Hard a starboard by Jim Currie

Nov 13, 2014
336
18
28
Belgium
It's now been over 15 years since "The Last Log of the Titanic" by David G. Brown was published and a few weeks ago, I first read the newer article "Hard-a-starboard".
Then, while watching the documentary "Titanic conspiracy: The Ship that Never Sank?" I developed a new theory about how the iceberg collision took place, based on what I remembered from both articles. I will write it down here, sometimes copy-pasting fragments of either article.

First Officer Murdoch raises his night glasses at the sound of the last warning bell. He sees the iceberg ahead and orders hard-left rudder (hard-a-starboard in 1912 speak). Immediately after he gives that first helm order, Murdoch rings down STOP on the engine telegraph. Murdoch's settling stomach rolls over once more. Hardly has 6th Officer Moody confirmed that the helm is hard-a-starboard when the tip of Titanic's bow runs aground on a massive ice ram. Murdoch knows that the possibility of the ship being wounded is very real so he immediately rings down ASTERN. He must stop her forward travel until a damage assessment can be carried out.

The presence of such a big ice ram makes one conclude that the iceberg has molten unevenly for quite a while since her last capsize, and now the ram can't support her own weight anymore, not if it's combined with 150 million lb's of Titanic. The iceberg begins to capsize as the double bottom slides over the ram, creating several small and large holes where water can pour in. Meanwhile, Murdoch's orders to the engine room are making Titanic's stern turn right and her bow start turning left at an ever-increasing speed. Exactly as Murdoch intended.

As the iceberg slowly capsizes, the damage area shifts to the starboard side. The vibrations of the collision to the iceberg cause several chunks of ice to break free and land on the well deck. The double bottom above the holds is now getting damaged.

At the moment the boiler rooms fall victim to the direct iceberg damage, the collision has now shifted completely from a grounding to a starboard swipe. Leading Fireman Barrett observes the wall of the boiler room being damaged by the iceberg, and thinks the entire collision was a sideswipe. Meanwhile, the propellers are turning astern, causing the stern to swing away from danger to the right hand, starboard side, making the entire ship clear the iceberg and the damage stops. The iceberg itself stabilizes and does not capsize after all.

What do you think? I did my best, but I may be unable to write down the exact meaning of some of my words without the proper illustration.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hi Christophe! Well put-together bit of work. I will comment between quotes from your post.

" Hardly has 6th Officer Moody confirmed that the helm is hard-a-starboard when the tip of Titanic's bow runs aground on a massive ice ram............

The presence of such a big ice ram makes one conclude that the iceberg has molten unevenly for quite a while since her last capsize, and now the ram can't support her own weight anymore, not if it's combined with 150 million lb's of Titanic. The iceberg begins to capsize as the double bottom slides over the ram, creating several small and large holes where water can pour in."
..

I presume you mean that Titanic grounded on the iceberg? If she did, even momentarily, then we would have a very good indication of the event in the testimony of the witnesses. The reason for this is the phenomenon known as "dry-docking effect". If Titanic had slid onto a spur of the berg, even for a short time, the weight would have suddenly been carried by the berg. When this happened, her center of gravity would have shot mast height. As long as she remained perfectly upright, she would be ok. However if she took the slightest list to one side or the other,that list would have violently increased due to the ship speed and she might well have turned over. In any case she would have experienced a very serious 'wobble' and violent bouncing motion which would not have escaped everyone on board.. even those asleep!

"As the iceberg slowly capsizes, the damage area shifts to the starboard side. The vibrations of the collision to the iceberg cause several chunks of ice to break free and land on the well deck. The double bottom above the holds is now getting damaged."

According to AB Scarrott, the iceberg was about the height of the boat deck and had a high and a low side. The high side was nearest the starboard side of the ship. In fact, it would have had to be right up against the side or even overhanging the main deck for ice to fall onto the forward well deck.
Actually that part of your idea - a capsizing berg - is realistic.
It is quite possible that the ice berg was not exactly right head but slightly to starboard of Titanic's course and that there was a worn, underwater spur about 25 feet below the surface directly in her path. ( have seen this).
As Titanic turned to the left, her bow missed the spur. But because she had only turned about 2 degrees, she had not turned enough and the Forepeak tank contacted the spur causing the by then unstable berg to tilt toward the ship. The contact at speed caused Titanic's bow to briefly turn toward the berg and in doing so held the ice against her side for a total of seconds before physics took over and the berg became disengaged from the side
Thus we have the picture of the high side of an iceberg tilted hard over against the side of the ship.. far enough over to overcome the inward incline of her sides (Tumblehome) and depositing light ice on the main deck. The tilt must have eased off after about 4 seconds and before the berg came adjacent to the bridge, otherwise it's tip would have wiped out emergency boat 2

Meanwhile, the propellers are turning astern, causing the stern to swing away from danger to the right hand, starboard side, making the entire ship clear the iceberg and the damage stops. The iceberg itself stabilizes and does not capsize after all.

If Titanic as making 22.5 knots at the time of impact - and the length of the damage area and witness testimony supports this - then the iceberg could not have been in contact with the ship's side for more than 6 seconds.
At the beginning of that 6 second period, the boiler rooms received a STOP order. It would have taken up to 30 seconds to stop the engines turning ahead and another 30 before any meaningful astern action could even begin to take effect. By that time, Titanic would have been well past the iceberg and almost stopped in the water

What do you think? I did my best, but I may be unable to write down the exact meaning of some of my words without the proper illustration.[/QUOTE]


I think you did just fine. Obviously you have given this a great deal of thought. Well done!

Jim C.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,226
480
213
When I wrote “Last Log” I was still of the belief that the conventional story was basically true. That is, I wanted to find a way of describing accurately how Murdoch might have found a way to sashay around the iceberg. My idea was taken from a maneuver used in smaller planing hull craft in which the bow is first turned away from an object to gain safe water; then, the bow is turned toward that object to swing the stern out of harm’s way. While I no longer believe that could have been done with a vessel the size of Titanic, the effort led me to realize that the contact as described by eyewitnesses was more like a grounding than a sideswipe. Apparently, I was not alone in that epiphany. Parks Stevenson was also thinking along those lines and contacted me after the printing of my book. We worked together on a White Paper describing our thoughts. Since then I’ve become more convinced that a “grounding” type of contact did take place even though the event was far more complex.

First of all, I believe the two-point (22 ½ degree) turn did take place, but it was not to avoid the fatal iceberg. Rather, it was just to steer south of the ice field obvious across the bow. That turn set up the accident by pointing the bow at the berg which otherwise would have passed safely down the port site. When Murdoch realized what had happened, he had virtually no chance to avoid the floating ice mountain. His only choice was to confine the inevitable damage to the bow. He did this by ordering “hard a-port” (starboard rudder) to swing the bow hard against the iceberg. Conventional wisdom holds that he then reversed both engines. But, that makes no sense and especially not for a man of Murdoch’s experience. Reversing engines would have greatly reduced the ship’s ability to turn just when it needed to pivot like a ballet danger. No, Murdoch would not have reversed both engines. He would have followed the pattern of a maneuver the ship used leaving Southampton in which reverse thrust on one of the outboard propellers was used to turn the ship much quicker and sharper than it could have done under rudder alone. The engine order an experienced man like Murdoch would have rung down was “Astern Full” on the port engine. That would have made sure all damage was confined to the bow with minimal impact to the sides and not involvement of the starboard screw.

Whatever Murdoch did, the ship struck on the berg. The sounds and sensations described by most survivors were much like those of a ship sliding onto a muddy beach with rocks imbedded in the mud. The concept of sliding over a spur of ice is not required. More likely, in the initial moments Titanic simply slid over the a widening shoulder of the berg. During this time lookout Fleet described the starboard side of the ship as lifting slightly. This would have been the “dry dock” effect mentioned above by Jim. Then, there was a hard impact against what Second Officer Boxhall described as the “bluff of the bow.” This impact was sharp enough to send chunks of ice into the well deck from the upper slopes of the berg.

