Ismay and the speed of the Titanic


Apr 1, 2005
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Thank you Michael for your reply,i had realized there was betting between the passengers and no doubt crew, but i really meant that the desire to run the trial could have been coming from Bell/smith or others in the officers or engineering section. Ismay had already deferred to them over the arrival time of the olympic. i see his meeting with Bell at Queenstown as more Bell explaining what he wished to do with the engines, than Ismay telling bell. I think i am seeing Ismay as more of a spectator on the Titanic than actively getting involved in the issue of how many boilers are lit etc . which brings me to the other point you raised if Ismay had not been on board then it appears that things would have been just the same, which perhaps explains why he felt he had been unjustly charged on the question of his interfering with the ships speed.
 
Apr 1, 2005
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On a separate note i have found a document i believe to have been made for the british enquiry i have not found it when i looked but it may be there. i would be interested to know how accurate it is and if it has been published before.
it comes from Ismay, imrie and co.,liverpool
dated 1912 and is a statement showing types of steamers built by the white star line as compared with the fastest steamers of other lines

LINE STEAMER YR BUILT G TONNAGE SPEED

cunard "campania" 1893 12,950 22

" "lucania" 1893 12,952 22

north german
lloyd. "kaiser wm,der 1897 14,349 22.5
grosse"

white star "oceanic" 1899 17,274 21

hamburg american."deutschland" 1900 16,502 23.5

generale
transatlantique "la lorraine" 1900 11,146 21

" "la savoie" 1900 11,168 21

north german "kronprinz
lloyd wilhelm" 1901 14,908 23

white star "celtic" 1901 20,904 17

north german "kaiser wm 11" 1902 19,361 23.5
lloyd

white star "cedric" 1903 21,035 17

" "baltic" 1904 23,876 17

generale "la provence" 1905 13,753 22
atlantique

north german "kron:prinz: 1906 19,503 23.5
lloyd cecille"

white star "adriatic" 1906 24,541 18

cunard "lusitania" 1907 31,550 25.5

" "mauretania" 1907 31,938 25.5

white star "olympic" 1910 45,323]

" "titanic" 1911 45,328]
both listed as 22 to 22.5

I would interested to know 1/ how accurate this information is. 2/ if it was used at the enquiry. 3/ if it was released to the press.
 
May 12, 2005
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Hello, Malcolm:

I’ve tried reaching you to thank you for your kind message sent via the message board, but my old email account has some problems, and my replies are not all going through. I will try sending again through my alternate address.

This is rather off the subject, but do you know Meredith Etherington-Smith? I’m thinking you might, as she’s now one of the directors of Art Fortnight London, which you may be involved with. When I saw her in August she mentioned some of her "in-laws" were Ismays! A small world indeed.

Best wishes,
Randy
 

Teri Lynn Milch

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2001
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Michael Standart wrote:

"Irrelvant."

It is relevant to this board to which this thread is a part.

Re Edith: As I said earlier, I do not doubt Smith held a conversation with Ismay. The problem I have is with her claim that he asked for more speed and I've already said I settled that in my own mind.

"The A&E docmantary "Titanic, Death of a Dream" did the same."

Thank you for quoting your source Michael. I have that video in my collection and some day I will watch for your quote on Morgan. (Like everyone else, I am sure he was shocked at the ship sinking)

"I've defended Ismay on a number of occasions because I thought I was justified in doing so."

Being pro-Ismay I can appreciate that.

"I will also be realistic in pointing out that that Ismay was a man of his time."

You are correct. I have written the same, and it happens to be one of my favorite things about him. Bruce Ismay was enmeshed into that era.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>which brings me to the other point you raised if Ismay had not been on board then it appears that things would have been just the same,<<

Curiously enough, you're probably on to something there. They might have been a bit more circumspect about how they did business, but the North Atlantic run was what it was. I don't think Ismay bullied anyone but by the same token when you have the owner on board and he has a few ideas or "suggestions" the crew tends to try to make it happen.

While I don't think his role was quite what his detractors made it out to be, you might wonder what it is he was doing with copies of iceberg reports. People who are "Just passengers" don't get iceberg reports or any other reports dealing with operations.

You might wonder what it was he was doing having any sort of conversation with Captain Smith about lighting off boilers. People who are "just passengers" don't have discussions like that with the captain as a matter of routine...at least not to the point where there is some evidence that they were about to act on that.

