Instead of Hard a Starboard


Jamie Bryant

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Aug 30, 2003
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I was just wondering how the Titanic could have successfuly avoided the iceberg and came up with this theory.
Instead of just going starboard and 'a stern' couldn't Murdoch of just ordered the port engine on dead slow, but at the same time, keep the starboard engine on Full. The major increase of speed from the starboard propellar would have surely turned the ship enough to save it. e.g when you row more on one side than the other in a canoe, the canoe will gradually turn in the opposite direction. Then again I realise it is too late for 'what ifs' but just if?
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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Not quite.

My personal opinion (not to be confused with my professional one) is that there wasn't to much that could have been done to avoid contact. By the time Murdoch had a chance to see, understand and react to the situation that was opening before him there was very little that he could have done.

Had Murdoch had the time and if the ship was a good distance away, stopping or reversing his port engine while leaving his starboard at ahead full, in all likely hood could have helped in the manuver being carried out. But, because of the relative closeness of the situation he didn't have time to get this carried out. If indeed he orderd full astern, the engineers didn't have time to get that carried out.
 
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Nicolaj Pedersen

Guest
I see your point about the way they could have been avoid hitting the iceberg, but I also have another theory, maybe one who would be easier....
what if he ordered the engine to full back, shot the watertight doors and sailed right into the iceberg, that could maybe cause that maybe only one or two rooms were under water, and they could stay floating until help was near....
that is just my opinion....(and by the way, sorry if my language is not that good, i am from denmark) ;)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Nicolaj, this scenerio was mooted during the Board of Trade inquiry to Edward Wilding and he was of the opinion that the ship probably would have survived this. Unfortunately, we just don't know this as an absolute and unassailable fact. It's just as possible that running over submerged portions of the berg could have done catastropic damage to the double bottom. Enough to leave as many if not more sections open to the sea.

You may find it useful to go HERE and check out Edward Wilding's testimony for yourself. Whether his opinion was right or wrong is utterly unknowable, but as one of the designers, he knew the Olympic class liners better then anyone.
 
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john skinner

Guest
i was wondering if it might have been possible to have the iceberg go to the port side rather than to starboard and head moreso toward greenland. maybe this is a crazy question.
 
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Tom Pappas

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Whether his opinion was right or wrong is utterly unknowable, but as one of the designers, he knew the Olympic class liners better then anyone.

Right or wrong and untainted by loyalty and/or fear of career consequences. People do strange things when their rice bowl is at stake.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>i was wondering if it might have been possible to have the iceberg go to the port side rather than to starboard and head moreso toward greenland. maybe this is a crazy question<<

I doubt it. If they were to pick and choose, they would have had to spot the iceberg at greater range and recognized the danger for what it was. And if they could have done that, they would have done far better to steer out of the way anyhow.

In any event,the orientation of the wreck suggests that the ship headed north anyway. Which side they struck the berg on would have had no bearing on how the ship was manuevered after clearing the beast. The only thing a taking the berg on the port side would have done is put the damage on that side instead of starboard.

>>Right or wrong and untainted by loyalty and/or fear of career consequences. People do strange things when their rice bowl is at stake.<<

I don't know if anyone's really going to argue that point Tom. Lightoller's comments about the "Whitewash Brush" seem to support that. The question is; Who was doing the covering up? I don't think it was Wilding. He could only answer the questions actually posed. Seems to me that Lord Mersey was making a special effort to avoid certain questions that he didn't want answers to.

Like the break-up of the ship.
 
Jun 11, 2000
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<<seems>>

Grand old tradition of the British establishment, this. Lord Mersey was obviously considered a safe pair of hands where this sort of thing was required. He presided over the Lusitania enquiry as well, didn't he?
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Wilding answered a few questions with opinions rather than facts, answers that might have reflected this way or that on Harland & Wolff. In particular, he testified that he thought a head-on collision would have been survivable.

To me, that sounds a lot like the tobacco execs testifying that they thought nicotine wasn't addictive.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Wilding answered a few questions with opinions rather than facts, <<

Yes he did. And he had a lot of company in that regard.

>>answers that might have reflected this way or that on Harland & Wolff. In particular, he testified that he thought a head-on collision would have been survivable<<

Again correct...but do I have a sense that you're hinting at conspiracy here???

Tom, I have little doubt that Wilding on some level had to toe the company line, but I'm not entirely convinced it was Harland and Wolff that felt that they had a lot to hide. The gave the customer what they asked for and it was hardly their fault that the crew ran the ship into an iceberg.

