Steaming Through Ice Filled Regions For How Long


Sep 22, 2003
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How long was Titanic steaming through Ice filled regions before encountering the Iceberg? Although the Exact time will never be known, my estimate would be Forty Minutes to Two Hours. This is based on testimony from Lightoller, Jewls, Symons, Fleet, and Lee. Although None of them in testimony mention this, there is evidence to support this such as Moody calling up the lookouts on Lightollers orders to keep a lookout for ice, and also Fleet's and Lee's Descriptions of there watch before encountering the Iceberg. Testimony from Senate Investigation and british Inquiry to be found at: www.titanicinquiry.org

Some Publications to be referred to:

Behe, George. Titanic: Safety, Speed and Sacrifice

Brown, David G. The Last Log of the Titanic

Störmer, Susanne. William McMaster Murdoch, A Career at Sea. The Complete and Documented Version

Bristow, D.E. (Diana E.). Titanic: Sinking the Myths

If any of the Above Authors Feel that I have Misinterpreted There Theories Feel Free to Let me know.

also based on Charts Prepared Captain Knapp at the Senate Investigation, Wireless messages sent to Titanic regarding Ice, and Descriptions of Ice from Captains of the Birma, Californian (and Officers), Mount Temple, and Carpathia. also Titanic's Surviving Officers and Seamen, and other crew members and passangers.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Isn't the quest you are asking similar to a question that asks at what time did you enter the woods on that dark night? If you want to define ice filled waters by the temperature of the water then the time becomes many hours before the collision. If you define it as the earliest time they expected that they would encounter ice, then we have as early as 9:30 from Lightoller. If you define it as the time someone saw ice than you have a debatable point. In any case, they certainly were in at 11:40 PM, and with high probably for some time before.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam makes good points. Lightoller's 9:30 p.m seems a bit early, but possible. Certainly, that would mark the time when special care should have begun with regard to looking for ice.

Everything points to the ship being in ice before it sighted ice--or at least The Iceberg. But, if you read Sam's paper, you will get an understanding of how the ship might not have seen ice despite there being ice around it.

Then again, maybe they saw plenty of ice, but the surviving officers simply chose not to disclose the fact.

I am of the opinion that they did see and perceive the field of ice sometime prior to 11:30 p.m. But, I can find no reason to suspect that the fatal berg was spotted any more than a minute before impact if that long.

-- David G. Brown
 
Sep 22, 2003
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David and Sam

I chose Two hours for my Maximum mainly based on Lightoller's ordering the lookouts to keep a sharp lookout for ice, Forty Minutes being the minimum based on information gathered from the sources listed above in my first thread. Forty Minutes I think being more likely. in Other words I think Titanic was steaming through region filled Field Ice and Icebergs for at least Forty minutes. I realise some people will disagree w/ me on this. thats fine by me.

As for the Temperature of the Water being taken at 9:30. That was not Referred to in my first post, simply the order the lookouts recieved at 9:30PM from the bridge to keep a sharp lookout for ice, small bergs, and growlers. maybe a little early, though possible as david says for being in an ice filled region.

Sam's Paper was read by me, and a thread by me was also started on the subject. Feel free to part in that thread.
 

Dave Gittins

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From the ice reports of Caronia and Californian, two hours is about right. The eastern edge of the ice region seems to have been in about 49W.

I wouldn't exaggerate the amount of ice in the region. Parisian and Californian didn't meet much ice to the east of the main icefield that lay to the west of the wreck site. Carpathia met no ice in the SE corner of the area indicated by Mesaba. Titanic herself was well into Mesaba's region before coming to grief.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Dave Gittins

~From the ice reports of Caronia and Californian, two hours is about right. The eastern edge of the ice region seems to have been in about 49W.

I wouldn't exaggerate the amount of ice in the region~

By this are you suggesting that Titanic was steaming through areas lightly filled w/ ice for any time of 30-90 minutes?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>By this are you suggesting that Titanic was steaming through areas lightly filled w/ ice for any time of 30-90 minutes?<<

I don't know if Dave's suggesting anything of the kind. He may be and on the face of it, it sounds reasonable. Unfortunately, we're treading into some surprisingly muddy waters here since the exact true extent of the icefield was unknowable then and remains unknowable now. The charts that were produced are not entirely uncontroversial and were based on information from reported sightings. For obvious reasons, they can't speak to un-reported ice.