Stoker Beauchamp in boiler room heard all of this, but did not see any sudden ingress of water. Non the less, there was damage done and water was filling the space between the tank top and the stoker plates. Within roughly 20 minutes that water had risen to the point it was coming out of the door to bunker Y on the forward side of bulkhead D. All-in-all, this suggests the initial damage involved the forward 200 feet of the ship from forepeak tank to the head of boiler room
#6. Aft of bulkhead D in boiler room #5 the indications from leading stoker Barrett’s testimony are that no water entered above the tank top. He described engineers working on plumbing in the space between the tank top and the stoker plates, something highly unlikely in 28 degree water. More important, it was the lifting of a manhole to get to that space that ultimately caused Engineer Shepherd to break his leg.

Although contact with the ice would have slowed Titanic’s speed, it still would have taken less than 4 seconds for the undamaged portion of boiler room #6 and all of #5 to pass the iceberg. It was just then that a sudden avalanche of coal trapped trimmer Cavelle inside boiler room #4. It is possible that the trimmers had simply created too steep a side on the coal pile and it slumped down of its own volition. However, the timing of Cavelle’s avalanche makes it far more likely that the coal was dislodged by a second impact against the iceberg. And, this probability is confirmed by through-hull damage that eventually caused water to well up in #4 later that night. There is also little other explanation for ice found in port hole sills and on passenger decks far abaft the well deck.

In his posting above Jim describes how in a worse case scenario the “dry-docking effect” might cause a ship to capsize. Or at the very least it would oscilate from side to side in a most disturbing manner to passengers. While perhaps a bit dramatic in his description, Jim is correct about what could happen – but neither happened to Titanic. The logical explanation is that the lifting of the starboard side described by Fleet was a matter of inches, not feet. It was discernable in the crow’s nest because the height of the mast exaggerted the lifting sensation. And, at the same time the iceberg was beginning to tip toward the ship. Murdoch’s last order of “hard a-port”(right rudder) brought the bow into hard contact at roughly the forward end of the well deck. Bang! Ice started tumbling onto the ship. Then, there was a sort of rebound with the berg and ship losing contact for about 90 feet before having one more go at each other in way of boiler room #4. Another bang had coal tumbling about trimmer Cavelle and water began entering that compartment. By now Murdoch’s “hard a-port” (right rudder) was taking effect and the two antagonists separated forever.

Somehow, I suspect that the first Bang! was not all that great. It was not the one that awakened passengers or was felt in the first class smoking room. Rather, I think it was this second contact that was the impact most people, especially passengers felt.

– David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Always enjoy crossing swords with you David. En guarde!

I will work my way through your last post in the usual way.

I believe the two-point (22 ½ degree) turn did take place, but it was not to avoid the fatal iceberg. Rather, it was just to steer south of the ice field obvious across the bow.

Murdoch's height of eye was about 75 feet and the pack ice was about 6 feet high. The maximum horizon from Murdoch was therefore 9.9 miles away and the farthest possible the ice could have been seen on a clear day was just over 10 miles. At the time of impact, the pack ice was about 5 miles ahead of Titanic and trending NNW - SSE. If it exhibited a well defined glare along the horizon ahead, that glare would have been seen by Murdoch to extend from 40 degrees on the starboard bow to 86 degrees on the port bow. To avoid it, Smith would have had to alter course 8 points 90 degrees, not 2 points (22.5 degrees)to port. That close to the ice he would have ordered hard left rudder

Additionally, for your idea to work, David, you have to completely ignore the evidence of QM Hichens the man steering Titanic at the time. On both sides of the Atlantic, he was closely questioned about the use of helm before the impact . I quote:

" At 10 o'clock I went to the wheel, sir............I had the course given me from the other quartermaster, north 71 west, sir........... All went along very well until 20 minutes to 12,.......... I heard the telegraph bell ring; also give the order "Hard a starboard"

All went well.. no mention of any alteration.

"Senator SMITH: I want you to tell the committee, if you can, why you put the ship to starboard, which I believe you said you did, just before the collision with the iceberg?.......Is that the only order you received before the collision, or impact?.. A: Mr. HICHENS...That is all, sir......"

Fairly emphatic I would say. i.e. she was still steering N 71 W when the hard-a-starboard order was given. However Hichens reinforces that when at the UK Inquiry the following information on the ame subject as given by him:

"935. Did you relieve Quartermaster Oliver?,, A: - I did.
936. At what time? A: - Ten o'clock.
937. What was the course given to you? A: - N. 71º W.
943. Up to the time of the collision did she vary from her course at all?... A: - Not that I am aware of, not more than a degree on either side."

Surely that is plain enough? Hichens was given N71 West at 10 O'clock and steered that course right up until the time of contact with the ice. If, as you say the course was altered 2 points to the left then Titanic would have been steering S 87 W by compass when she hit the ice. Since he was given the opportunity to so so by his questioners on both sides of the Atlantic; surely Hichens would have recalled that event? Or are you going to suggest that somehow Hichens had been 'got-at' by the WSC before he gave evidence? If you are, that won't wash because there would be no way the officials in the US could be sure that such an alteration that you suggest had not been mentioned by other deck crew survivors and that said survivors would let the cat out-of-the-bag during intense interrogation.

If Captain Smith wished to alter to avoid the ice, he would have done so on the basis of what he knew about that ice. If he was going to alter for that ice, he would have done so in good time for such an alteration to be effective. We're discussing a man at the top of his profession.

Smith would not alter course on a DR if he had a fix to go by. He did not have the results of the 7-30 pm until 9-30pm that night. That would be the first time before turning The Corner that he would have a very good idea as to where Titanic was relative to the position of the ice reported by Caronia.
From the Caronia report, if from no other, the time of turning The Corner and the speed Titanic was making, he would know that she would be up to the Ice region no later than 10 pm that evening i.e. ( lightoller thought 9-30pm) That being the case, why on earth would he wait for another 2 hours and travel at least another 42 odd miles into the danger zone before altering an arbitrary amount to the south to avoid a danger, the exact position of which he did not know?

"During this time lookout Fleet described the starboard side of the ship as lifting slightly. This would have been the “dry dock” effect mentioned above by Jim."

Err, no, David. The 'lift' would be a brief heel to the opposite side of initial contact. To be expected in a ship making 22.5 knots. Dry docking effect such as I suggest would be nothing like that and unmistakable. It consists of a very sudden, heavy lurch to one side or the other. It is the reason why side shores are progressively put in place along a ship's sides as she settles in dry dock ... as the water is pumped out. I have experienced that very effect when momentarily grounding on a submerged pinnacle when leaving a lock in the St Lawrence Seaway on a grain ship. It was so violent that I had one leg over the high side of the bridge. It is virtually an overturning moment and only needs a touch on a ship with a small metacentric height i.e. Titanic

"That turn set up the accident by pointing the bow at the berg which otherwise would have passed safely down the port site. When Murdoch realized what had happened, he had virtually no chance to avoid the floating ice mountain. His only choice was to confine the inevitable damage to the bow. He did this by ordering “hard a-port” (starboard rudder) to swing the bow hard against the iceberg. Conventional wisdom holds that he then reversed both engines. But, that makes no sense and especially not for a man of Murdoch’s experience. Reversing engines would have greatly reduced the ship’s ability to turn just when it needed to pivot like a ballet danger. No, Murdoch would not have reversed both engines. He would have followed the pattern of a maneuver the ship used leaving Southampton in which reverse thrust on one of the outboard propellers was used to turn the ship much quicker and sharper than it could have done under rudder alone. The engine order an experienced man like Murdoch would have rung down was “Astern Full” on the port engine. That would have made sure all damage was confined to the bow with minimal impact to the sides and not involvement of the starboard screw.


David, Think what you are suggesting.