While this is my own highly subjective opinion, anytime I read the testimony, I have a sense that Wilding is trying to tell Mersey and Company something. (Perhaps with Harland & Wolff's blessing!) The problem was that they didn't want to hear the answers. It was the Board of Trade which gave the Titanic all the needed clearances and certifications and declared the ship fit for sea. It was the Board of Trade which said the lifesaving gear was adaquate. It was the Board of Trade which had egg on it's face when it became all too obvious that they were wrong on most of those counts...and guess who was conducting the investigation?

That's right!

It was the Board of Trade.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
No doubt the BoT was cia[sup]1[/sup], but H&W also had a vested interest in putting the best possible face on what happened to the ship after the collision. A one-piece sinking was preferable to a breakup, and a ship that would have survived a head-on was preferable to one that wouldn't. Wilding was just working his side of the street, as I would have done.

[sup]1[/sup]Third-person neuter form of cya.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Wilding was just working his side of the street, as I would have done.<<

Yes he was. And yes, H&W had a vested interest in putting the best possible face on it. How, pray tell would this invalidate anything Wilding had to say? Unless you can show me substantive evidence that he was being deliberately misleading, I have to take it as a given that he was being honest in sworn testimony. Maybe not accurate, but honest given the information he had at the time.

>>No doubt the BoT was cia...<<<

You betcha they were!
wink.gif
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Absent an honesty test, I think the probability favors Wilding telling the "Harland & Wolff Truth" rather than the unvarnished version. None of this invalidates anything he said in testimony - but it puts interrobangs in the margins.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Absent an honesty test, I think the probability favors Wilding telling the "Harland & Wolff Truth" rather than the unvarnished version.<<

Could be. That doesn't mean he wasn't trying to get something acrosss in the margins that nobody wanted to hear.

>>None of this invalidates anything he said in testimony<<

That's right. It doesn't.

>>but it puts interrobangs in the margins.<<

Only who's really putting anything in the margins here? Who was it that had the most to lose? (HINT :It wasn't Harland & Wolff!)
 

Ian Thompson

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Jul 26, 2008
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I've often wondered about Murdoch's decision to order full astern while turning hard to starboard. Would the ship not turn faster had the engines remained full ahead? Also, turning to starboard with the engines in reverse would turn the ship to port wouldn't it?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Would the ship not turn faster had the engines remained full ahead?<<

Ian, it's not a certain sure thing that Murdoch ordered full astern before the impact with the iceberg. It can't be dismissed in toto but if any part of the testimony of Dillon and Scott can be taken as reliable (Also a questionable proposition) then astern wasn't ordered until after the collision.

That said, running astern would have robbed the rudder of a signifigent amount of it's effectiveness since there was no reverse gearing for the turbine, and the centre screw would have been cut off.

>>Also, turning to starboard with the engines in reverse would turn the ship to port wouldn't it?<<

Uuuhhhhh...I see where you're going with this...and theoretically, yes. However, the issue of lost propwash from the centre screw rears it's ugly head again. If they had way on forward, the bow could still swing to starboard until the ship actually backs down. it could also fishtail all over the place depending on conditions. I've seen this happen on a ship I was steering.
 

Brent Holt

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Jun 23, 2002
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Didn't Lightoller at one of the inquiries say it took about 2 minutes to get the engines from full ahead to full astern? If so, I seriously doubt there was enough time that night to reverse the engines. And that 2 minute estimate assumes there were people in place ready to carry out that order. I doubt the order was even given, but if it was it is unlikely it was carried out until after the collision.

Brent
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Didn't Lightoller at one of the inquiries say it took about 2 minutes to get the engines from full ahead to full astern?<<

I don't recall offhand. This testimony might have come from somebody else. I know we've had a discussion about this on several occasions. One of the little known facts in all of this is that about the only thing on Titanic which responded instantly to orders/inputs was the helm itself.

They couldn't just "stomp on the brakes" with the engines. Orders to reverse or do just about anything else had to be transmitted down to the engine room and the people in the engine room had to work all the valves, levers, and what have you to make it happen. Instant engine control from the bridge was a development that was around 50 or 60 years into the future.
 
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WOULD THE TURBINE SHUT DOWN.

The middle prop turbine was fed from the exhausted low pressure steam from the last of the three compound cylinders, from both outer engines.
It appears to be presumed that upon one engine being stopped and then eventually to put astern, that the turbine would stop. However as the turbine had constant half feed supply from the still running engine, and would again have full steam when the other went astern, then would the turbine in fact stop. ? I consider that it would not, but do not know the volume requirement for this turbine operation. There was no time left for this to have any effect on events, as the ship had already hit before any mechanical operation became effective. GORDON
 

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