Titanic Engine running time from Noon on April 14th.


Jake Peterson

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David G. Brown said:
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.

I see my theory is being discussed. Glad I could raise some questions. I was just speculating myself, based on Mr. Brown's speculation here. If the officers knew they were in the general area of icebergs, and that they had hit one, without slowing down. Heck would hit the ceiling when the general public heard about this. Ok, yeah, it's true that in the BOT/AI testimonies, most of the captains interviewed claimed that the general norm was to speed until they spotted something, then to slow down. However, in this case, they did hit something. With all those rich people aboard, I'd be afraid of being sued and held liable too.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Jake is on the right track with his overall thinking about the necessity for Titanic's surviving officers not to reveal everything they knew or tell everything about what took place that night.

However, I have to nip one incorrect assumption in the bud. Like so many others who do not have experience operating vessels on open water, Jake has made the assumption that slowing down was a correct response to the danger, if not THE correct response. This is not true. And. like so many other non-truths about Titanic, this "slowing down" assumption amounts to a mental roadblock preventing a clear appreciation of what took place.

First of all, the difference between 20 and 22 knots is only 2.3 land miles per hour -- or a fast walk for a healthy person. Put another way, the lookouts had a horizon distance of about 11 miles. At 20 knots the horizon was 33 minutes away. At the faster 22 knots, the horizon moved only 3 minutes closer to 30 minutes of steaming. But, there is a much greater reason why slowing down was contraindicated. In itself, slowing only delays the inevitable. No matter what the speed, the only way to avoid danger is to alter course. On land, vehicles are confined to narrow roadways. Ships at sea are free to maneuver without worrying about curbs or painted yellow lines. Titanic could and should have been miles south of where it was when the accident took place. This is where Captain Smith's prudence failed him. Dodging 44 miles south would have cost him less than two hours of time because even while going that south Titanic would still have been making healthy westing. And, if the ship had done that, we would all be on some other forum.

To illustrate the lesser importance of speed in avoiding collisions all we have to do is look at the International Rules of the Road. If you study them, you will find a "pecking order" of actions to be taken when there is risk of collision with another vessel. The first and most important action is to turn away from the danger. Slowing is only indicated as a secondary action and stopping is acceptable only when you have no other choice.

To give Jake his due, I believe that he is getting close to the "fear factor" that motivated some of the near-perjury by surviving officers (and in Boxhall's case, outright perjury). But, my view is that Captain Smith did alter course once prior to the accident a half hour before impact. That maneuver did not gain enough safety, so he chose to use the same tactic -- turning to port on starboard helm -- again a half hour later. It was this second attempt to skirt south of the ice that set up the inevitable collision. Turning once and not succeeding in gaining safety is not negligence because no one can see the future. But, when Captain Smith opened the door to liability issues when used the same failed tactic a second time that night and the result was loss of his ship.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jake Peterson

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Thanks David!

Yeah, I have no experience with sea matters myself, so I'm just going by what I've read and seen discussed here.

I do know, however, that as humans, our first reaction is to stop in the face of danger. This, of course isn't a good idea, whether in a car or a boat. The chain of commands for what took place on the bridge is well debated in other threads on this message board. But, it is mostly likely true that the command wasn't full speed astern with one of the telemotors rung as to get Titanic moved in a circular direction, so that by the time the iceberg approached the ship, it would nearly miss it, instead of a glancing blow.

Also, I wonder what damage the ship would sustain, if we kept it full ahead, but the helm hard over? I would figure the momentum of the ship would be an advantage.
 
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I'm sorry if I appear to have come down hard on Jake because that was not my intent. He is hardly alone in being fooled by the spurious "slow down" argument. It makes soooooo much sense in much of everyday life ashore where maneuvering room for vehicles is limited by the width of the pavement. When I was teaching prospective captains this idea of turning to avoid danger was often difficult to get across even to people with years of experience. The U.S. Coast Guard is so aware of our human predeliction that questions on the master's examination are designed to trick wannabe captains into choosing "slow down" when the correct answer is simply to change course to avoid danger altogether.

Nobody alive today knows exactly what took place on Titanic's bridge. This is not only because of the grim reaper doing his work over time, but also because of what appears to be deliberately vague or mileading statements under oath by survivors. My real point in discussing the erronious thinking of "slow down" is to clear our minds of a century of wrong-headed conventional wisdom. Once that's done, we can look afresh at the known facts and sort them out in a way that fits the "ordinary practices of seamen." We can never even approach the truth with wrong assumptions.

The secret to high speed passages (ashore on the highway or at sea) is to keep moving toward your destination. Sailboat racers can't go straight into the wind, they must tack to one side and then the other. The key to winning is not the actual speed of the sailboat through the water, but rather what navigators call "Velocity Made Good," or "VMG." That's the straight-line speed the sailboat is making toward its destination. If Titanic slowed down that night, it would have reduced its VMG by every knot of speed taken off the ship's way. However, if instead Captain Smith had dodged 40 or more miles to the south by steering a different course from "The Corner," the ship's VMG to New York might have dropped by a half knot or less. On a trans-Atlantic passage that's a negligible change paid for a huge gain in safety.

It's my opinion that Captain Smith was trying to go around the ice by losing as little VMG as possible so as to satisfy his boss, J.Bruce Ismay, who appears to have wanted some sort of speed accomplishment for Titanic. The facts suggest to me that Smith's approach was to skirt the known ice field by keeping just within sight from the bridge and no closer. This is a technique borrowed from coastwise steamers rounding a headland. In daylight, it would have been a safe enough approach to the ice. But, it was not daylight and the field was not the only ice danger. There were outriding icebergs and one of them changed history.

The navigational evidence is that Titanic did not go south of the steamer track to New York soon enough. In that assessment Boxhall was correct. Captain Smith did not start to maneuver around the ice until a half hour before impact. By then his ship was in extreme danger even though the sea was calm and the night clear. Had the captain held the great circle course past "The Corner;" or, had Smith taken a slightly more southerly rhumb line from "The Corner;" this danger would not have existed. But Cuda, Wuda, and Shuda were not in Titanic's crew that night. The ship certainly could have been farther south, it would have been farther south, and it should have been farther south at 11:40 o'clock -- but it wasn't.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jake Peterson

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Hi David;

No, I'm not offended, or anything. I enjoy reading these discussions. Obviously, the fact that Titanic was 46,328 tons worked against it that night. Look at the Californian: it's ship of 6220, and when the officer spotted icebergs directly ahead, Capt Lord had time to run the engines full astern, and then stop for the night. I don't believe that ship suffered any damage.

the larger the object, the longer it'll take for it to slow down or stop.
 

Jim Currie

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You surprise me David!

Let me remind you. This thread is about the number of hours Titanic's engines were running between Noon on April 14th,1912 and the time she hit the iceberg and sank. We both agree this was about 12 hours and 4 minutes.
In the light of this, let's examine your proposal that the ship's engine revolutions were increased at the time of the 7-30pm sights (probably nearer to 7-35pm).

I assume we both agree that Titanic was 126 miles from The Corner at Noon and that her wreck is now 133 miles from The Corner. This points to her having travelled 259 miles from Noon until she hit the iceberg. The patent Log reading indicated that she had travelled 260 miles so we won't quibble and go for the 260. This means that Titanic had an average speed of 260 divided by the run time = 21.55 Knots. If, as you suggest, Captain Smith ordered an increase at the time of 7-30pm sights and Titanic increased to 22.5 knots, she would be at 22.5 knots by 7-45pm that night. this would mean that Titanic did not make more than 21 knots between Noon that day and the time of impact. However, the evidence of her officers gives her a speed of 21.5 knots. This could only come from engine rpm or from patent log readings.

Something is patently wrong! (forgive my poor attempt sat a pun).

To increase speed, extra boilers had to be lit to produce the steam neeeded for this. Wew know from the evidence that they were indeed lit early on Sunday April 14 and were up to full pressure by the early evening. We also know that in the early evening, between pm and 8pm, the steam they produced was added to the steam already on line feeding the engines.

