Layout of the Icefield


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Jim Currie

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I too am working on the iceberg 'thing'.

It occurs to me that there seems to be a
'mind-fix: Big ship = Big berg = big damage.

We only know about the first and last but what about the culprit itself? Why should it have been any bigger than say 2 or 3 thousand long tons in displacement? The AB Scarrot, although not one of my favourite witnesses, is the only one I've found who attempts to 'flesh' the thing out so to speak. He described it as being like Gibralter from Europa point.
What he seems to be describing is a high peak descending almost vertically then leveling out to form a finger. One awfully 'nice chap' in the Enquiry Committee offered : "like a 'lion-couchant' my lord"--(what a plonker!).
Actually Gib. is nothing like that and I too have been to the zoo!

So we have the height of the forecastle and boat decks and the forward well-deck. We also know where loose ice was deposited. To this add Scarrot's description

My proposal is that the berg Titanic hit was not very big at all. I suggest it was about 60 feet high and had underwater dimensions of 60 feet x say 45. and floating at a draft of 30 feet.
This would give an approximate displacement just over 2300 long tons. Since this berg had been 'underway' through very rough seas for many weeks, I expect it's low- above water profiles would have been greatly worn down.

So what did it look like? If it was as Scarrot described then it could not have been much bigger that my offering otherwise it would have extended beyond Scarrot's field of visibility - preventing him from giving such a clear definition and allowing a suggested orientation. Remember this happened on a pitch black night with only starlight and the glow from the ship's reduced accommodation lighting to illuminate the scene.
If you've never seen Gibraltar from Europa point - the best way I can describe it is a wellington boot with the shin section cut away in a steep slant from the curve of ankle up and towards the top at the back of the leg .- do you get the picture? The foot represents Europa Point.

We know that in order for the berg to float upright and to be stable, there had to be more under the water than above it. It follows that if mass above the surface has been reduced greatly in volume and tapers rapidly with height then the submerged portion can be relatively smaller.

I suggest the Titanic' berg was exactly like what I've describe - was about 2500 tons in displacement and was shaped as Scarrot described. Additionally, I suggest it presented it's vertical high side towards Titanic and that it had a slight underwater spur extending to the southward..at or slightly less than Titanic's draft,
The Hard-a-starboard helm order almost succeeded but I suggest the bilge area of the hull contacted the underwater spur - cased the damage along about 180 feet of the ships round-of- bilge area. At the same time, the berg tilted towards Titanic. This resulted in loose ice being dislodged onto the Titanic's forecastle and forward well decks.

Come to think of it, there was another description of the berg - from Fleet the look-out.
He described it as being like two tables. I presume he meant -together.
This would suggest a tabular form. However it does not agree with the description of Scarrot.

In other work I've been doing, I find that the evidence points to the ice being about 1000 feet ahead of 'Titanic' when first spotted. If the steep vertical side of the berg was not very wide - it might have been invisible and the berg would seem almost tabular when first seen.
What do you think?

Cheers!

PS if anyone cares to work it out:- what would be the effect on such a berg of 'Titanic' hitting it a glancing blow at say 22.3 knots - taking into consideration it's underwater profile?

Jim.
 

Jim Currie

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Before the geniuses get in!

Actually I made a Boo-boo!- can't read my own writing! The best I can do so far is a growler about 60 ft x 50 ft with a draft of about 72 feet. I've allowed minimum freeboard of 6 feet but that and the maximum peak height could be played about with. The weight would be around 6,170 tons. (long).
 

Jim Currie

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Sam: this is what I was trying to do:

Thinking about what Scarrot says about Europa point:

I first designed the top of the berg. I made it a platform 60 x 50 x 4.= 12000 ft.cu. I then mounted half of a 54 ft. high pyramid 15 ft from one end. The pyramid base was 30 x 50. This gave me a total volume of ice above the water of 25,500 cu.ft. (1200 + 13500)and a total for the berg of 255.000 ft.cu.of ice
Since about 90% of the volume of a berg is submerged, this left me 229,500 cu. ft. of ice to account for. There was two ways to obtain draft:
1: Assume the underwater sides were vertical or
2: Assumes a gradual slope (most probable).

I took the easy way (of course)


Underwater volume = base x draft
= 60 x 50 x X = 229,500
= 76.5 feet.
Actually, I have corrected the weight and now suggest it would weigh 3586 tons.
 

