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Log Book Fun.

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Jim Currie, May 9, 2018.

  1. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Here is what the page of the Chief Officer's Log for April 14 might have looked like had Titanic survived:

    2018-05-09 001 2018-05-09 001.jpg
  2. Scott Mills

    Scott Mills Member

    Or, even had she sunk, but an effort had been made to save Titanic's logs. Of course, I am forced to think of Turner on Lusitania being washed off the bridge trying to save Lusitania's logs as the ship sank under him, contrasted with Lightoller's (paraphrasing), during the very long sinking and fairly well managed evacuation (all things considered) of Titanic, the very last thing anyone thought of was saving the logs! Don't ask such dumb questions, sir!


    /tinfoil hat on

    To the "unenlightened" Lightoller's answer, and the contrasting imagery of Turner on Lusitania, might lead one to believe that the "whitewash" of the disaster started while the mortally wounded Titanic sat floating on the North Atlantic on that cold April night in 1912.

    /tinfoil hat off
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  3. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    I often wonder what the Purser's Assistant had in the "Ship's Bag".
  4. coal eater

    coal eater Member

    did they salvage the titanic ship logbook ?
  5. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    The US Inquiry asked 3rd officer Pitman what happened to the ship's log book.

    Q - I would like to know whether you are sufficiently advised, of your own knowledge, to say whether the ship's log was preserved or taken from the Titanic?
    A - Not to my knowledge; I did not go into the chart room, so I do not know.

    Q - Do you know whether Mr. Lightoller, the second officer, Mr. Boxhall, the fourth officer, or Mr. Lowe, the fifth officer, took possession of the ship's log?
    A - I can not say, sir.

    The US Inquiry repeated the question. This time he was more direct.

    Q - Do you know if any of the logs were saved?
    A - None, sir. We had something else to think of besides log books, sir.

    I can visualise two possibilities. The passengers were not allowed to take their bags and luggage with them into the lifeboats. Perhaps in the confusion the officer threw the ship's bag over the side and yelled "No luggage allowed! and did not realize he had just thrown out the ship's log book over the side? Another possibility. A number of passengers saw icebergs passing the ship before the collision. The Carpathia could see more than half a dozen icebergs about 2 miles away on each side during the night. We also have reports that the lookouts warned the bridge several times about the icebergs and that the weather was hazy. Perhaps this was all recorded in the ship's log and would prove disasterous for their defence if those logs were made public, so they were discreetly chucked over the side on the Carpathia.

    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  6. Cap'n Jim --

    When you have time, it might be instructive for you to explain the process of log keeping from scrap to smooth -- who did the work and what was included in the various documents. I'm afraid a lot of people thing logs are minute-by-second records of everything that happens on a voyage.

    -- David G. Brown
  7. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Always have time for you, Dave. Also allows me to show-off.

    I think a brief history best serves your needs.

    In 1912, many changes in bridge practices were taking place. At that time, the normal practice was to use a chalkboard or a scrap record to keep tabs on things. Not all happenings but only those which effected the progress of the vessel toward her next port of call. The following is an extract from Nicholls's Seamanship and Nautical Knowledge. These are examples of questions to be answered by Candidates during oral examination:
    2018-05-10 002 2018-05-10 001.jpg

    If the daily record was kept on a black-painted board, Its contents would be faithfully transcribed by the most senior Deck officer into the Official Log Book before the "slate was wiped clean" and a new day was started.
    It should be kept in mind that during periods of total overcast, it was not possible to use a sextant to FIX the ship's position. Consequently, a record of all courses and distances on each course was recorded. This allowed the navigator to calculate an approximate or Dead Reckoning position to be plotted. Contrary to popular belief among land persons, unusual events were not recorded unless they had a direct effect on the voyage.

    Up until a certain period in history, it was not possible to keep a running record of events on paper. This was because the bridges of most ships were exposed to the elements and we all know what happens to paper when it rains.
    With the advent of the sheltered or enclosed bridge, it became possible to keep the running record on paper. Thus, the Scrap Log was born.
    However, the Scrap Log was still a problem during the hours of darkness, because to keep it up to date, it was necessary for an officer to compromise his night vision.
    The Scrap Log was not, as some might think, bits of scrap paper tied together by a string through holes in the corners of each sheet. In fact, it was much like a school jotter... lined pages bound together between cardboard or thick paper batters. It got its name from the fact that it was not kept for any length of time but "scrapped" after its contents were laboriously copied into the Official Log Book by the most senior officer after breakfast each morning.

