Steering compass is what the Quartermaster goes off.

During turning the corner a junior officer (Boxhall) went to steering compass and rang the bell when they were on course, while the other junior officer (Moody) took the course of the steering compass and writes both on a board after the turn is complete.

  • Rowe says that the ship’s course before turning was S85W by steering compass.
  • Boxhall confirms this when asked, “Am I right in thinking that the course as marked on the chart is S. 85 W when you take your turn [the corner]...?” To which he answers, “Yes.”
  • Lowe said that the course being steered towards the corner was ‘60s 33 ½’ west’. This is a 24.44 degree difference from Rowe and Boxhall’s 85. Was this S60.56W the “True” course, and not compass?
  • Boxhall states that the S85W was more like 84 ¾ W ‘as a matter of fact’, but that was based on a chart shown to him during the inquiry, so it may be an answer only related to that chart. Either way that is a 24.19 difference from Lowe’s figure.
  • Rowe said that the ship altered to a course at the corner to N71W on steering compass. That’s a 14 degree turn to starboard from his previous S85W.
  • Lightoller agrees with this but says that this works out to N73 by standard compass, which relates to 86 true. This would be a 2 degree difference between Standard and Steering compass and a 13 and 15 degrees difference from standard and steering respectfully and the True course. Why was Lowe’s 24 degrees while these are 13 to 15 degrees?
  • Boxhall confirms S 86 W as the new course once the corner is turned. He said that he does not remember the compass course (which would be Lightoller’s 73) but after working out the variations remembers it being S 86 W.
  • This would mean that when the Captain gave orders to turn the corner the compass course he wrote in the night order book would have been N73W by standard compass.
Evidence Used:

Lightoller pg 456: We have a standard compass and a steering compass. The standard compass is the compass we go by. That is the course that is handed over from one senior officer to another, the standard course. The junior officer goes to the standard compass which is connected with the wheelhouse by a bell, or by a bell push, wire and bell, and when she is on her course he rings that bell continually, showing the ship is on her course with the standard compass.

The other officer takes her head inside the wheelhouse from the compass the quartermaster is steering by. The standard course is on a board and the steering compass course is also on a board. Therefore, the quartermaster uses the board that is there for the steering compass. The senior officer of the watch looks to the standard compass board and passes that course along.

  • 84 ¾

Box 15670 – Though your impression is that, as it is marked on the chart the course there marked is S 85W? I think it is about S 84 ¾ W as a matter of fact.


  • 60S 33 ½

Lowe page 395

I worked the course from noon until what we call the “corner”; that is, 42 north, 47 west. I really forgot the course now. It is 60s 33 ½’ west – that is as near as I can remember – and 162 miles to the corner.

  • 85

Box 15661 – Am I right in thinking that the course as marked on the chart is S. 85 W when you take your turn. I believe it is about S 85 W? – Yes

Rowe 17587- What course (before the turn) was she steering? – S 85 deg W

17588 – By steering compass

17590 – At 5:45 to what did you alter it? N 71 W

  • 86

Box 15316- Do you remember what it was altered to? – I do not remember the compass course, but I remember the true course was S 86 W.

Box 15660 Which you have told us is S 86 W – yes

Box 15669 – Then when she is put on her new course, her new course you tell me was S 86 W? S 86 W

Lightoller: 13498 – Can you tell us what was the course of the ship when she was handed over to you at 6? I cannot remember the compass course. I know from calculations made afterwards that we were making S 86 true.

13501- The Quartermaster at the wheel who gave evidence, who was at the wheel at the time of the disaster, said he was steering by compass a course of N 71 W, so presumably N 71 W is the same thing as what this gentleman speaks of as S 86 W true.
  • Pretty nearly. The compass course is not the compass we go by. I believe by standard we were steering N 73; 86 true I know it was, and I think that works out as 73 by compass, and 71 was the steering compass.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Brad.

The course to steer is simply the course by steering compass that the ship will need to follow to make good a desired true course.

The last course on the laid down Southern Great Circle Track was, by calculation, 236.5 True or S 56.5 W True. Therefore, If Titanic had been right on the track at Noon, she would have been steering S56.5 True or S 32 W Magnetic.
However, If Lowe stated the course to steer from Noon was S 60 degrees, 33,5 minutes west , then he was quoting True directions and Titanic was to the eastward of her desired track and had to steer 240.5 degrees True (S 60 .5 W) to get there.

