No Iceberg


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At approximately a quarter mile ahead (about 40 seconds before impact). Fleet first saw his *iceberg* as a black mass about the size of two courtroom tables pushed together. Is that believed to be due to his lack of night vision?

No, Captain, it's not. And if you read my post carefully, you'll see that I never implied that.

But Fleet, even with full night vison, was not exempt from the Law of Inverse Squares, which governs the perception of light and thereby the recognition of the form and relative size of an object. (Luminance, of course, diminishes in proportion to distance squared.) In the case of that "dark mass" ahead, Fleet may very well initially have been subject to the same *partial* perception only of a much *larger* object that Boxhall could have been. If, as I suggest (and I believe the evidence supports this conjecture), the edges of that "black" berg were not clearly delineated via sufficent contrast, Fleet would *only* have been able to discern whatever portion of the berg was sufficiently illuminated to stand out against the overall darkness. As the ship approached nearer -- and the difference in those subtle peripheral light values was amplified exponentially by that increasing proximity, while the outline was also increasingly silhouetted against the stars -- the mass would appear to "grow", disproportionate to the speed of approach, just as Fleet seems to describe. (Much like "looming" actually, when you think about it, only it's not an optical "anomaly" at all.)

Boxhall’s testimony is merely one of the many things I rely on to prove my theory. My 40+ years (seasons) of experience and expertise navigating ships *safely* through arctic pack ice is also an asset.

Undoubtedly it's an asset, Captain. But unfortunately, insofar as the Titanic is concerned, it doesn't "prove" anything. I don't doubt that the optical phenomena you describe *could* occur; it's just that you haven't demonstrated them to be the irrefutable (or even the most likely) explanation in the Titanic disaster, vis-a-vis the statements of the *various* witnesses.
 
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to those of you who dont believe that an iceberg hit the titanic and sank it then amswer two questions one what other object or objects caused the wholes in the ship two why did witnesses say that they saw it the only things in the way of the ship that night were either sheets of ice or icebergs and i dont know what other things could cause this damage jennifer mueller
 

Erik Wood

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John F.

Congradulations on some very outstanding posts. I agree with just about everything you have posted here.

Let me add that Captain Collins has hit upon something extremely significant. He doesn't say this directly, but this is one of the many things that I took from the book. The iceberg may not (in my mind was not) the sole culprit behind the disaster, from an ice point of view.

My own view is that the combination did the ship in.
 
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John

The practical navigator, on a clear night of infinite visibility, gives very little consideration to the
Law of Inverse Squares, which governs the perception of light. More emphasis is placed on the
practice of good seamanship (or should be).

In the preparation of my thesis I applied, to my expertise in ice navigation and ship handling,
common sense and logic to select from the testimonies what was credible.

The night was clear with infinite visibility. At 11:30 p.m. Lookouts Fleet and Lee saw ahead, and
on either side, what they thought was haze. They watched the ship approach, but did not see
anything that resembled an iceberg until seconds before impact. At 11:40 p.m., what appeared to
be a white iceberg about 50 feet high impacted the starboard bow with “Just a slight grinding
noise”

The evidence states the ship was steaming ahead at 22 knots with the rudder hard- a-port (helm
hard-a-starboard) and the ship had turned two points to port at the time of impact.

An iceberg 55 to 60 feet above the water extends 150 to 180 feet below the water - a sheer mass
of the hardest glacial ice.

The evidence of some witnesses:

Fleet and Lee saw a white iceberg, about 50 feet high, impact the starboard bow with “Just a
slight grinding noise.”

Quartermaster Rowe, on the poop deck looking forward along the starboard side,” saw an
iceberg, 100 feet above water, passing down the starboard side but not making contact”. At the
time the rudder was hard-a-port. After passing astern, out of the ship’s lights, it disappeared in the
darkness.

Quartermaster Olliver on the bridge saw “the top of a *blue* iceberg passing down the starboard
side by #1 lifeboat”

AB Scarrott , in the crew’s mess about 50 feet from the point of impact, did not feel the ship strike
anything--just a trembling of the ship. Rushing out onto the forward well deck, from his lighted
quarters, he saw an iceberg, that resembled the Rock of Gibraltar looking at it from Europa point,
about a ship’s length off and just abaft the starboard beam

Miss Edith Louise Rosenbaum had just entered her starboard cabin A11 to retire for the night. She
felt a slight jar followed by a much stronger second impact. The third jar came as a shock, strong
enough to make her grab her bedpost. Turning towards the starboard window, she observed a
white shape, like a mountain gliding by.

George Harder and his new wife occupied cabin E-50 Mr. HARDER said “ [. . . ] I heard this
thump. It was not a loud thump; just a dull thump. Then I could feel the boat quiver and could
feel a sort of rumbling, scraping noise along the side of the boat When I went to the porthole I
saw this iceberg go by. The porthole was closed[. . .]The iceberg was, I should say, about 50 to
100 feet away.”

During this time Fourth Officer Boxhall was approaching, or on, the starboard side of the bridge,
but did not see any iceberg.

