No Iceberg


Erik Wood

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Those interested in seeing what kind of damage ice can do to a ship, I would suggest going to www.boatnerd.com and taking a peak through the news section. There are some good pictures of a tug and barge combo that hit some heavy ice damaging the barge.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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I had another thought that was inspired by the conversation in the "Crew Research" area, but following Erik's recommendation, I posted it here where it better belongs.

I was reviewing the script for an upcoming Titanic documentary and it occurred to me that the producer had interviewed a Commander Bob Desh from the U.S. Coast Guard - International Ice Patrol about the ice that sank Titanic. I didn't think much of this until the recent debate, where the word, "iceberg," took on more relevance. CDR Desh didn't seem to have much trouble believing eyewitnesses when they described an iceberg, nor did he find it impossible that Titanic could have hit an iceberg. Now maybe he's biased, seeing how he is a member of an organisation that was chartered in the wake of the disaster to monitor the movement of ice and, particularly, icebergs. But the point that struck me is that Captain Collins does not speak for every mariner whose profession involves ice navigation in the North Atlantic. Unfortunately, much of CDR Desh's comments in this area have been edited out of the documentary, but then again, the character of the ice was not the focus of the show.

I want to emphasise that I am not intending to prove Captain Collins wrong. Since every eyewitness to the event has long since passed on, no one alive today can say with certainty exactly what Titanic struck. By the same token, I maintain that Captain Collins has no defensible right to call me wrong (which he has, in plain language) when I choose not to accept his theory in its entirety. If his argument can't stand on its own merit without his needing to discredit detractors or claim singular knowledge of the character of the collision, then it's not much of an argument. Though I don't believe it describes Titanic's collision in particular, I would acknowledge that Captain Collins's argument is a good one and assert that his more recent defence tactics are not only uncalled for but completely unnecessary.

Parks
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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I am on the way out the door so this will be brief:

Parks, I have had several discussions with the Internation Ice Patrol and "Polar Roller" skippers of the U.S. Coast Guard, all of them have expressed that Captain Collins theory is possible but also say that hitting an iceberg (which I don't believe happened according to the traditional theory) or some variation (emphisiss on other variation) isn't "impossible". So I would agree with your post. None of those discussions where started by me. But when you talk to Coasties about ice the Titanic comes up no matter what, and some have read Captain Collins book and where quick to ask me questions about it.

No one here can claim to speak for every mariner regardless of ice experience. Sometimes I have trouble speaking for myself
happy.gif
.

Like I posted in the wrong place: I don't completely disagree with Captain Collins theory, I disagree with his personal attacks on those who disagree with him. I would have expected more from a Master Mariner posting to a "mixed" (non nautical that is) group.

I told you it would short.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
I'm lost. Are we supposed to give more credence to the opinions of experienced mariners, or not?

When people start lambasting my half-baked theories, they immediately ask me for references, and pointedly ignore me when I present none. When a veteran ice pilot gives his opinion, they say his experience doesn't make him any more likely to be right than they are.

Now, which is it?
 
Oct 28, 2000
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The problem here is not whether or not Captain Collins has propounded a possible scenario. It appears that his theory is possible and is not disputed by the laws or physics or the experiences of other mariners, including the USCG Ice Patrol.

However, all of that does not make his theory valid (or invalid) with regard to Titanic. To determine its validity with regard to this ship we must look not at icebergs, but Captain Collins supporting documentaion.

Questions must be directed toward his analysis of events leading up to the accident, the actions take during the accident, and the results of the accident in view of damage to the hull. The answers to these questions should allow the assignment of probability (high, low, etc.) to his theory.

-- David G. Brown
 
Feb 13, 2003
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RE: CDR Desh didn't seem to have much trouble believing eyewitnesses when they described an iceberg, nor did he find it impossible that Titanic could have hit an iceberg.

In view of the fact pack ice (mistaken for haze) was seen by the lookouts at a distance of three to
four miles, and observed for ten minutes up to the time of impact, it would be most interesting to know CDR Desh’s explanation as to why an *iceberg*, 50 to 100 feet high, was not seen until
seconds before impact, on a night of infinite visibility.


Furthermore; considering his ship handling expertise, it would be most interesting to know his explanation as to how the starboard entrance, bow shell plating and framing could have escaped
massive renting from the impact, if the 50,000 ton Titanic had collided with an *iceberg*, 50 to
100 feet high, while going ahead at 22 knots (37 feet per second) under hard to port (hard left)
rudder.

