Icebergs and the survivors


Apr 9, 2015
Please, somebody knows why the survivors saw many ice near them but in the pics taken from the Carpathia does not look any? thanks, regards
Apr 26, 2017
No it's more likely there were plenty of ice chunks (2-6feet) floating around in the waters around the wreck


The Captain of the Carpathia described the distance of the icebergs.

"The first iceberg we saw was at a quarter to 3.......I should think it was about a mile and a half to two miles away......We saw about half a dozen. In fact, more than that. I was moving about to get between them up to 4 o'clock."

Q - Did you see all those at about the same distance?
A - Yes, about the same distance. From one to two miles.

When he saw the green light from Boxhall's lifeboat he saw another iceberg that was very close.

"Just after I saw his light I saw an iceberg right ahead. Then, of course, I starboarded. I could not port to get away from the berg."

Q - How close was the iceberg which you saw?
A - Well, when we had stopped, when daylight broke, it was something less than a quarter of a mile away......We were close up before we saw it.....It was between 25 and 30 feet high.

What is remarkable is that Captain Rostron had doubled the lookout and told them to be extra vigilant, yet all of the icebergs were seen by him or his officers before the lookouts.

"We saw all the icebergs first from the bridge.....Either one of my officers or myself, before the look-outs."


Kyle Naber

Oct 5, 2016
The bridge naturally has a better chance of spotting objects, at night, than the crows nest, because Murdoch was looking straight at a black silhouette and the lookouts were looking down at the berg, making it more difficult to make out distinct shapes and sizes.


Does anyone know how high the bridge of the Titanic was compared to the Carpathia's crows nest? Perhaps Murdoch had the same disadvantage as the Carpathia's lookouts owing to the height of the Titanic's bridge.

May 3, 2005
At any rate would both bridge and crow's nest on Titanic be much higher than those on Carpathia ? How much higher due to size of Titanic compared to size of Carpathia ?
May 3, 2005
The bridge naturally has a better chance of spotting objects, at night, than the crows nest, because Murdoch was looking straight at a black silhouette and the lookouts were looking down at the berg, making it more difficult to make out distinct shapes and sizes.
Would those on the Main Deck or Well Deck have had an even better chance to spot icebergs than those on bridge or crow's nest ?


Sir Ernest Shackleton testified at the British Inquiry. He believed the closer the observer is to the waterline the easier it would be to detect the icebergs / bumps on the horizon.

Q - If I follow you correctly your view is, it is better on a clear night passing through an ice region to have a man as near the waterline as possible?
A - Yes.

Q - That would rather suggest that your view would be that you could detect bergs of that kind better at the stem than you could at the crow’s-nest?
A - Better, the nearer you are to the waterline. When we navigated in thick or hazy weather there was always one man on the look-out and one man as near the deck line as possible.

Q - That is thick or hazy weather?
A - Yes, that is thick or hazy weather, or even clear just the same.

Q - Suppose you had two men in the crow’s-nest, and it was a clear night, and you were going through a region in which ice had been reported, would you put any person in the bow for a look-out?
A - I would put a look-out man in the bow or as near to the waterline as possible, even on a clear night, but I would only have one man in the crow’s-nest.

Q - Your idea would be that of the two men when coming into an ice region, one should go to the bow and one be in the crow’s-nest?
A - My main reason for saying one man in the crow’s-nest is that I think one man gives more attention to the work in hand than two men.

Q - How far would you see one of these dark bergs on a clear night, assuming it to be 60 to 80 feet high?
A - It might be only three miles, depending on the night and depending almost entirely on the condition of the sea at the time. With a dead calm sea there is no sign at all to give you any indication that there is anything there. If you first see the breaking sea at all, then you look for the rest and you generally see it. That is on the waterline. I do not say very high, because from a height it is not so easily seen; it blends with the ocean if you are looking down at an angle like that. If you are on the sea level it may loom up.

Q - You would slow down?
A - I would slow down, yes.

Q - What was the speed of the boat you were in?
A - She was only six knots at full speed. She was 40 years old.

Q - Do you mean to say that you slowed down a vessel of six knots?
A - Yes, I always did.

Q - And supposing you were going 21 to 22 knots. I suppose that would be the better reason for slowing down?
A - You have no right to go at that speed in an ice zone.

Q - And you think that all these liners are wrong in going at this speed in regions where ice has been reported?
A - Where it has been reported I think the possibility of accident is greatly enhanced by the speed the ship goes.

Not to scale but gives a good idea of the comparison between the Titanic, Carpathia, and Nimrod (Shackleton's ship)


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Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
So was THE iceberg the only one in the vicinity? (Near the lifeboats and the Carpathia)
Yes it was. Here is a plot I made recently of all the ice bergs reported in the vicinity. It is not exactly to scale but the position of the icebergs can clearly be seen. The north-south barrier of the pack ice is shown in dark green and the track of the Carpathia is shown as a dotted black line. It is not shown straight since she would have been set east by the Atlantic Current. There is no sign of any bergs within the horizon of people in lifeboats. However, a 100 foot berg would be seen at a maximum distance of about 15 miles by someone in a lifeboat and much farther from the deck of Carpathia. THE iceberg is shown as a black triangle. Have fun!
Ice Plot by USCG.gif