This last evidence, together with the anecdotal evidence you refer to, is used by the proponents of increased speed to prove their point. However, you and they fail to take into consideration the one piece of evidence that destroys the increase in speed theory.

[B]DEPOSITION by ALFRED SHIERS [/B]

Produced sworn and examined the 31st day of October 1913 under and by virtue of a Commission issued out of the District Court of the United States of the Southern District of New York in a certain cause therein depending and at issue entitled “In the Matter of the Petition of The Oceanic “Steam Navigation Company Limited, as owners of the “Steamship “Titanic” for limitation of its Liability”.


ROYAL COURTS OF JUSTICE.
Friday, 31st October, 1912

Q. Can you recall the hours on which you were on duty on Sunday the 14th of April; you were on duty on this Sunday, the day the accident happened to the “Titanic” from 12 to 4 in the morning, I think?
- 4 to 8.

Q. Can you tell me how many boiler fires were unlighted on the Sunday morning when you went off?
- Three main boilers and five auxiliary boilers.

Q. In the course of the voyage from Southampton up till the Sunday morning had those additional boilers been fired at all, lighted?
- Yes, in the night on our watch they were lighted; on the Sunday night.

Q. When did it come to your knowledge that those boilers had been lighted?
- The engineer came through and told us they were connected up at 7 o’clock.


Q. What was said to you?
- “Ease down firing.”

Q. And what was said about connecting up?
- They said: “Connect the three extra boilers up” or “three more boilers.”
.

When all the main boilers were placed on line and up to working pressure, the firing rate was reduced to compensate. this meant that they did not increase speed that night. A|ny steam engineer wil tell you that reducibg firing rate is another way to reduce speed!

VMG? Jesus! what happened to proper sea-faring terms of 'course made good', 'average speed' and 'general average speed'?

Jake :

"Also, I wonder what damage the ship would sustain, if we kept it full ahead, but the helm hard over? I would figure the momentum of the ship would be an advantage."

That's exactly what they did Jake! There is no evidenec that points to another helm or engine order being part of the initial avoidance manoeuvre. Anyone who says otherwise is speculating.

Nor is there any avidence that Captain Smith ordered a change of course other that the change in the order book requiring an alteration of course at 5-50pm on the evening of April 14.

Jim C.
 

Jake Peterson

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Jake :

"Also, I wonder what damage the ship would sustain, if we kept it full ahead, but the helm hard over? I would figure the momentum of the ship would be an advantage."

That's exactly what they did Jake! There is no evidenec that points to another helm or engine order being part of the initial avoidance manoeuvre. Anyone who says otherwise is speculating.

Nor is there any evidence that Captain Smith ordered a change of course other that the change in the order book requiring an alteration of course at 5-50pm on the evening of April 14.

Jim C.

Well, when I asked that, I was thinking of the testimonies of Barrett, Hesketh, et al of the engine room, as well as the officers on the bridge. They were talking about the telegraph commands, in which they all were in disagreement on, whether it was rung down to Stop, then slow ahead, or to stop, and go astern, or whether it was -insert string of commands here-.

Just thinking that if it was as easy as keeping the speed, and having one telegraph ring full astern, while another read port stern, or whatever the telegraph command was for turning right or left, there probably wouldn't be as wide a variation of disputed eye-witness testimony.

Or maybe there would be. I guess confusion does weird things to people. :)
 
Oct 28, 2000
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At the risk of harping, I'll get this thread back to its original topic: the duration from noon until the accident. Earlier, I pointed out that “midnight” for the crew was to occur at 12 hours 24 minutes past noon April 14th, or 2424 hours in April 14th ship's time. That allowed the on-duty Starboard Watch to serve its half (24 minutes) of the total 47 extra minutes that night. At 2424 hours the Port Watch was to come on duty and serve its extra time until 2447 hours April 14th, which was midnight marking 0000 hours of April 15th.

White Star regulations required that the ship be steadied by standard compass every half hour. This required evolution would have been due at 12 hours past noon, or 2400 hours April 14th. That corresponded with 11:36 p.m. on crew clocks. This is why Fourth officer Boxhall was coming out of the officers quarters when lookout Fleet rang three strokes on the crow's nest bell. It is also why quartermaster Olliver was on the compass platform getting the instrument ready for use. Minutes later at 11:40 p.m. on the crew clocks came the accident.

As I have shown in previous posts, 11:40 p.m. for the crew was the equivalent of 2404 hours in April 14th ship's time. This means the duration between noon and impact on the iceberg was 12 hours 4 minutes. Jim and I are in agreement...no, total agreement... about this.

Jim's comments about steam engineering also follow most of what little I know about the subject. Firing rate and number of boilers is related to speed. Another of my correspondents has suggested that Titanic had enough boilers on line prior to lighting off those “new” ones that Sunday to make the desired speed. He suggests it was time to rake out the fireboxes of some furnances which had been on line since the ship lay at H&W in Belfast. If he is correct, this would mean the “new” boilers simply replaced steam lost to raking out the “old” ones. His idea is plausible, but I have never seen anything in testimony from survivors that backs up the idea.

However, there is direct evidence from Third Officer Pitman that Titanic did increase speed that Sunday evening. Senator Fletcher asked him directly, “How much had you increased your speed Sunday night?” To that Pitman answered, “To 21½ knots.” The senator then inquired as to how much increase that represented. “Only about a knot,” was Pitman's answer. Unfortunately, Senator Fletcher did not ask, and Pitman did not volunteer the clock time when that increase took place. All we know is that Titanic did increase its speed sometime that Sunday evening.

We know from Fifth Officer Lowe that the ship approached “The Corner” on a great circle course of 240.5̊ T. He told Senator Smith that the distance covered was 162 miles, which was impossible. To have gone 162 miles in 5.8 hours would have required a speed of nearly 28 knots. But, if Lowe was referring not to the distance from noon to “The Corner,” but to the 8 p.m. dead reckoning he was required to produce then the ship's made good speed was only 20.25 knots. Or, if he calculated the DR of 7:30 p.m. stars, that would have produced a speed made good of 21.6 knots.

The problem with relying upon DR speeds based on Lowe's testimony is that he did not compute either the 8 p.m. dead reckoning nor the 7:30 p.m. stars. Those tasks fell to his superior, Third Officer Pitman who told the U.S. inquiry that Titanic was making “about 21½” (knots). It would appear that Pitman computed Titanic's dead reckoning at 7:30 p.m. for use in shooting and resolving the star sights taken by Second Officer Lightoller. This is in keeping with standard practices of the time.

Although Pitman may have computed the 7:30 p.m. DR, but he did not resolve those star sights. He got started, but there was not time to finish before change of watch. “I did not finish them,” Pitman told Senator Smith. “Mr. Boxhall took on then and finished them.” As I have noted previously, if Fourth Officer Boxhall really did compute the 7:30 p.m. fix as he also claimed, it did not make much of an impression on his mind. Never once did Boxhall give those coordinates to history.

What Boxhall did give us is a 22 knot speed that he used in calculating the ship's dead reckoning during his watch.

So, Jim and I are quibbling over a half knot which is 51 feet per minute difference between 21½ knots of Lowe/Pitman and 22 knots of Boxhall. This might seem picking fly specks out of the pepper, but I assure you a half knot is important. It represents about a 2% speed difference; or, about 12 miles in a 24 hour day.

Proof that for whatever his reasons Boxhall did use 22 knots as Titanic's speed comes from the ship's later CQD distress coordinates. The longitude of the first set (41̊44' North; 50̊ 24' West) is roughly 153 miles west of “The Corner.” It would have taken the ship 6 hours 57 hours to steam that distance at 22 knots. Adding that duration to the time Boxhall claimed Titanic turned “The Corner” at 5:50 p.m. gives 12:47 o'clock in April 14th ship's time – which would have been the same as 00:00 of April 15th.

Boxhall's CQD coordinates of 41̊46' North; 50̊14' West are located exactly 20 minutes steaming northeast of that first set of coordinates. This indicates the fourth officer “backed up” the first set by 20 minutes in the reciprocal direction of Titanic's westward travel. A line drawn between the two sets of CQD coordinates is 075/255̊ T. If we extend that line backwards, something interesting happens.