Jim Currie

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Perhaps! but obviously you've never seen Gib from Europa point - that's taken from Algeceiras - Europa point is the extreme left sticking -out and looks nothing like your picture - I'll draw it for you Scarrot was talking about from the sea as he would - probably passing the signal station on the point.
 

Jim Currie

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In fact Sam- Scarrot could never have seen Gibraltar as depicted in the photographs - simply because of the frontier at La Linea. It is in Spain and Brits were most definitely not welcome - even sailors on shore leave - that's the only way that man could ever have seen what you show in the Picture.
Actually I live quite near Gibraltar and was on 'The Rock' this last May.

If you have a look on Google Earth, you will see that Gi, is a long, thin rock oriented E-W.
Ships passing the rock are called-up by morse light from Europa Pt. Day or night to ask their name, where are they bound and do they wish their owners to be notified.
 

Paul Lee

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Actually, that view is quite possible. Archie Butt sent quite a few postcards (one of which is at the nmm, and which I've seen) to his friends before heading home to America and the cards depict just that same view, but seemingly taken from near a shoreline (admittedly, the postcards have been colourised).
 

Jim Currie

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No Paul - not for a seaman in 1912 or even 1950. I suspect Scarrot was in the Medi. fleet before joining the MN. he would have been very familiar with Gib. but not as suggested. The RN base was on the west side of the Rock. To get to and from it, the approach was from the south. Seamen never had an opportunity to see the rock as shown in Sam's picture. Perhaps in later years when the bunker barges were anchored on the west side of the bay but not in 1912.
Most sailors's first view of The Rock was as their ship approached the bay from the south.
The View Scarrot was (I think) talking about is the one I show in my first attachment below. It is taken from the SE of the rock. Although this is from an aircraft it shows what I mean. If you consider a shipboard view and then head west a bit, then you can see what I believe Scarrot was describing. My next attachment is my attempt to show this might fit with what happened. As you can see, the high side is to Titanic and the peak is also sloped toward her. If the berg was only 6000T and had a south trending underwater ledge then Titanic could easily have tipped the peak towards her as she passed - allowing loose ice to slide off onto the foredeck well.

I just can't get this 'upload' thing to work. I'll email the pics to you and see what you can do
 

Paul Lee

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Who is to say Scarott saw the rock as a seaman? He could have gone there, like Archie Butt, on vacation, or seen a picture of the rock in that orientation, with the high portion to the left. Or he could have seen the rock with the high portion to the right and mentally flipped it when he saw the berg.
 

Jim Currie

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He might just have done Paul but I think you'll find that Brits. of Scarrot's class did not visit Spain on holiday much before 1955 and then it was to places like Lloret de mar on the Costa del Sol. They did visit Spain in their droves in the mid-1930s but that was to fight against Franco's Fascists.
I believe the man Butt was wealthy but Scarrot had to survive on a 'fiver' a month. Scarrot was English and not very welcome on the Spanish mainland near to Gib. Whereas I think Butt was a wealthy American and would be most welcome.

Did you get my email?

Jim.
 

Jim Currie

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Gibraltar from the SE


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Mar 22, 2003
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Time to stop speculating at what Scarrott saw. Scarrott drew a rough sketch of what it looked like to him for the "Daily Sphere." It is shown on p. 141 of Eaton & Hass' book "Titanic Triumph and Tragedy" 2nd ed. If the tallest peak was about 60-70 ft high, the berg would easily be about 250,000 to 350,000 tons displacement, maybe more.
 

Jim Currie

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Sam; you've got to be joking! -surely?

If I recall, you urged me not to speculate but to rely on sound, scientific fact. I'm doing just that - perhaps not scientific but certainly based on something that was described to me in comparisons that I, as seafarer could easily understand and relate to. However, if you wish to use science; figure out how Scarrot saw such a monster as described in the press. I do not have the advantage of having seen this sketch but I'll bet you it does not look like Gibralter from Eoropa point!

I mean: how on earth could he see what the press reported, given the limited area of visibility and illumination at his disposal during the seconds - if any- the thing was in view to him - perhaps he could he see underwater?

I'm afraid you either have to bight the bullet Sam or discount the man's testimony all together.

What I'm talking about - as far as what that man saw or alleged he saw - was what every sailor throughout the world has seen when he either approaches Gibraltar from the Atlantic or Mediterranean. The fact that he used Europa Point as a reference says it all to a mariner.

The picture you gave of Gibraltar would, without doubt be alien to a man like Scarrot - indeed, it was alien to me until I actually saw it from the Spanish mainland. I have little doubt that the ice you presented as proof would displace at least the figure you quote but that's not what were discussing - or is it?

