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Port Engine Going Full Speed Astern

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Aaron_2016, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Immediately after the collision 4th officer Boxhall said he overheard Murdoch telling the Captain "I'm going full speed astern sir on the port engine." Curious to know if this was normal practice during an emergency and why Boxhall said that? According to QM Olliver the helm order was "Hard a-port". What direction would the ship go if the helm order was turning the ship hard right and the port engine was reversing and turning the stern hard over? Was it possible to move the entire body of the ship together and away from the iceberg?


    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  2. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Another thought. According to Hichens the officer rang the engine telegraph and then ordered "hard a-starboard". If that engine order was full astern on the port engine, would the action of the stern swinging left followed by the helm order turning the bow left, would this move the entire ship out of the path of the iceberg?


  3. Boxhall made that claim 50 years after the disaster, in a 1962 BBC broadcast. In 1912 his story was that the engine telegraphs showed full speed astern on BOTH engines. None of what he said concerning engine orders is verifiable. By the way, with the rudder hard over to port (for a hard left turn), reversing the port engine while leaving the starboard engine going ahead, would tend to bring the ship's head around more quickly. Split engine orders were commonly used for making sharp turns around buoys in confined channels. Such was the case with Olympic turning around the West Bramble buoy in the Solent shortly before being struck by HMS Hawke in 1911. Also, Lightoller had said at the Ryan trial in 1913, that he believes that if Murdoch would have reversed the port engine only, then the berg might have been avoided. Of course Lightoller was not on the bridge when the encounter happened.
  4. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    We figure that the iceberg was sighted Right Ahead (Dead Ahead) at approximately some 37 seconds prior impact. We know that the vessel was turning faster to Port than to Stb’d, as the Center and Stb’d propellers were outward (clockwise) turning (Wheeling Effect). The Wheel (Tiller) would take around 10 seconds from amidships to hard-over, so 20 seconds hard-over to hard-over, which is faster than the 27 seconds standard of our days. In sea trial condition where the entire engine crew standby and ready to maneuver, it would take at least one minute and a half (01m 30s) to reverse the reciprocating engines, and probably taken the same time from Full Astern to a complete stop. Remembering that the crash stop test was not performed at full sea speed.

    So at best, the Wheel could’ve been turned from amidships to hard-over then from hard-over to hard-over only one time in 37 seconds. The engines could’ve been stopped or at the best, in the process of being reversed in that same short amount of time. It needed a few seconds to realize and react to such an occurrence. Taking into account those limits, on a professional ship’s bridge simulator interfaced with Titanic particulars, sea going and weather conditions, I would like to try;

    «Tiller Hard A Stb’d (bow to Port) / Port & Stb’d Engines Half Ahead» (Turbine running at Half Ahead still thrusting the rudder). The fist maneuver is to try to clear the bow away from the berg and to alert the engine crew of imminent maneuvers. The vessel would take a brief and slight list to Port (centripetal force) helping for the next maneuver.

    Once the rudder is well hard-over, I would order the «Tiller Hard A Port (bow to Stb’d) / Port Engine Full Ahead & Stbd Engine Full Astern». The vessel would tend to right herself up but with such a sudden and steady tiller to Port, the list would instead increase to Port (centrifugal force) helping the bow swinging to Stb’d and the stern to Port, faster. The Stb’d Engine would probably not have the time to be reversed, but the drag of a slower turning propeller would’ve certainly helped.

    Then… Hold On Fast Me Boy !

    The idea is to try clear the bow on a naturally faster turn to Port and next, to reduce to the minimum the thrust (momentum) against the berg. I think the vessel would’ve hit the berg almost head-on (the Head-on Theorists would be happy) but most crucial, it would limit the damage due to the momentum being directed away from the berg. I think that the water ingress was more important in the area of BR6, probably because there was too much pressure against the berg created by a Port momentum.

    Since Capt Smith knew that his vessel was approaching at full sea speed an ice field infested with icebergs, he should’ve been on the bridge. Since he had much more ship-handling experience than mate Murdoch, he would’ve either save or sink his vessel himself.

