Titanic Engine running time from Noon on April 14th.


Jim Currie

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The number of hours which Titanic's engines were running at full speed from Noon on April 14 to the moment she hit that iceberg and finally came to a halt is crucial to the understanding of Titanic's naviagtion errors i.e. why her wreck was found 12.5 miles short of her distress position. So how can we discover just how many hours these engines were turning at full speed? I suggest this way... by reading the evidence of those engine room workers who survived the disaster.

If the accident happened before midnight on April 14 then the total running time, excluding the small amount of manoeuvering after impact, would be 11 hours and 40 minutes.

However, we know from the evidence that the engine room clocks were to be retarded (set back) a number of minutes at midnight on April 14th. According to Trimmer Dillon they were!:

" 3809. Did you notice what time it was you got that order?
- I[Dillon] noticed the clock, but I did not take any particular notice what time it was. The clock was put back about 20 minutes, I think.

If the engine room clocks were set back 20 minutes, then this would not happen until the engine room clocks showed midnight, April 14. Then, after they had been set back, they would show 11-40pm. At that moment, the total running time from Noon would be exactly 12 hours.
However, the final remark 'I think' by Dillon might be construed as "I think the clocks were set back 20 minutes" or "I think the number of minutes they were set back was 20 minutes". To be clear as to what he meant, we need evidence that the clocks had deffinitely been set back Dillon's 20 minutes. Only another surviving member of the engine room staff can provide this. I submit the following extract from Chapter IV of Lawrence Beasley's Book "The Loss of the SS Titanic":

"the stokers in our boat[Number 13] had no such illusion. One of them–I think he was the same man that cut us free from the pulley ropes–told us how he was at work in the stoke-hole, and in ,–thus confirming the time of the collision as 11.45,–had near him a pan of soup keeping hot on some part of the machinery in anticipation of going off duty in quarter of an hour ; suddenly the whole side of the compartment came in, and the water rushed him off his feet. Picking himself up, he sprang for the compartment doorway and was just through the aperture when the watertight door came down behind him, "like a knife," as he said; "they work them from the bridge."

Beasley was saved in Lifeboat number 13. So was the principal surviving engine room witness Leading Stoker, Frederick Barrett. This is what Barrett told the UK Inquiry people:

"I2171.... I sung out "Let go the after fall." Nobody seemed to realise what I was doing. I walked across the women to cut the fall, and the other fall touched my shoulder."

Earlier, he had told of having to jump through the water tight door between boiler room 6 and boiler room 5.

There is little doubt that the man Beasley referred to in his book was Barrett. Therefore if Barrett told Beasley that he had made hot soup "in anticipation of going off duty in quarter of an hour" then the clocks had indeed been set back. Because Barrett like all the other staff had to work an extra 20 minutes on that 8 to midnight Watch. He had already worked 5 of these if he had only 15 minutes left to work. Therefore, there seems little doubt that when impact occurred, Titanic's engines had been running for 12 hours and 5 minutes from the previous Noon.

The implecations for this are enormous since this theory has been discounted by most prominent historians on this and other Titanic sites.

It should be noted that passenger evidence is not required to corroborate this evidence. If the engines were running for 12 hours and 5 minutes from Noon that day and the total distance run by patent log was 260 nautical miles then the average speed of the ship from Noon was 21.52 knots, not 22 knots or 22.3 knots. as suggested by others.


Jim C.
 
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My thanks to Jim for coming up with another way to prove that the crew clocks had been set back prior to the accident. I had not thought of looking into the testimony of the engine department, but he was a bit more thorough. My way of working it out was to determine when the crew's so-called “midnight” change of watch would have taken place except for that iceberg unpleasantness. This computation is fairly simple, although it appears daunting in the usual “a.m.” and “p.m.” timekeeping system. I think this is why so many otherwise excellent historians have bee led astray by the issue of timekeeping.

To make it simple, let's use the 24-hour system (“military time” in the U.S.). Each solar day has 24 hours starting at midnight, which is 0000 hours and continuing through 2400. But, Titanic's “day” for Sunday, April 14th was to be the usual 24 hours long plus 47 extra minutes. These extra minutes grew out of the ship's westward passage. Over 7 days at sea the ship's clocks had to be retarded five hours so they would match the clocks in New York on arrival.

The engine and deck crews (not including stokers) were divided into two Watches, Port and Starboard. Each Watch was to get half of the extra time. Because 47 is an odd number, I give 24 minutes to the on-duty Starboard Watch and 23 to the Port Watch which was below at the time of the accident.

When the crew spoke of their “midnight” change of watch, they did not mean that it took place at 0000 hours of April 15th. Rather, they meant the moment when the Port Watch took the deck and relieved the Starboard Watch. This was to take place at 2424 hrs – halfway through the extra 47 minutes. True midnight would have occurred 23 minutes after that at 2447 hrs April 14th which would have been the same as 0000 hrs April 15th.

