How Far South did the Titanic Reach?

Jim Currie

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It is indeed. However we have two fixed points which do give us a minimum possible distance made good. We have to take a little licence but if we use 124 miles to The Corner and 131.7 miles from there to the impact position at say 49-56 West. 41.47'North, we get a minimum possible distance of 255.7 miles.
If we use 126 miles Noon to the Corner, we get a minimum distance between fixed points of 257.7 miles. The patent Log read 260 miles. Looks to me that the Log was pretty accurate.
 
Nov 26, 2016
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If the distance made good and the distance registered by the log are nearly identical, the conclusion must be there was no considerable current at any time, neither before nor after 6 pm. To come back to my original point, the insinuated conclusion of Captain Smith below is not possible: By 4 pm, Captain Smith would see from the Log Book that instead of covering a distance of 86.4 miles as he estimated she would have done by that time, the ship had only covered a distance of 84 miles. In fact, he found that the current was 0.6 knots stronger than he anticipated. i.e. 1.1 knots instead of 0.5 knots.
 

Jim Currie

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If the distance made good and the distance registered by the log are nearly identical, the conclusion must be there was no considerable current at any time, neither before nor after 6 pm. To come back to my original point, the insinuated conclusion of Captain Smith below is not possible: By 4 pm, Captain Smith would see from the Log Book that instead of covering a distance of 86.4 miles as he estimated she would have done by that time, the ship had only covered a distance of 84 miles. In fact, he found that the current was 0.6 knots stronger than he anticipated. i.e. 1.1 knots instead of 0.5 knots.
No Markus. Current does not significantly effect the Patent Log.

Perhaps I did not make myself clear.

Captain Smith was in a new ship. the performance of which was, at that time a mystery to him. Like his officers, his only reference was the Olympic and he and they knew that at 74 rpm, Olympic would make 21.5 knots.
He knew that Titanic had averaged 22.1 knots during the previous day's run when the engine rpm had been increased for the first time to 74 rpm. Although he and the owner would have been delighted with that performance, he would not assume she would make the same speed over that next day's run. Consequently, on the basis of "One swallow doth not a summer-make", he would exercise caution as would any experienced master have done, and fell back on his experience. At least until he had better data. However, the fact that he decided to retard the clocks for 47 minutes between Noon April 14 and Noon April 15, tells us that although he did not plan a speed run during that time, he was optimistic that Titanic might just match her previous days run.

Keeping the forgoing in mind, it is my opinion that Captain Smith erred on the cautious in his calculation of the ETA The Corner. Based on his Olympic experience, he estimated her speed between Noon and The Corner would be 21.5 knots. Therefore, when he had the Patent Log reading for 4 pm and saw that it was 84 miles instead of the expected 86.4 miles, he estimated that there was a half knot current against him. I believe that Titanic was perfectly able to achieve 22 knots without any current and in fact, the Patent Log should have read 88 miles at 4 pm. Thus, the true strength of the current was close to 88 minus 84 divided by 4 = 1 knot. This is born out by Boxhall's idea when he stated :

"Q15645: (The Solicitor-General.) I will ask him, My Lord. (To the witness.) Why did you take 22 knots? A: - I thought the ship was doing 22 knots.
Q15646: Was it an estimate you formed on any materials as to revolutions or as to the patent log? A: - No, I never depend on the patent log at all. It was an estimate that I had arrived at from the revolutions, although I had had no revolutions that watch; but, taking into consideration that it was smooth water and that there ought to have been a minimum of slip, I allowed 22 knots."

Keep in mind that Boxhall also believed Titanic was also making 21.5 knots on 75 rpm. That Boxhall used 22 knots because of the improvement in the weather is overwhelming proof that he thought she was doing less than 22 knots before it improved. Not only that, but when he worked the 7-30 pm sights, he would have had confirmation of the distance run in say 7 hours 30 minutes. If that distance had been 165 miles in the prevailing conditions then he would surely have used a higher speed to calculate his distress position?
By the way, it has been suggested that 5th officer Lowe's distance of 162 miles from Noon to The Corner was a typing error. Perhaps Lowe was remembering the calculated distance run indicated by the patent Log at sights? i.e. 162 miles. That would give an average speed from Noon of 21.6 knots. A coincidence?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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No Markus. Current does not significantly effect the Patent Log.
But you are not being consistent with that definitive statement when you then say, "when he [Capt. Smith] had the Patent Log reading for 4 pm and saw that it was 84 miles instead of the expected 86.4 miles, he estimated that there was a half knot current against him." The log wouldn't show current.

Let me also point out that there is zero evidence of Capt. Smith seeing a 4pm log reading of 84 miles or expecting to see 86.4 miles. The only log readings we were told about is the advance of 45 miles in the log between 8 and 10pm Sunday, and the 260 miles from noon to the time of collision. PERIOD.

and he and they knew that at 74 rpm, Olympic would make 21.5 knots.