If Murdoch was in the process of swinging the bow to port and had turned 22 degrees at full speed (in 37 seconds) when he was suddenly confronted with an iceberg right ahead and the only action he could take was hit it head on then he had very few seconds to make this decision before impact took place. Your idea suggests that he knew that impact was inevitable therefore went into the twin screw confined space turn. You rightly state that Murdoch had vast experience. let me assure you, such a man would never have contemplated such action if he knew impact was inevitable in a matter of seconds. He would know for sure that he did not have tine for such a luxury. However, had he the time and if such an action had been contemplated and he wanted to swing the bow quickly to the right, toward the iceberg, the sequence would have been STOP STARBOARD, FULL ASTERN STARBOARD(not port) RUDDER MID-SHIP.(otherwise starboard reverse thrust would act on wrong side of the rudder). The effect of such a sequence of orders received in a calm, quiet engine room with 20 minutes left of Watch time would have been devastating. Engineers running in all directions. Shutting down the starboard throttle, waiting until the starboard engine came to a halt, Engaging the astern linkage. etc. At the same time, the center turbine would shut down, speed would be dropping the turbulence round the rudder area would ensure ever decreasing efficiency. Then there would be the rudder angle. After about 1 minute 30 seconds from the first order, the starboard engine would start to turn in reverse.. need I go on?

Incidentally what is your take on the evidence of Lookouts Fleet and Leigh who stated that Titanic's bow was swinging left at the moment of impact? How was that possible if, as you suggest, the bow was being swung to the right - toward the ice berg?

"More important, it was the lifting of a manhole to get to that space that ultimately caused Engineer Shepherd to break his leg."


I think you'll find that the manhole in question was lifted to allow access to a bilge line flange which would have been removed to facilitate connection of the spare pumping hoses brought from aft by the engineers to enhance the de-watering effort.

"Then, there was a hard impact against what Second Officer Boxhall described as the “bluff of the bow.”"

Where is the evidence for a hard impact? in fact, Boxhall clearly states that it was so light , it did not break his stride on the way to the bridge. Here's what he said:

"Senator SMITH. But it was not a square blow on the bow of the ship? A; Mr. BOXHALL.: No, sir.

Senator SMITH.:In ordinary parlance, would it be a glancing blow?A: A glancing blow.
Senator SMITH:Was the blow felt immediately? A; A slight impact.
Senator SMITH: How slight? A: It did not seem to me to be very serious. I did not take it seriously.
Senator SMITH: Slight enough to stop you in your walk to the bridge? A: Mr. BOXHALL. Oh, no, no, no.


I think the remark I would make about your post, David is "Needs a little work"

All the best to you and yours for the festive season. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Jim C.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,226
480
213
Hichens. An enigmatic man to be sure. One thing he knew, however, is that if the British government could pin the accident on him, they would. How convenient to have a scapegoat. No questions about the design or construction of the ship. No questions about how Captain Smith conducted the voyage. No embarassing questions. Honestly, I don’t know if Hichens was coerced in any way. All I know is that he would have been aware of his precarious situation.

His testimony is quite correct. He did take over at “10 o’clock” and he was given the course specified above. Things did go well until 20 minutes to 12. Whatever took place was within the expected routine of a ship at sea. It is my belief that the ship never wavered from its course. To a seaman, that would mean that the ship steered the course specified by the captain through the officer of the watch. Even though the captain might have changed Titanic’s course Hichens’ statement would still be true that the ship never wandered more than a degree or two one side or the other of the intended heading.

And, this is exactly what a forensic reconstruction of the ship’s dead reckoning shows. From the time it turned “The Corner” it followed the North 71 West course. But, as I have repeatedly stated, when the two distress (“CQD”) positions are plotted they do not lie on that course line. Rather, they lie on a line 11 degrees to the left (south) of the track from “The Corner.” Since both men believed they were giving a location where the ship ought to be, it follows logically that the line from Captain Smith’s CQD position to Boxhall’s was the course actually being steered up too the time of the accident.

When did the ship alter course one point? This question is easily answered by extending the reciprocal of the Smith/Boxhall line until it meets the original track from “The Corner.” And, that crossing point lies exactly on the ship’s 11:30 pm dead reckoning based on April 14th time (11 hours 30 minutes past noon). So, the dead reckoning data passed down from Titanic’s bridge by the men conducting the voyage tells us that at 11:30 pm April 14th Titanic altered course 11 degrees to its left. (Note that a compass “point” is 11 1/4 degrees, but a quarter of a degree is too fine to be read on a compass card with divisions no smaller than 1 full degree.) Another important detail is that this alteration of course took place about the time the “blink” from field ice should have become visible across the bow to the bridge watch.

The time duration between 11:30 p.m. April 14th and the accident was not 10 minutes. Impact on the iceberg was measured in what I call “crew time” which was set back 24 minutes from the April 14th clock. So, impact came 34 minutes after Titanic altered course to its left. That’s plenty of time for the ship to have settled on its new course and for Hichens to have let it slip into the realm of dim memory. After all, the course was unimportant to him. His duty was to maintain a straight wake with the bow pointing in whatever direction Captain Smith desired. The dead reckoning reconstruction shows this course to have been 255 True.

Jim said that Captain Smith would have made any alteration of course in good time to make it effective. And, that’s what the forensic navigation shows. Captain Smith took his first action to avoid the ice most likely even before it was fully visible on his horizon. He was at the top of his profession. Smith’s problem was that his experience was gained in an era rapidly fading into the past. Hindsight lets us say that. But, in April of 1912 Captain Smith was doing his best based on his long experience at sea. A human being cannot do more.

In the crow’s nest Fleet and Lee were discussing what later became “fog” in their testimonies. It wasn’t fog then, it wasn’t fog in the hearing room, and it still isn’t fog. What they saw was a light horizon caused by starlight reflecting off the ice pack. There may also have been some thin haze close to the ice to magnify that effect. Then, they saw something. Fleet later called it a “dark mass.” They quite accurately described an object seen against a lighter horizon on a dark night. It was, I believe, the silhouette of the iceberg. At 11:58 p.m. April 14th time – or 11:34 p.m. for the crew – Fleet properly rang the warning bell three strokes for an object dead ahead. Those sounds floated down to quartermaster Olliver on the compass platform, to Boxhall just coming out of the officers quarters, and to seaman Scarrott standing in the well deck outside the crew’s mess.

Let’s look at who was where when the bell sounded. Sixth Officer Moody and Hichens were in the wheelhouse where their duties lay. Captain Smith was in his private navigation room just off the wheelhouse. First Officer Murdoch was on the starboard bridge wing. But, two members of the bridge team were elsewhere. Fourth Officer Boxhall was making his way along the boat deck and Olliver was on the compass platform. These latter two men are key to what happened next. At 11:58 p.m. in April 14th time they should have been about to do one of the 48 compass evolutions required by both the customary practice of seamen and IMM/White Star rules.

Looking back to 11:30 p.m. April 14th, we see that the one-point course change was done in conjunction with an earlier compass check. This indicates Captain Smith’s wisdom. He got the most out of Boxhall and Olliver by combining two actions into a single mission. At 11:30 p.m. April 14th they had conducted the required compass check and performed a course change. It is highly likely Smith would have followed this procedure a half hour later when he decided to increase the distance by which Titanic would run along the edge of the ice field.

Some admittedly speculative trigonometry reveals some interesting possibilities. Using a speed of 22 knots and a nearly head-on final approach to the iceberg, I calculated it was about 900 feet to port (left) of the ship’s track line when Fleet rang the crow’s nest bell. Then I turned to Scarrott’s estimate that five to eight minutes passed between the sounding of that bell and impact. Doing the math I calculated that six minutes after the warning bell the iceberg would now have been very nearly 24 degrees off the port bow. If Boxhall was sent to conduct a two point left turn, he would have put the fatal berg fine on Titanic’s starboard bow with less than 25 seconds to impact.

My theory is that Murdoch rang down for Astern Full on the starboard screw. Jim describes the chaos such an order would have created among the engine room watch caught totally unprepared for any sort of maneuver. This is why I do not believe Murdoch expected anything to happen immediately. For quick response he had to use full right rudder, so ordered “hard a-port” in that confusing 1912 jargon. Olliver heard this order and also the duty quartermaster’s (who was Hichens) response. It was rudder alone that twisted Titanic’s bow into the iceberg. If the starboard played any part it was simply to accentuate the turn by slowing the starboard screw during contact with the ice. The actual reversing of the starboard engine came later and was immediately countermanded by the bridge. Jim is totally correct in his description of what would have happened if the rudder had been put over and the starboard screw reversed simultaneously.

