Hard abstarboard All back full Oh wait


T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Never having commanded any watercraft that wouldn't fit in my garage, I would appreciate the opinion of the folks out there who have managed "real" boats as to what Murdoch's process might have been to the announcement of an iceberg right ahead. Questions that I feel deserve addressing are:

1. Having had considerable experience piloting a ship the size of Titanic, would he have had in his head a good approximation of whether he could clear an obstacle at a given distance?

2. Based on the same experience, knowing that rudder effectiveness was crucial to a successful outcome, would he have changed power settings?

3. Thomas Dillon was in the engine room. He couldn't hear bridge commands, so there would have been no confusion in his mind of which orders were issued when:
quote:

3715. Did you feel the shock when the ship struck? - Slightly.

3716. And shortly before that had the telegraph rung? - Yes.

3717. Can you say at all how long before she struck that was? - Two seconds.

3718. What was the order given by the telegraph? - I could not tell you.

3719. You just heard it ring. Then a few seconds after that you felt a slight shock? - Yes.

3720. Was anything done to the engines? Did they stop or did they go on? - They stopped.

3721. Was that immediately after you felt the shock or some little time after? - About a minute and a half.

3722. Did they continue stopped or did they go on again after that? - They went slow astern.

3723. How long were they stopped for before they began to go slow astern? - About half a minute.

3724. For how long did they go slow astern? - About two minutes.

3725. Two or three did you say? - Two minutes.

3726. And then did they stop again? - Yes.

3727. And did they go on again after that? - They went ahead again.

3728. For how long? - For about two minutes.

3729. Then did they stop the boat after that? - Yes.
4. Thomas Ranger was near the turbine room, but his time line is a little less clear than Dillon's:
quote:

3995. Just describe it to us? - There was just a slight jar - just lifted us off our feet.

3996. Just a slight jar - just lifted you off your feet? - Yes, it just moved us like that. (Demonstrating.)

3997. Did you take any notice of it as regards your work, or did you go on with your work? - No, we turned round and saw the turbine engine was stopped. We turned round and looked into the engine room and saw the turbine engine was stopped.

3998. (The Commissioner.) Was it stopped? - Yes.

3999. (The Attorney-General.) Do you mean at the time you felt the bump? - About two minutes afterwards.

4000. First of all you felt the bump? - Yes.

4001. Then did you go on with your work? - Yes.

4002. Then, if I understand you, about two minutes afterwards you looked around and saw the turbine engine had stopped? - Yes.
5. Frederick Scott was in the turbine room
quote:

5521. You felt something; what was it? - I felt a shock and I thought it was something in the main engine room which had gone wrong.

5522. We know it was about 11.40? - Yes, about 20 minutes to 12.

5523. Did you notice the two telegraphs in the engine room? - Yes; four telegraphs rang.

5524. Were there four telegraphs? - She got four telegraphs, two emergency ones.

5525. Two emergency? - Yes, and two for the main engine.

5526. What did you notice? - I noticed "Stop" first.

5527. To which telegraph did that come? - On the main engines.

5528. Let us get this clearly. I understand you are speaking now of the turbine room? - No, there are two stand-bys; you can see just the same in the turbine room; if you are standing at the engine room door you can see the two just the same.

5529. Where did you see those? - In the main engine room.

5530. That is where the reciprocating engines are? - Yes.

5531. The watertight door is open? - Yes.

5532. And you can see through? - Yes.

5533. Now I think we follow. When you speak of the four telegraphs, are they all there? - Yes.

5534. Or are there any in your room? - No, there are none in the turbine room at all, Sir, all in the main engine room.

5535. Was the telegraph signal that came the emergency or the ordinary telegraph? - That is to the main engine room. It is different. They ring the two on the main engine room, and then they ring two others just afterwards, the emergency ones.

5536. Did you hear the two? - All four went.

5537. Did you hear the two ordinary ones ring first? - No, they all four rang together.

5538. What did they ring? - "Stop."

5539. Was that before or after the shock? - After the shock.
So we have: engine telegraph followed by shock two seconds later and engines stopped a minute and a half later; a shock followed by turbine stopped two minutes later; engine telegraph followed by the shock.

