Titanic Engine running time from Noon on April 14th.


Scott Mills

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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...

Jake,

It would not necessarily had to have been that nefarious that night--though it could have been I suppose. I guess Lightoller's granddaughter thinks it was. Also, along those lines Ismay would I think have been a party to that conversation, nefarious or not. He did survive, along with at least one senior officer who should, by all rights, have known a lot more than he claims to have known (see our discussion in the lifeboats thread).

Just keep in mind they had 3 days on Carpathia to discuss this, and probably a day on land before the first inquiry. This also brings up the prickly issue of Ismay wanting to get Titanic's crew back aboard a vessel immediately.

After that they'd have had an entire crossing before the bot inquiry.
 
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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
Happy to help, and even happier that I wasn't losing my mind (yet) =)
 

Scott Mills

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>>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.

Michael,

How much contact did the surviving officers have with each other on Carpathia? Furthermore, I know that Ismay "never left his cabin" on Carpathia, but is there any evidence he was visited by Titanic's officers as a group, or individually in that cabin? Lastly, do we have any record of what Titanic's officers said to Rostron, other than Boxhall informing him when picked up that the ship had foundered?
 
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>>How much contact did the surviving officers have with each other on Carpathia?<<

Hard to tell unless one of them left the all the information you're interested in in a personal journal or a letter to a friend. However, this kinda misses the point. The point being that in the middle of an emergency with time short and a desire to survive foremost on their minds, the decks of the Titanic would be the very last place I would expect to see any of them "Comparing Notes" in an effort to get on the same page.

The place to do that would have been the Carpathia where the ship wasn't sinking and they had nothing but time on their hands. I'm not aware of any record of what they might have said to either Ismay or Captain Rostron, but I'm open to any information from anybody who knows otherwise.
 

Jake Peterson

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Like I said, I was just speculating out loud there. It's probably true that the Titanic would have been too chaotic to really discuss a cover-up, but after the fact, we have 4 surviving officers, the company president, and the man at the wheel. What they did or didn't know could, of course, fill a book. I do see Michael's point about the Carpathia being a much more calmer place, as well as the return voyage home on Cedric.

However, my point is, in order for the cover up to begin, it had to have started on Titanic. Maybe not a full-blown meeting, but it would be where Smith (if he was making navigation plans in the deck house), all 6 officers, Andrews, ect. would know what to say and when to say it.

Otherwise, How would Lightoller know what information to give the BOT/American Inquires, and what to leave out? Could one make the argument that Lightoller could still cover up, without the knowledge of Capt Smith and the other 5 officers?
 

Scott Mills

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Like I said, I was just speculating out loud there. It's probably true that the Titanic would have been too chaotic to really discuss a cover-up, but after the fact, we have 4 surviving officers, the company president, and the man at the wheel. What they did or didn't know could, of course, fill a book. I do see Michael's point about the Carpathia being a much more calmer place, as well as the return voyage home on Cedric.

However, my point is, in order for the cover up to begin, it had to have started on Titanic. Maybe not a full-blown meeting, but it would be where Smith (if he was making navigation plans in the deck house), all 6 officers, Andrews, ect. would know what to say and when to say it.

Otherwise, How would Lightoller know what information to give the BOT/American Inquires, and what to leave out? Could one make the argument that Lightoller could still cover up, without the knowledge of Capt Smith and the other 5 officers?

Jake,

I am assuming Lightoller, being a senior officer, and the on-duty officer for the first part of the night, would have known about the increase of speed.

And being the senior officer he was, highly capable of arranging the "what" and "what not" to say on Carpathia. Especially with the input from other officers, and Ismay. I would suspect that all of the officers would have to be, as I've said, conspiring to lie to the inquiries. David says as much when he questions Boxhall's testimony and his failure to remember the dead reckoning position from 7:30 pm on the 14th.

Also, as I was saying to Jude I find Lightoller's story about not being aware of the true state of the ship, and only interacting with Smith once that night, highly dubious. I am sure that he and the senior officers--Smith, Wilde, Murdoch and Lightoller--met at least once that night to discuss what had happened, the damage to the ship, and the potential courses of action that could be taken (as far as evacuating the ship goes) despite what Lightoller would later claim.

Keep in mind that all of the officers of Titanic, and much of the crew, had very compelling material reasons to hide both their and White Star's culpability in the accident. Their livelihoods depended on it, and more than just their jobs with White Star. If they received any pronounced blame they most likely would never be permitted to work on a ship again. Little good that did them since none of them ever advanced farther than XO in their merchant careers. Though Pittman I believe switched from being a navigation officer to a purser, and did manage to take that career path as high as it would go before he retired.

The other officers might not have been here for this, so wouldn't know if something like Lightoller's granddaughter described actually happened, but Boxhall certainly would have known about any speed changes.

Getting back to it though, I would also imagine Ismay would have been well aware of any changes of speed, and would have been part of any and all meetings of senior officers.

Andrews though is an engineer and not a navigator. There is no reason to suspect he would know anything about the ice warnings or navigational orders before, after or during the collision. At least not beyond daily status reports on ship performance. That is unless someone told him, which I could easily imagine not coming up given that any conversation officers would be having with him would be focused on the damage to the ship and not how that damage got there, nor the context of it getting there.

I am still unsure whether or not it is being argued that the Captain was present, in the wheel house and not just the chart room, at the time of collision.

Could the warning bells be heard in there? If so one would think he'd have run out to the wheel house directly upon hearing them at 11:40ish at night on the North Atlantic. Particularly knowing that the ship had increased speed and was more or less in a region of reported ice. At bare minimum he would have been on bridge, it seems to me, the moment he noticed any movement of the ship to port.

