Visibility was perfect that night. You couldn't ask for better conditions. It's like driving a bus on an open road at night with unrestricted visibility. Only difference is that you were told there were problems in the road ahead and would have to slow down if you continued on the same road. Instead of taking an alternate but longer route to avoid any of the problems reported ahead, Smith decided to remain on the planned route. So if you are the driver, when do you start to slow down? When it gets to be about the time that you expect road conditions to worsen, or when you actually start to see something that requires you to slow down or turn off the road you are on? That is what they faced.
Standard reaction, Aly..... Avoid it by turning toward clear water! That would apply to whoever was on the bridge at the time. Evidence tells us that Murdoch did exactly that.Lightoller had been known for going through ship wrecks during his sea career, what do you think his reaction would be towards the berg? Would you think he would try a head on? Murdoch and lightoller have different personalities.
I suggest everyone places themselves in Murdoch's shoes .
When the three bells went, Murdoch, like any other bridge officer, would look ahead...see nothing or a vague shape and raise his binoculars. He must have seen the dark form of the berg. IF the berg was as AB Scarrot described it....a high side to the left tapering down to the right and the left side of the High side was sheer, then the Murdoch or any other officer would automatically head for the open water to the left....hence the helm order.
I think Murdoch realized that he was too close to port around the berg even if his first thoughts were to attempt doing so. You don't stop the engines if you want to port around. I think he realized he was going to hit and was not going to risk hitting it head on. I furthermore believe the shift in the helm was NOT part of any avoidance maneuver. It happened after the ship struck the berg in an attempt to pull thestern away from the berg to mitigate further damage.But I do believe that Murdoch was trying to 'port around' the iceberg and came close to pulling it off. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough time.