Ice On Deck by Henning Pfeifer


Dec 12, 1999
1,002
0
0
Thanks for the article, Henning. So you're saying the collison buckled the ice, and some of it burst upward and ricocheted from the upper part of the iceberg on to the deck. It works for me. You know, this type of event could probably be re-created with models. You might try that to buttress your argument. Thanks again.

Have you had any luck with finding out from a passenger or crew list whether the individual who took the picture was indeed aboard the Bremen?
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Thanks Jan for your words. Maybe anybody is able to create a computer simulation...
No Jan, I think I would need some weeks to go to the US-archives and search them. Or get a contact to someone who could make some research over there...
Best Regards Henning
 
Dec 7, 2000
1,348
9
223
Hi Henning,

Nice article, I enjoyed reading it, but being the devil's advocate, I'm still not convinced.

George Rheims at the Limitation and Liability hearing was interrogated to death about how and where he saw the iceberg. In short, he was in one of the forward A deck bathrooms, felt the impact, saw it through the window at the fore end of the main starboard corridor and watched it glide by the other window that was at the end of the passage for cabins A5 to A11.

Willaim Sloper was standing in the forward A deck grand staircase foyer waiting for Dorothy Gibson to come back up again so they could go for a walk around the deck. They felt the shock just as Dorothy was approaching Sloper and both ran out on deck and saw the ice glide by A deck.

Edith Rosenbaum was entering her cabin just as the shock began. Looking out of her window from her cabin A11, she saw the ice go by.

These are 3 accounts, which prove the ice was as high as A deck and no matter how you slice it was not as low in the water as C deck (or lower).

I think Dave Brown's grounding theory would make your rebounding ice theory impossible. He may even be right that Titanic's 50,000 odd tons resting on the ice would also have provided sufficient weight to tip the berg a little. Ice above the water was soft and it really did not require any damage to Titanic's hull at all for ice to fall off. In fact, Titanic's side must have come in contact with the ice.

After the collision, passengers in cabins D33 and E24 noticed ice on their portholes. Harper did not describe anything being shot at his porthole (i.e. ice bouncing off and leaving bits on the porthole) he simply noticed it after looking outside.

Also it is likely that the corners, of C, B and A deck "shaved" off the soft ice which then fell on the deck. The well deck where the majority of the ice fell was strictly out of bounds for first class passengers, nor was it an easy journey for them. There was no way for them to get there. There were the two forward B deck doors, but they were generally not used by passengers. Steward Crawford did use them to go out on this deck and did notice small quantities of ice there, but then went inside.

Elmer Z. Taylor after the collision during his inspection walked forward on A deck, found some ice and brought it back to C deck to show his wife and to Lambert Williams.

Clinch Smith also had a piece of ice that he exhibited to Col. Gracie, he must have found it forward on A deck just like Taylor did.

In fact most of the passengers would have had their ice either from their portholes or from finding it on A deck.

All I'm trying to point out is that the berg was at least as tall as A deck (perhaps even several feet above the boat deck) and was possibly scraped off when it was tilted slightly toward the ship. During this process the soft loose bits either slid off or were scraped off by the sides/corners of the upper decks.

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Hi Daniel, and thank you very much for this accurate response to my article. Most of the accounts you are quoting do not contradict the rebound theory. As I have written at the end of my article the rebound theory does not depend on the size of the berg.

You are giving some good other points, I will check them and come back to discuss these points. But as far as I know there there is not a single account which describes on which way the bigger and smaller chunks could have come to the spots where they were seen or found. As far as I know there is furthermore no account that the berg scratched the hull somewhere above the waterline. The witnesses saw the berg gliding by but why nobody told about any touchings? You are right when you say that the ship had "50.000 odd tons" - didn´t have the iceberg estimated 600.000 tons?

Best regards Henning
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
507
278
Daniel -- the grounding theory only answers the primary mechanism by which the ship came in contact with the ice. It was not the only one. There must have been some interaction between the topsides of the ship and those of the icebergs in order for ice to have transferred to Titanic's decks. Henning's proposal is one possible mechanism by which that could have happened.