—Collins
 
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Tom Pappas

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If Murdoch actually had time to port around the obstacle (which is consistent with the damage ending at Boiler Room #5), he had something like a minute between sighting and impact. At 37 fps, this gives a range of approximately 2220 feet when the lookouts were sure of what they saw. The "haze" was not characterized in size except that it extended two points either side of the ship. The lookouts were not asked how high it was, nor did they volunteer this information.

It seems to me that the damage to the starboard entrance, bow shell plating and framing would have been the same whether the ice was 8 feet or 80 feet high, since all the contact was under water.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Captain Collins,

What is your source of information regarding "massive renting" of the entrance, plating, and framing from the collision? Having studied the testimony and forensic evidence from the wreck, the only proven damage along the starboard bow that I'm aware of appears to be a relatively slight separation of a plating seam. There may very well be additional damage, but as yet there is not enough evidence to prove it.

Regarding the parted seam, only a small portion of it has been caught on video. Polaris imaging of the bow section is inconclusive because it cannot differentiate between collision damage and damage sustained when the bow section "stubbed its toe" on the ocean floor. Regardless, even the Polaris scans show relatively small and isolated shadows that could be openings, not the "massive renting" you refer to.

I cannot answer your questions because they in turn were not asked of CDR Desh during his interview. If you were to ask me the question, I would give you the following opinion:

I believe that the pattern of evidence points to the hull striking the ice along the bottom while attempting a turn under right rudder. The damage suffered along the side was not caused by impact, but rather by the racking of the hull as it momentarily and slightly rode up on the ice. The fatal damage was actually suffered along the bottom...the ingress of water in the boiler rooms was dramatic enough to impress the eyewitnesses, but was not in and of itself what sank the ship. I can't remember if I have discussed this with you before, but your friend, Allen Clarke, is aware of it.

Therefore, I won't attempt to answer your question because I hold to a different scenario. Just to be clear, I will state again that mine is a theory -- an educated guess based off one interpretation of existing evidence -- not established fact.

Personally, I believe that the framing was, as you mentioned, damaged during the collision, but there is as yet no corroborative evidence to prove this. All I have at the moment is circumstantial evidence that might indicate damage. One attempt has been made to ascertain physical evidence, but the camera silted out before it could penetrate the area. I hope that another attempt can be made in the future.

Am I speaking for CDR Desh? No. I'm afraid your questions will go, for the time being, unanswered. If he is solicited again for another interview, then I will make sure your questions are put to him.

Again, I would like to see your supporting evidence that the haze reported by the lookouts was in fact pack ice. As a theory, I would even agree with you...if the "haze" reported by the lookouts was in fact real, I would be inclined to believe that they actually saw pack ice. I highly respect your opinion and the experience behind it, but according to the rules of historical research that I have been taught, even the most qualified opinion does not constitute established fact. Do you agree?

Parks
 

Allan Clarke

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Feb 27, 2002
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Hello All,

I remember taking an Historiography course years ago that brought up the nature of a fact - what is a fact? can a fact be perceived differently by individuals and remain a fact? is there any such thing as a fact at all? My mind is still blurred from that experience. For the purposes of this discussion, perhaps the best way to try and find out what the "haze" reported by the lookouts was, is to try and determine what it was not. My take on Captain Collins' interpretation of the evidence was that there was no actual haze - the stuff produced by say the Gulf and Labrador Currents meeting up - in the area of the Titanic. No other ships in that location reported seeing any haze that night; it was calm and the visibility so clear that you could see the stars setting on the horizon. If it was not haze that Fleet and Lee saw then it must have been something else. From Captain Collins' experience, what the lookouts saw fits the description of pack ice to a tee. He concluded, therefore, that it must have been just that. What else could it have been?

As it so happens, last Friday we had ice come in close to shore and you could see the haze floating above it. When I saw it, I couldn't help but think of the Titanic.

Parks, I have presumed to speak for Captain Collins on this subject, and that may not be wise. Nonetheless, I will dare to do it yet again. With regard to the damage he mentioned in his last posting, he is AGREEING with your assessment of the wreck. There is nothing to show any massive rending of the entrance, plating and framing from the collision. His point is that if she had hit a massive iceberg, such catastrophic damage would have occurred. The kind of rather "minor structural damage" that the wreck shows is more consistant with a collision with pack ice rather than an iceberg.

Well, I have gone out on a limb in interpreting what Captain Collins is saying. YOU THINK YOU'VE GOT IT BAD! I live in the same city as him, so if I got it wrong, I'd better head for the hills! All kidding aside, Captain Collins is a very polite gentleman. Sometimes people who have different opinions tend to lose their temper when they perceive that somehow they are not making themselves clealy understood.

