Possible method to delay sinking


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While David and I respectfully disagree about the Titanic restarting the engines post collision, one point we don't differ on is that doing so is a really dumb stunt, especially if you know you have damage up forward.

Were Beesley, Gracie, Dillon, and Scott all full of it when they spoke to the ship moving again?

I doubt it but I can't say so with non-debatable certainty. Make of that what you will.

Could Captain Smith have had some compelling reasons to at least make a show of it that have been lost to history?

Maybe. I wasn't there, don't know, and in the context of this discussion, I can't say as it really matters a whole hell of a lot.

What I can say with certainty is that moving the ship with a busted nose, especially once her death sentence has been pronounced (She had an hour, perhaps two left to live that they *knew* of) in the dark of the night in the uncertain hope of finding a suitable berg to beach her on...and this would take one huge berg...and putting off passengers on same or trying to keep her afloat would have been a brain dead move of the grandest order. Smith and Company knew what they were up against and they weren't stupid.

The time spent doing so could be...and was...far more effectively used in getting as many people off the ship as they could in the time they had left, and that's how they played it.
 
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David Haisman

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I raised this topic of the Titanic restarting her engines after a serious collision with an iceberg mainly because we had discussed this some time ago. As a result of this, I will continue to uphold Captain Smith's good name as always and of course his seamanship qualities.
I never quote testimony although I have a house full of it and the kind of testimony that makes this captain look a fool has to be challenged. We should not analyse and totally rely on such testimony nearly always coming from those onboard his ship with lesser or virtually no knowledge of the actual situation, his qualifications or his dilemma.
If we can, we should in all fairness raise those good reasons and the more likely alternatives before condemning the man. I hasten to add that this line of thought is in no way an attack on any individual on this web site but moreso on the idea of why our good captain would make such foolish decisions.
I prefer to judge these seamen on their qualities and of how I'm fairly sure they would have reacted at sea and the resultant enquiries.
My experience tells me for example how ship's masters totally dislike putting to sea if the trim of their vessel shows bias in any way.
A ship's master on a vessel with an inclination of being down at the head when at sea or in collision mode, would definitely explore and examine all possibilities to correct the situation before movement. It's in their training. Being down at the head is worse than a list either to port or starboard and will compound ship handling problems.
One only has to serve on a tanker during ballast transfer or tank washing at sea to know just how unhappy the ''Old Man '' is. Naturally, there were no tankers around to speak of during Titanic's day but the pricipals remain the same.
Many Skippers could ''feel'' their ship wasn't right and wouldn't need bridge instrumentation to confirm it. They would do their utmost to find out about engine room bilge or bunker transfers before looking elsewhere.
This is specifically for the reasons of how the ship becomes vulnerable in bringing about certain limits to ship handling capabilities and emergency situations. They don't want it and usually raise hell until it's rectified.
So in the light of just a few examples above, are we to assume that our good captain knew none of this, meanwhile his forward sections continued to flood at several hundred tons in minutes.
Was Captain Smith so different to these other masters? I don't think so!

David
 
quote:

If we can, we should in all fairness raise those good reasons and the more likely alternatives before condemning the man.

I could not agree more. But I also would not dismiss the statements of others with regard to what they saw in different places. Once the ship was injured and it was decided that they had to swing out the boats I would imaging that the safety of doing so would take priority. With this in mind could it be that Capt. Smith decided to move the ship ahead enough to clear some local ice or growlers that would otherwise have interfered with the operation of safely launching the lifeboats? I am not talking about 10 minutes of movement here, something more like 1 to 2 minutes at slow ahead. The down trim angle was not enough to be noticed until about the time they were uncovering the boats by some reports. If this was the reason for some additional forward movement I would think it was a calculated action to increase the chances of all boats getting into the water safely. Far from being a foolish action, it may have been necessary to insure that all boats had a chance of being launched and get away from the sinking ship. Non of us were there and we have no way of knowing with any degree of certainty what indeed had took place.​
 
>>With this in mind could it be that Capt. Smith decided to move the ship ahead enough to clear some local ice or growlers that would otherwise have interfered with the operation of safely launching the lifeboats?<<

That thought occured to me. In this sense, moving the ship however briefly, would have had the effect of getting out of the fire...even if they were still in the frying pan. It was a matter of choosing between the lesser of at least two evils that Captain Smith would have known about or sensed.
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Your above observations are reasonable in some respects but quite unlikely with this turn of events.
Did the ship enter an icefield or did Titanic ''clout'' one solitary iceberg.? I'm fairly certain it was the latter.
It would have been far better if Titanic had entered an icefield as there are usually advanced visible warnings of the presence of areas of pack ice, even at night. It's normal to come up on pack ice and some growlers before you meet up with the ''big stuff'' (in my experience)
This would have been a good enough reason for Captain Smith to ''shut her down a bit'' and double up a lookout on the fo'cstle as well.
If a ship is sinking whilst in an icefield you have absolutely no choice other than to take to your boats and take your chances. (we're talking 1912)
There would be no point whatever in moving your vessel as the ice would most probably be all around as far as could be determined. (not Titanic's scenario)
Should Titanic have collided with one solitary iceberg (more likely) apart from a few chunks drifting about, there would be no reason whatever to move the ship until conclusive damage reports would have reached the bridge. By the size of Titanic's forward compartments, I wouldn't think it would take no more than 10 minutes or so to fully determine the gravity of the situation.
In the light of this, why move at all?