I believe tht the iceberg may have moved slightly as a result of Titanic's weight upon the underwater section. Although the berg was hundreds of times more massive, icebergs are notoriously unsteady. A relatively small amount of weight (50,000 tons or less) might have been enough to cause a slight tilt of the berg. This would have aided in the transfer of small pieces.

--David G. Brown
 
Dec 7, 2000
1,348
9
223
David,

That's exactly what I was trying to say.
happy.gif


The Titanic must have come in contact with the ice, as I pointed out there were two passengers (that I thought of, off the top of my head) who reported ice on portholes. I believe the berg may have slightly come in contact with the side (these cabins were approximately in the area where the ship pivoted while the stern was swinging away from the berg). Chambers in an October 1912 account mentions a man exhibiting a piece of ice that fell through his window. It is unclear which deck this was on, but there's at least one more. Also, Emma Bucknell stepped out of her cabin, D15 and saw a lady who's hair was covered in tiny snow crystals (this could have been the lady from D21 - or she may have seen someone else, elsewhere in the hall.

Caroline and Natalie were half asleep in C7:

"Nathalie Wick and I were lying in our berths half asleep when the blow came. It was terrible. For a second the whole boat just stood stock still in its swift tracks and then it gave a great shiver all through."

Perhaps they said the blow was terrible because the corner of C deck just outside their cabin scraped the berg and ice tumbled onto the deck, or they were simply describing just what everyone else in newspapers were describing ... a terrible blow.

Regards,

Daniel.
 
Mar 3, 1998
2,745
7
0
Contact with the ice can be of varying degrees. Ice on deck or in portholes does not necessarily mean that ice damaged the side shell plating. Coincidence is a funny thing. It's like the torpedo that hit (or was just about to hit) the bow of the USS Arizona, at the same instant when the bomb blew the ship apart...if it wasn't for the sighting by a crewman aboard the Vestal, we would not know about the existance of the torpedo, given the coincidental timing of its arrival. In an opposite sense, the cleaving of the berg at the time of impact might be a false lead as to the nature of the collision.

Caroline and Natalie may very well be giving us the clue we need...a shiver running through does not describe an impulse-and-momentum type of collision, as would have happened with a side impact. What they describe, though, is a vibration that could very well cleave a large chunk of ice off a berg.

Parks
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
714
2
173
Hi All,

I'm willing to accept Henning's hypothsesis that the ice found by Clinch Smith, Elmer Taylor and others (undoubtedly from the forward A-deck prommenade) may have been rebound ice. However, I remain undecided as to whether or not the large amount of ice observed on the forward well-deck(apparently "scraped off" according to most accounts) was *all* rebounded from the berg. I'm no expert regarding the durability of Titanic's steel, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that Lightoller and Boxhall simply did not notice any particular damage to the outside hull, being as it was, a dark night.

It is perhaps significant that not a single passenger (that I'm aware of) above the level of D-deck gave accounts of ice sraping past and falling into their cabins. Even as low as C-deck Virginia Clark in C-89 mentioned only seeing the iceberg *glide* past her window, whereas three people on D-deck and one on E-deck later referred to ice deposits on their windows. Granted Murdoch has attempted to port round the berg by the time it reached as far aft as C-89, the majority of "ice accounts" come from lower down. In this respect, I'm in agreement with Henning.

Daniel -- It is unclear which deck this was on, but there's at least one more.

Ice was also deposited on the Kenyon cabin porthole (D-21) as the iceberg scraped past. When Frederick opened the porthole, large amounts of ice fell into the room. Perhaps Chambers was referring to Kenyon in his Oct 1912 account? Just some thoughts.

Best Regards,
Ben
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Hi all,
just another thought I did not mention in the article: what noise would an iceberg make when it scrapes the hull above the waterline in the area of the decks? If passengers may be did not SEE any scraping (many of them were asleep and most of the portholes probably closed), wouldn´t they HEAR a pretty loud noise? I can imagine that even a smooth scraping iceberg on a metal hull would create some terrible noise inside the ship (i.e. inside many cabins).

Even when the scraping of the berg along the upper hull would have been very very smooth - I am sure inside many cabins next to this scraping they would notice this very special noise.

Imagine you were in a cabin and an iceberg (or anything else outside) scrape at your porthole...I am not aware of any accounts reporting that.

