During the collision - "We could feel her slackening speed"


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Aaron_2016

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I keep finding survivor accounts which state the Titanic was already slowing down rapidly before the iceberg had passed the stern and when they looked over the side and saw the iceberg they noticed the ship was moving very slowly as it passed by and was almost stopped. At first I thought the answer was simple. The ship had grounded over the ice and this caused the ship to decelerate quite significantly. Then I read this letter by survivor Spencer Silverthorne to Walter Lord. He was in the Smoking room. In his letter he said:

"The vessel shook for a moment and we could feel her slackening speed. I jumped to my feet.....I picked up my overcoat and cap, walked out through the palm garden onto the rear promenade deck and walked over to the starboard side. I reached the side just in time to see the immense grayish-white iceberg scraping by the side of the vessel. The promenade deck was over 65 feet from the water line and the iceberg was some little distance above this. It floated to the rear and out of sight as the vessel had not quite stopped. I walked from there to my cabin...."


The above is another example that the Titanic had significantly slowed down before the iceberg had completely passed the ship. Does anyone know how the ship could slow down so fast? Was it a combination of events?



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Aaron_2016

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He felt her "slackening speed" when he got up and could see "the vessel had not quite stopped" when he saw the iceberg pass the stern. She was going about 22 knots and to go from that high speed to "not quite stopped" when they saw the iceberg is certainly a significant decrease in her speed. I think if the order to stop was given at the moment of impact I doubt the ship could decelerate that fast. I wonder if the order was given some time before the collision. According to Scarrott the iceberg passed the ship up to 8 minutes after he heard the bell. Alfred Shiers and Charles Hendrickson both noticed the ship had stopped or had come almost to a complete stop when they both saw the iceberg pass the stern.


Charles Hendrickson

Q - Were you awakened by the shock?
A - No.

Q - Who woke you?
A - One of my mates in the room pulled me out. I was dead to the wide. Dead asleep.

Q - Which side of the ship was your bunk on?
A - The port side.

Q - When he woke you up, did you go on deck?
A - Yes.

Q - You came up very quick?
A - No, I walked up behind the others who were walking up.

Q - Did you see the iceberg?
A - Yes.

Q - Where was it?
A - Just abaft the engine room when I got on deck. When I got on deck first I saw a lot of ice on the deck, and I looked out and saw an iceberg astern just abaft the engine room.

Q - Had the ship nearly stopped then?
A - She was stopped.



Alfred Shiers


Q - How soon after you felt the striking of the iceberg did you see it away on your quarter?
A - About four or five minutes.

Q - Where was the berg away from you? On the port side or the starboard side, or ahead, or where?
A - On the starboard quarter, off the stern.

Q - How far was she from you do you think?
A - About two ships’ length from where I stood.

Q - When you saw the berg could you judge whether your ship was stopped or going ahead?
A - When I looked over the side there was a slight way on her; she was moving, but not much.

Q - You were moving through the water?
A - Yes, but not much.

Q - Did you look over the side and see whether the ship had any way?
A - She just had way: she was just moving.

Q - At that time had the ship any way on her?
A - A slight way.

Q - Did you have a look over the side to see?
A - Yes, I had a look over the side.

Q - And you could see the surface of the sea?
A - Yes.

Q - Could you see the glitter of it?
A - I saw the phosphorous that was coming up in the water.

Q - And you could see that the ship had very little way?
A - Well, she just seemed to me to be moving.

Q - You thought you could discern there were some slight motion?
A - Yes.

Q - What did you do after you saw the berg?
A - I went down to the forecastle again.

Q - Why did you go back to the forecastle?
A - It was no good stopping on deck. There was nothing there only to see it going away.

Q - In all this space of time, you put it at five minutes, had the ship been going forward?
A - She just seemed to be moving when I looked over the side.