We know that the accident occurred 20 minutes before change of watch. Subtracting those 20 minutes from 2424 hrs gives the time of impact as 2404 hrs April 14th – which was 12 hours and 4 minutes past noon. As Jim points out, that makes the running time a bit more than 20 minutes longer (actually 24 minutes) than conventional wisdom erroneously holds. Note my reckoning of the time is only one minute different from Jim's 12 hours 5 minutes.

IMM/White Star Line regulations required that clocks in the engine room correspond to those on the bridge. This was to make sure that entries in the ship's log corresponded to entries in the engine room “bell book.” Paragraph 259 of the IMM/WSL rule book stated, “...The Engine Room Clock must at all times agree with the Clock in the Wheelhouse, and must be corrected accordingly.”

So, Jim's finding of evidence that clocks in the engine room had been turned back that night prior to impact indicates the same must have been true for the clock in the wheelhouse by which the time of the accident was recorded.

2404 (or 2405 if Jim prefers) April 14th was the time of impact.


– David G. Brown
 
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So, here's something that's confusing me with this whole time issue. If the clocks were set back 24 minutes, does that mean Titanic really sank at around 1:55 ships time? Further, does that mean that she stayed afloat about 23-24 minutes less than commonly believed?
 
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Michael's question about the time of the sinking has no simple answer. There is no doubt that Titanic "disappeared" at roughly 2:20 a.m. by unaltered April 14th time. My view is that this is when the lights went out and the black hull became invisible against a black sky on a black sea. Several personal timepieces ("watches" in landspeak) stopped at between 2:20 and 2:22 o'clock (Daniels, Thayer, Gracie). However, events of the breakup and sinking appear to have continued in the dark for several more minutes. One timepiece stopped at 2:25 a.m. (Partner). From her lifeboat, stewardess Annie Robinson timed the sinking of the stern at 1:40 o'clock in April 15th hours, which would have been 2:27 o'clock in April 14th time (2627 hours).

If the crew clock by which the 11:40 o'clock time of the accident was determined had still been visible, it would have read 1:15 o'clock when the lights went out and 2:03 o'clock when Robinson saw the ship go under.

Based on the available data, it appears the lights went out about 2 hours 15 minutes after impact. The taffrail went under about 2 hours 23 minutes after impact, which represents the total time afloat after the accident.

So, the answer to Michael K's question is, "Yes." The ship floated about 24 minutes less than conventional wisdom holds.

-- David G. Brown
 

Bags

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And we silly landlubbers keep thinking time is linear, sheesh.

Though this reminds me of a related question, the time shift itself is computed from where? I mean, is it based on days at sea vs. Anticipated time of arrival, or is it run on the 1 degree of long. travelled= 1 minute advance/retard (based on east/west mag. Heading)
 
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Understanding the intricacies of timekeeping taxes the mainspring of the mind. Let me try to simplify things at the risk of getting it wrong from too much simplification. Even so, I'm afraid this explantion will stop the discussion in its tracks. Let's start with a major assumption: that the day is exactly 24 hours long. It's not. Each day varies slightly for all sorts of technical reasons. Navigators have the “equation of time” and other mumbo-jumbo to take care of this problem. We'll do the simple thing and just ignore it. For us, each day will be exactly 24 hours.

And, for this discussion let's temporarily forget time “zones” as we know them ashore. We're examining timekeeping at sea where time zones are not observed as on land.

Next, we have to define “noon” and “midnight.” Noon is obvious, that's when the sun is at its zenith, or directly on the observer's meridian. Midnight is impossible to observe directly. It comes when the sun is directly over the meridian beneath our feet (hence “antipodal”).

If a ship traveled only due north or due south, noon one day would always come 24 hours after noon the previous day. The same would be true for midnight. Changes in latitude do not affect time. But, when a ship makes either easting or westing, then the length of that ship's day changes based on the amount of change in longitude.

The Earth rotates 360 degrees in 24 hours. Division tells us that in one hour the planet rotates 15 degrees. So, if a ship goes 15 degrees from noon one day to noon the next, it's “ship's day” is either 60 minutes longer (heading west) or 60 minutes shorter (heading east). Put in smaller terms, each degree of change in longitude equals a four minute change in local time.

Titanic effectively started its voyage on GMT (see below). It was to arrive in New York, which is 5 hours “behind” GMT. During the course of the voyage it was necessary to retard the ship's clocks by those 5 hours. If this were not done, then noon on the ship would have been 7 a.m. on the pier. That would not have happened because Titanic's clocks were set back an average of an hour each night based on the ship's westward travel. On the last night of the voyage the ship's clocks would have been retarded to be in synch with New York City time.


Noon at Greenwich in Titanic's day established “Greenwich Mean Time,” or GMT by which all celestial navigation (by the stars) was done. GMT never changes and it is the same for all places on the planet no matter what their longitude. This makes it a perfect standard for comparing events around the globe. But, that comes later.