According to Lightoller and Pitman, Titanic took a 266̊T course from “The Corner.” The 075/255̊ line found above will cross this track line at exactly the ship's 11:30 p.m. April 14th time dead reckoning location. This crossing cannot be an accident. It tells me that at least Fourth Officer Boxhall believed Titanic turned left 11 degrees at 11:30 p.m. that night. This is a course change in mid-ocean, something ships do not do on a whim. It indicates to me that Captain Smith was maneuvering his ship to avoid danger as it neared the known ice field.

– David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David!

We should go back to basics and understand the thought process by which Titanic was turned at The Corner.
We know the order to turn the ship at 5-50pm had been written into the Captain's Night Order Book by Captain Smith. We also know that the distance to run from Noon to the turning point was 126 miles. So how would the officer of the Watch know when the ship had covered that distance?
Put another way, if Captain Smith wrote turn at 5-50pm he expected Titanic to start her turn a little earlier than that. Why? Because a ship like Titanic, moving at that speed would have to start her turn about half a mile short of the exact turning point. I suggest to you the following sequence of orders that would be given to Quartermaster Rowe:

At 05-40 pm, Officer of the Watch calls standby Quartermaster at the aft docking bridge.

"Quartermaster, let me know when the log reads 125"

" Very good sir!"

OOW questions helmsman:

" How is her head now Quartermaster?


" South, eighty five West sir"

At 5-48 pm standby QM calls from aft:

" Log right on 125 now sir!"

Junior officer reports this to OOW (or Captain)

The latter then gives the order: (log would be reading close to 125.5 miles)

" Bring her round easy to north, seventy one west Quartermaster!

" Very good sir...North, seventy one west"

" Let me know when she's right on".

"Aye aye sir"

" Course North seventy one west sir"

"Very well. Thank you Quartermaster"

When Rowe reports the ship to be on her new course, Titanic has covered the necesary 126 miles and be exactly on the new course line and the time is exactly 5-50pm.

The point in describing the event is to show that such things as changing a ship's course was not a whim or that the captain thought it might be a good idea. It was planned and executed in the manner I have described. If not, it was very close to it.
If I am correct, and they did use the patent log reading to determine the moment when to turn..and, if the log read 125 at 5-48pm then Titanic had averaged a speed of 21.55 since Noon.. not 22 knots as claimed by Boxhall
What is for certain is the fact that they would use some kind of measure as to when it was time to turn the ship.


"However, there is direct evidence from Third Officer Pitman that Titanic did increase speed that Sunday evening"

Not true! I'm afraid you did not read the full story.
The Senator was asking about the gradual increase in ship's speed over the previous 4 days. In fact, Pitman confirms that the ship's speed was not, to his knowledge, increased during the 24 hours previous to the accident. I quote:
"Senator FLETCHER.
And you kept increasing up to 21 1/2, so that at the time the iceberg was struck you were traveling at the highest rate of speed at which you had been going during the trip?

Mr. PITMAN.
Oh, no; the same speed we had been traveling for the last 24 hours.

Senator FLETCHER.
The same speed?

Mr. PITMAN.
The same speed."

It cannot be plainer.

"White Star regulations required that the ship be steadied by standard compass every half hour. This required evolution would have been due at 12 hours past noon, or 2400 hours April 14th. That corresponded with 11:36 p.m. on crew clocks. This is why Fourth officer Boxhall was coming out of the officers quarters when lookout Fleet rang three strokes on the crow's nest bell. It is also why quartermaster Olliver was on the compass platform getting the instrument ready for use. Minutes later at 11:40 p.m. on the crew clocks came the accident."

That is too neat David. You do not know for sure what Boxhall was doing before the 3 bells rang. However, if he was coming out of the accomodation when the bells rang and impact came when he was 30 feet from the bridge then either he or QM Olliver were mistaken with their times. Additionally, if Boxhall was supposed to be going up to the standard compass platform as you imply... why did he head for the bridge instead?
Olliver said he was at the 'standing' compass as he called it (perhaps the stenographer mis-heard him?) when he heard the bells and he looked up (Can't think why since there were two ruddy great funnels in front of him). He was trimming the compass lamps. He finished this work then went to the bridge. He was just entering onto the bridge when impact came.
Now unless Olliver could leap tall buildings at a single bound and wore 'Y' fronts over his pants, there is no way on this earth that he could have been 30 ' ahead of Boxhall at the time of impact. Simply because at the three bells, Boxhall was 60 feet from the bridge and Olliver was 160 feet behind him. In the time it took Boxahall to cover 30 feet, Olliver had covered a total of close on 210 feet (given diversions) he also had to negotiate a cluttered compass deck in total darkness as well as a pair of steps down onto the boat deck.
His evidence is pure fantasy! or he was moving at 30 feet per second or over 20 miles per hour.

"The problem with relying upon DR speeds based on Lowe's testimony is that he did not compute either the 8 p.m. dead reckoning nor the 7:30 p.m. stars. Those tasks fell to his superior, Third Officer Pitman who told the U.S. inquiry that Titanic was making “about 21½” (knots). It would appear that Pitman computed Titanic's dead reckoning at 7:30 p.m. for use in shooting and resolving the star sights taken by Second Officer Lightoller. This is in keeping with standard practices of the time."

In fact, Lowe did compute the 8pm DR. Here's the proof:

"Mr. LOWE.
From 6 to 8 I was busy working out this slip table as I told you before, and doing various odds and ends and working a dead-reckoning position for 8 o'clock p. m. to hand in to the captain, or the commander of the ship."

All this time, his boss, Pitman, would be working on Lightoller's sights right up until Boxhall appeared beside him to take over."

Another question: If as you say, the standard compass was to be checked every half hour and Pitman was working the sights, who did it at 7-30pm?

As for the DR's the one for the 7-35pm sights would be worked by Pitman after he had taken the last of Lightollers chronometer readings for the cellestial observations. He would have used an average speed of 21.5 knots from The Corner because he did not know the exact spot where Titanic turned. That being the case, his DR position for 7-35pm sights would be 41-56.7'N...47-44'W. and the distance from Noon would be 163.64 miles (probably 162 miles at 7-30pm). We can test this.

If we use Boxhall's stop time of 11-45pm and add 48 minutes to it (double-allow for 24 minute set back) that gives us a time of 12-34am and an engine running time of 4 hours 59 minutes from 7-35pm the night before. This means he used a distance of 109.62 miles for his run from sights. Run that back on the reciprocal course to 265 True and you'll find it puts Titanic at 41-55.5'N...47-47'N. That's a mile south and 2 miles west of Pitman's DR. If he had used a DR time of 7-38pm for the sights, he would be almost spot-on.
However, what is far more significant is the fact that if Boxhall had used a course of 266 True from the fix position to his CQD position he would have started from a fix position which was 4 miles south of the track.
This goes against Pitman's evidence that she was 'right on the Track'.

In fact, if you run from my calculated cellestial fix position on a course of 264.5 True at a speed of 21.5 knots for 4 hours 30 minutes, you will arrive about 1.5 miles to the north of the wreck site and have an engine running time from Noon of 12 hours 5 minutes!

So where did the 266 True course come from?

You know as well as I do that the only way you can be sure of a ship's course is to measure it between two fixed points. Boxhall didn't have two fixed points. He would have a compass error from the sights but that would not hgave been available until he had worked them out.
Meantime, the magnetic variation was decreasing all the time. In fact, when Titanic hit the iceberg, it had reduced by half a degree from when she turned the Corner. Instead of making 265T, she would have been making 264.5 True.

I firmly believe that Boxhall forgot about the Gulf stream and thought Titanic was making 22 knots all the way from Noon. because of this he believed that the ship had run 2.33 miles past The Corner. So when he worked out Lightoller's sights, he found they put the ship on the line. He then calculated the course from a point 2.33 miles past The Corner to where Lightoller's sights fixed the ship's actual position.
I'm sure you will not be surprised to larn that the course from a point 2.33 miles past The Corner to Pitman's DR for sights is 266T.


I rest my case!