As to the hardness of the impact, I use the term “hard” not to describe the force of the blow but rather the meeting of steel with ice. It was a sliding contact forward of Boxhall’s “bluff of the bow.” Then, there was just enough impact topsides to knock loose some ice. The harder topside impact came in way of boiler room #4.

Jim’s description of “drydock effect” that he experienced was far more upsetting than what happened to Titanic. There are good reasons for this. First, Jim’s ship hit an immovable object – the planet on which we live. It didn’t give, so the ship had to. Titanic’s iceberg was softer and also afloat. It had the ability to react to the ship. So, the result was far less dramatic than Jim’s eyewitness account.

– David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Enjoying this, David. There's life in the old :rolleyes:dog yet. I'll answer in the usual way.

"One thing he knew, however, is that if the British government could pin the accident on him, they would. How convenient to have a scapegoat."

Two things:

(1) Like everyone of us who have ever been in front of HM Wreck Commissioner, he would be very much on his guard. He would also be very apprehensive. The Board of Trade ruled the lives of all British seamen. The Board could decide when a man could or could not work at sea. It issued my Certificates and ruled my life for a very long time.

(2) The British Government could not pin anything on anyone. Only The Board of Trade could do so and it was and still is, not accountable to the Government of the day. The Board of Trade, originally the Lords of Trade or Lords of Trade and Plantations is a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. This means that it's members were in 1912, and still are, responsible only to the highest law makers in the land and above the sitting Government.

"His testimony is quite correct. He did take over at “10 o’clock” and he was given the course specified above. Things did go well until 20 minutes to 12. It is my belief that the ship never wavered from its course. To a seaman, that would mean that the ship steered the course specified by the captain through the officer of the watch. Even though the captain might have changed Titanic’s course Hichens’ statement would still be true that the ship never wandered more than a degree or two one side or the other of the intended heading."

Nice wee swerve , David but not good enough. Lets re-enact the movements of bridge personnel between 10 pm that night and the time when you say that missing second helm order was given.

When Hichens took over the wheel at 10 pm, the man he relieved would give him the course to steer and add anything of use like "She's carrying a wee bit of port helm". Hitchens would repeat what was told to him and would also check the course board in front of him.. This was a blackboard lit by a little, dim lamp. All ships had them right up until the 70s and 80s. It was subdivided by white painted lines. In the case of Titanic, these would be labelled "Standard".. "Steering" "Var:" . "Dev":
If, as you say, Smith had ordered a course change at any time before impact, the sequence of events would be as follows:
Before any planned course alteration, Smith would either write the order to do so in his night order book before 10 PM for Murdoch to see it and acknowledge when the latter came on duty. Otherwise, he would write in the same book that he intended altering at a specific time and would be on the bridge to do so. Whatever the case, Lightoller would most certainly have mentioned this in his evidence. He could not guarantee that Boxhall would forget about it or that the QM's didn't see it. So it wasn't in the Night Orders. It follows that if and order to turn it wasn't in the book, then Smith or Murdoch suddenly decided to alter to port.
However, if Murdoch did not see the ice barrier ahead, then it was not an emergency turn but a planned one. That brings Smith back into the picture because Murdoch would not make an arbitrary decision to alter course.
So Smith orders a turn to port to go south of the ice.... how far should that turn be? 2 points or 8 points? David, if Smith ordered such a turn, he would have pre-planned it.. had the officers of the Watch primed. Before it was executed, the helmsman would be aware of what was going on. Boxhall or Moody would be dispatched to the Standard compass platform. The course board would be wiped. The helm order " bring her round to (the desired heading by steering compass)." would be given, Moody would repeat it, Hichens would repeat it. The next order would be "let me know when you are right on- Mr Moody". When the ship's head was steady on the desired course, Boxhall would note the heading on the Standard compass. He would know the desired heading on that compass. He would then have Moody adjust the heading by the steering compass to correspond to the desired heading on the Standard Compass. When this was done, the proper Steering and Standard compass headings for the new course, together with the Magnetic variation and the ships Magnetic Deviation to apply to the Standard, would be noted in chalk on the course board.
OK! The foregoing might not be exactly what would happen but it's near enough as damn-it is to swearing. More to the point, it demonstrate that Hichens would not have forgotten about such an operation taking place just before impact. No way would he forget such a complicated series of happenings.

"And, this is exactly what a forensic reconstruction of the ship’s dead reckoning shows. From the time it turned “The Corner” it followed the North 71 West course. But, as I have repeatedly stated, when the two distress (“CQD”) positions are plotted they do not lie on that course line. Rather, they lie on a line 11 degrees to the left (south) of the track from “The Corner.” Since both men believed they were giving a location where the ship ought to be, it follows logically that the line from Captain Smith’s CQD position to Boxhall’s was the course actually being steered up too the time of the accident."

The intended new course at 5-50pm was to be 265 True. That being so, then if she had turned exactly at The Corner after running for 126 miles from Noon and hit the Ice berg when the patent Log read 260 miles, she would then have been at the position 42-48.3 'North, 49-59.7'West and exactly on the prescribed course.
The wreck lies at about 41-44'North, 49-47'West. It is 4.8 miles ESE of where Titanic should have been. If she hit the iceberg a mile to the northward and eastward of where she sank then she hit the iceberg at about 41-45'North, 49-46'East. 4.3 miles to the south and 3 miles eastward of where she should have been. This indicates that she turned onto 265 true when she was south and east of The Corner
With his distress position, Captain S
However, the foregoing assumes as do so many others, that Titanic arrived at, or passed through, The Corner. at 5-50pm that late afternoon of April 14. Given that she was bucking a 1 knot current against her bow between Noon and around 8 pm, and the fact that the prevailing wind effecting was acting on Titanic's starboard side from Noon until 6 pm that Sunday - is that remotely likely? You use the word 'forensic'. Here's how I see it.

Unlike others, I won't speculate. I'll only us the evidence available - a set of know 'facts' copied from and based on, the transcript of the evidence given at both Official Inquiries into the disaster. These are as follows:

(1): Titanic's Noon April 14 position worked in retrospect from the distance she had run on her Great Circle course up to that time and the distance remaining to run until she reached The Corner where she was to alter onto her next fixed course. (By calculation based on evidence from 3rd Officer Pitman)
(2); The course she followed from Noon April 15 until she turned at 5-5-pm. (5th Officer Lowe)
(3): The prevailing wind for the period Noon until 8pm that evening, Sunday, April 14.... (Log of the SS Californian)
(4): Distance run by Patent Log from Noon, April 14 to 5-50pm that afternoon. (5th Officer Lowe)
(5): The Patent log reading at at time of impact - 260 miles. (QM Rowe)
(6): The position of the wreck of Titanic on the sea bed.

From the above, I deduce the following arguments which I'll illustrate in the form of 2 sketches drawn to scale. I will also give my own estimate of the position where Titanic hit the iceberg.

1: Noon position April 14...Latitude; 43-01'North...Longitude 44-32'West.
2. Course and distance... Noon to 5-50pm... 240.5 True x 124 miles.
3: Weather: Noon to 8pm.. Wind North: Fresh to moderate becoming light . Sea: North, moderate at first becoming slight.
4: Average speed per patent log to 6 pm. 20.95 knots.. Distance Noon to 5-50 pm = 122.5 miles
5: patent log reading at time of impact =260 nautical miles.
6: Distress position per 4th Officer Boxhall Laritude 41-46'North... Longitude 50-14'West.
7: Distress position per Captain Smith latitude 41-44'North.. Longitude 50-24'West.
8: Position (average) of the wreck of Titanic: Latitude 41-44'North.. Longitude 49-57'West.
9: Position where impact took place : Latitude 41-45'North, 49-56'West.


Sketch 1 : The Accident area.