David
 
quote:

could it be that Capt. Smith decided to move the ship ahead enough to clear some local ice or growlers that would otherwise have interfered with the operation of safely launching the lifeboats? I am not talking about 10 minutes of movement here, something more like 1 to 2 minutes at slow ahead.

Sam: To make the ship DIW, it is more likely that Captain Smith moved the engines ahead for 1 to 2 minutes to take the stern way off, after backing with both engines full.

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Did the ship enter an icefield or did Titanic ''clout'' one solitary iceberg.? I'm fairly certain it was the latter.

David: I am most certain it was the former - a strip of pack ice.

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.... there are usually advanced visible warnings of the presence of areas of pack ice, even at night.

There was ample warning. Fleet and Lee saw the edge of the pack ice and for ten minutes watched the ship approach before notifying the bridge.

quote:

It's normal to come up on pack ice and some growlers before you meet up with the ''big stuff'' (in my experience)

When strips of pack ice break away from the main body, due to wind and/or current, the running edge is compressed/compacted with no forward loose ice (in my experience}

Collins​
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Marmaduke Collins,

I do believe you are the candidate of the ''no iceberg theory'' in which case much of what I write will be wasted on this particular topic.
However, during the early 60's when I was at sea, some of us younger seamen when talking to Fred Fleet selling our local newspaper the ''Echo'' here in Southampton, we could have sworn that he mentioned an iceberg.
( The biggest bugger you ever did see! ! or stronger words to that effect)
After striking the iceberg, I grant you, there may well have been a forward engineroom order to take stern way off of the ship, but certainly never any intention of making headway.
If Fleet or Lee had seen ''the edge '' of this particular icefield, I'm not quite clear on what ''edge'' you're talking about here?
You should know ( in your experience) that huge icefields are forever changing shape, size, scatter properties, headway channels, dead ends and density.
We obviously differ on circumventing ice around dense ice field situations but in my day, Lookouts were trained for specific ice routine observation on the fo'cstle head.
This being directly passed down since Titanic's day.
Clearly, with respect, we should agree to disagree until the iceberg arrives back into the discussion.

David
 
David. In you talks with Fred Fleet, did he ever mention anything about seeing more than just one iceberg that night before the collision?
 
>>( The biggest bugger you ever did see! ! or stronger words to that effect) <<

I'll just bet they were. Whether or not it was as big as he might have made it out to be at the time doesn't really matter a whole lot as obviously, it was big enough!

>>Did the ship enter an icefield or did Titanic ''clout'' one solitary iceberg.? <<

It may have been a bit of both. Unfortunately. pack ice lost in the dark of the ocean isn't the easiest thing in the world to see so there may have been nothing there at all or some large chunks tagging along for the ride. If so, Fleet and Lee almost certainly missed them, or at the least, that Big 'Un was enough to hold their attention.

There was quite a bit of ice seen in the area of the sinking in the morning, but given the ever changing nature of icefields on the ocean, they may well have steamed into a large opening near midnight that was choked up by morning.
 
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David Haisman

Guest
Sam,

These were hardly talks but good hearted exchanges between seamen when picking up our evening newspaper after ''working by'' in port.
Half of Southampton had spoken to the man at one time or another but it was well known that he was reluctant to discuss too much.
Some of the language I couldn't repeat here but I remember one remark which went something like, and I Quote,
'' we left here with f... all and came back with f... all!''
Which just about summed it up for most of the crew.

Don't forget Sam, you owe me for this highly privelleged info !!

David
 
I guess I do owe you one David. Will the moderators kick me off this site if I try and fill in the blanks as to the exact words he used?
happy.gif
 
>>Will the moderators kick me off this site if I try and fill in the blanks as to the exact words he used?<<

Don't worry, I think we can figure it out.
grin.gif
Quite a bitter lament, but also understandable and one that on some level, I can relate to.
 
>>Whether or not it was as big as he might have made it out to be at the time doesn't really matter a whole lot as obviously, it was big enough!

Fleet drew a couple of sketches for Ed Kamuda and the one he labeled "Impact" shows an iceberg completely dwarfing the ship. Even though he could describe its height accurately enough afterwards, for a first-time encounter with a berg, it must have impressed and intimidated him mightily.

>>so there may have been nothing there at all or some large chunks tagging along for the ride.

I've wondered for quite a while why Boxhall - alone - said the berg he saw was only 20- to 30-feet high. I suppose it could have been the result of available lighting (none too good), but then Boxhall, Smith and Murdoch got out onto the bridge wing somewhat later than those others who'd seen it up close, due to Smith and Murdoch having a bit of a chat inside the bridge.
 
Hi Roy: I think the answer about why Boxhall alone thought it was only that small is given by Boxhall himself.

15357. Did you see it yourself? - I was not too sure of seeing it. I had just come out of the light, and my eyes were not accustomed to the darkness.
 
The short version is that Boxhall's night vision was trashed by the light he was exposed to inside the ship. it's not really all that surprising then that he wasn't sure of what he saw. If he was in fact dazzled by white light, it's a wonder he saw anything at all!
 
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