"The iceberg risk in the Titanic year of 1912: Was it exceptional?"


Mar 18, 2008
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The most likely one was the iceberg photographed from the Bremen.

The Prinz Adalbert iceberg could not have been the one as it was in the wrong location and it was actually photographed on April 16 as the log books show and not on April 15.
 

Adam Went

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Ioannis,

I wonder how the red paint got on the iceberg then, or perhaps it was just some trickery of the eye? There was several stories about THE iceberg floating around (no pun intended) at the time.

Cheers,
Adam.
 

Jim Currie

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I agree about the article Sam. Very well written. Noted the following

"Thus, two unfavourable factors had combined: there were a greater (though not exceptionally greater) number of icebergs than normal that year; and weather conditions had
driven them further south,
"

Note that the author emphasises two High pressure areas and associated North westerly winds in the area. No suggestion the the Labrador Current was the culprit. If there had not been such winds, the normal course in calm conditions would have been for the bergs to be carried westward toward the US coast. However the prevailing winds at the southeast end of the Grand Banks is a warm south west and that's why the bergs are usually carried eastward. If that wind doesn't get them, they are driven south until they meet the Gulf Stream and then, once again they are pushed eastward. As you say, very interesting.

As for that iceberg with the red paint? Obviously the inference was red anti-fouling as applied to Titanic. However, if it was anti-fouling, it could have come from almost any ship which had been dry-docked that year.

More to the point; everyone talks about a big 70+ feet high iceberg but not one single person has explained why there was no such an iceberg relatively close.. within a mile.. of all the survivors when Carpathia found them.


Jim C.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>More to the point; everyone talks about a big 70+ feet high iceberg but not one single person has explained why there was no such an iceberg relatively close.. within a mile.. of all the survivors when Carpathia found them.<<

Mr. STENGEL. It was quite a ways, but you could see the outline in the dusk.
Senator SMITH. Describe these icebergs. How large were they?
Mr. STENGEL. There was one of them, particularly, that I noticed, a very large one, which looked something like the Rock of Gibraltar; it was high at one point, and another point came up at the other end, about the same shape as the rock of Gibraltar.
Senator SMITH. How did it compare with size of the Titanic?
Mr. STENGEL. I was a good ways off. It was not quite as large as the Titanic but it was an enormous, large iceberg.

Mr. ROSTRON. ... By the time we had the first boat's people it was breaking day, and then I could see the remaining boats all around within an area of about 4 miles. I also saw icebergs all around me. There were about 20 icebergs that would be anywhere from about 150 to 200 feet high and numerous smaller bergs; also numerous what we call "growlers." You would not call them bergs. They were anywhere from 10 to 12 feet high and 10 to 15 feet long above the water.
 

Jim Currie

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I don't think you can use Mr. Stengel's evidence Sam. That man had a vivid imagination. He also told this to Senator Smith:

"Senator SMITH.: Did you see icebergs the next morning?
Mr. STENGEL: I guess you could. They were all around. You could see them. As soon as we landed down into the water, as soon as we were afloat, you could see icebergs all around, because we thought they were sailing vessels at first, and began pulling this way, and then turning around and going the other way. They were in sight all along the horizon."


Now we both know that's complete rubbish. I know I don't have to explain to you why but for the benefit of others I'll elaborate.
Those in boat number 2 were closest to the berg that sank Titanic. According to AB Osmond, it was a mere 100 yards, 274 metres away when they first saw it next morning. Boxhall said he could hear the water lapping round ice yet it was invisible to them all until dawn broke. So how on earth was Mr Stengle able to see icebergs 'all round' in pitch darkness?

Perhaps the best witnesses as to culprit iceberg's location shape and size would be Boxhall and/or the men in Boat 2 with him. They rowed about 3/4 mile north east of the sinking site which itself must have been about a mile west of the iceberg. This means that the berg would be to the south and east of them throughout the hours of darkness It would therefore become increasingly visible between Boat 2 and Carpathia as the eastern horizion got lighter and lighter in the hour before dawn.
Boxhall had possibly the same if not better night vision that Stengel but he was cautious

"Mr. BOXHALL: I was not very sure of seeing it. It seemed to me to be just a small black mass not rising very high out of the water, just a little on the starboard quarter. In my own opinion I do not think the thing extended above the ship's rail....hardly 30 feet.