You might wonder why he personally went down below to have a discussion with the Chief Engineer about the status of damage control operations and how they're progressing in the wake of a casualty. People who are "Just passengers" don't do that.

You might wonder why Ismay was involving himself in lifeboat loading even to the point of telling a stewardess "You're a woman, take your place." People who are "just passengers" don't do that.

>>It is relevant to this board to which this thread is a part.<<

No it wasn't. The issue here is whether or not Ismay had an active role in the operation of the Titanic and whether or not he pressed for more speed. What's truly relevant is what evidence there is to support or refute that. How you percieve my remarks has no bearing on that.

>>Re Edith: As I said earlier, I do not doubt Smith held a conversation with Ismay. The problem I have is with her claim that he asked for more speed and I've already said I settled that in my own mind.<<

Which doesn't mean it's a settled matter as far as the historical record is concerned.

>>Thank you for quoting your source Michael. I have that video in my collection and some day I will watch for your quote on Morgan.<<

The quote was not in the A&E documentary, though his reaction was. And you're right, he was devestated by it. (1500 deaths on one of your own ships in a line that made an emphesis on safety as a selling point isn't one of the easiest things to live with.) It was in one of the books I have on the events. I beleive it was Biel's. If I happen to find out otherwise, I'll be sure to post it here.
 

Teri Lynn Milch

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2001
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"The issue here is whether or not Ismay had an active role in the operation of the Titanic and whether or not he pressed for more speed. What's truly relevant is what evidence there is to support or refute that. How you percieve my remarks has no bearing on that."

Correct, my perception of your remarks do not have any bearing on Ismays role in Titanic’s operation, but they do have bearing on posts in general. My interest is minimal. Phil Hind's interest is twofold, for obvious reasons.

"Which doesn't mean it's a settled matter as far as the historical record is concerned."

I can appreciate your need for a historical record, I can, and well, I don’t know, maybe what Edith overheard was his discussion for speed the following day -- Monday. Maybe it is possible she forgot to put the day in when she spoke to the press and/or Senator Smith.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Titanic's speed prior to the iceberg was only a relatively minor factor in events, if any factor at all. Speed per se did not cause the accident. The ship would have hit the same iceberg at any speed...slow or fast...because of the course it steered. And, I have yet to see any argument that Ismay had any input into the choice of the course.

Arguing speed prior to the accident as "the" proximate cause shows a lack of knowledge of danger avoidance on open water. Whether consciously or not, this argument is based on personal experiences driving cars on narrow highways. An auto driver is confined to the lanes of pavement and cannot make large steering maneuvers without raising new dangers. Things are quite different on the trackless open sea where altering course has always been the one sure way to avoid danger. Unless Ismay chose the courses steered--of which there is no evidence--then his involvement with the original accident was of only slightly more importance than the painter's choice of color for cabin B-19.

However, Ismay's input into the speed of Titanic between 11:40 and midnight has a direct bearing on the sinking of the ship. The younger Froude's experiments proved driving forward a ship with a damaged bow would cause it to sink. This was subsequently proven by HMS Victoria, Titanic, Lusitania, and Britannic among others. There is no doubt whatsoever that Ismay conferred with Captain Smith on the bridge after the accident and that subsequent to that conversation Titanic resumed making headway. I find it curious that people get spittin' mad over an inconsequential aspect of the story while completely ignoring critical events that resulted in the loss of lives.

-- David G. Brown
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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David G. Brown wrote;
"However, Ismay's input into the speed of Titanic between 11:40 and midnight has a direct bearing on the sinking of the ship. The younger Froude's experiments proved driving forward a ship with a damaged bow would cause it to sink. This was subsequently proven by HMS Victoria, Titanic, Lusitania, and Britannic among others. There is no doubt whatsoever that Ismay conferred with Captain Smith on the bridge after the accident and that subsequent to that conversation Titanic resumed making headway."

Forgive me if I am misunderstanding your point but are you suggesting that Ismay ordered or pressed Captain Smith into the above quoted action? If so then what makes you think that a Captain, particularly one of experience, would have carried out such an order or suggestion knowing it to be floored? would he not, at least, have made his professional opinion known? and why would a non seaman like Ismay try to interfere in such a way? and if he did surely it would have come out even if years later through the interviews etc of those survivors who were present? Such a thing would be far too big to hide for ever IMHO.
Regards,
John.
 