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

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This thread is about engine running time from Noon until time of impact. It is therefore also about whether the ship's clocks were partially set back before the impact or not,

In another thread, Sam Halpern made the following three statements:

"The clock changes at midnight referred to in the sequence above never happened."
And:
"There were no clock changes that night."
And:
"But folks, we’ve been through all this before."

The first two comments are said in isolation and without any reasoned explanations. But Sam, like everyone else, is perfectly entitled to his opinions. I know he subscribes to that.

As to the last; That is a very true statement except for the collective word 'we've'.

There are new members signing on all the time. Perhaps they should see the evidence and make their own minds up?

With this in mind, and always the courteous one, I will begin with the evidence used by Sam and others to prove their point. I will follow it with My own evidence which to me- points to an overwhealming case in favour of a clock change at the moment Titanic's clocks showed the hour of Midnight on April 14.

Against a time change:

1 The patent log showed 260 at time of impact and was reported to have clocked-up 45 miles in 2 hours, giving a speed of 22.5 knots during that time.

2. The patent log divided by 11 hours 40 minutes unaltered time gives an average speed of 22.3 knots.

3. The last 3 double ended boilers came on line some time between 7pm and 8 pm that night so all double ended boilers were producing steam to drive the ship. So a speed of 22.5 knots after 8 pm was correct.

4. Passengers reported times varying between 11-40pm to 11-44pm as the time of impact. in particular, one passenger.. Algernon Barkworth who was in the smoke room waiting for midnight to set his watch to ship's time.

5. 3rd,Officer Pitman saw a time of 2-20am on his watch when Titanic finally sank.

6. Mrs Helen Bishop was wakend at about 11-45pm.

7. Mrs Catherine Crosby was awakend at 11-30pm

8. Mr. Harder felt the thump at 11=40pm

9. Mr. McGough was wakened at 11-40pm ship's time.

10. Mr. Berk Pickard.. it happened about 11-50pm

For a partial time change of 24 minutes:

1.Officers Pitman and Lightoller reported a speed of 21.5 knots between 6 pm and impact.

2.Officer Boxhall used an estimated speed of 22 knots.

3. The patent log had recorded a total distance of 260 miles.

4. Time of impact was 11-40pm with the clock put back 24 minutes therefore run from Noon was 12 hours 4 minutes
5. Patent log reading divided by (4.)... run from Noon... gives average speed of 21.55 knots and agrees with Officer's estimates of 21.5 knots.


To appreciate the next points in favour of a partial change having taken place, it is essential to understand how such a change would effect the crew.

The change was to be instigated as follows:

At the hour of Midnight, April 14, Clocks used by the crew would be set back 24 minutes to 11-36pm.
When midnight was reached once again, the 8pm to Midnight people would have served an extra 24 minutes on duty and would then be relieved by the Midnight to 4am people.
Ship's crews were not supplied with a personal means of telling the time, nor were they required to carry one when at work. Therefore, each member of an on-coming Watch was physically called by a member of the Watch they were to relieve. This was done 15 minutes before they were due on duty. A member of the duty Watch was allocated this duty. However humans are falable so there was a back-up system.
A little history might help here:

Strange as it may seem, in the very early days, very few seafarers could read or tell the time. Consequently, a bell was rung to tell everyone it was 15 minutes before Watch change time. The same bell would be rung 8 times to denote the end of one Watch and the beginning of the next. The practice survives to this day.
Not only was it important for those going on duty to know how long they still had before going to work... it was equally important for those going off work to know how long they had left to prepare things for those coming on duty and thus ensure continuity.
In later years, as education improved, it became important for sailors to know if they had been relieved early, on time or late. There was only one sure way of knowing. This was to consult a common clock which was acurate for ship time. Consequently ships had clocks in messrooms and certain places of work. Titanic had 48 'common' clocks located throughout the ship. These were controlled from the bridge. Thus, when there was a clock change planned, the 'common' clocks would be adjusted from the bridge. They would be very accurate time keeping instruments since they were continously checked with the ship's chronometers which were also on the bridge. These were the most accurate commercially used time-keeping instruments of the day.

The deck and engine crews would get their time from the messroom clocks while the 421 members of the catering staff used the public clocks in Galleys, Messrooms, Dining & Smoke Rooms and other public areas frequented by them during the course of their Watch.

Having shown how clocks are used at sea, there are two fundimental facts that often escapes non-seafarers. These are:
A: 1 bell and 8 bells are not numbers on a clock face.
B: The hands on a clock are moved to coincide with these bell signals.
Thus 1 bell is always quarter to the hour and 8 bells is always exactly on the hour.

Thus, evidence showing people either about to go on Watch or coming off Watch at or near the time of impact is crucial to the argument for a partial time change having taken place. The former would not go on Watch early nor would they be called early. It follows that if any crew member of Titanic heard that one bell signal or made reference to it's proximity or actually heard the 8 bells signal, or physically relieved any member of the 8 to 12 Watch, or made reference to imminent reporting for duty then there is no doubt whatsover that the clock had reached midnight for April 14 and had been put back 24 minutes before the time of impact.

The 8pm to midnight deck crew were the 3rd and 5th Officers, the Quartermasters, Lookouts Flee and Lee and the sailors of the Watch.
The 8pm to Midnight Stewards and hotel staff would also be relieved at midnight.
The same rules would also apply to the engine room staff.

Bearing the foregoing in mind I continue with the 'for a clock change' evidence:

5. 3rd Officer Pitman said it was almost time for him to go on Watch when, 15 to 20 mintes after impact, Boxhall told him of the damage.

6. Fleet and Lee were relieved on the lookout as normal. Lee heard 8 bells being rung.

7. AB Osman was waiting for the 1 bell 15 minute warning.

8. Bedroom Steward Crawford was on B Deck waiting for his Midnight relief.

9. Bedroom Steward Cunningham had just been called to go on Watch at Midnight.

10. Second Steward Hardy said the Middle Watch (12 to 4 Watch) came on at Midnight.

11. Leading Stoker Barratt had a pan of soup heating in anticipation of going off Watch in 15 minutes.

12. Bedroom Steward Etches (12 to 4pm Watch)went on Watch at Midnight.

13. Colonel Gracie said it was wakened at Midnight by the impact.

14. Mrs. Emelie Ryerson.. it was 12 o'clock.

15. Alfred White Electrical Machinery Greaser on the 8 to Midnight Watch,was forward, under the forecastle head calling the Midnight to 4am Watch at the time of impact.

16. Lookout Fleet saw the 12-4 engine room staff preparing to go on Watch below.

17. 2nd Officer Lightoller told his questioners that the time difference between Eastern Standard (New York) Time and Ship's time was 1 hour 33 minutes. On an unchanged clock the difference should have been 2 hours 02 minutes.

18. 4th Officer Boxhall told his questioners that when it was 11-46pm on board Titanic, it was 10-13pm at New York and Washington. If the clocks had not been changed, he would have said that when it was 11-46pm on the ship, it would have been 9-42 pm at New York/Washington.

19. There is no record of engine revolutions being increased but evidence to show they were maintained during the previous 24 hours.

I know how I see things, Is there anyone out there who would care to look at this and give their own opinon?

Jim C.
 
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This goes back a bit, but really needs to be addressed.

>>Air 50F...Sea: 56F. The second reading tell us that Californian was actually in the Gulf Stream at that time. ...I used the same Noon latitude and gave her [Californian] 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.<<

A very interesting deduction. Yet, when at 4pm Californian entered a region where the water temperature dropped down to 36F and by 8pm (only 44 miles further west) it was down to the fresh water freezing point of 32F, denial sets in as to what current influence the Californian came under.