He knew that Titanic had averaged 22.1 knots during the previous day's run when the engine rpm had been increased for the first time to 74 rpm.
Not 74 rpm. We were told by Barrett that the number of revolutions carried averaged 75 rpm since noontime Saturday. An increase to 75 rpm was also confirmed by Ismay. In fact, if leading fireman Hendrickson was right, when he came on duty in the stokehold at 4pm Sunday afternoon, he was told by an engineer that the ship had made 76 rpm in the previous watch. That would be from noon to 4pm Sunday. The last number concerning revolutions carried that I could find came from greaser Scott who stated that Titanic was making 75 rpm at 11pm. The 21.5 knots at 74 rpm that you referred to came from Wilding, and that was for Olympic. At 75 rpm, Olympic would run about 21.8 knots. The pitch of Titanic's wing propellers were set higher than that of Olympic by 1.45% which would ideally would produce about almost 1/3 knot higher speed when carrying 75 rpm. (Ismay was told to expect about 1/4 knot better performance.)
 

Jim Currie

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But you are not being consistent with that definitive statement when you then say, "when he [Capt. Smith] had the Patent Log reading for 4 pm and saw that it was 84 miles instead of the expected 86.4 miles, he estimated that there was a half knot current against him." The log wouldn't show current.

Let me also point out that there is zero evidence of Capt. Smith seeing a 4pm log reading of 84 miles or expecting to see 86.4 miles. The only log readings we were told about is the advance of 45 miles in the log between 8 and 10pm Sunday, and the 260 miles from noon to the time of collision. PERIOD.
Not 74 rpm. We were told by Barrett that the number of revolutions carried averaged 75 rpm since noontime Saturday. An increase to 75 rpm was also confirmed by Ismay. In fact, if leading fireman Hendrickson was right, when he came on duty in the stokehold at 4pm Sunday afternoon, he was told by an engineer that the ship had made 76 rpm in the previous watch. That would be from noon to 4pm Sunday. The last number concerning revolutions carried that I could find came from greaser Scott who stated that Titanic was making 75 rpm at 11pm. The 21.5 knots at 74 rpm that you referred to came from Wilding, and that was for Olympic. At 75 rpm, Olympic would run about 21.8 knots. The pitch of Titanic's wing propellers were set higher than that of Olympic by 1.45% which would ideally would produce about almost 1/3 knot higher speed when carrying 75 rpm. (Ismay was told to expect about 1/4 knot better performance.)
You'r picking nits again Sam. I used the rpm number from a failing memory. Are you trying to get to the truth or correcting an exam paper? But I'll humour you. You write:

"At 75 rpm, Olympic would run about 21.8 knots. The pitch of Titanic's wing propellers were set higher than that of Olympic by 1.45% which would ideally would produce about almost 1/3 knot higher speed when carrying 75 rpm"

The key word in the above quote is "ideally". Did Captain Smith know about these ideals? You keep forgetting that they had not even worked-up the slip tables by the time of the disaster. As for your zero evidence of Captain Smith seeing the log at 4 pm: are you serious? Do you really think there is any doubt the he did see it? If that is so, then you certainly have no idea what happens on a big ship running to a schedule and approaching an important turning point or as they call it nowadays, "Waypoint".
I find it hard to believe that you seriously think that Smith left the questions of what to steer and when to steer a course up to a subordinate.
You still avoid the most important question. You still have not addressed the question as to what speed Boxhall thought she was doing before he determined she was making 22 knots.
 
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No Markus. Current does not significantly effect the Patent Log.
Jim, I do not think I said that.
You said, If we use 126 miles Noon to the Corner, we get a minimum distance between fixed points of 257.7 miles. The patent Log read 260 miles. Looks to me that the Log was pretty accurate.
I said, if the log registrates 260 miles from noon to collision, and the distance assessed by two fix points is nearly the same, the conclusion must be there was no current.

About the 162 miles: By the way, it has been suggested that 5th officer Lowe's distance of 162 miles from Noon to The Corner was a typing error. Perhaps Lowe was remembering the calculated distance run indicated by the patent Log at sights? i.e. 162 miles. That would give an average speed from Noon of 21.6 knots. A coincidence?

I do not feel comfortable about this. From Lowes testimony about the 8 pm DR Position we can take that the log reading at 6 pm was 126 miles in 6 hours. The thereof deduced distance from noon to 8 pm would be 168 miles. At 7.30 the reading would have been 157.5 miles.
To carry this point to extremes, supposed the log readings were 126 at 6 pm. and 162 at 7.30, the difference would be 36 miles in 1.5 hours, corresponding speed 24 knots.
From my side, I prefer the 162 miles to be regarded as typing error.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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As for your zero evidence of Captain Smith seeing the log at 4 pm: are you serious?
What I said is that there is zero evidence of Capt. Smith seeing a 4pm log reading of 84 miles or expecting to see 86.4 miles. For all you or anyone else knows, the 4pm log reading could easily have been almost 90 miles, consistent with an average of 22.3 miles of advance per hour.
You still avoid the most important question. You still have not addressed the question as to what speed Boxhall thought she was doing before he determined she was making 22 knots.
The reason is quite simple, Boxhall assumed the ship was still carrying 75 rpms, the same since Saturday noon. Since the vessel ran about 22 knots from noon Sat to noon Sun, and since conditions certainly were not any worse than what was encountered during that interval, he simple assumed the ship would do as well then and she had done previous. You are trying to read at lot more into what he said.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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From my side, I prefer the 162 miles to be regarded as typing error.
A simple transposition of the last two digits. 162 -> 126. And to be correct, Lowe never stated that the log read 126 at 6pm. What he did say was that he took the distance to the corner and divided it by the time to the corner to get the speed he used. The distance to the corner was known at noon; a distance that fits in very nicely with what Olympic did on the three separate trips the year before over the exact same route of travel. The time to the corner turn that Sunday was set by Capt. Smith. Lowe however took that distance and divided it by 6 hours to get the speed that he told Sen. Smith. In my opinion, Lowe was trying to downplay how fast Titanic was actually making that day. He only mentions the log when Sen. Smith challenged him as to the accuracy of his speed calculation.