Apr 1, 2005
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David i was interested in your post as well as some of what you have said before on this subject, if i got it right you have said Ismay arrived on the bridge 8 minutes after the 1st stop and 2 minutes before the next supposed forward movement, that is not very much time for him to be made aware of the position and convince the captain of what action he should take? I also note that you have posted on a different thread the following
"it is tempting to assume "evil" Ismay ordered smith to steam on. This is highly unlikely."

There seems to be very differing testimony on the subject although as has been said"there is enough similarity in testimony from different eyewitnesses to assume there was some sort of movement" I know it has been thought that Smith could have been getting away from ice so as to launch lifeboats. or even that they had the idea to turn for Halifax. There seems to have been a certain amount of dispute over the fact that there was any movement at all as well as the point about steering 2 nautical miles when it would have effected the steering with the water in the forward compartments.
I am no expert in these matters and would be interested in hearing why you think Ismay could have ordered Smith to do, what appears to be unusual in a ship with a damaged bow.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Correct, my perception of your remarks do not have any bearing on Ismays role in Titanic’s operation,<<

Quite right. They don't. And that's where this ends as far as any further discussion on my part goes. If you wish to dwell on that, that's your concern, not mine. I'm moving on to the topic at hand.

>>I can appreciate your need for a historical record, I can, and well, I don’t know, maybe what Edith overheard was his discussion for speed the following day -- Monday.<<

That's very possible. If you do some backchecking, I believe you'll find some rather involved discussions to the effect in the Collisions Sinking Theories folder. Any such attempt at a full power run would make sense on Monday when the engines would have been properly broken in, they could better see where they were going, and they could better "see what she's got" without having to worry about solid objects getting in their way.

>> Maybe it is possible she forgot to put the day in when she spoke to the press and/or Senator Smith.<<

Actually, the conversation overheard was known to have occured on the 13th. That information is noted in Her Biography.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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If I could read a dead man's mind, I could win every lottery in the world, quit writing, and live on my replica Titanic. But, I can't read minds, live or dead. So, all I have is my personal speculation about what motives Ismay might have had for asking/demanding that Titanic resume moving.

The simplest answer is that at 11:50 p.m. Titanic was to all intents and purposes a fully functional ship. Boxhall's first trip to the bow had produced only good news--no damage or injured third class passengers. There was no doubt the ship was injured because ships are always damaged when they run over icebergs. If they went to New York, Titanic would have come under U.S. jurisdiction. By going to Halifax, the entire affair stayed British. Ismay could handle the British bureaucracy, but nobody has ever been able to understand the whims of the U.S. Congress.

The evidence is circumstantial, but compelling. Titanic stops after an accident and the captain begins the process of discovering the damage. Then, Ismay arrives just before Boxhall's good report. Next, Olliver returns from his errand to the carpenter just in time to personally witness Captain Smith order the engines to re-start.

White Star Line ships were required to report accidents and/or damage to the company offices as soon as possible. We know that newspapers on both sides of the ocean published accounts of "all safe" after the accident and that Titanic was steaming for Halifax. The speed and cost of communications in 1912 requires that the source of those simultaneous reports on two continents must have somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean between Europe and North America. That's where Titanic sank.

From the evidence, it appears the ship contacted company headquarters in Britain. Later, the message was forwarded to P.A.S. Franklin at the New York office of White Star. He reacted promptly by starting a train for Halifax to pick up Titanic's passengers.

Beesley wrote the best account of the ship moving forward after the accident. However, there is testimonial evidence as well from a variety of sources in the crew and among the passengers.

How long did it steam after the accident and in what direction? Probably it steered about 285 for Halifax and the duration was no more than 8 minutes. When Boxhall recomputed the ship's CQD coordinates, he moved them backwards along the track line by about 20 minutes of steaming. He then moved them north two minutes of latitude, which corresponds to 2 nautical miles. So, Boxhall appears to have thought the ship made two miles of northing not accounted for in the original CQD coordinates.

Olliver said the ship's engines were ordered to run at "half" speed. Two nautical miles would be 10 knots for 12 minutes (10 kts X 0.2 hrs = 2 miles). There is no way Boxhall could have had first-hand knowledge of the duration or direction the ship steamed. He was away checking damage in the bow at the time. The above math is easily done in the head, and seems to be what the fourth officer may have done.