View attachment 1708

If Titanic had turned exactly at The Corner and had been right on the line she would have been where shown, She was not, she was displaced to the south and east of that position. Furthermore, if there was not alteration of course before impact then obviously, all things being equal, she would have turned at a position equal to that amount and direction of displacement from her intended turning point at The Corner. See here:

ideas.JPG

In the above sketch, I have simply transferred the displacement shown in the first sketch, back to the Corner.

Originally, I thought that Smith had aimed for the eastern extension of the new course. Now, I believe that he noted the drop in speed at 4 pm that afternoon and estimated that Titanic would continue to be effected by current However I think he misjudged it's direction and although aware of the effect the wind abaft the starboard bean was having on Titanic, underestimated that too. He wrote in his Order Book that Titanic was to be turned at 5-50 pm; the time at which he estimated Titanic would cover the total distance to go
Titanic was a flat bottomed, high sided vessel with a lot of wind resistance above the waterline. The addition of four enormous sails (funnels) ensured that she would be badly effected by a beam wind. With the result, Titanic crossed the eastern extension of the new course to the east of The corner and turned onto her new course of 265 True. at a point 4.3 miles by 137 true from where Smith intended and that was, right at The Corner

Incidentally, it was only Captain Smith's Longitude for his distress position that was wrong. His latitude was spot-on. This could not have been an accident. He must have estimated that at 5-50pm his ship had turned to the south of where he had intended and made the appropriate adjustments... he was a first class navigator and seaman who knew that region like the back if his hand.
As for Boxhalls CQD... have a look at his displacement south of the prescribed track.. almost exactly 1 mile. How convenient!


Jim C.

ideas.JPG


ideas.JPG
 
Nov 13, 2014
336
18
28
Belgium
I've been away for a while and missed the start of this ongoing battle, but I'd like to jump in here and question a few contradictions and claims the both of you made in your articles.

David, you suggested that the collision was more of a grounding, not a sideswipe. The long explanation you gave made me believe it completely, bu this seems to be contradicted by the testimony of fireman Fred Barrett. He told this during the US Inquiry, while working on board the Olympic.
I was standing talking to the second engineer. The bell rang, the red light showed. We sang out shut the doors and there was a crash just as we sung out. The water came through the ship's side. The engineer and I jumped to the next section.
At that point, there was no "conventional story" yet that said the collision was a sideswipe. That's why I came to the idea that the "line" of damage to the ship had been shifting throughout the fatal seconds the collision lasted. It started as a grounding, but the iceberg failed to carry the 150 million lb's of Titanic and started to capsize, causing the damage zone to shift to the side of the ship. By the time it reached the boiler rooms, damage was being done to the side, and that's what Barrett saw.

Also, David, you seem to say that the "hard-a-port" maneuver took place just before, during or just after the collision. But Jim made the suggestion that the hard-a-port order only went out when Captain Smith heard from Boxhall there was no serious damage to be seen.

And finally, Jim, you claimed that Captain Smith went to the starboard bridge wing after telegraphing the "ahead" order. This is against the conventional story, which says Smith went to the starboard bridge wing to look for the iceberg, then returned to the bridge to give the order "ahead" to the engine room. And yes, I know that a lot of the conventional story is wrong, but there might be testimony's evidence to support this part of it.

I look forward to see these things cleared up and see where this duel is going.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hello Christophe. Season's Greetings to you and yours. Great to see you diving -in.. I can assure you the water temp will not get too hot.:D It's right that you and others should question everything that is not clear to you.

Here is the sequence of supporting evidence:

Mr. OLLIVER. : When he [Captain Smith] first came on the bridge he asked the first officer what was the matter, and Mr. Murdoch reported, sir, that we had struck an iceberg, and the captain ordered him to have the watertight doors closed, and Mr. Murdoch reported that the watertight doors were closed...... The captain gave me orders to tell the carpenter [Possibly Hutchinson] to go and take the draft of the water."

"BOXHALL: We all walked out to the corner of the bridge then to look at the iceberg.....The captain, first officer, and myself.....I do not know what was done, because I left the bridge then........I went right down below, in the lowest steerage, as far as I could possibly get without going into the cargo portion of the ship, and inspected all the decks as I came up, in the vicinity of where I thought she had struck."

All of the foregoing must have taken place before 2nd Officer Lightoller got out of his bunk and went on deck to have a look-see a few minutes after impact. When he did, he saw captain Smith on the starboard bridge wing and Murdoch on the port bridge wing. At that moment, both men were looking ahead.
At that time, the extent of damage was thought to be minor. Hichens would be on the Wheel with Moody standing by and Boxhall would both be off the bridge and Olliver would be on his way back from finding the Carpenter,

"13753.
- 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 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.....
13761. Just tell us what you did.
- After looking over the side and seeing the bridge I went back to the quarters and crossed over to the starboard side. I looked out of the starboard door and I could see the Commander standing on the bridge in just the same manner as I had seen Mr. Murdoch, just the outline;"


The hard-a-port order was given when the iceberg was "way up stern" as QM Olliver is reported as saying. He also said:

"The captain telegraphed half speed ahead.... I reckon the ship was almost stopped.


That hard-a-port order was not, as some folks believe, part of the ice-berg dodging sequence. Murdoch would never have ordered such an action if he had already given an engine order. He would known that there was no time for such an order to be of any help and also that engines slowing down would drastically reduce rudder efficiency. On a stopped or almost stopped vessel, an engine order would not have been given without a helm order. In fact we have very good idea of the time sequence. It comes from Trimmer Thomas Dillon.

"- They stopped......- About a minute and a half [after the shock].
- About half a minute.[after they stopped]They went slow astern[for]- About two minutes. ...[then they topped again...They went ahead again....- For about two minutes. [then they stopped for good]


Only the first part of these engine orders were meant as part of the ice berg dodging sequence. By the time the engines had stopped turning for the first time, it was all over. The remaining movements were to first bring the ship to a standstill and then turn her head in a desired direction while waiting for what was thought at that time to be a report of little or no damage. 10 minutes later, the worse was known and preparations to abandon ship were ordered.

To summarise: After Titanic came to a halt or nearly so, Smith ordered a 2 minute burst on the engines and a tight rudder helm order. Due to the ship starting from a standstill, and not wishing to make much or any forward progress, that order had to be a hard-over one. The fact that they already hit ice made Smith super cautious thus he and Murdoch kept a forward lookout during the final engine movement.

That's how I see it, Christophe.

Jim C.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,226
480
213
Christophe -- Jim and I aren't having a "duel," just a friendly argument that needs a sailor's tavern and a bit o' adult pop for lubrication. Reducing this sort of discussion to black and white squiggles on paper (or display screen) makes it seem like an overheated argument. My guess is that given the right place, the right time, and gill of Grog and we'd be laughing in no time.

Anyway, regarding the sound of an 882-foot ship taking the ice...it would probably sound like all the hammers of hell were beating on a steel drum with your ears inside. Although I have my doubts about the veracity of everything Barrett said, describing the sound as a "crash" was as close to what he heard as needs be. His choice of words was not perfectly accurate. Even so, he probably did hear the first meeting of ice with Titanic's topsides that caused loose ice to tumble into the well deck.

The impact could not have been a sideswipe. Take a look at a lines drawing of Titanic's bow. The waterlines and buttocks tell the story. The inward slope of the steel coupled with the typical underwater shape of pinnacle icebergs doesn't make a long sideswipe possible. it is the shapes involved that make me believe that the first topside impact took place only at what Boxhall called the "bluff" of the bow. Here, the ship's topside could have come into the upper portion of the berg -- particularly if the ice were tipped toward the ship by Titanic's weight.

Ships of Titanic's era (and much later) are built on a horizontal grid system formed by the longitudinals and floors. The bottom of this steel grid is the bottom of the ship while the top is the tank top. The name "tank top" comes from the fact that the grid is often made into a series of individual watertight tanks used for fresh water and ballast water. Erected on top of that structure are the frames which support the sides of the vessel. Before reading further, please get a piece of light cardboard so you can do some experiments which will explain my theory as to why a grounding would have been far more dangerous than a sideswipe.