What we know about the log is that it measured 260 miles from noon to the time of collision, and it advanced about 45 miles in the two hour interval between 8 and 10pm. Those are the hard facts that are in the historical record. We were also told by multiple sources that ship was averaging 75 to 76 rpm since noontime Saturday, and making 75 rpm as late as 11pm Sunday night. As stated elsewhere, unless the revolutions were changed, the log will not significantly jump up or down in two hours from a longer term average. And we also know that the log, which depends only on how fast the ship is running through the water, is not affected by current. If the ship did 260 miles in 11 hours and 40 minutes, then we can expect her to make an average of 44.6 miles in two hours. If the she did 260 miles in 12 hours and 4 minutes, then we can expect her to make an average of 43.1 miles in two hours. But, we were told she made 45 miles in two hours, consistent with the 44.6 mile average that we get using the 11 hour 40 minute time duration from noon. For me that says it all.
 
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The key sentence in Lowe's testimony: Senator SMITH. What speed did you use in getting the 8 p. m. position?
Mr. LOWE. I used the speed for the position at 8 o'clock, and got it by dividing the distance from noon to the corner by the time that had elapsed from noon until the time we were at time Corner.
Later on he made the calculation, dividing 125,7 miles by 6 hours and found 21 knots.
The time to turn at the Corner was calculated out of estimated speed 21,5 knots. Time to reach the Corner: 5.52 pm, round to 5.50 pm.
If really we can assess Lowe's statement as misleading simplification without having bad conscience then I would be inclined to say, based on the discussion about speed there was no clock set back between noon and collision.

If we do so, then the inevitable necessary conclusion must be, that both Boxhall and Lightoller are wrong with the 1h 33 minutes conversion as they stated in the US enquiry.

I found this Statement from Lightoller in TIP | United States Senate Inquiry | Day 5 | Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I think it was Mr. Boxhall.
...
Senator SMITH. Was he on watch Sunday night, or at his post of duty?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. At his post of duty.
Senator SMITH. On Sunday night?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Undoubtedly.
Senator SMITH. What time; do you know?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I believe he was on the 8 to 12 watch.
Senator SMITH. That would take him two hours beyond your watch?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. More than two hours, considering what the clock went back.
Senator SMITH. The clock went back some at that time?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Yes.

So Lightoller was bearing in mind there was a clock set back intended at midnight (12.23 back to 12?)
If asked, how to convert the time of sinking 2.20 into GMT, he might have thought erronously, this was after the clock change, so the conversion must be 1 h 33 minutes. Lightoller was not on duty from 10 to 12. When he came on the bridge after the collison he could not know what had happened with the clocks.

But he was present while Pitman made his statement pointing out the clocks were not set back and that he got ship's time of Saturday! midnight and that his watch was correct. Despite hearing all this Lightoller said: 5.47 - 2.20 - 5.47 Greenwich mean time: 2.20 apparent time of ship.
I have to say I am a bit stumped. How to get out of this?
 

Jim Currie

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Don't think l I'm explaining my point properly, Marcus. Mia culpa!

Start again, James. (My Sunday name).

If the Patent Log was accurate, and I believe we are in agreement that it was, and if Titanic was making the same average speed after Noon April 14 as she was before Noon April, 14, then at 6 pm when the reading was received on the bridge, it would have shown that Titanic had covered a total of 132.6 nautical miles during the previous 6 hours. By simple arithmetic, the average speed would then have been 22.1 Knots.
Since, in my opinion, the distance from the Noon April 14 position to The Corner was 124 nautical miles, Titanic would have over-run her planned turning point by 6.6 nautical miles
If, on the other hand, the weather was on the beam with a moderate sea and swell and the Patent Log read 125.7 at 6 pm then she had lost 6.8 nautical miles somewhere. In the absence of reduced engine rpm and/or a fierce head wind, the only other cause had to have been current; a head current of 6.8 divided by 6 = 1.13 knots.

The reading of 125.7 for 6 pm is derived from the evidence of 5th Officer Lowe. I remind you:

"If you take the average speed from 12 to 6 - that is giving her a run of six hours - she will not jump up in two hours, from 12 to 6 o'clock, from that average speed. You have six hours in there to take a mean on.
Q: And you are able to say that the speed at that time was 21 knots?
A: Twenty-one knots or under; it was really 20.95, about. If the speed had been increased or reduced during the interval when I was off duty, I would have been informed of it."

Bottom line, Marcus: if Titanic was making 22.1 knots up until Noon at a given number of rpm and nothing had changed after Noon regarding engine rpm or weather then the only possible cause for her to slow down by the amount she did was a 1.1 knot (rounded down)head current.