Too many witnesses to the contrary, versus Boxhall alone, is hardly convincing. Exceptional
claims require exceptional substantiation, and the captain has simply not provided this in his
book.

I do have what many don’t have; namely, ice navigation and ship handling experience. Combine
that with common sense and logic, the evidence of many witnesses is more contradictory than
convincing,, with some out of the realm of nautical possibility.

The laws of hydrodynamics, in regards to ship handling and ice navigation, preclude the remotest
possibility of a 50,000 ton ship going forward at the 22 knots, with the rudder hard - a-port (helm
hard-starboard 1912) impacting, with a glancing blow, her starboard bow with“Just a slight
grinding noise” as Fleet and Lee stated, or as Mr. HARDER said “ [. . . ] I heard this thump. It
was not a loud thump; just a dull thump,” permitting the ship to progressively flood and stay
afloat for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

[. . . ]it's just that you haven't demonstrated them to be the irrefutable (or even the most likely)
explanation in the Titanic disaster, vis-a-vis the statements of the *various* witnesses.

There were many, including the Holy Office, Galileo could not convince.. While my theory may be
difficult for those not experienced in ice navigation to comprehend, is there is any one who can
disprove it.? I am confident my theory will withstand the scrutiny. On that I stake my professional
reputation. The statements of seeing an *ICEBERG by the *various* witnesses amount to nothing
more than fantasy, each contradicting the other.

Regards,
Collins
 

Erik Wood

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Captains Collins harsh words regarding John's version or thoughts on his book are a little troubling. From a sailor I would have expected a more polite consice and informative response (especially from a Master Mariner), but after person dealings the above post doesn't surprise me. By saying that Captain Collins (which I am sure he did) used common sense and logic, he is implying that those who don't agree with him lack it in this case, and consistent statements such as that, have only served to damage his reputation (in a writing sense only) and weaken his argument. Rude and brief statements such as that only survive to divide the group and start a word war, which I dont want to see and I am sure nobody wants to see.

The fact that more witnesses saw the iceberg and none claim to have seen pack ice doesn't mean to much to an investigator, especially when it comes from folks who are not trained to undestand what they see, so I discount to a certain extent the claims of passengers. However, I do note that those who saw something didn't mention anything low lying.

Lookouts Fleet and Lee, and Quartermasters Rowe and Olliver all seem to agree that the berg was at least 50 feet high (the rest is left to what they saw in accordance with where they where standing in regards to height and distance to the starboard side) and Mr. Boxhall saw nothing (yet mentions the nature of impact perfectly). So you have 4 men who where up to that time career sailors saying they saw an iceberg. The only man who could refute that, would be Mr. Murdoch unfortunatly he didn't survive. These four are our resident experts as they would know far better what they saw then any of us. And any assertion to the contrary is a dangerous position which I don't think can be firmly supported.

So that leaves the following question: Where all four trained sailors wrong?? According to Captain Collins yes when he made the following statement: "The statements of seeing an *ICEBERG by the *various* witnesses amount to nothing more than fantasy, each contradicting the other."

This also implies that they where negligent, and where not smart enough to undestand what they see, all of those are dangerous when unsupported.

Captain Collins does again restate that a good chunk of what has been published or said in the past regarding Titanic is not nautically possible when he said: "...the evidence of many witnesses is more contradictory than convincing, with some out of the realm of nautical possibility." Something that I completely agree with. I am not going to debate the port round or attempted port round manuver as some of my research has caused me to question my own stance on the subject. So until I can discuss it with some firm research behind me I am not going to comment on it, other then to say that Captain Collins makes some good points, and as Captain Collins said: "The laws of hydrodynamics, in regards to ship handling and ice navigation, preclude the remotest possibility of a 50,000 ton ship going forward at the 22 knots, with the rudder hard - a-port (helm hard-starboard 1912) impacting, with a glancing blow.."

To further my own thoughts damage would have extended much further aft had this been the case. Damage that we know does not exist on the wreck today, and the fact that the ship survived for 2 hours also indicates that damage didn't exist after boiler room 6 (minues the open seam or water intake in Boiler Room 5). So something had to have happened to prevent this.

I as well as several others thought it was a rounding manuver which is supported by Quartermaster Olliver and the fact damage doesn't exist beyond boiler room 5. However, the man at the wheel does not mention it, nor does Mr. Boxhall and IMO Captain Collins offers a reason for the damage the way it is with no rounding manuver, it is up to each of us to discuss it and make our own informed opinion.
 
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Captain Collins seems somewhat confused of late. In a recent post (under another topic), he wrote:

The berg was floating there all the time, but not noticed. Why? There was no iceberg! The night was clear with infinite visibility. At 11:30 p.m. the lookouts saw what hey believed to be haze. For ten minutes until 11:40 p.m. they watch it as the ship approached. What they saw and impacted was arctic pack ice. [emphasis and reformatting mine]

Yet now he claims, with equal adamance:

Fleet and Lee saw a white iceberg, about 50 feet high, impact the starboard bow ...