AB Frank Osmond who left in Boat 2 with Boxhall and was a bit more positive:

Mr. OSMAN: I was waiting for one bell, which they strike, one bell just before the quarter of the hour, before the four hours, when you get a call to relieve; and I heard three bell. Just after that I heard the collision,

Q: Did you see this iceberg?
Mr. OSMAN: Not until the morning.
Senator BURTON: Are you sure it was the one?
Mr. OSMAN: Yes, sir; you could see it was the one, sir.
Senator BURTON: How high was it?
Mr. OSMAN: At a rough estimate it was 100 feet out of the water.
Senator BURTON: What shape was it?
Mr. OSMAN: It was round, and then had one big point sticking up on one side of it.

That description given by Osman, closely matches the description given by AB Scarrott...

" Like Gibraltar seen from Europa point only much smaller...... As you approach Gibraltar - it seemed that shape. The highest point would be on my right, as it appeared to me.".

Here's little sketch illustrating what these two men were describing. Note that Osman mentions a single point and Scarrott a "highest" point. In Scarrott's case, Gibraltar shows a single high point when approaching it from seaward, not the classic twin peak tourist postcard silouette. I am aware of the newspaper sketch allegedly drawn by Scarrot but I believe that to be a fake because if every person who has ever approached Gibraltar from seaward of Europa Point were asked to draw what they saw, they would draw something like I have shown in the sketches. That is not open to argument Sam. Any one wishing to check this out, log-on to Europa Point - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iceberg descriptions.jpg

I included the first bit of Osman's evidence Sam because although it is superfluous to needs in this discussion, it relates directly to the argument about whether or not the clocks had been partially set back before collision.
It plainly tells us that unless we can prove that Osman was waiting a heck of a long time for 1 bell to strike (53 minutes) then they must have partially (24 minutes) set the clock back before Titanic hit the iceberg

Jim C.

Iceberg descriptions.jpg
 

Adam Went

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Hi Ioannis,

That iceberg is "dirty" but it's not red. The quality of 1912 photography doesn't really do them justice, we more or less have to rely on eyewitness accounts. The paint would be consistent with the damage to the ship.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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OK Jim, so now you want to shift the discussion to your claim of a clock setback? The issue here is about icebergs.

How interesting is it that Stengel mentioned seeing an iceberg close by that had the shape "something like the Rock of Gibraltar" at the American inquiry? He was not in the same boat as Scarrott who also happened to mention seeing a berg shaped like the Rock of Gibraltar weeks later at the British inquiry. And these two were not the only ones.

But anyway, your own evidence from Osman refutes what you said earlier about "not one single person has explained why there was no such an iceberg [70+ ft high] relatively close..."

Senator BURTON. How high was it?
Mr. OSMAN. At a rough estimate it was 100 feet out of the water.

Senator BURTON. How far away from it were you when you saw it?
Mr. OSMAN. About 100 yards.

Just what are you trying to prove here? That the berg was small, about the height of the forecastle deck or something? According to Lee at the Limitation of Liability Hearings it was higher than the boat deck but lower than the crow’s nest. Olliver on the boat deck was able to see the peak of the berg as it went aft. Crawford was on B deck starboard side when the berg passed. He could not see the top of it because of the deck above him. Windows in the Café Parisien got wet after the berg had passed by.

Now about this business of one bell. You and Dave Brown like to recite this statement of AB Osman’s of waiting for one bell as if it is some sort of proof that bell was going to be struck in the next 5 minutes when the crash came. Osman was merely pointing out that he was just hanging around the crew’s mess waiting for 1 bell which would have been the signal to call the watch below. There was nothing else for these men, who were on duty, to do at the time as it was Sunday night and they were just hanging around the mess room talking or playing cards. Osman’s statement about them striking “one bell just before the quarter of the hour, before the four hours, when you get a call to relieve” is correct except for that part about “before the four hours.” That Sunday night his watch on deck was to be longer than “the four hours” by 23 or 24 minutes. Did he forget about that little detail? We know from many other witnesses that that the collision came about 9 or 10 minutes after 7 bells were struck, not 33 or 34 minutes after which would have been the case if the clock had been put back prior to the collision.