Best regards Henning

P.S. Please read all the accounts collected in the ET article "The Grounding of Titanic" by David G. Brown and Parks E. Stephenson (Points "2.0 Collision" and "3.0 Grounding"). https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/articles/grounding.shtml

In my opinion all these accounts perfectly fit to this rebound theory.
 
Dec 7, 2000
1,348
9
223
Ben,

Good point about lower decks getting the ice, however this may have also depended on other factors. The shape of the ice, and lack of accounts. Look at B deck. So far as we know, the first occupied cabin we encounter is B35, then others follow, 41, 39, 45, 49. I have never seen a decent account from Aubert and the Frolichers. Perhaps ice was there but they never bothered to look, or there was no ice.

On C deck, perhaps mainly the Fortune family would have been the only ones to tell of ice deposits, but I have not seen a decent account from them either.

However on the other hand, perhaps the rebound theory explains how ice ended up on some portholes along the lower decks.

As for great noise in cabins, I think the ice would have been too soft to give any great noise.

Daniel.
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Hi Daniel,
if the iceberg would have carried soft ice - the ship would have reached New York... ;-)

Seriously spoken I think that the temperature in this night was low enough to keep even the surface of the iceberg frozen without softening it up.

Regards Henning
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
507
278
Henning -- I understand your point to Daniel, but I must point out that all of the ice in an iceberg is not of uniform density. Some "old" or "rotten" ice coexists with very hard ice from the glacier. I have some research in my files that often the softer ice will be above the waterline while the hardest ice is hidden below. (Please don't quote me as a source for this information because it's an over-simplification.)

North Atlantic icebergs are always in a process of decay. This makes them unstable. It also explains why they will suddenly "calve" or spontaneously break apart. While we have no specific data on Titanic's nemesis iceberg, the general nature of North Atlantic bergs makes possible many ways of transferring small pieces of ice to the ship.

The underwater shape of North Atlantic is such that mariners in 1912 (as well as today) were cautioned that getting to close could result in damage to the bottoms of their ships by running onto ice shelves called "rams." This is why I believe that any topside impact between the berg and the ship must have been preceded and followed by "grounding" of Titanic's bottom on underwater ice.

I am quite hesitant about theories that call for the corner of the deckhouse striking the berg. Not that it couldn't happen, but I have driven a square boat (no shaped bow). Catching even a small portion of the flat front on an immoveable object produced an unforgettable shock. Titanic had enough mass to dampen the shock to some degree, but I am sure it would have been quite noticeable to someone inside the cabins. We don't seem to have a description of that sort of impact on record...unless somebody's hiding something.

-- David G. Brown
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
714
2
173
Hi Daniel,

Your message prompted me to hunt around for some B-deck accounts and, in doing so, recalled two very telling accounts which clearly indicate ice being *scraped* off at this level;

Paul Chevre and Alfred F. Omont were playing bridge with Pierre Marechal and Lucien P. Smith in the Cafe Parisien when the collision occured.

Chevre: through the ports we saw ice rubbing against the ship's sides.

Omont: When the shock happened, we saw something white through the portholes, and we saw some water on the ports.

Clearly, the iceberg had left deposits which could not have rebounded from the initial impact as the Cafe Parisien was too far aft for them to reach. Therefore, it had to have *scraped* past. However, Emily Ryesron, just slightly forward of this area (possibly) saw no iceberg and "felt no jar". Perhaps the ship pivoted around the "Cafe Parisen" region or else the possible grounding on a submerged shelf may have caused the iceberg to tip sufficently further towards the ship to the point where the two actually came into contact (thus explaining why it this did not occur further forward). Incidentally, the accounts of both Frenchmen would seem to bolster the theory that the Ryerson's occupied the 3 forward B-deck starboard suites as indicated on this site, judging from Emily Ryerson's different observations.

These accounts do not necessarily condradict the rebound theory, at least as far as the ice discovered forward is concerned, and certainly add weight to the "tipping" theory if indeed, this was a gradual process.

Best Regards,
Ben

P.S. Daniel - I was in touch with a member of the Fortune family (Ethel/Crawford Gordon line) a while back. It's a *vague* possibilty I may be able to dig up something Re. Fortune accounts.
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Hi all!