Of the hundreds, if not thousands, of occurences of the word "white" in the testimonies of the American and British Inquiries, the vast majority are embodied in the phrase "White Star", or the "white light" that the Titanic's lifeboats pulled for, or those "white rockets" that ultimately went unheeded. (And of course, more than a few are accounted for by the American testimony of Mrs. Stuart White.)

But only the following manifestations of the word pertain to actual descriptions of *ice* by witnesses to the disaster and it aftermath:

(1) Ice observed directly aboard Titanic:

[US 317-8]:
Senator SMITH. Did you keep a sharp lookout for ice?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Tell what you did?
Mr. FLEET. Well, I reported an iceberg right ahead, a black mass.
...
Senator SMITH. How far away was this black mass when you first saw it?
Mr. FLEET. I have no idea, sir.
Senator SMITH. Can you not give us some idea? Did it impress you as serious?
Mr. FLEET. I reported it as soon as ever I seen it.
...
Senator SMITH. If there had been a black object ahead of this ship, or a white one, a mile away, or 5 miles a way, 50 feet above the water or 150 feet above the water, would you have been able to see it, from your experience as a seaman?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. When you see these things in the path of the ship, you report them?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. What did you report when you saw this black mass Sunday night?
Mr. FLEET. I reported an iceberg right ahead.

[US 528]:
Senator BURTON. Did you see the iceberg?
Mr. OLLIVER. I tell you, sir. I saw the tip top of it.
Senator BURTON. What color was it?
Mr. OLLIVER. It was not white, as I expected to see an iceberg. It was a kind of a dark-blue. It was not white.

[A.B. Seaman William Lucas]:
1420. Did you see the iceberg? - No, I did not.
...
1422. Where did you see the ice on the deck? - On the fore-well on the starboard side.
...
1426. How much ice was there on the deck there? - I suppose, about a couple of tons.
1427. What colour was it? - It was a darkish white.

[Lookout Reginal Lee]:
2439. Now could you give us any idea of what height there was of ice out of the water? I only want to have some idea of it? - It was higher than the forecastle; but I could not say what height was clear of the water.
2440. (The Commissioner.) How high does the forecastle stand out of the water?
...
2441. (The Attorney-General.) I said 60 ft.; I am told it is about 55 feet. (To the Witness.) Can you give us any idea of the breadth? What did it look like? It was something which was above the forecastle? - It was a dark mass that came through that haze and there was no white appearing until it was just close alongside the ship, and that was just a fringe at the top.
2442. It was a dark mass that appeared, you say? - Through this haze, and as she moved away from it, there was just a white fringe along the top. That was the only white about it, until she passed by, and then you could see she was white; one side of it seemed to be black, and the other side seemed to be white. When I had a look at it going astern it appeared to be white.
2443. At that time the ship would be throwing some light upon it; there were lights on your own ship? - It might have been that.


(2) Ice seen in the general vicinty of the disaster:

[US 250-1]:
Senator SMITH. You say that you were within about half a mile of an iceberg and that the Carpathia was within that range of one?
Mr. BOXHALL. Yes; I should say she would be well within half a mile of an iceberg when I boarded her.
Senator SMITH. How did this iceberg look to you? I mean as to color?
Mr. BOXHALL. White.
Senator SMITH. Did they all look about the same color?
Mr. BOXHALL. They looked white to me, in the sunlight.
Senator SMITH. Was the sun up, then?
Mr. BOXHALL. No; but after the sun got up they looked white.
Senator SMITH. In the early morning, at the dawn - daybreak?
Mr. BOXHALL. No; at daybreak they looked quite black.
...
Mr. BOXHALL. They did not appear white when I first saw them.
Senator SMITH. How did they appear?
Mr. BOXHALL. They appeared black.
Senator SMITH. After you boarded the Carpathia, while she was cruising around the scene of the wreck, did you see other icebergs?
Mr. BOXHALL. Oh, yes.

[US 724-5]:
Senator SMITH. ... What was the color of this largest iceberg, as you saw it on Monday morning?
Mr. LORD. It looked to me to be white from where we were. Of course, the sun was shining on it then.
Senator SMITH. Do they usually show white when the sun shines on them?
Mr. LORD. When the sun shines on them they show white, usually; yes.
Senator SMITH. Do they at any time show black?
Mr. LORD. I suppose they would at night; not exactly black, but a grayish a less distinguishable color than white.
Senator SMITH. Blue?
Mr. LORD. I should imagine it would be gray when the sun was not shining on them.

[US 891]:
Senator SMITH. When it got daylight did you see any icebergs or floating ice?
Mr. WOOLNER. Yes; a number of icebergs.
Senator SMITH. How near the place where the Titanic went down?
Mr. WOOLNER. It is was rather difficult to identify that unless one took the wreckage that was floating away as an indication of where she went down. Taking that, I would say that the nearest was several miles away; but there were a great many of them.
Senator SMITH. At daylight?
Mr. WOOLNER. Yes; and they were of different colors as the sun struck them. Some looked white and some looked blue, and some sort of mauve, and others were dark gray.
Senator SMITH. Did any look black?
Mr. WOOLNER. A dark sort of gray.