Now we have to look at “ship's time” which has traditionally been established once each day, usually at noon. The officers would determine the exact moment of the sun's zenith and the clocks would be adjusted to match. For Titanic, it's noon longitude on that fateful Sunday was about 44̊30' West. If you do the math, this means that noon for the ship occurred 2 hours 58 minutes later than it did on the prime meridian at Greenwich.

44̊30' = 44.5̊ / 15 = 2.97 hrs = 2 hrs 58 min

This means that at noon GMT it was 9:02 a.m. ship's time for Titanic. Or, at noon ship's time it was 2:58 p.m. GMT.

As the ship moves east or west it is traditional to keep ship's time pegged to that day's noon meridian. But, if you want to do some boring math, you can calculate the time based on any new longitude which the ship reaches as it steams along. This time reference, usually abbreviated “ATS,” is constantly changing, so is of little use in day-to-day affairs. Some historians confuse ship's time with ATS, but the two are quite different. And, after making this note we can forget about ATS.

Resetting the clocks at noon was of little bother to sailors, but it annoyed passengers not familiar with the ways of the sea. So, the land convention of changing time while people are normally asleep (for instance to Daylight Savings Time or Summer Time) was adopted. Instead of 2 a.m., however, the time change was to occur at “midnight.” But not true midnight marking the start of the new day. Rather, it took place when the last watch of the old day was relieved by the first watch of the new. We'll call this “crew midnight.” That makes two midnights to keep track of.

The 8-to-12 watch is always the last watch of the day, while the 12-to-4 is always the first of the new day.

Remember that noon can be observed, but midnight cannot. This presented a problem for the navigating officers. They were forced to predict the longitude of midnight marking the start of the new day. They got pretty good at it. Even so, it was usually necessary to “tweak” the clocks at noon to get ship's time exactly right.

Early during the Starboard Watch's 8-to-midnight shift it was computed that Titanic's midnight meridian for ship's time of April 15th would come 12 hours and 47 minutes after noon on April 14th. Taking into account rounding errors, this midnight meridian should have been very near 50̊24' West, which should sound very familiar. It was the longitude of the first CQD signals sent by Titanic.

Note that true midnight was to come 12 hours 47 minutes after noon. Those extra 47 minutes had to be served by the crew during April 14th. They could not be “carried over” into the new date of April 15th. We know each Watch was to get half of the extra time. Because 47 is an odd amount, I give 24 minutes to the on-duty Starboard Watch and 23 to the off-duty Port Watch.

It's easy to see that for the crew, their “midnight” change of watch had to take place 12 hours 24 minutes after noon, or 23 minutes before the start of the new day. This would allow the on-duty Starboard Watch to complete its extra time before being relieved by the Port Watch. Then, the Port Watch could complete its extra time before 12:47 o'clock when it would become April 15th.

Even as late as Titanic the crew worked more to “bells” than to the clock. A bell was struck every half hour after the start of a watch. Odd number of strikes always meant half hours, even full hours. At 4 bells the watch was half over. At 8 bells came change of watch.

We know the accident occurred just after seven bells because several survivors stated this in testimony. And, we know from other surviving members of the crew that the accident took place about 20 minutes prior to the change of watch. Several men stated the accident took place five minutes before a special bell sounded to rouse out the sleeping Port Watch. That bell came 15 minutes before change. Putting it all together, we know:

1. The accident came after 7 bells.

2. It came 5 minutes before the rouse out bell 15 minutes prior to change.

3. The crew's midnight change was to take place 12 hours 24 minutes after noon.

#1 and #2 above together establish the famous 11:40 o'clock time of the accident was measured on the crew clock. Adding #3 shows that the crew clock must have been retarded so that 12 o'clock in crew time would be the “midnight” change of watch. Most important, 11:40 o'clock was 20 minutes before change. If we subtract those 20 minutes from 12:24 o'clock, we find the time of the accident was 12:04 o'clock which was 12 hours and 4 minutes after noon.

Earlier, we noted that GMT does not change despite the changes to ship's time. We have established that the accident took place 12 hours and 4 minutes after noon in ship's time for April 14th. If we add that amount to the GMT of Titanic's noon we get the time of the accident in Greenwich time.

2:58 GMT + 12 hr 4 min = 0302 hrs GMT

So, the time of the accident was 3:02 a.m. at Greenwich. New York time being 5 hours behind was 10:02 p.m. And, on the ship it was 11:40 p.m. in crew time.

0302 GMT = 11:40 p.m. Crew Time
11:40 p.m. Crew Time = 12:04 Ship's Time
12:04 Ship's Time = 10:02 New York
10:02 New York = 0302 GMT

While all of these times appear wildly different, in fact they are all the same moment in history – when Titanic met the ice.

Enough! The brain can be wound so tight!

– David G. Brown
 

Jake Peterson

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Wouldn't the Moon's zenith be at Midnight every night?

Also, if the clocks were aloud to operate regularly from departure to arrive, noon would be 7 a.m. NYT, so when a ship sets sail noon Wednesday, and arrives noon Tuesday, the clock would be 24 hours behind the NYT by then?
 