So, the evidence is pretty substantial that Titanic re-started its engines and steamed for Halifax. Certainly P.A.S. Franklin thought so. The duration was not recorded. Based on other events, I give it 8 minutes; Boxhall apparently used 0.2 hours, or 12 minutes. Olliver's "half speed" seems excessive, but not impossible and Boxhall appears to have agreed.

But, 'way back at the beginning Captain Smith acted the prudent officer by stopping his ship and sending for reports. Then, the big boss arrived on the bridge and suddenly the captain's prudence disappeared. With his own hand Smith ordered the engines re-started. The only event which transpired to change the captain's attitude toward the safety of the ship was the arrival of J. Bruce Ismay on the bridge.

Perhaps Ismay just wanted a weather report, but that's not the way the evidence points. And there was the rub for White Star Line. If Ismay had any input whatsoever into the decision to restart the engines, and if that action had anything to do with the foundering, then Ismay's actions would have pierced White Star's corporate limitation of liability. The economic consequences could have been devastating to White Star as the physical consequences were to more than 1,500 of Titanic's passengers.

-- David G. Brown
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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I'm sorry David but your statement: "However, Ismay's input into the speed of Titanic between 11:40 and midnight has a direct bearing on the sinking of the ship." Is pure conjecture and nothing more.

If you wish to go down this route then I could quote, for example, one crew member a Mr James Johnson who testified at the BOT inquiry the following;
"3595. You did hear Mr. Andrews make these reassuring comments to the ladies? - When I heard him it was just a quarter of an hour after she struck, not much more."

Does this not imply, noting the the time Mr Johnson heard Mr Andrews make these remarks after the collision, that Mr Andrews was on the bridge when the engines were supposedly reversed? and that maybe he suggested it?
It is as likely as your idea and like yours it is pure conjecture.
Regards,
John.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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John-- All good history is interpretation based upon the facts and from a stated point of view. Conjecture is nothing more than suppositions based upon an odd fact or two and the desires of the individual doing the conjecturing.

Andrews was never on the bridge from any of the testimonies of people who were there. In fact, there is little specific information about where Andrews was during the night. However, at a quarter hour after the accident nobody, not even Andrews, had full knowledge of the situation. It is highly likely that at such a time Andrews would have responded with platitudes. What else could he have said? He had no knowledge that the ship was severely wounded and even less understanding that it would sink. He had no choice but to be reassuring at 11:55 p.m. So, the Johnson testimony stands the test of believability. Beyond that, it tells us nothing about the actual situation at the time or of Andrews' innermost personal thoughts.

As to the engines, they were not re-started in reverse after the first stop following the accident. They were started in forward and the ship drove its bow into the sea. There is not one suggestion the ship was backed after the accident as part of moving it to any new destination. If reverse power was used, it appears it was just to check the headway of the ship for the final stop.

But, to the point of speed as it influence Titanic. The whole argument that Ismay ordered the ship to speed hell-bent into the ice field doesn't even deserve the name "speculation." It's nothing more than myth and misdirection. There isn't one ten-thousandth the proof for it that there is for my interpretation that Ismay was involved in Titanic's making way for Halifax.

The reason why my interpretation is attacked while the mythological story is supported has to do with the comfort factor. Everyone is comfortable with the myths they learned long ago and which have been re-affirmed in documentaries and motion pictures. Anything different upsets this belief system and generates arguments.

Let's get it straight that the following are not speculation: 1.) that Captain Smith stopped the ship after the accident to prudently ascertain its condition; 2.) that J. Bruce Ismay appeared on the bridge while that ascertainment was being undertaken; 3.) that Boxhall brought back good news from the 3rd class areas of the bow; 4.) that Ismay and Smith conferred; 5.) that after Ismay left the bridge Smith personally and imprudently operated the telegraphs to re-start the engines; 6.) that somebody in the middle of the Atlantic sent a message that the ship was safe and headed for Halifax; and, 7.) that P.A.S. Franklin of White Star New York ordered a train to Halifax to pick up Titanic's passengers.

None of these points of my thesis are speculation. They are hard fact supported by the evidence which is primarily first-hand accounts.

In addition, it is not speculation to report on the younger Froude's experiments regarding moving ships with damaged bows. Nor are the sinkings of Victoria, Lusitania, Britannic, and Titanic speculation. There is irrefutable evidence that ships with heavy bow damage succumb quickly when driven forward.