Cheers.
 
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The words we choose form the thoughts we have. It is a dangerous thing to say the officers "lied" because that presupposes they told deliberate mistruths. This is not always the case. It is one thing to lie and quite another to deliberately not bring up pertinent information. With the exception of Fourth Officer Boxhall, none of the surviving officers were caught in perjury. During the British inquiry he lied by claiming he knew knothing of an ice warning posted on a chit in the officer's chartroom. Later, he was forced to admit that not only did he post that warning, he actually wrote it in his own hand. Even so, Scott is correct (above) in saying that the surviving officers had compelling reasons not to discluse everything they knew. Their careers and perhaps even lives were at stake. The public loves scapegoats and official inquiries are more often to establish who gets to be the scapegoat than what actually took place.

What Ismay knew or didn't know or discussed or did not discuss is speculation. There are hints of his hand on the events of the night, but only hints -- no proof.

As to the captain, in Titanic "the bridge" was really a suite of rooms and not a singular place. It consided of the covered "captain's bridge" behind the center windows, the bridge wings, the wheelhouse, the officer's chartroom, and the master's navigation room. All of these spaces were used regularly in the conduct of the voyage. From Boxhall's testimony we learn that Captain Smith remained "in the loop" that night by asking certain navigational information be brought to him in his personal navigation room. This means he was effectively "on the bridge" as far as the watch officers were concerned.

I have said on numerous occasions previously that Titanic's bridge was a place looking for an accident to happen. The layout was an evolutionary dead end from the days when quartermasters were put inside wheelhouses of sailing ships to improve their performances by keeping them out of the weather. This concept came full-blown on the early sidewheel ocean steamers with ornate wheelhouses set amidships on the bridge between the paddles. Titanic took that early steamboat arrangement and covered a portion of the bridge. In an historical context, Titanic's layout was a throwback to the 1860s or 70s. With all of its walls and divided spaces it prevented the members of what we now call the "bridge team" from acting as a team at all. Sixth Officer Moody and quartermaster Hichens were fully cut off from all events transpiring outside their enclosed wheelhouse. The captain had little more outside information flowing into his navigation room. The officer of the watch, First Officer Murdoch, was cut off from the captain and the wheelhouse even though he had direct knowlege of the sea and the cold night air. This hodge-podge arrangement of people virtually prevented the bridge team from maintaining what is now called "situational awareness." And, loss of situational awareness is the number one cause of accidents where ships run into other vessels or objects like icebergs.

Titanic's bridge was even worse than I have described. It actually extended about 250 feet aft to the standard compas amidships on that platform. This compass was the one by which the ship navigated. Its readings were carried to the other steering compasses during half-hourly visits (that's 48 visits in a 24-hour day) to the platform by the senior of the two junior officers on duty. If the ship were to change course, this junior officer would effectively decide the moment by signalling when to begin the change to the wheelhouse. Yet, that officer on the platform was blinded to events in front of the ship by funnels #1 and #2. Even more of a problem was the total lack of two-way communications. He could send a one-way message via a bell into the wheelhouse, but there was no way for the officer of the watch to communicate back to the compass platform.

My point is that no one person -- officer or rating -- on the bridge could have had full knowledge of what took place that night. The bridge layout prevented that. So, to know what other members of the bridge team were doing required post-accident conversations, presumably aboard Carpathia.

I have to say again that the lookouts did not sound a "warning" in the sense we use the word today. What they did was simply announce they had seen something ahead of the ship. That was their only real function, to locate objects of interest. Ringing three strikes only indicated the object was off the bow. It was up to the officer of the watch to determine if that object was a danger to the vessel or not. Captain Smith would undoubtedly have paid attention to the three strikes on the lookout's bell, but he would not have perceived it as a declaration of an emergency any more than a modern captain views "blips" on a radar screen as present dangers. In the normal course of events it is the responsibility of the officer of the watch and his team to handle these routine events.

Scott is correct that if Captian Smith felt the sway of his ship in a hard-over turn in mid-Atlantic he would have been on his way to the bridge at a dead run. But, that would have been the case only if he was not expecting a course change. Things would be quite different in this latter case. If he had ordered the ship to swing to the left onto a new course, the sway of the ship would have reassured him that everything was happening in good order.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David!

As you say, we're getting there!

Unfortunately I do not subscribe to a conspiracy theory. I have invariably found that such a theory arises from either a mis-understanding of descriptive evidence or a complete lack of subject knowledge. I most certainly rule you out of the second But let me correct you if I may?

When steering with a magnetic compass, the helmsman steered by quarter points. Thus, the course ordered by compass for Titanic would be West-a-half-south. But Titanic must have had a 360 dgree graduated compass. Otherwise, how was QM Rowe able to say the ship was steering " S. 85 deg. W."?
That is actually just over half a degree to the northward of west-a-half-south
As a matter of interest; the compass error reduced by half a degree between 6pm and midnight.


Let me put this to you.

Fortunately we are discussing the navigation of a ship which was on an almost westerly course so herhourly change in longitude was not too great. I therefore propose to you that we confine our navigation to change in longitude.
by that toklen, we are looking for a set of figures which when combined will leave us close to longitude 49-57'West.. the longitude of the wreck site. Bad steering alone or steering bias can account for up to a mil and a half of longitude overe the distances we are concerned with.

Probably the best way to approach the problem is to get inside the minds of Boxhall and Smith.

