Ice Berg seen several minutes before collision


Jan 8, 2001
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I noticed in David Brown's book, George Behe's book and several other recent books or research, it was said the lookouts and Murdoch saw several icebergs on the order of an hour before the collision and also saw "the Iceberg" on the order of 10 minutes before the collision. Where does all of this info come from? Is there any documentation from the hearings or later interviews or is it just speculation or maybe due to the fact that several ships passing the area that Titanic was at saw them? I have been looking all over to find documentation and can't seem to find it.

Just curious! Thanks!

Michael Koch
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Michael -- the documentation for the other icebergs requires research. It is in the testimony from other captains and from the ship reports of ice that day/night. I'm pressed for time, but it boils down to this -- Other ships ran into ice that night (Californian was forced to stop). Carpathia had to dodge ice to get to the rescue scene. Some ships were blocked in the morning from reaching the rescue scene by ice. The lifeboats were surrounded by ice.

All that ice did not disappear--save one iceberg--during the 11:00 to 11:40 time period. Titanic had to have been steaming through it.

For some interesting research, look up the testimony of Seaman Scarrott and see how long before the accident he heard a 3-bell warning from the lookouts.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Picked it up on the Titianic Inquiry Project website;

336. What did you hear? - Three bells.

337. Do you know what time that was? - Not to be exact I do not, but it was round about half-past eleven.

338. Shortly after that did you feel anything? - Yes.

339. What did you feel? - Well, I did not feel any direct impact, but it seemed as if the ship shook in the same manner as if the engines had been suddenly reversed to full speed astern, just the same sort of vibration, enough to wake anybody up if they were asleep.

340. Did you feel anything besides that? - No.

341. Did you feel the ship strike anything? - No, not directly.

342. "Not directly," you say? - Not as if she hit anything straight on - just a trembling of the ship.

343. How soon did you feel this vibration after you heard the three strikes on the gong? - As I did not take much notice of the three strikes on the gong, I could hardly recollect the time; but I should think it was - well, we will say about five or eight minutes; it seemed to me about that time.



I'm a little leary of the time as the man is not all that exact, but as David said, it's interesting.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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I beleive as Dave said that there was plenty of ice. I just don't think that it went reported. It wasn't in the way of the ship so it went un reported. So far the testimony seems to support that. I am open minded though, I have been known to change my mind.

Erik
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Captain Erik -- The alarm bell system not only alerted the bridge, but the passengers as well. Would you want your passengers to know that the ship was dodging icebergs? How about the phone? It only rings in the pilot house. So discreet. Maybe there was one alarm bell sounded...and the lookouts were told to use the phone...but in extremis they did both.

-- David G. Brown
 
May 9, 2001
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The more I think about what transpired in the moments before collision, the more I gravitate toward the idea that the iceberg wasn't dead center in front of Titanic, and that it wasn't that close either. My imagination keeps telling me that Murdoch saw the iceberg in time to steer around it, no big deal, and was doing so quickly and confidently, without panic or alarm when to his surprise he felt the ship make contact with something he didn't even know was there.

In other words, I think Murdoch steered clear of what he could see. I think the collision surprised everyone. I bet they thought they had cleared it as the berg passed by some 20 - 30 feet to the starboard side of the bow rail. Although a close one, it was not going to be anything worth writing home about. No big deal.

Murdoch probably expected to see ice that night. Likely he expected to slow down to 1/2 ahead or slower after they passed this berg. But no big deal. For a moment as he watched the berg draw close enough to really see its features, he may have thought that he would have to go and tell the captain they've entered the ice that was reported earlier, and the captain would probably want to come on to the bridge while they ease their way through the bergs. That's what was supposed to happen, no big deal.

But then he felt the ship move. It vibrated and there was this sound that came from below and from everywhere that sent a cold shiver down Murdoch's back. From there he bolted for the bridge enclosure and the tragedy ensues.

Far fetched? Maybe. But it makes sense to me from what I know. Think about this, the captain was on the bridge so quickly that I have to believe he expected to be on the bridge again soon. I don't think for a moment that he was sleeping, or that he had retired for the night. Sailors know to rest when they have the chance, because they can be needed on deck at anytime. The captain knew it was going to be a long night of picking his way slowly through the ice field. Thats why he left the dinner party at a modest hour, so he could get a little quiet time before the ship reached the ice.
The officers knew there was ice ahead. The ice reports that came to the bridge were seen by most. This bridge crew felt the temperature drop. They understood Lat. and Longt., and they understood what course they were on. These guys were top men in their field, they knew they were steaming toward an ice flow. But that's part of sailing the North Atlantic. Sometimes, you see ice, or get near it. No big deal. You slow down, or stop and wait till daylight to pick your way through it. No big deal, just part of the job. They didn't worry about it, or act as if it was some sea monster waiting to eat them.