    Following the disaster, British bridge officers were required to keep two Log Books. These were termed... (1) The Official Log Book. its colloquial name was The Mate's Log simply because in most cases, it was kept by the First Mate as he was usually called in scruffy Companies or Chief Officer in posh outfits.

    In fact, title Official Log Book is misleading in that in later years, it had no legal part to play in any disputes. However, as with its ancestor, it was written up in the writers best long-hand writing, using a fountain pen and ink...not ballpoint (or Biro as they were then called). It was in fact, an abstract from Log Book No.2...termed the Deck Log.

    The descendant of the Scrap Log - The Deck Log was kept by each Watch Keeping officer or his assistant. It was kept in graphite pencil. Erasures were not permitted, errors were to be crossed with a single thin line and initialed by the officer in question. This Log Book was the one that showed the definitive history of a voyage, warts and all. It was the one used in evidence during all legal disputes.

    Hope this meets the bill, Dave.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  8. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Exactly the same procedure as followed in the Royal Navy only we have 'the daily occurrence log' which is the long hand log and the Navigation Log which is kept in pencil by the bridge watch and records all the stuff in what you call the deck log.
    Jim Currie likes this.
  9. Scott Mills

    Scott Mills Member

    Or those log books contained information damning to the officers and White Star line and where intentionally left behind. You can add this to the list of circumstantial evidence that convinced me something was fishy about what led up to and immediately followed the collision. Whether or not this indicates that there is something to what our resident David Brown suggests and the berg/ice was sighted well in advance, whether it would indicate an attempted course change and attempt to make way after the collision, or a combination of both is difficult to say.

    I certainly have my pet theory that Titanic made way with the destination of Halifax in mind after the collision, which exacerbated the fatal damage to the ship, or turned the serious damage into fatal damage, and that the surviving officers and managing director of the line knew very well that this decision at least contributed to the foundering of the ship.

    In any case, it is strikingly convenient that none of the logs were saved. Then again, maybe I am just having the reaction of a modern observer (Turner's actions on Lusitania make me think not) hearing that the crew of a crashing airplane intentionally destroyed a flight data recorder.
  10. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Scott.

    Conspiracy is a wonderful, tingly thing and a lot tastier than the mundane.

    Titanic would not have had a Scrap Log like the one I use in my mock-up. it would have been more like the one kept on the Californian.
    6th Officer Moody came on Watch at 8 pm that evening. From then on, Moody would make the running entries into the Scrap Log. These would have been the readings of the Barometer, thermometers (sea and air + wet/dry bulb if carried, patent log readings from the QMs Book, results of compass error calculations and engine revolutions being carried. The course would already be shown for 8pm. He would only log the sighting of ice if, up until 10 pm, Lightoller had deemed it a danger to shipping. The latter would only see that right ahead in which case, the lookouts on duty would also have seen it.
    I know about David's theory of a turn at Midnight but he knows that I completely disagree with him.

    If Captain Smith did not have a safe in his cabin, then the ship's papers would have been kept in the Purser's safe along with the ship's valise. it is possible that Captain Smith ordered the Purser to collect all the ship's official papers and put them in the valise ready to abandon ship.
    The official Log book would have been in Chief Officer Wilde's desk in his cabin. Unless there was a prior arrangement, the remains, if there are any, are probably still there.

    There is absolutely no verifiable evidence to suggest that the ship's engines ran for any more than the 6 minutes reported by Trimmer Dillon.
    In any case, apart from Captain Smith going completely off his rocker; there was a very well qualified Naval Architect from the builder on board who most certainly would have advised against moving until a damage assessment had been made. Not only that, most of the boilers were vented over a period of 20 minutes or so. Titanic did not have the power to proceed to anywhere after that.
  11. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Perhaps no attempt was made to save the log book because they did not believe the ship would sink? e.g.

    3rd officer Pitman
    "I expected to get back to the ship again, perhaps two or three hours afterwards....I quite thought we would have to return to the ship again, perhaps at daylight. My idea was that if any wind sprang up we should drift away from the ship and have a job to get back again.

    Able Seaman Mr. Jones
    Q - You thought the ship was unsinkable, did you?
    A - Yes, sir; I thought so.
    Q - Was that the view of the crew, generally?
    A - Yes, sir.
    Q - Did you think at that time it would be as safe to stay on the ship as to go in the boat?
    A - I thought they were only sending us away for an hour or so, until they got squared up again.
    Q - Until they got what?
    A - Until they got her pumped out.

  12. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Jim,

    As I am sure you know, the 'Official Log-book' was specifically exempted from the hearsay rules of evidence, and was "admissible" in a Court of Law pursuant to section 239 (6) Merchant Shipping Act 1894. (Normally, documents were considered as 'hearsay' and had to be 'proved' to be admissible).