  5. I’ve now had the good fortune to run an iceberg simulation on three different U.S. Coast Guard-approved computerized bridge simulators. Only once has anyone gotten round the berg safely. And, those two young cadets could not repeat their success. The basic problem is time. Or, rather the lack of time. The conventional scenario of hard a-starboard/hard a-port must be accomplished in between 35 and 55 seconds. Titanic may have been nimble for her day, but not that nimble. The ship’s physical deadweight combined with Mr. Newton’s laws are against success.

    Studying the testimonies led me to the conclusion that the conventional time is too short by minutes and not seconds. The maneuvers that led to impact on the berg started at least ten minutes before impact. Before we can discuss the chronology it is necessary to look at the elements of those maneuvers as recalled by the various witnesses. I’ve divided them into three categories: Before impact; during impact; and, after impact.

    Before Impact
    Captain Smith plots ice reports (Boxhall)
    Left turn on starboard helm of two points (Hichens)
    Left turn (Boxhall)
    Ship approaches berg straight ahead (Fleet & Lee)
    Lookouts ring 3-stroke alarm (Fleet, Lee, Boxhall, Scarrott, etc.)
    Five to eight minutes between alarm bell and impact (Scarrott)
    Murdoch rings down engine order (Boxhall)
    Murdoch closes watertight doors (Olliver)

    During Impact
    Bow seems to swing left (Fleet & Lee)
    Starboard side lifts (Fleet and Lee)
    Murdoch orders “hard a-port” (Olliver)
    Berg at “bluff of bow” dumps ice into well deck (Boxhall)
    Berg passes close aboard starboard bridge wing (Olliver)
    Heavy impact in way of boiler room #4 (Cavelle)
    Ice chips in portholes (various passengers)

    After Impact
    Berg is off starboard quarter (Boxhall, etc.)
    All Stop sent down to engines

    (Note: All times are in crew hours set back 24 minutes from official April 14th ship’s time.)

    From Lightoller we learned that Captain Smith came on the bridge sometime after 9:30 o’clock. They discussed the ice danger and the captain went “just inside.” Boxhall told the inquires that the captain occupied himself plotting ice positions from reports received by wireless. In Boxhall’s words, the captain “pricked off” those positions on a chart. Captain Smith worked in his private navigation room which was reached by a door in the pilot house. He was never more than a dozen feet from Hichens at the ship’s wheel, although out of sight behind that door.

    My reconstruction of the ship’s dead reckoning indicates Captain Smith ordered a course change just after 11 o’clock in crew time. That would have been 11:30 in unaltered April 14th ship’s time. If so, that turn coincided with one of the half-hourly checks of the steering compass against the standard. If I’m right, this is proof that Captain Smith was fully aware of the danger that night and that he took early action to avoid the ice. The turn amounted to one compass point to the south, or 11 degrees. (A point is 11 1/4 degrees, but it was impossible to read a quarter degree on the card of Titanic’s steering compass.) This course change would have put the ship on a heading of 255, which is the direction of a line drawn between the ship’s two CQD positions sent later that night.

    The compass checks were every 30 minutes based on unaltered April 14th ship’s time. They continued on that pattern even though the crew clocks were retarded to account for the 47 extra minutes earned that day by the ship’s westward movement. Thus, the 12 o’clock compass evolution was due to be made at 11:36 o’clock in crew time. Once this is understood, we have a clear notion of why quartermaster Olliver was on the standard compass platform when the lookouts rang their three warning strokes. It is the same reason Boxhall was coming out of the officers quarters. Both men were preparing for the required compass drill.

