Icebergs and Field Ice

Sep 22, 2003
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Was Titanic going full speed in an Field Ice and areas w/ lots of Icebergs? if we look at chart 1 from the senate investigation Prepared by Captain Knap that appears to be the case.

Link to chart one prepared by Knap
http://www.titanicinquiry.org/images/charts/Chart1.gif

other charts include:

A map prepared for the US District court June 25 1915 of all ice reported in the area in April of 1912(Appendix E of a: The ship that stood Still by Leslie reade)

A map Prepared by Birma's Captain (Appendix E, Reade)

A Map Prepared by Foweraker based on Details from Lord's testimony at the British Inquiry (Appendix E, Reade)

A Map by an officer on the Lackawanna (F.E. Townsend) which hand been in the area 4/12/1912 (Pg 129 of Titanic: Sinking the Myths by D.E. Bristow)

all of these maps indicate that if Titanic was not in field ice she was certainly approaching it and in area filled w/ icebergs.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Jesse: How are you doing? I believe the best description of the ice field that Titanic was approaching at full speed on the night of the 14th can be gathered from the collective testimonies of Captains Lord, Moore and Rostron, all of whom were on the scene in the morning when it became light enough to see the full extent. It is interesting that they all seem to say the same thing about the direction of the field and its extent as far they could see.

From Lord and Moore we know the western side of the field ran from NNW to SSE true. From Rostron we know the eastern side was running about from NW to SE near the wreckage. The width of the ice field in the vicinity of the wreckage was from 5 to 6 miles according Moore's estimate, and to the north of that, where the Californian was, it was about 3 miles wide according Lord. From the wreckage area it stretched from horizon to horizon as far as the eye could see. And I believe up where the Californian was stopped, the same was true regarding the extent seen looking north to south.

The southern advance of the field reached down to 41° 16'N according to Rostron. The western edge in the vicinity of the wreckage was at longitude 50° 09.5'W about 7 AM as confirmed by Moore's sun line observation. According to Rostron, the wreckage was 2 to 3 miles from the eastern edge of the field ice when seen after the sun came up.

As far as icebergs are concerned, they were all over the place in the vicinity of the wreckage including many mixed in with that major ice field itself. According to Lord, the larger ones seemed to be to the SE of the wreckage location. From the Carpathia, 25 icebergs of greater than 150 ft in height were counted all around.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Sam

Hello. I'm good. I have read that testimony and took it into consideration when posting this thread, and appeared to me from looking at the map that although Titanic didn't Steam through the Ice field, there is some Pack Ice/smaller fields of ice which she could have possibly steamed through.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Was Titanic going full speed in an Field Ice and areas w/ lots of Icebergs?<<

If I recall correctly, it was established in sworn testimony that she was doing 78 rpm at the time of the accident. If that wasn't quite full speed, the difference really wasn't enough to matter.
 
Mar 17, 2010
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Hi Jesse,

I don't think that the Titanic was going full speed, but certainly close to it. I've attached a scan of a magazine I have which talks about icebergs in the Atlantic, you might find it interesting...

View Image

Carla
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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The article is rather amusing. There's never been a policy of destroying icebergs. As the article itself says, it can't be done with conventional weapons. I've seen film of an iceberg being shelled and the results were very limited, to put it kindly.

It's possible to tow icebergs and this is routinely done if an oil rig is threatened. It's a slow business, so ample warning is needed.

In its early years it was not compulsory for ships in the ice region to even contact the Ice Patrol. That ended in July 2002 when the following was added to SOLAS.

"Ships transiting the region of icebergs guarded by the Ice Patrol during the ice season are required to make use of the services provided by the Ice Patrol."

This rule was made partly for safety and partly to force ships flying flags of convenience to contribute to the cost of the IIP. When they arrive in the USA or Canada they get a bill.
 
Mar 17, 2010
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>I've seen film of an iceberg being shelled and the results were very limited, to put it kindly<

I suppose that the cold temperature of the ice would also affect the way the weapon worked, maybe even stopping it from working.