There is also a full body of "expert witness" testimony and merely conjectural commentary that employs "white" in its ice descriptions, none of which deals directly with the Titanic's own particular ice.)

My point here is that none of the above excerpts make the distinctive reference to a "white berg" that Captain Collins attributes to Fleet and Lee. Both men describe a "dark mass" in their testimony.

Captain Collins also writes:

There were many, including the Holy Office, Galileo could not convince.

To this I can only respond, paraphrasing the words of a past vice-presidential candidate, "Well, perhaps 'you're no Galileo'." What's more, unlike the trials of the illustrious Senor Galilei, we both claim to derive our results from the same "scripture", yet arrive at some very different conclusions. Mine are fully documented above.
 
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Erik: Just wanted to thank you for those kind compliments and moral support. (I tried to post this last night, but was having difficulties staying online, for some reason -- sunspots?) ;-)

Also, if anyone *is* interested, I'll gladly post the final portion of my results from that search. Though it's somewhat lengthy, and not directly related to the Titanic's own ice observations, there are some intriguing *general* revelations therein, including Edwin Galton Cannons' own maritime experience of a "blue berg".

Cheers,
John
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, John!

Fascinating information, old chap (but then those of us who know you have gotten used to receiving such material from you.) :)

Take care, my friend.

All my best,

George
 
Feb 13, 2003
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Reference John’s post:
Captain Collins seems somewhat confused of late. In a recent post (under another topic), he
wrote: “The berg was floating there all the time, but not noticed. Why?”

My post, Saturday, 22 February, 2003, was a response to the statement of Tom Pappas Posted on
Saturday, 22 February, 2003. “The berg was floating there all the time, but not noticed. Why?”
I italicized the quote , but it did not present that way in my post. Here is the post again.

Tom Pappas wrote: “The berg was floating there all the time, but not noticed. Why?

My response :There was no iceberg! The night was clear with infinite visibility. At 11:30 p.m. the
lookouts saw what they believed to be haze. For ten minutes until 11:40 p.m. they watch it as the
ship approached. What they saw, and impacted, was arctic pack ice.

For further confirmation here is Lookout Fleet’s testimony::
Senator SMITH. If there had been a black object ahead of this ship, or a white one, a mile away,
or 5 miles a way, 50 feet above the water or 150 feet above the water, would you have been
able to see it, from your experience as a seaman?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. When you see these things in the path of the ship, you report them?
Mr. FLEET. Yes, sir.


Yet now he claims, with equal adamance:
Fleet and Lee saw a white iceberg, about 50 feet high, impact the starboard bow ...

Mr. FLEET. Well, I reported an iceberg right ahead, a black mass.


I concede Fleet did not say * his* iceberg was white when it was alongside. As a matter of fact, he
said it was a black mass when right ahead His only description when alongside was “Just a slight
grinding noise” It was his mate LEE, in the crow’s nest with him, who said: 2442. It was a dark
mass that appeared, you say? - Through this haze, and as she moved away from it, there was just
a white fringe along the top. That was the only white about it, until she passed by, and then
you could see she was white; one side of it seemed to be black, and the other side seemed to be
white. When I had a look at it going astern it appeared to be white.

Mr. OLLIVER. [. . . ]It was a kind of a dark-blue. It was not white.

Senator BURTON. Was there anything distinctive about the color of that iceberg
Mr. ROWE. No a bit, sir; just like ordinary ice.

“My point here is that none of the above excerpts make the distinctive reference to a "white berg"
that Captain Collins attributes to Fleet and Lee. Both men describe a "dark mass" in their testimony.

My point is, using a quote from a previous post:“These four are our resident experts as they would
know far better what they saw than any of us.” The above excerpts make the distinctive reference to
each his own colour.

The evidence therefore is:
Fleet’s iceberg black when right ahead, 50 feet above water.
Lee’s iceberg Black then white when alongside.50 feet above water.
Olliver’s iceberg dark blue passing down the starboard side higher than # 1 lifeboat on the boat deck
Rowe’s iceberg just like ordinary ice.100 feet above water.

—Collins
 
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George: Thanks very kindly {blush}! I'm quite flattered.

Mike: You got it. I tried very hard to whittle these down to just the meat -- really, I did -- but they still come out fairly lengthy, probably two posts worth.

(3) Miscellaneous accounts:

[US 267]:
Senator SMITH. Do you ever have any ice in the southern ocean?
Mr. PITMAN. Occasionally, sir.
Senator SMITH. Have you ever seen any there?
Mr. PITMAN. I have, sir.
Senator SMITH. How large a growler or berg?
Mr. PITMAN. One I saw about 18 months ago, and there were three, as a matter of fact -
Senator SMITH. Where did you see them?
Mr. PITMAN. Off the Falkland Islands. One was about 700 feet long and 600 feet wide and fully 500 feet high.
...
Senator SMITH. How close were you to this berg you speak of?
Mr. PITMAN. About a mile, sir.
Senator SMITH. What was the color?
Mr. PITMAN. When the sun was shining on it, it was a perfect white.
Senator SMITH. What time of the day or night did you see it first?
Mr. PITMAN. In the morning, about 8 o'clock.
Senator SMITH. Did you see it in the night at all?
Mr. PITMAN. I did not, sir; when the sun was not shining on it, it looked like a perfectly black berg, like a huge island, and that is where I proved that the temperature of the water is absolutely no indication of icebergs.