Be that as it may, what is missing from the above deduction is hard evidence of sea temperatures east of 47°W longitude, when Titanic was heading toward the corner point. Well that gap in knowledge can be filled in from data reported by other ships, specifically from reported positions very close to Titanic's GC tract to the corner. What we find are the following water temperatures at various points along the GC track: longitude 27° 34'W 52F, 32° 07'W 54F, 40° 49'W 58F, and 45° 34'W 57F. At noon Apr 13 Titanic was approximately at 47° 22’ N, 33° 10’ W, and by noon Apr 14 Titanic was approximately at 43° 02’ N, 44° 31’ W. She was in a region where water temperatures ranged from about 54F through 58F to 57F. So if she was under the influence of the Gulf stream, then it was over a period that began before she reached noon Apr 14. So what was her progress while under to influence of Gulf Stream waters? From noon Apr 13 to noon Apr 14 Titanic covered a distance of 546 nautical miles in 24 hour 45 minutes. Her average speed made good was 22.06 knots while running at 75 rpm on her reciprocating engines. Boxhall had very good reason to use 22 knots in his work. Titanic did not slow down. If anything her speed made good increased slightly. If she continued at an average speed of 22 knots from noon until her course was altered at 5:50pm, she would have ran about 128 miles, leaving about 131 miles to make it to the wreck site location. (I actually believe Titanic came to a stop about 2.5 miles north of the wreck site and drifted down that amount over the 2h 40m she remained afloat.) Total distance from noon to the wreck site is about 259. The log read 260 miles so it couldn't have been too far off. We also have those 45 miles that were read off the log between 8 and 10pm. Those 45 miles were obviously rounded to nearest whole mile, but it certainly would rule out anything under 22.2 knots or anything over 22.7 knots being made over that 2-hour period. Anyway, if the run time was 11 hour 40 minutes from noon to the collision, the average speed by log works out to 22.29 knots. Using 259 miles, the average speed works out to 22.2 knoots, just slightly more than her previous day's average speed of 22.1 knots in Gulf Stream waters. But, some people would have you believe she slowed down once noon arrived on the 14th and averaged only 21.5 knots over the next 12.1 hours. OK, people can believe whatever they want.

I'll deal with some of the other stuff mentioned in this thread when I have more time on my hands.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Sam!

Nice try but these are the temperatures I would expect to get when sailing in the extension of the Gulf stream....The North Atlantic Current. Perfectly normal.

Lord's Noon temperature tells us that the SS Californian was in a warmer stream than is normal for that part of the North Atlantic. The average sea surface temperature of the area of North Atlantic from where he was to latitude 60 degrees north is 50F.
Your examples tell us that the warmer water extended back along the course line of Titanic toward her starting point at Queenstown. Perfectly true:

current_3_LG.jpg

Note the increase in intensity south of 46N. 45W.

However what none of your example temperatures tell us is the velocity of the warm water. It follows that none of them can be of any use to you in your argument against the presense of the Gulf Stream. The reason for this is, as the above temperature grading shows, that The Gulf Stream is only a potent force for or against a ship until it comes to the end of it's eastern limit. At that point, it spreads out and the velocity drops off to more or les zero unless assisted by a SW wind.
You cannot escape the fact that The Gulf Stream was, and still is, a potent force in that area until it reaches about 45N 45W. Up until then it can be relied on to present a east northeasterly setting current of velocity up to 0.5 m/sec. (1 knot)

" Titanic did not slow down. If anything her speed made good increased slightly.If she continued at an average speed of 22 knots from noon until her course was altered at 5:50pm, she would have ran about 128 miles, leaving about 131 miles to make it to the wreck site location.
But, some people would have you believe she slowed down once noon arrived on the 14th and averaged only 21.5 knots over the next 12.1 hours. OK, people can believe whatever they want."


They certainly can. However just because the same mantra is repeated continuously doesn't mean it is true. Clearly you have to manipulate information to make your point.
You have had to switch off the Gulf Stream or move it a considerable distance to the southward.
But having done so, you then you have to bend it quickly back northward so that its easterly extension provides the example sea temperatures you quoted.

Sam, I have seen you critisise David for making statements like:

"Titanic did not slow down. If anything her speed made good increased slightly".

You have absolutely no proof whatsover for making that statement. The only way you can push that idea is to completely trash the only sworn evidence we have on that matter ..the statement of 5th Officer Lowe who, as you very well know, swore under oath that Titanic made just under 21 knots from Noon until the time she turned. Of course, you then you have to trash the 21.5 average speed suggested by Lightoller and Pitman.
In fact. it is equally possible that Titanic turned quite a bit early rather than planned.
At a speed of 21.5 knots from Noon, she would have been about 0.5 miles from The Corner when she started her turn at 1750 hrs and exactly at it when she was steadied on her new course.
At 22 knots, she would have been at The Corner at 1744 hrs. QM Rowe said she turned at 1745hrs
At 21 knots, she would have been at The Corner at exactly 1800hrs. Obviously Lowe was remembering the 6pm log reading. As he said, the ship's speed wasn't going to change much between 1750hrs and 1800hrs.
But heck! none of these things fit.. or do they?

Lowe was adamant about the average speed from Noon. you will remember he corrected his first answer to a more precise one. Now why do you think he would do that? For that matter, how do you think the Captain and Officers of Titanic determined when it was time to turn the ship onto her new course at 5-50pm? Remember, that was written as an order in the Captain's Night Order Book. What do you think that order might have said?
Did Captain Smith work out that he would be at The Corner at that time? If he did then he used an average speed of 21.5 knots. If Lowe's log reading was correct then Titanic turned when she had covered 122.5 miles of the necessary 126 miles. 3.5 miles early!

Boxhall's 22 knots speed came from a guess. It was likely based on Two things:
No change of engine revs. since Noon and...
Smooth water and no wind since just after 8pm. It was an 'all things being equal' estimate. Since the weather conditions had changed considerably over the previous 8 hours, it was not the same conditions as had been met with up until Noon that day. And that's discounting any current effect. He says nothing about keeping up an average speed for all of that day.

All in all, I can understand why two officers gave a speed of 21.5 knots while another guessed it was half a knot faster. The first two based their speed on the prevailing conditions before 8pm that night. Boxhall based his guess on the conditions after that time.
However, your idea of an 11 hour 40 minute run from Noon would not work with any of these speeds. It only works if you can conjure-up extra engine revolutions to account for an increase in speed to 22.5 knots to tie-in with an isolated patent log reading.
At one time you claimed that there was an increase in speed because extra boilers were put on line after 7 pm on April 14. However, there is evidence pointing to the firemen getting an order to compensate for this by reducing their firing rate. I can't think of any other reason why they should get such an order.. can you?

Sam, there is another aspect of shipboard protocol you either forget about, don't know, or completely ignore.

At the end of a Watch, the officer handing over the bridge gives his relief a lot of information which is needed to handle the ship properly. That includes courses and average speed.
When Lightoller handed over to Murdoch, don't you think he would have given him the great news that the ship was now making 22.5 knots... the fastest she had ever gone in her short life? In the unlkely event that he didn't know it at that time, Murdoch would have told him, since he would have read the scrap log and signed the Night Order Book before coming onto the bridge.

Jim C.

current_3_LG.jpg
 

Scott Mills

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When Lightoller handed over to Murdoch, don't you think he would have given him the great news that the ship was now making 22.5 knots... the fastest she had ever gone in her short life? In the unlkely event that he didn't know it at that time, Murdoch would have told him, since he would have read the scrap log and signed the Night Order Book before coming onto the bridge.

Jim C.

Jim,

This argument is way out of my league in your respective knowledge about Titanic, at sea experience, and mathematics! Now here comes the but. If there is one thing I can qualify as an expert on, its human behavior.

It seems incredibly unlikely that Lightoller, had the ship been going 22.5 knots on his watch, as the only surviving senior officer, would be completely straightforward with this.

And something that's always bothered me, what happened to Titanic's logbooks? Aren't they something that typically gets put off in a lifeboat, if possible, when a ship is foundering? There is probably a detailed discussion on this somewhere in the archives. Seems to me that most of these "mysteries" could have been solved if the ships papers actually made it off the ship.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Over my years as a journalist and TV news producer I've learned that whenever there is great disagreement over some aspect of an historical event we either don't have all of the necessary information or somebody has skewed the facts by inserting disinformation. Discussions like this one do not take place when all of the relevant facts are known and have passed the "reality test." Titanic's speed is case in point. Or, more precisely "cases" in point. It is possible to build a variety of scenarios around the scanty and conflicting details available. High plausibility factor among these competing theories indicates the low reliability of the data on which they are based.