OK, lay that piece of cardboard on a table top. Note it can be rolled into a portion of a tube in only one direction -- fore and aft, or side to side. But, it cannot be rolled both ways simultaneously. The long, thin hull shape means that the tank top could roll over an underwater obstruction such as ice protruding underwater for a berg.

Now take that piece of cardboard and stand it on a long edge. Curve it to approximate the shape of a ship's bow. Note that once the shape of the bow is formed, the cardboard cannot bend upward it the ship went over that same obstruction.

So, when Titanic went on the ice, the tank top could flex somewhat to accommodate the unfair lifting caused by the ice. However, the sides of the vessel could not. The result is that the joint where the sides (steel plates and supporting frames) mounted on the tank top was a "stress riser." It is in this joint where the forces of impact would have been concentrated. It was this joint where you would expect the ship to break open during impact.

Now let's talk rivets. Not the quality of the steel, but the nature of all rivets whether in Titanic or not. It takes as little plate movement as 1/8th of the diameter of a rivet to shear it in two. Imagine the stress on that joint and how much the metal would have wanted to move to relieve the pain. Once the first rivet sheared, the rest were carrying its weight, so another and then another would have sheared. The result would have been a discontinuous opening along the length of the joint that rolled over the underwater ice.

I've had an opportunity to examine a ship built in 1909 using steel and rivets essentially the same as Titanic. It served in the Great Lakes where on every voyage it would bang and scrape its way through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie twice every round trip. I have noted plate deformation greater than the thickness of the steel and some of this along riveted seams. But, the rivet heads remain in place just as they were installed more than a century ago. This anecdotal evidence argues strongly against the sideswipe theory. Ice is nowhere near as hard as concrete and stone. In fact, ice is nowhere nearly as strong as even 1909 steel. That's why it was (and still is) possible to build steel icebreaking ships -- steel is stronger than ice.

There is something else to consider -- the margin brackets. These attach to the outboard ends of the floors and support the vertical frames. In ship's like Titanic the tops of these brackets slope downward toward the outside of the hull. The seam in the outer plating which would have come under the greatest strain should have been just above these brackets. To someone inside the ship, it would have appeared the side had opened up because that's essentially what did happen. But, it wasn't caused by a sideswipe but by the rolling over the underwater ice. (In my opinion.)

---------------------------------

Regarding the helm and engine orders. Here's how I see what happened --


Starboard helm -- about 6 minutes prior to impact to turn ship 2 points to south.

Stop or Astern Full to starboard engine.

Murdoch closes watertight doors.

IMPACT

Port Helm -- came while ship was still on ice to turn bow into berg

All Stop on all engines -- after Captain Smith came on bridge

Center up helm -- while officers were on starboard bridge wing.

From poop quartermaster Rowe sees stern swinging away from berg (result of port helm)

Ismay goes to bridge to talk to Captain Smith.

Boxhall reports he found no damage.

Ismay departs.

Captain Smith orders Half Ahead (per Olliver) but more likely Ahead Slow.

Carpenter reports flooding.

Captain Smith orders All Stop for last time.


--------------

Hope this does more to clarify than confuse.

-- David G. Brown



PS -- Jim, I'll get back to you in a bit.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Morning ,David. I reply in the usual way.

"Reducing this sort of discussion to black and white squiggles on paper (or display screen) makes it seem like an overheated argument. My guess is that given the right place, the right time, and gill of Grog and we'd be laughing in no time."

A picture and a thousand words? Hopefully more than old sea-dogs will read and understand this. I'm sure you'll agree that the old sayings concerning the smell of coffee and the heat of the kitchen are meaningless to someone who has never 'felt the heat' or is unable to recognise the smell of 'coffee'?

But before I start : Christophe et al, David is spot on with his observation : " Jim and I aren't having a "duel," just a friendly argument".
This is the way it should be... not a game of point-scoring arguments and counter-arguments. The aim is to thrash-out the arguments. Admit mistakes and re-think old, dearly-held ideas. There is little, if anything new about these discussion. If there is anything new, it is from looking at the problem from a different angle. This is not a forum exclusively for old hands. Often, new 'members of the crew' see an approach that has been hidden by a fog of stubborn self- rightiousness. Now to tear David up for bum-paper:rolleyes: Just kidding!


" I have my doubts about the veracity of everything Barrett said, describing the sound as a "crash" was as close to what he heard as needs be"

David, how do you know Barratt was describing a sound? He was asked:
"1868. Where was the crash - what was it you felt or heard or saw?"

We can see, hear and feel a crash. He did not answer that question in the first two terms of sound or sensation. Here is a condensation of how he described the event:

1860. Now just tell us what happened that you noticed?
- This red light came up. I am the man in charge of the watch, and I called out, "Shut all dampers.-...... - To shut the wind off the fires......It says "stop" - a red piece of glass and an electric light inside....- The crash came before we had them all shut."


In fact the other survivor from Boiler Room 6, Fireman George Beauchamp did describe the sound of the impact:

"61a. (Mr. Raymond Asquith - To the Witness.) Did you notice the shock when the ship struck? A: - Yes, Sir, I noticed the shock.
662. Was it a severe shock? A; - Just like thunder, the roar of thunder.


In a cavernous compartment like a boiler room I can imagine that to gave been a pretty good description. However you will notice that although their location was less than 200 feet from the first point of contact, neither of these men mention any physical sensation,, the sort of sensation that would most certainly have been felt had the ship ran over an ice ledge as you believe she did.

"Ships of Titanic's era (and much later) are built on a horizontal grid system formed by the longitudinals and floors"

No they aren't, David, they consist of a framework of closely spaced vertical ribs (frames) rising from a fore and aft composite backbone (keel and keelsons), strengthened at each end by a heavy stern frame and stem bar. Their top ends are connected longitudinally by a heavy strake of plating called the shear strake. In the case of Titanic, and 99.9% od all other vessels, the structure was further strengthened by transverse water tight bulkheads. Modern vessels also have longitudinal water tight bulkheads. Had these been fitted in Titanic, it is unlikely that she would have broken her back.
Double bottom tanks serve two purposes.. as storage and to strengthen the flat bottom. There's a lot more to it but I don't want to bore the readers too much. Suffice to say, Naval Architects consider a ship as a 'girder'.

As for riveting- I have served in riveted ships in the North Atlantic .. even been towed in to St. John Newfoundland after springing 4000 rivets in the bow section of a composite vessel. Rivet construction is extremely strong but heavy. I've read a lot of rubbish about the rivets on Titanic. Rivets normally distort, shear or pop. The number or 'pitch ' of the rivets together with the frame spacing determines the strength of the joint.
A riveted construction must be as rigid as possible, otherwise the rivet shanks will distort and even fail and the caulked seams will leak. That's why the frame spacing on Titanic's bow forward of WT Bulkhead "A" was reduced to 24 inches from it's maximum of 36 inches mid-ship.
The normal damage found in a grounding or heavy underwater impact is one of plates heavily set-in between frames. As a result of the fire in Titanic's bunker, the plates were described as being 'dinged' between frames. In a heavy grounding, the frames them selves may also be buckled and distorted.
I would be amazed to find out that Titanic's shell plating was actually holed anywhere below the water line.

The point of contact was on the starboard side, about 9 feet above the keel from about Frame +59 to frame +136 a distance of 209 feet. The damage area crossed no less than 5 thwart-ship vertical WT bulkheads including "A" to "E", After your cardboard demonstration You write:

"So, when Titanic went on the ice, the tank top could flex somewhat to accommodate the unfair lifting caused by the ice. However, the sides of the vessel could not. The result is that the joint where the sides (steel plates and supporting frames) mounted on the tank top was a "stress riser." It is in this joint where the forces of impact would have been concentrated. It was this joint where you would expect the ship to break open during impact"

In fact, the area between WT bulkheads "A" and "E" was as in most ships, the most heavily stiffened part of the hull. There is no way that section could have bent or buckled as you describe. That area is deliberately strengthened since it is the part that takes all the punishment in heavy seas. It's biggest problem is a phenomenon known as 'panting'. But I won't go into that.

