Passengers testifying about the ship starting again


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Paul Lee

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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
and
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!

Paul

 
Mar 22, 2003
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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.
 
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David Haisman

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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

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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,
Cook
 
Oct 28, 2000
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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

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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.

Thanks

Paul

 
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David Haisman

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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
 
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David Haisman

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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

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

Cheers

Paul

 

John Flood

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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,
John.
 
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David Haisman

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

David H
 
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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 all...it'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.

Parks
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>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.
 
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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.
 

Paul Lee

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Michael, point taken, but I don't think my posting needed to be removed: it was a polite message about how people's attitude are taken the wrong way by what they write, and how they write it. I did put "with respect", after all
happy.gif


Anyway, back on topic: Charlotte Collyer reports in the Americaan Semi Monthly Magazine in May 1912:

(after the collions): "They tried to start the engines a few minutes later but after some coughing and rumbling there was silence once more."

Paul

 
Jul 9, 2000
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Paul, I'm trying to nip things in the bud befor they get out of hand. As I said befor, let's stick to the issues. If David doesn't want to debate this with people who don't have shiphandling experience, he's well within his rights to do it that way. Just let it go and stay with the history that's the topic of this thread.

'Nuff said.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Hi Guys (and Gals)

As for the ship being restarted, didn't Boxhall do a quick inspection and report back to Capt.smith that he found no damage? Perhaps that is when EJ ordered "Slow Ahead". At least until the complaints of water entering started coming in.

Beesley seems to strike me as a thorough man and not one to mistake a moving ship for a non-moving one.

David Smith
 
Mar 22, 2003
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According to testimony of several crew witnesses (Scott, Dillon, Olliver), the Titanic’s engines were restarted again after she initially stopped after the collision. Dave Brown had pointed to what Olliver said he saw while on the bridge. The actual exchange was:

Senator BURTON. Were the engines reversed; was she backed?
Mr. OLLIVER. Not whilst I was on the bridge; but whilst on the bridge she went ahead, after she struck; she went half speed ahead.
Senator BURTON. The engines went half speed ahead, or the ship?
Mr. OLLIVER. Half speed ahead, after she hit the ice
Senator BURTON. Who gave the order?
Mr. OLLIVER. The captain telegraphed half speed ahead.
Senator BURTON. Had the engines been backing before he did that?
Mr. OLLIVER. That I could not say, sir.
Senator BURTON. Did she have much way on?
Mr. OLLIVER. When?
Senator BURTON. When he put the engines half speed ahead?
Mr. OLLIVER. No, sir. I reckon the ship was almost stopped.
Senator BURTON. He must have backed the engines, then.
Mr. OLLIVER. He must have done so, unless it was hitting the iceberg stopped the way of the ship.
Senator BURTON. You did not hit it squarely, did you?
Mr. OLLIVER. No, sir; a glancing blow.
Senator BURTON. Did you see the captain ring to the engines to stop?
Mr. OLLIVER. To stop.
Senator BURTON. How long did he go ahead half speed?
Mr. OLLIVER. Not very long, sir.
Senator BURTON. One minute, two minutes, five minutes?
Mr. OLLIVER. I could not say the number of minutes, because I had messages in the meantime.
Senator BURTON. But you know he went ahead half speed?
Mr. OLLIVER. Yes, sir; I know he went ahead half speed.
Senator BURTON. Then he stopped?
Mr. OLLIVER. I could not say whether he stopped. The ship was stopped when we took to the boats.


The sequence of events in the engine room were described by Scott and Dillon. Although there is not agreement on all of this, we can get a feel of what happened. Dillon’s description is that the engine telegraphs rang seconds before the collision and engines then stopped about 1½ minutes later. He then said that ½ minute after they stopped they went slowly astern for about 2 minutes, and then stopped. Some (unspecified) time later it went slow ahead for about 2 minutes, then stopped again.

Scott’s sequence was that the engine telegraphs went to stop seconds after the collision, then about 10 to 15 minutes later the telegraphs signaled slow ahead for about 10 minutes, then to stop for about 4 to 5 minutes, followed by slow astern for about 5 minutes, and then a final stop.