What I have found is that Boxhall's claim of 22 knots can be fitted into a neat and tidy reconstructed dead reckoning of the ship's voyage from "The Corner" to the iceberg. Although everything fits well, I do not delude myself into thinking that my reconstruction "proves" that Boxhall was correct. All it proves is that Boxhall worked out the same plot in 1912 that I reconstructed a decade ago. From that plot he took his 22 knots. It wasn't a guess, but more of a concocted number that allowed him to prepare believable testimony to give to the two hearings.

Did Titanic increase in speed that night? There is certainly some very tantalizing circumstantial evidence that it did sometime after dinner. There are stories about steam pressure, increased engine vibrations, and the like. Tantalizing, but not proof.

Then there is the problem of whether or not the testimonies are "apples to apples," or "apples to oranges." That is, did the various officers all refer to the ship's speed through the water? Or, speed made good? Any navigator knows the two can be quite different depending upon wind, waves, and currents. It is possible that Boxhall used the speed the engines were turning for, while other officers used the actual speed made good against the head current of the North Atlantic Drift. This have produced a difference of a half knot or more.

Even the reading of the log is questionable. The log line was new, so might still have been stretching and changing characteristics. New log lines often produce quite different readings -- plus or minus -- than older ones. And, in general taffrail logs were expected to produce readings in error by a few percent. They were not capable of producing anywhere near the accuracy of modern GPS equipment.

As I said above, I know where my thoughts lie on these matters. And, I'll present my arguments again as I have in the past, but hopefully they will be more cogently prepared. But, unlike some historians I do not delude myself that I or anyone else "knows" Titanic's exact speed. Nobody can make that claim. All we can do is put forth our best arguments and enjoy the discussion that follows. That's probably what makes Titanic such an interesting topic to research.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David!

When I first joined battle in this debate, I was astounded by the methods used to determine the truth.

Everything was questioned. Suspicion was, and still is rife. Everyone was looking for the trip-up that would reveal a gigantic conspiracy. Unfortunately, the approach was a modern-thinking one. You know the one I mean: 'everyone is guilty until proved innocent'.
Reminded me of when I was a callow youth trying to fix my first car. You might remember the sensation. "It cannot possibly be just dirty points. Has to be a cracked distributor at least. More likely a sticking exhaust valve. So... Queen of hearts-like.. "Off with her head" or in this case cylinder head.
It turned out to be a flat battery!



I went back to basics when thinking about the run time and speed.

I placed myself in Captain Smith's seaboots. Here's how I, a simple sailor, thought it through.


So here I am... just had a very nice lunch with some very influential passengers. I go back to my bridge and have a chin-wag with my senior officer.

'How did the Noon sights go'?

'Perfect sir! She's more or less right on the line. We made a little over 22 knots since Noon yesterday'.

'Now that's an improvement! I take it we're still turning at 75 revolutions per minute?'

'Yes sir'

'Very good Mr. How far have we got to go before the next alteration?'

'On this course of 240 True,I make it 126 miles Sir '

'Right! I'll go and make out my orders'.

I go back into my private chart room and get the Order Book out. Then I have a bit of a think.

Mmm.. 22 knots on 75 rpm. Too good to be true. She'll be getting a bit of the Gulf Stream on her beak now or very soon. If she keeps this 22 knots up, I'll eat my hat.. scrambled eggs and all!'
No! I'll bet she slows down. Never seen it miss in these parts. I'll give her 21.5 knots.

Right then! 126 miles to go from Noon at 21.5 means it'll take her about ...let me see... yes! About 5 hours and 52 minutes. If we start turning at ten to six, she'll be right on the new course when she steadies up. OK! I'll get them to turn her at 5-50pm


I am back and forth onto the bridge during the evening.

Just after 9pm I go onto the bridge and have a natter with young Lightoller. Bright lad that! he'll go far.
Lightoller tells me that his 7-38pm sights were right on the money. She was exactly on the laid down track. Mmmm. Knew I was right about that turn-time.
He also tells me she made an average of about 21.5 Knots up till then.
I leave Lightoller to it, having told him to give me a shout if he is anyway in doubt. We must be getting nearer to that ice area.
Murdoch will be on at 10pm so that's a comfort. I'll get my feet up for a little while and read that book the wife gave me.

Good Lord! Is that midnight already? Must tell the QM to ease up on his bell-ringing enthusiasm. Noisy git!

Shortly after, I hear the commotion on the outer bridge. Telegraph bells trilling, feet thumping and voices yelling. Before I fully digest this... thump! I'm on my feet and running.

After this point, we usually get into the realms of what everyone else said and did until the moment Smith knew his ship needed help. Let's stay with Smith.

When Smith was sure he needed help, he would immediately leave the bridge and go to the outer chart room to consult the scrap log. All other information on ship's navigation and positions would be in the work books of his junior officers.
In the Log Book, he would find the last written down Dead Reckoning position for the ship. It would have been calculated at 8 pm. I reckon he found it to be 41 55.5 North, 48-29W. (My calculation).

Now you and I know that his next step would be to apply a course and distance to that position to find an approximate position for where he though his ship was now stopped... not where she hit the iceberg!
We also know that he came up with 41-44'North..50-24'West... 20 miles west of where the wreck now lies on the seabed. So his distress position was 20 miles too far west. What happened?


There is one aspect of all of this that seems to have escaped the attention of the 11hour 40 minute run time brigade.

Smith worked the first CQD position himself, long before Titanic sank.. before he knew he was going to die and before he knew the enormity of the disaster. It only stands to reason that he used the information provided by his officers to determine where he wanted rescuers to come to. Had he survived and had he used a false speed to hide the fact that he was going too fast, his attempt at deception would have been obvious to anyone with half a brain.

If the ship's speed had increased after 8pm then it was as a direct result of Smith's orders. It follows that if Titanic was making 22.5 knots at the time of impact, Smith would know it and would use that speed to calculate his CQ Distress position. Therefore, he would have used that speed and either 3 hours 40 minutes or 4 hours 4 minutes run time. This would resulted in distances steamed form 8pm of 82.5 miles or 91.5 miles. So what runtime did he use?

We know that Smith's distress position was 20 miles too far west and Boxhall said Smith had made a 20 mile error in his calculation. Therefore his 8pm start point was also 20 miles too far west. To find the true 8pm start point we have to use a speed of 22.5 knots, and then we have to run back either 82.5 + 20 = 102.5 miles or 91.5 + 20 = 111.5 miles from his distress position' This in fact lplaces Smith's true 8pm DR position either 49.5 miles or 40.5 miles from when the ship turned at 1750. See here:

Smith's runs.JPG

But something is very wrong!

The run time from turning to 8 pm was 2 hours and 10 minutes. This means that Titanic had to make either 22.8 knots or 18.7 knots between 5-50 pm and 8 pm that night. Clearly Captain Smith did not use 22.5 knots when working his distress position. So what speed and run time did he use?

In fact, if you work Captain Smiths run to 5-50pm as I have shown earlier using 21.5 knots and turn at The Corner, then run for 6 hours and 10 minutes at 21.5 knots, you will find that Titanic arrives at 49-55.25 West at Midnight on April 14.
The Wreck is about a mile further west than this. Incidentally, I worked this the hard way. Just used Traverse Tables as a check.

Jim C.

Smith's runs.JPG


Smith's runs.JPG
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Cap'n Jim – Your post (above) is both entertaining and enlightening about the way navigation was practiced in the days before GPS. I did not want to respond until it had been up long enough for other members of the board to read and digest the contents. Frankly, I think you have come very close to what the ship actually accomplished on its fatal voyage. My research into Titanic's navigation is not so much about what happened as it is to what the men involved thought happened.

This is why I see he available data differently. Rather than study what probably happened going forward, I looked at the ship's two CQD positions as “wrong” answers on an examination covering dead reckoning. Having taught this type of navigation for two decades, I've acquired considerable experience unraveling the incorrect solutions of students to practice problems. My method is to start with their “wrong” solutions and work backwards to the starting point. Almost always there is an “aha moment” along the way where the mistake becomes obvious.

