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Titanic proceeding to Halifax

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Philippe Delaunoy, Jun 27, 2001.

  1. I've always been very doubtful with the fact that the sinking of the Titanic is only due to a starboard site contact with the iceberg. This theory is usually admitted by the majority and shown in detail in the movie "Titanic". The discovery of the wreck permits some examination of the bow's iron plates. It shows eventually small damages. The mortal injuries must be found somewhere else.

    The reading of the transcript of the US Senate Hearings brings me to ask myself some questions:

    * Why Quartermaster Hitchens stays at the wheel about 43 minutes after the impact?
    * Why did Ismay go himself to the Engine room after the accident?
    * What was the purpose of the message from Capt. Smith to the Chief Engineer Bell delivered by Seaman Olliver? The answer of the unknown message was: "He told me to take back - to tell the captain that he would get it done as soon as possible".
    * Who sent the famous Marconigram: ""Titanic proceeding to Halifax. Passengers will probably land there Wednesday. All safe."
    * What was I supposed to understand by that:
    - Senator FLETCHER. That condition could not have obtained unless the steel plates had been torn off from the side of the ship?
    - Mr. BULEY. From the bottom of the ship. It was well underneath the water line.
    - Senator FLETCHER. And the plates must have been ripped off by the iceberg?
    - Mr. BULEY. Yes, sir.

    - Senator FLETCHER. You think if she had had collision mats, she might have been saved?
    - Mr. BULEY. That would not have done much good with her, because I believe she was ripped up right along.
    - Senator FLETCHER. For what distance?
    - Mr. BULEY. I should say half way along, according to where the water was. I should say the bottom was really ripped open altogether.
    - Senator FLETCHER. The steel bottom?
    - Mr. BULEY. Yes, sir.

    I was very confused by numerous inaccuracies between the generally admitted facts and the transcription of the witnesses' testimonies.

    The light came from an extract of David G. Brown's book named "The last Log of the Titanic". And everything became very clear. Mr Brown explain the succession of misunderstandings that lead to the fatal decision to restart the engines:

    "The inescapable conclusion is that Titanic's pumps were swamped by massive amounts of water pushed into the ship by its own forward motion." … "Put another way, it was not the ice that sank Titanic, but the actions of its captain and owner."

    Is anybody else convinced by these facts, as I am?
  2. Kyrila Scully

    Kyrila Scully Member

    Never mind, I retract my question and bow to those with superior knowledge.

  3. Hi Phillippe; there's no real doubt that the physical cause of the sinking was the collision with the iceberg itself. There was just no way the ship could survive with compartments from the forepeak to Boiler Room Six open to the sea. Captain Brown goes to some trouble to explain that the ship was doomed no matter what. The kicker was getting back underway again which...if it actually happened that way (I believe it did.)...served to aggravate the existing damage and accellerate the rate of flooding.

    Finding the wreck was not as revealing as the Discovery Channel documentaries would have you believe. We've long ago learned to take anything they say with a large boulder of salt. Yes, the sidescan sonar showed damage to the side. The problem is that we have no way of knowing whether that damage was caused by the ice or the collision with the bottom of the North Atlantic.

    On some of the questions you raised;
    1)Hitchens stayed at the wheel because he was not releived or directed to do otherwise until later. It would be a serious and unforgivable breech of protocol to do otherwise without a damned good reason.

    2)Ismay appears to have been doing his own investigation. Probably wondering if the damage was under control and if it was possible to get underway again...but we'll never know for sure.

    3)Captain Smith's message to Mr. Bell is a mystery and will remain such. My best guess is that he wanted some kind of damage control task accomplished, but I could be way wrong. The only two people who know went down with the ship.

    4)The Marconigram you refer to was likely not one single message but a garbled mess of several. Quite a common problem in those days. David Brown has one hypothosis in his book which strikes me as plausible.

    5)It appears to me that the witness was discussing damage to the bottom as opposed to side damage. Such damage is not only possible, but certain if the ship ran over an ice shelf (ice ram) as several of us now beleive.