The former uses a speed of 22 knots and arrived at a final longitude of 50-14'West.
The latter assumed he was at the Corner at 5-50pm on April 14 when he turned his ship onto the Company-designated course of 265 True. Forget about 8pm DRs and forget about the first DR longitude of 50-24'West.

So we have the arguments for our experimental calculations. What might we obtain from them?

Quite a lot actually!

First, Boxhall's total distance steamed. That was 126 to The Corner + 145 to 50-14'W = 271 miles since Noon.
If he used 22 knots as his average then he used 271/22 = 12.32 hours (12 hours 19 minutes) for his engine running time from Noon. It hardly seems likely and was probably 12 hours 24 minutes since he used the 7-30pm fix. This being so, we can then work back to a 7-35pm DR for the actual fix longitude at that time.
7-35pm to 12-24pm is 4 hours 49 minutes. At 22 knots, Titanic would change her westerly longitude by 2 degrees 22 minutes. This gives us a DR longitude of 47-52'West when Lightoller took his evening sights.
Now if Titanic was making 22 knots all the time, she would have been at exactly 47-00'W when she turned The Corner at 5-50pm! In other words; if Boxhall had just worked a CQD position from The Corner using a course of 265 True, a speed of 22 knots and a run time of 6 hours 24 minutes, he could have dispensed with the 7-30pm Fix and got exactly the same result!
The most important bit of information from this is that it is abundantly clear that Boxhall used the wrong run time.

We can argue as much as we like about latitude but my feeling is that Boxhall was so confident that Titanic had run beyond The Corner before she turned that when he discovered Titanic was right on the line at 7-30pm, he calculated she had been set to the northward and was making good a course of 266 True. There is no other answer to his 266 True course. As you know, a true course can only be established between two fixed points and Boxhall never had them!

On the othe hand, his boss, Smith was equally confident that he had turned his ship exactly at The Corner. The latitude of his original CQD position proves this. Let's look at his engine running time from the time the ship turned The Corner.

Smith gave a CQD longitude of 50-24'West. That is 153 miles from The Corner. If he too used Boxhall's 22 knots then that would have would have meant that he used a running time of 6 hours 57 minutes. Clearly that's nonsense!
However we know from Boxhall that Smith's distance was 20 miles plus in error. This means that his true distance run from The Corner was 133 miles. Divide this by 22 knots and you get a run time of 6 hours 02 minutes.

To summarise:

We have Boxhall with an approximate engine running time of 12 hours 24 minutes from Noon April 14 and Captain Smith with an engine running time of 12 hours 2 minutes from Noon on April 14. Is there any more proof needed? Is there any doubt that Boxhall simply over-estimated the ship's average speed and that he forgot that he had already compensated for a clock change and allowed for it a second time?

I did not leave it there, but carried out an experiment using my theory that Titanic entered the Gulf Stream just after Noon on April 14 and did not clear it until 9-45pm that night. I used the speeds reported by Pitman and Lowe and increased to o 22 knots at 9-45pm. The result placed Titanic within 1 miles of the wreck site. (All done by hand.. no programme available)

David, a deep sea captain will not alter course unless he has a reason for doing so. He will not do so unless he has a very good idea of where his ship is and will most certainly not divert from a track laid down by his Company unless there is a clear danger to his ship.
Smith knew all about the ice ahead. In fact, he was discussing it with Lightoller almost 2 hours before Titanic hit the ice berg. At that time, he also had a very good idea of where Titanic was. Either from the 8pm DR position or from the results of Lightoller's 7-30pm sights. Then would have been the time to alter course if he was going to do so because of the ice.
What would the reason be for altering course 2 hours later at midnight?

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David!

I keep missing your posts.

I was interested in your take on bridge managements systems and enclosed quartermasters.

In fact, the only difference between a modern ship and Titanic was that the QM was enclosed at night. During the day time, he would have been on the wheel in front of enclosed wheelhouse. At night on a modern ship, the QM wouldn't be able to see anything anyway. In a warship, (particularly a submarine:D) it's the same.

As for radar: only one person at a time can look at it so it's not exactly a sharing thing. Nor is it, as you know, much use in detecting small icebergs.

I'm afraid you are looking at old things with a modern eye. In fact, there's nothing new under the sun except electronics!

The modern concept of a bridge management team and 'kitchen design' navigating bridge is theoretically excellent but totally impractical when staff numbers are cut to the bone. In fact, I suggest to you that with the exception of Smith playing his cards close to his chest, there was nothing much wrong with the management system on board Titanic. The best, most modern management system in the world could not have helped them. Only forward sensing sonar of sufficient range coupled with audio alarm could have saved that ship.

I agree about the position of the standard compass. However, it was placed between the second and third funnels for a particular reason. It was placed there mid-ship, in the belief that it would require a minimum of correction in two main directions because the mass of steel forward would counteract the mass of steel aft. I don't know the direction of the building berth but that would play an inportant role as well. Having said that, as long as there was an efficient means of comparing it with the steering compasses, and sufficient staff to do it, it didn't really matter where it was sited. Later vessel had a projector standard compass. i.e. the standard compass was located directly above the steering compass and the helmsman could see it's compass card reflected in the mirror of a periscope, the view-finder of which was located in front of him at eye level. To check it, an officer went aloft to the deck above. There was a speaking tube located at the side of the standard compass thie led to a bell-mouth next to the projector in the wheelhous. he would shout down the tube to the helmsman "let me know when you're right on". Whe the helmsman had the ship right on course, he would shout "right on now sir" and the officer would take the reading on the standard compass. This is still done on a regular basis.