6. Are any of the accounts given above likely more accurate than the others?

I have my own view of how these facts hang together, which I shall share in due course.​
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Thanks, Bill. Bruce's catalog of ambiguity is the type of thing I've been wrestling with for the past how long. I've tried to approach it a little differently, starting with the testimony of the below-decks personnel, along with consideration of the probability that a seasoned mariner would cut the engines just when he needed an effective rudder.

Maybe if I just put all the testimony in a blender...
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,602
625
483
Easley South Carolina
Mmmmmm...for some reason, the link didn't take. Lewis, do you have the "Enable HTML code in message" and the "Automatically activate URLs in message" boxes checked?

For all those so interested, click on Titanic's Final manouevre

While granting that Captain Collins theories are somewhat controversial, (And he's in good company here in regards controversy!) I would suggest that anybody interested in technical/forensics matters give this a read. This man has a lot of experience in ice navigation. A perspective that is not heard from as often as it should be.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Apr 10, 2001
3,519
11
223
I will echo Mr. Standarts comments about Captain Collins latest work. Although brief (I would encourage a more detailed article) it gives a very basic and informative glance at the world of ship driving.
 
L

Lewis Marmaduke Collins

Guest
"Lewis, do you have the "Enable HTML code in message" and the "Automatically activate URLs in message" boxes checked?"

Thanks, Michael and Erik.

Regards,
Collins
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,602
625
483
Easley South Carolina
No problem Lewis. Welcome to the ET board. I'll be looking forward to some interesting and thought provoking discussions. Be sure to wear kevlar armour if you tackle the "Ever popular" Californian controversy. You're gonna need it!
wink.gif
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Thank you, Captain. It was on the reading of your ET article the other day that I began to wonder how likely it is that Murdoch would have ordered the engines reversed before he was finished maneuvering, and posted my questions. Although it is certainly indisputable that cavitation would negate rudder action, which is the linchpin of your paper, I have yet to find testimony that is in unambiguous agreement on when the power setting was changed. Right at the moment, I am tending towards the idea that Murdoch first tried to port around (hence my first question above), found he had misjudged the distance, and only then put on the brakes. Stay tuned.

I also wonder how thick sea ice would have to be to cause the ship to spring leaks 20-25 feet below the water line, but I guess the answer to that question will cost me $18.
grin.gif
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,602
625
483
Easley South Carolina
Lewis, a little suggestion. Go to the British Inquiry and check out the testimony of the engineers and firemen on duty in the engine room at the time this happened. Erik and I had a discussion on this a couple of months ago and we were struck by the fact that not even one of the engineers testified to astern full actually being carried out, nor do any survivors speak to the sort of cavitation induced vibration that comes with a crash stop.

I suspect that there was a lot more happening on the bridge when everything went sour then the surviving watchstanders ever let on to. (Especially with the lawyers listening in and waiting like vultures for any little slip up that might be useful to thier vested interests.) It's a shame that none of them are around today to cross examine. I think we could have ourselves quite a time interviewing the lot.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Apr 10, 2001
3,519
11
223
David Brown, who is currently out of town and in Miami at a boat show has done some research which will be published in May. Some of the engineers (names and locations of testimony escape me) testify to the order for FULL ASTERN being recinded to ALL STOP before the full astern order was carried out.

Let me say that turning your beam into a object that you do not know the size or your distance away from is both a negligent and rookie mistake. A mistake that would cost a man his license and in Titanic's case probably his freedom. UNLESS Mr. Murdoch had a better idea of the situation he found himself in, then any of us have given him credit for. Murdoch was not a incompetent officer but found himself in a loose loose situation. Now the above only applies if Mr. Murdoch was dodging an iceberg, which contrary to my earlier statements I don't think he was doing.

I believe that Captain Collins touches on this in his book (which I don't have with me at present) but icebergs are not know for traveling by themselves and the berg that everybody claimed to have seen was probably part of a much bigger icefield and was probably surrounded by pack ice, which is what Murdoch was probably trying to avoid, the berg was secondary and was not the immediate problem. Or in other words, Murdoch found himself in the same situation as Lord.

As Mike said I too believe that there where some other things going on on the bridge that night, things that do to publication issues I can't delve into in detail.

Captain Collins said: In my opinion, by his action of reversing the engines, Murdoch had no though of turning the ship back to starboard

In a pack ice situation I couldn't agree more. The act of reversing his engines in my mind means that Murdoch thought he could fix the problem in which he found himself by his current actions. He should have known that by the time he shifted his rudder it would have little to know effect.
 
