Icebergs while in lifeboats


Karim

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Hello all!

Can anyone indicate to me who claimed they heard water splashing on bergs nearby or saw them from the lifeboats?

Were there multiple witnesses to this or was it a single witness (Mr. Boxhall)?
 

B-rad

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James Johnstone in lifeboat 2 (Boxhall's lifeboat)

3513. Did you go back towards the wreck at all?
- Well, we might have pulled a little bit back. When we were all quiet he said, "Listen," and what we heard was the swish of the water against another iceberg.

There are others, but that's all I can think of right now. There are also people who claim to seen icebergs while in lifeboats.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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In boat No. 2 it was Boxhall, Johnstone, Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Douglas who mentioned to hear the lapping of the water against icebergs/ice and later they saw it. I can not remember if there was the same claim in other boats too.
During the night lifeboat No. 3 got close to icebergs as did No. 11 and No. 15. There was also the claim from some in No. 11 and 15 that lumps of ice were knocking against the lifeboat. When the sun came up while the boats were rowing towards Carpathia several saw icebergs around them.
 

Karim

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Thanks for the replies guys!

Then does this evidence give merit to the claim that Titanic got underway again after collision to avoid further ice in order to allow for the possibility of launching lifeboats?
 

B-rad

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I do not believe so. There is no evidence of anyone seeing ice around Titanic (except the iceberg it hit of course) anytime after it hit, as many people went on deck after the collision to investigate what had happened. There is also no evidence of there being ice or icebergs around while the boats where launched. Many of the lifeboats ended up rowing quite a bit away from the ship itself, hence the fact that no one plucked people out of the water without having to row back, or was swamped by the people in the water. I do not believe (and I may be wrong here) that anyone from overturned collapsible B heard any such noise, which would probably have been the closest boat to the ship when it sank - along with boat A). However, we do know that there was much ice around come day break, so either all this ice drifted towards the lifeboats, or the lifeboats all rowed into it, or simply it was to dark to see them while on Titanic.

On top of this, one would not have to steam away from ice in order to launch lifeboats, unless the ship was right on it and made launching lifeboats an impracticality, but having your ship so near ice would be more dangerous to the ship, let alone lifeboats. Plus the timing of launching the boats, and the timing of the ship starting and stopping again, do not seem to be in correlation, as too much time lapsed between the two. In other words, if they started the engines to steam out of ice, in order to launch the lifeboats, than they should have started launching boats sometime around them coming to a final stop. The evidence however, does not allow this, as the launching of the lifeboats still seems to have occurred quite awhile afterward.

PS: To say there was ' no evidence of anyone seeing ice around Titanic', is not necessarily true. There are news articles that claim such, but these articles are usually very 'yellow press'.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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PS: To say there was ' no evidence of anyone seeing ice around Titanic', is not necessarily true. There are news articles that claim such, but these articles are usually very 'yellow press'.

Not really, there were some survivors who mentioned ice and this had been also in letters. Some boats which rowed away got close to the icebergs and ice, with other words the ice was still there. Several who came up on deck after the collision claimed to have seen the iceberg, but how do we know it was that iceberg (which according to Boxhall & co. disappeared in the dark)?

If there was ice close by the Captain sure wanted to go to a free space for the lowering to the boats. If that was the case and if that was the reason to restart the engines or something else as to look if the props were alright, is something we will never know.
 
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Plus the timing of launching the boats, and the timing of the ship starting and stopping again, do not seem to be in correlation, as too much time lapsed between the two. In other words, if they started the engines to steam out of ice, in order to launch the lifeboats, than they should have started launching boats sometime around them coming to a final stop. The evidence however, does not allow this, as the launching of the lifeboats still seems to have occurred quite awhile afterward.
The launching of lifeboats occurred sooner after the final stop than always assumed. Titanic hit the iceberg at 12:04 am April 14 time (or 11:40 pm crew time). I don't know for sure when the ship came to her final stop, but I estimate about 15 minutes after the collision, say 12:20 am April 14 time. The first lifeboat was launched at 12:40 am April 14 time, so there was about 20 minutes between stopping and launching boats.

I think Captain Smith knew that an ice field was right ahead of them, but he might have thought that the iceberg the ship hit was a lonely one. When he came back onto the bridge, he saw the ship was off course. He had to know if his ship was still seaworthy, so he sent an officer on inspection for damage. When he found none, Smith had the rudder set hard-a-port and restarted the engines. Titanic returned to her course and Smith turned off the engines. He planned to closely inspect the ship to determine his next move: continue to New York or divert to the nearest port (Halifax). But the carpenter brought the devastating news the ship was sinking. Only then Smith had to start thinking about lifeboats.

So Titanic came to her final stop before anyone thought about the lifeboats, about 20 minutes before launching the firs one.
 

