Questions about Fleet and Lee


A

Aaron_2016

Guest
I believe the Inquiry concluded that the look-out men were simply there to see anything that the officers may have missed. Captain Rostron and Captain Lord saw the icebergs before their lookouts did, and Captain Moore of the Mount Temple, who had many decades experience was asked if he provided his lookouts with binoculars.

A - No, sir.
Q - Do you ever use glasses in the crow's nest?
A - Never, sir.

Captain Bartlett said - "Look-out men are there to use their eyes and to report immediately anything they see. Not to find out the character of that object they see."

The fact that Fleet claimed that he rang the bridge and told Murdoch he could see an iceberg is curious. It was just a black mass which blotted out some stars on the horizon and it could easily have been a cloud or a trick of the light. Yet he managed to identify it as an iceberg and reported it to the bridge. The fact that Hichen's claimed the lookouts reported the iceberg before Murdoch is suspicious because the other ship's officers saw the icebergs before their lookouts, and the fact that Fleet claimed to have identified and reported what it was on the phone before Murdoch had even seen it himself is certainly suspicious - hence my belief that the official story was a complete whitewash. e.g. Telephone report which identifies the iceberg, hard a-starboard, full speed astern. I believe they were all a work of fiction to avoid any accusations of negligence against the company. Lookout Reginald Lee did not even know what it was until the lights from the Titanic herself had illuminated the iceberg and its identity was revealed. Even when it passed the ship Quartermaster Rowe thought it was a sailing vessel, yet lookout Fleet managed to identify it on the phone well before it reached the ship. Very fishy.

I think Fleet was forced to say it was an iceberg before he had identified it as such. He rang the bridge but Murdoch could already see it (just like the other ship's captains and officers) and just seconds later Boxhall felt the collision before the phone was answered, and before any helm orders could be given. Nothing broke his step (no heeling of the ship before the collision) and he believed the ship was still facing West during the evacuation. He did not hear the phone being answered and heard nobody report it was an iceberg until after the collision. The bell rang and a mere 10 seconds later the collision occurred. That was pretty much it. Imagine if the official report had accepted the truth. The bridge crew would have waved goodbye to their careers.


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My apologies for harping on the subject of Fleet's answer as to distances.
But would these be accurate descriptions of the differences of requirements for duties of lookouts - civilian -vs- military ?

(1) On a civilian ship such as the Titanic , the lookout would only be required to report that he saw something , maybe or not (?) give a description of what it looked like to him , and his decription of its bearing , but nothing as to its distance, but determining the distance and any more information would be the duty of the officer on the bridge ? And Fleet would not be lie-ing if he said he had no idea of distances ?

(2) On a military ship such as a Naval vessel, the lookout would be required to report what his description of the object was , and an estimate of his as to the distance and bearing of the object to the officer on the bridge for information for the officer to make further investigation ?
 
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Tim Aldrich

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(2) On a military ship such as a Naval vessel, the lookout would be required to report what his description of the object was , and an estimate of his as to the distance and bearing of the object to the officer on the bridge for information for the officer to make further investigation ?
With Naval vessels that "object" a lookout spotted might just be an enemy ship that is lobbing some projectiles their way. I would assume at least some estimate of distance would aid in starting the process of shooting back.
 
We have range finders and fire control systems for shooting back.

As to my own lookout experience, my role was under low visibility conditions so the issue there was safe navigation. We were vastly less concerned about what it was then the fact that it was there in the first place.

Estimating distances at night?
Good luck with that.
It's challenging enough during the day.
 
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I believe the Inquiry concluded that the look-out men were simply there to see anything that the officers may have missed. Captain Rostron and Captain Lord saw the icebergs before their lookouts did, and Captain Moore of the Mount Temple, who had many decades experience was asked if he provided his lookouts with binoculars.

A - No, sir.
Q - Do you ever use glasses in the crow's nest?
A - Never, sir.

Captain Bartlett said - "Look-out men are there to use their eyes and to report immediately anything they see. Not to find out the character of that object they see."

