Note to Chief Engineer

Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>any berg seen from this view-point would have had to have been above the level of the emergency boat - almost as high or higher than the bridge wing cab - just as I have been saying. <<

I agree. So what's the problem? He did say, "The iceberg was about the height of the boat deck; if anything, just a little higher. It was almost alongside of the boat, sir. The top did not touch the side of the boat, but it was almost alongside of the boat." The only part of the berg visible to him was the peak. The berg certainly was not 100 ft high. And as Lee testified at the Ryan trial, he thought it was as high as the boat deck. Obviously, he would be looking down on it from the height of the nest.

As far as the questioning goes, there were statements made before and after the official testimony was taken down by some. In the case of Hichens, a statement about the speed of the ship made after was later put into the official record. At the British Inquiry there were depositions taken before the witnesses appeared. Too bad these are nowhere to be found these days.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
It's all in the way we interpret 'the height of the boat deck or just a little higher'.
Your reference pic. of Olympic shows the bridge side bulwark turning inboard at the aft end of the bridge cab and emergency boat No.1 in it's davits immediately aft of, and lower than, the wing cab. The pic. of Titanic shows the same bulwark continuing aft toward lifeboat No.4. and emergency boat No.2 in it's davits stowed higher than lifeboat No.4.
The collapsible boat can be seen stowed on top of the officers accommodation.

It follows that if that arrangement was mirrored on the starboard side, there would be a gap between the end of the bulwark and L/B No.3 to allow deployment of emergency boat No.1. That boat would be deployed and ready for immediate use while Titanic was at sea.
It would be wound out on the davits, lowered to deck level and bowsed-in and secured with quick-release 'pelican-hooks'.
My personal opinion is that it is through this gap- across the emergency boat- that Olliver saw the tip of the berg passing. outside of the boat - he did say it didn't touch the boat. Consequently he was able to give a fairly accurate description of 'a little above it(the boat deck).

I suggested in my last post that the arc of visibility you showed would have an effective arc of about 8 degrees. This would mean that the tip of the berg would traverse about 17 or 18 feet while in view. A person standing where you placed Olliver would see it virtually flashing past his eyes. Perhaps a duration of half a second? It would be difficult to assess it in day light never mind the almost pitch black conditions prevailing at the time.

If however, Olliver had been on the starboard side and much closer to the passing berg - he would see it passing along the length of emergency boat No.1 which,(as I said earlier) since they were at sea would be swung-out above the water, ready for immediate use. By experiment; if Olliver was 15 ft. inboard from the deck edge abeam of No. 2 boat and the tip of the berg passed within
3 feet of the outboard gunwale of that boat then he could watch it traversing about 50 feet from left to right as it passed - during less than 2 seconds - just enough time to get an impression of what it looked like. (I used an arc of visibility of 100 degrees and speed of 22 knots). What do you think?

I agree about the variations in witness statements. Actually Olliver is the only one I give credence to. As you say, Lee was looking down so that would be useless. Scarrot gave forth with the boat deck height reference as well yet his sighting was - according to him- when the berg was out on the beam - very strange that one!. That's useless too.
QM Rowe was good for how close the ice was to the ship - pity he didn't look forward along the ship's side - a very good reference for height!

It puzzles me as to why Olliver was not called to the BoT enquiry yet Scarrot was while on the other hand - Scarrot was not called at the Senate Enquiry. Obviously transcript of the US enquiry were available to the B.o.T.
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
The timeline of Olliver's testimony would indicate he came onto the bridge just as the forefoot touched. He did go forward of the wheelhouse, else he could not have seen Murdoch at the W/T door switch. Perhaps Olliver's intention was to report back to the bridge from his errand to the standard compass. The berg should have passed the bridge wing within no more than 7 seconds, so Olliver could have been inside the wheelhouse within 15 seconds (moving slowly) after the initial impact. Moody would not have asked for the time until after he was certain all emergency helm orders had been passed and obeyed. So, there was plenty of time (even if in seconds) for Olliver to see Murdoch, watch the berg go past the bridge wing, and be in the wheelhouse to take the time.

When Olliver said he did not see the berg after it passed astern of the bridge, he was not implying that he actually looked aft. He was only stating the obvious, that it was invisible to him because of the deckhouse behind the bridge.

The time of Hichens' relief was 12:23 using April 14th hours, which was the normal time for the midnight change of watch in crew time. The accident took place 20 minutes prior to the crew's midnight change of watch, or 11:40 p.m. in crew time. Hichens, therefore, did not stand to the wheel for 43 minutes after impact, but only 20 minutes as scheduled.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I've had another look at the Titanic pic. Seems they might have lowered the E.boat over and outboard of these bulwarks plates and secured the boat at the bulwark rail.
In my pic, the plate bulwark seems to extend too far aft. and does not terminate at a davit. There does not seem to be much of a gap between the end of the bulwark and L/boat N.4
On your original plan, it shows bulwark plate terminating at the forward Welin Davit of the emergency boat.