They fully expected to see ice ahead and to slow down and steer carefully through the bergs until either they cleared the flow, or they could go no farther that night. Then they would stop til morning. Captain Smith could let Ismay talk of reaching New York by Tuesday night all he wanted. The captain knew Titanic wasn't going to make that deadline. He can't control an ice flow, and neither can Ismay. So Smith lets Ismay have his fun. The captain wasn't worried about making some headlines, because he knew they would have to slow down eventually to get through the ice.

BUT, ... Captain Smith expected his 1st Officer to see the ice, and avoid it, slow the ship and then come fetch him, when it became '...at all doubtful.' Then he would go to the bridge and help work the Titanic through the ice all night. No big deal. Just doing his job. Just being a sailor. All that went out the window when the Titanic started vibrating as it drove across something that wasn't there.

Rostron drove his ship through the same ice. He saw the bergs ahead, steered round them, trying to keep as direct a course as possible to aid Titanic. The same thing that sank Titanic could just as easily have happened to Carpathia. Rostron could have steered to port to dodge a berg, and just as they draw even with it, 'eeerrrrkkkkk!', they glide over something submerged, out of sight, and off to the side of the berg. Something that wasn't there a moment ago. Could have happened, but luckily it didn't.

There's nothing Murdoch could have done differently. He didn't crash-stop or hard-a-starboard because some iceberg suddenly and unexpectedly appeared dead ahead, unavoidably close. He saw that berg in time, ahead and just off to the starboard side. He intended to port-round it in a steady, confident way. No big deal.

Just the ravings of a overactive imagination. But I really believe it happened something like that.

Yuri
 
Jan 8, 2001
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Thanks, guys! It does make perfect sense that they saw other bergs and I agree with Yuri in that they probably saw "the berg" in plenty of time and didn't think enough about the underwater portion. I just was curious if there was actual specific testimony or later interviews that dealt with this issue. To me, it seems WSL succeeded in hushing Fleet and Lee.

Good day!

Michael Koch
 

Erik Wood

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I would have to agree with what most of what Yuri had to say. But to make sure that I do I am going to say things in my own way and see if everybody agrees with me.

I think that we are putting to much into whether the berg was seen before the accident or not. That (to me) isn't the issue. The issue is that Titanic was bombing along at 22 knots, with only two men fully devoted to lookout or looking ahead. What ever Murdoch saw or didn't see doesn't take away from his or Captain Smiths responsiblity both of which they ignored. If ice was sighted before the fatal berg that adds to the weight of their neglegence. Granted this was different time, but my new ship going through ice most of which I can't see until it is about a mile or so in front of me on a moonless, windless night just doesn't make any sense. Nor does sending Oliver to check a compass while passing through ice.

Ultimately no matter how you dice it is Smith who is at fault. He was the Captain and unfortunatly that is the law of the sea.

It is my personal opinion that Murdoch did see the berg before the accident and was in the process of avoiding it when disaster struck. For now that is all I will say in specific. Generally, I don't think that anything he could have done would have worked. Secondly, as discussed in another thread I don't think Oliver came from the portside nor do I think he was on or in the wheelhouse or enclosed bridge. I am more likely to assume that he walked onto the starboard bridge wing in time to hear the hard to port order given by Murdoch. I think this order is to prevent the berg from ripping a hole down the length of the ship (which we know didn't happen) and not to aim right at it.

The more I read the testimony regarding the bridge action the more it is full of contradictions some of which can be explained others that can not. If Boxhall was on the bridge and heard the Hard a Starboard order why didn't he hear the hard to port order? If Oliver and Boxhall where walking down the same side of the ship why didn't they mention seeing each other? Why does Boxhall really not mention Oliver at all? There are many questions left unanswered.

The more that I read into it the more that I am inclined to think that part of the tradional story is dead on, well the rest of it isn't even close.

Erik
 
Mar 3, 1998
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The available evidence states that there was an avoidance manoeuvre, a "hard a'starboard." There's even clearly stated evidence of a "hard a'port" order. There's evidence for "FULL ASTERN," just as there is contradictory evidence for a "STOP" engine order. It is the burden of those who assert that those actions did not occur to provide evidence to the contrary; otherwise, it is baseless speculation.

Yes, I have attempted to fill in gaps with speculation and even helped to construct neew interpretations of evidence (the grounding theory is a prime example of this). But I always try to stay within the available framework of evidence. Yes, I may offer Scott's testimony as a counter to Boxhall's testimony, but I'm not disregarding everyone, or claiming some kind of WSL conspiracy. My belief is that "conspiracy" is a convenient way to fill in gaps of logic that can be completed in no other manner. If there was indeed a conspiracy to cover up the events of that night, I would dearly love to see evidence of it. Is there any conspiracy that can remain hidden for 90 years on? No, I'd rather look for other explanations.