"Regarding the helm and engine orders. Here's how I see what happened --

Starboard helm -- about 6 minutes prior to impact to turn ship 2 points to south.


I presume you mean that the course was altered from 265 True to abut 242 True? I asked before: why that specific amount at that specific time?. There would have to have been a reason for this and the lookouts would have seen it happen before the 3 bells not after they were rung

Stop or Astern Full to starboard engine.

Presumably this is because an iceberg is seen right ahead and you think he wanted a head-on impact. If so then Murdoch would have wanted the ship to go quickly to the right? He would have order hard-right rudder and only have touched his engines if there was a danger of making contact with a propeller blade i.e. that his stern would sweep round toward the ice berg during a turn. If he stopped the starboard engine then it was because the stern was sweeping toward the ice and the bow swinging right, away from it so he could not have ordered hard-right rudder

Murdoch closes watertight doors.

IMPACT

Port Helm -- came while ship was still on ice to turn bow into berg


How can this be?. It is contrary to the evidence of QM Olliver who clearly said that he heard the second helm order given after the ship had disengaged from the ice.

All Stop on all engines -- after Captain Smith came on bridge

Center up helm -- while officers were on starboard bridge wing.

From poop quartermaster Rowe sees stern swinging away from berg (result of port helm)

I suggest you read the evidence once more. In fact, Rowe told the US senators that he did not notice the iceberg when the ship cleared it. It was suggested to him by Senator Burton that if the helm was hard-a-starboard, the stern would be hard-up against the iceberg. He stated that it stood to reason that it would be. In fact it was as near to it as damn it is to swearing.
Of the iceberg, Rowe said "it was so close to the ship, almost touching it. Rowe was standing on the poop. He was at the starboard rail under the aft docking bridge at the time. At that point, the ship's sides curve in toward the center line. In fact, a line drawn parallel to the ship' side mid-ship is about 6 feet outboard of that side rail. That iceberg passed very close to the docking bridge that in Rowe's words "It was so near, I thought it was going to strike the bridge".


Boxhall reports he found no damage. This is about 10 minutes after impact.

Ismay departs.

Captain Smith orders Half Ahead (per Olliver) but more likely Ahead Slow.


I agree with that last bit but with one addition ; Smith would not order an engine movement without doing something with the helm. QM Olliver only said that he heard the second helm order when he was on the bridge. He was off and on the bridge several times in the time before he was sent to call the Bosun and all hands to prepare boats. The time before that was for a number of minutes in the engine room. By that time, the engines were stopped for good.

Not the least bit confusing, David. One cardinal rule I learned when carrying out a marine accident investigation was to get a 'feel' for the vessel then read every single word of the sworn evidence.... many times.

Jim C.
 
Nov 13, 2014
336
18
28
Belgium
The buckling of the hull appeared to be the perfect explanation for how a grounding ripped open the ship's side as Barrett saw it. But with Jim's last post, I don't know it anymore.

Also, I feel the need to analyze David's sequence again.

Starboard helm -- about 6 minutes prior to impact to turn ship 2 points to south.

Stop or Astern Full to starboard engine.

Murdoch closes watertight doors.

IMPACT

Port Helm -- came while ship was still on ice to turn bow into berg

All Stop on all engines -- after Captain Smith came on bridge

Center up helm -- while officers were on starboard bridge wing.

From poop quartermaster Rowe sees stern swinging away from berg (result of port helm)

Ismay goes to bridge to talk to Captain Smith.

Boxhall reports he found no damage.

Ismay departs.

Captain Smith orders Half Ahead (per Olliver) but more likely Ahead Slow.

Carpenter reports flooding.

Captain Smith orders All Stop for last time.
First of all, running stop / astern on the starboard engine... I don't know much about sailing or ship's behavior, but wouldn't this cause the ship to start turning to the right, the opposite direction of what it did?

Also, there was no reason for Murdoch to close the watertight doors before the impact. He must have believed in his ship and his skills that he could make it around the berg. But once the forepeek ran on the ice, he knew there were trouble and took more actions.

Then, Port Helm while ship was still on the berg is contradictory to what Jim said, multiple times.

I think the sequence can be corrected to this:

Hard-a-starboard

Stop engines

IMPACT

Engines full astern

Murdoch closes watertight doors

Smith and Boxhall arrive on bridge

Boxhall goes to inspect the ship for damage

Boxhall returns with good news: no major damage to be seen

Hard-a-port

Quartermaster Rowe (on aft bridge) sees stern swing away from iceberg (result of hard-a-port helm)

Smith orders Slow Ahead

Stop Engines

Smith, Murdoch and Boxhall go to starboard bridge wing

Engines slow astern

Stop Engines for the last time

Smith goes to wheelhouse

Carpenter reports flooding
I don't think it's perfect now, but I do think I can improve it with further replies on this thread.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hello there Christophe!. Well done! That's close to how I see it. Smith may have ordered hard-a-port immediately before, at the same time or shortly after the engine order but I am convinced that one was not given without the other.

I have added a few bits to your list, re-arranged, added a bit more and included suggested timing

"Hard-a-starboard......Impact -6 seconds

IMPACT...........0 seconds

Stop engines.. Full astern....0 seconds

Murdoch closes watertight doors....Impact + 1 seconds

Boxhall arrive on bridge....... Impact + 4 seconds.

QM Olliver sees berg passing toward the stern...Impact + 6 seconds

Engines stop. Impact + 8 seconds.

Smith Arrives on bridge........Impact + 16 seconds.

Engines start running astern.... Impact + 38 seconds'

Smith looks over the side and toward the stern. Sees the propeller wash curling out and back round toward the bow. Titanic seems to be stopped. Stop engines........Impact + 2 minutes

Engines stop.......Impact + 2 minutes 8 seconds.

Smith, sends QM Olliver for the Carpenter then with Murdoch and Boxhall goes out onto the starboard bridge wing and they all look aft and faintly see the iceberg slightly on the starboard quarter. Boxhall leaves the bridge on his first inspection Impact + 4 minutes.

Smith rings down STANDBY on the engines. Impact + 5 minutes

QM Olliver returns and reports having seen the Carpenter. Smith looks at the steering compass and see that the ship is well off her original course. He decides to bring her back onto course but will not move a head while doing so. He therefore orders Hard-a- port and rings down AHEAD n the engines. He also orders the helmsman to tell him the moment the ship's head starts to move.....Impact +6 minutes.

Smith rings down Stop... Impact + 8 minutes.

Boxhall returns to the bridge and advises no sign of damage. Smith is on the bridge looking aft with Murdoch. Boxhall thinks he seed the berg dimly on the starboard quarter but can't be sure because his night vision is compromised due to have in been in the ship's accommodation..... Impact +10 minutes.

Boxhall leaves on his 2nd Inspection.. meets the Carpenter and the Mail Room Clerk.. both with bad news for Captain Smith. Impact + 12 minutes.

Smith received news that the ship is flooding rapidly. Sends QM Olliver to the Bosun with orders to call all hands and prepare the boats then goes to the chart room, works a distress position and takes it to the wireless room..
Impact + 15 minutes.

QM Olliver arrives back on the bridge. At the same time, wireless operator Harold Bride arrives to complain that the noise of steam being vented is interfering with the reception of replies to the distress signal. QM Olliver is sent to the engine room with a note for Chief Bell. Impact plus 20 minutes.

Boxhall returns to the bridge then goes to call Pitman, Lightoller and Lowe. after this he returns to the wheelhous and re-works the distress position... impact plus 25 minutes.


You no doubt know that I am totally against the idea if the second helm order and the last ahead movement being part of the ice-berg avoiding manoeuvre. I think these orders were an example of Smith's prudence.
I think that up until he had word from the Carpenter and almost immediately after that, the Mail Room clerk, Captain Smith thought his ship had had a narrow escape. He would look at the steering compass and see that her head was way off to the south west as a result of the hard left turn. Being aware that he had a schedule to keep, he would not want to waste time after the inspection had been completed. So, anticipating a confirmation report of No Damage, but at the same time observing good seamanship practice, he ordered a quick burst head on the engines so that the prop wash would act on the rudder and swing the ship's bow back onto the course she was on before hitting the iceberg. That probably happened about 8 minutes after impact. 4 minutes after that, it was all over.