When a ship of that size alters course in the normal way, you do not 'feel it'. That only happens in an emergency turn and only in certain places in the ship. My bet is that the first indication to Smith of anything wrong would have been the double ring on the telegraphs or the sudden stopping of the engines.


I find it quite amusing to suggest that there was some kind of "let's get-together and get our stories right" meeting.

For a start off, the person who came up with it hasn't the faintest idea of how a ship hierarchy worked in the British Merchant Service of 1912 and well into the late decades of the last century.
Captain Smith was a maritime 'snob'. Not his fault... just the way things were. There was no such thing as hob-nobbing with the lower ranks and certainly no possibility of sharing confidential information with them. If you read the transcrips of the hearings, you will note that apart from, discussing details of navigation. Smith hardly passed the time of day with the junior officers. If he was going to meet with any of his officers, it would have been with the three senior Watch Keepers.. Wilde, Murdoch and Lightoller.Possibly not even Lightoller since he was the junior of the three.
However, what would be the point of such a meeting?

It could have little or nothing to do with what happened after impact since Wilde, Lightoller, Boxhall, Pitman and Lowe were absent from the bridge before the time. As for Andrews: what on earth would he have to do with it? He was simply the 'guarantee man'. His knowledge of what happened would start with him being called to help with the damage assessment after impact. So what did all the officer's know of events up until then that would harm them or the Company?
That there were numerous ice warnings received? Not that, because the senders of such warnings could vouch that they did. In incidentally to claim they never received them would have needed collussion by both wireless operators. This was highly unlikely sin they did not work for the WSC but for Marconi direct.
That the ship' speed was increased? Not that either because there is firm evidence that it was not.
The whole idea is just plain romantic daftness!

Scott:

Lightoller was in charge of the ship from 6pm to 10 pm that night. Apart from the half hour when he was relieved for his dinner, he would spend the entire time on the bridge wing.
When he came back on Watch after dinner, his relief would stay on the bridge wing, on Watch until he, Lightoller, had taken six or seven star sights. Then Lightoller would return to the bridge wing and stay there until Murdoch relieved him at 10pm.
Sure these guys would discuss what was happening. In fact I recall someone saying they discussed just how fast Titanic would go when they eventually did a full speed trial.

What most people do not know is that when it is planned to significantly increase a ship's speed, the navigators must be informed. There are very sound reasons for doing so, one of which is the ability to predict the time for the next day's Noon on board the ship. If you read my last post, you will discover that they worked on the surmise that the clocks would be changed 47 minutes during the period Noon 14 to Noon 15. If there was going to be a speed run or a speed increase, it would not take place before Noon on April 15.
If Smith had informed his navigators that he was going to significantly increase speed he would have told them so, since this would effect there work when determining the approximate (DR) position at any time. In any case, the planned clock change shows that they expected to cover about the same distance as they did on the previous day.

As I pointed out to David, there would be no use trying to hide the ice warnings. Those who sent them and those who received them were outwith the controls of the White Star Company.

Jim C
 

Scott Mills

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The words we choose form the thoughts we have. It is a dangerous thing to say the officers "lied" because that presupposes they told deliberate mistruths. This is not always the case.

I disagree here slightly. Withholding information from an official inquiry to hide your culpability in an accident is the same, at least to me, as deliberating lying. Furthermore, if you claim to not remember something you actually do, that is prima facie a lie.

This is particularly the case if people collude to, as we have been discussing, to hide this information. As a way of an imperfect analogy, if four people are picked up at the scene of a murder, and all four of them were involved in the planning of that murder, if they later tell the police they don't recall what happened, would that not be a lie?

For some reason I feel as though, and I've talked about this in detail elsewhere, we are walking on eggshells when it comes to Titanic's officers. We feel no need for this in the acrimonious argument over the mystery ship. One side will claim Lord and his officers lied, others will claim the same of Moore and Mount Temple. With Titanic we must go out of our way to say that her officers may have lied, but they really didn't.

In my mind it absolutely does not detract from the heroic actions taken by Titanic's officers on that night 100 years ago to acknowledge that those officers were human beings, with all the faults that this entails, and not saints.

As for no officer being caught perjuring themselves I will point this out (there is actually much more we can pick on to show where the officers were lying):

taken from the American inquiry
Senator SMITH.
I did not ask that. Did you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.


Here is a direct lie, which he immediately backtracks on when Senator Smith "calls him out" on it.


Senator SMITH.
I did not ask that. Did you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?[/i
It is one thing to lie and quite another to deliberately not bring up pertinent information. With the exception of Fourth Officer Boxhall, none of the surviving officers were caught in perjury. During the British inquiry he lied by claiming he knew knothing of an ice warning posted on a chit in the officer's chartroom. Later, he was forced to admit that not only did he post that warning, he actually wrote it in his own hand. Even so, Scott is correct (above) in saying that the surviving officers had compelling reasons not to discluse everything they knew. Their careers and perhaps even lives were at stake. The public loves scapegoats and official inquiries are more often to establish who gets to be the scapegoat than what actually took place.

What Ismay knew or didn't know or discussed or did not discuss is speculation. There are hints of his hand on the events of the night, but only hints -- no proof.

As to the captain, in Titanic "the bridge" was really a suite of rooms and not a singular place. It consided of the covered "captain's bridge" behind the center windows, the bridge wings, the wheelhouse, the officer's chartroom, and the master's navigation room. All of these spaces were used regularly in the conduct of the voyage. From Boxhall's testimony we learn that Captain Smith remained "in the loop" that night by asking certain navigational information be brought to him in his personal navigation room. This means he was effectively "on the bridge" as far as the watch officers were concerned.