L

Lewis Marmaduke Collins

Guest
My comments on Capt. Erik D. Wood Posted on Wednesday, 19 February, 2003 - 2:22 pm:
David Brown, who is currently out of town and in Miami at a boat show has done some research
which will be published in May. Some of the engineers (names and locations of testimony escape
me) testify to the order for FULL ASTERN being recinded to ALL STOP before the full astern
order was carried out.

No Titanic engineer survived the tragedy.

Let me say that turning your beam into a object that you do not know the size or your distance
away from is both a negligent and rookie mistake. A mistake that would cost a man his license
and in Titanic's case probably his freedom.

In Titanic’s case it cost Murdoch his life and that of 1500 others.

UNLESS Mr. Murdoch had a better idea of the situation he found himself in, then any of us have
given him credit for. Murdoch was not a incompetent officer but found himself in a loose loose
situation.

If Murdoch had been a competent watch officer, during the 10 minutes of his career, from 11:30
p.m. to 11:40 p.m., April 14th, 1912. he would not have “found himself in a loose loose
situation.”

I believe that Captain Collins touches on this in his book (which I don't have with me at
present) but icebergs are not know for traveling by themselves and the berg that everybody
claimed to have seen was probably part of a much bigger icefield and was probably surrounded
by pack ice, which is what Murdoch was probably trying to avoid, the berg was secondary and
was not the immediate problem.

I respectfully suggest that you read (peruse) fully my book to avoid making erroneous
observations.

Or in other words, Murdoch found himself in the same situation as Lord.

Lord kept a competent watch, and stopped his ship before entering the ice.

Captain Collins said: In my opinion, by his action of reversing the engines, Murdoch had no
though of turning the ship back to starboard

In a pack ice situation I couldn't agree more. The act of reversing his engines in my mind means
that Murdoch thought he could fix the problem in which he found himself by his current actions.
He should have known that by the time he shifted his rudder it would have little to know effect.

Only an unskilled, incompetent, ship handler would enter Titanic in pack ice with a hard over
rudder.
Regards,
Collins
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
Yes, Erik,

the sequence and timing of the engine orders and collision as observed in the engineering spaces is exactly what I quoted in the lead post. Since the men downstairs weren't in a position to hear what was going on upstairs, their recollections of events are, to me, likely more reliable than those of Hichens, Boxhall, and Olliver, who were present for a fairly long and complicated sequence of helm and engine orders, along with the audible and visual evidence of the collision itself. In the engine room, only two events were observed: the engine orders and the collision, and I think it stands to reason that their memory of the interval between them would be more precise than that of the bridge personnel.

If, as they testified, the engine telegraph and collision were nearly simultaneous (regardless of which came first[sup]1[/sup]), then the likelihood that Murdoch ordered the power change as his initial response is questionable.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't an experienced pilot first order evasive helm and not touch the engines to maintain control?

[sup]1[/sup]The fact that there is no unanimity on even two events is interesting in its bearing on the conflicting testimony concerning the multiple events taking place on the bridge.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Apr 10, 2001
3,519
11
223
Apparently Captain Collins is a more comptent Master Mariner then I am, so I will let him comment on my errounous and appartently ignorant comments. Perhaps I should retake the test??

The problem (in my view only) is that Captain Collins sees his view as the only view and has said or referred to that in several private emails to which I did not respond. Walter Lord wrote something to the effect that no one will know for certain the events of that night, as those who write about it presently where not there to witness the event and those who claim to know for certain and where not there need to do some more research...or something like that. I believe it was Shelly who quoted him and I can't remeber from where she put it, or I would post it here.

I guess according to Captain Collins Murdoch was a incompetent officer. Even if it was for 10 minutes. I know that this is not the view of the Titanic Community and I wish him luck on his endavour to prove it. But this 10 minute time frame brings to mind another fatal disease that plagues accident reports, especially if he was a compentent officer before those 10 minutes, the disease is called "Loss of Situational Awareness" a very common thing at sea and in the air.

