Titanic's Log

Dec 4, 2000
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International Mercantile Marine
Ship's Rules
July 1, 1907


111. Accident, Collision or Salvage. -- (a) ...the Commander shall at once prepare and at the first opportunity had to the Management, a written report signed by him and addressed to the Company's lawyers detailing the circumstances in connection with the occurrence. If the commander is not on deck at the time of a casualty, he shall for the purpose of making his report, obtain from the witnesses a verbal report of all the facts.

(c) Collisions and similar occurrences should be briefly entered in the official and ship's log-books. In the Ship's Log-book, it is sufficient to enter the time of the occurrence and the name of the colliding vessel. In the Official Log-book, the time of the occurrence should be recorded with a general description of the damage received, and the name of the colliding vessel. Beyond the entries in the Log-books and the special report above mentioned, no memoranda as to the circumstances of the collision are to be written down by anyone.


--David G. Brown
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
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It's possible that an attempt to save the log was made. Here's Lightoller in the USA.

"It was obvious to me that everything with regard to their duty had been done by the mere fact that shortly before the vessel sank I met a purser, Mr. McElroy, Mr. Barker, Dr. O'Loughlin, and Dr: Simpson, and the four assistants. They were just coming from the direction of the bridge. They were evidently just keeping out of everybody's way. They were keeping away from the crowd so, as not to interfere with the loading of the boats. McElroy, if I remember, was walking around with his hands in his pockets. The purser's assistant was coming behind with the ship's bag, show that all detail work had been attended to. I think one of them had a roll of papers under his arm, showing that they had been attending to their detail work."

Note that they were coming from the bridge with "the ship's bag". This sounds like something for official documents. If it was leather, we might see it yet.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I believe the important point in Dave Brown's post above is that the only information that was to be written down was the time of occurrence, the name of the other ship if a collision with a another ship had taken place, and when writing up the Official log book, a general description of the damage. That's it. Notice that if the Commander was not on deck at the time only verbal reports of the details were to be taken. The only written details were to be in the report that the Commander was to prepare for the company's lawyers. And specifically, "no memoranda as to the circumstances of the collision are to be written down by anyone."

If what Hichens said was correct, Murdoch had instructed either the standby QM (Olliver) or 6/O Moody to write down the time of the collision. I believe this was just before Smith came onto the bridge.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam is exactly correct about the meaning of the IMM/WSL regulations. Nothing would appear in the official logbook other than the time and nature of the incident. Nor would there be additional details about the accident in the scrap log or any other documents. I'm afraid that while the ship's original logbook would an artifact of great value, it would tell us virtually nothing that we do not already know about the iceberg encounter.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jul 4, 2007
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I hope nobody thought that I expected something like a synopsis of A Night to Remember to be irretrievably lost with the ship. I was referring to all the pages and entries that were recorded along the route; from her departure and leading up to her mistaken position 40° 46' N, 50° 14'. What else might have been miscalculated, overlooked or missing altogether that brought her directly into those ice fields? I maintain that the Ships Log is the most important article aboard a ship---it being the repository of her hourly movements.

I enjoyed entertaining readers here with a not altogether impossible theory drawn from oddities that still remain unanswerable. My aim was to encourage further discussion and speculation on the myths, half-truths, and still unknowns; in that, I succeeded. Thank you for your consideration. -EGL

“Much like a beautiful woman, she will forever remain a mystery to those with imagination.”￾
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What else might have been miscalculated, overlooked or missing altogether that brought her directly into those ice fields? I maintain that the Ships Log is the most important article aboard a ship---it being the repository of her hourly movements. <<

I don't think you're going to find that a ship's log is quite that detailed. As a watchstander on a warship, I kept one whenever I was in the duty section. What the formal log is used for is to keep a record of signifigant events aboard the ship. That would include navigation data and certain reports taken during the day. Since the course of a liner rarely ever changed on a frequent basis, it would make for some amazingly dull reading.

