Passengers testifying about the ship starting again

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Paul Lee

Hi friends,
I strated doing some work this evening regarding a timeline about the sinking. Basically, I thought about:

Boxhall investigating below
The mail room and squash court being flooded
The third class (Buckley et al) reporting their cabin flooding
The third class on the foreward well deck having a kick-around with the ice.

Now, what I am hoping to find are those people who encountered the wind ( ie. walking against the wind, like Gracie, while the ship was in motion). In my mind, people like Charles Hayes, who observed the third class having a game of soccer after walking along A-deck would have faced the most unimaginable wind chill, which make me think - are there ANY indirect statements that the ship steamed on after the collision?

Thanks, friends!


Hi Paul:
Second class passenger Beesely had wrote that several passenger were relieved to see the ship moving again, although slowly, after coming up on deck some time after the collision and noticing the foam streaking along the side of the ship on both sides. He also went on to say that he was able to feel the slow vibration of the engines along the wall of a bathroom.

David Haisman

Samuel Halpern,

'' Passengers relieved to see the ship moving again''

That may be so but, was that astern or ahead?

'' Foam streaking along the side of the ship on both sides''

This is more likely when a ship goes astern and highly unlikely when a ship goes ahead from a stop position.

''Felt the slow vibration of the engines''

I'm not clear as to what ''slow vibration'' indicates but ship's stopped at sea have various noises coming from the engine room. Sometimes that of an emergency generator starting up ,the ''kicking in'' of emergency bilge procedures and what that entails, along with several other noises that may be experienced when a vessel is involved in an emergency stop situation.

Furthermore, passenger testimony on nautical events and procedures can be extremely misleading and one should not ''hang their hat on it'' but treat it with the caution it deserves unless proven otherwise.

Finally, for what it's worth, any ship's master that has knowingly collided with an object or objects for'ard of the beam, would be ''off of his trolley'' to order an ''ahead'' order to the engine room after such an incident.
This would without doubt exacerbate the problem of increased flooding if holed.
He would need to be absolutely satisfied that the action be deemed safe from damage reports received, before proceeding with such a decision.

As a point of interest, a French television documentary team has just left us after a couple of days of filming and after visiting other families in the UK, will visit Cobh in Southern Ireland and New York, before putting this 90 minute ''doco'' together.
I understand it will be out later this year so keep an eye open for it as hopefully, it will help to put Titanic back on course.

David H

Pat Cook

Hi Guys,

An addition to what Samuel said, Beesley wrote:

"I stayed on deck some minutes, walking about vigorously to keep warm and occasionally looking downward to the sea as if something there would indicate the reason for delay. The ship had now resumed her course, moving very slowly through the water with a little white line of foam on each side."

For what it's worth, Lawrence must've been writing that the ship was moving forward - had it been placed in reverse, I feel sure, he would have made a special note of this.

Best regards, all around,
Olliver saw Captain Smith telegraph Ahead Half to the engine room. Dillon heard a subsequent shout to "keep up the steam."

In computing the ship's final CQD position, Boxhall moved the latitude two minutes north from Captain Smith's original 41 44 N to the more famous 41 46 N. By convention, a minute of latitude translates into a nautical mile of distance on the surface of the earth. So, Boxhall assumed the ship made two miles of northing. The only logical reason for this assumption was to account for the distance the ship moved north after the accident.

Circumstantial evidence indicates Titanic made way again for about 10 minutes. If Boxhall assumed a "half speed" of about 10 knots, he then must have assumed a making way time of 12 minutes which represents 0.2 hours (0.2 x 10 = 2 miles).

David H. quite rightly raises the question of why a captain would move a ship with a damaged bow forward. This issue has been speculated on several occasions. Parks has suggested it was to move Titanic closer to the regular shipping lanes which lay to the north. Another possibility might have been ice. I've wondered if Titanic was surrounded by enough loose ice to have been a menace if lifeboats had to be launched. The truth is that probably we will never know.

Whether driving Titanic forward worsened the situation is debatable. Wartime experiences have shown that it may have been at least an unwise maneuver. Curiously, during WW-I Lightoller saved a naval vessel under his command. That ship also had a damaged bow. Instead of steaming forward, Lightoller backed his vessel successfully to safety.

--David G. Brown

Paul Lee

ISTR Boxhall saying that the ship stopped on a westerly heading. If this is so, how could he have thought the ship steamed North, and still remain heading west?

By the way, thanks for pointing out Beesley's observation. I did know about it, but forgot to include it in my original post. It seems that Gracie and Beesley were the only ones to notice that the ship had started up again.