    2330 Olliver arrives on platform & begins prep for officer

    2334 Lookouts ring 3 strokes for iceberg
    Boxhall has just exited the officer’s quarters
    Scarrott hears bell strokes in forecastle
    Olliver hears bell strokes from platform

    2335 Boxhall on platform. He begins 2 point alteration

    2336 This is 12 o’clock in April 14th ship’s time.

    2337 Ship steadied on new course of 232.5°
    Lookouts see iceberg is “right ahead”
    Boxhall leaves platform. Goes forward on stbd boat deck
    Olliver tidies up. Goes forward on port boat deck

    2338 Fleet rings bridge via telephone

    2339 Moody answers phone. (Probably relays message to Murdoch)
    Murdoch rings down engine order.
    Boxhall hears three rings of engine order telegraph
    Boxhall goes down stairway abreast of captain’s cabin
    Murdoch operates switch to close W/T doors
    Olliver enters bridge and sees Murdoch at switch

    Murdoch orders “hard a-port.” Heard by Olliver
    Boxhall in stairway feels ship grinding on ice
    Olliver enters wheelhouse and hears Hichens sing out
    Helm is now hard over
    Fleet and Lee feel starboard side lift as ship on ice
    Boxhall comes out on B deck and sees berg at “bluff of bow”
    Captain Smith comes through wheelhouse to bridge

    2341 All Stop orders to engines
    Boxhall sighted in well deck by members of his watch
    Officers gather on stbd side of bridge to look for berg

    The above is based on my interpretation of all the testimonies. Note that I have accounted for the “five to eight minutes” seaman Scarrott said occurred between lookouts warning bell strokes and impact. Also, from Hichens point of view inside the fully closed up wheelhouse it would have seemed the two point turn was an attempt to avoid the iceberg they struck moments later.

    Olliver had to tidy up the standard, so he was slightly behind Boxhall which explains why he did not hear the engine order telegraphs, but did see Murdoch closing the W/T doors and hear him yell, “Hard a-port.” And I’ve accounted for Hichens’ two-point turn.

    My interpretation of events also clears up one of the biggest unsolved mysteries of Titanic conventional wisdom. In the classic version, the ship must have been turning left at impact and then back to the right (hard a-starboard to clear bow, hard a-port to clear stern). That was not what lookouts Fleet and Lee described. The ship approached with the iceberg “right ahead,” which could only be true if it were steaming with neutral rudder and not rotating either to port or starboard. My view is that the starboard helm turn of two points was completed and the ship steadied up on its new heading before impact -- about 45 seconds before.

    As I said above, my view is that Titanic was on a 255° course prior to that two-point turn. Boxhall steadied it up on 232.5° within a minute or so of impact. Murdoch’s “hard a-port” does not seem to have been countermanded during the accident. With way coming off, the ship’s turning circle would have been constantly changing. It’s hard to say what the heading would have been when it slid to a stop, but I’d be surprised if it were not something north of 270°. We know the bow is pointing nearly due north today on the bottom. This confirms 1912 observations that the head swung slowly into the north as the ship sank.

    -- David G. Brown
  6. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Interesting analysis and I thank you for your input. Good to share different studies on the topic. My understanding is that there were no emergency orders before the collision because Captain Smith was just behind the wheelhouse, and yet the emergency was not brought to his attention until after the collision. Fleet told Peuchen that nobody answered the phone. I think if Moody had yelled out "Iceberg ahead, sir" then Captain Smith would certainly have heard him and would have stormed onto the bridge at that very moment. If Murdoch and Moody had both yelled "hard a-starboard" to Hichens then Captain Smith would have entered the bridge at that moment. Hichens heard Murdoch running to the telegraph and ringing it and even Boxhall said he heard it ring as he was approaching the bridge, yet Captain Smith still did not storm onto the bridge. It wasn't until after the collision that the Captain actually entered the wheelhouse and asked them what they had struck.

    This leaves me to believe that no orders were shouted whatsoever before the collision, but in order to please the reputation of the company by saying 'we did everything humanly possible' then it releases some of the negativity and pressure off their backs.

    Currently this is the version I believe: They were moving further south as there was a haze on the horizon, and just as they struck the iceberg they immediately stopped the engines and swung the stern away to protect the propellers.