    If you're confused by the inconsistancies and inaccuracies in the transcripts as well as how they were interpreted by the investigating authorities, well, welcome to the club! Remember they were dealing with eyewitnesses (A notoriously unreliable source...ask any trial lawyer!) to the event, few of whom were trained observers. Worse yet, the people trying to interpret the evidence were not qualified mariners. When you get right down to it, it's amazing that the inquiries managed as well as they did.

    Michael H. Standart
  4. Erik Wood

    Erik Wood Member

    There are many mysteries in the events leading up to and during the actual disaster itself. Captain David Brown has a good book out that answers some but not all of these questions. The book is called "The Last Log of Titanic" (Dave will owe me from the plug of his book). I do warn that you must look at things logically as a mariner would in order to understand why certain things where done. Do not read the inquiries to literaly especially about what was done directly after the accident.

    Several of the other mariners here as well as I (also a mariner) have some serious doubts as to the way things played out. Captain Browns book is a good start as well as this topic heading. I would look through some of the various other threads some of which perhaps Mr. Standart could provide us the names (if he can remeber I know that I can't). That should set you on your way.

  5. Gawd Erik, where do I begin with the threads? wink.gif We had a lively discussion on the Abandoning ship thread dealing with some of this, some remarks exchanged on the Californian threads (The Californian Incident is a wonderful study in the world of ambiguity!)

    Sorting out fact from fiction in Titanic history is no game for the faint hearted.

    I would suggest that Phillipe check out all of the threads in this folder and the recent discussions in the technical folder, and the Last Log Of The Titanic thread in the research folder.

    That'll be good for a start.

    Michael H. Standart
  6. Hi Mickael, Hi Erik,

    I insist first to thank you to have taken the time to answer me. I will not hesitate to follow your recommendations.

    The purpose of my intervention is to confirm what I think really happend between the moment the lookout men saw the iceberg and the moment the Titanic went down. The fellings of mariners, as you are, is for me essential.

    1. I think it's know admitted that the collision occured during the "right turn" of the port around manoeuver.
    2. It's also admitted that the damages extended from the forepeak tank to Boiler room 6.
    3. I believe the fact that nobody ordered a crash stop.
    4. There are evidences that the engines were restarted. The message delivered by Olliver is perhaps not a good confirmation. But he saw Smith telegraphing "half speed ahead" :
    Mr. OLLIVER. Half speed ahead, after she hit the ice.
    Senator BURTON. Who gave the order?
    Mr. OLLIVER. The captain telegraphed half speed ahead.

    If the engines were indead restarted (and that seemed to be the case), who was steering (Hitchens I presume), where was the ship going to ?
    5. Were the pumps able to keep her afloat without any motion ? If the answer is YES than the decision to resume the course is what sunk her.

    With your experience as a mariner and/or an historian, what's your feelings about these questions ?

    Bests regards.
  7. Hi Phillipe; yes, Hitchens would have been the one at the wheel.

    On the pumps, they may or may not have been holding their own. There's quite a bit of ambiguity here. The initial survey was rather quick, so it would have been easy to miss something. IF the pumps were holding their own, then the decision to resume steaming would likely have been the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. Hydrostatic pressure building up would have forced water in at a faster rate and possibly(We don't know with certainty. Never will.) overstressed something on the verge of going anyway.

    As to where the ship was going to...I have an idea, but it comes in confidence from another man's research that I'm not free to share. Sorry about that. sad.gif

    Michael H. Standart
  8. Erik Wood

    Erik Wood Member


    I am glad to see that more are leaning onto the fact that a crash stop was not ordered. As to the damage that one is still up for debate.

  9. OK Michael, I can understand but I'm still very curious about that!

    Say, I found a picture of the USS George Washington, one of the ship you served on : FABULOUS !!!!!
    Is it not too indiscreet to ask you what was your function?

    Have a nice week-end.

    All the best.