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Jake -- No, the moon is not on your zenith at midnight. Remember, the ancients called the moon "Luna" which is where we get "lunacy." It runs about 50 minutes later each night, which is why we get the phases of the moon. Sometimes, the moon's zenith is during the daytime. If the sun and the moon ran exactly 12 hours apart, then navigation would have been a whole lot easier back in the day of sextant, chronometer, and star tables.

There is probably some combination of ship's speed and the width of the Atlantic which would allow you to never reset the clocks and arrive from Europe in sych with New York time. Damned if I'm up to figuring this "what if" out.

-- Dave
 

Jim Currie

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Thanks for the explanation David, I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the the subject.

Hello Michael!

This is my third attempt at trying to reply to you. For some reason, every time I post, it gets wiped-out. So here goes again:

On Titnaic there would have been three sets of times. I know it's confusing but try this for size:

Eastern Standard Time was 5 hours slow of London UK time. So to make sure that the ship's clocks were on EST when she arrived at New York, her clocks would be slowed by a certain amount each 24 hours of the westward voyage. However, they would be adjusted when everyone was asleep. That is, everyone except those who worked shifts (Watches).
Since it would not be fair to those shift-workers to carry the burden of the extra hours, the total planned amount of change was split between those who had to work between 10 pm at night and 6am the next morning. It follows that there would have been three(3) sets of times kept on Titanic.
Those who were not night shift workers, would go to bed before the clock alteration took place. If they altered their personal time pieces before going to bed on April 14, they would have April 15th time... set back the full 47 minutes set-back planned.
This planned 47 minute change would be shared by night shift workers as follows:
8 to Midnight Watch.......24 minutes.
Midnight to 4am Watch...23 minutes.

Therefore, depending on which timepiece you were looking at the time of impact would be:

12-04am (15th)...or... 11-40pm(14)...or... 11-17pm(14)

By the same token, time of sinking would be:

02-20am(15th)...or... 01-56am(15th)...or... 01-33am(15th)

As long as you were consulting the same time piece at the beginning and the end, the time taken from impact to sinking would be the same...2 hours and 16 minutes.

David:

"My thanks to Jim for coming up with another way to prove that the crew clocks had been set back prior to the accident."

Here's another one for you.

We two have been allies on this time thing. Our adversaries have been insistent that the clocks were not altered and that Titanic speed-up because extra boilers were put on line. There is proof that these boilers were indeed put on line some time after 7pm that night. But there is also proof that the stokers were ordered to ease firing to compenesate for the extra boilers. So she did not increase her rpm from 74 as vouched for by the engine room staff.
What we can all agree about is the patent log reading at time of impact...260 nautical miles. We can argue about accuracy but that is a smoke screen. So lets apply that 260 miles to our engine run time of 12 hours 4 minutes and their run time of 11 hours 40 minutes. We come up with average speed from Noon 14th of 21.55 knots and 22.29 knots respectively.
Is there any evidence in fafour of the slower speed? Absolutely! And it comes from a most unlikely source...
Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian!

On 11th May, 1912, Captain Lord wrote to Senator Smith and gave him details of air and sea temperatures recorded on the Californian between Noon April 14 and Noon April 15. The most significant one has been totally overlooked or ignored by our adversaries.. I refer to the reading for Noon April 14, 1912. At that time, Californian's Noon position was 42-05'North, 74-35'West. and the readings were: Air 50F...Sea: 56F. The second reading tell us that Californian was actually in the Gulf Stream at that time. Otherwise, the readings should have read: Air 50F...Sea 42F(Approx).
Now, the Gulf Stream runs East-Northeast in that area so I carried out a little experiment which you might like to emulate.

According to subsequent reading of air and sea temperature, Californian passed out of the influenec of the Gulf Stream later that afternoon. I assumed it was about 2pm therefore I calulated her Approximate (DR)position for that time. Since she was on an aprroximate west course, I used the same Noon latitude and gave her a 2pm DR of 42-05'North, 48-05'West From that position, I ran back on a course of N68W true to represent the northern edge of the Gulf Stream. Guess what?... it crosses Titanic's course at her Noon position for April 14! if I am correct or nearly so, Titanic entered the Gulf Stream at Noon on April 14 and was in it until after 7 pm that night. She would be almost stemming it until she turned The Corner then would run across it diagonally...loosing less speed but being set slightly northward.
Do we have proof of this? You're darn tootin' we do! One of the most compitent Master Mariners on Titanic, 5th Officer Lowe gave the ship's speed as 20.9 knots at 6pm that night.. 10 minutes after she had turned The Corner. But what the heck did he know? He was just a simple sailor.

There is sufficient evidence here to show that the speed of the engines did not increase but the speed of the ship dropped due to external influence which resulted in a avergae speed of 21.55 knots from Noon April 14 until time of impact. Apply that average speed and the simple concept that Boxhall just double compensated for a clock change, and you will discover why Titanic's wreck was founf where it is today.


Jim C.
 