The pic. of Olympic's starboard wing was taken from the forward steering position. A line from this position passes through the corner of the in-board wood bulwark and terminates at the forward davit of the emergency boat.

If the emergency boat was not deployed on Olympic as it was in Titanic then it was lowered onto deck chocs on the boat deck(slack boat falls in your pic would suggest this!).
If it was deployed over the plate bulwark on Titanic like this

Emergency boat no1


Then Olliver approaching the bridge like this
Emergency boat no1 copy1


saw the extreme tip of the berg about 3 -4 feet above the boat deck. As I said before - this is the only view he would have had time to determine anything about the berg.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
David:

If the images on my last posting are accurate then Olliver was just about to pass L/B No.3 at the time of impact and abeam of the E Boat No.1 when he saw the tip of the berg passing rapidly by, outboard of that boat. That's the only place he had enough light or time to make a useful observation.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Additionally: within another 5 seconds he would be on the bridge proper and see Murdoch still by the WT handle. In another 10 seconds, Smith would appear on the bridge and Olliver would hear the conversation between Smith and Murdoch.
Like this:
Titanic bridge plan copy1

At just before A Olliver the feels impact then hears grinding. He looks outboard and ahead and within 5 seconds sees berg coming along. As tip passes bridge it is faintly illuminated by the starboard side-light. Its gone in 2 seconds but enough time is given to see that the extreme 'tip-top'- as Olliver described it- is clear of the boat.
He knows the boat is 3 feet high so correctly deduces the berg is a little higher than the deck itself.
He moves on to B. At this time he is aware (rather than clearly sees)of Murdoch at the WT lever. He knows Murdoch is there because Murdoch confirms it by telling Smith about it. Everyone should keep in mind how incredibly dark it is on the bridge of a ship!
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Other than the time of collision, I tend to agree with David. From Olliver's description, he was coming onto the bridge just as the ship struck, not passing alongside Smith's quarters as Boxhall claimed and where you, Jim, have him. Olliver also may have intended to report to Murdock about the completion of his errand before going into the wheelhouse. The field of view in the Olympic picture is wider than what I drew in my post above and implies the camera was ahead of the wheelhouse and slightly to the starboard side of the ship's centerline, not very far from the forward steering position. The camera field of view is about 35 deg. and if Olliver was looking in that direction from that location, the peak of the berg would have been in view about a little over 1 second. If he was closer to the starboard side than that, he would have seen it a smidge longer.

As far as when the accident took place and when his relief showed up, Hichens was very clear about both those times.

Mr. HICHENS. ... All went along very well until 20 minutes to 12, when three gongs came from the lookout, ...

Mr. HITCHENS. I left the wheel at 23 minutes past 12, sir. I was relieved by Quartermaster Perkis. He relieved me at 23 minutes past 12.

At the British inquiry we find he had essentially the same to say.

946. Did you notice the time when she struck? - Yes.
947. What was it? - Twenty minutes to twelve.

1017. How long did you remain at the wheel? - Until 23 minutes past 12.
1018. And who relieved you? - Quartermaster Perkis.

Now why would he use two different time references? The correct time of the ship striking the ice without putting the clock back was 11:40 p.m. That was made perfectly clear in other testimony, and is confirmed in a number of passenger accounts, including a few who looked at their watches.

But we've been through all that before, haven't we David?
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Sam! This is one of the first models ever built. you can find it here:

fineartmodels.com/pages/product.asp?content_area=6&sub_area=138&product_area=138&product_id=255.

If you go to the 'topside' file, you will find that the very first pic. is of the port side entrance to the bridge. Seen here:
Port side of titanics bridge


If the starboard side is the same (I don't doubt it) then Olliver's line of vision from the position you and David suggest would be severely obstructed by the 'clutter' in his line of sight. This as you can see would include the Welin Davit, no less than three sets of plate bulwarks and the bow of the collapsible boat in
it's cradle.

I had already worked it out where the pic of Olympic was taken from but disregarded it because the position you gave for Olliver showed him standing in line with the port side of the wheelhouse. Using that position and the arc of visibility you showed; I worked out the amount of time the tip would be visible from there -if at all. I deducted 50% 0f your arc because it took-in the bridge cab therefore I used an angle of 8 degrees. By simple trig., I worked out that the visibility gap would be about 18 feet. Therefore at 22 knots, the tip would pass in view for about half a second - not nearly enough to make an accurate assessment of what was being seen.

