Stern Bridge

May 9, 2001
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When I look at pictures of the stern of Titanic/Olympic, I can see several structures on the stern bridge. But I can't say for sure what they are. I'm pretty sure I can see some engine telegraphs, and a phone box on a small pole.

But do I see a ship's wheel? I see something that looks round, and about the right size. But it looks to be covered with something. Perhaps its just a life ring strapped to the rail.

I've also tried to see the log that Rowe checked immediately after the collision. But I can't see it. (I really wouldn't know what it looked like anyway.)

Can anyone help me with this? There is a larger question I want to ask regarding what Rowe experienced during the collision, but I need to get more information first.

Thanks
Yuri
 

Adam Leet

Member
May 18, 2001
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The docking bridge had the following objects:

Ship's wheel (the covered object you describe; it was covered in canvas)

Two engine telegraphs, though I'm not sure of their purposes

Telephone, located behind the ship's wheel

Binnacle, located ahead of the wheel

A board-looking object against the forward railing (not sure if anyone has determined what that's for)

Of course, the liferings (x4)

Some clamp-like objects on the railings at either end of the docking bridge

Flag poles (deployed at the ends of the bridge, or laid flat on the deck)

Any other items I missed?


Adam
 

Dan Cherry

Active Member
Mar 3, 2000
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Adam,
good job on ID'ing the docking bridge items. The board looking object was not identified the last time it was asked about, but on Olympic photos, there are a few switches on the stern side, with wiring running down the board. I have no idea the use, function, etc. of this, though.
Yuri, the patent log was recovered from the Titanic site, I believe. I have seen pictures of the patent log online, but cannot currently locate them. One was on a French Titanic web site, but I have lost the bookmark to it.
The recovered log device was almost bell-shaped, with a dial on the end. This would have been mounted to some place near the port side of the docking bridge, as it had a mounting bracket. The spinner was run on a rope, it appears, from viewing similar devices, which registered the mileage. I have not seen it in the docking bridge picture, either.
 
May 9, 2001
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I'm glad to hear that there was indeed a ship's wheel and engine telegraphs on the stern bridge afterall. And thanks so much for the picture of the patent log. I had always wondered what it looked like.

I had been perplexed by two flag poles that appeared on the stern bridge in Belfast, then dissappeared later. Now I know that they layed down when not in use. Thanks again.

So my next question is, were the engine telegraphs and the ship's wheel linked to their counterparts on the forward bridge?
That is to say, if someone ordered 'Full Ahead' on the main, forward, bridge, did the telegraphs on the docking bridge also ring and communicate that order at the same time?

And then the same question regarding the ship's wheel. Did it turn along with the wheel in the wheelhouse?

The answers to these questions could cast a new light on Qtmst. Rowe's testimony.

Thanks,
Yuri
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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On page 96 of the illustrated edition of A Night to Remember the log can just be seen. It's on the starboard side of the aft bridge and the governor wheel can be seen hanging below it. The photo must have been taken inshore, as the log has not been streamed. The rotator was on the end of at least 100 yards of rope when in use.

Quartermaster Rowe remembered the log being on the port side and he may be right, as there could easily have been two mounting brackets.

The log was a Walker Neptune, which was the model meant for speeds over 18 knots, not the Cherub that some mention.
 
May 9, 2001
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That's a great source of information. Thanks Josh.

Dave, can you explain how the log might have been affected by the iceberg?

Yuri
 
Feb 14, 2011
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And I believe pretty much all of the stern bridge equipment from Titanic has been recovered.
During the sinking, when the poop deck peeled back, i assume that knocked loose the equipment, though a portion of the docking bridge is still on the stern- sqashed beneath the the peeled back poop- and a portion sticks out...



regards

Tarn Stephanos
 
May 9, 2001
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That's right Michael, he did mention recovering the log. But the reason he gave for doing it was he worried it might get fouled in the propellers.

So how could that happen if the helm was 'hard a-starboard'? That would put the spinner at the end of the line off to the port side of the ship wouldn't it? Now if the helm was turning to starboard after a 'hard a-port' order, then the spinner would be dragged toward the starboard side of the ship. If the manuever was drastic enough, the line might even cross over the rudder. But given a long line, the spinner should still be clear of the props.

But, if the engines were reversed while the stern was swinging out to port, then the line could easily get caught up in the props. So if Rowe felt he needed to reel in the log line to keep it out of the props, then it must have been likely to happen. Thus the line would have to have been across the rudder with the spinner off to the starboard side of the ship. And the ship's propellers would have had to have been going into reverse, or getting ready to do that. Otherwise, why reel it in? Rowe wasn't worried about the spinner getting caught on the iceberg was he?