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Jim -- I'm late for work, so can't pontificate as usual. However, while I can't really argue with your speed numbers I do have one question -- why did Boxhall use 22 knots for his calcs? What I know is that all of the extant data on dead reckoning -- albeit tainted by coming from Boxhall -- works out perfectly at 22 knots. And, a current vector from the DR of the accident to the wreck site yields a believeable set/drift for the combined effects of the currents in the area. Something's amiss. I suspect some of the DR data from Boxhall may have been back-figured after the accident.

But, the bottom line on the duration noon-to-accident can't be changed. It was 12 hours and at least 4 minutes, possibly more.

-- David G. Brown
 

Scott Mills

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Jim,

Out of curiosity why do we have reason to believe that Barrett's calculation of time was correct, was correct to ship time, or was not simply his dead reckoning of "I think I have 15 more minutes left on my shift?" Was their a clock for employee use in the boiler room? I just don't know enough about it.

Also, I'm curious as to why Beasley's recollection is so believable here? It's very difficult to remember precise details of conversations often times.

Best,

Scott
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Scott,

Barrett like all 'night shift' workers would have had to share any clock alterations. The time he would have or the engineeer oin charge of his section would have would be alterred time.
The normal procedure on board ship, is to send someone .. ususaally a non essential Watch member to call the next Watch.

In fact, they would be sent about 5 minutes before the next Watch was due to be called. This was to ensure that the tea boiler had been boiled-up so that the next Watch could get a cup of tea and a smoke before going below or on deck.
!5 minutes before going off Watch is a significant time since it is the 'one bell' moment that tell everyone they will soon be off work.
In fact, Barrett was not the only opne who mentions one bell or 15 minutes to end of Watch. The lookouts were relieved at midnight/ That would most certainly not be midnight Aprill 14 time.

Beasley's evidence is actually very good in most places. Unfortunately, that was his very first trip deep sea. But on the other hand ,because of this, he kept copious notes about everything.

In the introduction to his book he wrote:
" I was supported in this decision by the fact that a short account, which I wrote at intervals on board the Carpathia, in the hope that it would calm public opinion by stating the truth of what happened as nearly as I could recollect it,"

As for the conversation he had with Barrett in the lifeboat: Apart from the actual sinking, the time in the lifeboat would be very vivid. Despite this; he could not remember the name of the man who told him the story about the soup. However, the rest of the story was easy to verify so there is not reason to believe that that particular part was hearesay.


Hello David!

If you remember, the use of 22 knots by Boxhall was abitrary. Here is the reason he gave to the UK Inquiry:

"15646. Was it an estimate you formed on any materials as to revolutions or as to the patent log?
- No, I never depend on the patent log at all. It was an estimate that I had arrived at from the revolutions, although I had had no revolutions that watch; but, taking into consideration that it was smooth water and that there ought to have been a minimum of slip, I allowed 22 knots."

He contradicted himself about that because:

"16955. (The Solicitor-General.) It is not wind, your Lordship sees. (To the witness.) Whether there is a wind or no wind, the current will flow?
- Yes, but invariably we find a strong easterly set there; very often we find that the Gulf stream -

16956. (The Commissioner.) The current changes?
- Yes.

16957. It is not constant?
- No, it is not; we can tell that by the temperature of the water."

Researchers should ask the question: 'why should it have been any different that night?' After all, The Gulf Stream does not turn itself off and on!

Additionally; take note of his answer to Q. 16957!


In fact, if there was no head current, it is quite possible that the conditions that existed before Noon 14, existed after Titanic cleared the northern margine of The Gulf Stream. In that event, her speed would once more build. With a clean bottom, she could quite well have exceeded 22 knots. Nomatter what, her average speed from Noon that day to the time of impact never exceed 21.55 knots.

Incidentally, if you extend the northern margin of the Gulf Stream in a West-Southwest direction, you will find that it crosses the 50th merdiian at 41-33'North.

As for current vectors: try plotting the course of Carpathia. But before doing so, plot a DR for Boxhall using a 1 knot south-setting current. Put him 2 miles south of the wreck site. at 4pm that morning. Then give Carpathia a speed of 0.5 knots faster that normal.. i.e. 14.5 knots. and run her for 3.5 hours on a course of 308 True towards Titanic's CQD position.

This will place Carpathia 7.5 miles x 250 True from Titanic's wreck site. If there had been a south-setting current, Carpathia would have made good a course of 306 True and an average speed of 14.1 knots.

A Gulf stream set of 068 True by 2.1 knots would put her right on the money with or without a south setting current but is the Gulf Stream as swift as that on it's norther edge and so far to the eastward? I don't think so. More like 0.5 to 0.75 knots I would think.

Basically, there was most certainly a Gulf Stream running in the approximate position I have show and the proof of it came from Captain Lord.. This being so, it must have been flowing in the general direction I have also shown. The position of the southrenmost edge of the pack ice bears this out too.
However. I do not think it was flowing as fast as 2.1 knots. so what next?