This was why I took such a close look at things. I carefully read and re-read Olliver's statements as we all have done. He is quite adamant that he saw the berg. he is also precise in his description of what he claims he saw. It follows that to be so clear, he either had to have a photograph of the scene, a photographic memory or just enough time to take-in what he was seeing. I suggest that a second- or more like half a second- is not nearly enough time - even when you know what you're looking at and the exact direction in which to look. I can't say more than that.

As a Scotsman and as an aside - The first officer's name ended in 'ch' not 'ck'. I know that because I'm descended from a branch of that Clan.
Another bit of history for you - my GGG grandfather, John Murdoch made the pistol that fired the shot that was 'heard round the world' - allegedly the first shot fired in the American War of Independence. The pistol is one of a pair taken from a dead British marine. The pair are now (I think) in Lexington Museum. So you see we have always caused 'trouble'.. Just thought I'd share that with you!
 
David G. Brown

David G. Brown

RIP
Olliver's description of the berg has only two details. One, that it appeared more blue than the white he expected. That may reveal nothing more than that he saw it under very poor lighting conditions. The other detail was that the top of the berg came up only above the boat deck. This was hardly a tape measure accurate assessment of the height, just a general impression.

Even a half second visibility would have allowed him to make both observations. I find his testimony rather the more believable because he did not elaborate beyond these very simple observations.

----------------

Regarding the time, Hichens was correct in saying that the accident happened at "twenty minutes to twelve" and that he was relieved at "23 past 12." Sam neglected to point out that I said exactly the same thing in my post. I totally agree with Hichens' testimony on both times.

While those two times are accurate to the minute, they are not in the same reference. The first was in bridge time and the second in April 14th hour. What Sam continues to overlook is that while the 11:40 p.m. time of the accident was taken by Olliver, it was Hichens who read the clock for the change of watch time. Two men, two clocks, two results.

By his own admission, Hichens was giving hearsay evidence of Olliver's clock reading when he quoted the time of the accident. However, Hichens was giving his own observation when he gave the time of change of watch.

It is quite easy to find multiple crew survivors who were in the off-duty port watch. To a man, they testified that the accident took place just before the warning bell that would have roused them out for the "midnight" change of watch. Quite obviously, 11:40 is twenty minutes before midnight, which was the midnight of the change of watch.

We know that the on-duty starboard watch had to have completed its extra 23+ minutes by change of watch. (Half of the full 47 minute clock setback that night.) If the accident took place just 20 minutes before that change, then bridge time by which the change was governed must have been set back -- and the extra minutes already worked -- prior to the accident. Otherwise, the starboard watch would have to have worked an additional 43 minute (20 to midnight + the extra 24) in the remaining 20 minutes before the change of watch. That was (and remains) an impossibility.

Simple math shows that the true midnight marking the start of April 15th time took place at 2447 hours in Titanic's April 14th time. If both watches were to work extra time, and all clocks read April 15th time at midnight (per Lightoller), then the change of watch had..and that's a military "had"..to have occurred at 12:23 a.m. -- halfway between "midnight" in April 14th hours and "midnight" marking the start of April 15th. I ask everyone to note that 12:23 is exactly when Hichens said he was relieved.

We know the accident took place 20 minutes before change of watch, or 11:40 p.m. for the crew. That would have been 12:23 a.m. - 20 minutes = 12:03 a.m. in April 14th hours.

So, Hichens spoke the absolute truth. The accident took place at "twenty minutes to twelve" in crew time. And, he served until "23 minutes after 12" in April 14th hours.

11:40 Crew = 12:03 April 14 Hrs.
Midnight Crew = 12:23 April 14 Hrs.

It's really quite simple.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
David,

I too find Olliver's statement completely believable but you obviously have not been on a large ship's bridge under the conditions existing at that time. If you have, you will know full well that it would be almost impossible to see any thing flashing past in half a second more than 50 feet away. Indeed, I defy you to describe anything flashing past at that range - especially something you've never seen before. We are probably talking about a triangle of ice little more than a foot and a half across it's base. This was not a suitably lit hollywood film set. Incidentally, there were bulkhead lights fitted at intervals all along the boat deck. These would be lit to allows safe passage along the boat deck at night.
They are fairly low out-put lights and had screens fitted to the forward end so the actual light would not be seen by any one on the bridge looking aft. I suspect that both Boxhall and Olliver would pass these lights on the way to the bridge hence their night vision would be impaired.
The last ones before the bridge proper were on the bulkhead opposite the emergency boats starboard and port. There was one just outside and forward of the door to the officer's accommodation. You will remember Lightholler had to walk forward about 10 feet just after impact so that he could better see the bridge.
I suspect that because of these lights, Olliver would not be able to see much in the darkened wheelhouse. Boxhall also stated his night vision had been impaired.