[US 447]:
Senator BOURNE. Have you an opinion on that, as to whether a searchlight would have revealed the iceberg?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. I think it would have assisted us, under those peculiar conditions, very probably. The light would have been reflected off the berg, probably. Yet it is difficult to say. I do not know. A searchlight is a peculiar thing, and so is an iceberg. An iceberg reflects the light that is thrown on it, and if you throw the light on an iceberg it turns it to white, and if you throw it on the sea it turns it to white.

[US 758-9]:
Senator SMITH. Have you seen icebergs both by day and by night?
Mr. MOORE. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. What is their color by day?
Mr. MOORE. White, sir.
Senator SMITH. What is their color by night?
Mr. MOORE. It just depends which way you have the lights, sir.
Senator SMITH. Suppose you have merely the sky light?
Mr. MOORE. Then they will show up white, sir - white and luminous.
Senator SMITH. Suppose you have moonlight?
Mr. MOORE. It just depends on which way you have the moon, whether at the back of the iceberg or not, sir.
Senator SMITH. Do they at any time look black?
Mr. MOORE. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Under what circumstances?
Mr. MOORE. When you have the light behind them from you, sir.
Senator SMITH. That is at night?
Mr. MOORE. At night, sir.

[Officer Charles Lightoller]:
13569. ... at any time when there is a slight breeze you will always see at night time a phosphorescent line round a berg, growler, or whatever it may be; the slight swell which we invariably look for in the North Atlantic causes the same effect at the break on the base of the berg, so showing a phosphorescent glow. All bergs - all ice more or less has a crystallised side.
13570. It is white? - Yes; it has been crystallised through exposure and that in all cases will reflect a certain amount of light, what is termed ice blink and that ice blink from a fairly large berg you will frequently see before this berg comes above the horizon.
...
13617. ... We then discussed the indications of ice. I remember saying, "In any case there will be a certain amount of reflected lights from the bergs." He [Captain Smith] said, "Oh, yes there will be a certain amount of reflected light." I said, or he said; blue was said between us - that even though the blue side of the berg was towards us, probably the outline, the white outline would give us sufficient warning, that we should he able to see it at a good distance, and, as far as we could see, we should be able to see it. Of course it was just with regard to that possibility of the blue side being towards us, and that if it did happen to be turned with the purely blue side towards us, there would still be the white outline.
...
13649. If you could see a low-lying growler in those conditions a mile and a half, how far off do you think you could see an iceberg? - A good sized iceberg?
13650. Yes. An iceberg big enough to throw ice upon your fore deck? - Well a matter of 50 feet.
13651. 50 feet? You mean an iceberg 50 feet out of the water? - Yes.
13652. How far off would you have seen an iceberg as big as that? - At least a mile and a half or two miles - that is more or less the minimum. You could very probably see it a far greater distance than that. If it were a very white berg flat topped or the flat side towards you, under normal conditions you would probably see that berg 3 or 4 miles away.
...
13673. Whereas an iceberg that is more out of the water, on a fine night you thought would probably show you some white side or white edge? - Yes.
13674. And on a fine night, you would be able to see the whiteness? - Yes.
...
14203. ... you were going to particularise the circumstances which you say combined to bring about this calamity. There was no moon, no wind, and no swell, is there anything else? - The berg into which we must have run in my estimation must have been a berg which had very shortly before capsized, and that would leave most of it above the water practically black ice.
14204. You think so? - I think so, or it must have been a berg broken from a glacier with the blue side towards us, but even in that case, had it been a glacier there would still have been the white outline that Captain Smith spoke about, with a white outline against, no matter how dark a sky, providing the stars are out and distinctly visible, you ought to pick it out in quite sufficient time to clear it at any time. That is to say, providing the stars are out and providing it is not cloudy. You must remember that all the stars were out and there was not a cloud in the sky, so that at any rate there was bound to be a certain amount of reflected light. Had it been field ice, had we been approaching field ice, of more or less extent, looking down upon it it would have been very visible. You would have been able to see that field ice five miles away, I should think. Had it been a normal iceberg with three sides and the top white with just a glimpse of any of the white sides they would have shown sufficient reflected light to have been noticeable a mile and a half or two miles distant. The only way in which I can account for it is that this was probably a berg which had overturned as they most frequently do, which had split and broken adrift, a berg will split into different divisions, into halves perhaps, and then it becomes top heavy, and at the same time as it splits you have what are often spoken of as explosions and the berg will topple over. That brings most of the part that has been in the water above the water.
...
14207. The iceberg, in your opinion, had probably quite recently turned turtle? - Yes.
14208. And was displaying black ice with nothing white about it - that is it, is it not? - That is about it.
14209. Does that, in your opinion, account for the man on the look-out not seeing the iceberg? - Yes.
 
