Titanic Explosion Sound: Was It The "Abandon Ship" Signal Misinterpreted?


Harland Duzen

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Probably a stupid idea, but I had a brainwave, What if the mystery explosion survivors have supposedly heard was Captain Smith or someone blowing the Titanic's Horn / Whistle to tell everyone to abandon ship?

As shown in the Titanic: Honor & Glory video of Britannic's sinking, Captain Bartlett described blowing the ship's whistle 2 times in long succession to tell the engine room crew to "Abandon Ship" and come up to the boat deck. Is it possible that Captain Smith or someone blew it to tell the crew? We know from Harold Bride that Smith had told him to do this (i.e. leave the ship) and from the lifeboats, it could have been misinterpreted or sounded weirder due to steam pressure or flooded pipes distorting the Whistle's or something*.

(Watch between 53:16 - 54:37)


*This 99% probably didn't happen and should be taken with a pinch of salt. Also I'm not an expert on how the Whistles worked.
 

coal eater

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there was no abandon ship order for engine room/boiler room crew at all,if this would happen the ship would lose lights and radio much sooner.
 
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Kyle Naber

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Interesting idea. However the “explosions” were most likely the ship breaking apart, funnels collapsing into the water, and objects inside the ship banging around as the stern swung up.
 
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coal eater

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boiler explosions most likely never happened on titanic but possible that boiler room 1 had something as on debris field the boilers from br1 wew having signs of some implosion

boilers from boiler room 1 and piece of engines broke off only when ship cracked in half.the explosions could be imploding air pockets deep in hull.
 
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Rob Lawes

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It's impossible for the boilers in boiler room 1 to have shown signs of implosion due to the fact they were never lit at any time during the voyage.
 
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Athlen

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Someone with naval/nautical experience will have to verify this. I did a little research by googling "abandon ship signal." On Wikipedia, "abandon ship" will lead you to the article "The captain goes down with the ship."

As I understand it, the order to abandon ship has to be given verbally by the captain. There are no lights or bells or whistles in use today, so it's virtually certain that the practice of requiring a verbal order was also in place in 1912. Captain Smith is heard giving the order in "A Night to Remember."

In modern practice an abandon ship order would follow a General Emergency Alarm, which is seven or more short beeps followed by a long beep. The General Emergency Alarm means all crew assemble at muster stations and switch over to their emergency task. Once assembled the captain can give the order to abandon ship and everyone will report to their lifeboat station. Titanic did not have any sort of alarm, as has been pointed out, nor were there clearly established duties for the crew. All crew had a lifeboat assignment posted in the forecastle and galley, but they didn't have specific tasks.

I do feel like this question belongs in a different thread, but what is known about any order Smith gave to abandon ship? Did he make the order at all? If he did, it would have been late -- as in Collapsible D late if not Collapsible A late. Was he really so stubborn about believing Titanic couldn't sink that he needed to see the bow underwater?

FWIW, an explosive device called a torpedo was used as an emergency signal on railroads in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

TL;DR: "Abandon ship" has to be ordered verbally by the captain. No explosive or whistle signals would have been used.
 

Harland Duzen

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Harold Bride is known to have stated (in terms of abandoning ship) that Captain Smith walked in and I'm paraphrasing from memory said "Men you have done your duty and can do no more, abandon ship" with Phillips then continuing to send messages.
 
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>>I do feel like this question belongs in a different thread, but what is known about any order Smith gave to abandon ship?<<

I don't think he gave any such order explicitly.

Early in the crisis, anybody with a level of intelligence higher then that of a brain dead gnat or no capacity for self deception would have figured things out when they saw the boats being loaded and launched. As high risk as this is, putting people off in the boats is never done lightly. A fact that any sailor or experienced traveler would have understood.

Moving on to where it was late in the game....as in when the bow was dipping underwater....there simply would have been no need to give any such order as even the walking brain dead would have figured things out.
 
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