Main Bridge specifications


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Aug 8, 2004
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Parks, I can understand what you are trying to say, but I would have placed the protection of the instruments as a high priority. If the officers wanted to be outside just open a door and walk out. Why give the wheelhouse doors but leave the bridge open?
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Colin,

It's difficult to answer your question from a 2004 perspective, because enclosed bridge structures are the norm nowadays.

Think back to 1912, a time of transition between the days of sail and steam. The best means of weather prediction for a deck officer was the wet bulb, thermometer and the officer's "weather eye." If you took the deck officer out of the elements, then he lost some of that "weather eye." If the deck officer has to step outside to gauge the weather, then you 1) lose the sense of continuity to enables one to pick up on subtle changes in the environment and 2) isolate the deck officer from the goings-on in the bridge area. Given their experience, I suspect that the older deck officers who learned their trade during the days of sail considered the meagre (in our eyes) shelter of Titanic's bridge enclosure to be a luxury.

Then why the wheelhouse enclosure? That was the home of the helmsman, whose primary job was to keep the ship on course. His focus was on the compass. Whereas the deck officer had to have complete situational awareness of the environment in which he navigated his ship, the helmsman was focused on the compass card in front of him. At night, they even shuttered the windows of the wheelhouse, effectively blinding the helmsman to activity even just outside on the navigating bridge, so that the meagre lights from the binnacle and telephones wouldn't distract the deck officer. Likewise, the wheelhouse walls protected the helmsman from the elements, allowing him to concentrate on his task.

Nowadays, a deck officer has an array of weather prediction equipment available to him/her. It is no longer necessary for a deck officer to be out in the weather in order to navigate. The good ones, though, make every effort to, nonetheless.

Parks
 
Aug 8, 2004
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Thats why I said if you want to be outside just open a door and walk outside. I get what you mean though about the transition from the days of sail to steam. But steam power had been around for a while and why would such an insignificant thing like adding an extra door, be so hard to change.
I can understand why some traditions die hard but the bridge was covered in the first place, why not take the extra step and add a few doors.
 
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Colin,

Again, you have to look at it from a 1912 perspective. Ordering "hard astarboard!" when you want to go left seems crazy to us today, but made perfect sense to sailors then. I would even suspect that deck officers in that day would have fought hard against enclosing the bridge, arguing that it would interfere with their duties. As it was, it probably irritated Murdoch that he had to have Moody relay his helm orders because of the shuttered wheelhouse.

Parks
 
Aug 8, 2004
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Well thats a fact. An inch would be microscopic.
What I really want to know can't be answered. If you can say what the names of the horses that dragged the anchors were or how many glasses of water would it take to fill the Titanic get back to me.
 

Bob Read

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Colin:
If I recall in some of your previous posts, the
subject you were talking about was whether the Olympic class ships were 882'8" or 882'9" LOA. We had a long discussion about this subject on this board. You are right from a practical standpoint that an inch difference in LOA is not a big deal. Our discussion was more about where those two differing figures came from than whether it made a practical difference. We discuss a lot of things like the location of the switches to close the watertight doors. It doesn't make a lot of practical difference but one of the things we are trying to do here is to recreate a historical record culled from many sources. Many of the references we use to try to recreate this record may not be accessible in the future so it is important that we discuss all the issues we can while the references are available.

Regards,
Bob Read
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Colin,

I am not offended. If someone asks for my opinion, I will respond as best as I can. If that doesn't work for the person asking the question, there are plenty of other people here who might have a better response. I gave you my honest, considered opinion and that's about all I can do, so I'm done. I hope that someone else here can give you the answers you are looking for.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Regarding the WTD switch on the Titanic, we have this from 3rd officer Pitman:

Senator NEWLANDS. How do you close them?
Mr. PITMAN. There is a lever 7 or 8 inches long -
Senator FLETCHER. Where is that?
Mr. PITMAN. On the bridge; close to the man at the wheel. All you have to do is to just pull it over like that [indicating by describing half a circle].
Senator FLETCHER. What is the effect of that?
Mr. PITMAN. That closes the doors electrically.
Senator FLETCHER. They come right down?
Mr. PITMAN. They come right down.
Senator FLETCHER. They just come right down, and they do not open and shut, out and in?
Mr. PITMAN. Oh, no; straight down that way [indicating]. There is an electrical bell beside them. You ring that a few minutes before closing, so as to give any one a chance to get out of the way who might be standing underneath.

This does not say it was in the wheelhouse. There was a wheel on the forebridge that was linked to the one in the wheelhouse. Was he talking about that wheel?

What Hichens said was:

1031. (The Attorney-General.) Yes. Mr. Murdoch said, "They are already closed." Do you know where they were closed from? - Yes, the fore-part of the bridge.
1032. Could you see them being closed? - I could not see anything but my compass.
1033. Where you were you would not be able to see it? - No.

Clearly it was not in the wheelhouse. It was on the bridge probably next to the wheel there.
 

Bob Read

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Samuel:
You would think Hitchens would know if it was in the wheelhouse but he said he couldn't see anything but his compass.

The intriguing thing that Pitman said was that the lever was close to the "man at the wheel".
That would almost always seem to be the helmsman in the wheelhouse.

I don't see how we can nail this down just from
these two excerpts.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hichens said it [the switch] was closed in the "fore-part of the bridge." So it wasn't in the wheelhouse.

Pitman had said a bit more about this WTD lever at the American inquiry. Here is what else he said:

Senator SMITH. I want my associates to know where this lever is, if a lever is used, or where the electric power is that locks these watertight compartments? Where is that operated from; what deck; what part of the boat?
Mr. PITMAN. The water-tight doors are operated from the bridge by a lever close to the wheel.
Senator SMITH. By whom?
Mr. PITMAN. By a lever close to the wheel.
Senator SMITH. I understand, but by whom?
Mr. PITMAN. Operated by the officer of the watch.
Senator SMITH. The officer of the watch?
Mr. PITMAN. Exactly.
Senator SMITH. So if you were officer of the watch when this collision came, it would be your duty to close those doors?
Mr. PITMAN. Immediately.
Senator SMITH. I thought I understood you to say that Mr. Murdoch closed those doors, or was that Mr. Boxhall?
Mr. PITMAN. Mr. Boxhall said that, because he saw it.
Senator SMITH. You do not know about that yourself?
Mr. PITMAN. No.
Senator SMITH. You say you saw those doors operated at Belfast?
Mr. PITMAN. At Belfast.

If it were the wheel in the wheelhouse then Hichens would not have said what he said. Hichens would have said that Murdoch came into the wheelhouse to close the WTDs. He did mention about Capt. Smith passing through the wheelhouse as he came onto the bridge. There is enough light in the wheelhouse from the light in the compass and the course board light to see the outline of someone there. The only other wheel to speak of is that on the fore-bridge just in front of the wheelhouse. And this is the wheel that I believe Pitman was refering to.

And as Dave Brown said, Murdoch's closing of the WTDs was seen by both Boxhall and Olliver when they entered onto the bridge.

Cheers.
 
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