The evidence is that Titanic moved forward for some time after receiving damage to its bow from an iceberg. Additional evidence shows that ships which have damaged bows and which move forward sink quickly. Finally, a prudent Captain Smith suddenly did something...and the only thing of the evening...which can be considered imprudent.

I ask only one question, "What links all of this together?"

-- David G. Brown
 

John Knight

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The only things we know as fact from that night are the following;
The Titanic sailed, the Titanic sank and people died.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>The only things we know as fact from that night are the following;
The Titanic sailed, the Titanic sank and people died.<<

We know considerably more then that and we have quite a bit of testimony from survivors to draw from. Quite a bit of forensics analysis has been done on the wreck which is public knowledge or at least readily accessible. Papers such as the Bedford and Hackett paper as well as the RINA report have been written on those issues and the transcripts of the inquiries themselves are available on line too, so you can easily check them for yourself and form an opinion on the veracity of what David as well as others here have stated over the years.

You may not agree with every conclusion drawn from same...and that's fine, people don't always agree...but the evidence is there for all too see.

The problem here is not that facts aren't available. The Titanic is one of the most horrendously over documented shipwrecks of all time. The problems are that a lot of what we think we know is not necessarily what the evidence points to.
 

John Knight

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"We know considerably more then that and we have quite a bit of testimony from survivors to draw from. Quite a bit of forensics analysis has been done on the wreck which is public knowledge or at least readily accessible. Papers such as the Bedford and Hackett paper as well as the RINA report have been written on those issues and the transcripts of the inquiries themselves are available on line too, so you can easily check them for yourself and form an opinion on the veracity of what David as well as others here have stated over the years."

I agree my statement was slightly simplistic, indeed we know that boats were lowered with people in them, we know that rockets were fired, as two further examples. But when we start getting into the realms of "However, Ismay's input into the speed of Titanic between 11:40 and midnight has a direct bearing on the sinking of the ship." as stated by David Brown, then we enter into conjecture however well thought through.
I agree that there is a wealth of eyewitness accounts regarding what happened that night but you know as well as I do that nearly everything is open to doubt. Where there is doubt then it leaves other options, in other words fact is not established. Again, I can accept that for some issues the weight of evidence might well be such that it is unwise to believe other lines of thought. But statements such as the one quoted above is where I take issue. It may well be correct but we do not know.
The subject was not my soul reason for posting on this thread, the other reason was to challenge such statements. Something that rightly occurs on this board all the time.
I have no issue with conjecture as long as it is presented as such.
Regards,
John.
 
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John-- when you jump to conclusions, make sure there is on there to catch you. What you seem to have missed is that I have not ruled out the possibility that Ismay argued against re-starting the engines and lost the argument. In that case his input after the accident would still have been more important...if less successful...than any influence he had upon the ship's speed prior to the accident.

Let me state that I do not believe Ismay argued against re-starting the ship, but it is still a possibility.

I stand by my statement. Ismay's appearance on the bridge is the abnormal event of the evening and the only plausible reason for Captain Smith re-starting the ship's engines. It is Bruce Ismay's input into that decision which is of far greater importance than any input he had into the speed leading up to the accident.

And, I ask anyone to suggest a reason based upon good seamanship for re-starting the engines prior to the completion of an ongoing inspection of the ship. Lacking some prudent cause for moving Titanic with its wounded bow, we are left with Ismay's appearance on the bridge as the most likely cause of Captain Smith's rather peculiar action of ordering the ship to move prior to his receiving full reports on the damage.

-- David G. Brown
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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David, when you make statements such as "However, Ismay's input into the speed of Titanic between 11:40 and midnight has a direct bearing on the sinking of the ship." then what conclusions do you think I would make?
In respect of your question "What links all of this together?" My reply is that maybe your conjectured believe does. It makes no odds to me one way or the other. Just as it still remains a possibility that Andrews could have suggested moving the ship forward, if indeed the ship was moved at all. It is well documented that he spoke with captain Smith very shortly after the accident and well within the same time frame in which Ismay was on the bridge. Where Captain Smith and Mr Andrews spoke, who knows? but speak they did if testimony is to be believed.
I restate that your idea may well be what happened, but it was your statement I took issue with.
Regards,
John.
 

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