Icebergs 1 or 2 perhaps more


Steven Hall

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A description of the unfolding events two crewmen witnessed between 11.30 & 11.45 pm Sunday night while preparing to wash down the ships decks.
“It was a perfect night, clear and starlight. The sea was smooth. The temperature had dropped to freezing Sunday morning. We knew or believed that the cold was due to the nearness of bergs, but we had not even run against cake ice up to [until] the time the ice mountain loomed up.
The two crewmen observed that Murdoch was the senior deck officer, QM Hitchens had the helm and Fleet was in the crows nest. (after 10.00pm).
They continued on to say.
“Fleet reported the berg, but the telephone was not answered on the bridge at once. A few minutes afterwards the telephone call was answered, but it was too late.
The ship had struck. Murdock [Murdoch], AFTER the ship struck the berg (my capitols), gave orders to put helm to starboard, afterwards he ordered the helm hard to port and the ship STRUCK the berg AGAIN (my capitols).
There was less than 10”￾ minutes between the time the Titanic first struck the berg and the SECOND crash, both of which brought big pieces of ice showering down on the ship."
 

Steven Hall

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The same sailors (crewmen) described the berg as 250 feet in height and which Fleet described as a “blue berg”.
They also speculated; had the officer answered the phone promptly from the crows nest (identified as Fleet), the Titanic - “might have served the great ship sufficiently to avoid the berg altogether or at worse would have probably stuck the mass of ice with her stern and at much reduced speed”.
The above post indicates that the first helm change came after the ship struck — QM Hitchens backs this up; “Almost instantly, it could not have been more than four or five seconds, …………. Hardly had the words come to me (obviously Murdoch’s helm change) when there was a crash.
Interestingly he states; “There was a light grating on the port bow, then a heavy crash on the port bow, than a heavy crash on the starboard side. I could hear the engines stop, and the lever closing the watertight emergency doors.”
So at what point did the engines actually stop ? According to Hitchens, after the impact.
Passenger Mr. Carter was in the smoking room when the collision came. “It was just seventeen minutes to 12 o’clock.”
He said he made his way to the deck to see what happened. “Almost as I reached the deck the engines were stopped.”
So like Hitchens stated, the engines did not stop until after the collision.
 

Steven Hall

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By reading between the lines; the ship did not alter course until after she had struck the iceberg.
The crows nest sounds the bell three times. Nothing.
The iceberg looms closer and closer.
More time passes.
Fleet then picks up the phone and rings the bridge.
The phone remains unanswered for a few minutes.
According to two crewmen who witnessed the whole event, the ship doesn’t alter course until after the collision.
Hitchens basically implies the same thing.
After the ship strikes the berg, orders come to put helm to starboard.
Ice strikes the port bow — first a light grating than a heavy crash. Seconds later, a heavier crash on the starboard side.
At this point the engines stop.
A short period later — the ship hits the (or a) iceberg again. (Carter — 11.43pm) Or / and several minutes later a second impact which also brings big pieces of ice showering down on the ship.
It’s really anyone’s guess what really happened.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Steve: Please read the disclaimer:
quote:

Nota Bene. Dr. Mowbray was alive at the time of the Titanic tragedy. This book is the result of his compilation of contemporary newspaper reports. It is an important record of how people reacted in 1912, but it should not be considered a factual history of the ship and its demise. This book contains hearsay and rumours.
What Steve didn't mention was these stories came from: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/titanic.htm. The specific story of these two unnamed seamen can be read here: http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/titnchx4.htm.

Those quotes of Hichens, also at this site, came from newspaper reports taken before the American Inquiry. What is interesting to me about what was reported that Hichens said (and there were two separate reports) is not so much what he did say, but what he didn't say to the newsmen. In both newspaper accounts he never mentioned anything about receiving any helm orders whatsoever. Your remark concerning Hichen's reference to "Hardly had the words come to me" as being an obvious reference to Murdoch’s helm change is not correct. The complete set of words that were written in this story was:
quote:

I took the wheel at 10 o'clock, and Mr. Murdock, the first officer, took the watch. It was 20 minutes to 12, and I was steering when there were the three gongs from the lookout, which indicated that some object was ahead. Almost instantly, it could not have been more than four or five seconds, when the lookout men called down on the telephone, 'Iceberg ahead!' Hardly had the words come to me when there was a crash.
The words he was referring to was "Iceberg ahead!" which came down on the loud-speaking navy telephone which Moody answered in the wheelhouse and repeated to Murdoch.