  10. G'Day Phillipe, my rating was that of a ships serviceman. We're the people who run the ships store (Kind of like a Navy Exchange afloat) as well as certain service functions like the laundry dry cleaning plant and barbershop as well as maintain records for the entire ships store operation. It's no small job as the government is positively anal about records and paperwork. On my last ship, I was the Laundry dry cleaning supervisor.

    Of course, this never tells the whole story as sailors on naval vessels do quite a bit that has nothing whatever to do with their rate. I've had traing in shipboard firefighting and damage control which includes operating in a nuclear/biological/chemical warfare environment, and on one ship, I was a machine gunner. I've had collateral duties as a phone talker in helicopter flight control, served on a snoopy team, as a damage control maintainanceman, voting petty officer, quality control inspector for new construction...hell, I can't even begin to list all the things I've done.

    A sailor these days wears a lot of hats and has to as there are way more tasks that have to be done on a ship then there are specialists to deal with them all. That most ships today are undermanned is not all that helpful either. 18 hour days at sea are pretty common.

    Michael H. Standart
  11. Thomas Peffer

    Thomas Peffer Member

    OK here's the deal. I will tell you what actually happened based on information gleaned from a number of very reliable sources who are privy to secrets that survived the Titanic disaster. Did the iceberg cause the ship to sink? Ultimately yes. Did Quartermaster Robert Hitchens turn the wheel the wrong way by mistake? Yes. There were 2 types of steering systems in use on ships in 1912 (the Hard a Starboard order given Hitchens mistook at first to the old tiller steering (actually turning right) before realizing his error and re-turning the wheel left (the correct way). About 15 seconds had lapsed during this time. Also regarding the ship re-starting engines after coming to full stop: Yes. The captain telegraphed Half Ahead (in the case of the Royal Mail Steamer Titanic...between 8 to 10 knots). The Titanic restarted the engines at 11:47pm ship's time and stopped forever at midnight for a total of 13 minutes. Why? Two reasons: First, he wanted to try to head for Halifax where two trains were dispatched for the passengers away from the snooping U.S. media and ensuing bad publicity...keep in mind Canada back then was still British. Second, Captain E.J. Smith soon after (when the carpenter reported back to him) realized that the ship was indeed mortally wounded the main shipping lanes were to the north of the Titanic's position (he had delayed turning the 'Corner' about 20 minutes (earlier on April 14) from 5:30pm ship's time to 5:50pm allowing Titanic to travel about 15 miles further south in response to earlier ice warnings to try to avoid the ice field). It wasn't until midnight that the Captain was informed that the ship was indeed going to founder (it took the carpenter about 15 minutes to sound the ship and the Captain sent him off to check for damage around 11:42pm, after hitting the iceberg). Would binoculars have helped the lookouts? At night in this case...no way. Add in the fact that there was an inferior mirage occurring on a moonless night and a flat calm sea. No waves or white foam breaking at the base of bergs or growlers. There was a secret telegram sent regarding Halifax...however that was destroyed soon after on Bruce Ismay's orders. Remember people in 1912 had a much easier time covering stuff up in those days. Charles Lightoller's granddaughter told the truth when she came out about Hitchens mistakenly turning the wheel the wrong way at first. Why didn't anyone come after her for disclosing that? Because over 100 years have passed since it happened. Messing up someone's reputation after they are long gone doesn't have the same impact like it would have back then when they were still alive. Was there a cover up? Yes. The main thing to remember are those men women and children who perished in the disaster. That is the important thing. Was the Titanic made of bad steel? No. Tests have shown that no modern ship now or a ship then could withstand the stresses Titanic was subjected to. Did resuming her course overwhelm the pumps? Yes. Had she stayed stopped would everyone be saved? Sadly, more than likely, yes. She probably would have stayed afloat another 8-12 hours had Captain Smith not re-started the engines. I cannot divulge where or whom I got the information from as it came from top government personnel in The Know and I am not at liberty to reveal who those personnel are due to non-disclosure clauses but these are the facts. Now you know.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  12. Thomas -- It appears your sources have been reading my 2012 book, "Titanic Myths, Titanic Truths" in which I presented compelling evidence that Titanic's last destination was Halifax. All of this had been on the public record -- albeit ignored by historians -- since the morning Titanic sank. In that sense it's really old news. Two trains were, indeed, ordered to that Canadian port by P.A.S. Franklin, the head of the White Star office in New York City. One of them was north of Boston before it was recalled. Here's what the Dow Jones News Service published at 3:01 NYT on April 15th:

    "....P.A.S. Franklin, vice president International Mercantile marine, says arrangements have been made with the New Have Road to send a special train to Halifax to meet passengers of the Titanic. Trail will consist of 11 sleepers, 2 diners, and coaches sufficient for 710 people."

    Benjamin Campbell, vice president of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company expanded on that, explaining, "Mr. Franklin called me on the telephone between 11 and 11:30 o'clock AM Monday the 15th asking if we would arrange to send sufficient equipmet to Halifax to take Titanic's passengers to New York. ... At 1:10 o'clock I called up Mr. Franklin on the telephone. I told him...trains would be ready to leave Boston at 5 or 6 o'clock that evening." Franklin, the source of the railroad request, also sent a wireless message to Captain Haddock in Olympic that same day:

    "To HADDOCK, Olympic: April 15, 1912. Thanks your message. We have received nothing from Titanic, but rumored here she is proceeding slowly Halifax, but we cannot confirm this..."

    The story of Titanic restarting its engines and steaming for Halifax was not confined to the North American press. It appeared in Monday papers on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Daily Mirror, London, April 16: "...her fate and the thousands on board remained in doubt on both sides of the Atlantic for many hours. It was at length known that every soul was safe, and that the vessel itself was proceeding to Halifax, either under her own steam or towed by the Allan liner Virginian."

    Then there's the odd case of the message delivered to radio opperator Jack Phillips' mother on Monday after the sinking. It purported to be from Titanic's operator and contained the reassuring message, "Making slowly for Halifax. Virginian standing by. Try not to worry." This message was sent after the ship was cold on the bottom and Phillips himself was dead. Later, one of Phillips' brothers made the astounding claim he sent it to calm their mother's fears. It was never explained how any mother's fears could be calmed by a message giving false hope.

    Given the speed of communications in 1912 and the expense of sending cablegrams across the Western Ocean, this strongly indicates the source of the Halifax story was somewhere in mid-Atlantic. Obviously, the damaged Titanic was in just such a position. And, both WSL head J.Bruce Ismay and Captain Smith had reason to send a message about the ship's iceberg encounter. It was required by the IMM/White Star rules:

    111.Accident, Collision or Salvage. -- (b) in case of accident to the vessel requiring her to proceed to a port of refuge, a report should be at once telegraphed to the Management and to the nearest Company's office, giving particulars of accident and damage."

    Wireless made it possible for Titanic to notify WSL offices in England of its predicament shortly after the accident. Such a message (if sent) would have contained the reason for the damage -- iceberg; that no one was injured; and, that an attempt was being made to reach an alternative port. Halifax was the nearest harbor capable of handling Titanic and its passenger load. If sent, the message went first to White Star headquarters where it was likely re-transmitted via sub-sea cable to Franklin in New York.

    Kids today think they have invented something new with their text codes like "LOL" or "BFF." Hardly! Codes of this sort were quite common during the telegraph era when wireless and cable companies charged by the word for delivering messages. Captain Arthur Rostron of the rescue ship Carpathia used just such a substitution cipher for messages to the Cunard offices while enroute to New York with Titanic's survivors. Although absolute proof is lacking, the actions of P.A.S. Franklin a day earlier indicate that some sort of coded message was sent by Titanic in the early minutes after the accident when it was absolutely true that the ship was damaged, all were safe, and it was steaming for Halifax.

    Of course, history had other plans for the ship and its passengers. As the story continued newspaper editors soon discovered the truth. Titanic had foundered with great loss of life. Rather than focus on their erroneous reportage, they simply switched to printing news of the sinking.