However, to address your concern re distances to the 7-30 pm celestial observations:

The problem you are encountering is because you assume that Titanic passed thought the position of The Corner. In fact. she could not have done so, if we believe 5th Officer Lowe's evidence which suggests she only covered 122.2 miles from Noon until 5-50 pm. This being the case, then she must have turned before The Corner...6.8 miles short of it to be exact.

Perhaps the following little sketch (not to scale) will better explain my thoughts.
Lowe's evidence.jpg
 

Jim Currie

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What I said is that there is zero evidence of Capt. Smith seeing a 4pm log reading of 84 miles or expecting to see 86.4 miles. For all you or anyone else knows, the 4pm log reading could easily have been almost 90 miles, consistent with an average of 22.3 miles of advance per hour.

The reason is quite simple, Boxhall assumed the ship was still carrying 75 rpms, the same since Saturday noon. Sincehe simple assumed the ship would do as well then and she had done previous. You are trying to read at lot more into what he said.
Because there is zero evidence of something dos not mean it did not happen. All I, you or anyone else knows is that an officer (who, unlike any of us on this forum, was actually there on the bridge of Titanic) stated categorically that the ship was averaging 20.95 knots during the afternoon of April, 14, 1912.
You write:

"The reason is quite simple, Boxhall assumed the ship was still carrying 75 rpms, the same since Saturday noon."

To paraphrase The Bard : "Methinks thou reason too simply". Your answer is far too simple and makes no sense to a serious navigator. Use a little imagination and put yourself in Boxhall's shoes.

When he went to the chart room to work his distress position, Boxhall would use the most up to date information available to him. This would come from any notations on the QM's Book, the Movement Book, the Scrap Log and principally his own personal Work Book. From these, he would need four things: the most recent accurate position prior to impact, an accurate average speed up to that most recent position, a lapsed time from the most recent accurate position to the time of impact and the time when the ship moved no more. i.e. the last and final engine movement.
The position he would get from the 7-30 pm sights. He would also get the calculated average speed between Noon sights and 7-30 pm sights. In case you were unaware of it, when calculating a fix, a dedicated (other than on a three mate ship) navigator would calculate the whole kit and caboodle including present position and GMT thereof, distance from last sight, as well as course made good and average speed since then. He would also note the latest compass error at that time.
All of the foregoing might be required by his boss at any time. He would not, as you suggest, simply opt for the speed by engine rpm. That would, as they used to say, "spoil the ship for a ha'penny of tar" . No Sam, he would use the best calculated average speed he had and it had to have been less than 22.

We know that Titanic made 22.1 between Noon April, 13 an Noon April 14. Are you seriously expecting us to believe that Boxhall was unaware of that fact? He must have been, Sam, That being the case, why on earth would he revert to rpm speed for his distress position calculation if, as you say, and I quote "he simple assumed the ship would do as well then and she had done previous".
 
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Jim Currie

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The key sentence in Lowe's testimony: Senator SMITH. What speed did you use in getting the 8 p. m. position?
Mr. LOWE. I used the speed for the position at 8 o'clock, and got it by dividing the distance from noon to the corner by the time that had elapsed from noon until the time we were at time Corner.
Later on he made the calculation, dividing 125,7 miles by 6 hours and found 21 knots.
The time to turn at the Corner was calculated out of estimated speed 21,5 knots. Time to reach the Corner: 5.52 pm, round to 5.50 pm.
If really we can assess Lowe's statement as misleading simplification without having bad conscience then I would be inclined to say, based on the discussion about speed there was no clock set back between noon and collision.

If we do so, then the inevitable necessary conclusion must be, that both Boxhall and Lightoller are wrong with the 1h 33 minutes conversion as they stated in the US enquiry.

I found this Statement from Lightoller in TIP | United States Senate Inquiry | Day 5 | Testimony of Charles H. Lightoller, cont.
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I think it was Mr. Boxhall.
...
Senator SMITH. Was he on watch Sunday night, or at his post of duty?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. At his post of duty.
Senator SMITH. On Sunday night?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Undoubtedly.
Senator SMITH. What time; do you know?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I believe he was on the 8 to 12 watch.
Senator SMITH. That would take him two hours beyond your watch?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. More than two hours, considering what the clock went back.
Senator SMITH. The clock went back some at that time?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Yes.

So Lightoller was bearing in mind there was a clock set back intended at midnight (12.23 back to 12?)
If asked, how to convert the time of sinking 2.20 into GMT, he might have thought erronously, this was after the clock change, so the conversion must be 1 h 33 minutes. Lightoller was not on duty from 10 to 12. When he came on the bridge after the collison he could not know what had happened with the clocks.

But he was present while Pitman made his statement pointing out the clocks were not set back and that he got ship's time of Saturday! midnight and that his watch was correct. Despite hearing all this Lightoller said: 5.47 - 2.20 - 5.47 Greenwich mean time: 2.20 apparent time of ship.
I have to say I am a bit stumped. How to get out of this?
Marcus, Lowe was asked how he arrived at the 8 pm DR position. Do not be misled by all the smoke screen caused by the confusion caused by the questioning system used by Senator Smith. Basically, Lowe was asked about the speed he used to arrive at his 8 pm DR position and in a round about way he said "20.95" knots. That's all we need to know.