David Haisman

Hi Pat Cook,

This type of passenger testimony is one of the reasons I give little credence to them.
Ships when moving slowly ahead, just don't create white foam at waterline level unless doing quite a few knots.
As mentioned in my previous post, for any master to put his ship ahead after knowingly colliding for'ard of the beam would be crazy!

However, I won't debate this topic unless someone has had previous ship handling experience.

It's good to hear from you Pat Cook.

David H

David Haisman

Hi All,

I think I had better clarify what is meant by saying ''ship handling experience'' and stress that it is not my intention to try and undermine anyone.
For a vessel to proceed ahead for a couple of nautical miles at 10 knots after such an incident,to any professional seaman is beyond comprehension. For the obvious reasons stated in my last post.
What remains in question here is not Captain Smith's actions but surely the testimony.
''Keeping up steam'' on ships of that era doesn't necessarily mean cranking up the engines as steam would have been used throughout the vessel for many utilities.
That cry of ''keeping up steam'' is as old as the hills and is used in many situations onboard ship.
To attempt to move a vessel under such circumstances for any reason, especially ahead, would be foolhardy by any ships master.
Going astern IMO would be a somewhat ''remote'' option but could possibly increase flotation for a short time until the props came out of the water and the ship became ''airborne'' ( you're supposed to laugh)
This action could be useful if close to a landfall but out in mid Atlantic, hardly worth thinking about. IMO !
No gentlemen, although I respect your posts, I would still want to ask a fellow a professional ship handler his own opinion as to why a ship's master would want to undertake such a dangerous procedure.

David H

Paul Lee

It sounds like Gracie and Beesley noticed that the ship had started up again within minutes of the collision....



I seem to recall reading (not sure where unfortunately!) that they restarted the engines to try and get closer to the Californian/Mystery ship. But I always thought that this would have been highly unlikely. Unless I am mistaken, I don't think the Californian/Mystery ship was spotted until later on anyway.

Is it possible that they started the engines(against their better judgement) under pressure from Ismay?

All the Best,

David Haisman

I sincerely hope our moderators are keeping an eye on things.

David H
Dave Brown mentioned my name above in connection to an explanation that I proposed for the reported movement of the ship.

Frankly, based on eyewitness accounts, I am at a loss to explain the reported use of the engines after they had been stopped. However, there are too many eyewitness accounts for me to dismiss out of hand. So, my conclusion is that there is something that we are not privy to. It would seem that there is a decision or maybe even a sequence of events involved here that has been lost to history.

Attempting to close the shipping lanes is the best theory that I can advance to explain what Smith may have intended to do. However, this is just an attempt to provide a motive for an action of which I don't have full knowledge. I only advanced it for purposes of discussion, not to re-write history.

That said, the reason why I thought Smith might want to close the shipping lanes was to increase the chance of encountering a non-wireless-equipped ship. That's's a flimsy reason for moving a damaged ship, one that I wouldn't defend in a serious argument. But again, I'm throwing ideas out to try and explain an action that evidently happened (I haven't really paid close attention to passenger statements, but have concentrated instead on the recollections of the surviving engine-room crew) but which we know almost nothing about beyond that.

>>I seem to recall reading (not sure where unfortunately!) that they restarted the engines to try and get closer to the Californian/Mystery ship. But I always thought that this would have been highly unlikely.<<

So do I, and for just the reason you stated. The Californain/"mystery ship" (Make of that whatever you will) wasn't observed until after the Titanic had stopped for the last time.

>>Is it possible that they started the engines(against their better judgement) under pressure from Ismay?<<

I wouldn't dismiss it out of hand. The problem of course is that if Ismay did put on this kid of pressure, he certainly wasn't stupid enough to admit to it in public.

>>I sincerely hope our moderators are keeping an eye on things.<<

I am, and Yawn is, IMO, getting a bit too close to the line here. Let's please step away from this sort of baiting and stick to the issues.

>>I won't debate this topic unless someone has had previous ship handling experience.<<

In fairness, that's your right, however...and you knew this was coming...the question of the ship moving after the accident is not really much of a matter of debate. Not only do we have passenger observations to the effect vis a vis Gracie and Beesley, we also have sworn crew testimony that such orders were given and carried out. Oliver testified to it, Dillon saw it carried out, it's there. It doesn't go away.

Foolhardy? I wouldn't disagree with that. But the question in my mind is not whether they did it, but why against all prudence and good sense that they did.
Addendum: Let's step away from raking people over the coals over how they post. If anybody feels that a rule has been violated, please contact the moderator who is in charge of the folder.

This can be a useful discussion, but only if we stick to the issues.
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