My point is that no one person -- officer or rating -- on the bridge could have had full knowledge of what took place that night. The bridge layout prevented that. So, to know what other members of the bridge team were doing required post-accident conversations, presumably aboard Carpathia.

Very, very interesting! I hate to say this, but given what you are telling me here, the story told by Lightoller's granddaughter just got more plausible for me, not likely mind you, but possible. Also, what is the likelihood that the captain, somewhere in the "loop" would have heard the lookout bells and made it to a flying bridge before impact?

I have to say again that the lookouts did not sound a "warning" in the sense we use the word today. What they did was simply announce they had seen something ahead of the ship.

Yes, I know this. It still seems to me that 3 bells (something directly ahead of the ship), in an area of ice, in the middle of the night, might encourage an officer that hears it to immediately try to identify what that lookout bell was trying to inform the bridge about.

Scott is correct that if Captian Smith felt the sway of his ship in a hard-over turn in mid-Atlantic he would have been on his way to the bridge at a dead run. But, that would have been the case only if he was not expecting a course change. Things would be quite different in this latter case. If he had ordered the ship to swing to the left onto a new course, the sway of the ship would have reassured him that everything was happening in good order.

David, is there any reason to believe that Smith would have expected a course adjustment around 11:30 on Sunday night? Also, does any one report actually feeling this hard over turn?
 
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>>However, my point is, in order for the cover up to begin, it had to have started on Titanic.<<

Actually, it doesn't. All that's needed is a place and a time for everybody concerned to get together and compare notes. It could have started on the decks of the Titanic but it doesn't follow that it has to.

Of course, all of this assumes that these people may have contrived an organized effort to lie and to mislead, and it can be shown at least that Lightoller attempted to mislead the U.S. Senate when he asserted that the ship recieved no ice warnings. Senator Smith producing transcripts of the transmissions the Titanic recieved (it never occured to Lights that radio was a party line which anybody could listen to) put a quick end to that.

The problem here is that when you go over the transcripts themselves you see the usual mix of confusion and disagreement when different people try to bear witness to the same event. Hardly what you would expect to see if they were all in cahoots in an attempt to mislead any inquiry.
 
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Sometimes what appears to be a conspiracy is just the way things happen. If Scott, Jim, Michael, and I all get on a bus to Keokuk, is that a conspiracy? Or, could it be that we are all Titanic enthusiasts who happen for our own reasons to be going to Keokuk? I suspect what appears to be a dark and dirty conspiracy in the Titanic case is pretty much the same as that bus to Keokuk. Everybody needed pretty much the same outcomes from the inquiries. So, they all worked together.

There is a major legal difference between actually saying words you know are untrue and simply not telling all you know in testimony. The first gets you convicted of perjury, the second does not. The industry of witness counseling helps people know how to not step over the line when they're testifying.

Second Officer Lightoller certainly did know there were icebergs across Titanic's path, but in the context of the questioning he was correct instating he had no knowledge of any particular icebergs at 11:40 p.m. Fine point? Sure, but just enough of a distinction that the First Officer avoided perjuring himself.

As to whether or not Titanic's surviving officers met while on Carpathia, I think there is photographic proof. If memory serves there is a photo of several officers in discussion on the rescue ship. Human nature demands such meetings so the survivors can help each other shake off the effects of disaster. Sharing personal experiences helps excise the devils out of our memories. That's hardly a conspiracy. But, I suspect the officer of Titanic went deeper into the legal aspects of the sinking. They knew an inquiry was coming when they got home and it would only have been prudent to compare stories.

-- David G. Brown
 

Scott Mills

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Sometimes what appears to be a conspiracy is just the way things happen. If Scott, Jim, Michael, and I all get on a bus to Keokuk, is that a conspiracy? Or, could it be that we are all Titanic enthusiasts who happen for our own reasons to be going to Keokuk? I suspect what appears to be a dark and dirty conspiracy in the Titanic case is pretty much the same as that bus to Keokuk. Everybody needed pretty much the same outcomes from the inquiries. So, they all worked together.

No, its is not. But if we were driving that bus, and decided to drive 100mph through a snow storm, then crashed that bus it might be. Particularly if while waiting for the highway patrol we all talked and agreed to not mention that we were speeding, and don't say anything about Scott being drunk, Jim being asleep at the wheel and David ignoring the tire pressure monitor light being on.

Agreeing to not remember, or omit any single one of those facts of our accident on the side of that road would constitute a conspiracy. And in the case of Titanic's officers, I find it exceedingly difficult to imagine that all four men would spontaneously forget to remember the same facts. It seems that one of those four men, without input from the others, would have slipped in this regard. Particularly if the speed increase as you've discussed it had actually happened.


Second Officer Lightoller certainly did know there were icebergs across Titanic's path, but in the context of the questioning he was correct instating he had no knowledge of any particular icebergs at 11:40 p.m. Fine point? Sure, but just enough of a distinction that the First Officer avoided perjuring himself.

The full passage from the inquiry is as follows

Senator SMITH.
You knew you were in the vicinity of icebergs; did you not?


Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Water is absolutely no guide to icebergs, sir.

Senator SMITH.
I did not ask that. you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.


There is no fine point of law here to save Lightoller. He is clearly being asked if he knew that he was in the vicinity of ice that night. Importantly not if he was aware of specific icebergs Titanic was likely to encounter at 11:40 at night. Lightoller's answer is no. He has here, by definition, perjured himself. What saves him from being charged with perjury as a crime is a number of variables, but the important one being that when being confronted to the direct evidence of the contrary, he amends his statement and admits that he was, in fact, generally aware that they were entering an area of reported ice.