Carla

PS. I find the picture of the iceberg on the scan is a bit creepy...
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Creepy is right!

Carla, I'm sure you know that icebergs are extremely heavy and extremely dense. And because they're not fixed, but floating, they are capable of transferring much of the energy of any impact to the water around them. Because in this instance the water happens to be the Atlantic Ocean, the effect on them from any high-speed projectile, even an explosive one, would be slight. Basically, the explosion would need to be able to overwhelm the energy stored in the iceberg. A nuclear shell would probably be able to do the job, but it would also be regarded as, uh, extreme overkill.

Roy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I suppose that the cold temperature of the ice would also affect the way the weapon worked, maybe even stopping it from working. <<

Well maybe, but then the catch here is that icebergs...even the smallest ones...tend to be pretty massive. There's just so much sheer mass there to absorb the energy. The Navy and Coast Gaurd has tried a lot of schemes from black coatings to speed up melting, to charges of thermite being placed. At best, the thermite burns some small holes in the monster and black coatings tend to melt or wash off in short order. When you get down to it, during any season, you have so much ice in the water that even if you could blast them to bits, you still couldn't hope to get them all.

Since you can't really beat 'em, the best way to deal with icebergs is to be aware of where they are, and to make a point of not being where they are.
 

Dennis Evans

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Jul 27, 2006
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I am curious from the time Fleet observed the iceberg till the Titanic stuck it how much time elapsed? I read Fleet's testimony with the Senate inquiry and either he was very inexperienced or very concerned to answer the questions posed to him.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Dennis

Thats a question that will always be debated as there are lots interpretations of Fleet's and Lee's testimony. estimates range from 30 seconds to 12 minutes. I myself think 12 minutes is a little on the high side, and from the testimony Fleet's and Lee's think 1-5 minutes is a good estimate.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I read Fleet's testimony with the Senate inquiry and either he was very inexperienced or very concerned to answer the questions posed to him.<<

I don't think Fleet was inexperienced but "Concerned" may not be that far of the mark. As one of the lookouts on watch at the time the accident occured, he would have made a wonderful scapegoat if somebody with the juice to do so decided to target him and it's unlikely that he was blind to that. If he privaricated and evaded, (And I think it can be shown that he did) it's understandable.
 

Dennis Evans

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Jul 27, 2006
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I am fairly experienced with small water craft of 20 to 35 feet when stopping distances are concerned however on a large ship such as the Titanic I am curious about that time between siting and collision. I wonder if any "experienced" seamen can explain the behave of a large ship's forward motion and effects when the forward propulsion is stopped. I know water on smaller craft acts as a brake once the throttle is cut back. If I reach 60 mph on top speed with calm water and cut the throttle my boat will immediatly drop lower in the water and the force of the water on the bow will stop my high speed in a matter of yards.

I can't see a ship with over a couple minutes of notice not be able to throttle down to a stop forward motion.

Can anyone here with some naval experience explain the coasting behavior of large ships when the engines are cut?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The Olympic took over a 1/2 mile to come to stop by reversing her engines to full astern from an ahead speed of 18 knots during a trial after the Titanic accident (from Wilding's testimony). It took over 3 minutes to get the way off. If the engines are not reversed the ship would go on for quite some distance. I believe Boxhall allowed about 2 miles for this when he worked out his SOS position. I'll need to check on that however.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Sam,

quote:

The Olympic took over a 1/2 mile to come to stop by reversing her engines to full astern from an ahead speed of 18 knots during a trial after the Titanic accident (from Wilding's testimony).
As an extra tidbit, the Olympic's estimated full speed with the engines going astern was around 14 knots. It might be of some interest for this discussion in that the ship's 'top reverse speed' seems to be faster than commonly supposed. Naturally, there's Wilding's data as to the time needed to stop the ship in this specific instance.

Best wishes,

Mark.​
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I can't see a ship with over a couple minutes of notice not be able to throttle down to a stop forward motion.<<

Two things to keep in mind one of them being sheer inertia. (An object in motion tends to stay in motion and all that) In the case of the Titanic, you have close to 50,000 tonnes of mass moving through the water at close to her best speed and that's just not going to stop on a dime.