Looking for accounts which underlines that the iceberg was scraping the upper hull seems like searching a needle in heaps of hay.
Ben: You said, that these two accounts "clearly indicates ice being scraped". I think both accounts could also tell something very different.

1. ("Chevre: through the ports we saw ice rubbing against the ship's sides"): they saw ice rubbing but not "the iceberg rubbing" - maybe they saw rebound ice rubbing down?

2. ("Omont: When the shock happened, we saw something white through the portholes, and we saw some water on the ports"). The same words could describe just a close gliding by of the iceberg. But I think this account could speak another clear language: they saw "water" on the ports! Where could have this water com from? My only conclusion: from the water below, i.e. rebound water...(of course mixed up with chunks)

We do very very hard to find any accounts which clearly say: "the iceberg scraped the hull...the iceberg touched the porthole of my cabin...I could see the iceberg scraping...I could hear a scraping next to my cabin" or anything similar to that. The other way round we have accounts which describe a noise which somehow came from the bottom of the ship or describing a gliding by of the iceberg (again: please see the accounts in the ET article "The Grounding of Titanic", chapters 2.0 and 3.0).

Hard ice or soft ice: meanwhile I got some knowledge about icebergs and I know that they are unstable and of different density. But just to say, the surface was too soft to avoid any noises while scraping the hull is a bit to simple to me (please excuse me, Daniel). However, soft parts of an iceberg are not as soft as snow. Even the noise of scraping of a bigger mass of soft ice would probably create some sound in the cabins next to the scraped hull, specially in the quietness of the night. I am sure that any scraping of something of a bigger mass (except feather filled pillows) would create a noise inside the ship which some witnesses would have recalled and described in their accounts as such. But as it seems, nobody did.

Another excuse to Ben for turning your Omont quoting to support my own intention. But I really would take this account (with "water on the ports") for another point that could underline the rebound theory.

Best regards Henning
 
Dec 7, 2000
1,348
9
223
All,

I wasn't really saying that the iceberg did scratch, I only suggested the possibility. I was more suggesting that when the berg tipped slightly during the collision, it may have only touched the ship very slightly, however enough for some ice to scrape off. On the other hand, perhaps not.

There were noises reported. I cannot remember whom these were from in particular, but descriptions like Titanic being opened like with a can opener, dragging a chain along the side or dropping a chain have been described by either passengers or crew. This noise may have been from the grounding, or else from scraping along the side.

As for the Cafe Parisien thing, the berg would not have been close to the ship. By the time the iceberg passed this area the stern had already swung away. This is explained in David Brown's book. He gives a good example of Mr. Harder's account. Being aft on E deck, in cabin 50, he saw the berg being about 50 - 100 feet away. Mrs. Clark in C89 saw a white object which I think she thought was a sail ship (i.e. with white sails). If the berg was close she would have simply described a white wall or mass (as Rehims did who saw it through the windows, fore on A deck), however she saw more of it and related what she thought it represented to her.

As for the water on the ports at the Cafe, this may well be condensation. Being warm inside and cold outside, some condensation may well have occurred.

Daniel.
 

Ben Holme

Member
Feb 11, 2001
714
2
173
Dear Henning and all,

I should perhaps reiterate that I am not negating the rebound theory as a possibility. I am just attempting to illustrate that other factors, I believe, played a part in the deposition of ice on the ship and, to a certain extent, the noise as heard by a few.

As you mentioned earlier, Daniel, the point of impact with the ship depended on the shape of the berg. For example, we should exclude the possibility that the iceberg simply "stuck out" more on the B-deck level. Spencer Silverthorne, just outside the smoking room noticed "chunks" falling off the berg. I doubt this would have occurred without any prolonged impact with the side of the ship *above* the waterline. If the iceberg was seperated from the ship at this point (at least above the waterline), Silvethorne's observations wouldn't have made sense.

