Size of Tables

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
486
112
53
38
Tacoma, WA
We know that Fleet stated that the berg was roughly the size of 2 tables used at the US inquiry in DC, put together. The New York Herald 4/24/12, states this as two different sizes 1: 10sqft & 2: 30ft in diameter. Looking at the picture that I've included, it appears that the tables can hold 10-12 people. This would make the table anywhere from 7-10ft long and 3-4ft in width, or so my research shows.
Does anyone have any better ideas or input?

table.jpg
 
Nov 19, 2016
14
0
11
69
I think Fleet didn't want to give them an answer as to how big the iceberg was when he first caught sight of it. They pushed him repeatedly to give a specific size. He was grasping at straws, and came up with the idea of "two tables."
 

TimTurner

Member
Dec 11, 2012
336
18
48
Fleet was terrible with all of his numbers, he just wasn't a numbers guy. (Which is fine, his job wasn't to estimate numbers, his job was to see things in front of the ship)

I think the size of the tables is almost irrelevant. He obviously didn't mean the iceberg was literally the size of the tables. What he must have meant was that the apparent size of the iceberg as seen from the crow's nest must have been about the same as the apparent size of the tables as they appeared to him from where he was sitting in the hearing. So what you need to know in order to make sense of his "two tables" comment is: (A) how far the iceberg was from the Titanic when he saw it, (B) How big the tables were, (C) How far Fleet was from the tables when he gave his testimony.

Visual math means D/A = B/C where D is a real-world distance along the surface of the iceberg
So D = A * (B / C)
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Fleet was asked at the British Inquiry to explain the size of the table.


Q - In giving evidence in America as to this, did you call it a small object?
A - I said it was the size of a small table.
Q - You say when you first saw that iceberg that it was about the size of these two tables?
A - That is right; that is the way I put it.
Q - When Senator Burton was asking you that question, were there two small tables in the room?
A - The two tables were in the room, which I mentioned to him.
Q - Were the two tables in the room any bigger than those (pointing)?
A - I do not know.
Q - At all events, is it correct to say when you first saw this iceberg it appeared to be very small. Is that so?
A - [No Answer.]
Q - Did he give any answer to the question?
Mr. Scanlan: I do not think he has, my Lord.
The Commissioner: Very well, I am quite satisfied to leave it where it is.
The Attorney-General: There was an eloquent look. I do not know whether your Lordship caught that.
The Commissioner: What was the look? What was it, Mr. Scanlan?
Mr. Scanlan: This is the question - (interrupted)
The Commissioner: Yes, I heard the question; I heard no answer, and I am now told that, in place of an answer, there was an eloquent look. Did you see the eloquent look?
Mr. Scanlan: I did not, my Lord. I have not as good an eye as the Attorney-General. (To the Witness.) If it is not troubling you too much, Mr. Fleet, would you tell his Lordship this; when you first saw the iceberg, the first sight of it you caught at the distance you were from it, did it appear as a very small object?
A - Yes.

Fleet increasingly became annoyed at their attitude towards him and over 100 questions later Fleet was asked:

Q - Did I understand rightly that when you left the boat deck there were some women left behind on the boat deck?
A - [No Answer].........(After a pause.) "Is there any more likes to have a go at me?"
The Commissioner: Well, I rather sympathise with him. Do you want to ask him anything more?
The Attorney-General: Oh, no.
The Witness: "A good job, too."
The Commissioner: I am much obliged to you. I think you have given your evidence very well, although you seem to distrust us all.
The Witness: "Thank you."

(The witness withdrew)


.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
486
112
53
38
Tacoma, WA
Thanks :) I'm sure Fleet was merely trying his best to come up with something. In fact it was Senator Smith who came up with the table idea, asking:

Senator SMITH.
Was it as large as the table at which I am sitting?

Mr. FLEET.
It would be as large as those two tables put together, when I saw it at first.

Senator SMITH.
When you first saw it, it appeared about as large as these two tables put together?

I believe that Fleet avoided saying very much of anything about the size or distance of the berg, due to the fact that he was trying to avoid self incrimination, and blame. If the berg was seen far out, then the question would be why didn't they do more to notify the bridge. If the berg was seen close up, then the question would be, why didn't they see it sooner. It is safer to say that he knew nothing of size or distance, in fact he would make it sound as if he came under some amnesia:

Senator SMITH.
I understood you to say you had no judgment of distance at all -

Mr. FLEET.
No more I have not.

Senator SMITH. (continuing)
When I was asking you about the iceberg?

Mr. FLEET.
No more I have not.