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  7. Doug Criner

    Doug Criner Member

    Reversing the port engine while leaving the starboard engine ahead is, theoretically, interesting. But, with a bit of ancient experience, I can imagine the Titantic engineering watchstanders' attitude, after steaming ahead without any bells, for days. They would have been slightly dull, probably more so late Sunday night. Then, let's assume an astern bell were suddenly rung down. Allow for 15 seconds, or so, for their senses to come to. Then, how long to reverse the reciprocating engines? Maybe a minute, at best? By then, the collision would likely have occurred.
  8. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    2334 Lookouts ring 3 strokes for iceberg
    2335 Boxhall on platform. He begins 2 point alteration
    2337 Ship steadied on new course of 232.5°
    Lookouts see iceberg is “right ahead”

    I am totally flabbergasted of your conclusions. I tough that I knew very little about the collision scenario but nevertheless, a bit more than absolutely nothing!

    My 1912 knowledge teach me that ringing 3 bells meant something right ahead or close too. Boxhall altered course 2 points to Port. I presume that he was just executing blindly a master’s order. Amazingly, a master does not have the right to alter course unless he obtains the consent of the OOW in charge or he takes over the conn of the watch. Furthermore, the course alteration puts Titanic straight into the path of an iceberg, right ahead again? Changing course 2 points to Port to avoid an iceberg, that must have been first sighted 2 points on the Port bow, to steady her up dead on that berg 3 minutes before impact, in front of mate Murdoch totally apathetic, seems against «the ordinary practice of seamen, where nothing shall exonerate them from the consequences of any neglect or any precaution which may be required to avoid an immediate danger».

    First Sight … seemed to be 2 points on the Stb’d bow. Altering course 2 points to Port would’ve brought the iceberg 4 points on the Stb’d bow. I am for the least, confused!

  9. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    The Captain was very concerned about the presence of ice before the collision and according to 2nd officer Lightoller - "The Captain said, “If it becomes at all doubtful let me know at once; I will be just inside.” Lightoller was asked what he meant by that statement:

    A - About the weather, about the distance I could see. Principally those two conditions it would refer to. If there were the slightest degree of haze to arise, the slightest haze whatever, if that were to any degree noticeable, to immediately notify him.
    Q - I will take what you have just said. You said if the slightest degree of haze was to arise, that would be what was meant? You were to notify him?
    A - Immediately; yes.
    Q - And then did you understand, and do you represent, that if the slightest degree of haze arose it would at once become dangerous?
    A - Well, it would render it more difficult to see the ice, though not necessarily dangerous. If we were coming on a large berg there might be a haze, as there frequently is in that position, where warm and cold streams are intermixing. You will very frequently get a little low-lying haze, smoke we call it, lying on the water perhaps a couple of feet."

    This tells us that Murdoch would certainly have notified the Captain when there was a haze ahead. According to both lookouts there was a haze on the horizon at the time of the collision. Fleet said it extended "about 2 points on each side." and Lee said "We had all our work cut out to pierce through it........My mate happened to pass the remark to me. He said, “Well; if we can see through that we will be lucky.”....there was a haze on the water. There was nothing in sight." This would certainly alarm Murdoch and the Captain who would take immediate steps to change course.

    Fleet told Peuchen that nobody had answered the phone and yet his mate Lee said he could see the ship was already turning away from the iceberg while Fleet was still at the phone. Lightoller wanted to know exactly what happened and spoke to Fleet on the Carpathia. From the conversation Lightoller told the Inquiry that the order to turn the ship was given "distinctly before the report". Fleet said the haze extended 2 points on the horizon to port and starboard. It certainly makes sense that Murdoch and the Captain would immediately want to turn the ship 2 points to port and continue to steam full speed where the horizon was clear. Hichens said he turned the wheel and noticed on the compass that the ship had turned 2 points to port before the collision.

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  10. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member


    Rule 8
    , Action to avoid Collision

    Any action to avoid collision shall be taken in accordance with the Rules and shall be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.

    If there is sufficient sea room, alteration of course alone may be the most effective action to avoid a close-quarters situation, provided that it is made in good time, is substantial and does not result in another close-quarters situation.