I have been running on the assumption that Mr. Murdoch was a competent officer up through the event which cost him and others there life. One could argue that the fact he hit something shows otherwise something that I must concede proves a point. I gave a fellow shipmate the benefit of the doubt because I was not there to see what actions he did or did not take, nor can I comment (nor can anybody who wasn't on the bridge comment) with any intelligent mark of certainty the situation in which he found himself.

Again regardless of my and several other peoples personal/professional opinion of Captain Collins he has wrote an outstanding book. One that requires you to see that the traditional set of events is both impossible (from a technical point of view) and paints the officers of Titanic (all of them) in a rather bad light when put under the microscope. In my view ONLY the traditional set makes them all look rather sleepy and very untrained. Something I highly doubt was the case.

It may be worth noting that I have done a fair amount of research into Captain Collins book myself, and there is a small army of historians doing the same. While I disagree with some of his findings I agree with others (a position in which I did not hold until I was smart enough to read the book before making uninformed comments about it).

Where I think we split varies, I give the officers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they had some mark of seamanship running through the vains before making decisions. As I said before, turning your beam into an object in which you do not have any knowledge of (i.e. size/distancee) is both in negligent and incompetent decision. One that would have cost Murdoch (had the man survived and this set of events turned out to be the truth) his license and his freedom. Because I am in the edit portion of the website I can't go back and cut and paste comments that Captain Collins made in reference to my post so I have to do it from memory (which in my case is very dangerous undertaking, I am lucky I can find my way to my bedroom every night).

He and I both (I think) agree that if Murdoch (which the testimony supports by the way) ordered a hard over manuver regardless of direction it was a bad decision from a investigation stand point. We have no way of knowing if he correctly identified the problem and could make a good and sound decision based off what he saw. The fact that he still hit it and that the ship sank indicates strongly that he probably didn't perceive it correctly and took actions based off the situation gleened from his standpoint (the place where he was actually standing when he saw the danger) and not based off where the object actually was in relation to his ship. As Captain Collins said (and something that I have argued for) the difference between where Murdoch was standing when he observed the danger and the reality of where it was in relation to the ship are probably or could be two different things.

I thank Tom P. for understanding what I meant by Engineers, that was just another ignorant mistake on my part. "I type to fast and think even slower" (for those Yankee fans out there that is a Yogism or a Spanglerism I forget, after all "I have trouble remembering the stuff I forgot yesterday").

I have read Captain Collins book (at least twice). I have offered several suggestions to Captain Collins who called them uninformed and a excrise in futility. Most on the board (that I have corresponded with via private email) have seen the kind of replies I received.

So, before I have suspend myself for using inflammatory remarks I will end by saying that narrow minded opinions and those who are unwilling to listen to other opinions have a special place in my heart and the heart of others. I will bid the discussion good day.

I SAID GOOD DAY SIR!!

Not sure why I posted that last part, my lunch cocktails are taking over.
 
Sep 20, 2000
1,072
4
0
"The answer to all these Titanic riddles will never be known for certain. The best that can be done is to weigh the evidence carefully and give an honest opinion. Some will still disagree, and they may be right. It is a rash man indeed who would set himself up as final arbiter on all that happened the incredible night the Titanic went down." [Walter Lord]

With sincere thanks to Shelley for the reminder.
 

Noel F. Jones

Member
May 14, 2002
857
2
0
If I may take issue with the following statement from Capt.Collins' exposition:

"Momentum continued the turn to port but the rate decreased to zero when the headway came off the ship."

While I can envisage that, considered in vacuo, a turning vessel develops an angular momentum about a vertical axis, the axis itself describes a locus by reason of the curvilinear progress of the vessel; therefores such angular momentum is constrained by the hydrodynamic pressure field about the hull.

Centripetal force is generated solely by the rudder. Should the turning effort of the rudder become entirely negated by cavitation, centrifugal force would instantly supersede and, allowing for the prevailing drift angle, the locus of the axis (and the vessel's path) would become tangential to the incipient turning circle. I have to contend that momentum of itself does not continue a turn.

And has it been proved by tank testing or sea trials that cavitation arising from emergency full astern totally disables a rudder? While there is forward way on the ship I can imagine rudder effort being diminished but not 100% disabled.