Fleet would say that the berg was roughly 50-60ft. This is why I am trying to find the size of the tables. For even if Fleet's tables were just a coo, still knowing the size of the tables, one can triangulate the distance that a 50-60ft object had to be in order to look the size of the two tables. So utter nonsense, or not, it is the only thing we have to go off of, as far as Fleet and his estimate of the distance of the iceberg. We know that Lee states the berg was roughly 3,038ft or more away, but that's all we got.
 

TimTurner

Member
Dec 11, 2012
336
18
48
Throughout his American testimony, Fleet has trouble with numbers... distances, size, minutes. It seems to me he doesn't know the difference between a mile and a minute. I think none of his numbers are worth bothering with because clearly he made things up without any firm grasp of what they meant.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Wonder why Fleet attended the American Inquiry but Lee did not? When they asked Fleet where his mate was he said: "I do not know where Lee is. He got detained in New York." This is interesting because Fleet said he turned around to use the telephone and therefore did not witness the iceberg during its oncoming approach to the ship while Lee saw everything and was an essential witness and yet he was mysteriously detained in New York - by White Star officials?

Fleet said while he was waiting at the telephone his mate (Lee) told him he could see the ship was already turning. This means the order to turn the ship must have been given before Fleet reported the iceberg on the telephone. Lightoller was asked about this:

Q - You say you had some conversation with Fleet, the look-out man, when you got to the Carpathia, and you have told us what he said. 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.
Q - That was the inference you drew?
A - Yes.

Major Peuchen was in the same lifeboat with Fleet. He said Fleet told him that nobody answered the phone at all, and when the Major asked Lightoller about this he was told that the officers on the bridge will not answer the phone if they are already aware of the situation and are acting on it. This would certainly explain why Lee saw the ship already turning while Fleet was still waiting at the phone and did not get a reply from the bridge, and why Fleet could not give an accurate description of the iceberg i.e. it's size and distance, as he only got a glimpse of the iceberg and immediately turned to use the phone, while Lee observed exactly what was happening, yet was detained in New York.


When Lee finally did give testimony a long time after in Britain he said there was a dense haze which made it difficult to see the iceberg at all and therefore could not judge it's distance or size. Perhaps there was a dense haze and the fact Lee was so descriptive of it during the British Inquiry was sound reason why he was detained and did not attend the American Inquiry. I imagine his testimony would have made American headlines and opened a case of negligence against the company. When Lee told the British Inquiry about the dense haze, Fleet said Lee was wrong and that the haze was barely noticeable.

Lee - "We had all our work cut out to pierce through it just after we started. My mate (Fleet) happened to pass the remark to me. He said, “Well; if we can see through that we will be lucky.”

They asked Fleet if he said that:

Q - Just listen to this, Fleet. This is a question put to your mate and I will read you his answer. “Did you notice this haze which you said extended on the horizon when you first came on the look-out or did it come later? - (A.) It was not so distinct then - not to be noticed. You did not really notice it then - not on going on watch, but we had all our work cut out to pierce through it just after we started. My mate” - that is you - “happened to pass the remark to me. He said ‘Well if we can see through that we will be lucky.’ That was when we began to notice there was a haze on the water. There was nothing in sight”?

A - Well, I never said that.
Q - You never said it?
A - No.

Was Fleet telling the truth or simply defending the company from a case of negligence and by denying Lee's account he was allowing the company to justify why the ship did not have to slow down? Fleet was given a job on the Olympic as lookout and able seaman for many years until she was scrapped and the company went bust and merged with Cunard. Did they guarantee him a job for life if he stuck to their version of events to project the company? Then again, was Fleet telling the truth, and Lee was really saying there was a dense haze in order to avoid questions regarding the iceberg's size and distance? I wonder if Lee told a White Star official about the dense haze and because of this he was stopped and detained in New York despite the fact he was an essential witness as the ship's lookout.

Hichens and Fleet both shared the same lifeboat and one can only wonder if they purposely chose to stick to the same story knowing there would be an official Inquiry to put blame on some one and both men knew they were key witnesses to the event as their actions played a role in the collision. They both said the phone was answered and that there was an immediate reply. This doesn't make sense as Fleet told Peuchen nobody had replied, and Fleet told Lightoller the ship was turning before he even made the report, yet Hichens said the order was given after the phone was answered. Yet Boxhall who was approaching the bridge and heard the bell ring and the order to turn did not mention the telephone ringing or being answered. I wonder if Hichens and Fleet just made that up. Fleet had to show he did his job. If he convinced Hichens to stick with his story that the phone was answered then it would certainly point the finger away. Sadly they did not agree when the phone was answered. Fleet said it was after the ship turned, whereas Hichens said it was before the ship turned. Lightoller said the Inquiry was a means to cast blame on someone's "luckless shoulders" with "sharp questions that needed careful answers if one was to avoid a pitfall". Perhaps Fleet and Hichens made an agreement to help each other out and say that the phone was answered immediately when perhaps it really wasn't answered at all.