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Aaron_2016

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Lightoller felt the collision and then felt the engines stop. Not sure how long it would take for the engines to fully stop and arouse his suspicion but when he approached the bridge on the port side he noticed the ship was "proceeding slowly, a matter of perhaps six knots" and he said "I could not exactly say what the engines were doing." I think the engines were probably going slow ahead or slow astern.

Lightoller said:

"My light was out but I was still awake......There was a slight jar followed by this grinding sound.....I lay there for a few moments, it might have been a few minutes, and then feeling the engines had stopped I got up.......I first of all looked forward to the bridge and everything seemed quiet there. I could see the First Officer standing on the footbridge keeping the look out. I then walked across to the side, and I saw the ship had slowed down, that is to say, was proceeding slowly through the water......She was proceeding slowly, a matter of perhaps six knots or something like that......Q - Were the engines still stopped? A - I could not exactly say what the engines were doing after once I got up. It was when I was lying still in my bunk I could feel the engines were stopped."

I think there must have been some change in the engine orders because Lightoller could not confirm the engines were still stopped when he got up. Did he not want to admit they went slow ahead afterwards? What is interesting is that QM Rowe said that immediately after he saw the iceberg pass the stern he felt the engines going full speed astern and quickly had to pull up the log line. This would certainly explain how the ship rapidly decelerated before the iceberg disappeared behind the ship. Then again, if the Titanic was turning northwards she would circle around the iceberg, so it would be visible for a longer time. Would this create the illusion the Titanic had slowed down when she was simply turning northwards and 'curving' around the iceberg? Some believed the ship had jagged against a spur of the iceberg which extended under the ship's keel. Could the Titanic snag against the spur and drag the iceberg with her, and when the engines stopped the iceberg broke free and drifted away?



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Aaron_2016

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Your talking about a berg weighing over 100000 tons, I don't think it was dragged anywhere.

I think the weight of the iceberg may have been much less. The colour of the iceberg was described by survivors as blue which resembled an iceberg that had melted so much that it rolled over and capsized and was exposing dark blue ice above the water which made it harder to detect before the collision. I wonder if it had rolled over several times as it continued to melt and drift down towards the Titanic. Here is video of an iceberg rolling over. It eerily looks similar to the one the Titanic collided with.




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Jim Currie

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Hello Aaron.

According to Trimmer Dillon the ship's engines stopped 1.5 minutes after impact and started going astern 2 minutes after impact. They ran astern for a further 2 minutes before they stopped again. When they stopped, you can be sure that the ship was almost dead in the water. The reason I say so is because the next engine order was an ahead movement. In other words, about 4 minutes after impact Titanic had come to a halt. There might have been a very slight way on her
If we fit the foregoing to the story of Lightoller, it seems that, if he saw Titanic still moving a head, then the engines were in the act if building astern power and Captain Smith was bringing his ship to a standstill... probably 3 minutes after impact.
To find out when she was just stopped and beginning to go astern, he would watch the propeller wash round the stern. Because of the flat calm conditions, he would see it as an ever-widening circle of churned-up water. He would have to judge the exact moment to ring down stop or the ship would start going astern again.

You talk about an underwater spur effecting the path of Titanic. Not as far fetched as one might think.
Rob is spot -on with his assessment; no way could Titanic have dragged such a large lump. Unless, of course, it wasn't as large as everyone thinks. A Growler, which can be like your overturning berg, can do a heck of a lot of damage and Titanic could have conceivable moved a very small one. But even then, by the rules of old Sir Isaac Newton, there would have been a resultant effect. We have other similar events to guide us.
When a ship accidentally hits a quay wall with her 'shoulder', her stern kicks out from the quay-side and, if there is sufficient impedance to forward travel, the bow momentarily cants toward the point of contact. As her near side moves back toward the quay, a cushion of compressed water acts like a temporary fender and hold her off before it spills aft and the ship comes back alongside.