Furthermore, you are not allowed to answer questions while under oath as you want them to be answered, otherwise you could always "lie" by not lying. For example:

"Did you give money or another incentive to the judge to get a favorable judgement?"
"No." (technically my friends at another business gave him a lucrative consulting job. Therefore *I* did not give her anything. or Technically speaking I simply wrote him a check, the bank paid him. or Technically speaking I merely placed the money in his hand, what he decided to afterward has nothing to do with me.)

"Did you kill the victim?"
"No." (I merely pulled the trigger, the projectile and trauma it caused killed him. Or I put the pillow over his face, but what killed him was lack of air.)

We could do this on infinidum.

It borders on the absurd to suggest that Lightoller could have answered as he did, and rightfully retreated to the position that he was not aware of the specific pieces of ice that might be floating in the Atlantic.

Human nature demands such meetings so the survivors can help each other shake off the effects of disaster. Sharing personal experiences helps excise the devils out of our memories. That's hardly a conspiracy. But, I suspect the officer of Titanic went deeper into the legal aspects of the sinking. They knew an inquiry was coming when they got home and it would only have been prudent to compare stories.

You are absolutely right about this. My own academic research focuses on this phenomena explicitly. Conversations like these actually cause people's memories of certain events to become fixed, even though they might not reflect reality. This is why police officers often separate witnesses to accidents to take statements. However, just because this is the case, it does not mean, by any means, that a group of people (in this case Titanic's officers) could not be colluding to lie, omit and obfuscate.

Also, going back a few steps, did anyone report feeling the hard over turn of the ship that night? And would Smith have had any reason to believe that a hard over navigational maneuver was scheduled for around the time Titanic struck the berg?
 
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Also, going back a few steps, did anyone report feeling the hard over turn of the ship that night? And would Smith have had any reason to believe that a hard over navigational maneuver was scheduled for around the time Titanic struck the berg?

I haven't read about anybody specifically mentioning feeling the ship TURN. A few people mentioned a shudder or a slight bump, which I'd tend to think was the actual collision and not the turn. There was a discussion about something similar on the old board, as I recall, somebody (Sam Halpern, maybe?) posted that Titanic would only heel over about 4 degrees in a hard over turn. Somebody else, David Brown if my memory serves, mentioned that in his experience the average passenger won't notice anything is really amiss until the angle of heel reaches 6-8 degrees or so...I'm fuzzy on the actual numbers, but maybe the gentlemen who posted the information originally would be kind enough to refresh my memory?
 

Scott Mills

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I haven't read about anybody specifically mentioning feeling the ship TURN. A few people mentioned a shudder or a slight bump, which I'd tend to think was the actual collision and not the turn. There was a discussion about something similar on the old board, as I recall, somebody (Sam Halpern, maybe?) posted that Titanic would only heel over about 4 degrees in a hard over turn. Somebody else, David Brown if my memory serves, mentioned that in his experience the average passenger won't notice anything is really amiss until the angle of heel reaches 6-8 degrees or so...I'm fuzzy on the actual numbers, but maybe the gentlemen who posted the information originally would be kind enough to refresh my memory?

It makes sense to me that the ordinary passengers might not notice the ship turning, but it seems that more experienced seaman--the officers and the crew--would have recognized the change in ship motion? Maybe not.

Basically, I'm just curious if it is probable that is Smith was in the officer chart room, didn't hear the bells, would he have noticed the turn?

Also, I tend to agree that most passenger reports probably refer specifically to the collision itself.

*edit

I hate to keep bringing this up, but I keep thinking about it. Regarding perjury. There are many occasions that Boxhall perjurs himself. He explicitly perjurs himself when he says he is on deck approaching the bridge at the time of the collision--sometime in the early 60s he tells a totally different story saying he was actually in his cabin, having tea. There are also things where perjury is heavily implied--like not knowing about Amerika's ice warning, or the fact they were near ice. The ice warning Lightoller claims is tacked up in the chart room for use by officers doing navigation there, Boxhall claims to spend most of the evening of the 14th in the chart room doing navigating, but doesn't notice the ice warning? He also says he's not informed by anyone about the presence of ice, but Lightoller (after first trying to deny he knew about the vicinity of ice) mentions ice orders explicitly given to lookouts and a conversation with Smith about ice. How can it be that Boxhall was totally unaware of this and not informed?

I can also point to where Lightoller's story and Boxhall's cannot possibly match, particularly the time after collision that Lightoller claims to be on the bridge.

Anyway, I'll stop bringing it up now unless we get into more specifics about it. -sm
 

Doug Criner

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Lightoller could maintain the he didn't KNOW for sure that there were icebergs in the vicinity immediately before the collision. He could say the such certain knowledge could only be achieved by visually observing the 'bergs. Sen. Smith could have asked Lightoller if was aware of iceberg WARNINGS for the vicinity, but he didn't. The obvious strategy that Titanic depended upon is that ice would be seen be the lookouts in time to take evasive action. Bad assumption, of course, but it seems that it was endorsed by the captain.

Also, the question asks Lightoller about ICEBERGS, not just about ICE.

I think Lightoller might have had enough wiggle room to avoid perjury.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello there gentlemen!

Perhaps we should all carefully read the transcripts in their entirety? Otherwise, if we are looking for trees..we'll see trees!


First Boxhall.