As for the next leg.. The Corner to New York? The laid-down course was about 265 True or S 85 W.
N 71 W is 289. Since the desired True course was 265, the steering compass error was 289 minus 265 = 24 degrees. We know that the local deviation error was 24.5 degrees West therefore the Deviation error of the compass was half a degree West.
Note that Lightoller stated " from calculations made afterwards that we were making S 86 true." The course made good is not necessarily the course being steered. The calculations he was talking about were the 7-30 sights. The course made good was the course made from where Boxhall estimated Titanic was at 5-50pm until where Lightoller's sights put her. The 5-50 position was, according to Boxhall, south and west of The Corner . If that estimated position was wrong, then the course made good was also inaccurate.

Hope that helps.
 

B-rad

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Hello Brad.

The course to steer is simply the course by steering compass that the ship will need to follow to make good a desired true course.

The last course on the laid down Southern Great Circle Track was, by calculation, 236.5 True or S 56.5 W True. Therefore, If Titanic had been right on the track at Noon, she would have been steering S56.5 True or S 32 W Magnetic.
However, If Lowe stated the course to steer from Noon was S 60 degrees, 33,5 minutes west , then he was quoting True directions and Titanic was to the eastward of her desired track and had to steer 240.5 degrees True (S 60 .5 W) to get there.

As for the next leg.. The Corner to New York? The laid-down course was about 265 True or S 85 W.
N 71 W is 289. Since the desired True course was 265, the steering compass error was 289 minus 265 = 24 degrees. We know that the local deviation error was 24.5 degrees West therefore the Deviation error of the compass was half a degree West.
Note that Lightoller stated " from calculations made afterwards that we were making S 86 true." The course made good is not necessarily the course being steered. The calculations he was talking about were the 7-30 sights. The course made good was the course made from where Boxhall estimated Titanic was at 5-50pm until where Lightoller's sights put her. The 5-50 position was, according to Boxhall, south and west of The Corner . If that estimated position was wrong, then the course made good was also inaccurate.

Hope that helps.

Thanks, I think that helped out. I was not calculating the numbers right (not taking into account the directional information). Thanks again. I will hit you up for more help if need!
 

B-rad

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Okay, so my math was off, again because I was not calculating the correct directional (N, S, E, W). When you wrote, "The laid-down course was about 265 True or S 85 W. N 71 W is 289," it dawned on me, cause I wasn't calculating 289 true at first I was merely taking 71 from 85 which it WAY OFF and very incorrect!!!

My next question though is where does the S85W for the course after the corner come from? We know from Rowe that this was the steering course Before the corner, and Boxhall agrees that this was the course before taking the turn, but no one mentions that this was to be the course after the turn.... or am I missing something or miss interpret something?

Thanks as always :)
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello Brad.

Hichens stated that the course he was steering was N 70 W = 290 Compass. If the error was 24.5 West then he was steering 265.5 true.
The chart they used was a Mercator Chart. On a Mercator Chart, the fixed True course and distance from The Corner to a position half a mile south of the Ambrose Light Vessel was 265.5 True distant 1209.2 nautical miles.

Regards.
 
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B-rad

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Hello Brad.

Hichens stated that the course he was steering was N 70 W = 290 Compass. If the error was 24.5 West then he was steering 265.5 true.
The chart they used was a Mercator Chart. On a Mercator Chart, the fixed True course and distance from The Corner to a position half a mile south of the Ambrose Light Vessel was 265.5 True distant 1209.2 nautical miles.

Regards.

Thanks again as always!!! (I'm using my phone and having difficulties, every time I scroll it wants to submit so I keep posting and have to edit).

To pick ur brain some more (or anyone else who wants to jump in). Didn't Hichens say he steered n71w (question 937) and didn't Lightoller equate n71w to s86w.

I will have to find a Mercator chart!

Thanks again!
 
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B-rad

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Stupid question number 2 (actually more like 5) for anyone. If the ship was learned to be going 266 degrees and was suppose to be going 265 degrees at 7:30, wouldn't they have adjusted Titanic's course once the error was found?

Thanks!
 