As to time on board the ship: again we have layers of smoke screen.

I have said this ad nauseum in the past. A passenger may or may not be interested in the finer points of the sharing of clock adjustments between crew members. However how and when the clocks were adjusted is of vital importance to all crew members. The following are the most relevant test questions regarding whether or not there was a clock adjustment before impact.

1. Were there crew members waiting to go on Watch at the time of impact?
2. Were there crew members relieved within 20 minutes of impact?
3. Were there crew members who went on Watch within 20 minutes of impact?
4. Were there crew members who had fully adjusted time on their clocks or watches at the time of impact?
5. Were there crew members who had partially adjusted time on their clocks and watches at time of impact?
6. Were there crew members who had un-adjusted time on their clocks and watches at time of impact?

You can check the answers to the above using the transcripts of the evidence. If the answer to all of these is YES then there is no doubt that a clock adjustment took place.

Add to the foregoing the irrevocable fact that unless the evidence of speed provided by both 5th Office Lowe and 4th Officer Boxhall is completely, not partially, rejected then there is absolute overwhelming proof that a partial clock adjustment did most certainly take place.

When considering the Pitman puzzle keep in mind the following:

Pitman clearly stated at both Inquiries that when Boxhall called him about 15 minutes after impact, it was within 'a few minutes' of when he, Pitman, was due on Watch. Since he was to share the clock change with Boxhall, he was due on Watch at adjusted midnight, not midnight April 14 when the first clocks adjustment would have been made.
Pitman had unaltered time on his watch and since his first duty when he went on Watch at partly adjusted Midnight would have been to complete the planned clock change by making the final adjustment using the chronometer as a time-check; we can only assume that he intended putting his watch back the full amount at the same time. Thus, he could be sure of the accuracy of his watch.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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Perhaps the following little sketch (not to scale) will better explain my thoughts.
What I take away from your little sketch is the following:
At your point B, at 5:50pm, the log (according to you) read 122.2 miles.
At your point D, at 7:30pm, the log (according to you) read 162 miles.
The difference in mileage is 39.8 miles in 1 hour 40 minutes (7:30-5:50), or 1.67 hours.
Therefore the vessel had to make 39.8 miles/1.67 hours = 23.88 knots after she altered course at 5:50pm.
Really???
 

Jim Currie

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The sketch was for illustrative purposes only. You know perfectly well that the time shown on the sketch is not the time that the sights were taken and that it was probably around 7-40 pm. That is a run of 1 hour 50 minutes from 5-50 pm and an average speed of 21.7 knots. 20 minutes later and she was making 22.5 knots and from then-on, kept -up that speed.

Again you make smoke screens, Sam.

If I had used the time of 7-44 pm equivalent to Lowe's 162 divided by 21 knots, you would have argued about that, claiming that I was making things 'fit'.
In reality what you cannot discount is the idea that when Lowe gave the distance of 162 from Noon to The Corner, his memory was playing tricks with him. Or that there was he and Pitman worked 2 DRs using an average speed of 21 knots...one for the time of sights and the one for 8 pm.
As for a typing error? How might that have come about? Surely it would be almost impossible for an experienced touch typist using the standard QWERTY key-board of an old fashioned mechanical typewriter to make such a mistake?
 
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There is a famous American defense attorney who once claimed that if a glove didn't fit, the jury "must acquit." Changing his clever wording a bit to match his problem, "When the facts don't fit, you must not draw conclusions." The problem Titanic's speed from noon to The Corner has been vexing historians since the ship sank and nobody has come up with a single solution that fits the known facts with no room for a counter argument. Something is missing.

To me, the missing "something" revealed by years of arguments is obvious. The record was deprived of the necessary information. This could have been the result of bad interrogation during the official hearings. Or, it could have been the result of a dark cabal among the surviving officers. Or..or...or... We could spend another hundred years discussing the cause of the missing "something" and still be no closer to a universal solution to the Noon/The Corner speed problem. Ironically, there is no historical significance to the speed of Titanic between Noon and The Corner. The significant information needed is the average speed from The Corner to the accident.

(Actually, we need to know two "speeds." One is the hypothetical speed used by Boxhall in his dead reckoning and the other the speed made good from The Corner to the accident. These are distinctly different, although often confused.)

Speed is one of three factors in dead reckoning. The other two are duration of the run and the direction or course the ship was steering. When all three are known, the navigator can predict by either mathematical or graphical means where his vessel "ought to be" at any given time. Dead reckoning does not yield the vessel's precise location like modern GPS. By its nature dead reckoning is discontinuous. A DR track starts at some known point and ends when the navigator gains more precise knowledge of his ship's position at some future time. In theory, both the start and stop should be fixes -- either on objects like lighthouses or by celestial observations. There is always some difference between the ending fix and the DR location for that same moment in time. This is not an error. Rather, it tells the navigator a great deal about the local currents and windage affecting his ship's progress. This information is normally used to refine navigation of the subsequent dead reckoning legs.