The fact that Fleet claimed that he rang the bridge and told Murdoch he could see an iceberg is curious. It was just a black mass which blotted out some stars on the horizon and it could easily have been a cloud or a trick of the light. Yet he managed to identify it as an iceberg and reported it to the bridge. The fact that Hichen's claimed the lookouts reported the iceberg before Murdoch is suspicious because the other ship's officers saw the icebergs before their lookouts, and the fact that Fleet claimed to have identified and reported what it was on the phone before Murdoch had even seen it himself is certainly suspicious - hence my belief that the official story was a complete whitewash. e.g. Telephone report which identifies the iceberg, hard a-starboard, full speed astern. I believe they were all a work of fiction to avoid any accusations of negligence against the company. Lookout Reginald Lee did not even know what it was until the lights from the Titanic herself had illuminated the iceberg and its identity was revealed. Even when it passed the ship Quartermaster Rowe thought it was a sailing vessel, yet lookout Fleet managed to identify it on the phone well before it reached the ship. Very fishy.

I think Fleet was forced to say it was an iceberg before he had identified it as such. He rang the bridge but Murdoch could already see it (just like the other ship's captains and officers) and just seconds later Boxhall felt the collision before the phone was answered, and before any helm orders could be given. Nothing broke his step (no heeling of the ship before the collision) and he believed the ship was still facing West during the evacuation. He did not hear the phone being answered and heard nobody report it was an iceberg until after the collision. The bell rang and a mere 10 seconds later the collision occurred. That was pretty much it. Imagine if the official report had accepted the truth. The bridge crew would have waved goodbye to their careers.


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Wasn't Murdoch not on the bridge at the time and was in one of the lookout box and had to run into the bridge?
Just a matter of interested for you sea captains. If Murdoch was in charge and was away from the bridge! Is that against the company rules or the BoT regulation?
 
Remember, the lookouts used a system of bell strokes to inform the bridge of the general direction of anything of interest. Just how much information can you convey about something big off the bow with three bell strokes? or two? or one? Yes, Titanic was equipped with a telephone between the bridge and crow's nest, but it was primarily a backup system and/or for sending orders up to the men in the nest (see testimonies of various lookouts).

As I look at the accident, the lookouts seem to have performed their duties perfectly. They first sounded three strikes on the crow's nest bell just as instructed. When it did not appear the deck was understanding what the lookouts saw, Fleet took initiative to use the telephone. If anything went wrong with lookout that night it was not in the crow's nest.

As far as estimating distances go...not easy day or night. On open waters you have nothing to compare the size of the object against. As Michael said, this is especially hard to do at night or in reduced visibility. Prior to accurate mechanical rangefinders navies relied on gunner's eyeballs, mod 1, mark 1 as issued. The number of "hits" even in good conditions was abysmal. Some historians have said the American fleet under Admiral Dewey achieved well under 10% "hits" in its victory over the Spanish at Manila Bay.

So, while distance information from human observers was and remains dubious, the relative bearing of objects can be ascertained rather well by lookouts. An object "dead ahead" is just that. "Off the bow" is roughly at a 45 degree angle to the ship's direction of travel. "Broad Abeam" is at 90 degrees to the ship. With a working field of view of more than 90 degrees, it is possible to give enough information for a deck officer to find reported objects. Bomber crews used a modified version of this system based on the clock face (12 o'clock dead ahead, 3 o'clock broad off to the right, etc.)

-- David G. Brown
 
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Jim Currie

Member
Wasn't Murdoch not on the bridge at the time and was in one of the lookout box and had to run into the bridge?
Just a matter of interested for you sea captains. If Murdoch was in charge and was away from the bridge! Is that against the company rules or the BoT regulation?
No, Murdoch never left the bridge. The wing cab was part of the bridge.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Remember, the lookouts used a system of bell strokes to inform the bridge of the general direction of anything of interest. Just how much information can you convey about something big off the bow with three bell strokes? or two? or one? Yes, Titanic was equipped with a telephone between the bridge and crow's nest, but it was primarily a backup system and/or for sending orders up to the men in the nest (see testimonies of various lookouts).

As I look at the accident, the lookouts seem to have performed their duties perfectly. They first sounded three strikes on the crow's nest bell just as instructed. When it did not appear the deck was understanding what the lookouts saw, Fleet took initiative to use the telephone. If anything went wrong with lookout that night it was not in the crow's nest.

As far as estimating distances go...not easy day or night. On open waters you have nothing to compare the size of the object against. As Michael said, this is especially hard to do at night or in reduced visibility. Prior to accurate mechanical rangefinders navies relied on gunner's eyeballs, mod 1, mark 1 as issued. The number of "hits" even in good conditions was abysmal. Some historians have said the American fleet under Admiral Dewey achieved well under 10% "hits" in its victory over the Spanish at Manila Bay.

