Ismay about Murdoch - "He wanted to throw his quarter up."



Anyone know what that means? Hichens told the American Inquiry the only order he received before the collision was "Hard a-starboard." One has to assume he spoke to Lightoller on the Carpathia and Lightoller told Ismay what happened before the Inquiry began. After Hichens spoke, the same Inquiry asked Mr. Ismay if he could recall what orders Hichens had received from Murdoch. Ismay told them:

"I think he said he was told "Hard a-port," and then "Hard a-starboard," if I remember rightly."

Q - And then that threw the vessel...(interrupted)
A - (interposing). He wanted to throw his quarter up.

Does he mean throw the stern quarter up? i.e. Swing the stern away from the iceberg as it passed by?

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If the ship had according to Ismay turned right and then left, would this action fishtail the ship further left and position the entire the ship away from the iceberg as it passed down the starboard side? Can a ship be positioned away from danger by turning the rudder back and forth?


Nov 14, 2015
The first thing is that Ismay, nor Lightoller, were in a position to say anything about the actions taken on deck that night. Neither were there and Murdoch is dead. Ismay lied through his teeth and both inquiries and was caught at it. Example; When in the lifeboat, he said he was rowing all the time, but also that he didn't look at the ship as she went down. This is impossible. When rowing a boat you are always facing that which you rowing away from. He wanted present himself as heroic, which was not the case.
Officer Lightoller was not reliable either. He was a company man (who despised Americans), who would protect the company, it's officers and the reputation of the British Admiralty. He tried to smooth over some of Ismay's falsities such as saying rowing the boat backwards was indeed possible.
In Hichen's biography, the author and/or family, state that Murdoch was not on deck until just before the collision. This would mean that his decisions were not well thought out but more of a reaction to the impending crisis. He, Hitchen, too made many false statements at the inquiries in order to protect his job and any others in the future. To speak against the company would get you blackballed and you may never work again.
Lastly, Lighttoller also told his family a different story though I have yet to find proof of it yet. According to his granddaughter, Lightoller said that Hichens turned the wrong way. I'm not sure how that is possible but I am researching it.
My point here is that Ismay and Lightoller should not be trusted for telling the truth and the testimonies at the inquiries needs to weighed very carefully.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Michael, why would anyone tell the truth? Let's just say they were all liars.

Aaron, Ismay simply got things mixed up. You should realize by now that most people make bad eyewitnesses. QM Hichens testified on day 5 about hearing the order hard-astarboard, QM Olliver testified on day 7 about hearing hard-aport, and Ismay was asked about what he thought he heard on day 11. Ismay knew enough that when a ship's helm is thrown, her stern swings out away from the inside of the turn, in the direction the tiller is placed.


Thanks. My understanding is that Murdoch ordered "Hard a-port" because this order was witnessed by QM Olliver on the bridge and survivors looked over the rail and clearly saw the stern swinging away from the iceberg as it passed by. When a collision is unavoidable the only sensible choice left is to limit the damage, so turning right to save the beam and stern of the ship from damage ("Hard a-port") makes sense and it was confirmed by survivors, but turning left ("Hard a-starboard") would make little sense as it would swing the stern into the iceberg.

It does however sound good on the official report as it suggests they made a serious effort to avoid the iceberg with the believe they had time to move the entire ship out of the way. To the general public 'turning away' makes good sense, but for the crew on the Titanic it made no sense whatever. I think that is why Lightoller told his relatives that Hichens really turned the ship 'the other way' and they likely misunderstood his words and thought he meant Hichens turned the wheel 'the wrong way'.


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