Frankly, I know that all of us are working with theories. In studying the question of what the Titanic hit, the best we can do is to weigh the evidence accordingly and decide for ourselves what the most probable scenario was. And if new evidence is brought forth, we may have to change our perspective yet again.

All the Best,
Allan
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
...it would be most interesting to know CDR Desh’s explanation as to why an *iceberg*, 50 to 100 feet high, was not seen until seconds before impact, on a night of infinite visibility.

My explanation would be that from the crow's nest, an object that only reached up to the boat deck would appear lower than the horizon (and therefore not visible as a silhouette), and in conditions of starlight illumination could easily have been indiscernible until a minute or so before getting to it. It might well have appeared as a haze extending from two points to starboard to two points to port, hardly the extent I would expect for sea ice. (Four points of the compass, for those having difficulty imagining it, is the angle between noon and 1:30 on a clock face.)

Maybe the lookouts could have made good use of binoculars after all: acquire the object with Mk I; identify it with optics.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Maybe the lookouts could have made good use of binoculars after all: acquire the object with Mk I; identify it with optics.<<

Which is exactly how binoculars are used in practice.
wink.gif


A little aside, we might want to be cautious about speaking about the "haze" as if it's very existance was an established fact. Yes...it's there in the evidence, but it's curious that it was only mentioned at the BOT inquiry. The lookouts never mentioned it at all at the Senate inquiry.

Maybe it was just an omission being corrected, but then again....
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
Michael, what part of It might well have appeared as a haze do you think assumes its existence to be an established fact?

The subjunctive mood in English denotes wishing, wanting, willing, doubt, or uncertainty, and is signified in discourse by words such as if, might, and could.
 

Allan Clarke

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Feb 27, 2002
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Hi Again,

Just to drift off the point a bit (pardon the pun), I concede that there were icebergs in the Titanic's facinity. And, it is quite possible for a ship to hit one - ship's have come to St. John's with their bows flattened back in the past. In fact, years ago, a Newfoundland Coastal Steamer, some 3000 tons in mass, was sailing past an iceberg when the thing turned turtle and picked the ship right up out of the water! Fortunately, the berg assumed a position that allowed the steamer to slide back off it and the skipper got out of there quickly with only minor damage to her bottom plates.

The issue with the Titanic is that Fleet, Lee and Rowe all said the iceberg was within a few feet of the ship. Given the much greater mass of the iceberg, how could the Titanic have escaped interaction which would have sucked her right on to the thing? Secondly, and here we have differing opinions, the ship was making a two point turn to port. That manoeuver would have brought the bulk of the ship into contact with the berg. The result would have been a catastrophic (I love that word) collision resulting in massive damage to her starboard side. But the wreck shows no such damage. In fact, it is relatively minor (I speak of the damage, not the result). This is in keeping with a "light contact" with ice, to quote Mr. Wilding.

Now, if these three crewmen had not described to the Inquiries what they saw, and Mr. Scarrott's iceberg became the one in question, I doubt there would be much disagreement about the possibility of the Titanic grounding off that berg's underwater shelf.

Regards,
Allan
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Allen,

<font color="#000066">His point is that if she had hit a massive iceberg, such catastrophic damage would have occurred.

I see what you mean about my interpretation of Captain Collins's use of the phrase, "massive renting." I suspect you're right, now that I read it again with your point in mind. I apologise for the misunderstanding, but as things turned out, I did provide an alternate theory that might explain how Titanic could possibly have collided with an iceberg without suffering massive damage.

<font color="#000066">The kind of rather "minor structural damage" that the wreck shows is more consistant with a collision with pack ice rather than an iceberg.

I agree that's one possible interpretation of the evidence. I have never said that Captain Collins' theory couldn't be the one closest to the truth. I merely subscribe to another theory that I am more comfortable with. The only issue I have in our debate is the continued assertion that there can be only one way in which the evidence can be interpretated.

<font color="#000066">From Captain Collins' experience, what the lookouts saw fits the description of pack ice to a tee. He concluded, therefore, that it must have been just that. What else could it have been?

That's a reasonable conclusion, based on both evidence and experience. There's no way I could argue with that logic, if in fact a "haze" existed. However, there has been speculation, which evidently began in 1912, that the "haze" existed only in the minds of the lookouts. Some have gone so far as to accuse the lookouts of manufacturing a fantasy to save themselves from being blamed for not standing their watch properly. I wouldn't go so far as to jump aboard that particular wagon, but the accusations (along with evidence relating to the lack of haze) place doubt in my mind that there was a "haze," or anything of the sort. That's why I'm not ready to accept the existence of haze as established fact, whether it was atmospheric obscurity or an illusion caused by pack ice. If that fact could be established, then I would definitely concur, based on the evidence, with Captain Collins's assessment.