For what it's worth, I'm not sure we should take Omont's description of "water" on the ports too dogmatically. I don't want to get into pedantic territory here, but bear in mind that Omont was a Frenchmen. He may have meant "ice". In contrast, Chevre's desription of ice "rubbing against" the windows is pretty self explanatory. Although I'm of the belief that most noises heard by survivors came from the possible grounding as described by David, i.e. lower down (hence descriptions of chains running along the hull, broken propellors etc), it is entirely likely that a few (if not all) were referring to "rumbling/scraping" sounds outside their cabins, or thereabouts.

Henning, you wrote of Omont's acocut; My only conclusion: water from below, i.e rebound water.. are you suggesting that the "water" he observed was essentially "splash" from large falling chunks? If so, I believe the cafe was too high up for water to reach. Please correct me If I've misunderstood you here ;). Also, I was of the understanding that the ice rebounded only upon initial impact. in which case, this area would have been to far aft.

Regards,
Ben
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
Hi all
and thanks Daniel for this good locating analysis.

Ben: indeed I think the water splashed up pretty high. There was a big mass of a ship running with nearly full speed against another huge mass and there was only a small space between the hull and the iceberg. Indeed I think that some water reached a pretty good height - all chunks which were thrown upwards also were pretty wet of course...

I believe that there was not only one initial impact but also an impact leading for some seconds (no news). There was some under water rubbing for some seconds with consequental damages to the lower hull and to the iceberg as well. During all these seconds ice was breaking away and rebounding. And water as well with these pieces of ice.

I also see all the points mentioned here to weaken this rebound theory. All I tried is to stay close to the most authentic informations we have, to me these are the eyewitnesses accounts and to find a solution why none of them recalled on which way the ice came on board.

Ben, you have convinced me what belongs Omonts account. I won´t take this dogmatic, I now generally think that a single account shouldn´t count. But in my opinion among all witnesses there is a certain lack of accounts telling about an iceberg scraping the upper hull.


Best regards Henning
 
Jul 10, 2001
253
0
171
...by the way, Daniel, I think it is a pretty good idea to think about condensation generally. Probably there was some condensation inside the protholes. Specially in rooms where the air humidity was pretty high. I believe that on (in) a ship there is a basically pretty high air humidity inside. Do you think we could state that looking through the portholes generally was handicaped by condensation?

This could be an interesting aspect for directors of future films. I only recall clear portholes in the films...

Best regards Henning
 

chrismireya

Member
Apr 7, 2019
44
22
38
Palo Alto, CA
I would like to bring up this topic (as it is the only thread that I can find on the subject at Encyclopedia Titanica) to address a couple of points/questions. First of all:
  • The best images of the wreckage seem to indicate quite clearly that there is no major damage along the outer starboard upper deck (forecastle or well deck) -- and the railing in particular -- aside from buckling damage obviously caused by hitting the ocean floor. Nor was there any damage to the corner of the wall further astern in the well deck. Even brittle ice would likely have at least dented the rail.
This next one is a somewhat more complex discussion.
  • We don't know the y-axis "drift angle" by which Titanic struck the iceberg.
What do I mean? When Murdoch was aware of the iceberg ahead, Titanic was turned hard to starboard. At a high rate of momentum, Titanic would have angled during the turn to starboard. When they were clearing the iceberg, Titanic was then turned hard to port. Again, this would have caused another albeit opposite tilt. The measure of that angle would have been dependent upon the surge and sway velocities and how "hard" the turns were.


We've seen modern ships demonstrate those tilts during various maneuvers that illustrate just how noticeable that list might be. Consider this video of the U.S.S. Nimitz:


While the top speed of the Nimitz is similar to Titanic's top velocity, the maneuver abilities (and weight) are different. Still, the concept that a drift angle (albeit extreme) during higher velocity and sudden turns is clear in the video. Thus, Titanic's starboard side could have been slightly lower while going "hard to starboard" and then raised when shifting "hard to port."

Of course, we don't know exactly when the actually collision (underwater) occurred. I've read different discussions about this. Did it happen during the turn to starboard or during the turn to port? I'm inclined to think that it happened during the turn to starboard. This could have potentially lowered the starboard side a bit.

If there was an ice overhang, this could potentially explain how it felt onto the well deck at the moment that Titanic struck.

Does anyone know if there is any testimony about how those reactionary turns affected Titanic?
 

Similar threads