Jim Currie

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Thanks again as always!!! (I'm using my phone and having difficulties, every time I scroll it wants to submit so I keep posting and have to edit).

To pick ur brain some more (or anyone else who wants to jump in). Didn't Hichens say he steered n71w (question 937) and didn't Lightoller equate n71w to s86w.

I will have to find a Mercator chart!

Thanks again!
Lightoller's exact word were: "
13498. Can you tell us what was the course of the ship when she was handed over to you at 6?
- I cannot remember the compass course. I know from calculations made afterwards that we were making S. 86 true."


When a Navigator uses the expression "we were making " he does not mean that the helmsman was steering in that direction or that he was steering in the compass direction equivalent to the True direction,
Lightoller ws talking about a course made good between two points on the chart. In this case, at just after 9 pm, he would have been told by Boxhall that Titanic was at a certain position at 7-30 pm, that being the calculated position from Lightoller's star observations...and, that the course made good between an assumed position where Titanic turned at 5-50 and the 7-30 pm clculated position was 266 True. perhps one o my we sketches might help to clarify?
265 True.jpg
 
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Mike Spooner

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Hi Jim,
Can you please answer my question. It would appear that that three officers have landed up with different navigation positions. Lowe said we reach the ice field by 11.00. Lightroller 9.30 for icefield. As for Boxhall I don't know?
My question is it not for the captain responsibility to check as well?
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Jim,
Can you please answer my question. It would appear that that three officers have landed up with different navigation positions. Lowe said we reach the ice field by 11.00. Lightroller 9.30 for icefield. As for westerlyBoxhall I don't know?
My question is it not for the captain responsibility to check as well?
Hello mike,

I presume you mean when Titanic would be at 49 West? If so, Lowe knew they would get there long after he was off Watch.
Lightoller guessed wrongly that it would be around 9-30 pm but would get a proper idea when Boxhall worked out the true position of the ship at 7-30 pm sights.
Captain Smith did not have to check anything. he knew that his ship turned at about 47 West just before 6 pm that evening, and that on his next course, Titanic would "use-up" one degree of westerly longitude every 2 hours. So, his estimate by mental arithmetic would be that the ship would be at 49 West about 4 hours after she turned and be 10 to 12miles south of the reported danger area between 10pm and Midnight.
As a matter of interest; Smith would also have expected the ice to be long-gone from that position long before Titanic got anywhere near it. Never the less, he ordered extra caution with regards to the remnants of it...i.e. watch out for small ice.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hello mike,

I presume you mean when Titanic would be at 49 West? If so, Lowe knew they would get there long after he was off Watch.
Lightoller guessed wrongly that it would be around 9-30 pm but would get a proper idea when Boxhall worked out the true position of the ship at 7-30 pm sights.
Captain Smith did not have to check anything. he knew that his ship turned at about 47 West just before 6 pm that evening, and that on his next course, Titanic would "use-up" one degree of westerly longitude every 2 hours. So, his estimate by mental arithmetic would be that the ship would be at 49 West about 4 hours after she turned and be 10 to 12miles south of the reported danger area between 10pm and Midnight.
As a matter of interest; Smith would also have expected the ice to be long-gone from that position long before Titanic got anywhere near it. Never the less, he ordered extra caution with regards to the remnants of it...i.e. watch out for small ice.
Jim thanks for your reply.
Reading your article Re-opening Titanic's Can of Worms 14/09/2017.
Captain Smith: Wrong distress position
3rd Officer Pitman: Pitiful Performance
5th Officer Lowe: Lousy 8pm DR position
4th Officer Boxhall: Bungles
2nd Officer Lightoller: Guessed wrongly at 9.30pm
This does not exactly inspire in much confidents of the officers calculating the correct position!
Then there is the question of the other two senior officers: Chief Officer Wilde and 1st Officer Murdoch, what was there input in the correct navigation position to?
Smith was 20 miles out where Boxhall re-calculated and still got it wrong by 7miles.
Between the seven officers and a captain, looking in myself as a non navigator rather looks like a right screw up was in progress!
Then there is the captain position on the ship, who I see is full responsible for his officers duties are carried out in the correct manner. Surely it must be the captain responsibility to check out for himself to. As I see captain Lord of Californian did so 20 miles away in the same icefield!
 