Titanic's first set of CQD coordinates was 41̊44' North; 50̊24' West. These numbers were given to the wireless operator Bride by Captain Smith. A short time later Fourth Officer Boxhall gave Bride an “updated” set of 41̊46' North; 50̊14' West. The implication is obvious. Smith knew his first numbers were not correct and asked Boxhall (who as fourth officer was responsible for the hands-on navigation number crunching during his watch)
to correct things. This was rather modern thinking on Smith's part. Like a modern captain, he got ships heading his general direction first and then worried about giving more precise information later.

A little sleuthing showed me that from “The Corner” Titanic should have reached longitude 50̊24' West at or about 12 hours 47 minutes past noon, April 14th. This explains how Smith got his CQD coordinates without doing any math. He simply picked up the ship's predicted midnight position. Boxhall would have needed to calculate at least the midnight longitude for proper resetting of ship's time to April 15th noon. This calculation was also necesssary to determine the exact number of extra minutes the crew was to serve on the night of April 14th.

Boxhall said he used Second Officer Lightoller's star sights in calculating his updated CQD coordinates. If he had calculated the predicted midnight, then he told the truth. But, what he did not say was that he started from that predicted position in figuring his CQD coordinates. He did not work things out all over again. Rather, he “backed up” 20 minutes from midnight to the 11:40 p.m. time of the accident along the ship's track. This gave him his more famous 41̊46' North; 50̊14' West numbers.

The distance between the Boxhall and Smith coordinates is 7.7 miles which would have taken 21 minutes at 22 knots. Of equal importance is the direction of the line between those two sets of CQD coordinates. It runs 255̊ in the ship's direction of travel toward New York. The reciprocal, 075̊ crosses the ship's reported course of 266̊ (per Lightoller) from The Corner at 41̊51' North; 49̊48' West. At 22 knots, that is Titanic's predicted dead reckoning at 11:30 p.m. in April 14th ship's time based on turning “The Corner” at 5:50 p.m. as Boxhall claimed.

So, it appears that Titanic changed course at 5:50 p.m. as directed by Captain Smith in his night orders. The ship steamed 266̊ toward New York until 11:30 p.m. in April 14th time when it changed course 11 degrees to the south, assuming a new course of 255̊. This course change would have taken the ship around the hazy line of ice which should have been visible on the forward horizon. Some 34 minutes later came the accident at 4 minutes past 12 o'clock in April 14th hours. Because crew clocks had been retarded by 24 minutes, that placed the time of the accident at history's famous 11:40 o'clock.

Working out time/speed/distance from the 11:30 o'clock course change (at 11:06 crew time) to the accident yields a dead reckoning of 41̊48' North; 50̊04' West. Of course, Titanic was never there. Currents and windage are ignored in this sort of navigation just for the purposes of discovering their combined speed and direction. We do this using a “tails” current triangle with the location of the wreck (41̊44' North; 49̊57' West) as the known “fix.” The result shows a combined wind/current of about a knot setting the ship to the southeast.

Windage was negligible that night. But, we can be sure the ship breasted a head current for most of the day in the form of the North Atlantic drift. Any southward-setting current probably resulted from encountering the Labrador Current later in the evening which propelled the fatal berg south to the accident location. The Labrador would have set southward both the sinking ship and the wreckage in its way to the bottom.

Going back to the “mistake” in Titanic's CQD positions – it becomes obvious. Captain Smith used the ship's midnight position as a temporary set of coordinates. By definition, “midnight” is the start of the new day, which in this case would have been Monday, April 15th. When Boxhall worked back 20 minutes he did not reach 11:40 o'clock in either crew or April 14th hours. Rather, his fix was for 11:40 o'clock prior to midnight in April 15th time. Both sets of CQD coordinates were thus in error by the same amount and for the same reason – they were for the wrong date.

The question is why? Why did two experienced navigators make the same mistake and not recognize their error?

– David G. Brown
 

Jim Currie

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The obvious thing about mistakes David is that we do not know about them until after we make them.

Captain Smith and Joe Boxhall went to their respective graves in ingnorance of their navigation errors.
Then again..perhaps not Boxhall!

Joe Boxhall was complemented on the accuracy of his navigation by Captain Rostron of Carpathia. but that's because Rostron and Bissett forgot about the Gulf Stream.

However, until the wreck was found, there was a great deal of unease in navigation circles concerning Boxhall's CQD position. Captains Lord and Moore both expressed doubt but they were totally ignored.
Such doubts were circulating freely at the time.
Boxhall was closely questioned about that very subject but vigorously defended his ability. Even after 50 years, he stuck to his guns. Strangely enough though, he doesn't seem to have mentioned the 20 mile error in Titanic's 8pm DR position until that 1962 BBC interview.
But what Boxhall did say was that Smith used the 8pm DR position to run up to the moment of impact., not the midnight DR.
He also said he was the one who had pointed-out the 8pm error to Captain Smith.. not the other way round.

When determining how Captain Smith arrived at his distress position, you must put yourself in his shoes.

What did he have or not have available to work with?

For a start-off: If it was available to him, he would most certainly have used the 7-30pm celestial fix. That was the last time he knew for sure exactly where his ship was.
Boxhall was probably telling the truth in 1962. Smith would not have the 7-30pm fix because it would be in Boxhall's work book. Smith would therefore have used the DR position closest to it. He would do so in the belief that his officers could not make a mistake in such a short period of time. With two Master Mariners and an Extra Master doing the work, he would not have expected less.

So, Captain Smith would use the 8pm Dead Reckoning position as a staring point for his run up to where Titanic stopped.
He would also need speed and time. Lightoller thought Titanic was making 21.5 knots. Smith would probably agree given the conditions of sea and weather. There is evidence of what speed was expected. I deal with this later.

As for time...The 8pm ship time DR would be noted in the scrap log book. It would be noted in Ship Time and GMT. By the same token, the GMT of impact would also be noted in the Scrap Log. To get the run time, all Smith had to do was to subtract the GMT for 8pm from the GMT of impact.
However, Smith too was a master of his trade. If Boxhall had told him his calculations were wrong, he would have challenged him. No doubt about that, and rightly so.
Smith would know if his calculations were correct simply by looking at the difference in longitude between where his ship was at 8pm and where he calculated her to be. He had been on that run so very many times and would have been able to make a mental estimate of how many minutes of longitude Titanic's position would change by every hour. It follows that he would make a quick mental check and find he had indeed used the proper longitude change for the distance run.
Had he made another quick mental check back to 5-50pm when Titanic turned, He would prove Boxhall to be correct about the 20 mile error in the 8 pm DR position.

What I am absolutely sure of David is that no sensible master, would deliberately alter his ship's course from a position so far from a known position for the purpose of avoiding a hazzard he had known about for at least 4 hours earlier. He would only do so as a desperate measure at the very last moment.
Personally, if I thought of altering course at all, and I knew that there was a possiblity of encountering ice between 9pm and midnight; I would have told my navigators to treat those 7-30pm cellestial observations a a priority and get me a result asap. As soon as I had it, I would have a DR position not too far ahead of my last known position and would have altered course to the southward. If truth be known.. that's exactly what Smith should have done in the first place.

" Boxhall would have needed to calculate at least the midnight longitude for proper resetting of ship's time to April 15th noon. This calculation was also necesssary to determine the exact number of extra minutes the crew was to serve on the night of April 14th."

No he wouldn't David. He could only calculate a DR Longitude for that time.

The clocks were set at Mid-day after Noon sights. they would, at that time be as accurate as the known chronometer error would allow. At the same time, the expected change of longitude during the following 24 hours would be calculated based on an average speed. This would give them the number of minutes to adjust the clocks by so that Noon the following day would coincide as near as possoble with the sun's meridian passage,.. i.e. when it bore due south.

The next time the clocks would be touched would be after they had 'clocked-up' 12 hours.. i.e. Midnight on April 14. The Log Book day ended at that time and a clock set back notation would be made to that effect. The clocks would be considered accurate at that time and the hands would merely be set-back the required amount. The next time they showed 'midnight' or 12 o'clock, was not an official time.. just a change of Watchkeeper time.
The clocks would be set back again for the remainder of the set-back. Once again, that was not an official log book time but a notation to the effect would be shown in the log book.