<font color="#000066">Frankly, I know that all of us are working with theories. In studying the question of what the Titanic hit, the best we can do is to weigh the evidence accordingly and decide for ourselves what the most probable scenario was. And if new evidence is brought forth, we may have to change our perspective yet again.

I agree completely with this statement. If I knew Captain Collins felt that way, then a lot of acrimony might have been avoided; unfortunately, his own words here and in other threads give the impression that he has no patience for anyone's theory but his own.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Allen,

I didn't see your last post until after I had posted my last. We are evidently working this at the same time.

<font color="#000066">That manoeuver would have brought the bulk of the ship into contact with the berg.

I agree with you. That's exactly what drove me to pay attention to evidence pointing to a right turn at some point during the event.

<font color="#000066">Now, if these three crewmen had not described to the Inquiries what they saw, and Mr. Scarrott's iceberg became the one in question, I doubt there would be much disagreement about the possibility of the Titanic grounding off that berg's underwater shelf.

I'm sorry, I'm not exactly sure what you mean here. Could you please elaborate?

Parks
 
Feb 13, 2003
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Parks:

Your post:

What is your source of information regarding "massive renting" of the entrance, plating, and framing from the collision? Having studied the testimony and forensic evidence from the wreck, the only proven damage along the starboard bow that I'm aware of appears to be a relatively slight separation of a plating seam. There may very well be additional damage, but as yet there is not enough evidence to prove it.

In rereading my post “Furthermore; considering his ship handling expertise, it would be most
interesting to know his explanation as to how the starboard entrance, bow shell plating and framing could have escaped massive renting from the impact, if the 50,000 ton Titanic had collided with an *iceberg*, 50 to 100 feet high, while going ahead at 22 knots (37 feet per second) under hard to port (hard left) rudder.


I believe you have misread (misunderstood) my
post.

Regards,
Collins
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Captain Collins,

As you'll read in my post above, Allen has already pointed that out to me, and I apologised to the forum for my misinterpretation. Despite the confusion on my part, though, I did, in the absence of a response from non-member CDR Desh himself, provide a possible answer to your challenge.

I'm surprised that you didn't read my follow-on post to the one you quoted from.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Captain Collins,

Now it appears that you misunderstand me. I used quotation marks around the word "haze" for a specific reason. In this case, I'm referring to the word used by the lookouts, but I don't necessarily mean actual haze. Again, I would direct you to the entirety of my response to Allen just above for more on this.

You do remember correctly my saying that I bought your book but had not yet read it. But that was a while ago and I've been doing quite a bit of reading since that time.

Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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It's now over 6 hours since my last post and in the interim, I have read again through both this and the Murdoch thread. What I see is less a debate on the substance of theory and more on the manner in which opposing sides defend their theories. I do not wish to perpetuate this.

My closing stance is that Captain Collins has a well thought out theory, based on his experience in the ice. His theory could very well explain what actually happened to Titanic. I have an alternate theory, based on my own perspective. Naturally, I would like to think that mine can explain what happened. However, I do not claim that mine is right and his is wrong, nor do I have feel any need to promote my theory at the expense of his. We are both thinking people who have tried to give our best interpretation of the existing evidence, so why fight when it's virtually impossible to prove which interpretation is right, if either of them are?

No, I think I have Captain Collins's argument (in book form, if nothing else) and he should have mine (on my webpage, if need be). We don't have to agree, but even more so, we don't have to subject the forum to our endless manouevring for position. How does the old saying go: "Never try to teach a pig to sing. It will only frustrate you and annoy the pig?" I'm not thinking of anyone in particular being a pig, but the overall sentiment expressed in that old ditty pretty much sums up the way I feel now.

As I mentioned, the conversation has now gotten to the point where I don't want to perpetuate it any longer. If it is at all possible, I would prefer to now withdraw from the conversation. If people want to continue with the discussion, I'll stay out of it as long as my name is left out. I will be glad, however, to answer to any unresolved questions/comments that I may have inadvertently left dangling.

Parks
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Michael, what part of It might well have appeared as a haze do you think assumes its existence to be an established fact?<<

Tom, that's not what I said. To refresh, what I said was "A little aside, we might want to be cautious about speaking about the "haze" as if it's very existance was an established fact. Yes...it's there in the evidence, but it's curious that it was only mentioned at the BOT inquiry. The lookouts never mentioned it at all at the Senate inquiry."
 

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