    Action taken to avoid collision shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
  11. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    If I understand well, the lookouts rang the bell for «something ahead» like haze. It was then agreed… between the Master and the Mate in Charge to alter course 2 points to Port to avoid the haze. So the horizon was then clear. Afterward, the lookout sighted an iceberg Right Ahead, but instead of ringing the bell again, he uses the phone except that it was answered too late. The horizon is clear, mate Murdoch which is on lookout, knowing that is approaching at full sea speed an ice field, perceives an iceberg so close and at about the same time as that the Junior Officer answers the phone, that the collision is imminent and inevitable. He orders in extremis the tiller Hard a Port (bow to Stb’d) to clear the stern has it was already too late for the bow.

    The horizon is clear but still, the vessel collide with a 50 to 60 foot tall iceberg while a Senior British Officer of an RMS, which was supposed to serve as second in command, is on the lookout!
  12. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    That is my understanding of the collision. I find it remarkable that the lookouts saw the iceberg at all considering the following:

    Ernest Shackleton told the British Inquiry about spotting an iceberg - "....from a height it is not so easily seen; it blends with the ocean if you are looking down at an angle like that. If you are on the sea level it may loom up." "Better, the nearer you are to the waterline."

    Captain Passow - "We always see everything first before the lookout men do."

    Captain Lord took every precaution and yet - "I think I saw the ice myself before they did."

    Captain Rostron also took every precaution and passed many icebergs as he steamed to Titanic's rescue and despite staying extra vigilant, he said: "We saw all the icebergs first from the bridge.....Either one of my officers or myself, before the lookouts."

    The Inquiry wanted to know how that was possible.

    Q - Your two men were on the look-out then in the eyes of the vessel?
    A - Yes.

    Q - No report had been made to you?
    A - No.

    Q - Who was it saw it first, do you know?
    A - Yes, I saw it first.

    Q - Before the look-out men?
    A - Yes, we saw all the icebergs first from the bridge.

    Q - I do not understand that. You were on the bridge with your officers, I presume?
    A - Yes, the whole time.

    Q - And each time, if I follow you, that an iceberg was seen, you picked it up first on your bridge?
    A - Either one of my officers or myself, before the look-outs.

    Q - Did you pick it up by sight, or by naked eye, or with binoculars?
    A - At first with the naked eye.

    Q - Do you find that you pick them up better with the naked eye than with binoculars?
    A - It all depends. Sometimes yes, at other times not; it depends.

    Q - How was it neither of the look-out men saw it or reported it to you? Why did not they see it before you?
    A - Well, of course, they had all had warning about keeping a look-out for growlers and icebergs, previous to going on the look-out, and on the look-out also. You must understand, unless you know what you are looking for, if you see some very dim indistinct shape of some kind, anyone could take that as nothing at all, merely some shadow upon the water, or something of that kind; but people with experience of ice know what to look for, and can at once distinguish that it is a separate object on the water, and it must be only one thing, and that is ice.

    Q - So that what it really comes to is this, if I follow you correctly, that it requires a man with some knowledge of icebergs, some experience of picking them up before he can detect them at night?
    A - Precisely.

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  13. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    Then, what about the Lookout hand drawing during the Inquiry. It shows the iceberg first sighting at the moment where the three bells were ringed. How come would he clearly draw an iceberg on the Stb’d bow, while he could not see nothing except a low lying haze 2 points on either side of the horizon?
  14. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    It is suspected that this haze was really the ice field which spanned many miles across the horizon. If the ship turned away from the haze and into a clear horizon ahead their focus would greatly improve. They were in effect turning 'into' the iceberg. Fleet described his first sighting of the iceberg as an absence of stars on the horizon. This would appear as a completely unidentifiable object at that moment, as it could easily have been a cloud blocking the stars. It wasn't until it approached the Titanic much closer that Fleet realized it was in fact an iceberg. He was asked when he exactly rang the bell and he could not answer the question as he understandably took a moment to make sure it was an iceberg.

    Q - How long before the collision or accident did you report ice ahead?
    A - I have no idea.

    Q - About how long?
    A - I could not say, at the rate she was going.

    Q - How fast was she going?
    A - I have no idea.