    New York Tribune, April 16: "Some of the London newspapers went to press this morning in the belief that all aboard Titanic were safe and the vessel was proceeding for Halifax.... Later dispatches recording the sinking of the Titanic with loss of life, appear only in the latest editions."

    -- David G. Brown
  13. There were not 2 types of steering. Hichens turned the wheel the right way. He was not the first time at the wheel, also directly in front of him was the steering control pedestal where he could see how to turn. 6th officer Moody was next to him and would have notice the mistake in the first second, No way he turned the wheel the wrong way!

    The respond from the engine room was slow ahead which would be around 4 knots. There were different orders given among them slow astern and stop. All the order took about 6.5 minutes in total.
    The transmission log books from other stations did not show any message send out by Titanic about going to Halifax.
    The ship was on the shipping lanes. There was no delay in turning the corner.

    The mirage is a nice theory but not true.

    And the source for that is? There would be a sender and a receiver, how did Ismay (as usual the evil one) gave such order?

    Liar, sorry Lightoller made a lot of false claims over the years.

    The restart of the engines had no effect to the sinking (or the pumps). The openings were to small. 8 to 12 hours? Very unlikely. The iceberg damaged at last 7 compartments (or even 8 if we count BR 4).

    More likely another conspiracy theorist.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  14. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    When the Olympic lost a propeller blade in mid-atlantic in 1912 Captain Smith sent a wireless message to the White Star Line offices. First reports said he intended to change course and head for Belfast for immediate repairs. A second report said that Captain Smith had changed his mind (or was instructed) to head for Southampton instead so that the passengers could first disembark before heading to Belfast for repairs. This tells me that when they struck the iceberg he may have instinctively had the desire to inform the company about the situation. Question is, would anyone back in England have picked up the message as it was well after midnight back in Britain. Would the offices of the White Star Line be closed? Did he send the message, but someone else intercepted the message and relayed it to the head office in the morning after the Titanic had sunk, giving the false impression that the ship was still afloat and heading to Halifax?


    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  15. The only ship (in distress) going to Halifax was the oil tanker Deutschland which had been taken in tow by the Asian on April 14th arriving in Halifax about April 18th.

    The explanation that someone got the messages mixed up is the most likely case.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  16. I know in the documentary Titanic death of a dream, a gentleman by the name of Wyn Wade mentions the Halifax message as being a message that was garbled from other messages.
  17. The garbled message theory would work except it does not answer the actions of P.A.S. Franklin in New York City. He would not have acted up hearsay and news reports to order two trains and send them to Halifax. Under the garbled message concept, he would not have known where to send those railroad coaches. Franklin would not have spent a large sum of White Star money on a whim.

    The garbled message theory does not explain the coverage on both sides of the Atlantic in virtually the same words, "Iceberg -- all safe -- Halifax." We know that ambitious young radio operators were "reading the mail" that night, David Sarnoff for one.

    The sworn testimony of quartermaster Olliver about the ship restarting its engines and steaming away from the accident site matches perfectly with the "iceberg -- all safe -- Halifax" information and it was corroborated by other survivors.

    Then there's the odd "all safe" message sent from White Star's New York office to that gentleman in West Virginia. Yes, it was undoubtedly a mistake, but what was the mistake? It contained exactly the information Franklin had when he ordered those two trains. The mistake wasn't the contents, it was actually sending any message before the salient facts were known.

    Halifax is the closest major port to the accident. It was in 1912 part of the British Empire and, thus, any inquiry into the accident would have been John Bull's private business. That would have been an important consideration in J. Bruce Ismay's mind. We know Ismay was on the bridge just prior to when Captain Smith telegraphed to restart the engines.

    All-in-all, there is considerable evidence -- mostly circumstantial I admit -- that an "all safe, Halifax" message was sent. There is none supporting that it was not. Of course, absence of proof is not proof of absence. And, even if the "all safe" message was sent it's really just a footnote to the Titanic story. The length of time the ship was underway after the iceberg was quite short. At best it would have shortened the ship's life by a matter of minutes. It was not the ultimate cause of the sinking.