Jim Currie

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When Titanic hit that iceberg, she came to a halt no more than a mile to the westward of it. Icebergs don't have engines , they move under the influence of wind and or current. So do ships and lifeboats which stop. It follows that if there was any external influence effecting the position of the fatal berg, then the same influence effected Titanic's lifeboats. i.e they all remained more or less in the same place relative to each other. Now consider the evidence of Joseph Boxhall.
He told his questioners that he was launched on the port side remained there for a little time, rowed round he stern to about mid ship on the starboard side before rowing north east for half a mile then stopping. Here's a wee sketch of how I imagine it was

Boxhall 2.JPG
 
Mar 18, 2008
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The launching of lifeboats occurred sooner after the final stop than always assumed. Titanic hit the iceberg at 12:04 am April 14 time (or 11:40 pm crew time). I don't know for sure when the ship came to her final stop, but I estimate about 15 minutes after the collision, say 12:20 am April 14 time. The first lifeboat was launched at 12:40 am April 14 time, so there was about 20 minutes between stopping and launching boats.

And what is your source for all of that?
The ship hit the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. (if there was a clock set back at 10 o'clock as you and Mr. Brown claimed, why did no one ever mentioned it?) and the order given to prepare the lifeboats was given at midnight. From the testimony of Dillon we know the engines did not run for a long time (about 7 minutes from the first till the last order). Hichens was at the wheel till 12:23 a.m. and when relieved he got order to help with the boats.
 
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There definitely was a clock set back at the 8 to 12 pm watch. Lightoller clearly mentioned it during the US Inquiry.
"Senator SMITH: What time; do you know?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER: I believe he [Boxhall] was on the 8 to 12 watch.

Senator SMITH: That would take him two hours beyond your watch?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER: More than two hours, considering what the clock went back.

Senator SMITH: The clock went back some at that time?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER: Yes.
".
The exact moment of that setback is still under discussion, and I don't deem to join in that. Anyway, the setback definitely did take place, thus reducing the always assumed hour between collision and lifeboat launching with as many minutes as the setback.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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There definitely was a clock set back at the 8 to 12 pm watch. Lightoller clearly mentioned it during the US Inquiry.
The exact moment of that setback is still under discussion, and I don't deem to join in that. Anyway, the setback definitely did take place, thus reducing the always assumed hour between collision and lifeboat launching with as many minutes as the setback.

You can not have it both ways!
First you repeat Mr. Browns theory about a clock set back at 10 p.m. and now you said the exact moment is under discussion but it did take place. So I ask again, what is the source, who said so?

Lightoller was relieved at 10 pm. by Murdoch, so no clock set back at 10 p.m. We know from Fleet and Hichens (and others) that they had to stay longer as there would be a clock set back of 23 minutes after midnight. Hichens was at the wheel until 12:23 a.m. and relieved by Perkis (at that point the clock would have been put back to 12 o'clock).

However maybe you want to go though the source yourself. I would also recommend these two articles:
http://www.titanicology.com/Titanica/AnalyticalApproach.pdf
WatchSchedules

In short, there was no reduction of time between collision and making the boats ready. The order to prepare the boats was not given 20 minutes after the collision (Hichens was still at the wheel during that time).
 

B-rad

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Thanks Ioannis, I was hoping you would jump on this discussion. You're mind is like a steel trap when it comes to passenger statements. As far as my 'yellow press' comment, when writing, I had Charles Romaine's statements below in mind:

“We had been crunching through ice all day,” said Mr. Romaine, “and I had been standing on the deck. I had become chilled and went inside for a warming drink before going to bed. Suddenly there came the shock, and my first thought was that we had struck a larger cake of ice than usual."

Chicago Daily Journal April 19, 1912

"There were many icebergs about and some of the passengers had seen them, and another thing that puzzles me is why those whose business it was to detect the icebergs didn't see them also."

New York World April 21, 1912

Obviously they had not been crushing the ice. There's another statement by another passenger, but I can't seem t find it anywhere. Oh well. Anyway, as I said, I'm glad that you jumped on the discussion. I figured you could clear up rather anyone on boat A or B heard/saw any ice. :)
 

Karim

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Thank you all for the insightful discussion. I have a few points to comment on though:

1- I cannot comprehend why Cpt. Smith or any other captain for that matter would want to set his heading towards New York again before the sounding of the ship was completed. It just doesn't make any sense. Beesley and other passengers mentioned that the restarting of the engines occurred shortly after impact (more or less 5 minutes) and that wasn't enough time for Boxhall to complete the sounding and report back to the bridge unless he did it by telephone (which is not mentioned in any testimony ever). Quite simply - and in my opinion of course - the restarting of the engines and the supposed helm order must have been emergency maneuvers. If you have any arguments otherwise please go ahead and state them.