Different perceptions of time and sequences of events is nothing new here. But there appears to be much to suggest that forward movement did take place after the collision. If it were more than just the ship drifting to a stop, i.e., deliberate movement ahead, then we have to ask why?

I believe David Haisman is quite right when he said:
quote:

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.
So can there be a rational explanation for the possibility of taking such action? I don't believe Capt. Smith was "off his trolley." But we do know that ship masters have taken such action in attempts to save their ship. The case of the Britannic is one example that comes to mind. But why on the open ocean would Capt. Smith seek to move his ship after colliding with the ice? Why order the ship to move ahead before damage was fully assessed?

We now enter the realm of speculation. Movement at half speed ahead, despite what Olliver thought he saw on the engine telegraphs, is the least likely event. If we accept Beesley's observation of the ship moving "very slowly through the water with a little white line of foam on each side," half ahead is inconsistent with that. Slow ahead is what Scott reported, and would seem to be somewhat more believable.
5808. The next order was "Slow ahead"? - Yes.
5809. Now, what time elapsed between the order to stop and the order to slow ahead? - About 10 minutes.


So why move even slow ahead 10 minutes after the collision? What was there to move to? Going to Halifax? I don't think so! Going to north to reach the shipping lanes? They were less than 5 miles south of the westbound shipping lane and would easily be spotted. Surrounded by enough loose ice to have been a menace if lifeboats had to be launched is certainly a possibility. And the other possibility is to get closer to the ship that was just visible ahead of them to the north. Certainly that ship, the Californian, must have been under observation by Murdoch before the collision. After all, the Titanic was seen steaming up by Groves on the Californian bearing S by E and estimated to be about 10 to 12 miles off. It is only reasonable to expect that Murdoch would have seen the mast lights of Californian bearing N by W about the same time. In fact, Murdoch would probably have continued to watch this ship periodically to determine any relative movement. There was nothing else to see out there other than the black sea, the stars and some expected ice. After the collision, the Titanic had starboarded turning to the north.
8222. Were the lights you saw on her port side or her starboard side? - (Groves) Port side.
8228. Did you see any navigation lights - sidelights? - I saw the red port light.


7425. What was the light that you saw? - (Gibson) A white masthead light and a red sidelight.
7426. Could you see both those lights clearly? - I could see the red light with the glasses.
7427. You used glasses to see the red light, the port light, but you could see the white light, could you, with your naked eyes? - Yes.
7328. Could you see more than one white light? - I saw a glare of lights on her after deck.


So to the Titanic, the Californian would have appeared somewhat off her port bow after she steadied up facing toward the NNE. Murdoch certainly would have made Capt. Smith aware of the steamer that now was ahead of them and slightly off their port bow. If the Titanic was severely damaged, it would be necessary to transfer passengers. That is why she carried lifeboats. The ship itself was never expected to sink. Even if the first 4 compartments were flooded, it was supposed to stay afloat. So here it is 15 minutes after the collision, the ship appears to be as solid as ever, what do you do? As a contingency, do you keep steerageway and go slowly ahead in the direction of that steamer, start to uncover your lifeboats and start other preparations in case you have to transfer passengers in middle of the night while the full extent of the damage is being assessed? If you stay still now, would it be too late later on?

I will leave it to others to join in this speculation. But remember, we already know the outcome. In the early stages right after the collision, the real extent of damage, let alone the final outcome, was not yet known.​
 

Paul Lee

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I've just had a thought: I don't recall Fleet and Lee saying that the ship started again after the iceberg alert. I will re-check the enquiry transcripts on this though.

Interesting point about the Californian, and quite plausible, but I believe that at the time of the collision, the Californian's heading meant that her mast and side lights were shut in. All that would be seen would be a few lights around the ship and the stern lamp, so she could easily have been overlooked.

Also, I think that at the time the order was given to steam after the collision, there was no real indication that the ship was damaged. Didn't Boxall return with a positive ("no damage") report?

But I agree, it is a fascinating theory. Shame theres no corroboration!

Cheers

Paul

 
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