We must be careful when considering stories about the colour of the iceberg. As you probably know colour is actually the shade of light rays reflected off an object. You cannot see an iceberg at night unless it reflects light shining on it. On a dark, moonless night, an iceberg will only be seen from a ship if it reflects light from the ship. blocks out light from another source or, as in the case with Captrain Rostron, reflects the light from a shooting star or comet streak. QM Olliver saw it as " a kind of a dark-blue. It was not white." he was seeing the reflected light from Titanic's accommodation and the green navigation light on the bridge wing as the ship passed he berg. By the way, that iceberg must have been outside the No.1 Emergency boat or below it's keel other wise it would have swept that boat away.
If anyone saw that iceberg astern of Titanic after she had stopped, then it was less than half a mile away on her starboard quarter. In that case, if Titanic was pointing north, the berg would have been to the SSE of her. There is no way the ship could have made such a tight reverse turn with her engines rapidly slowing down.
The idea of Titanic pointing north, is, in my humble opinion, a myth developed to fit the SS Californian to the lights seen on Titanic's port bow after, not before she stopped and to fit the orientation of Titanic's bow section on the sea bed.
If , as I believe, she had never turned north of due west, then the vessel seen on her port bow was most certainly not the Californian.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The idea of Titanic pointing north, is, in my humble opinion, a myth developed to fit the SS Californian to the lights seen on Titanic's port bow after, not before she stopped and to fit the orientation of Titanic's bow section on the sea bed.
If , as I believe, she had never turned north of due west, then the vessel seen on her port bow was most certainly not the Californian.

Leave Californian out of it. If you just consider the totality evidence, including the observations of Rowe, Scarrott, Shiers, and the actions of Smith and Murdoch immediately after the collision, and what Olliver said he heard, it all points to the vessel turning to starboard after the initial impact and facing northward when it came to a stop with berg disappearing off the starboard quarter. Then there is further evidence from Beesley and Crawford in the boats afterward, but we can leave that out of this.
 

Jim Currie

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Oh c'mon Sam! Surely you don't still subscribe to that sharp turn impossibility.?

You and others put forward the evidence of QM Olliver about hearing that second order being given. What you fail to prove is when it was given. He simply said he heard it when he was on the bridge. He was off and on the bridge several times in the first 10 minutes after impact. When exactly did he hear it?. he said when it was "way down stern". By the time that berg was 'way down stern'. the engines were slowing down rapidly and there was chaos around the rudder. The bow was swinging to the left with ever-increasing momentum. The ship itself was losing forward momentum due to the turn and contact with the ice. The only way that swing could have been reversed was with full ahead power on the engines, a perfectly functioning steering system and no effect on Titanic's hull from an external source other than the varying pressures due to the turning effect. However. lets look at the observations you quote.

Scarrott...He wasn't sure what helm he thought she was acting under and had to be coached by his questioner. He said the berg was not a ship's length away when he saw it. Consequently it must have been at the stern. That was after the noise of contact had stopped, after he had rushed down to talk with his mate then rushed back on deck. How long would that have taken? How far aft would the berg have been with Titanic making about 35 feet per second? He had just emerged from a brightly lit interior.
Not a very convincing witness, Sam.

QM Rowe. The berg was almost hard up against the ship's side when it passed him so he wouldn't have a clue what helm she was under at that time. The vessel seen at first, fine on Titanic'son the port bow was moving...right to left... Boxhall said so.
( I saw the masthead lights first, the two steaming lights; and then, as she drew up closer, I saw her side lights through my glasses, and eventually I saw the red light. I had seen the green, but I saw the red most of the time. I saw the red light with my naked eye)
That would account for Rowe's belief that the Titanic's bow was swinging left to right. It was also at least half an hour after Titanic had stopped.

Shiers.. He saw it on the starboard quarter "off the stern" five minutes after the impact and the ship was moving ahead very slightly... so he said. I cannot see his evidence being any help in proving your point.