If the northern edge of The Gulf Stream was where I have estimated it to be, then Carpathia would have entered it at about 6 pm the previous evening. If her officers had not compensated for it then she would have been about 5 miles further east than where she thought she was at 12-35am on the 15th April. So here's another 'If'.

If we assume that Carpathia was 5 miles east of her 12-35am DR, and plot her movement from the new DR position, we find she made good a course of 313 True and had an average speed of about 14.5 knots. She had been set ENE for a distance of 3.4 miles during her run. This points to a Gulf Stream rate of just under a knot.
A 1 knot south setting current would have the principal effect of slowing Carpathia down. In fact, had it been there, she would have made an average speed of just 14 knots... hardly worth the expense of all that rum!

It's a very interesting exercise David But I am satisfied that there was no south-setting current but that the Gulf Stream had a major part to play in the drama.

I also think that all those armchair 'experts' should go back to the drawing board!

Jim CI
 
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Warning: Jim and I are discussing some boring navigational math. Don't let that prevent anyone from studying what we are presenting. If we are right...and I believe we are...the story of Titanic is about to go through a paradigm shift.



Let me start by saying that I think Cap'n Jim is “on to” something regarding currents how they affected navigation that night. I'm not going to get into that discussion, however, because I look at the ship's dead reckoning from a different perspective. My view was to accept what Boxhall gave us and build off of that. Let me say from the outset that this does not imply that Boxhall's information was accurate. I have long suspected some hanky-panky in his testimony. It is odd the man could not provide coordinates for 7:30 p.m. stars even though he claimed to have used them numerous times that evening.

Back in 2006 I realized that the ship's first set of CQD coordinates (41̊44' North; 50̊24' West) has hidden significance. The longitude of these coordinates is the meridian where Titanic should have been at midnight marking the start of Monday, April 15th. Of course, Titanic never got there, so these coordinates must have been a prediction of what was to come. And, we know that predicting the coordinates of midnight was necessary to accurately reset the ship's clocks to April 15th hours at midnight.

The ship took a course of 266̊T from “The Corner” per testimony of Lightoller. It bothered me at first that the 41̊44' North; 50̊24' West CQD coordinates do not lie on Lightoller's track line. They are south of it. Unless Titanic changed course, or the navigators were taking into account a southerly drift, there is no way the ship could have crossed through that CQD location on a course of 266̊T from “The Corner.”

(“The Corner” was an unmarked location at 42̊ North 47̊ West where ships on the recognized steamer track changed course. They departed the great circle route and assumed a rhumb (straight) line for New York.)

Generally, dead reckoning does not take into account windage or currents. Rather, DR positions are compared against fixes to determine the set and drift of current/windage since the last previous fix. This is the so-called “tails” problem learned by every aspiring navigator. Admittedly, assumptions are dangerous. Even so, I made the assumption that Boxhall's navigation was this type of pure dead reckoning which ignores wind and current.

The direction from the Titanic's first set of CQD coordinates to the more famous 41̊44' North; 50̊14' West produced by Boxhall is 075̊T. But that's easting in a retrograde direction for Titanic which was steaming westward. If we turn things around so the ship is going west (from Boxhall to Smith), the reciprocal of 075̊T is 255̊T. This is most curious. Subtracting 255̊T from 266̊T shows an angular difference of 11 degrees, which on the compass cards installed in Titanic was as close to one compass point as could be read. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

(Note on “points:” Sailing ships had to follow the winds, so did not steer courses to one degree of accuracy. Instead, they used the system of “compass points.” Each point was 1/32nd of a circle. Dividing 360 degrees by 32 yields 11 1/4 degrees per point. The use of points declined rapidly after Titanic's time.)

Next, the 075/255̊T line crosses the 266̊T track of Lightoller at 41̊51' North;49̊49' West. Dividing the distance between this crossing location and “The Corner” (42̊ North; 47̊ West) by Boxhall's 22 knots produces a 5 hours 42 minute time for the run. The ship passed through “The Corner” at 5:45 per quartermaster Rowe and 5:50 per Boxhall. I used 5:48 as an average and because that's an even 0.8 hours. Summing the times, the 075/255̊T line crosses the 266̊T track at 11:30 p.m.

5:48 + 5:42 = 11:30

To me, this indicates that without doubt Titanic changed course by one compass point to the south at 11 hours 30 minutes past noon on the night of April 14th. Only Captain Smith had the authority to order a course change, so this puts lie to claims he was snoozing in his cabin. Smith was obviously navigating his ship with an eye toward avoiding the ice by dodging to the south of it.

At Boxhall's 22 knots the distance between the two CQD locations would have required 20 minutes of steaming. Of course, the famous 11:40 p.m. is 20 minutes prior to 12 o'clock. It appears that Both sets of coordinates are wrong for the same reason: they are based in April 15th time which never came to be for Titanic. We can prove this by computing the time needed to steam the distance from the 11:30 p.m. course change to the first set of CQD coordinates (41̊44' North; 50̊24' West). It works out to be 28 miles requiring 117 minutes of steaming. This is the exact duration between the accident and where midnight starting April 15th should have occurred.