    Q - Would you be willing to say that you reported the presence of this iceberg an hour before the collision?
    A - No, sir.

    Q - Forty-five minutes?
    A - No. sir.

    Q - A half hour before?
    A - No, sir.

    Q - Fifteen minutes before?
    A -No, sir.

    Q - Ten minutes before?
    A - No, sir.

    Q - How far away was this black mass when you first saw it?
    A - I have no idea, sir.

    Q - Can you not give us some idea? Did it impress you as serious?
    A - I reported it as soon as ever I seen it.

    He reported it the moment he could identify it. He also said that if he had binoculars he could have identified it sooner.

    His mate Reginald Lee was mysteriously detained in New York and did not attend the US Inquiry.

    Lightoller asked Fleet what happened:

    "I asked him what he knew about the accident and induced him to explain the circumstances. He went on to say that he had seen the iceberg so far ahead. I particularly wanted to know how long after he struck the bell the ship’s head moved, and he informed me that practically at the same time that he struck the bell he noticed the ship’s head moving under the helm."

    Q - You gathered from him, apparently, the impression that the helm was probably put over before and not after the report from the look-out?
    A - Distinctly before the report.

    At daylight they discovered icebergs of all sizes around the horizon. It is possible that Fleet saw one of these larger icebergs, but that was not the same one they struck. It could be that Murdoch saw this dark mass on the horizon and believed there was plenty of time to turn the ship away, and as they were turning they struck a much smaller iceberg. 4th officer Boxhall looked at the iceberg as it passed the ship's stern. He described it as "this long-lying growler.....It looked to me as if it was very, very low." When the Carpathia approached the lifeboats they stopped the ship very close to an iceberg which caught Captain Rostron by surprise. Perhaps this was the same iceberg that sank the Titanic?

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  15. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    I think you should all re-read the evidence...carefully.

    The 'haze' 2 points each side of the bow was probably reflected starlight off the north-south trending pack ice. If It was first seen like that from the crows nest then it was no more than 10.5 miles ahead of the ship. Since Carpathia found the survivors 4 miles east of the pack ice, the iceberg was about 6 miles away when the haze was seen 2 points on either bow of Titanic.
    The eyes of the lookouts would have been focused on a point 10.5 miles ahead of the ship. As the distance between beg and ship decreased. their eyes would be focused on a point above the berg. They did not see it until it was so close ahead that they had to resort to emergency procedure. i.e. ring three bells then phone the bridge to make sure they heard them and knew there was immediate and present danger. it's all in the evidence.

    As for full astern port full ahead starboar:d: that manoeuvre is reserved for slow speed, short turns rounding sharp bends in a narrow channel or turning a vessel short round in her own lenght or nearly so. It can only be effectively carried out in the required time when the ship is moving at a relatively slow speed.
  16. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    «It is suspected that this haze was really the ice field which spanned many miles across the horizon.»

    I think that haze (fog) would’ve been produced by the contact of warmer/humid air over a freezing surface. But it is said that the outside temperature was dry and close to freezing point. An ice blink would be produced by the ice refraction over low lying clouds. Not the case either.

    Would haze really meant foggy or rather a confuse, fuzzy or faint horizon? In 1912, did we understand well the effect of Abnormal Refraction? Would that phenomenon, as describe in the MAIB SS Californian/Titanic reappraisal report of evident relating to the role played by SS Californian during the Titanic disaster and published in April 1992, played a role or was a contributive factor in that occurrence?

    But I understand that a stealthy shape iceberg could be very difficult to detect during a pitch dark night even with the aid of Radars.

    «4th officer Boxhall looked at the iceberg as it passed the ship's stern. He described it as "this long-lying growler.....It looked to me as if it was very, very low.»

    Ice chunks have been reported on the well deck.
  17. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    «I think you should all re-read the evidence...carefully.»

    The «evidence»! Where should we re-read the evidence? The only evidence that I can re-read is the one that you can stretch either way, speculate upon and interpret at will. I never re-read such an ambiguous and biased inquiry report, but one of the most interesting. It gives the reader all the latitude to finally find out that the Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg that nobody really saw. The Flag is saved, case closed.