We have no idea exactly what Captain Smith or Murdoch were doing during the first five minutes following impact. All we do know is that the engines were used astern, then ahead, with stops in between and at the end. The first two engine movements were made by Murdoch. Any further helm or engine movements would have been to Master's orders. That was automatic once Smith arrived on his bridge. He would have instructed Murdoch or carried out the orders himself. That was and still is, standard practice.

Sam, after a turn such as you describe, that iceberg would have been over half a mile away from anyone standing on the starboard side of Titanic's forward well deck. At that time she would be pointing to the north west. As I remember, you also believe that there was a southward-setting 1 knot acting against Titanic's starboard side at the time. When she first turned right, such a current would have accelerated the turn. When reverse rudder was applied, her bow would have had to overcome that same current. Apart from her being able to turn into that current, how was the ship able to continue swing her head into it and eventually end up pointing to the north?

I think you are right.. we had best leave Californian, Beesley and Crawford out of this.
 
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According Boxhall Smith, Murdoch and he had gone out onto the starboard bridge wing to look at the berg shortly after Smith arrived. The berg had to be off the starboard quarter. Rowe was very specific about the ship's head pointing northward. Olliver heard Murdoch give the order hard-aport, not Smith, and he heard Moody say it was carried out. This had to be before Smith arrived on the bridge otherwise it would have been Smith giving the orders.

Anyway Jim, believe what you want. We have been going over this for years now, and I'm getting a bit tired of it.
 
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Aaron_2016

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The Californian was looking directly at the Titanic's port bow about 5 miles away.
The survivors saw the Californian on their port bow about 5 miles away.

We know the Titanic faced north because the survivors rowed towards the lights of a ship almost directly ahead (northwards) and when they saw the Carpathia to the south they had to turn around and row the opposite way. If the Titanic was facing West and the survivors rowed south west, then the Carpathia would have to appear from the North East and we know she did not. Everything points to the Titanic facing northwards. The wreck is facing northwards. The survivors rowed towards the Northern Lights which appeared ahead of the Titanic's bow towards the north. Major Peuchen said they rowed "right directly north, I think it would be, because the northern lights appeared where this light we had been looking at in that direction appeared shortly afterwards. The northern lights were very strong that night." Other survivors saw the Northern lights ahead of the ship's bow and rowed in that direction. If the Titanic was facing West and they rowed towards the other ship off their port bow, then they would row South West. That makes no sense because the Northern lights would not appear South West. Fleet felt the ship heel to port as she turned right immediately after the collision - 'Q - Did it tilt the ship to any extent? A - She listed to port right afterwards.' Olliver heard and saw the helm orders carried out and survivors looked over the railing and saw the iceberg off the stern quarter on the starboard side a long time after they felt the collision. There simply is no way to see the iceberg there if the ship just turned left. There is just too much evidence to support the turn northwards.


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Jim Currie

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Well then Sam. what more can we say? I'm perfectly happy for you to show me the error of my ways. So far you have not. Perhaps if you read the evidence carefully and with an open mind, you might see things differently? For instnace in this latest post of yours you write : "The berg had to be off the starboard quarter" That has never been in dispute. In fact, Boxhall saod "I was not very sure of seeing it. It seemed to me to be just a small black mass not rising very high out of the water, just a little on the starboard quarter,"
He saw this from the corner of the bridge...the only place he could look out without having his line of sight obscured by the boats.

The evidence of Rowe does not make sense. He arrived on the bridge just after No.7 boat was launched and saw the light about half a point on the port bow. Boxhall had seen it in the same position earlier, just after midnight. Until he arived on the bridge, Rowe had been stationed at the stern and knew nothing about the helm. Then when he left Titanic an hour and 20 minutes after he first saw that light, it's relative bearing had changed by about 15 degrees.... hardly a swinging bow.

"Olliver heard Murdoch give the order hard-aport, not Smith, and he heard Moody say it was carried out. This had to be before Smith arrived on the bridge otherwise it would have been Smith giving the orders."