Looking back at Jim's work, I have to agree that Titanic did not make good 22 knots earlier in the day. Honestly, I can't find an historically valid reason for Boxhall using 22 knots in his dead reckoning. But, these numbers don't lie. The fourth officer must have believed Titanic was making 22 knots during his watch after 8 p.m. that evening. Why?

My only answer is, “I dunno.”

But, I can guess.

We have lots of anecdotal evidence that the ship's engines were running faster after 8 p.m. than they had earlier that day, or at any time during the voyage. If Captain Smith decided to increase speed, he would most likely have done it in conjunction with a fix. That way, the start of the new speed would coincide with the new dead reckoning from that fix. My suggestion is that this is exactly what did happen that night – Titanic increased speed after 7:30 stars. And, it was to avoid discussing this speed increase that Boxhall pointedly did not recall the coordinates of Titanic's evening fix. Had he recalled them, the increase in speed would have been obvious. Speeding up as the ship neared danger would have appeared extremely foolhardy in light of the iceberg incident.

An increase in speed after 7:30 stars neatly dovetails Cap'n Jim's work into what I have presented above. It also helps explain why the 260 mile reading of the taffrail log (per Rowe) is about 2% low for 22 knots over the distance from noon. The log would have averaged the slow and the fast as it counted off the miles.

I admit the last two paragraphs are speculation even though they are based on valid navigational practices. What is not speculation is that Titanic changed course at 11:30 p.m. on April 14th some 2 hours 4 minutes prior to impact on the iceberg.

– David G. Brown


PS– If you want more details on my reconstruction of Boxhall's dead reckoning, they're in my book, “Titanic Myths, Titanic Truths.”
 
Mar 12, 2011
174
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Warning: Jim and I are discussing some boring navigational math. Don't let that prevent anyone from studying what we are presenting. If we are right...and I believe we are...the story of Titanic is about to go through a paradigm shift.



Let me start by saying that I think Cap'n Jim is “on to” something regarding currents how they affected navigation that night. I'm not going to get into that discussion, however, because I look at the ship's dead reckoning from a different perspective. My view was to accept what Boxhall gave us and build off of that. Let me say from the outset that this does not imply that Boxhall's information was accurate. I have long suspected some hanky-panky in his testimony. It is odd the man could not provide coordinates for 7:30 p.m. stars even though he claimed to have used them numerous times that evening.

Back in 2006 I realized that the ship's first set of CQD coordinates (41̊44' North; 50̊24' West) has hidden significance. The longitude of these coordinates is the meridian where Titanic should have been at midnight marking the start of Monday, April 15th. Of course, Titanic never got there, so these coordinates must have been a prediction of what was to come. And, we know that predicting the coordinates of midnight was necessary to accurately reset the ship's clocks to April 15th hours at midnight.

The ship took a course of 266̊T from “The Corner” per testimony of Lightoller. It bothered me at first that the 41̊44' North; 50̊24' West CQD coordinates do not lie on Lightoller's track line. They are south of it. Unless Titanic changed course, or the navigators were taking into account a southerly drift, there is no way the ship could have crossed through that CQD location on a course of 266̊T from “The Corner.”

(“The Corner” was an unmarked location at 42̊ North 47̊ West where ships on the recognized steamer track changed course. They departed the great circle route and assumed a rhumb (straight) line for New York.)

Generally, dead reckoning does not take into account windage or currents. Rather, DR positions are compared against fixes to determine the set and drift of current/windage since the last previous fix. This is the so-called “tails” problem learned by every aspiring navigator. Admittedly, assumptions are dangerous. Even so, I made the assumption that Boxhall's navigation was this type of pure dead reckoning which ignores wind and current.

The direction from the Titanic's first set of CQD coordinates to the more famous 41̊44' North; 50̊14' West produced by Boxhall is 075̊T. But that's easting in a retrograde direction for Titanic which was steaming westward. If we turn things around so the ship is going west (from Boxhall to Smith), the reciprocal of 075̊T is 255̊T. This is most curious. Subtracting 255̊T from 266̊T shows an angular difference of 11 degrees, which on the compass cards installed in Titanic was as close to one compass point as could be read. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

(Note on “points:” Sailing ships had to follow the winds, so did not steer courses to one degree of accuracy. Instead, they used the system of “compass points.” Each point was 1/32nd of a circle. Dividing 360 degrees by 32 yields 11 1/4 degrees per point. The use of points declined rapidly after Titanic's time.)

Next, the 075/255̊T line crosses the 266̊T track of Lightoller at 41̊51' North;49̊49' West. Dividing the distance between this crossing location and “The Corner” (42̊ North; 47̊ West) by Boxhall's 22 knots produces a 5 hours 42 minute time for the run. The ship passed through “The Corner” at 5:45 per quartermaster Rowe and 5:50 per Boxhall. I used 5:48 as an average and because that's an even 0.8 hours. Summing the times, the 075/255̊T line crosses the 266̊T track at 11:30 p.m.