To really understand what took place during Titanic's last five hours of making way we must know the precise location ("fix") of where Titanic made The Corner and the precise GMT of that rounding. Neither were preserved in the record. Also confusing the time of the rounding is an obvious discrepancy between what the navigating officer (Boxhall) and the quartermaster at the wheel (Rowe). Finally, our need to know the ship's speed has given rise to the century-long argument discussed above.

The fact that we lack basic knowledge of all three parts of dead reckoning is of more historical significant than the actual speed (made good or hypothetical for DR). Why so much missing information? Boxahall said he used 22 knots, but the other officers disagreed. Why? Row said The Corner was turned at 5:45, but Boxhall said 5:50. Why? Lightoller said he shot the stars just after 7:30 for an evening fix, but nobody remembered the location from those stars. Why? Captain Smith's CQD position's longitude is within reason the ship's predicted midnight longitude and not the longitude where Titanic lay sinking. Why? Boxhall said he computed his "improved" CQD position from scratch. If so, it should lie on the ship's dead reckoning track, but instead it's on a line from Smith's CQD position of three points to the south. Why? Boxhall's CQD coordinates are also precisely 20 minutes of steaming at 22 knots from Captain Smith's coordinates. Why?

To me, it all adds up to a carefully mis-told story designed to hide the truth rather than illuminate it.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David. An interesting dissertation indeed. If I may, I'll quote from it by section rather than down load the entire piece.

"Titanic's speed from noon to The Corner has been vexing historians since the ship sank and nobody has come up with a single solution that fits the known facts with no room for a counter argument."

As to speed, only historians who do not like or refute the definitive evidence as given under oath by 5th Officer Lowe. i.e. 20.95 knots have a problem with that element.
The question as to how that number 20.95 was arrived at is no mystery either. Sure, the verbal description of how it came about was somewhat convoluted but then consider the result of asking 4 complete strangers directions to the same location.
In essence, Low said he got the speed of 20.95 by dividing a number by six. It is not rocket science to deduce that since Lowe came on Watch at 6 pm that night, and would have received the 6 pm Patent Log reading from the QM at the aft docking bridge at that time, he would simply have divided that 6 pm log reading by 6. By equally simple arithmetic that number just had to be 125.7 nautical miles. Lowe even justified the use of 20.95 knots by declaring:

"If you take the average speed from 12 to 6 - that is giving her a run of six hours - she will not jump up in two hours [6 pm to 8 pm], from 12 to 6 o'clock, from that average speed. You have six hours in there to take a mean on."

If Lowe had used average engine rpm from Noon instead of speed then he would have used either 22.1 knots or the standard 21.5 knots. He did not do so.

In the absence of clear, contrary evidence, a proper investigator would accept the evidence of 5th Officer Lowe as to estimated speed between Noon and time of sights.

" Ironically, there is no historical significance to the speed of Titanic between Noon and The Corner. The significant information needed is the average speed from The Corner to the accident. "

Not true, David. The average speed from Noon to where the ship turned...not The Corner, is highly significant. Particularly when combined with lapsed time since Noon, estimated set and rate of current. Combined, these three arguments allow us to calculate a DR for where Titanic turned. Since professional Navigators do not simply use course, speed and distance to calculate a DR, and also make allowances for any perceived internal and external influences that may effect the vessel's course and speed and consequently the course made good, we have more than enough information to calculate where Titanic turned. I

"To really understand what took place during Titanic's last five hours of making way we must know the precise location ("fix") of where Titanic made The Corner and the precise GMT of that rounding. Neither were preserved in the record."

In practice we don't need to really understand the problem to the finite detail you suggest. All we need is a reasonable DR. and as I said, the evidence is available to calculate that. Long before the advent of GPS navigation, Navigators regularly made course alterations between two fixed positions.
As to time of turn; regardless of what QM Rowe said about the time of turning that late afternoon, all Titanic's surviving navigating Officers declared the ship time of turning to be 5-50 pm. Incidentally, not one of these officers would have used ship time in any of their calculations. To a man they would have worked exclusively in GMT. Consequently, since there is absolute proof that
Titanic's clocks were 2 hours 58 minutes SLOW of GMT when she made the turn, the GMT of turn was 08-48 pm.

There is a great deal of nonsense talked about The Patent Log in these pages. In fact, the idea of using engine rpm and slip tables to determine DR positions fell out of favour very soon after the the Titanic disaster and navigators regularly used Patent Log readings right up until the advent of GPS. They very seldom ever failed me and I used then all the time. Actually, of all Titanic's Navigators, young Lowe was the most practical. He was also, in my opinion, the best seaman of the bunch.

In fact. the answer to the problem has been staring everyone in the face since the year dot.
Lowe's evidence tells us that
Titanic ran 122.2 miles from Noon until she turned at 8-48 GMT. Te evidence tells us that the intended course for The Corner was 240.5 True. However, it also tells us that Titanic lost 1.1 knots of speed between Noon and 8-48 pm GMT, the time of turn. We have evidence that the engine revolutions remained the same post Noon. Consequently the only other reason for the slow down was a head current of 1.1 knots. We also have evidence that normally the current would run about ENE in direction. From the foregoing, a competent Navigator can easily obtain a reasonable accurate DR for where Titanic turned at 8-48 pm GMT (5-50 pm ship time).
QM Rowe's 260 mile Patent Log Reading at the time of impact combined with Lowe's evidence of speed indicating a Patent Log reading of 122. 2 miles at the turn tells us that Titanic ran on her new course for a distance of 137. 8 miles before impact took place. That allows us to run back on the reciprocal of the planned course from the longitude of the sinking to give us a longitude for the place of turning.