Have alook and let me know how YOU see things.

Jim C.
 
Nov 13, 2014
336
18
28
Belgium
I have to admit, it looks really good. I only wonder where Bruce Ismay's visit to the bridge fits in this sequence. He asked Captain Smith if the ship was badly damaged, and Smith answered he feared so. This must have been after the carpenter and the mail clerk told Smith the ship was taking on water, and I found a (poor) source which said Ismay talked to Smith before the Captain went on an inspection with Thomas Andrews. BTW, Smith ordered Thomas Andrews to the bridge just before Boxhall went on his first inspection, but Andrews arrived way after Boxhall returned with the apparent good news that he didn't see any serious damage. So when did Andrews and Ismay arrive on the bridge?

The Seconds From Disaster episode of National Geographic says Smith and Andrews went on their inspection at 11:48 P.M.. But now you say that at 11:48 P.M., Smith was still on the bridge, and Boxhall had yet to give his good news. Maybe your timing needs some correction, or maybe National Geographic was wrong.

But yet, there is no need to pin down the exact minutes, I think it would be better to focus on the other things I noted first. Then again, well done.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
482
110
53
37
Tacoma, WA
hi Christophe... been following the thread, everyone has some great analysis. Just wondering what your '(poor) source' is, and if you could quote it?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hello Christophe! We are getting there!

I think the best way to deal with this is to work backward. I suggest we work back from the evidence of First Class Stewardess, Annie Robinson. Not only was she a First Class stewardess but I think she was also a first class witness. If We combine her evidence with that of Night Watchman James Johnston, we get a very good idea what was happening.

Annie was in her bunk on E deck when the impact came. She got up and got dressed and went along in the direction of the Mail Room. She met the Carpenter carrying his tank-sounding line. He did not speak but looked bewildered. She also met the Mail Room Clerk who passed her,heading for the bridge. Some time after that, the Mail Clerk returned with Captain Smith and the Chief Purser, McElroy. They were on their way to see the flooding in the Mail Room. She was questioned if Andrews was with them but she did not confirm that he was.
After seeing the flooding, Smith heads for the engine room. On the way he meets Andrews and the two make their way below to a meeting with Chief Bell. After that meeting, Smith headed back to the bridge and Andrws made for the Mail Room. Meantime, after Captain Smith had been to the Mail Room, Annie went and had a look for herself. This was about 30 minutes after the impact. At about 12-25am - fifteen minutes after that, she met Andrews who told her to put on her life jacket if she valued her life.

Johnston was in the saloon on E deck at the time of impact. He saw Andrews going down into the engine room followed by Captain Smith. They came back up from the engine room and Andrews made for the Mail Room...Johnston followed him and saw the flooding.

Now lets look at the evidence of Joe Ismay.

Ismay was awakened by the impact but he did not get up immediately. When he did get up, he would don his dressing gown and slippers and go out into the alleyway. There he met steward (Clark) who told him that he, Clark, did not know what had happened. Ismay then went back to his room, put on a dust coat and went up to the bridge where he met Captain Smith. The captain told him the ship had hit an iceberg and that he thought the damage was serious.

From the foregoing we have a time scale as to where the principal players were between 11-52 pm when Smith first learned the full extent of the damage and the time when Andrews told Annie to put her life jacket on.

11-52 pm : Smith learns the extent of the flooding from the Carpenter. Realising that it is serious, he tells the Carpenter to take the results of his soundings to the builder's representative, Andrews.

11-53 pm : Ismay arrives on the bridge and is told the bad news. Smith works the first distress position.

11-55 pm: First distress position sent. QM Olliver sent to call all hands to prepare the boats. Carpenter meets the Bosun and tells him that Andrews gives the ship no more than 30 minutes to live.

11-58 pm: Boxhall returns to the Bridge and is ordered to go and call Lightoller, Pitman and Low.

Midnight: Captain Smith dispenses with QM Hichens. Tells him and his relief QM Perkis to go help with the boats. Crew starting work on the boats. Lookouts Hogg and Evans relieve Fleet and Lee in the Crow's Nest and QM Perkis relieves Hichens at the wheel. The last four go to the boat deck to help the crew prepare the boats.

12 05 am : ...Impact + 25 minutes.. Boxhall returns t the bridge and asks Smith if he should send a distress signal? Smith states he has already done so. Boxhall discovers Smith has used wrong data -goes to wireless room and has new distress position sent out. The crew are uncovering boats. Captain Smith leaves the bridge and goes below to inspect flooding in the Mail Room. On the way, he meets Chief Purser McElroy.

12 10 am : ...impact +30 minutes... Captain Smith and McElroy inspect the Mail Room. Smith goes to find Andrews and Chief Bell to tell them about the Mail Room.

12:12 am:.... Impact +32 minutes.... Andrews, followed by Smith go down into the engine room and have a quick meeting with Chief Engineer Bell.

12-15 am: ... impact +35 minute.... Andrews heads for the Mail Room and Smith returns to his bridge.

12-20 am: ... impact + 40 minutes... Annie sees the flooding...

12-22 am: ... impact +42 minutes.... Andrews makes his inspection of the Mail Room.

12-25 am: ... impact + 45 minutes... Annie Robertson is told by Andrews to put on her life jacket if she values her life.

The foregoing is guesswork based on the evidence given by these witnesses, We must be clear that their memory as to exact times will have been tainted to say the least. Have look for flaws and mistakes.

Jim C,
 
Nov 13, 2014
336
18
28
Belgium
The poor source I was taking about is the 1987 book "75 jaar TITANIC" from Edward P. De Groot. This is what I read there:
Soon enough, it became clear that help was needed. Smith first sent Boxhall on an inspection and made Thomas Andrews be ordered. Before he appeared on the bridge, Boxhall already returned from his inspection. He apparently didn't see any serious damage, but right after he said that the carpenter and a postal clerk dashed on the bridge. "She's taking on water and quickly", the carpenter said. "The mail room's flooding" was the discouraging message of the postal clerk. Then Bruce Ismay, chairman of the company who was also on the maiden voyage, also arrived on the bridge. He asked Smith: Do you think the ship is badly damaged?" "I'm afraid so", was the answer.
Together with Andrews, Smith now went on an inspection himself.
As you see, a poor source.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
Sometimes there is loss in the translation from the original Dutch but basically the ingredients are there. Seems to be written in the form of a novel? Obviously the writer did some research and made certain assumptions.

Boxhall was not 'sent'on the first inspection. According to him, in his 1962 BBC interview, he went without being told to do so.

I hardly think it likely that Smith would give Andrews and order. The latter was not a member of the crew. But Smith was no fool, he would most certainly pass-on to Andrews any information concerning the damage. The best way to do that quickly would be to have the Carpenter contact Andrews in his cabin.
As you can see from my previous post, it seems that Smith made his first inspection with the Purser.

I wouldn't say the source was 'poor' but it gives encouragement for an historian or interested person to dig deeper into the facts... i.e. Did such things happen and if so, did they happen in the way described by the author?

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,811
566
183
Funchal. Madeira
I thought I averted just because I translated the "original Dutch" myself.


Goedag, Christophe! Hoe gaat Heg?

You did great Job with the translation. If I had tried translating it , it would have been like the old Monty Python sketch... full of phrases like "Mijn luchtkussenboot zit vol paling" (How can you lot swallow these things whole?):eek: I envy your linguistic skills, my friend! I meant that even the source you mention is not as poor as you might imagine. As I said, by reading it, it stimulated curiosity which caused you to ask more questions and delve deeper into the subject.
I tried learning Nederlands many years ago but gave up. All my Dutch colleagues and my wife's Dutch relative could speak at least three languages and every time I said something in Nederlands, they replied in perfect English. Being a lazy Brit, I gave up and let them do all the work.:eek:

Nog een prettig dag!

Jim C.

PS don't reply in Dutch. It'll only confuse me more than I already am!