Anyway, take the time issue into the thread it belongs.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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That iceberg is "dirty" but it's not red.
It was only an example. Someone posted a picture somewhere of an iceberg with discolouration by microorganism and the colour was toward the red. I will look if I can find it.

The quality of 1912 photography doesn't really do them justice, we more or less have to rely on eyewitness accounts. The paint would be consistent with the damage to the ship.
From what I know it was stated "it looked LIKE red paint". Also there is no way that a ship would leave any paint behind on the iceberg. And as stated above this iceberg was in the wrong location.
To be this "The" iceberg it must have keep the same position at the real wreck side for nearly 2 days until photographed on April 16.
 

Jim Currie

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No Sam, I don't "want to shift the discussion to your claim of a clock setback?" I pointed that out to you. S'all!

"Osman was merely pointing out that he was just hanging around the crew’s mess waiting for 1 bell which would have been the signal to call the watch below."

So you know that for certain then Sam?

Anyway, "Just what are you trying to prove here? That the berg was small, ".

No again Sam, I'm not trying to prove anything, I'm simply trying to make people think.. use their God-given intelligence, rather than repeat the same old nonsense about the Rock of Gibraltar. I don't doubt that there was an iceberg roughly that shape but it was a long way off... on the horizon There is in fact a photograph somewhere showing an iceberg like that but locked to the pack ice to the northwest of Carpathia. The reason why I discounted Osmond's description of the berg as seen at dawn, is because I think he was describing what he saw at the time of impact. Otherwise, what would he have for reference regarding height?
Every single witness you mention had a reference with which to judge height.

As for Carpathia.. you will recall that Captain Rostron described the berg he saw right ahead of him just before he arrived alongside Boxhall...

" 25425. Then, I understand, when you came to the last one - you will correct this if I am wrong - as far as I gather from your evidence, you did not see that till it was somewhere about a quarter of a mile off?
- That is so; at daybreak I saw it was between 25 and 30 feet high.

25426. Will you explain to us a little more in detail why it was that you did not see this iceberg, the one which you found about 4 o'clock, earlier?
- I cannot tell you; we were all on the look-out.

25427. It was rather low?
- It was low.

25428. Twenty-five to 30 feet. I do not know whether you can tell us what the height of your forecastle was from the waterline?
- Yes; the forecastle head would be just about 30 feet.


That's two trained men telling their questioners that they thought the berg was quite small... not me Sam. I dare say it was bigger than 30 feet but a monster the shape of Gibraltar is plain nonsense.


I suspect that a big, Gibraltar shaped bit of ice is far better dramatic press than a modest mountain.

Jim C.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>Captain Rostron described the berg he saw right ahead of him just before he arrived alongside Boxhall<<

Yes he did, but how do you know that was the same berg that Titanic struck? Do you know that for certain Jim? Titanic did not come to an immediate stop when she struck the berg. About 5 minutes later she was still making about 4 to 6 knots according to Lightoller. If the berg Titanic struck was only 25-30 ft high, then how do you explain how ice could have been deposited into the forward well deck as so any reported? Why do you choose to ignore the evidence of Lee, Olliver, Crawford and Omont [who was in the Café Parisien]? A height of 25-30 ft would not have even reached C deck.
Copy of RightProfileBow.jpg
By the way, the evidence of Lee about the berg being the height of the boat deck came at the Ryan trail in 1913, not the Limitation of Liability Hearings that I wrote above.

Copy of RightProfileBow.jpg
 

Adam Went

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Ioannis,

I live in Tasmania, so I can assure you that i've seen enough ice in my time to know that it can become discoloured, especially that dirty colour as we've discussed before. However i've never known it to become discoloured along its entire length, and from what I can gather the iceberg with the paint had a red streak running right along it just on the waterline, which to me sounds a bit suspicious.

How do you mean it wouldn't leave paint behind? When two objects collide, there's bound to be evidence of that impact surely?

Icebergs move very slowly, and Titanic's reported position was wrong. It could well have still been in the vicinity two days later.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Adam, there is no mention about how long the red "paint" is running along the iceberg. So I do not know how you came to the conclusion that it is all along the waterline. Also how do you know that if this one is the iceberg it is showing exactly the side with which the ship collide? It does not look like the "sailing ship" as described by Rowe.

