Layout of the Icefield


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Paul Lee

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Hi all,
What is the general consensus of the layout of the icefield? Is it North-South or North-East to South-West?
I know that on the morning of April 15th, the Mount Temple precisely fixed the western edge of the icefield at 50 degrees 8.5 minutes West...are there any other comparable co-ordinates?

Best wishes

Paul
 

George Behe

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Hi, Paul!

The "standard" ice chart (as pieced together by the Hydrographic office and which is depicted in Alicia's illustration) is apparently not very accurate. Captain Rostron specifically testified that, on the morning of April 15, the icefield ran from NW to SE; this is pretty much confirmed by the NNW to SSE course that was steered by the Frankfurt as she moved along the western edge of the icefield that morning.

All my best,

George
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>The "standard" ice chart (as pieced together by the Hydrographic office and which is depicted in Alicia's illustration) is apparently not very accurate.<<

I would have been very surprised if it was. There was no such thing as an International Ice Patrol to keep an eye on things, so any chart made would only be as good as the reports recieved. They would speak to the ice that was seen, but couldn't do so to the bulk that was not.
 
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Alicia Coors

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All of which I suppose inevitably begs the question: how did the Hydrographic Office get it so wrong? What did they work from, if not the testimony?

n.b. I did say "for what it's worth."
 

Paul Lee

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It looks to me that they based the layout of the icefield on two "facts":

a) the Titanic's CQD/SOS position was correct
and
b) the Titanic stopped to the east of the icefield

- hence the layout of the icefield.

Paul

 
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>>All of which I suppose inevitably begs the question: how did the Hydrographic Office get it so wrong? What did they work from, if not the testimony?<<

It might be better to ask how they could have hoped to put something together that kinda, sorta, maybe had a distance resemblance to something that could be called accurate. The simple fact of the matter is that the chart they put together was no better then the reports they recieved. As I understand it, the reports they worked from included the radio traffic between ships and which was also sent specifically to them. Since this is 1912 we're talking about, we might want to give due consideration to the fact that they just didn't have the resources and tools then which we take for granted now.
 
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The Hydrographic Office chart is not of the icefield at any specific time, but rather of ice reports over time. So, it does not give a "snapshot" of the ice field at any given moment. It serves most usefully to illustrate the extent of ice within the hours leading up to Titanic's accident.

Keep in mind that the ice does not remain still on the ocean the way rocks do on a desert plateau. The bergs are constantly moving in complex patterns. In the vicinity of Titanic's accident they are influenced by both the Labrador current and the Gulf Stream. That night wind played little role, but bergs are also affected by wind drift.

Today, we could "see" the whole field through satellite imaging. Such was impossible in 1912. The best that could be done 90-odd years ago was to plot all of the reported ice positions over time. You might think of the Hydro Office result as a smeared image like a photo taken at low shutter speed in which objects are moving.

--David G. Brown
 
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Alicia Coors

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First of all, it should be obvious to any person of moderate intelligence that the entire field couldn't be seen by anyone in 1912. That fact is hardly worth mentioning. Second, the effect of drift would largely be obscured by the scale of the drawing (an hour's worth of motion resulting from a two knot current would be 1/30 of the field, as its length is about a degree of latitude. And third, even if the plot was a composite of radio traffic over time, it should still show the direction and extent of the flow of the floe, if you get my drift.

Given the fact that they had access to the same information we have today in 1912 (including the testimony), my original question remains unanswered: how did they get it so wrong? Conspiracy theories welcome.
 
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Alicia -- Check out the times of the reports and the duration over which the chart was prepared. There is no problem with the data as presented and certainly no coverup. If a problem existed, it was with the ability to collect data in 1912 on the open ocean.

Ice does wander around, and not always at the expected speed or in the normal directon. If you plot the CQD positions and the wreck, and then account for time changes, the result is a southeasterly set of the current with a drift of just over 1/2 knot for the ship. This is well within the expected speed, but Boxhall was quite specific that he anticipated the drift would be northeasterly that night.

If the drift was more southerly than anticipated, this disparity is probably a bigger key to the events of that night than any failures of the Hydrologic Office to prepare its ice chart.

--David G. Brown
 
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>>how did they get it so wrong? Conspiracy theories welcome.<<

I don't think anyone needs to throw conspiracies into this mix. Certainly there was a cover up attempted in 1912, but it was more along the lines of protecting national interests and corperate damage control in the wake of a bad accident that produced a surplus of corpses, and would inevitably produce a surplus of lawsuits.

I'm not convinced that getting it so badly "wrong" is even a valid question to ask given the limitations on aquiring information they had at the time. Any charts made were put together ex post facto to the accident and were no better then the reports available at the time, and could only speak to what was actually observed, not what wasn't.

The people who lived in this day and age were as smart and as talanted as any today, but they were not omnipotant. Perhaps we should wonder that they managed to do as well as they did with what they had.
 

Paul Lee

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Its a bit obvious that the Hydropgraphic dept. ignored Capt.Moore's testimony, where the Mount Temple fixed the western edge of the icefield on the morning of April 15th. In fact, Moore's "wrong CQD" observation seems to have been dismissed altogether.