The other thing is that they didn't have direct control of the engines from the bridge. This particular development wouldn't be seen for at least half a century into to future. Engine orders had to be sent to the engine room by way of the engine room telegraph and then whoever was on watch had to work all of the controls to stop the flow of steam to the engines, engage the reversing gears, then start the flow of steam to the engines all over again. If you didn't have everyone on station ready to act in an instant (And out in the middle of the Atlantic, there was no reason to.) this is going to take some time.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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quote:

Engine orders had to be sent to the engine room by way of the engine room telegraph and then whoever was on watch had to work all of the controls to stop the flow of steam to the engines, engage the reversing gears, then start the flow of steam to the engines all over again. If you didn't have everyone on station ready to act in an instant (And out in the middle of the Atlantic, there was no reason to.) this is going to take some time.
With the engines stopped (which they weren't in Titanic's case), in order to go full ahead (as opposed to full astern — maybe someone knowledgeable on the topic will let us know if there was any difference from a 'change-over' perspective), the engineer on duty needed to 'reverse the reversing engine from stop, he has to throw her over into ahead gear and open the stop valve' which would not take more than 15 seconds (once the valve was in the ahead position). This is from data according to an Olympic engineer.

On the Olympic, the link motion was Aspinall's ('an ordinary slide valve quadrant') and a link quadrant had to be thrown back and forward depending on whether the engines were to go astern or ahead. With the engines stopped, the quadrant was directly amidships under the valve stem, with a steam and hydraulic engine utilised to move the quadrant. This engine was started by using the available levers, and in turn this threw the link into the ahead or astern position as required. Once that was done, you had the stop valve. (Olympic was equipped with a throttle valve, but that was always kept open.) Once the stop valve had been opened, the engines began moving ahead (or astern), and the more the valve was opened the more power the engines could develop. It didn’t actually take that long to get the revolutions up, but if the ship was stopped the revolutions could soon be increased to — say — 70 and it would take time for the ship’s speed to increase in a corresponding manner because the engines’ potential would not be realised until the Olympic was going at some pace through the water.

Perhaps an expert could describe it more plainly (and accurately) than me using the information I’ve provided, but the procedure I’ve tried to describe above (and failed to) might add to the discussion if we bear in mind the qualifiers as to going from stop to full ahead (as in this specific instance on Olympic) rather than full ahead to full astern (or ‘stop’ as on Titanic).

Best wishes,

Mark.​
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Please forgive my stupidity...I always forget something in my scatter-brained muddle.

I thought it might be instructive to confirm that on the Olympic the engineer in charge tended to be situated (coming in or out of port, for instance) ready to see to the telegraph which appears to have been fixed near (or on) the forward low-pressure column of the engines. I don't know anything about how the Titanic's engine room telegraph arrangement may have differed from Olympic's...my limited knowledge of Olympic is fuzzy enough in that regard.

Best wishes,

Mark.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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There is little doubt that the stopping and reversing of Olympic Class engines was possible in short order--provided that the manpower was standing by and alerted to the task.

The real problem at sea is the distribution of engineers was not the same as when maneuvering in harbor. Generally, fewer men were on duty and they are not stationed directly at the engine controls. The tasks associated with long open-water hauls at a constant speed more involved maintaining the rotating equipment than controlling its speed or direction.

So, at 11:40 p.m. on any particular night it is doubtful that anyone was standing by the controls ready to spring into action. Where were the men with knowledge to stop and reverse the engine? Well a few were scattered in the engine room. Most were asleep in their bunks. So, the reaction time of the available on-duty manpower was probably a more critical factor in the reversing of any engine or engines than the actual turning of valves or operating of levers.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi David,

quote:

There is little doubt that the stopping and reversing of Olympic Class engines was possible in short order--provided that the manpower was standing by and alerted to the task.
Quite. I take that as a given, and it's a key point. One wonders what, if any, allowance was made during subsequent (and prior) trial tests.

Best wishes,

Mark.​