By the way, the exact words given by Fleet and Hichens in the testimonies was "Iceberg right ahead." And, by the way, "Right ahead" is not the same as "Dead ahead" as is mentioned in some books and movies.​
 

Steven Hall

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Sam,
the more I read into what supposedly happened that night - the more I find the story gets more and more blurred.
Yes, I forgot to mention the source. I thought I had, but when I cut and paste the word doc, the reference source was on another page.
I have read the actual book — and yes, there are some real tall-tales.
What I like about books like this is that they provide another window in the disaster. Someplace within all that we read has to be the actual truth.
The thing with all this analyst of available information — what can you keep and what can be discarded.
“By the way, the exact words given by Fleet and Hichens in the testimonies was "Iceberg right ahead." And, by the way, "Right ahead" is not the same as "Dead ahead" as is mentioned in some books and movies.”￾
That’s a good point, one missed by most people Sam.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I think you agree with me that the information from indirect sources may not be too reliable. But I agree with you in that it has a place in trying to get at a complete picture. You just have to be careful about how second hand source information is used. Hichens not mentioning about helm orders to the press is telling to me. It does not mean there were non, but that at the time Hichens was apparently concerned about mentioning what orders he directly received.

By the way, there were other reports about two distinct impacts being felt. A report was attributed to Mrs. Candee, and a statement from Lawrence Beesley in the Truro Daily News as well as in his book "The Loss of the SS Titanic." In his book he described both impacts as feeling like "nothing more than an extra heave of the engines." So I believe there is something to that even though not many others noticed it. My own take on reading all these descriptions is that the two impacts came quite close to each other, just a few seconds apart. It would have taken about 7 to 8 seconds for the berg to pass from the peak tank area to abaft of bulkhead F (aft of boiler room 5) with some side contact in between. The gringing sound that many talked about was most probably the ship grounding on an underwater ice shelf as Dave described in his book.
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Sam, the results of an unofficial, unscientific "poll" I conducted a few months back seemed to show that those in the front of the ship were apt to have felt the collision as a grinding slide, whereas those further back - say, in second-class - tended to feel two or three separate jolts; not only Beesley, but also Charlotte Collyer and Mrs. T.W.S. Brown.

Margin for error: +/-100%
 
Dec 4, 2000
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'Tis wonderful to see some serious discussion about the real ship and the real accident.

Roy Kristiansen is correct that the impact was felt differently in different parts of the ship. And, that was as it should have been. The contact between ice and ship was different along the length of the hull. The witnesses gave different descriptions because they were, in actuality, describing different events in a chain of at least three contacts between ship and ice.

Forward, it was the grounding event as described in the paper Parks and I wrote. That ended in way of hold #3. My research indicates the next contact was beneath boiler room #4 where Cavell was trapped by a coal avalanche. The third contact seems to have been beneath boiler room #1.

With regard to news accounts and such, beware that the difference between a novel and a newspaper is that one admits it is a fiction. My preference is to use only sworn testimony whenever possible. There is no physical barrier to telling lies on the witness stand, but there are moral and legal sanctions. Also, sworn testimony was recorded by a trained stenographer paid for accuracy. Reporters make hasty notes, then reconstruct quotations from memory as needed to flesh out their stories.

-- David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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Correct me if I am wrong, but they crew didn't wash down the decks on Sunday's did they. I recall reading somewhere that Sunday was considered a day of rest. I believe it was in the testimony of a surviving AB.
 

Steven Hall

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Erik, they must have - I remember reading a passenger commenting they seen crewmen washing down the deck sometime after 10.00pm.
But than again, why would anyone accept this observation anymore than they would accept what the two crewmen stated.
Those two chaps seeming pretty clear on what they seen that night — there was little a reporter could have done to embellish the story without having taken down what they said almost verbatim.
I did a little research years ago to try and establish the identity of those two crewmen. I could image they decided it best to shut their mouth for fear of having to testify what they seen at an enquiry. Like most crewmen — all they wanted to do was go home.
I have always thought it interesting how the size and shape of the iceberg changed between the various witnesses. I have asked myself often — did they all see the same berg, or two different ones.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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The crew was supposed to have somewhat of a "rope yarn" Sunday, doing only essential duties.