    If there is anything to be learned from this it's the power of conventional wisdom. My 50-odd (sic) years as a reporter and author have taught me that when "everybody knows" something, it means that nobody knows the truth.

    -- David G. Brown
    Daniel A. Soto likes this.
  18. Then Mr. Brown can sure show us the source that that message was send.
    And as we are about which other survivors corroborate that message?

    And I like it how Ismay was within the first seconds after the collision on the bridge giving orders!
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member


    We can easily re-construct the time-line.

    Olliver did not witness the re-starting of the engines... That required a formal STANDBY order from the bridge first. He witnessed Captain Smith ringing HALF AHEAD, that's all. He did not witness the STOP order that follwed, but Trimmer Dillon in the main engine room did.

    Dillon described the engine movements as follows. Excuse my crude paraphrasing.
    "3719. felt a slight shock.. - About a minute and a half. [after the shock]....3720.They [the engines] stopped...They stopped for about half a minute then they went slow astern for about 2 minutes, then they stopped again.
    3727. - They went ahead again.....3728. For about two minutes.
    3729. Then they stopped the boat after that...."

    Here's the foregoing condensed to makse sense: Titanic hit the ice, the STOP order was given and executed, the engines came to a halt for the first time since leaving Queenstown. Interval: 90 seconds. The engines were still for 30 seconds then ran astern for 120 seconds. Intrval 90 + 30 = 120 seconds.Then they stopped a gain for 30 seconds. Interval 120 + 30 seconds = 150 seconds. Then they ran ahead onnce more for 120 seconds. Interval from first engine order to final one = 150 + 120 = 270 seconds...
    120 seconds before being stopped for all time thereafter. That's a total of 4.5 minutes... ship time: 11-44.5 pm. Boxhall used 11-46 pm. When working a distress position, you use the position where the ship finallu comes to a halt. If. as you claim, she ran on for a while, then the ship time to work distress positions would have been dramatically changed. Incidentally, it would have been Olliver or Moody who entered the final engine movement in the QM's Log.

    When the ship came to a rest, Olliver was sent down to find the Carpenter. He found him sounding the compartments then immediately to the bridge. When he got back there, he was immedaitely sent bellow to the main engine room with a message for Chief Bell.
    On his way below to make a second inspection, and when QM Olliver was on his way to the engine room, Boxhall met the Carpenter at the bottom of the stairs from A Deck to the bridge. The carpenter continued onto the bridge and reported the damage to the captain. This happened no more than 10 to 15 minutes after impact.
    When QM Olliver arrived in the engine room. The engines were already stopped and the WT doorsto boiler room 1 had been raised.

    I think we can completely discount the idea of Titanic ever moving again later than 6 minutes after impact.
  20. Here is what quartermaster Olliver said under oath to the American inquiry. I have emphasized the exchange between him and Ohio Sentator Burton about restarting the engines. Olliver's answer is pretty clear an unequivocal. Captain Smith telegraphed the order to restart the engines.

    Senator BURTON.
    Were the engines reversed; was she backed?

    Mr. OLLIVER.
    Not whilst I was on the bridge; but whilst on the bridge she went ahead, after she struck; she went half speed ahead.

    Senator BURTON.
    The engines went half speed ahead, or the ship?

    Mr. OLLIVER.
    Half speed ahead, after she hit the ice.

    Senator BURTON.
    Who gave the order?

    Mr. OLLIVER.
    The captain telegraphed half speed ahead.

    Senator BURTON.
    Had the engines been backing before he did that?

    Mr. OLLIVER.
    That I could not say, sir.

    Senator BURTON.
    Did she have much way on?

    Mr. OLLIVER.

    Senator BURTON.
    When he put the engines half speed ahead?

    Mr. OLLIVER.
    No, sir. I reckon the ship was almost stopped

    -- David G. Brown