There is another bit of evidence that researchers have ignored or completely reject out of hand. It gives us a clearer in-sight into Boxhall's thought processes. He said he believed that Titanic made 266 True from where she turned and that he thought the idea was to gradually bring her back onto the prescribed course of 265 True. Pitman stated that the 7-30 pm sights put her 'right on the line'. It follows that if we can work a reasonable DR for the 7-30 pm Fix position, we can then work back and get a DR for where Boxhall thought the ship was when she turned. We can do this i
f we discount the alleged typing error explanation for Lowe's 162 distance and assume it was actually the distance used to calculate the DR for the 7-30 fix.

Then there's QM Hichens's evidence tells us that
Titanic increased her speed to 22.5 knots from 10-58 pm GMT (8 pm ship) onward. This gives a definitive amount to subtract from the 260 mile log reading at impact depending on the lapsed time used from 8 pm to impact.
No clock alteration tells us that impact took place at 2-38 am GMT on April, 15.
A 24 minute set back of clocks tell us that impact took place at 3-02 am GMT on April, 15.


There is more than enough evidence in the above to determine what happened, David.

"Boxahall said he used 22 knots, but the other officers disagreed. Why? "

Boxhall used 22 knots because, in his own words:

"I thought the ship was doing 22 knots..... It was an estimate that I had arrived at from the revolutions, although I had had no revolutions that watch; but, taking into consideration that it was smooth water and that there ought to have been a minimum of slip, I allowed 22 knots."

The other officers did not disagree with him, David. If you read the evidence carefully then ask yourself the question: What would the speed have been had the water not been smooth and there had not been a "minimum of slip?"
I'm sure you will come to the conclusion that I have been trying to get over to Sam. That is that Boxhall would simply have used 21.5 knots.. the speed assumed due to engine revolutions under normal conditions.

"Lightoller said he shot the stars just after 7:30 for an evening fix, but nobody remembered the location from those stars. Why?"

Simply because the only person who had a record of the coordinates for that position was Boxhall. These were in his work book and that was lost with the ship. All things being equal, the 7-30 pm position would have been transcribed by Boxhall into the Scrap Log at the end of his Watch. It would not have been laid off on the chart. In mid ocean, it is sufficient to know that the ship is right on the desired course line or is making good a certain course.

"Captain Smith's CQD position's longitude is within reason the ship's predicted midnight longitude and not the longitude where Titanic lay sinking. Why?"

What predicted Midnight are you referring to?

 
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Pitman stated that the 7-30 pm sights put her 'right on the line'.
Pitman also stated that the vessel ran over 10 miles beyond where she should have turned at 5:50pm. He also said that the speed of the vessel had been increased continually since departing Queenstown by only 1 knot, from 20.5 to 21.5. Here's the exchange:

Senator FLETCHER. How much had you increased your speed Sunday night.
Mr. PITMAN. To 21 1/2 knots.
Senator FLETCHER. What increase was that over the speed you had been making prior to that?
Mr. PITMAN. Only about a knot.
Senator FLETCHER. You had been making about 20 1/2?
Mr. PITMAN. Yes, 20 1/4 and 20 1/2 first, after we left Queenstown.
Senator FLETCHER. How long did that continue?
Mr. PITMAN. The next day, 21.
Senator FLETCHER. And you kept increasing up to 21 1/2, so that at the time the iceberg was struck you were traveling at the highest rate of speed at which you had been going during the trip?
Mr. PITMAN. Oh, no; the same speed we had been traveling for the last 24 hours.
Senator FLETCHER. The same speed?
Mr. PITMAN. The same speed.

Yet Pitman knew full well that the vessel made over 22 knots from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. In fact, the memorandum that he later handed over to Sen. Smith clearly shows this despite a number of numerical errors in it.

Lowe's evidence tells us that Titanic ran 122.2 miles from Noon until she turned at 8-48 GMT. The evidence tells us that the intended course for The Corner was 240.5 True. However, it also tells us that Titanic lost 1.1 knots of speed between Noon and 8-48 pm GMT, the time of turn. We have evidence that the engine revolutions remained the same post Noon. Consequently the only other reason for the slow down was a head current of 1.1 knots.
Once again, the log is not effected by current, it measures distance traveled through water. I quote what you said Jim: "Current does not significantly effect the Patent Log." If the ship really faced a 1.1 knot head current, and her speed made good was only 21 knots, then her speed through the water would have been 22.1 knots, and in 6 hours the log would have registered 132.6 miles.
 
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David, your post #155
Captain Smith's CQD position's longitude is within reason the ship's predicted midnight longitude and not the longitude where Titanic lay sinking. Why? Boxhall said he computed his "improved" CQD position from scratch. If so, it should lie on the ship's dead reckoning track, but instead it's on a line from Smith's CQD position of three points to the south. Why? Boxhall's CQD coordinates are also precisely 20 minutes of steaming at 22 knots from Captain Smith's coordinates. Why?