As to the mistaken 40° 46' N, 50° 14' keep in mind that Boxhall had to calculate this on the fly in the heat of a crisis and at that, several hours after the last starsights had been taken.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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I think Dave has it correct.

The master would call all heads of departments to the bridge which he was unable to leave. The Purser would have all the ship's documents i.e reg. papers etc in the ship's office. He would not have the Movement Book, Scrap (Deck) Log, Official Log or ER Log there. These would be on the bridge,wheelhouse or ER. I suspect, although it is not mentioned except obliquely in Hitchin's evidence; there was a 'Movements Book'. This would be a small notebook in which the junior OOW would note any helm or engine movements. These would later be transcribed into the Official Log Book together with any other pertinent information from the Deck or Scrap Log.
Possibly as a result of the Titanic incidents - the ship's Official Log book (or 'fair copy')is not acceptable in evidence in certain cases before a court of enquiry. It is the Deck Log which matters. In the UK MN it is an offence for an officer to expunge a scrap (deck) log entry. All scrap logs must be kept and delivered when complete to the company office. Entries may be made in pencil but must not be rubbed out. Corrections must be shown with a single line drawn through the entry and initialed by the person making the entry.
It is possibly significant that as late as the 1960s, the term 'Scrap Log' was still the norm. However 'Scrap Logs' by then were hard battered solid bits of 'kit'. It was customary in some companies by then for the Chief Officer to delegate the duty of writing -up the Ship's Log to the 2nd. Officer. This was termed 'doing the abstracts'.
As I said, I think Dave is right. Captain Smith delegated the saving of the ship's papers to the Chief Purser who had the proper water-proof satchel for that purpose. Unfortunately none of these people survived and I suspect neither did the papers. I also think Moody would have the movement book (if there was one) in his pocket.

As for standard entries: these would include True, magnetic and Standard compass courses steered. Times and position of course alterations. Times of Clock alterations. Sea water and air temperatures. Weather conditions and visibility.
Any significant happening which effected the seaworthy-ness of the ship. Exceptional phenomena.
In addition; when leaving or arriving at port, the times of pilot on board and subsequent course and engine movements. (these would usually be recorded as 'helm & engines to Master's orders and Pilots advice').
Tugs made fast or cast-off, first line ashore - last one let go. and ofcourse - 'finish with engines' - the happiest order heard by any sailor.
I don't know the practice in the time of Titanic but later it was normal for the Master & Chief Officer to sign each page of the Deck Log.

Cheers,

Jim
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Jim, things had obviously been tightened up by your day.

The business of scrap logs was closely examined in Mersey's court, in connection with the Californian affair.

It was established that captains in IMM ships had orders to destroy the scrap log day by day, after writing up the fair log. This was a relic of the days when the scrap log was kept on a slate.

See the British inquiry from question 8672 on, including the remarks by White Star's lawyer, Frederick Laing.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
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Funchal. Madeira
Hi Dave!

I knew about the history of how things were. My first ship was commanded by an old guy with a white beard and everything went aboard in twos! Actually it would amaze you how much of the old ways were clung-to for quite a time after WW2. Indeed there were not a few bits of rusty junk still crossing the oceans at that time - mainly those that were too slow for the torpedoes! I even sailed with a 72 year old carpenter in 1953. Boy! did he have some stories to relate.

Seriously though - I was more sort of hoping to add to the general knowledge of the readers.
It seemed to me that lots of the uninitiated are influenced by guesswork and movies rather than, shall we say - natural progression.

It would be great to find out what exactly was in the Chief Purser's leather bag. I am almost sure it would have been papers relative to ship's business. Passenger Certificate, Registration Certificate, Loadline Certificate, Tonnage Certificate, Crew Agreement, Portage Bills, Passenger List, Cargo Manifests etc. and of course, any log books which the Master would probably pass to the Purser as part of the complete details of ship's business up until she was abandoned.
It is likely, given the subsequent reported events that Captain Smith did not give much for his own chances.
It would be interesting to know how a modern psycho-analyst would assess the man's state of mind at the end.