.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
486
112
53
38
Tacoma, WA
That's a very interesting perspective on things. Fleet did say a lot of things both in the lifeboat and on Carpathia to try and avoid blame being put on him. One time even saying (I don't know the exact quote) something like, "I know they are going to blame me..." One thing Fleet claimed is that he saw the berg and warned the bridge in enough time to have avoided it. This obviously is only Fleet's opinion, as he would not have known what was going on, on the bridge. Then as written above, he also claimed no one answered the phone. There is even another story of the lookout leaving the nest to walk to the bridge to tell them of the berg.

I have no doubt that the survivors spoke together about their experience, and defiantly fed off of one another's experiences, if only to make sense of their own. This is natural and happens all the time. That is why the later questioning has to be precise, to get to the real story, and the personal experiences.

As I have stated elsewhere about my beliefes on the ship turning early:

3 gongs not directly before collision?

Post 3

Of course your theory suggests there was no answer to the phone call, making some of my above reasoning obsolete. Again very interesting. I enjoy the out of box thinking!

I do not believe Boxhall would have been able to hear the phone ring, as it was inside the enclosed wheel house.
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
486
112
53
38
Tacoma, WA
PS: Unfortunately, though, amongst all this wonderful discussion, no one has yet given me their estimates as to the size of the tables LOL :(
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
PS: Unfortunately, though, amongst all this wonderful discussion, no one has yet given me their estimates as to the size of the tables LOL :(
I think the difficulty is that the two tables do not appear to be the same and are not positioned exactly parallel with each other. I noticed papers overlapping the edge on the top table on the left side and the table's edge is curved, whereas the bottom table has straight edges. It is also hard to tell where the top table ends on the right side. Is that the edge or possibly a measuring ruler hanging over the edge of the table? My guess is that both tables put together would create a space 8 feet long and 5 feet wide.



tables.PNG
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: B-rad

TimTurner

Member
Dec 11, 2012
336
18
48
Well look at Fleets, position too. He's 25 years old and responsible for making sure the ship doesn't hit anything. Then the ship hits something and sinks with 1500 people on board. Then he gets called into the Senate of a foreign government, and before his own government and asked dozens of questions he can't answer.

He had to be dealing with some awful emotions after a thing like that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: B-rad
Mar 22, 2003
5,393
758
273
Chicago, IL, USA
The entire table questioning is some of the dumbest things I've ever heard. What does it mean for an iceberg to be as big as two tables put together? How far away would they have to be to appear as big as an iceberg when first sighted? Would they be stacked one atop the other, or side by side? It was a stupid question that had no bearing on what the questioners really wanted to know. The real question was how far away was the berg when first seen, and how soon after being spotted did the ship strike, something Fleet could not answer, or more likely, decided not to answer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: B-rad
May 3, 2005
2,227
170
133
Again I am writing this as a landubber. But it does seem rather curious that Fleet would keep repeatng he knew nothing of distances. It would seem this would be part of the reqirements for a lookout. Was he just being evasive ?
 

B-rad

Member
Jul 1, 2015
486
112
53
38
Tacoma, WA
Yes and no. According to Lightoller the lookout were just a means of assistance, with no reliance placed on them, which makes sense cause even if they perceived distance it would be up to the Officer of Watch to decide maneuver based on distance and direction. At the same time it was up to the lookout being more forward and higher than the bridge, to see things earlier than the bridge, due to a more advance horizon. Oddly Fleet would be tested for his eye sight after the collision and all would be well, so he should have known something one would assume. But Lee would state being so dark it was hard to tell distance and such, which makes sense. Honestly I think that so much happened so fast that grew into such a bigger situation than anyone could imagine, which on top of, a lot of people (especially crew) were sleep deprived by time of rescue which also messes with memory, and even more so, the responsibility felt and the fear of blame. All this would cloud anyone's thoughts.
 
May 3, 2005
2,227
170
133
I was basing my comments on some comments on another website as to how lookouts estimated distances. But these estimates were based on condiitions on a clear day during daylight where the horizon could be clearly seen and distances could be more easily estimated in reference to the diistance to the horizon.
But the situation on Titanic was quite different and estimating distances would be more difficult during those conditions of darkness.
 
Last edited:
Mar 22, 2003
5,393
758
273
Chicago, IL, USA
It seems that Fleet was unwilling to estimate distances or time intervals when it concerned the iceberg. He did provide his estimate on how far the ship swung to port before striking the berg, and how long he spent on the phone when he reported seeing it.

By the way, Lee said that he thought the berg was about 1/2 mile away, more or less, when it was first sighted.