This was photographed on the actual wreck position (where the wreck is actually) so there is no way that it stay there for 2 day in position only to be photographed.

Also I would like to see any real PROOF which speaks about red paint. All I have seen up today is that this claim came from ANTR together with the wrong date that it was photographed on April 15 in the morning. The ships log books show that they met the first ice on April 16. And if it was on April 15 in the same area why was there no reports about lifeboats, wreckage, Carpathia etc.?

I think this iceberg photo is again one of the legends build up by ANTR which is taken as the truth.
 

Jim Currie

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how do you know that was the same berg that Titanic struck? Do you know that for certain Jim? Titanic did not come to an immediate stop when she struck the berg.About 5 minutes later she was still making about 4 to 6 knots according to Lightoller

I don't know anything 'for certain' Sam. I'm simply applying common sense which tells me/ us:

A: That the iceberg which sank Titanic had to be close-by to the south-east of where Boxhall and the survivors in boat 2 were located as dawn broke.
B: That Carpathia approached boat 4 from a southeasterly direction
C. That although Titanic did not come to a shuddering halt when she hit the iceberg, she turned at full speed to the southward while her engines were stopping
C: That a large ship such as Titanic being handled in the way she was being handled, would not have moved much more than 3/4 of a mile in an arc of 180 degrees ahead and to the north or south of where she started her turn before she came to a final halt.
D: That because of C, Titanic could not have sunk much more than 3/4 mile from the iceberg she hit.

As to your analysis of the evidence of Lightholler; 5 minutes? Look again Sam. While doing so, compare it with the evidence of Trimmer Dillon in the engine room. I remind you....

"Mr. LIGHTOLLER :previous to that I had seen him [Capt. Smith] on the bridge....About three minutes after the impact.
And ....
" I lay there for a few moments, it might have been a few minutes, and then feeling the engines had stopped I got up......- I could not exactly say what the engines were doing after once I got up. It was when I was lying still in my bunk I could feel the engines were stopped..... I then walked across to the [port]side, and saw the ship had slowed down, that is to say, was proceeding slowly through the water.(She was proceeding slowly, a matter of perhaps six knots or ....four to six knots....something like that. I did not stay there long...After looking over the [port]side and seeing the bridge I went back to the quarters and crossed over to the starboard side. I looked out of the starboard door and I could see the Commander standing on the bridge in just the same manner as I had seen Mr. Murdoch, just the outline; I could not see which was which in the dark. I did not go out on the deck again on the starboard side. It was pretty cold and I went back to my bunk and turned in.

Now for Trimmer Dillon:

" They [engines]stopped..... About a minute and a half[ after you felt the shock].
About half a minute.[after they stopped]..They went slow astern..for...About two minutes.
they stop again?..- Yes.
They went ahead again....- For about two minutes....Then they stop the boat after that?..- Yes."



Now compare the two Sam.

Lightoller got out of his bunk when he knew the engines had stopped. According to Dillon that was a minute and a half after impact. It is perfectly feasible that half a minute later Lightoller would be looking over the side. That would be 2 minutes after impact. At that time and thought the ship was making between 4 to 6 knots. She would be slowing rapidly.
According to Dillon, 4 minutes after impact the engines were stopped once again after running astern for 2 minutes. This tells us that all forward motion of Titanic had stopped. It is confirmed by the next and last brief engine movement which was Slow Ahead.

Another part of Lightoller's evidence tells a professional that something specific was going on at that time. There would be but one reason why Smith was on one bridge wing and Murdoch was on the other... they were on the lookout for something while the ship was turning. But remember; she was also stopping Sam!
By the same token, the evidence of Dillon tells us that the Captain was bringing his ship to a complete standstill... hence the brief uses of engine power astern then ahead then STOP for the final time. In layman's terms, the position of that ship was being adjusted slightly - more or less - on the same spot by use of her engines. It confirms my belief that if the iceberg was 3/4 of a mile astern of her, it was more or less 3/4 a mile astern of her when she finally stopped and eventually sank.
As to the use of the engines...don't take my word for it Sam or the word of the witnesses. Ask Charlie Weeks or any other professional who has done exactly the same thing on many occasions.