    If the engine crew could perform a crash-stop on both reciprocating engines, time permitting, I see no problem whatsoever to crash-stop only one engine, while keeping the turbine turning and thrusting the rudder. Personally, I would give them a little chance by reducing the ahead engine to half. The only goal would be to divert away the center of gravity, thus to release the tremendous pressure. I would make no friends from down below but when the priority is «it takes what it takes», you do.
  18. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Captain Lord of the Californian was asked about reversing the port engine.

    Q - There were two engines, a starboard engine and a port engine on the Titanic. Suppose you sent the message, "Starboard engine ahead. Port engine reverse." What effect would that have on the steamer?
    A - It would twist her head to port.
    Q - Would it turn the steamer in her own length?
    A - I do not know; I have no experience of 21 knot steamers.
    Q - You have not?
    A - No.
    Q - Would it be likely to get rid of the berg quickly?
    A - Oh, yes, to get away from it; that would be the idea of stopping the port engine or reversing it.
    Q - Reverse the port and keep ahead with the starboard?
    A - That would twist it quicker.
    Q - At once?
    A - Very quickly.
    Q - That would be the quickest way of altering the course of the steamer?
    A - I should think so.

    I believe there was great refraction in the area where the Titanic sank. A documentary showed the logs of passing ships which remarked on sea mirrors and much refraction, and how bright the stars were. Survivors mentioned how strong the stars were and how they reached down to the horizon without losing any of their brilliance, which made some of the survivors mistake them for other ships owing to their intensity. The Californian was on the edge of the ice field and likely the temperature difference inside the field compared to the adjacent open water around the Titanic was probably enough to create the refraction which other ships reported in their logs as they passed that area on April 14th. Captain Lord of the Californian said "it was a very deceiving night"...."It was a very strange night; it was hard to define where the sky ended and the water commenced. There was what you call a soft horizon. I was sometimes mistaking the stars low down on the horizon for steamer's lights." Q - What do you suggest as a characteristic of the atmosphere on a night of that sort? A - I really could not say. We could see a light the full limit of my vessel.

    We know the Titanic listed to port and her bow went steadily down and closer to the water. The crew on the Californian said they witnessed the other ship appear to list heavily to starboard and observed her port light moving much higher when it should have been doing the opposite. They also noticed how her rockets did not burst high above the ship, and how they heard no sound whatever coming from her when we know the escaping steam would have been very audible across the calm sea. This suggests to me that the Titanic was greater than 10 or even 20 miles away but the refraction made her appear much closer, perhaps less than 10 miles away. e.g.

    I observed a large French aircraft carrier on the horizon just 6-8 miles away sailing down the Irish coast, but this was an illusion owing to the refraction and it turned out she was almost 20 miles away. It created the false illusion of a second horizon, and that she was sailing on a sea of glass and was reflecting her hull onto it, giving the appearance that she was very close. As she moved slowly across the horizon she morphed, magnified, and reflected, creating the appearance of odd looking ships that were very close, when in reality only her top cabin was showing for the most part and the ship itself was almost 20 miles away.


    I think this could have happened when the Californian was observing the Titanic. It would explain why her rockets appeared to burst low over the projected image of a closer ship, why her port light appeared to rise instead of fall, why they said - "Look at her now; she looks very queer out of the water; her lights look queer", why they could not hear any noise or hear her steam escaping, and why her morse lamp signals could not be read. I believe they were looking at the Titanic that was around 20 miles away and mistakenly believing she was 5 miles away owing to the refraction. The day I saw the aircraft carrier I noticed that the refraction was still very strong at night when other ships far away passed by and their lights were indeed intensified greatly and reflected onto a second horizon which created the illusion they were much closer. When I checked the weather reports it said the sea and air temperatures were only 1 degree off from each other. I figured if that was enough to create such strong refraction, then the local temperature around the ice field against the open waters around the Titanic must have been sufficient to create much refraction, as passing ships noted in their logs "much refraction" and sea mirrors on April 14th 1912.