Incidentally: I have passed Gibraltar so many times in my life I have lost count. Indeed, it was my very first landfall when I went to sea at the tender age of 15.

As a foot note: On may last trip there in the spring of this year, I visited Cape St. Vincent. This too was the first time I had ever seen that place except for the hundreds or more times I had seen it from the sea.

Cheers!

Jim
 

Jim Currie

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:
kel3683_b.jpg

I believe this image illustrates what Scarrot was trying to convey in Qs 361 and 362 of the BOT Enquiry. It is an ancient Egyptian statue of a Lion Couchant.

Q361 What was the shape of this iceberg?
-Well, it struck me at the time that it resembled the Rock of Gibraltar looking at it from Europa point.(The most southern point on the continent of Europe). It looked much the same shape as that only much smaller.

Q361 (The Commissioner) Like a Lion Couchant? -
-As you approach Gibraltar - it seemed that shape. The highest point would be to my right - as it appeared to me.

If you extend the dark blue shadow on haunches of the Lion Couchant illustrated above to form a line descending almost vertically from the middle of the statue's ear you have a very clear idea of what Gibraltar looks like as you approach it from the SW. However, as Scarrot states "The highest point would be to my right - as it would appear to me".

My sincere apologies to the Commissioner for calling him a 'plonker'!

Cheers!

Jim.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

I'm afraid you either have to bight the bullet Sam or discount the man's testimony all together.

No Jim, I'm afraid you need to bight the bullet.

Based on a peak height of about 70 ft above water (little higher than the boat deck), the berg that Titanic struck would be classified as a medium sized iceberg by the IIP. Those ranged from 50-150 ft in height and 210-400 ft in length above water, and represented about 15% of the total iceberg distribution for IIP's 1964 season.

Scarrott was not the only survivor who saw the alleged culprit, some after the sun came up in the morning.

HENRY STENGEL: "There was one of them, particularly, that I noticed, a very large one, which looked something like the Rock of Gibraltar; it was high at one point, and another point came up at the other end, about the same shape as the rock of Gibraltar... I was a good ways off. It was not quite as large as the Titanic but it was an enormous, large iceberg."

ESTHER HART: "and moving slowly and majestically along all by itself, a mile or so in length, in form like the pictures of Gibraltar I have seen, was the monster iceberg, the cause of all our trouble."

AB OSMAN: "It was round, and then had one big point sticking up on one side of it…It was apparently dark, like dirty ice."

We're not talking about some small, insignificant, 6000 ton oversized growler here.​
 

Jim Currie

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No Sam - Scarrot, Fleet, Leigh and perhaps Olliver and Boxhall were the survivors who saw the ice that night. The witnesses you quote saw two different bergs among many bergs the next morning. They don't seem to have even given a direction in which they saw them.

Only two latch-on to the 'Gibraltar' comparison.

I dare say, if you search the records of the IIP, I'm sure you will find literally thousands of bergs that could be described as the classic tourist ideal image of Gibraltar. However I note that you quote two dimensions to be met for them to be considered 'Medium' by the IIP.


As for the 'Gibraltar' pictures the lady saw - what did they look like? How can you seriously consider these as any form of evidence without something to go on? Additionally; was it underway? - moving slowly and majestically? I though they were all moving at the same speed under the influence of current and/or wind?

The other gent was describing Gibraltar as seen from the Spanish mainland - you'll note I've remarked to Paul about that.
Gibraltar does not have two significant 'peaks' it is a long, very narrow razor back ridge running north-south connecting a sharp peak at the south end, another in the middle and a rounded one at the north end. The ridge is almost the same height as the peaks. The sharp southernmost peak descends steeply then extend out into the sea as a promontory Europa Point - it is the only low-lying land that is part of the true Rock and is what Scarrot was talking about.

You might not be talking about some insignificant oversized growler but I certainly am. I would not like to hit that on any ship travelling at 22+ knots - let alone 'Titanic'. Believe me, if Titanic had hit the monsters you're talking about I'm sure we would not be arguing over description today.
 
How many bergs in the vicinity are going to have the slope at the top like Gibraltar? Sam's post makes it at least three people that described the berg as such.

They wouldn't make the reference without having seen images or seen it first hand from a vantage point that would strike a chord with people. People don't compare things to illustrate based on personal experience or vantage point. They compare things to illustrate based on common knowledge.

You're marring this discussion down in minutia when these are pretty basic comments that people have made to describe something.
 
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