While we'll never know for sure how long the ship was within the region of ice, I would argue that it was long enough to ruin their night.
 

Dave Gittins

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As I said, the most easterly ice was in about 49W. That's 40 odd miles from the scene of the wreck.

Given the darkness of the night, it was quite possible to pass bergs without seeing them.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Michael

I'll agree we're treading into some muddy waters by going onto this subject, and yes the exact layout of bergs and field ice will never be known, I however still find it fun to debate. Others might disagree and this doesn't bother me one bit, as those who know me know I like to Explore the Controversial areas of Titanic.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I however still find it fun to debate.<<

And I would never imply otherwise.

For whatever it may be worth, I'm not certain that The Berg was the only one that was seen that night but it's not impossible. It was dark enough out there and they could have been within a couple of miles of a dense strand and never even know it.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Michael

You mentioned something of controversial charts earlier, I'll agree w/ you there. and Would also like to say since a good number of vessels were a bit off when it came to there positions, I find it reasonable assume to that the Ice Reported by a good number of vessels was not in the exact position reported.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I find it reasonable assume to that the Ice Reported by a good number of vessels was not in the exact position reported.<<

And regardless of whether they were or not, they certainly didn't stay there. These masses were floating free and drifting wherever the current took them. That's one reason where there's just no substitute for a good pair of eyes and quite a bit of caution. The best way to avoid having an unpleasant encounter with ice is to not be in the general region where they are known to be.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi folks. Interesting discussion. Finally a chance to catch up a bit.

I believe the Lightoller 9:30 PM estimate was based on the time that he expected the Titanic to reach 49W. If I recall, that was the eastern most edge of the Caronia ice message report. As Lightoller had said, it was the longitude of the message reports that were most significant when steaming in the east->west direction. Although ice may have been seen a particular latitude, over time the ice would drift, and it tends to drift southward, more or less.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam-- based on your recent paper, can you say the probability of NOT seeing icebergs between say 9:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. given the situation of April 14, 1912? What I'm wondering is if there is anything odd about the ship apparently steaming without incident through what should have been ice-studded waters. Or, on a dark night as it was, would that have been statistically what should have been expected?

-- David G. Brown
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The probabilities derived in my recent paper cab be applied only for the area within a 9 miles radius of the collision site. It is based on observational data taken the next morning from the Carpathia on the density of icebergs in that particular region. Outside that region we have little data to draw upon. We know that isolated icebergs and pack ice were seen during daylight hours as ships approached that region from about lon 49W. Many reports, such as that of the Parisien and the Californian were of isolated icebergs here and there, nothing near the density of bergs that were seen in the morning hours from the Carpathia. There is nothing odd about a ship steaming through waters without incident if the density of bergs were relatively small compared to the region that the ship eventually did steam into. My guess is that the high density region started within about 10 miles east of the heavy pack ice that blocked Titanic's path. The ship apparently came with 2 to 3 miles of the pack ice before it struck that fatal iceberg.
 

Paul Lee

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Just returning briefly to the board....

Hi Sam, very interesting: I haven't had more than a chance to skim through the paper as I'm busy packing for a huge house move, but I was wondering if you considered the data from the Californian - they only started to encounter patchy ice very close to the ice field?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Yes Paul, I considered what was reported by the Californian. But the Californian had reported only scattered icebergs. There were no bergs seen after darkness came. They were stopped after spotting field ice ahead as you know. The Carpathia data is much more relevant, it being taken at the location where the Titanic had been. And that data was a specific count of icebergs in the large to very large category as seen across their visual daytime range.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Article today in the Independent on icebergs, which you may find interesting. I was slightly surprised to find it takes up to 3 years for a berg to reach the busiest shipping lines, so whether or not it had been warm in the Arctic in 1912 probably made no difference.
http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article548824.ece
The focus of the article is global warming. You'd think if the Greenland glaciers were melting more quickly, you'd see more bergs. None this year so far, though.
 
Sep 22, 2003
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Monica

I myself find this suprising, as I had no idea it that long for ice to reach the shipping lanes. I knew it took a while, but in the past I always thought of it as months to a little over year. Although I must also say I haven't done much research into this and I am not an expert on the subject.
 

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