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[Edward Wilding]:
20983. (Mr. Rowlatt.) ... With regard to searchlights, I quite follow all you say about the disadvantages of searchlights. What do you say to this: Supposing a ship had a searchlight for use only when such a danger as ice was expected? - As I pointed out, the searchlight is only useful in one direction and the question of whether you would run risks, for example, of derelicts, or anything of that sort, which the searchlight would not show up so well as it would an iceberg. Of course, a white iceberg would reflect any light from a searchlight falling on it exceedingly well.

[Captain Frederick Passow]:
21882. (The Commissioner.) If you are right, and if this was - as we have been told by a great many witnesses it was - a perfectly clear night, how do you account for the collision? - I cannot account for it at all. They say it looked like a black iceberg, but I have never seen a black iceberg. I never saw anything but a white one, and that you can see on the darkest night. You can see field ice, too, on the darkest night in time enough for you to get out of the way of it.
21883. We have had an explanation given of it by Mr. Lightoller. He said that the sea was absolutely flat - there was not, as I understood him, even a swell - and that the consequence of that was that there was no surf of any kind round the base of the iceberg. By the base, I mean, the margin on the waterline, and that, therefore, one of the best indications for the seeing of ice was absent. What do you think about that? - I think you would see the surf round it at a shorter distance than you would see the iceberg, if it was a large one. The ice has a phosphorescent appearance.
21884. I should have thought that, as a seaman, you would have had some sort of explanation to suggest? - I cannot think of anything, because they say the ice was dark blue, almost black. I never saw an iceberg like that in my life, and I have seen a good deal of ice too.
21885. Does that lead you to infer that they are mistaken when they say it was black? - I would not like to say that, my Lord. I do not know, of course; I was not there, but I never saw an iceberg of that kind.
21886. Have you ever seen a growler? - These low bergs?
21887. Yes? - Very seldom.
21888. What is the colour of a growler? - White.
21889. The same as an iceberg? - The same as an iceberg, only a smaller one. That is what I understand by a growler- a low-lying berg. We always see those.
...
21898. May I suggest one question with regard to what the Witness said as to what Mr. Lightoller said? You said that you thought that if there had been a swell the white of the waves breaking at the foot of the iceberg would not be seen further than the iceberg itself? - I do not think it would be seen as far, unless there was a sea on. Then you would see the breakers just like breakers breaking on the beach.
21899. I am speaking only of an ordinary swell? - No, I should think you would see the berg first.
21900. You are speaking of the icebergs of which you have experience - white icebergs? - Yes.
21901. Suppose you had a black iceberg? - I would not see it, I suppose.
21902. Would the white of the waves, if there was a swell, be seen further under those circumstances? - Oh, yes, of course, according to the amount of sea.
21903. You were speaking of the white icebergs with which you are familiar? - Quite so, yes.
[Further examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL.]
21904. I understood you to say that you had never seen a black iceberg. Is that so? - Yes.
21905. Have you ever heard of one? - Never till I read of it in the papers.

[Captain Francis Spurtsow Miller]:
21922. Has the Admiralty recently called upon officers who have had experience in navigation of ice fields to report to them upon the use of search-lights? - Yes, they have recently sent a communication out to the officers who have been in command of ships on that station, but so far we have only received the report of one officer. The other reports, no doubt, will come in, and the Admiralty will be prepared to lay them before the Court.
21923. Will you tell us, just shortly, the result of the one report which you have got? - One report was received, and the officer stated that in all cases in clear weather the iceberg was sighted before the searchlights picked it up. The iceberg was sighted at about two miles; the searchlight was then switched on, and lit up the iceberg very clearly showing a white clear light. Then they detected the ice-floe at a distance of about one and a half miles from the ship, and also low pans and pieces of ice floating between the ship to a distance of about a mile off.
...
21930. (The Attorney-General.) The Report says: "... for the information of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty a Report of my experience as to the value of searchlights for detecting floating ice. Dealing seriatim with your questions -
(a) Have you had any opportunity of lighting up an iceberg with a searchlight? - Yes.
(b) Are icebergs, growlers, and others made conspicuous, at a distance by searchlights? - Yes, in dark, clear weather.
(c) At what distance do you consider on a clear dark night a 24 inch projector would reveal an iceberg? - It has never been my experience, on a dark night to first detect a moderate sized iceberg with a searchlight, but after having detected an iceberg with the naked eye I have on several occasions lighted the berg up with a searchlight, and on one occasion the searchlight illuminated the berg at a distance of more than two miles, and clearly showed the edge of ice field at a distance of at least 1 1/2 mile also revealing low ice pans and small ice at a distance of about 2,000 yards, which floated between the ship and ice field, and which had not previously been detected. I have on other occasions, in clear and thick weather, used search-lights with view of detecting ice, and consider that on dark clear nights, provided that the observer does not look into the beam of light, and when a 24 inch projector is situated as in case of foremost projector in H.M.S. "Brilliant," namely, on top of chart house or forebridge in centre line of ship, if the beam is thrown from above and behind, but on side of observer, a path of from 800 to 1,000 yards ahead of ship is clearly illuminated, in which path any ice must be revealed at once, and within these distances the instant the beam of a search-light touches floating ice, the ice appears brilliantly white, and its size and description can be determined at once.