2- Passengers didn't mention ice before the fatal berg, but I believe that Titanic must have passed or even encountered ice before the fatal berg. Whether seen or not is another issue, but it doesn't make sense that a single berg was just lying there without any surrounding ice or fellow bergs, it really doesn't happen that often that far away from shore. (Please correct me if I am mistaken)

My next question about this topic (and there are plenty) is whether or not Boxhall should have seen the berg he heard water lapping around the base of. A 70 foot high berg (assumption) from half a mile (another assumption) should project a silhouette against the night sky which was admittedly star-laden. Take it from this point of view, a 70 foot high building that is half a mile away at night with no external light should block your view of the horizon and sky in some way and that should make the building stand out. Right?
 
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Boxhall's first inspection was only a brief one, where he inspected the 3rd class areas. 6 minutes after the collision, he arrived back on the bridge with good news: no damage to be seen. Then, Smith thought the ship came out well from the collision and he gave the hard-a-port helm order and slow ahead engine order. A captain would not allow that his ship would sail again under own steam if he was certain she was damaged, unless he wanted to beach the ship.

I don't really understand why an emergency maneuver directly after an iceberg collision would be necessary. Titanic was already well clear of the iceberg when her engines stopped for the first time, and the lookouts did not see any other hazardous icebergs.

About your next question, it has been suggested that the silhouette of an iceberg against the star-filled sky caused Murdoch to see the iceberg at the same moment as the lookouts.
 

B-rad

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Great questions. For the first question, Christophe is right. Boxhall's inspection was very brief boarding on 5-6 minutes. Before that, the only information was probably from Chief Officer Wilde that the forepeak tank was punctured, and a 5 degree list. It wasn't until Boxhall went on his second inspection (a few minutes after arriving from his first), that the carpenter and mail clerk told Captain Smith of even greater damage. And as you said, who knows if Smith received any phone calls from anyone. It is possible that Smith phoned Bell, who was probably in his cabin (there'd be no reason why he wouldn't be at that hour on open sea, but who knows if he was).
No one knows why Smith started the engines again, nor for how long. David Brown suggests that the ship was headed for Halifax. Maybe we can coax him to dropping in on the discussion, though apparently he is away right now.

For your second question I'll direct you to Iceberg Right Ahead.

For the third, I will say, though that makes sense, especially since their angle was lower, apparently seeing bergs was hard that night, as both the Carpathia and Californian almost hit one, and obviously Titanic did. In the dark, it'd be hard to know where the swishing of water is coming from, with nothing to really give you any bearings. Though they could hear the berg, who knows if they were actually trying looking for it. Otherwise IDK?
 

Karim

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Again thank you for joining and keeping up the discussion.

I have to say that this topic interests me greatly. I understand that those in the lifeboats had other things to worry about (cold, ship just sank, people screaming...).

The main reason I'm interested in this topic is that it's study offers insight into what happened that night in a new light. By knowing from the lifeboat survivors that there was indeed other ice around, it could blow the single berg theory straight into next week. It could also offer insight into how long Titanic was underway again or even the direction of movement as well.

From the diagram posted above by Jim, one can deduce that if it was indeed the same berg, then Titanic had a more or less North-West-West direction of travel post contact.

It's an interesting thought really which is often left unchecked by many books I've read or documentaries I've seen. Usually the story ends after the ship plunges; but I feel there is just as much truth to be pulled from the lifeboats as survivors.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Thanks Ioannis, I was hoping you would jump on this discussion. You're mind is like a steel trap when it comes to passenger statements.

Thanks for the kind words.
I would need to look up who said what one I remember was from a Swiss survivor (Fröhlicher) who described how they were rowing of the sinking ship, the lights still burning and an iceberg directly close by.
 
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1- I cannot comprehend why Cpt. Smith or any other captain for that matter would want to set his heading towards New York again before the sounding of the ship was completed. It just doesn't make any sense.

We do not know what Captain Smith had in mind when giving the order half ahead. From QM Olliver, Greaser Scott and Trimmer Dillon we know the order was given directly after the collision (not 5 Minutes later).
It was possibly to test the propellers or to get away from ice close by to lower the lifeboats.

The order hard-a-port was given after the iceberg passed the bridge as mentioned by QM Olliver and is also confirmed by others (as Hichens aboard Carpathia, QM Rowe, ABS Scarrott). If as some people claim this was done much later, then why did Captain Smith, Murdoch and Boxhall went to the starboard side of the bridge and looked aft for the iceberg? With a rudder under hard-a-starboard order they could not have seen it from there and had to go to the port side. But this is not the case. (Hichens was very clear that he received both orders but he did not mentioned it later at the inquiries.)

The message that Titanic was steaming to Halifax is a mix up of different reports.If she was going to Halifax where is the message from Titanic stating this?

My next question about this topic (and there are plenty) is whether or not Boxhall should have seen the berg he heard water lapping around the base of.

Boxhall only hear the lapping water but did not see the iceberg.
 

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