My understanding of the coordinates of the south track is: 4 minutes of arc to south per 1 degree West, so we get
42-00 N, 47-00 W; 42-48 N, 50-00 W; 42-47 N, 50-15 W; 42-46 N, 50-30 W;

Smith' CDQ is two miles south of the track. Boxhall's CQD is 1 mile south of the track. For me the most likely explanation for Boxhall's error is given by Dave Gittins, reading the wrong column in the traverse table. This error affects the latitude, not the longitude. Correcting this position would shift it to east on 41-46 N 50-00 W. This one is 2 miles south of the track.
The intention was to go on the track. If the CQDs are 2 miles south, the 7-30 star-position probably was 2 miles south of the track as well. Pitman said in the USA, right on the track. I am not a saylor by profession, I got my Knowledge from books, but I think if a ship miss the track just by 2 miles after 160 miles, this is a pretty good result.
If Dave Gittins theory does not apply, another reason could be simpling rounding Errors. Smith found 41-44.4 and rounded down to 41-44, Boxhall found 41-45.6 and rounded up to 41-46. Very simple, nobody intended to do something bad.

You said, To me, it all adds up to a carefully mis-told story designed to hide the truth rather than illuminate it.
My Point of view about this CQD positions, no one is to be blamed for hiding something or mistelling.

We know, Titanic steamed one or 2 miles south of the track, with 21.5 .... 22.5 knots.
We all, myself included, are in some way lovable crazy, stubborn determined to reconstruct Speed and Course.
Main Problem seems to be that clock alteration.
It is a minor Problem, it does not matter at all to understand what "really" happened.
I do not exspect any great mystery to be solved, I simply want to have the figures well and consistent arranged.
 
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About the Speed discussion, 21.5 or 22 knots:
Olympic made on her maiden voyage daily runs of 428, 534, 542, 525 and 548 miles.
The third day' s run was 542 miles according 21.85 knots, the 4th day's run was 525 miles according 21,17 knots,
elapsed time estimated 24,8 hrs.

I don't know the revolutions, but I assume they kept the test conditions similar to have comparable results.
So the revolutions were not changed from day 3 to day 4.
That means, with 75 rpm the ship can travel at 21.2 or 21.8 knots, depending on wind or currents.
So if asked, at what Speed Titanic was going at sunday night, the can say anything between 21.2 and 21.8
Even if they knew that Titanic averaged 22 knots from Saturday to sunday noon, the can give a mean speed typical for 75 rpm, this might be 21,5 knots.
Boxhall was in the Situation to get the CDQ as accurate as possible, so he did not take the Standard mean 75 rpm Speed,
instead he used 22 knots.

Senator FLETCHER. And you kept increasing up to 21 1/2, so that at the time the iceberg was struck you were traveling at the highest rate of speed at which you had been going during the trip?
Mr. PITMAN. Oh, no; the same speed we had been traveling for the last 24 hours.

Pitman is refering to the average Speed found with 75 rpm. Pitman did not make the CQD calculation. When asked about the speed at sunday night, he gave the 75 rpm average speed. Boxhall said 22 knots, so again, the officers did not hide something about Speed.
 
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42-00 N, 47-00 W; 42-48 N, 50-00 W; 42-47 N, 50-15 W; 42-46 N, 50-30 W.
Markus, I believe you meant to write: 42-00 N, 47-00 W; 41-48 N, 50-00 W; 41-47 N, 50-15 W; 41-46 N, 50-30 W in post 158 above.

Pitman is refering to the average Speed found with 75 rpm.
The revolutions were first increased to 75 at noon Saturday. The average speed found with 75 rpm was 22.1 knots over the run from noon Saturday to noon Sunday.

To me it is very clear that those navigating Titanic knew that she was averaging 22 knots not 21.5 carrying 75 rpm. The proof has to do with the expected position of local apparent noon on 15 April. At noon on 14 April the ship was close to longitude 44° 30'W at 14:58 GMT. We were told that the clocks were to go back 47 minutes that night so they would show 12:00 the next day at noon. That means the expected time of local apparent noon on 15 April would have been 15:45 GMT, and the change in longitude from noon 14 April to noon 15 April would have been 11° 45' westward. Thus they would expect the vessel be close to a longitude of 56° 15'W longitude on 15 April.

We know that Capt. Smith set the time to turn the corner at 5:50pm, 20:48 GMT. So how fast did they expect the ship to make so as to reach a longitude of 56° 15'W at noon the next day which would occur 18h 57m after turning the corner? If the ship was traveling at 21.5 knots, it would go only 407.4 miles from passing 47°W and reach a longitude of 56° 04'W. However, at 22 knots, it would go 416.9 miles at reach a longitude of 56° 16'W.

At 56° 04'W, LAN on 15 April occurred at 15:44 GMT, only 46 minutes later than the previous day; while at 56° 16'W, LAN on 15 April occurred at 15:45 GMT, exactly 47 minutes later than the previous day. So a speed of 21.5 knots does not account for the 47 minute planned clock change, while a speed of 22 knots does. Clearly, when the planned clock change was determined, a speed of 22 knots after the 5:50pm course change was assumed, not 21.5.