Titanic's Fog Horn


Jun 15, 2018
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If Titanic had blown the fog horn would Californian not have heard it? It was a dead calm night.
 
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Nov 14, 2005
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I've never read of any ships reporting hearing Titanics steam safety devices when they lifted or the reports from her rockets. So probably not on the fog horns. But different frequencies travel differentley so ?
 
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Also if the Californian was as close as some have claimed wouldn't the lookouts have reported her blowing off steam when the safeties lifted. There must have been a visable plume if only briefly.
 
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Aaron_2016

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If Titanic had blown the fog horn would Californian not have heard it? It was a dead calm night.
3rd officer Pitman was asked if the Titanic's whistle could be heard 5 miles away.


Q - If there had been a vessel that night within 5 miles of the Titanic, could not her whistle have been heard that distance?

A - No; but you could have heard her blowing off steam at a far greater distance than you could hear the steam whistle. She was blowing off steam for three-quarters of an hour, I think, and you could hear that much farther than you could hear any steam whistle.

Q - Then it would stand to reason that if there was a ship or vessel of any kind within a distance of 5 miles it ought to have heard the blowing off of the steam?

A - She could have heard that 10 miles that night.


.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Question why did not use the whistle? If I am not mistaken isn't that part of the rules when a ship is in distress?
 
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Jun 15, 2018
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I live on a hill overlooking Belfast harbor, approx. 8 miles away. Every newyear at midnight ships in harbor sound their foghorn and it is clearly audible despite many obstructions. never mind over a flat calm sea.
 
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May 3, 2005
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During my assignment in the Navy on Treasure Island, fog horns could be heard from many ships, both near and far on a foggy night in San Francisco Bay

Ooh that’s a good question, I’d like to know this.
Yes.
I would be interested in the answer, too.

One explanation I have heard was that it was thought that continuous blowing of the fog horn would only increase the anxiety of the passengers.

One of the "nit-picks" or "goofs" of the 1953 "Titanic" movie is that the fog horn or one of the whistles on the Titanic is heard, continuously sounding during the sinking.

Another trivial thing about "whistles" that seems curious to landlubbers such as myself.
I always associate "whistles" with things that go "tweet-tweet" or are high pitched rather than the deep bass voice of the "whistle" which is still sounded regularly on former RMS , now Hotel, Queen Mary.
Is "whistle" a more correct Naval Term than "horn" ? And if so, why ?
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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Titanic did not had a fog horn. She had whistles. The whistles need steam (dry steam) which they got directly from the boiler rooms. With no steam there was no way to blow them. (Only the whistles on the forward 2 funnels were functional, the others were dummies.)
 
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Mike Spooner

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With no steam there was no way to blow them? There was plenty of steam been blow away! Probably the question of not to alarm the passengers is a good answer.
 
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Dec 4, 2000
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A bit of a trick question here...but what is the physical difference between a "whistle" and a "fog horn?" And, why do we differentiate between them?

-- David G. Brown
 
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With no steam there was no way to blow them? There was plenty of steam been blow away! Probably the question of not to alarm the passengers is a good answer.
No there was not. The steam blown off was coming out of the steam escape pipes. For the whistles there was another pipe, they could not use both. (Also the whistles need dry steam.)
 
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Mike Spooner

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Were did the dry steam come from? As Titanic boilers did not use super heated dry steam for the engines.
 

Mike Spooner

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If Titanic had blown the fog horn would Californian not have heard it? It was a dead calm night.
More like if the ship was 19-20 miles away as stated by Lord they wouldn't of heard it!
As Mersey had in his head at one time was only 5 miles away! If that was the case the crew members on the California would of definite heard it, especially in the dead of night!
 
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Were did the dry steam come from? As Titanic boilers did not use super heated dry steam for the engines.
The steam would come from the boiler room, it run the pipe for whistles which had a water separator. The water would run down back to the boilers. However as I said, they could not use both pipes at the same time. After the steam was vented off by the escape pipes there was nothing left to use the whistles.
 