Jim Currie

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Jim thanks for your reply.
Reading your article Re-opening Titanic's Can of Worms 14/09/2017.
Captain Smith: Wrong distress position
3rd Officer Pitman: Pitiful Performance
5th Officer Lowe: Lousy 8pm DR position
4th Officer Boxhall: Bungles
2nd Officer Lightoller: Guessed wrongly at 9.30pm
This does not exactly inspire in much confidents of the officers calculating the correct position!
Then there is the question of the other two senior officers: Chief Officer Wilde and 1st Officer Murdoch, what was there input in the correct navigation position to?
Smith was 20 miles out where Boxhall re-calculated and still got it wrong by 7miles.
Between the seven officers and a captain, looking in myself as a non navigator rather looks like a right screw up was in progress!
Then there is the captain position on the ship, who I see is full responsible for his officers duties are carried out in the correct manner. Surely it must be the captain responsibility to check out for himself to. As I see captain Lord of Californian did so 20 miles away in the same icefield!
The sub titles you quoted were dripping with sarcasm and not meant to be taken literally.
There is an old saying which, I am sure, you are familiar with. "There is no point in keeping a dog and doing the barking yourself."
If the captain of a ship checked every bit of Navigation after it was done, there would be no point in hiring a dedicated Navigator. In addition, your juniors need to know you trust them. An occassional unscheduled check satisfies all requirements and keeps everyone on their toes, so to speak.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim, I am glad you clear up the matter of sarcasm remarks made in your article. However we are talking about the serious matter of 1500 lives were lost. Its all very well saying hiring dedicated Navigators and put trust in them. But clearly some thing has gone wrong with the navigator position. Not been a navigator myself, I asked how long does it take for a captain to re-check an officer calculation?
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim, I may sound if I am picking your brain here on the subject of navigation in the past. But do see you with the greatest respect the last of the old sea dog and have a better understanding of how the system worked in the past. As today we rely on sat-nav with computers aids for the calculations.
Now as for the seven officers on the Titanic I take it they have all passed their Master certificate. However I can see there is a difference in experience between junior and senior officers. Junior officers may well have their Master certificate but like any new skills need the experience to prefect it. As if I was in the captain shoes I would rather rely on his senior officers for the correct calculations. At present I don't see much evident what the first and chief officers had to say on the matter?
Jim Just another question. How many times in a 24 hours period does the navigation position need to be checked?
 

Jim Currie

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Hello MIke! Happy to try and answer your quetions.

A Master Mariner was essentially a Navigator. He trained from Day 1 as a Cadet or Apprentice in the "Art". By the time he had passed as a Master, he had previously sat and passed his First and Second Mate Examinations. and between these sittings, had at least 6 years of practical experience under his belt.

In service, he normally served at least one rank under his qualification.

At each examintion, he had to pass with a mark no less sthan 70% otherwise, he was given "sea time" by the BoT. Examiner.
In my time, just after WW2, it took a minium of 7.5 years at sea without a single day's leave to be even allowed to sit the Master's Exam.
I tell you all this because there as no way that any one of Titanic's Officer's was "inexperienced". The system did not allow it.

As for senior officer prtiipation?
Titanic was the exception, rather than the rule. Her Chief, First and Second Officers performed the same Watch duties as did the First, Second and Third Officers of most other ships. (including the Californian) However, unlike the other ship's officers - except for using the sextant - they did not have any Navigation duties at all.

The normal ship board practice when out of sight of land was for there to be cellestial observations at dawn and dusk, just after 9 am and at 12 Noon.
The realistic answer to your question is "whenever suitable opportunities allowed".
At dawn and dusk the favourite and quickest observation was the "Mate's friend" Polaris - the Pole Star.
Bottom line answer is: when weather permitted.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Hi Jim, You certainly learn something new ever day. I am surprise hear that the senior officers did not have any navigators duties. So when the second officer Lightoller in the US inquiry talk about reaching the icefield around 9.30, then went on the say about 11.00. I take it wasn't his calculation but only base on one of the junior officers! Still surprise that Smith did not check for himself to. After all they were coming to the most dangerous part of the crossing.
Jim question: If Smith had checked for himself how long do you think would of taken him?
 

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