It would have been impossible to wash down the decks after 10 p.m. The temperature of both the water and air would have resulted almost immediately in unsafe footing from the skim ice/water combination that would have resulted.

The eyewitness descriptions of the berg (Fleet, Lee, Boxhall, Olliver, and Rowe seem remarkably similar to me. The differences among them seem related more to the observers more point of view than the size of the berg.

-- David G. Brown
 

Steven Hall

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My thought on the term “washing down the deck”￾ on this occasion would have been using the old mop & bucket to tidy-up specific areas that needed attention — opposed to breaking out the hose.

Most business’s today also have certain duties / routines not performed on Sundays. However, starting a job after 10.00pm on Sunday night, particular on rotating rosters would not seem totally unreasonable.

I can understand that the term BS can be applied to what those chaps supposedly said, as well as what a passenger claimed to have seen.

In the end — I shall leave you gentlemen to theorize what happened that night.
 
Feb 24, 2004
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>>The eyewitness descriptions of the berg (Fleet, Lee, Boxhall, Olliver, and Rowe seem remarkably similar to me.

Hi, David!

It's a small point, but didn't Boxhall testify in the US that the "iceberg" he saw was less than 30 feet high and didn't even rise as high as B Deck? If I remember, Smith asked him some pretty specific questions about that, because everyone else was saying it was as high as the Boat Deck, if not a little higher.

Roy
 

Steven Hall

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An old post I made back in October 10, 1999. Just thought I would add it to the thread.
alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic
My original posting the other day put forward the possibly of two icebergs. The point I was trying to get over was that could there have been 2 icebergs side by side. The 2nd one the lookouts could not see because it was lower in profile than the one they sighted. The Titanic impacted with the smaller berg jammed between the ship and the larger one. This could account for the speratic damage done to the ships hull. The second berg was simply crushed between the two. This may explain why the ship was not severely shunted sideways by the berg.
----------------
I was just think about this thread again the other day. It's like a bad penny - keeps popping up in my mind.
 

Steven Hall

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Bisset was stationed on the Carpathia’s port wing — instructed by Rostron to give sighting bergs his ‘full attention’. He stated, I sighted an iceberg ¾’s of a mile ahead, on the ships port bow. They reduced to half-speed, altered course. The interesting thing here, Rostron first reduced speed and altered course on Bisset’s report immediately — than came out and observed it for himself (time — 2.45am)
“Within a few minutes we sighted another berg. We steered around it as before, and than sighted another and another.”
“At 3.30am there were numerous bergs surrounding us, and small growlers of ice grinding along the hull plates.” By 4.00am they had stopped. He states; “A large iceberg was ahead of us, ……”
At the same time he observed; “ dozens of icebergs within our horizon. Among them were four or five big bergs, towering up two hundred feet above water level. One of these was the one that the Titanic had struck.”
Obviously (reading into this) there was a large berg in close proximity of the Titanic’s lifeboats - spread out (in an half arc) forward of the Carpathia.
By 4.20am, the first passengers had been taken on board — including Boxhall. Yet no particular mention of the large iceberg they would have all clearly seen.
Bisset states; “A mile away was a mass of wreckage, like an island, marking the spot where the Titanic had gone down.”
W. T. Sloper stated that he sighted a large ship pass within a few hundred feet of lifeboat No 7 during darkness — but he was likely seeing the berg Bisset mentioned seeing.
So when Bisset identified at least 4, possibly 5 icebergs — one was directly ahead of Carpathia, one within a mile of where debris identified where Titanic sank.
 
May 9, 2001
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What I don't understand is the difference in testimonies between Titanic's lookouts, and the Carpathia's.

Lots of bergs and growlers seen from Carpathia, while only one seen by Titanic. And it appeared almost out of nowhere, and directly in front of them, too close to avoid.

Both vessels make these observations within the same general area of the ocean, only 4 hours apart. I don't think ice drifts so fast that it can suddenly spread out over a few miles of ocean in large numbers within 4 hours.

And then compare the observations of the Californian. (Also within the same 'general' area of the ocean.)

It is a mystery as to how Titanic's lookouts were unable to observe any ice around them while everyone else says there was ice everywhere.

So could there have been two bergs? Certainly.
Perhaps even more than two. Perhaps there was more seen than reported. And if something wasn't reported, then why admit to seeing it at all.
 

