Hard a starboard by Jim Currie

Nov 13, 2014
don't reply in Dutch. It'll only confuse me more than I already am!
Yeah... I wasn't even planning to do that. :p English simply is the used language on this forum, and if it isn't your mother tongue, you have to master it anyway in order to communicate properly. Just look at Matthew Bowyer Fan, the James Cameron's Titanic buff I maintain contact with. He's Czech, I'm Dutch, and we communicate in English.
Last edited by a moderator:

Cam Houseman

Jul 14, 2020
Maryland, USA
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.
wow you wrote a book? Where can I get it?

Similar threads

Similar threads