I challenge your estimated position for Titanic at midnight,April 14.. the time of the first clock adjustment and here's why:

As I pointed-out, the amount of clock change necesary is calculated as the next step after Noon sights. On Titanic it would have been done just after Noon on April 14.
Since we know the clock was to change by 47 minutes of time, we can calculate that they expected Titanic to increase her westerly longitude by 11 degrees 15 minutes. Titanic's Noon Longitude on April 14 was about 44-30'West, this means they expected her to be at 55-45'West at Noon on April 15.
They would need to decide on an average speed to do these calculations. We too can obtain that from the information we have available to us.

All these calculations were made before Titanic got anywhere near The Corner.

The entire 47 minutes of clock change was to be made after the ship turned The Corner at 5-50pm.
They had to assume that the ship would turn exactly at The Corner in longitude 47-00'West. This being the case, they would have changed their longitude by 2 degrees 30' from Noon to The Corner, leaving them a total of 8 degrees 40 minutes (520' arc) to cover on the new course and in a run time of 18 hours 57 minutes. That is, from 5-50pm April 14th to Noon April 15th + 47 minutes added run time due to the set-back.
Since they expected to make a course of about 265T., we can easily calculate the estimated speed they used by finding out the expected hourly change of longitude from 5-50pm that night. It turns out to be 520 divided by 18.95 hours = 27.4' of longitude every hour. That translates to a speed of just under 21 knots. By this, it seems they expected Titanic to slow down.. not speed up!

What is more, if they expected to be at 55-45'West at Noon on the 15th. then 12 hours 47 minutes earlier, at midnight on April 14... when the first clock adjustement would be made... they expected to be at about 49-45'W. They were in fact, at or near to 49-55' West at that time. This tells us that they made close to 21.43 knots.. almost half a knot faster than expected.

"we can be sure the ship breasted a head current for most of the day in the form of the North Atlantic drift. Any southward-setting current probably resulted from encountering the Labrador Current later in the evening which propelled the fatal berg south to the accident location. The Labrador would have set southward both the sinking ship and the wreckage in its way to the bottom."

A little information about Atlantic currents David:


The North Atlantic Drift is an extension of the North Atlantic Current which is , in turn an extension of the Gulf Stream.
The Gulf Stream looses much of it's power at or near The Corner where one branch turns east-northeast, and broadens continuosly in that direction. Avery narrow part of it turns North east at or near The Corner and mixes with part of the Labrador Current. The , it becomes the North Atlantic Current. However,Titanic was never anywhere near that on her GC track from Ireland.
The Labrador Current heads West along the southern slope of the Grand Banks. It very seldom if ever sets south in the area south of 45 north and between 45 west and 65 west. The biggest influence on drifting ice in the area of Titanic disaster is the prevailing west to northwest wind. That is until it gets down to about 41-30 north then the Gulf Stream takes over. The westerlies were in fact blowing during the morning of April 14.
We have clear evidence that Californian was in the Gulf Stream until afternoon of April 14.

There was no current that night David nor was there any evidence of one.
I can state withour fear of contradiction that the top 2 meters of sea surface water in the open ocean are always thouroughly mixed by wind and wave action. Cold surface water on a calm night near pack ice is not a indicator of a cold current.That's rubbish!
In reality. it is either an indication of almost fresh melt water from nearby bergs and pack ice floating on top of warmer salt water or the inefficiency of the person taking that temperature. Think about this:
You have a man lowering a galvanised bucket over the side of a ship travelling at over 20 knots through freezing air. What is going to happen to the thermometer reading while the bucket is hauled up a distance then exposed to the air in darkness while it is read?
I' afraid that most peope do not understand the mechanics of surface water in the open ocean. or what can go wrong while taking it's temperature. They also think that an ocean current is lik,e their local river.. i.e. that it has clearly defined boundaries. It is not!
Incidentally.. what do you think the average surface temperature Of the Labrador Current of the South Slope is?


Jim C
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Scott!

Now I can catch up with you.

"It seems incredibly unlikely that Lightoller, had the ship been going 22.5 knots on his watch, as the only surviving senior officer, would be completely straightforward with this. "

I'm sure you momentarily forgot about the other three surviving officers.

In reality, Lightoller would have to have been sure that Boxhall. Lowe and Pitman would not contradict him. In fact, Boxhall did, with his 22 knot guesstimate.
Actually, Lightoller would know less about true ship's speed than these three. They, along with Moody, were the navigators and as such, ate, slept and dreamt course, speed and distance. They also thought in terms of GMT.. not ship time and that's a big problem to most modern researchers who have been weaned on computers, hand calculators and GPS systems.
Without GMT. log tables, a nautical almanac and superior optical instruments, the navigators of 1912 were little better than the navigators of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Besides the aforementioned trio; increasing speed to the value of 22.5 knots required increased engine revolutions.
Apart from one hearsay report of one engine briefly turning 1 revolution faster than the other, there is no evidence of the engine speed being increased.. just speculation based on interpretation of hearsay evidence.
In any case, if they had increased engine revolutions; what were the odds in favour of every single engine room survivor keeping silent about it?

And something that's always bothered me, what happened to Titanic's logbooks? Aren't they something that typically gets put off in a lifeboat, if possible, when a ship is foundering? There is probably a detailed discussion on this somewhere in the archives. Seems to me that most of these "mysteries" could have been solved if the ships papers actually made it off the ship.

There were two Deck Departmen log books... The Scrap or Deck Log and the Official Log Book.

The Scrap Log was kept in the chart room and was a running record of ship activity.
The Official Log Book was, as the name implied an official record of particular happenings required to be recorded by The Board of Trade. It was usually kept by the ship's second in command. In this case, Wilde.
Beside the statutory entries, it also contained an abstract of the Scrap Log. This abstract was normally copied from the Scrap Log Book and entered into the Official Log Book during the period 8am to Noon for the previous 24 hours.
The ship's official papers were possibly kept by Captain Smith. If Not him, they would be kept in the Chief Purser's office.

At the time of the abondonment, the Scrap Log would be 'active' i.e. in use right up until the very last moment.
The Official; Log Book would be of no use whatsoever since it would only be up to date for events before Noon on April 14.

Hope this helps.



Jim C.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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This business about the 8pm DR being 20 miles ahead of the ship is NOT what Boxhall said in that 1992 BBC radio broadcast. He said the ship was 20 miles ahead of the DR. The same information was given by Boxhall during a talk he gave to Nautical magazine. I do not recall the date as I do not have access to my references at this time. I'll have lots to say on this and the 'engines in reverse' thread when I get enough spare time to deal with all this.
 

Jim Currie

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I know what Boxhall said in later years Sam. But it was in later years and as you say yourself... time plays tricks with the memory

But if you care to work 20 miles back from Smith's DR position of 41 44'North..50-14'West on a course of 084.75T.. the Track... you will find a position of 41-45.8'North, 49-57'West. As we all know, the wreck is very close to 41- 44'North, 49- 57 West, give or take a few hunred yards. That's 1.8 miles to the south of Smith's corrected CQD position. Now I know you do not believe in coincidences but you do believe in a south setting current therefore I would have thought you would have pointed to this earlier.

What you should be curious about is why he said it in the first place and so many years after the event.
You should also be aware of the fact that a man of Smith's experience would have exploded when told that his ships DR position 8 hours previously was in error by almost an hour's run !
Think abut it! The ship is sinking.. in dire need of help.... and here's this bloody clown admitting to an act of shear personal incompitence as well as the incompetence of those on Watch before him.
Here we have Captain Smith, Extra Master, king of the heap, being confronted by his navigator who gives him this horrendous news. Given, if we are to believe Boxhall, in a manner similar to a teacher explaining to a backward student the solution to a problem . Really?
That story might have been acceptable to a naive shore person but this person doesn't buy it. When it was supposed to have been given, Boxhall had no idea that his boss and a very large number of people were about to die... neither did his boss. Oh to be a fly on the bulkhead!


Jim C.
 

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