Steven Hall

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Yuri
By Bisset’s own admission — (and basically under the same temperature and conditions which prevailed onboard Titanic) he identifies and iceberg at 1,320 yards in advance of Carpathia. Yet supposedly Titanic observers identified an iceberg at / on or about - 600 yards.
I draw the comparison, Bisset on the port wing of Carpathia — Murdoch on the starboard wing of Titanic. For Titanic (observers), elevation plus 20% over Carpathia.
The order that night (on board Titanic) was to keep a sharp eye out for icebergs, or other potential dangers. Was Bisset’s eyesight that much better than Murdoch’s or Fleet’s ? There appears to have been several 200 foot plus icebergs in close proximity to Titanic — not just the one they eventually struck.
I believe they avoided the one they seen — and hit the one they didn’t see.
If Bisset’s description that morning is correct, re the location of a large berg forward of the ship, and close to a huge debris field floating approx 1760 yards (mile) away — and if the berg “Titanic” struck was eventually (approx) 700 yards astern by time she finally stopped (which if Bisset and his keen eyesight had been on Titanic’s stern would have seen) — how is that it (the one identified that morning) also was not seen prior to the collision.
Is the berg seen from Carpathia the same one Titanic struck perhaps ?
The distances somewhat pair up when allowance is make for drift of debris
This is where it gets a bit sticky, because for Titanic to have hit that particular berg, the ships course changes prior to the collision become speculative and confusing. Yet a pattern of various testimony starts to make sense (&, as viewed from Californian).
 
Mar 22, 2003
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A few quotes, all by different people:

"As the sun grew brighter they seemed they seemed to sparkle with innumerable diamonds. They were icebergs; and, moving slowly and majestically along all by itself, a mile or so in length, in form like the pictures of Gibraltar I have seen, was the monster iceberg, the cause of all our trouble."

“It was round, and then had one big point sticking up on one side of it…It was apparently dark, like dirty ice.”￾

“There was one of them, particularly, that I noticed, a very large one, which looked something like the Rock of Gibraltar; it was high at one point, and another point came up at the other end, about the same shape as the rock of Gibraltar... I was a good ways off. It was not quite as large as the Titanic but it was an enormous, large iceberg.”￾

“Well, it struck me at the time that it resembled the Rock of Gibraltar looking at it from Europa Point. It looked very much the same shape as that, only much smaller.”￾

The last quote is from AB Scarrott who saw the berg when he came up on deck following the collision. The others were from people in various lifeboats and saw what was all around them when it became light in the morning.

The iceberg sighted by Bisset at 2:45 AM at 3/4 miles was described by Rostron (BOT Inquiry 25418-25439) as 1 1/2 to 2 miles away. The last iceberg that Bisset referred to, the one at 4:00 AM, was specifically mentioned by Rostron as being about 25-30 ft high and not spotted until it was only 1/4 mile off. By the way, non of the bergs seen on the Carpathia were spotted first from the crow's nest. They were all picked up by officers on the bridge. Judging distance at night is difficult at best. And as you can see you can get widely different estimates from trained observers. As it got light, more and more bergs were sighted all around. Large icebergs can usually be seen on a very clear day by an observer with a height-of-eye of 70 feet at a distance of 18 miles.(See http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g%2Dm/nmc/pubs/proceed/spring05/cover1.htm).

On a separate point, the Carpathia approached the scene of the accident from the SE while the Titanic approach from the E. It is highly probable that the Titanic passed several icebergs before coming up to the fatal berg. Given the experience on the Carpathia, it is possible that Murdoch may have seen a few before the fatal encounter. Unless they were in Titanic's path there was no reason to change course or even slow down under the practice of the time. If they did not get stopped by that berg, the Titanic would probably have been stopped by that field ice up ahead by 11:50 PM the latest.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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One other point to consider. Titanic swung around the berg that it hit and was heading northward following the collision. After it came to its initial stop, it was moved ahead somewhat for a short period of time at slow speed. The fatal iceberg should have been southward of the debris field in the morning, maybe a mile or two off.

Also to consider is the bridge height on the Carpathia was about 45 ft, while that on the Titanic was about 65 ft. The higher up you go only has an advantage in early detection for things coming over the horizon. But the biggest factor appears to be in the quality of the observer.
 

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