    Sections 239 to 243 cover the UK legal requirements in respect of Official Log Books, which provisions lasted for very many years.

    It is interesting to note that so far as I can see section 243 (2) imposes a duty on the master to preserve the Official Log if a ship is lost or abandoned so that it can be delivered up to the Marine Superintendent of the home port.

    If I have interpreted the 1894 Act correctly, then Titanic's Officer's were singularly unaware of the provisions of section 243 (2) !

    Merchant Shipping Act 1894


    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  13. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    I am not familiar with the letter of the law, Julian, but I do know that nautical Colleges and Universities taught that The Official Log Book would not be considered as proof of anything when offered as evidence. The reason being that it was simply a transcript of recorded happenings and could be altered to create a set of circumstances.

    In 1744, in the words of the words of the English Court in Omychund v Barker:

    "The judges and the sages of the law have laid it down that there is but one general rule of evidence, the best that the nature of the case will admit."

    After 1912, budding shipmasters were taught:
    " 2018-05-11 001 2018-05-11 001.jpg

    In 1969, Lord Denning offered this statement on the status of the best evidence rule, in Garton v Hunter:
    "That old rule [Best Evidence] has gone by the board long ago. The only remaining instance of it that I know is that if an original document is available in one's hands, one must produce it. One cannot give secondary evidence by producing a copy. Nowadays we do not confine ourselves to the best evidence. We admit all relevant evidence. The goodness and badness of it goes only to weight, and not to admissibility."

    From the above quotes, I assume that the Best Evidence rule would have been enforced?
  14. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Jim,

    I was not suggesting that the Official Log Book was 'truth' of what it contains. I was merely pointing out that the Official Log Book was given a specific statutory exemption from the hearsay rules relating to documents.

    Also, that so far as my understanding goes, there is a legal duty upon the master to preserve the Official Log Book in the event of a vessel being lost or abandoned.

    There seems to me to be some laxity or ignorance on Titanic of the application of the law that night. This laxity or ignorance may of course be the result of the Board of Trade being remiss in reminding Ship Owners and Masters of their duties according to the law. A good example of this is the distress rockets being required to be fired off at 'short intervals' which is in itself not precise. There is ample evidence that before April 1912 the Board of Trade department dealing with the Merchant Navy adopted a 'laissez-faire' attitude in respect of British Merchant Shipping, which policy was exposed in April 1912.

    By contrast, the HM Railway Inspectorate department of the Board of Trade adopted a very 'hands on' approach to UK railway companies, though to a certain extent still reactive as opposed to proactive.

    I quoted and cited yesterday the relevant law in 1912, and this must always be the 'back drop' of any consideration of the Official Log Book, given that it's contents and preservation were governed by an Act of Parliament.


  15. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Currently reading newspaper reports from that era. They detailed the general procedure for abandoning ship and they said the two most important items to be saved from many sinking ship were the ship's chronometer and the ship's logbook.

    I noticed that Able seaman Albert Horswill said -
    "I was ordered to the port emergency boat. I was ordered to put the lantern in the boat and a chronometer. I did that and came out again, and I was sent to the starboard boats."

    Is it possible that collapsible boat D was reserved for one of the senior officers and they intended to put the logbook in that boat with the chronometer?

    Here is a photo of collapsible D. Can anyone see the ship's bag?


    Is that a gladstone bag?



    Last edited: May 12, 2018
  16. >>I'm afraid a lot of people thing logs are minute-by-second records of everything that happens on a voyage.<<

    I can tell you that this is not the case in U.S. Navy practice even to this day. While the log is used to keep a record of certain important events in the day to day running and navigation of the ship, it is NOT a black box which keeps a running tab on events right down to the second.

    The notion that it is....that it was a running journal which was constantly having even the most trivial minutia entered in....is pure Hollywood and not reality.
  17. coal eater

    coal eater Member

    if ship chronometer was in lifeboat,would ship logbook be along it? if yes then what happened to that ship logs,were they lost/destroyed or someone collected them or they stayed in chart room as ship was going deeper and deeper in water?
  18. The Chronometer never left the ship with any boat (as well as the log book).
  19. I think this is the first time someone identify a women covered with a blanket in a lifeboat as a bag.
  20. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Well, naturally it depends on the lighting and quality of the photograph. So people see different things. e.g. This guy believes there is a dog behind the blanket/bag.

    Photo of dog in a Titanic lifeboat

    Last edited: May 12, 2018