If the berg Titanic struck was only 25-30 ft high, then how do you explain how ice could have been deposited into the forward well deck as so any reported? Why do you choose to ignore the evidence of Lee, Olliver, Crawford and Omont [who was in the Café Parisien]? A height of 25-30 ft would not have even reached C deck.

I don't ignore any evidence Sam; I just do not jump to conclusions. Rather, I prefer to examine all possibilities and hopefully sort the 'wheat from the chaff'.

The evidence of iceberg height came from two sources..

A: Those on board Titanic who used reference points of known height above sea level.
B: Those who did not have the benefit of reference points with known heights above sea level.

Only one person in group A... Boxhall... gave a height of under 70 feet. he said about 30 feet. He was also using a reference point... the aft ell-deck side rail which was 30 feet above sea level. However, when he was making his reference, the iceberg was probably just within sight and well astern (1/5 miles?) of the ship. I'm sure that you would be able to work out just how far away 70 feet high iceberg was from an individual with a height of eye of 75 feet if the iceberg seemed to him to be 30 feet above sea level?

Captain Rostron on Carpathia was also at a disadvantage since he too had no way of knowing the height of an iceberg unless it was alongside his ship.

I firmly believe that the berg seen by Rostron was the culprit and challenge all the other fanciful stories about Gibraltar giants and paint streaks. I do so for three simple reasons Sam. The berg seen by Rostron

1. Was in the right place; the place where evidence suggests it should have been.

2. Was not an enormous Arctic giant but appeared small to him... "about the size of two tables"?

3, There was not another Gibraltar-shaped giant or any other suitable berg in the immediate vicinity which might have been an alternative candidate.

Jim C.
 

Adam Went

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Ioannis,

I shall have to search around as i'm sure I have seen more detailed photographs of the iceberg with the red paint, and it is described as a streak running parallel to the waterline - it probably would have extended below the waterline as well. If it was not a continuous streak, wouldn't it make sense that it was because the ship had broken chunks of ice off when it struck? We know that it was the case that the collision caused massive chunks of ice to break off, some of which fell onto the decks of the ship.

Are you saying that the position of the iceberg with the red paint was exactly over the point where Titanic lies today? If so, i've never heard of that and wouldn't place much faith in it either. Icebergs travel very slowly. Indeed the one the Titanic struck had been on the move for a considerable period of time. It would not have moved far at all in the space of two days, if the positions of the ships were out even by a couple of kilometres then it could easily be the same iceberg.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Jim,

You are obviously entitled to your opinion. As for me, I'll take the word of Lee, Olliver, Crawford and Omont as for the height of the berg as they saw it from relatively close by, rather than Boxhall who was not even sure about seeing it. Oh, I'd also add the word of Rowe to that list. He was standing out on the poop and he thought that the berg was 100 ft.

Adam,

As far as that red paint business, the damage to the ship was about 25 ft below the waterline, so how does that produce a red steak on the side of the berg that appears above the waterline? And how would paint be scraped off by ice which is anything but abrasive?
 
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The eyewitness accounts are fairly consistent about the berg being just a bit taller than the boat deck. That would be a huge chunk o' ice if it plopped down in your front yard, but is not a huge iceberg. Even so, it was big enough.

My experience with bottom paint of the 1950s is that it was relatively soft and likely to brush off on contact. In fact, all old-fashioned oil based paints were fairly soft coatings compared to what we use today. This was especially true of many exterior paints. House paint was deliberately designed to "chalk" so that a fresh layer of white pigment would be exposed by each passing rainstorm. But, you could get a white "kiss" of paint on your clothes if you brushed to hard against a house in the 1940s and 50s. (Done it!) So, I find it completely possible that grinding over ice could cause some of that old-fashioned paint to come off and stain the berg.

As far as the stain being along the waterline of the berg, that's one of those improbable possibilities. As Sam pointed out, any paint smear would have been laid down well below the waterline of the berg. Of course, it is possible that ice tipped or rolled enough to expose the stain. It is possible even if it's not probable that the exposed color would happen to wind up just on the berg's waterline.

-- David G. Brown
 

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