Noel
 

Erik Wood

Member
Apr 10, 2001
3,519
11
223
Noel said: And has it been proved by tank testing or sea trials that cavitation arising from emergency full astern totally disables a rudder? While there is forward way on the ship I can imagine rudder effort being diminished but not 100% disabled}

The brief answser is yes. The more technical answer is the following:

In order for you to achieve astern movement you have to stop forward movement. There are four sections to a ships turn, (1)Forward Right (2)Forward Left (3)Aft Right (4)Aft Left). In this case you have forward movement of 22 knots to include the ships forward momentum. Let's assume that Mr. Murdoch orderd Hard a Starboard and as Mr. Hitchens and the Lookouts state the ship went 2 points BEFORE any engine order had a chance to take effect.

The ship would have to loose all of it's forward momentum not only by decreasing speed to 0 but as well as it's momentum traveling with the ship. As the props slow to a stop the ship is no longer producing 22 knots of power, but its momentum is carrying it at roughly (in accuality much less) 22 knots. Once the screws stop spinning the ship is still traveling forward, although nowhere near 22 knots. As the screws turn in the oppisite direction the remaining forward way is removed and for a instant the ship sort of becomes DIW before making stern way.

When you take away power from the rudder, the rudder looses it's ability to turn in what ever direction it was pointed and the ship is at the mercy of the stronger screw and will pivot in whatever direction the ship wants to regardless of rudder direction. Once the ship is making stern way, one can control the movement of the bow and stern again.

New helmsman, and most cadets that I have served with have a problem understanding this. The slower the speed the harder the ship is to handle, unless it is under that hand of a experienced wheelsman. It isn't so much cavitation in a vibration sense as it is the ship loosing power to the rudder in order to acheive backward movement.

No power = rudder no work.

During spring fitout on the lakes I have taken a single screw laker from 14 knots ahead to full astern, with the rudder in a hard left position (these are still the old steam plants) at first the bow begins a swing to the left, before eventually she does what it wants as the ship slows, stops, and then reverses. It depends on the pitch of screw somewhat as well.

Washington State Ferry Captains and tug Captains alike learn quickly the forces of a ship. In a recent investigation I conducted a tugboat in Oakland rammed a incoming container vessel some of the forces described above where responsible for this.

One might ask the Captain of the Norweign Star about this, he is VERY familar with it.
 
T

Tom Pappas

Guest
quote:

Centripetal force is generated solely by the rudder. Should the turning effort of the rudder become entirely negated by cavitation, centrifugal force would instantly supersede and, allowing for the prevailing drift angle, the locus of the axis (and the vessel's path) would become tangential to the incipient turning circle. I have to contend that momentum of itself does not continue a turn.
I think it does. A 50,000 ton ship has considerable angular momentum. which in the normal scheme of things is overshadowed by its forward motion. To purify the culture somewhat, consider a craft with bow thrusters 90 degrees to its longitudinal axis. You can give a burst of power that won't make the ship do anything except rotate, and it won't stop spinning, even without power, until friction damps the motion.​
 
D

David Haisman

Guest
A great deal of thoeretical stuff in some of these posts of which I have no desire to take part in. When I comment on something it is usually from experience and I would just like to add that my final years at sea was Skipper on coastal tankers on the English coast. All of these vessels were single screw and apart from behaving differently when going astern especially in tidal and adverse weather conditions, would also answer differently to twin, triple or quadruple screw vessels.
Some of these tankers when loaded would take as long as any super tanker to answer helm or engine room movements and at times were ''real cows'' to handle.
Able Seaman, when I was at sea, among the many tasks they would have to undertake before taking their ticket, would be to obtain a steering certificate before qualifying for E.D.H. status. This would mean at least 10 hours steering at different times, out at sea and with pilots, with compass and giro, in all weather conditions, and have the ability to ''box'' the compass.
Steering a ship through the Suez Canal is not what you are trained for however when the ship refuses to answer helm after a certain period of making way in certain stretches of the canal. The water begins to travel along at the same speed as the vessel and the pilot has to stop her to let the water settle before proceeding. This may not sound much but after going hard to port and starboard repeatedly with an Egyptian pilot forever saying '' keep her steady!'' it's enough to make a Saint swear!
As for Look outs and radar watch in fog and ice routine situations I shall come back to that one on another day unless someone out there has had similar experience in the 50's and 60's in the North Atlantic and can lend a hand.
All the best,
David
 

Similar threads

Similar threads