[Edwin Galton Cannons]:
23798. (Sir Robert Finlay.) Now, would you describe to us the appearance of the icebergs in your experience; what do they look like as regards colour? - In day or night?
23799. Well, take first day? - In the day they appear as a white glistening mass, irregular in shape, white.
23800. Then at night? - At night they throw off an effulgence that can be seen. I have seen the outlines of an iceberg by taking a bearing over seven miles.
23801. It is what is called ice blink? - Yes, it is an effulgence thrown off the berg of ice because the ice absorbs the light by day, and throws it off at night. It would look like a large mass of luminous paint. That is the description one might venture upon.
...
23804. Have you ever seen a black berg? - No.
23805. In your experience are icebergs dark or black? - I have seen them much darker. Might I explain an experience of mine some years ago which will give you possibly an idea of the difference in the colour.
23806. If you please? - When I was Chief Officer of our “Michigan” I saw an iceberg capsize in the day time. What appeared prior to the iceberg capsizing as a white glistening mass, after the sea had subsided and the water run off the portion that was then exposed, it was apparently dark blue.
23807. Have you ever come across an iceberg that looked of that colour. You say you saw this one capsize? - Yes, in the daytime.
23808. And then did you notice its colour? It was quite different from what it was before? - It was different in outline and different in colour.
23809. Very well. Before it capsized it was white I suppose, as you have described? - Yes.
23810. Then after that it was dark blue. Have you ever seen another iceberg of that dark colour? - No, only that one that capsized.
23811. Where there is a swell or a little wind does the water break at the foot of the berg? - Oh, yes.
23812. Now supposing you had a dark blue berg such as you have described, dark in colour, what would the effect of the water breaking at the foot of it with a swell or wind be as regards what you would see? - Well, it would show whiter at the base.
23813. But in your experience the bergs have been white except with this one exception? - With the exception of this one which I saw in daylight and noticed the difference in the colour; all of them have been discernible at night.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Phew! Three browser crashes later, and it's finally done. (My software is not the most up-to-date beast around; not even close.) ;^)

Some caveats: First, those are only the filtered results from a search on "white". So they don't necessarily include *all* the iceberg descriptions -- like Rowe's, for example -- found in the testimonies. (Although it is interesting how many hits on that word inevitably led to other NON-white descriptions surrounding them.) Second, I have to admit that I skipped any searching of the British Inquiry's "Final Arguments". It may well be better that way, since none of that portion contains any original testimony, and it often introduces irrelevancies -- conjectures and/or deductions by the attorneys alone that have even occasionally found their way into the Final Report as "fact".

Having said that, there are a few things that caught my attention in the (total) search results. One is quite obvious from Captain Passow's testimony: Despite Lightoller's seeming implication that these berg capsizes 'happen all the time', most of the professional mariners questioned have little (if any) familiarity with the phenomenon of an overturned "black" or "blue" berg. Mister Cannons has seen one, albeit only in daylight, but Captain Passow has never even *heard* of this until recently. (Still, he doesn't refute the possibility, which leads me to think that he may regard it as just one of those "rare birds" he's never encountered personally.) Of course, this raises a conundrum of its own: if most mariners have never witnessed a "black" or blue" berg first-hand, is it because they're exceedingly rare? Or, is it because they're well nigh impossible to *see*, at least at night, unless you just happen to "bump into" one? (Could *many* unexplained ship losses in the North Atlantic have been the indirect result of similar convictions that "we've always been able to see them"?)

Second, the variety of possible "colors" described is unexpectedly broad. True, most individuals refer to "white" as the typical daytime ice manifestation, but even "mauve" shows up in those accounts. Apparently it just depends on the existing light (which is normally white).

Which brings me to the third major "revelation" about iceberg appearance -- Captain Moore's testimony, which seems to say exactly that: "It just depends". Moore's guidelines *almost* suggest that Titanic's covering of the forward hatch might even have diminished the lookouts' ability to see the berg by decreasing the light reflected forward. (The bow portion of the ship, after all, was kept quite dark in an effort to *aid* seeing.) But as Moore said, "When you have the light behind them from you", they appear black.

Now, I'm not married to any of this. It's just interesting food for thought. But it does occur to me that a recently overturned, wet berg would have a highly reflective (rather than frosted, or opaque) surface, making it much more like a mirror. (And what color is a mirror?) Pretty hard to even distinguish a *silhouette* of something displaying that kind of "stage magic".

Last but not least, without intending to quibble, I think Captain Collins' summary statement of the "four resident experts" still puts too fine a point on Lee's description. "Lee’s iceberg Black then white when alongside, 50 feet above water" is just too much of a stretch, versus his actual words:

2441. (The Attorney-General.) ... What did it look like? It was something which was above the forecastle? - It was a dark mass that came through that haze and there was no white appearing until it was just close alongside the ship, and that was just a fringe at the top.
2442. It was a dark mass that appeared, you say? - Through this haze, and as she moved away from it, there was just a white fringe along the top. That was the only white about it, until she passed by, and then you could see she was white; one side of it seemed to be black, and the other side seemed to be white. When I had a look at it going astern it appeared to be white.
2443. At that time the ship would be throwing some light upon it; there were lights on your own ship? - It might have been that.