We always look for hidden meaning or intent. Why do Boxhall and Olliver have to mention one another? They were observers, not participants in the key events. The fact that they didn't mention seeing each other on the Boat Deck is not significant, especially when you consider the fact that they didn't mention seeing each other on the bridge, either.

Were there other icebergs in the vicinity? Extrapolating the reports, I would say undoubtedly yes. Did the crew see any other than the fatal one? Based on the evidence, maybe. However, does that mean they weren't surprised by the fatal one? Not necessarily. You can be on a busy highway and still crash into one specific car. Could Murdoch have been avoiding one iceberg, only to run into another? Maybe, but more evidence is needed to prove it.

I like Dave's mention of the alarm bell above. That's another tidbit of evidence that supports the "in extremis" situation.

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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I don't believe in alarm bells of any type. Most people misunderstand there intent.

Parks makes some good points. The reason that I through in Oliver and Boxhall not seeing each other or at least not mentioning it is to point out that Boxhall may not have heard the second helm order because he was paying attention to the berg possibly.

Erik
 
L

lisagay harrod

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Whoa! News to me...alarm bells that passengers heard?! Did I understand that right? I'm still a novice, but I didn't realize there were any bells other than those rung by the lookouts, followed by a phone call to the bridge/wheelhouse? Which/both? Clarification please...I seem to have my wires crossed. :- / (again)!
Thanks Fellas...........
Lisa Harrod
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Lisa,

The "alarm bells" referred to here are the three sharp rings of the bell by Lookout Fleet. Nothing new here, just some shorthand between myself and Dave Brown.

Parks
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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A quick question: I was just browsing the "shots in the dark" webpage and noticed that Murdoch may have had a motive for committing suicide because he hadn't informed Captain Smith earlier that Titanic was among icebergs, in spite of Smith's instructions to "let me know at once if at all doubtful." But then a thought flashed to me--didn't Captain Smith appear on the bridge almost immediately after the collision? And wasn't he fully dressed? Odd, considering he'd gone to bed for the night. . .

Methinks this was not Smith's first visit to the bridge during Murdoch's watch that night. Opinions?

Jim Smith
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Captain Smith appeared on the bridge just prior to the 10:00 p.m. change of watch. This was perfect timing for a captain who was aware that his ship would be entering ice before 11:00 p.m. Fourth Officer Boxhall said the captain never left the triangle of the forebridge, chart room, and the captain's nav room during the rest of the night. Where the idea came about that Smith was alseep in his room I have no idea. However, that is not the only mythical "fact" of the Titanic story.

-- David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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If Captain Smith was up and awake, one has to ask the question:

Did he know what was going on in regards to ice??
Why didn't he slow down??

Perhaps Smith had another reason to be heading at 22 knots. Perhaps it wasn't Ismay related. Perhaps........ nah, I will wait.

Erik
 
May 9, 2001
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Its my opinion that Captain Smith did know that Titanic was steaming toward an ice flow. And that the ship would certainly encounter ice sometime after 11pm. That's why he retired early from dinner, and why he stayed near the bridge. Its my belief that Smith expected to be up for several hours that night on the bridge as he steered Titanic through the ice, or until it became impassable and he had to stop till daylight.

I also believe that Smith knew all of this when he discussed the progress of the ship with Ismay. Ismay wanted to make New York ahead of schedule, and Smith told him something like,'We may not make that early arrival if we have to stop or slowdown to avoid this ice that is ahead of us'. Ismay then went about the decks boasting of making port ahead of schedule, or something like that, and Smith just smiled and went about his duties knowing that the ice ahead would certainly slow Titanic down, if not stop her progress totally once encountered.

Smith was steaming at 22 knots because he wanted to get a lead on Titanic's scheduled progress. That way if it took 12 hours to steam around an ice flow, they wouldn't be too far behind schedule once they got back on course.

Not to mention that 22 knots was just the normal speed for that ship at full ahead engine. We always hear about Captain Smith calling out, "Full Steam Ahead!!", and how he was racing the Titanic across the water. But really, Titanic could have gone faster if they wanted her to. It's not like they were running the engines at red line. True they didn't slow down soon enough considering the outcome, but hindsight is 20/20.

Come on Erik, spill those beans! Tell us what's eating at the back of your brain. You know you want to tell us. So come on. Just start squaking like a pirate's parrot! "BRAAAWKK, whistle, whistle, The treasure's down below! The treasure's down below! BRAAWKK! Polly wanna cracker!!"

Yuri ;-)
 

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