Sam, if you knew anything about shipboard protocol, you would not make that observation. The master of a ship does not keep a 'dog' and do his own barking. Smith would simply say quietly to Murdoch, " Helm hard- a -port Mr Murdoch" and Murdoch would yell "Hard-a- port". Moody would repeat the order and Hichens would repeat and obey it. When the
helm was hard-a-port, Hichens would yell out the fact. It would be repeated back down the line to Smith and he would finish with "Very well, Mr. Murdoch". If there was an engine order to accompany that order either Smith or Murdoch would perform the task. In this case we know from QM Olliver that Captain Smith ordered half a head. Do you really think he would do so without a helm order?

You finish with
"Anyway Jim, believe what you want. We have been going over this for years now, and I'm getting a bit tired of it."

From previous encounters, that first bit tells me you have no answers to my objections to your arguments. In fact, you have singularly ignored my requests for clarification of your past claims that Titanic was able to make this incredible turn in defiance of all the elements acting against her. By that, I mean interaction between the hull and ice, a south- setting current and a rapidly failing steering system. If you can show me how Titanic overcame these obstacles then I will bow to your superior knowledge. In that happy event, we will, between us, have truly made progress in discovering the truth. If however, you wish to close the subject then that's OK by me. I certainly would not like us to fall out after all those years.
 

Jim Currie

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Aaron.

If Californian was as you say, 5 miles ahead of Titanic when she stopped. Why didn't the lookouts see her lights out on the starboard bow before they saw the iceberg? That was their job.

The Vessel seen from Titanic was observed for some time as it approached. It was approaching. Read the evidence of Boxhall. Californian had been stopped for over an hour before Titanic hit the iceberg.

The survivors could not have rowed north if Titanic was heading north and the lights they rowed toward were 2 points on her port bow.

Major Peuchin was a joke. Here is his evidence:

"No; we started right off from the port side of the boat directly straight off from her about amidship, on the port side, right directly north, I think it would be, because the northern lights appeared where this light we had been looking at in that direction appeared shortly afterwards."

Now that from a man who claimed he was a seaman. If as he said they rowed directly north from the port side, then the ship was heading directly east, not west and that is absolute nonsense. If he rowed directly out from the port side when Titanic was heading north then he was heading west and would have had a hard time seeing the northern lights in that direction.

"There simply is no way to see the iceberg there if the ship just turned left."

Oh there most certainly is, Aaron but think about this. Captain Smith gave the order half a head on the engines. This was well after the time of impact. Now why do you think he would give an engine order without a helm order? Might it be because he did not think at that time that his ship was badly damaged and lined her up onto her original course, ready to resume his voyage to New York?
 
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Aaron_2016

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Fleet said his duty was to watch the port side while Lee watched the starboard side. Fleet told the Inquiry - "The other lookout reported it." Boxhall said in his BBC interview that he was getting the lifeboats ready when he heard a call from the bridge that the lookout had reported a light on the starboard bow. This would be Lee. When the Titanic turned right and stopped the ship would continue to slowly turn right during the evacuation and this caused the light to move from her starboard bow to her port bow. I recall one of the survivors (was it Rowe) said it was simply the action of the Titanic slowly swinging which caused the lights of the other ship to change bearing. Boxhall did not know what position the Titanic was facing and wasn't sure what the engines were doing after he went down to look for damage. Captain Smith was seen to telegraph half speed ahead. I think he was trying to steam closer to the other ship but when it became apparent that the flooding was serious he immediately ordered stop. The forward momentum would continue to bring them closer to the other ship and I think that is what led Boxhall to believe the other ship was approaching them and slowly passing their bow.


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Alex Clark

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I would have thought the current would not have an effect on manoeuvrability as the whole body of water the ship was in would be moving together. I understand the wind has an affect on such things but the ship being sat in a large body of water moving at a few knots would be moving with it, wouldn't she?
 

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