So, while distance information from human observers was and remains dubious, the relative bearing of objects can be ascertained rather well by lookouts. An object "dead ahead" is just that. "Off the bow" is roughly at a 45 degree angle to the ship's direction of travel. "Broad Abeam" is at 90 degrees to the ship. With a working field of view of more than 90 degrees, it is possible to give enough information for a deck officer to find reported objects. Bomber crews used a modified version of this system based on the clock face (12 o'clock dead ahead, 3 o'clock broad off to the right, etc.)

-- David G. Brown
Lookouts gave directions in points of 11.24 degrees David. If the OOW heard 2 bells, he would raise his binoculars and sweep from ahead to the port beam. If he did not see anything or was unsure, he would call the lookout and as "whereaway?" or "what do you see" and the reply might be " red light about 3 and a half points on the bow, sir" Which as you know, is roughly about 40 degrees from right ahead.
 
No, Murdoch never left the bridge. The wing cab was part of the bridge.
Hi Jim,
I agree with you the wing cabs are on the same level as the bridge. But isn't the officer in charge to be at all times in the bridge room. Centre point of command and if wants a view from the one the wing box, I would of thought he ask another officers on duty to do like wise? Or am I been too restricted of an officer in charge movements?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Hi Jim,
I agree with you the wing cabs are on the same level as the bridge. But isn't the officer in charge to be at all times in the bridge room. Centre point of command and if wants a view from the one the wing box, I would of thought he ask another officers on duty to do like wise? Or am I been too restricted of an officer in charge movements?

Hello Mike.

I will talk about Titanic. She was unusual in she had four officers dedicated to navigation and 3 Senior OOWs...Watch officers...who each were in charge of the vessel for 8 hours out of every 24.
I can do no better than quote 5th officer Lowe on this subject.
"We are there to do the navigating part so the senior officer can be and shall be in full charge of the bridge and have nothing to worry his head about. We have all that, the junior officers; there are four of us. The three seniors are in absolute charge of the boat. They have nothing to worry themselves about. They simply have to walk backward and forward and look after the ship, and we do all the figuring and all that sort of thing in our chart room."

Unlike the OOW on lesser vessels, the seniors on Titanic had the advantage of never losing their night vision by having to pop into a lit chart room from time to time at night...a pain in the butt when coasting and using charts to lay off position from time to time.
 
Hi Jim.
She was unusual in she had four officers dedicated to navigation and 3 Senior OOWs...Watch officers...who each were in charge of the vessel for 8 hours out of every 24.
Just a matter of interested did Cunard on Lusitania & Mauretania have the same set up with there officers to?
 
Once again, I am a victim of a case of "landlubber confusion"...LOL

But In this case of "distances", I had heard, or read, that some lookouts were very good at estimating distances from knowing how to estimate the distance to the horizon, which in turn was estimated by knowing their height above the sea level.

I am also assuming this was for conditions of good visibility. I had just assumed that if you knew the distance to the horizon, it would be an easy problem to estimate the distance to an object between you and the horizon.

But there seems to be a diferent opinion that estimating distances during good or bad conditions was difficult or impossible, whether in good or bad conditions.

Which of these was the more correct according to experienced mariners ?

I was " going by the book" - in this case "The Navy Manual For Lookouts , " for my opinion .

I am now of the opinion that Fleet would not be telling a lie if he had said "It was dark, I could not see the horizon for reference, so I had no idea of the distance to the iceberg for that reason."
But I believe Fleet said he was not good at estimating distances of any type or kind ?
 
Hi Robert,
I think you are right to say the lookouts with years of experience have a good feel for distances in clear visibility.
But as for Fred & Lee this was not the case. In the pitch dark with no search light with a talk of a sea mist or haze coming up. Not only that temperature dropping below zero cold air hitting an warm eye ball giving them a watery vision.
Been up there for over an hour and half nearly freezing to death, it was certainty stacked against them to see any clear vision ahead. Fred did the correct action by ringing the bell and telephone officer on the bridge.
The fault lies with the officer on duty failing to inform the captain of the deteriorating weather vision ahead. I am quite sure if Smith had been informed beforehand he would of order the ship to slow down.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Captain Moore of the Mount Temple was asked if he could judge the distance of a ship's light. He replied:
"I could not judge, because you cannot judge by a light at sea."

All of these ships would appear on the horizon.

mapdistances.png


I believe this is why there is so much debate about the Californian i.e. They were looking at a small steamer 4 miles away and they could see the Titanic's rockets bursting just above the masthead light of the small vessel.

mapdistances2.png
 
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