5:48 + 5:42 = 11:30

To me, this indicates that without doubt Titanic changed course by one compass point to the south at 11 hours 30 minutes past noon on the night of April 14th. Only Captain Smith had the authority to order a course change, so this puts lie to claims he was snoozing in his cabin. Smith was obviously navigating his ship with an eye toward avoiding the ice by dodging to the south of it.

At Boxhall's 22 knots the distance between the two CQD locations would have required 20 minutes of steaming. Of course, the famous 11:40 p.m. is 20 minutes prior to 12 o'clock. It appears that Both sets of coordinates are wrong for the same reason: they are based in April 15th time which never came to be for Titanic. We can prove this by computing the time needed to steam the distance from the 11:30 p.m. course change to the first set of CQD coordinates (41̊44' North; 50̊24' West). It works out to be 28 miles requiring 117 minutes of steaming. This is the exact duration between the accident and where midnight starting April 15th should have occurred.

Looking back at Jim's work, I have to agree that Titanic did not make good 22 knots earlier in the day. Honestly, I can't find an historically valid reason for Boxhall using 22 knots in his dead reckoning. But, these numbers don't lie. The fourth officer must have believed Titanic was making 22 knots during his watch after 8 p.m. that evening. Why?

My only answer is, “I dunno.”

But, I can guess.

We have lots of anecdotal evidence that the ship's engines were running faster after 8 p.m. than they had earlier that day, or at any time during the voyage. If Captain Smith decided to increase speed, he would most likely have done it in conjunction with a fix. That way, the start of the new speed would coincide with the new dead reckoning from that fix. My suggestion is that this is exactly what did happen that night – Titanic increased speed after 7:30 stars. And, it was to avoid discussing this speed increase that Boxhall pointedly did not recall the coordinates of Titanic's evening fix. Had he recalled them, the increase in speed would have been obvious. Speeding up as the ship neared danger would have appeared extremely foolhardy in light of the iceberg incident.

An increase in speed after 7:30 stars neatly dovetails Cap'n Jim's work into what I have presented above. It also helps explain why the 260 mile reading of the taffrail log (per Rowe) is about 2% low for 22 knots over the distance from noon. The log would have averaged the slow and the fast as it counted off the miles.

I admit the last two paragraphs are speculation even though they are based on valid navigational practices. What is not speculation is that Titanic changed course at 11:30 p.m. on April 14th some 2 hours 4 minutes prior to impact on the iceberg.

– David G. Brown


PS– If you want more details on my reconstruction of Boxhall's dead reckoning, they're in my book, “Titanic Myths, Titanic Truths.”

David, I'm a little confused by some of your figures (I admit, I'm no navigator, so pardon me if I'm speaking from ignorance) Wouldn't 28 miles at 22 knots work out to about 77 minutes of steaming, or an hour and 17 minutes? Also, how does 11:30pm April 14th time work out to 2 hours 4 minutes before the collision?
 

Scott Mills

Member
Jul 10, 2008
670
85
133
43
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
David,

I noticed that plug for your book there! ;)

All kidding aside though, are you suggesting that the Smith was actively navigating Titanic at the time of collision? I only ask because I thought it has been the cocensus for awhile that Smith was most likely working in the chart room and not sleeping.

This is also interesting in that it tends to show, if correct, that the surviving officers conspired to lie at both inquiries. This is something that has come up in other threads lately, and opens a "whole can of worms" to our understanding of what happened that night.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
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Answring Michael K -- You've caught me with my typos down! A hearty "well done" for your sharp eyes.

The "117 minutes" should be 1:17, or 1 hour 17 minutes which = 77 minutes (60 +17 = 77). That was easy. I'm at a loss as to how that "two hours 4 minutes" got in. The actual time from the 11:30 p.m. change of course until the accident was 34 minutes, which takes into account the 10 minutes from 11:30 to 11:40 o'clock plus the 24 minute setback of the crew clocks.

Thanks for being my proof reader.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jake Peterson

Member
Mar 11, 2012
329
2
73
Iowa, USA
So, perhaps, THAT was the meeting they might have had in the wheelhouse/chart room, as so often portrayed in film: Capt Smith and all 6 of his subordinates getting their stories straight, and Smith saying "Now, men, whoever survives this, this is the story we're going to go with. I'm going down with the ship. anyone who wants to avoid the harsh inquiries that are sure to come, are welcome to join me"

Might explain why all the people who could answer the "big questions" died: Smith, Murdoch, Wilde, Andrews....might as well throw in Chief Engineer Joseph Bell...
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,604
631
483
Easley South Carolina
>>So, perhaps, THAT was the meeting they might have had in the wheelhouse/chart room, as so often portrayed in film: Capt Smith and all 6 of his subordinates getting their stories straight...<<

Errrr.....no. In the heat of the moment, that would have been one of the very last things on anybody's mind. If there was any meeting of the minds to get a story straight, a far more likely place for that would have been among the surviving officers on the Carpathia.
 

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