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Mike Spooner

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How long do you think it took them to vent the steam? I hear it was very noisy how far could that be heard?
 
May 3, 2005
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A bit of a trick question here...but what is the physical difference between a "whistle" and a "fog horn?" And, why do we differentiate between them?

-- David G. Brown
David-
That , too, is my question. And How do we differentiate between them ?

Also did ships have anything equivalent to what is commonly called a "siren" ?
If so (at least in the opinion of this layman/landlubber) sounding a siren would seem to be one way of getting attention to a ship that was in distress. However,this is just from 21st Century viewpoint.
 
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Aaron_2016

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The steamship Mount Temple was coming towards the Titanic but they were on the west side of the ice field and they could not get through it. Before the Carpathia arrived the Mount Temple saw a schooner blowing her foghorn. I wonder how far it could have been heard. On a clear calm morning I can hear the engines rumbling from passing cargo ships that are 8 miles away. The low humming rumble drifts very clear across the calm waters. I imagine a foghorn would travel even further.

Captain Moore of the Mount Temple

"I heard the foghorn on this schooner. He blew his foghorn, and we immediately put the helm hard a-starboard, and I ordered full speed astern and took the way off the boat."

Q - You think the schooner was within a short distance of the Titanic?
A - I thought she was within a short distance of us, because I put the engines full astern to avoid her.


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There is no physical difference between a fog horn and a whistle. The only difference is the purpose for which the sound signal is being made. Titanic would have given maneuvering signals on the same steam whistles as it would have sounded fog signals. The only specific mention of "fog signalling apparatus" within the rules is to authorize continuous sounding of such as a signal of distress.

Sirens are not mentioned in the Rules today. Haven't seen any reference to sirens going back into the 1940s. Before that I'm not sure. The Rules would not have prevented the use of a siren in any case for private signals or for use aboard military ships. It is the nature of sirens to take time to "spool up" before reaching full pitch and volume. Then, they "spool down" after being sounded. (Speaking here of true mechanical sirens.) Rule 33 (a) states that any signaling device used must be capable of sounding the prescribed "blasts:"

Short Blast -- about 1 second duration:
Prolonged Blast -- 4 to 6 seconds duration.

The high-pitched wailing of a siren is not suited to making the short and prolonged blasts required for whistle signals. So, in any case a siren would not have been a legal "whistle" or "fog horn" under the Rules.

Also, the pitch of the "whistle" is supposed to reflect to some degree the size of the vessel on which it is mounted. Think of the three bears. Tiny baby bear has a high voice. Mid-size mamma bear makes a mezzo note. And, papa bear sounds off in the baritone range. The same wold be true about whistle pitch moving from a tugboat to Titanic.

Specifics about distress signals are contained in Annex IV of the Rules. These were written by seaman for seamen and not by lawyers for use in court. As a result, there is a bit of "wiggle room" in how to make distress signals. After all, a man on a sinking ship does not necessarily have the time and ability to do things "by the book." So, firing of a gun or other explosive signal is to be done at intervals of ABOUT one minute. If you're pulling alligators off your backside, you probably won't have time to shoot the cannon with stopwatch accuracy.

-- David G. Brown
 
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May 3, 2005
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Thanks, once more, David -

The thought was that since sirens are so commonly used on land that they would be useful on the sea.

For example if you are driving down a street, road or any type of road, you know they are a sign to get your attention to be sure you are not going to get in the way of a police car, ambulance , fire engine, or other type of emergency vehicle, it's time to heed them and be sure to give them plenty of room.

Or in the case of the sirens used in Warning of tornadoes or other severe weather , it's time to heed them and take appropriate action.

Point was that sirens would seem to be a good way to get your attention, whether on land or at sea.

But maybe there is a reason why they aren't used at sea ?
I can't recall ever reading about sirens being used on ships ?
 
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