Scott you wrote:

"He explicitly perjurs himself when he says he is on deck approaching the bridge at the time of the collision--sometime in the early 60s he tells a totally different story saying he was actually in his cabin, having tea"

No he does not Scott! He said, and I quote:

"At the time when the ice berg was reported from the Crow’s Nest, when they struck the bells… I was sitting in my cabin having a cup of tea, and immediately got up … And walked along to the bridge about sixty feet away on the same deck. I was about half way between the Officer’s Quarters and the Bridge when the crash came… and I didn’t break my step. She was doing Full Speed and it didn’t break my step."

Factually, he said he was in his cabin at the 3 bells and halfway [30 feet] to [from] the bridge when he felt the impact.

As for Lightoller's alleged prevarication... again read that part of the transcript in it's entirety.
Lightoller's 'crime' comes at the end of 46 questions concerning the taking of air and sea temperatures.

It all began with Senator Smith pricking up his ears when Lightoller said the possibility that the ship had hit ice had entered his mind when he was first aware that she had hit something.

At the word 'ice', Smith asked Lightoller if he had seen ice before.
Lightoller replied 'no'.
Smith obviously did not believe him and launched into the series of 46 inane questions I referred to.
These questions were all designed to reveal that the officers of the ship knew they were in ice long before she actually hit an iceberg.
Senator Smith revealed his ignorance of the subject by worrying it like a dog with a bone.
I quote the culminating questions:

"Senator SMITH.
And the fact,[readings of air and sea temperature] is not communicated to you directly after each test?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Not unless I ask for it.

Senator SMITH.
And you did not think it necessary to ask for it that night?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
You knew you were in the vicinity of icebergs; did you not?[so why did you not ask for it?]
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Water is absolutely no guide to icebergs, sir.[ so there would be no point in me asking for the air and sea temperature for that purpose. ]

Senator SMITH.
I did not ask that. Did you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?

At that moment, Lightoller should have asked the Senator "when?
At the time these readings were taken? Or later on that evening?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir,."[ because as I say, air and sea temperatures are not an idication of there being icebergs in the vicinity]

The bold text between brackets is, as I read it, the missing parts of the questioning and the kind of answer I as a mariner would have given to exactly the same questions.

You also write:

"There is no fine point of law here to save Lightoller. He is clearly being asked if he knew that he was in the vicinity of ice that night. Importantly not if he was aware of specific icebergs Titanic was likely to encounter at 11:40 at night."

As I pointed out Scott, there was nothing 'clear' about how Senator Smith put that question.
Smith latched-on to the sea and air sampling practice and connected it to the presence of ice.
Lightoller simply told him about the significance of such temperatures and that he had gone off Watch at 10pm without previously seeing ice.
Lightoller correctly told him that He did not know he was in the vicinity of ice. He had calculated that they would be up to the ice at about 11 pm that night.. over 30 miles ahead of the ship... but had alerted the lookouts long before then.
As far as he was concerned, there was no ice in the vicinity of Titanic when he was on Watch.
The fine point here is the word 'vicinity'. Titanic was in the vicinity of the Grand Banks but they were 60 miles to the north of her track.

Smith was a lawyer and asked lawyer's question.
Lightoller and the others were seamen who did not think like lawyers and who probably made the same mistake as many reasearchers do.. that the questioners were in search of knowledge of the affair, all such knowledge, and that they understood the answers they were getting!
In any case, Lightoller told the lookouts to start watching for small ice after 9-30pm, half an hour before he went off Watch. If they had seen ice of any kind, they would have reported it. Lookout Jewell who went off Watch at the same time as Lightoller specifically stated that he did not see any ice before 10pm.

Your point about not being allowed to answer a question in the way you would like to is valid in the type of cases you quote but you forget the alleged purpose of this hearing.
These were not courts of of law to determine guilt or innocence, but hearings to determine exactly what happened how it happened and what could be done to either prevent it happening again or at least to lessen the outcome should it happen again.
What you do not know is that sailors of senior rank and qualification...such as were most of the surviving officers of Titanic... were very much aware of the reasons for a UK Commisioner's Inquiry. It may be hard for you and others to understand, but the fear of the consequences of being found out to be lying about what went on that night were enough to ensure that these guys answered as honestly as their memories would allow.
The loss of employment with the White Star Company was the least of their worries.
They would not knowingly lie to the US Inquiry because that body did not have the power to cancel or suspend their Certificates of Competency thus removing their livelyhood.

"Also, going back a few steps, did anyone report feeling the hard over turn of the ship that night? And would Smith have had any reason to believe that a hard over navigational maneuver was scheduled for around the time Titanic struck the berg? "

Here are a few facts:

It is highly unlikely that anyone except the lookouts would notice a slight heel in an emergency turn. Titanic was fast but she was not a destroyer!
When a ship turns in the normal way to alter course, there is no sensation at all.
For Captain Smith in his chart room, the first indication of an emergency would be the shrill sound of the engine room telegraphs followed by the absolute, unaccustomed stillness the stopped engines would bring.
If that didn't get him onto the outer bridge then the sound of steam blowing off would most certainly do so.

Jim C.
 

Scott Mills

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Lightoller could maintain the he didn't KNOW for sure that there were icebergs in the vicinity immediately before the collision.

Doug, you have the same problem of infinite regress no matter how you phrase the question. The meaning and intent of Smiths question is very clear, did you know you were entering an area of reported ice?

If you ask the question, did you know about the reported ice he still could have answered no to the question using your logic based on an infinite number of ways that he as a witness creatively interprets the question.

E.g. "I didn't know for sure because the position could have been wrong, or our position could be wrong, or x amount of time had passed so the ice could have cleared, or maybe the wireless operator transcribe the positions wrong..."