As for the time thing: We must be using entirely different references:

Olliver could not have noted down any time of impact because he was still on his way back to his post when that occurred.

If Hitchens served his full 2 hrs 23 minutes on the wheel before being relieved then the ship's clock - if it had been set-back would show midnight. Did it? He was told the wheel was finished with at that time and the next job he got was at the boats.. what time was that?
According to the junior R/O, the first CQD was sent some time after midnight This CQD was received at 2225 New York time..on Titanic's unadjusted clock that would be about 1225 on the 15th.
If the clock had been adjusted back by 23 minutes then 1025 pm NY time would be 1202 Titanic time. Reading the evidence of the R/O, he relieved Phillips at midnight(ship's time) and had a chat with him. Phillips was getting ready for bed when Smith came in and told then to get help.
 
R

Richard Brown

Member
Well, I may as well throw in my 2 cents on the timings. Perkis releaved Hitchens at 12 'Perkis time'. Hitchens said he was releaved at 12:23 'Hitchens time'. Clearly Perkis time cannot be April 14th time. It has to be either April 14 - 20 mins (bridge time) or April 15 time. If Perkis time is bridge time, then Hitchens must be operating at April 14 time. However, this would indicate that there will be another adjustment in time (as Perkis 12 is bridge time, so another 20 mins has to be taken to take the time to April 15 time). That is fine. However, if Lightoller said that at midnight the clocks would all read 12 April 15 time, then it has to be that Perkis 12 is April 15 time and Hitchens second time point is bridge time (otherwise the clock would have to be put back another 20 mins, and Hitchens would have said he was releved at 12:40 April 14 time). What time was the collision given in then? Well, if Perkis is operating on April 15 time, then the time given for the collision has to be bridge time. Otherwise, Perkis would releave Htichens at 12:40 April 14 time, and so Hitchens would have worked an extra 40 mins April 14 time. The result of this is that the collison occured 11:40 bridge time, Hitchens was releaved at 12:23 bridge time or 12 April 15 time. Time until change of watch 40 mins.

If lightoller was incorrect, then this argument falls apart, but I am going with the idea that the clocks were to be set back so 12 midnight is April 15 time.
 
R

Richard Brown

Member
Ah, misread David. Lightoller said all clocks will read April 15 time, not will be 12 April 15 time. OK, so it is then possible for Perkis time to be bridge time and Hitchens 24:23 time to be April 14 time. Now, collision time can be either bridge time or April 14 time. If it was at bridge time, then Perkis would releve Hitchens 12 bridge time, 24:23 April 14 time. However, if the collision was at 11:40 April 14 time, it would be possible that when Perkis takes over the April 14 clock (24:23) is put back the full 40mins (so 24:23 April 14 becomes 11:40ish April 15).

So, if the collison is at bridge time, Perkis is on bridge time and Hitchens is on April 14 time (bridge time goes back 20 mins at handover). Time until change of watch, 20 mins. OR, If the collision is April 14 time, then Perkis is on bridge time and Hitchens is on April 14 time (clock goes back 40 mins (real bridge time is April 14 time) when Perkis takes over). Time until change of watch 40 mins. It may be confusing for Perkis to set his watch under the later system (were collision time is April 14 time, as no clock would read bridge time when he came on duty, all would read April 14 time).

Basically it comes down to when the clock changes were made. If the collision occurs at 11:40 bridge time, and Hitchens is releaved at 24:23 April 14 time, then Perkis 12 needs to be put back another 20 mins. OR, if the collision occurs at 11:40 April 14 time, and Hitchens is releaved 24:23 April 14 time then the clock would have to be put back a full 40 mins when Perkis took over (20 mins for his bridge time, which no clock on board will ever show, plus another 20 mins to convert April 14 to bridge time). If Hitchens is releaved at 24:23 bridge time, then Perkis 12 does not need to be turned back. In the former case there is 20 mins until the next watch OR 40 mins, in the latter there is 40 mins until the next watch.

We do know that Dillon stated the clock only went back 20 mins, so that we can probably rule out the situation where the clock is turned back 40 mins at the handover. This leaves the other to, with it being either 20 mins or 40 mins from collison until handover. do we have anyway of knowing for sure whether the clock was going back at 12 from bridge time to April 15 time?
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>The first officer's name ended in 'ch' not 'ck'<<

I know that. 99% of the time I spell it correctly. But there is that 1% where it comes out wrong. It almost like putting a 't' in Hichens.
Happy
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
None of this time stuff had to do with the note to the Bell. David and I have been debating this for years. I'll start a new thread if people want to deal with this subject, yet again.
 
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