Cheers,

Jim.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>It seemed to me that lots of the uninitiated are influenced by guesswork and movies rather than, shall we say - natural progression.<<

Unfortunately, you would be correct. A lot of people get their knowladge of ships in general and Titanic in particular from the media and the movies. Those who come here at least tend to want to look beyond that and get their information from people and sources who actually know what they're talking about but they tend to be more the exception then the norm.

Check out some of the news stories I call attention to from time to time to see the on going Reign of Error by the media and how deep it runs.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

It was established that captains in IMM ships had orders to destroy the scrap log day by day, after writing up the fair log.
Those were the instructions from the Leyland Line according to C/O Stewart. IMM had a controlling interest in the Leyland Line, which means they held more than half the shares, but it is not clear that Leyland Line ships operated under IMM rules. I do not recall seeing any rule about destroying the scrap log in the set of IMM rules in effect at the time of Titanic. The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, a.k.a. WSL, owners and operators of Titanic, was completely owned by IMM, representing about half of IMM's total tonnage, and operated under those set of rules. In essence, Olympic and Titanic were American owned ships that happened to be registered under the British flag.​
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sometimes you have to read between the lines...

IMM/WSL Rule 111.(c) "Collisions and similar occurrences should be briefly entered in the Official and Ship's Log-books. In the Ship's Log-book, it is sufficient to enter the time of the occurrence and the name of the colliding vessel. In the Official Log-book, the time of the occurrence should be recorded with a general description of the damage received, and the name of the colliding vessel. Beyond the entries in the Log-books, and the special report above mentioned, no memoranda as to the circumstances of the collision are to be written down by anyone."

It would seem that no matter what might have been written on scraps of paper for the convenience of navigation, nothing was to be kept save for the required brief mention of the accident in the ship's log and official log. As I see it, had those books survived, and had they been updated to reflect the accident, they would provide nothing beyond what was obvious.

The "above mentioned" report was required by paragraphs (a) and(b) of the same rule. They required the master to make reports to the IMM/WSL attorneys in case of a lawsuit arising out of the collision.

-- David G. Brown
 
Mar 22, 2003
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On IMM ships, it was OOW's responsibility to make sure the scrap log, or log slate as they called it in the set of rules, was complete with regard to the entries kept. There was a requirement that the Chief Officer write up the ship's log each day from information put on the scrap log. However, there was no IMM rule saying the scrap log was to be destroyed every day, nor that it had to be kept. Entries once made into the ship's log by the Chief Officer had to initialed by all watch officers, and no erasures were allowed. Items could only be crossed off and initialed.

As David pointed out, there were certain details the company did not want written down in the case of an accident or related event. It should be obvious why that what so.

The question of logbooks also came up during the preliminary hearings into the Andrea Doria/Stockholm collision. In their haste to abandon ship, the Doria's log books were left behind, although other books and important papers were saved. It's amazing how much of a big deal was made by the Swedish-American Line's lawyer about the missing log books, as if they would have shed much more insight into what really happened. The type of information that would have been kept are courses steered and course changes made, engine revolutions carried, WX conditions and changes, the time and location of particular RDF fixes taken, time when passing lightships and distance off, and other events worthy of noting such as the time of collision, etc.

And sometimes, such as in the case of Stockholm, the entry for time, distance and bearing of the first radar sighting of the oncoming ship that you eventually collided with only gave the approximate time, distance and bearing; a time that was written down as 2300 but was shown to have been about 7 minutes earlier.

But there are always details that just don't make it into the books or scraps of paper being kept of either ship, such as a helmsman on Stockholm displaying a lack of concentration allowing the ships head to vary 3-4 degrees to either side of the course line, and sometimes more; or radar bearings taken on Andrea Doria that were relatively close to the heading flasher being mostly eyeballed rather than using the cursor and plotting the results. The really valuable record of events from the Andrea Doria was recorded not her log books, but on her course recorder plot which was saved. From that, and the one from Stockholm, one is able to reconstruct the accident as it really happened, something that cannot be done from the data recorded in log books alone.