Again, to infinity. It is not useful to try and distort reality and protect Lights from the fact he lied. Face it we all knew that at the very least these officers circled the wagons to protect White Star to some extent. This has been accepted for years.

That Lightoller lied on the stand does not, in any way, impugn his character in my mind, nor does it detract from the heroic acts of he, his fellow officers, and crew.

What it does do is acknowledge his humanity. He was a person, with all the faults that entails, not a saint.

Recognition of this merely opens up new paths for us to tread when trying to fix exactly what happened that night 100 years ago. It frees us from the position of having to assume that all we were told in the inquiries by the offices is true, or that it constitutes the whole story.

In ligh of this I am not sure why it is so important to do whatever it takes, and put words and interpretations of questions into the mind of a man 70 years gone just to preserve the idea that Lightoller was a good man.

Man is the operative word, we just need to see how these men acted in the crises to know they are good men. That they lied about the accident itself in some way does not change this.
 

Jim Currie

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I give you 10 out of 10 for trying Scott.

I think you have a problem with understanding human beings or have been in association with some very dubious ones. In fact, when 99% of us are asked a question, we answer it to the best of our ability. We are more likely to do so when that questions is direct and asked without attempted, but transparent guile.

Senator William Alden Smith opened his mouth and firmly placed both feet in it.
His line of questioning was disjointed and probably to Lightoller, as a seafarer...pointless.

Smith starts at the end.. with Lightoller assuming that the ship had hit ice then moves directly from asking the man about what he thought the ship had hit at midnight to asking him questions about ice detection in general.
In order to establish when Lightoller first thought he was in the vicinity of ice, He should have asked him that direct question. Instead, he askes a seaman a series of 46 questions concerning the asociation between water temperature and the presence of ice.

I suggest that Smith was behaving like a trial lawyer instead of trying to get quickly to the truth. Asking questions to determine guilt or innocence.... to determine or apportion blame. Instead of attempting to learn something that might help to prevent such an accident happening again.
He was further burdened by an abysmal lack of understanding of the answers he was getting. The result was...as is the case with many researchers who do not understand what they are reading or who can not paint a mind-picture of what is being described...he suspected the witness was covering something up.

By his line of questioning, Smith suggested to Lightoller that water temperatures were taken to determine proximity (vicinity?) of ice.
Lightoller correctly replied that this was not the purpose.
Smith obviously did not believe him despite Lightoller telling him this was normal practice on ships at sea. Smith persisted with that line of questioning. If he had asked Lightoller the purpose of taking the ice the latter could have explained it to him.
Let me explain it to you.

The reason for taking sea and air temperaure is for weather forecasting.. not for the detection of ice. Simply because the temperature of the surface water, largely determines the temperature of the air above it.
Since, in normal circumstances, the surface water is thoroughly mixed, it is not a good indicator of the presence of ice. All seafarers know this. Obviously Senator Smith did not!
At the time Smith was asking Lightoller these questions, the latter knew that he had had warnings of ice west of longitude 49West. He also knew that Titanic would not be up to that position before he went off duty and that she was well past 49 West when she hit the iceberg.
Added to that, knew that the lookouts during his Watch from 8 to 10 had not seen ice.
It follows that when he was asked if he knew or thought he was in the vicinity of ice before he went off Watch at 10pm, he answered 'No'.
I put it you councilor.... you would have answered the question in exactly the same way!

Here is another bits of nonsense from Senator Smith on the same persistent veign:

"Senator SMITH.
I did not ask that. Did you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
No, sir.

Senator SMITH.
Did you know of the wireless message from the Amerika to the Titanic, warning you that you were in the vicinity of icebergs?"

The message from 'Amerika' was received before 1pm that afternoon. This is how Lightoller politely dealt with these daft questions a little later:

"Senator SMITH.
So that from the time this communication came to you you were not in charge of the ship until 6 o'clock that night?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Exactly.

Senator SMITH.
Who succeeded you as officer of the ship?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
The first officer, Mr. Murdoch.

Senator SMITH.
Did you communicate to him this information that the captain had given you on the bridge?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I communicated that when I was relieving him at 1 o'clock.

Senator SMITH.
What did you tell him?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
Exactly what was in the telegram.

Senator SMITH.
What did he say?

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
"All right.".

Senator SMITH.
So that the officers of the ship - the officer in charge, Mr. Murdoch, was fully advised by you that you were in proximity of these icebergs -

Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
I would hardly call that proximity.

Jim C.
 

Jude

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Another excellent post Jim - thanks.

In his Titanic and other ships, Lightoller is scathing about the American inquiry, so I'm glad to have your agreement! :) Here's a bit:
With all the goodwill in the world, the "enquiry" could be called nothing but a complete farce. wherein all the traditions and customs of the sea were continually and persistently flouted.

Such a contrast to the dignity and decorum of the court held by Lord Mersey in London...who insisted, when necessary, that any cross-questioner should at any rate be familiar with at least the rudiments of the sea.... One didn't need to explain that "going down by the bow" and "going down by the head" was one and the same thing. Nor, that water-tight compartments, dividing the ship, were not necessarily places of refuge in which passengers could safely ensconce themselves, whilst the ship went to the bottom of the Atlantic, to be rescued later, as convenient. Nor was it necessary to waste precious time on lengthy explanations as to how and why a sailor was not an officer, though an officer was a sailor." (pages 178/9)

Scott, you have Titanic and other ships by Lightoller. He goes into a large amount of explanation about the sea conditions etc in pages 148-153. I'm going away and simply don't have time to copy any more, but I do encourage you to read it.
 

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