Paul

 
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>>In fact, Moore's "wrong CQD" observation seems to have been dismissed altogether.<<

Selective use of data is nothing new in the sort of game that was being played on both sides of the Atlantic. In fairness to the Senate inquiry however, there was the fact of the Carpathia using the incorrect position they recieved and coming right up to where the lifeboats were. Hard to ignor something like that. I don't think it would have occured to anybody that the combination of navigational mistakes on everybody's part would have resulted in a freaky co-incidence like that happening.
 
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Alicia Coors

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Michael said
quote:

Any charts made were put together ex post facto to the accident and were no better then the reports available at the time, and could only speak to what was actually observed, not what wasn't.
That's true, but it misses the point I continue to restate in various ways, and which no one seems to grasp: all of the information we are using to establish that the HO chart is wrong was available at the time, but is not the same data that they used to construct a plot they thought was right.

How could Moore's testimony (for example) be ignored if the goal was to produce an authoritative document on Titanic's situation? Any reasonable person (who didn't have an agenda) would comb every available source for information and, where different sources varied, note the discrepancy on the final product.​
 
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>>How could Moore's testimony (for example) be ignored if the goal was to produce an authoritative document on Titanic's situation?<<

Perhaps because this wasn't what anyone wanted to hear? Speculative of course, but it would seem that Lord Mersey may well have had plenty of company in that game.

>>all of the information we are using to establish that the HO chart is wrong was available at the time, but is not the same data that they used to construct a plot they thought was right.<<

The key words here being "They thought."

>>Any reasonable person (who didn't have an agenda) would comb every available source for information and, where different sources varied, note the discrepancy on the final product.<<

I'm sure they did.....but why assume that any of these people were being reasonable? Perhaps in their own eyes they were, but even then, they were far from immune to bias and preconceived notions. We could go go around and around with this forever, but I see no useful point in doing that.

If you can do better....and I genuinely believe you can....then have at it as a research project and publish the results of that in ET Research. It may well be the first truly objective work on the extant of the icefield that's been put together in 92 years.
 

Dave Gittins

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I think the essential problem was the uncritical acceptance of Captain Rostron's evidence. He steered for the CQD position and found the boats. Therefore the CQD position was right, regardless of Moore's evidence and the impossible speed attributed to Carpathia. Hero worship coloured attitudes and, in the US, Rostron's rushed examination shielded him from detailed questioning. He was never put on the spot and asked to explain the conflict with Moore's evidence, which was given long after Rostron left the US. In Britain, it was not to be expected that the hero would be closely questioned about a topic that is really peripheral to the main story. Rostron could have thrown light on a number of topics of interest to modern Titaniacs, but you don't give heroes the third degree.
 
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Like Alicia, I have always been puzzled that none of the photos from the Carpathia showed any icebergs or ice - had it been there you'd have thought people would have snapped it. Another point in those photos is the small number of people in the approaching lifeboats, as Rostron commented. But even odder is the idea that the boats could have taken up to 60 people - have a look at them and try to imagine fitting 60 people into them, including rowers, and very possibly in rougher conditions.
Re Alicia's question and Dave's reply. I think nearly everybody had something to hide or play down - Moore, Lord, Rostron - not because they necessarily behaved badly, but because that's what the prospect of being involved in an Inquiry does to anyone. They weren't to know they were going to have Lord Mersey adding his own damage-limitation agenda to confuse things even further.
 
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Regarding the photos, they were taken, but the problem here appears to be the poor resolution of the film available then as opposed to the films used now. I've seen a few where the icefield was visible, but was decidedly out of focus.

There are a lot of reasons why the people who charted the icefield got it "wrong." I've touched on a few of them, and there is the matter of any number of assorted agendas that were at work here. There were very few truely objective witnesses and even fewer parties who didn't have vested interests to look out for. The Titanic is an all too typical example of the sort of governmental and corperate damage control and cover up game that's been played for centuries and is still played today. It's scarcely reasonable to expect it to be otherwise, as much as we would like it to be.

I think also that Occam's Razor may well apply ipso facto, they got it wrong through simple human error. That's not gross incompetance or conspiracy, misdirection and confabulation: That's just life.

>> think nearly everybody had something to hide or play down - Moore, Lord, Rostron - not because they necessarily behaved badly, but because that's what the prospect of being involved in an Inquiry does to anyone.<<

Good point.

Police officers and professional investigators tend to go by the following axiom: The guilty lie because obviously, they have to. The innocent lie because they don't trust the people asking the questions.

Why should the Titanic be any different?
 

Dave Gittins

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One of the weirdest charts come from a ship that had no particular axe to grind, namely Birma. It places the eastern edge of the icefield in the latitude where Titanic sank in about 49° 40'W. As Titanic made it to 49° 57'W, the chart is obviously miles out. The chart shows a rough crescent of ice extending to about 41° 15'S, which is about where Rostron placed the southern limit of the ice, but that's about the only point of agreement with other ships.

The whole question is bedevilled by the limitations of 1912 navigation. Even on the crack liners, the ship's position was determined accurately only twice a day, by multiple star sights. Between those, all positions had an element of dead reckoning, with all its faults. On freighters, the position was often never really known with any precision, as the captains frequently skipped the multiple star sights. For practical navigation, this was OK, but it does mean that some of the navigational story is a bit rough. I don't think too much should be expected.
 
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