Six Seconds to Disaster: The Death of Titanic


Apr 13, 2011
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The order to reverse the engines was given before the order to throw the wheel hard over. This is according to the quartermaster's testimony. When the engine room got the order they had to stop the engines first. There wasn't any force of water on Titanic's rudder during the crucial time. In Walter Lord's book he quotes an engineer who said they got the port engine running astern first, just before the crash. This - in my opinion - is what swung the bow to port not the rudder, which with the propellers stopped was almost useless.
 

Jeff (1052)

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Jan 8, 2012
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"To do this, he would order a brief half-ahead on his engine and if Titanic was pointing south; hard-a- port the helm. As soon as the ship‘s head started turning he would order stop engines and then steady the ship‘s head on her former course."So if the ship were pointing south or west as it sank, as the author contends, how did the bow end up pointing north on the sea floor?
 

erichar294

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Jun 10, 2016
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Well written article by a Master Mariner.  Thanks.  I have read a number of articles about the disaster = One by the then president of the Titanic Historical Society defended the Titanic's rudder area and mentioned her and Olympic's sea trials as proof that she could turn well.  What these articles seem to miss is the Bridge order "Hard Astern".  One of Titanic's Design characteristics was that the prop wash from the center ( low pressure turbine) propeller made the rudder more effective. The arrangements of Titanic's machinery were that the Center Turbine engine ONLY ran in ahead and only at speed.  When running at astern (reverse) or at slow ahead,  the exhaust steam from the low pressure cylinders of the reciprocating engines was diverted to the condenser(s), rather than to the low pressure turbine which drove the center propeller.  Therefore when the order for full speed astern was followed there was no prop wash over the rudder to aid in her turn.  Furthermore there would have been a slight delay between Full Ahead and Full Astern which would involve the duty Engineer Officer on the Starting Platform closing the throttles on each engine, closing the diverter valve from the turbine to the condenser, engaging the mechanism to "throw the links" on each Stephenson Valve Gear from Ahead to Astern  position and THEN opening the throttles on each engine gradually so that the wing propellors, driven by the Reciprocating Engines, would not cavitate.  A possible additional issue might be that most shipping lines used less Engineering officers per shift , especially non-day shifts, when in mid-ocean than when approaching or leaving  a port when more would be required to following Bridge orders during maneuvering on entering or leaving dock.
 

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