Lee in fact appears to say that the berg didn't look at all white (other than that faint fringe) until it was almost astern! But that *would* explain Rowe's seemingly divergent perception: By the time *he* saw the berg, at the stern (with plenty of reflected deck light), it just looked like "normal ice" to him.

I won't even go into the issue of Lee's eyesight at length, but judging from the difference between his perception of the "haze" and Fleet's, I'd be a little surprised if Reg didn't see a white "fringe" around most things. ;^)

And, of course, there is that astounding disclosure by Fred Fleet, in Reade's book, that Lee was in fact headed down to the deck (by mutual agreement) around the actual time of the collision. If so, Lee's "eyewitnessing" was certainly not the continuum suggested by his testimony.

Cheers,
John
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Phew! Three browser crashes later, and it's finally done. (My software is not the most up-to-date beast around; not even close.) ;^)<<

Three browser crashes? That'll make you tear your hair.

Something I noticed which dovetails with some of my own experience over the question of using searchlights. I noticed that most of the people who spoke to it mentioned turning them on after sighting the bergs. It's no strain on my imagination to understand why they would work it that way.

The problem with searchlights is that extremely bright beam of light affectively dazzles anyone who happens to be looking at it. You can't see diddly squat outside that beam. I was treated to this while my ship was searching for the wreckage of a CH-53 which had crashed in the Persian Gulf. You could see very well what the light illuminated and nothing but inky blackness outside of the beam.

Having one's night vision trashed that way is not the sort of thing that lookouts and bridge watchstanders appriciate that much and for good reason. You may see what's illuminated, but be utterly blind to anything lurking just to the side that could really ruin your day. Not a good thing in an icefield!

Overall John, you not only gave us meat, but potatos with gravy. Thanks!
 
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Michael:

An intelligent post by an observant lookout. However, navigating in field ice, especially where growlers and heavy ice are lurking, searchlights are extremely useful when directed straight ahead from the ship’ s centre. line. When two search lights are available, each positioned on the port and starboard extremes, they are most useful when directed straight ahead, parallel to the centre line eg. automobile headlights. It is only necessary to see what is right ahead.

“You can't see diddly squat outside that beam” That is true for any light emanating forward of the observer. Example: deck lights obscure all vision outside the arc of light.

Regards,
Collins
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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I would like to add full agreeance to Captain Collins post. In my own limited experience on the ice of the Great Lakes we ALWAYS use search lights when entering or leaving a port. Usually when a Coast Guard Icebreaker is assisting us, we also use the light. I will not go into full detail on how they are used in open water unless requested. But none the less Captain Collins and I find ourselves in agreeance.

This is also why 140 foot icebreakers have "headlights". A pair of lights mounted to the stem and jack staff.
 
M

Marcia Plain

Guest
I am writing a research paper on the Titanic for my Tools For the Internet class in college. I have to use credible sites for my information and I have been having some trouble find some. My specific topic of it is the interior design of the rooms on the ship. If you could help me out it would be greatly appreciated. Thank You. Marcia.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Thanks Lewis, and point taken on the use of the searchlights. Especially if you're on the verge of finding yourself mousetrapped in an especially dense area of ice. Can't say as I much like the idea of being dazzled though. Anytime I was on lookout, it was on a low visibility watch and I put quite a premium on my night vision. Fortunately, ice was rarely a concern in the places where I spent most of my career, but collisions with other ships or small craft were.

Erik, I for one would welcome your insights...and Lewis's...on the use of searchlights out on the open ocean.
 

Don Tweed

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May 5, 2002
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I have just read, purused, about 50% of the posts here, and there is great research and info. here.
I also do not agree with Cptn. Collins conclusions on the berg and the separation of the wreck. The insight and boldness of the idea is great. I was your basic sailor with a doggy dish and no hash marks, always wanted to be a ZERO.
No offense intended, ladies and gentlemen.
I respect my XO and Cptn.
Makes me miss the Navy!
Toatl respect, Don, AO 2ND Class PO
 

Inger Sheil

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Feb 9, 1999
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Just tossing this into the mix because I came across it today when looking through papers - a partial transcript of some remarks Boxhall later made about the ice he saw on deck (from the BBC 1962 interview):

quote:

As I was emerging on the deck, some of these men were on their way back again to their beds and there was one man had a piece of ice, and I took it away out of his hands wondering where he got it from. I spoke to him in English and tried to make him understand that there was nothing the matter. 'Go down and go to bed and go to sleep again' you see.

And I took this piece of ice and walked along the upper deck on the starboard side to see where the ice came from, and there, just inside of the ship's rail, there was a powdering of ice running along as though she had compressed it. There was no wind, you see, and it would fall inboard.