And another question, why didn't Rowe know exactly what was going on with the helm and engine orders? He had the telegraphs and the wheel right in front of him. Unless these instruments were disconnected from the forebridge when not in use. Were they?

It just seems that Rowe's testimony left a lot out. He didn't even mention reeling in the log during his official testimony. That would have been very important information to withhold from the inquiry.

Back to the different items located on the after bridge, wouldn't there be a binnicale with a compass near the wheel? Or would a compass not be needed back there, since that bridge was only used when in port.

Yuri
 

Joshua Gulch

Member
Mar 31, 2001
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Yuri,
The patent log was a recent topic of discussion Dan and I were having. I took some pictures at Titanic Toledo of a log and a diagram showing it's use. I could send them to you if you'd like.

Also, there was a binnacle on the docking bridge. Check the diagram on the Rivet Counter link from before. It's in there, tucked behind the wheel.

Josh.
 
May 9, 2001
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I've learned so much from this thread.
Thanks to everyone for the information.

Just one question remains for me, were the engine telegraphs and wheel on the after bridge linked to the same ones on the fore bridge? i.e. Could Rowe have seen/heard the helm commands being carried out on the main bridge by Murdoch and Hitchens. Or were these stern instruments turned off somehow when not in use.

Thanks again to everyone for contributing here.

Sincerely,
Yuri
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Yuri,

The telegraphs on the docking bridge are docking telegraphs. They are used to communicate commands from the pilot on the bridge to the stern regarding the handling of the warping and mooring lines, as well as commands regarding the tugs at the stern. As for the board, I don't know whether anyone has specifically identified the purpose of the switches mounted on it, but I am struck by the fact the they look nearly identical to the switches both on the bridge and out at the bridge wings which controlled the ship's whistles.

Sincerely,

Scott Andrews
 
May 9, 2001
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Docking telegraphs?? That's a new one for me. This could really change my mind about this whole thing. So, the telegraphs seen on the stern bridge weren't related to the engines? That is they didn't ring out when someone on the forward bridge made a change to the ships speed?

But why is there a wheel then? This is exactly the information I needed to know.
How did you know this?

Thanks!

Yuri
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Yuri -- docking telegraphs allowed the bridge to pass back instructions regarding line handling. They also allowed the officer at the stern to pass certain critical information regarding the docking of the ship forward to the bridge. These telegraphs pre-dated functional telephones and continued in service until quite recently because of the natural conservative nature of seamen. Sometimes, they were also installed on bridge wings for communications to the wheelhouse and/or the stern. On modern ships, they have largely been superceded by the walkie-talkie.

The steering wheel on the docking bridge was an emergency measure. It went straight down to the steering engine. If the main telemotor system failed, then the quartermaster stationed at the stern (Rowe was on duty there at the time of the accident) could have assumed the steering duties by following orders via telegraph from the bridge. Even if the steering was being done from the docking bridge, the nerve center of the ship would have remained the forebridge where the navigation materials were handy, etc.

The juxtaposition of mechanical telegraphs and voice telephones on Titanic illustrates the technological "cusp" of 1912. The ship is still largely a mechanical vessel not much different than Great Eastern of two generations earlier. However, it has telephones that hint of the changes to be wrought by electricity and electronics. Titanic's telephones were still too clumsy to be the primary means of communication. Hence, telegraphs.

Titanic could be steered from four places: the forebridge, the wheelhouse, the docking bridge, and the steering engine flat. A so-called "trick wheel" on the steering engine (Titanic had two such engines) allowed an engineer to steer from there. And, if the steering engines both failed, they could rig block & tackle to the steam docking windlasses and heave the quadrant that way. Steering failures were greatly feared in that era, probably with good reason. The 1911-era ship that I'm associated with in Toledo has two wheels with completely separate connections back to the steering engine--just in case.

And, if all else failed, they could have secured Titanic's rudder amidships and steered across the ocean simply by use of the outboard wing propellers. The ship's bow will turn ("fall" in sailor talk) toward the side with the weak propulsion. So, if you wanted to turn left, you could pull back the throttle on the port engine.

--David G. Brown
 
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lisagay harrod

Guest
Okay Guys...I know I'm gonna get whacked for this, but I am nautically challeged...

A binnacle is a housing for a compass, or the compass itself?

Everytime I start on a thread like this I bounce back & forth between the thread & a dictionary. Lacking Websters' today I looked it up the web, and I'm not sure what I was looking at. A large brass stand with a sliding topcover that contained a large compass. It was a beautiful piece...

I wouldn't ordinarily set myself up like this, but I always learn so much from these threads.

Thanks,
Lisa Harrod