Did Titanic Have a Strengthened Bow?


Nov 14, 2005
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True, but that was the time between the 3 bells and actual collision, right? But Murdoch himself would have had much less time to make his decision. The question that perhaps can never be answered now is at what point after 3-bells did Murdoch himself SEE the iceberg? Did he immediately look for the berg or after Fleet made the phone call, Moody responded and then shouted to Murdoch? I felt that even with the best scenario, some time would have elapsed before Murdoch actually saw the berg himself and when he did, he had to make a quick (even if quick-calculated ;) ) decision about his course of action. He then made-up his mind, gave the order, Hichens turned the helm and the Titanic had started to respond when the collision occurred.

That is why I felt that the time frame that Murdoch had for actually thinking and making a decision was a lot narrower than 45 seconds.
I agree. He was probably acting on what his training and experience told him to do. He had limited time to make decisions. The only thing that I can think of that might go against that is he must have seen something because I thought standard collision avoidance procedure was to turn starboard and not to port. But maybe it was different in 1912.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I thought standard collision avoidance procedure was to turn starboard and not to port.

I thought that SOP only applied if two ships were on a collision course. They had to turn right (starboard) so that they passed each other port to port.

In case of the Titanic, Murdoch had to make a quick decision based on first impressions. Perhaps he felt that the iceberg mass was slightly more towards the ship's starboard side and so felt that an attempt at "porting around" offered the best chance of avoiding a collision. The difficulty, of course, was that he could not see the far bulkier underwater part of the berg and so there would have been an element of chance in his decision.
 

Thomas Krom

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I've heard that Andrews thought Titanic would sink in an hour, but she lasted exactly 2 hours and 40 minutes. Impressive.
He in fact gave her a hour to an hour and a half from 12:20/12:25 on. But yes, she stayed longer afloat then that.
 
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TimTurner

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In case of the Titanic, Murdoch had to make a quick decision based on first impressions. Perhaps he felt that the iceberg mass was slightly more towards the ship's starboard side

I don't know that the underwater bulk of the iceberg would be substantially offcenter in most icebergs.

From a disaster management standpoint, Murdoch had to turn in some direction. If the iceberg was dead ahead, then getting the Titanic turning hard instantly was far more important than which direction. He may have just blurted out a random direction. However, I get the impression that he probably saw the iceberg to one side.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I don't know that the underwater bulk of the iceberg would be substantially offcenter in most icebergs.

Not significantly off-centre but certainly substantially larger - about 9 times larger in fact. That would mean that as the Titanic approached it, the underwater part of the iceberg - the part that really mattered - would have been a lot closer to the ship than what was visible above the surface.
 
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Rennette Marston

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Like this diagram?
collision.png
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Yes, I think that just about sums it up. But remember that the iceberg and the Titanic were 3-dimensional objects. Therefore, even with the attempted 'porting around' maneuver, the ship's starboard side underwater would have been a lot closer to the corresponding underwater part of the iceberg than was apparent to an observer on the bridge or elsewhere on the deck.
 
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but that was the time between the 3 bells and actual collision, right?
Yes, those 45-50 seconds was from 3 bells to the time of the strike. That was based primarily on how long it would have taken Olliver to get from the midships compass platform to the bridge. Plus we know that Murdoch did not give the order to Hichens until after the phone call came down from Fleet. So between 3 bells and the end of the call there was some elapsed finite time. Hichens was asked about that and he said it was about 1/2 a minute. Independently, Fleet said he was at phone for about 1/2 a minute. Both of these are, of course, highly subjective, but mutually supporting. And Fleet estimated that the vessel swung to port about 1 to 2 points before it struck the starboard bow. So allowing between 20 to 25 seconds for the vessel to actually swing about a point, that means that Murdoch's order came about 20 seconds, more or less, from the time of those 3 bells. That's just enough time for Fleet to get to the phone, which was located behind Lee on the starboard side of the nest, call down to the bridge, wait for Moody to answer (which prompted Fleet to ask "Are you there?"), then have that famous work exchange that resulted in Moody's "Thank you," followed by Moody repeating what Fleet had told him to Murdoch, who then blared out that famous helm order.

Because of the above, I don't believe Murdoch's order was simply instinctive, but rather a deliberate attempt to mitigate damage to the vessel after he realized that his vessel would not clear what he could see of the berg.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Murdoch's order came about 20 seconds, more or less, from the time of those 3 bells.

I don't believe Murdoch's order was simply instinctive, but rather a deliberate attempt to mitigate damage to the vessel after he realized that his vessel would not clear what he could see of the berg.

Accepted, but even if Murdoch started looking towards the bow in the direction of the Titanic's heading as soon as he heard those 3 bells, would 20 seconds have been enough to make a reasonably accurate assessment of the closing distance and line of travel? I mean, I agree that Murdoch realised that the ship would not clear the berg but could there have been some instinct involved in the decision to 'port around' the iceberg rather than the other way round?

I am assuming that your opinion is based on those excellent series of sketches of the Titanic's bow approaching the berg as seen from the Crow's Nest in your article Encounter In the Night. I took the liberty of cutting & pasting the crucial one of the relative positions at the time of the 3 bells. The iceberg is just visible in the horizon but you have drawn so that more of its bulk appears to be towards the starboard, which would justify Murdoch's decision.

My question is, even assuming that the relative positions of the iceberg and Titanic's bow were as depicted in that diagram, would 20 seconds still have been enough?

1593331264724.png
 

Rennette Marston

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Yes, I think that just about sums it up. But remember that the iceberg and the Titanic were 3-dimensional objects. Therefore, even with the attempted 'porting around' maneuver, the ship's starboard side underwater would have been a lot closer to the corresponding underwater part of the iceberg than was apparent to an observer on the bridge or elsewhere on the deck.

Yes, I know the two were 3-d objects with curves and bumps and points. So obviously if the underwater part of the ice was in close contact with the Titanic, even with an attempted circumvention of the iceberg, the damage would've been done to the hull.
 

Rennette Marston

Rennette Marston
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My question is, even assuming that the relative positions of the iceberg and Titanic's bow were as depicted in that diagram, would 20 seconds still have been enough?

I don't think it would've been enough time if the iceberg is only a few feet away from the ship and the Titanic is running at high-speed. The impact would've come had the iceberg not been spotted much earlier, which would be impossible given the atmospheric conditions of that night.
 

TimTurner

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the ship's starboard side underwater would have been a lot closer to the corresponding underwater part of the iceberg than was apparent to an observer on the bridge or elsewhere on the deck.
But it wasn't. We know this because ice fell onto the well deck, and even into some portholes, correct? This means that the shape of the iceberg was incredibly close to the side of the ship all the way up to C Deck.
 

Cam Houseman

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Isn't the steel thicker down from B-Deck? Would explain why the forecastle is still in good condition. Maybe the aft forecastle was too, and that's why that is still there most recognizable thing on the stern section, besides the A-Deck crane and the Second Class entrance.
 

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