    One can only wonder how this affected their ability to spot the iceberg.

    Last edited: Feb 28, 2017
    Georges G. likes this.
  19. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

  20. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    The evidence can be found from the transcript of evidence given by survivors at both Inquiries and from the limitation of Liabilities hearings held later. These can be read at TIP | United States Senate Inquiry. Proper interpretation of them requires an understanding of what was being described or said.

    "I think that haze (fog) would’ve been produced by the contact of warmer/humid air over a freezing surface.

    That would certainly be likely if the right conditions were present...they were not. Stars were being seen setting, i.e, right down to the horizon.

    You are correct when you observe that the air temperature was low. However, we should be very cautious about that. The method of obtaining it was very slap-hazard back then (and even years later). Think chill-factor.
    The sea temp readings were also very suspect. The sea temperature seldom varies more than 2 degrees night and day. Except when in the N. Atlantic current or against the ice, the difference between air and sea temperature would be very little. As everyone knows, on a dark, still, cloudless night at sea, the air temperature drops rapidly after sunset and gets very close to that of the surrounding sea.

    But it is said that the outside temperature was dry and close to freezing point. An ice blink would be produced by the ice refraction over low lying clouds. Not the case either.

    Would haze really meant foggy or rather a confuse, fuzzy or faint horizon? In 1912, did we understand well the effect of Abnormal Refraction? Would that phenomenon, as describe in the MAIB SS Californian/Titanic reappraisal report of evident relating to the role played by SS Californian during the Titanic disaster and published in April 1992, played a role or was a contributive factor in that occurrence?

    Haze is only found near land. it is usually little dust particles suspended in the air. Fog happens when warm, moisture-laden air meets either cold air, cold water or a combination of both. Fog does not happen in still, motionless air conditions. There was no air movement at all, George.They were at the center of a very intense High Pressure area, the sea was as calm as any had ever seen in that part of the ocean. Additionally, as you sail westward, you inevitably meet warm, moisture-laden South-Westerlies. That's why the chance of fog in springtime becomes more likely the father west you go.
    We know from witness statements and photographs that the pack ice was white in colour and irregular in surface. We also know that white surfaces will reflect best of all. If the surface is irregular and in places peaked due to trapped bergs then the light reflected from it will be scatter and defused. There was two sources that night... intense, clear starlight and according to some, an Aurora Borealis down near the northwestern horizon. Light from a sea level concentration would appear as a low, hazy grey-white line
    The superior mirage claimed by some is a "Eurika" moment. i.e. an "of course, that's what happened!" moment.
    What has been suggested by others is that those on Titanic saw a Fata Morgana..i.e. when the light from an object is bent downward due to abnormal refraction caused by it passing through air of different densities and temperature. i.e., unstable air. In fact, due to the prevailing atmospherics, the air between Californian and Titanic would have been very stable. Because there was clear water in the space between the two ships, that water temperature was constant between them and the air over it was also stable.
    In fact, although the MAIB mentions refraction, it steered very quickly away from it.

    If the engine crew could perform a crash-stop on both reciprocating engines, time permitting, I see no problem whatsoever to crash-stop only one engine, while keeping the turbine turning and thrusting the rudder.

    That observation you have made illustrates what I mean by reading the evidence, George.

    Initially, Murdoch thought he could steer round the iceberg. To do that, he needed full rudder effect, not at hodge-podge of turbulence and drag round his stern. He did not think the ship would hit but it did. All of his actions were taken within seconds of each other. The moment she hit, he had to take action...Stop the engines to save the props then stop the ship to assess damage. On a ship making 22.5 knots, mucking about with engines and rudders in the way suggested takes planning and time. Both were conspicuous by their absence.

    Here is another fact. Titanic could never have turned northward after the first engine and helm movement therefore all the nonsense about Californian being on her port bow, mirages etc is just that...nonsense. As I see it, it was and still is, an ill thought-out attempt to make the evidence fit... no matter how. A bit like the ugly sister trying-on Cinderella's glass slipper.