Titanic's Log

Sep 11, 2015
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Hello All - I've been coming to this site for a long time and have finally decided to register. It's great reading all the threads here and I've learned a lot. I have been fascinated with the Titanic for about 30 years now. I've seen this topic discussed at times but I wanted to ask some very specific questions.
Did Captain Smith have a legal duty to ensure that Titanic's log and scrap log were put in a lifeboat? (Do captains today have that responsibility?) If the law did not require this, did White Star? If Captain Smith did have that responsibility, was it simply overlooked as the disaster played out, or do you think it was a conscious decision to not save these items? If we had Titanic's log, how much light would it shed on the disaster? I know it would not contain much after the collision, but would it solve the mystery of the CQD coordinates being many miles from the actual wreck? At the very least it should have told us precisely when they turned the Corner and if there were any course corrections after that. I know this was not really a concern in the midst of the ship sinking, but ordering Murdoch into a lifeboat would have allowed the Officer in charge at the time of the collision to tell precisely what occurred during that sequence. Of course I also understand that finding out the truth of everything afterwards was not in everybody's best interest. Thanks for any responses and it's great to be posting here!
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Michael!

A very interesting question.

The Captain should always try to save the ship's Deck Log and her official papers. The latter are usually kept in the ship's safe and the former in the Chart Room. It is not necessary to save The Official Log Book.

Titanic, like most ships had two logs or record of daily events relative to Navigation, crew discipline and specific occurrences required by Company Rules or by Maritime Law. The First was was named The Official Log Book. It was a fair copy of the second which was the Deck or Scrap Log. The second was kept up to date by the Junior Officers of the Watch.. i.e. Pitman, Boxhall Lowe and Moody. At about 8 pm every morning, the Scrap Log would be taken to the cabin of the Chief Officer who would carefully copy all relevant information from the Scrap to the Official Log Book.

Since the disaster happened around midnight on April, 14, the Official Log Book would only be correct up to 8am that morning. It follows that for a record of what happened after that time and right up until the collision with the iceberg, the Scrap Log Book would have been needed. Unfortunately, in 1912, little or no importance was placed on the contents of the Scrap Log. In many cases it was destroyed by the Chief Officer after he had finished with it. Years afterward, and for obvious reasons, the Scrap Log became the only record submissible at a Court of Inquiry.

Strangely enough, there is on record, evidence of the Pursers being seen on the boat deck with the ship's 'bag'. There is also evidence of an Able Seaman passing a bag from a lifeboat up to the Master at Arms on Carpathia I've wondered about that myself.

Keep these interesting questions coming. Not everything is known about Titanic. A lot of what is known has been somewhat distorted in places.

Jim C
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>There is also evidence of an Able Seaman passing a bag from a lifeboat up to the Master at Arms on Carpathia.<<

Might that be QM Wynn's?

13396. Did you place your kit bag in the boat? - I had two sets of underwear in my bag which I had never unpacked. I threw it into the first boat I came to when I was told to get into the boat.
13397. That was the boat you left in? - Yes.
13398. What happened to your kit bag?
The Commissioner: Does it matter what happened to the kit bag?
The Witness: I never saw it.
13399. (Mr. Lewis.) It would be a good size, would it not - a good long bag? - Not for the two sets of underwear I had.
13400. Is it not the fact that it was pitched off the “Carpathia” when the boat reached there? - That is right.
 

Jim Currie

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>>There is also evidence of an Able Seaman passing a bag from a lifeboat up to the Master at Arms on Carpathia.<<

Might that be QM Wynn's?
No Sam: Day 7, US Inquiry.. AB Frank O. Evans.

"0744. Then what did you do?
- I made fast the boat. I picked up a big satchel that was in the bottom of the boat, and I threw it up to the master-at-arms of the Carpathia, and then we went on the boat deck of the Carpathiaand got orders to hoist our boat."

The Master at Arms had a specific job that morning which was to keep the Carpathia passengers separated from the survivors. It is quite possible that he was relieved of that duty and sent down by Rostron to get the bag and bring it up to the bridge. If he was, then that was the ship's bag that was last seen in the possession of the Titanic's Pursers. I can't think of any other reason as to why the Master At Arms would be at the place where Titanic's boats were being unloaded for any other purpose than to be there on the orders of his captain and to make sure the bag was taken directly to the bridge.

Jim C.
 
Hello All - I've been coming to this site for a long time and have finally decided to register. It's great reading all the threads here and I've learned a lot. I have been fascinated with the Titanic for about 30 years now. I've seen this topic discussed at times but I wanted to ask some very specific questions.
Did Captain Smith have a legal duty to ensure that Titanic's log and scrap log were put in a lifeboat? (Do captains today have that responsibility?) If the law did not require this, did White Star? If Captain Smith did have that responsibility, was it simply overlooked as the disaster played out, or do you think it was a conscious decision to not save these items? If we had Titanic's log, how much light would it shed on the disaster? I know it would not contain much after the collision, but would it solve the mystery of the CQD coordinates being many miles from the actual wreck? At the very least it should have told us precisely when they turned the Corner and if there were any course corrections after that. I know this was not really a concern in the midst of the ship sinking, but ordering Murdoch into a lifeboat would have allowed the Officer in charge at the time of the collision to tell precisely what occurred during that sequence. Of course I also understand that finding out the truth of everything afterwards was not in everybody's best interest. Thanks for any responses and it's great to be posting here!
Hello Michael, First of all, please my excuses for mistakes that I can do in here, for English is not my first language. And second here's my point : I have asked myself the same question as you did a year ago about that logbook. I did a MA in History years ago, and I've read an article telling the story of an important document in Medieval studies, a cornerstone in the field (I don't remember what) that historians had rediscovered in the 60's after a French's farmer had decided to rebuilt his chimney : the parchment was enrolled within walls of chimney to isolate it since the XII Century. So, maybe it could be like that for the Titanic's logbook : one day, someone could open his grand-grand mother's "secret case" and found it or something like that. I just hope that that person will be able to measure the worthness of the findings.
And to conclude that post, there is one question you asked about I could give you an hint to find your answer : one specialist of maritime very skilled and who you could trust gave the most logical explanation I ever did read about the reason of the Boxhall's mistake about the Titanic's position when the CQD/SOS was sent Titanic's SOS Position . It's very technical, but its gave a good idea of what really happened. Hope that could help you out a little. Thanks, Kareen Healey
 

Jim Currie

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Lilli! Read reply #2 above. I am a retired Master Mariner who served for many years on British Merchant ships, including passenger ships and on exactly the same New York run as Titanic. Additionally, I spent 25 years of my working life as a Marine Accident Investigator if that carries any weight?
 
Lilli! Read reply #2 above. I am a retired Master Mariner who served for many years on British Merchant ships, including passenger ships and on exactly the same New York run as Titanic. Additionally, I spent 25 years of my working life as a Marine Accident Investigator if that carries any weight?
Hello Michael, Euh.... Did I said something's wrong ??? Hope not, that was not my intention to hurt you, I promise! My intentions were to help, not much. Anyway, I'm sorry if I did so, even if I don't know what. PS: I'm translating in French the British Enquiry. If I have questions about maritime matters, may I ask it to you ? That could be very helpful sometimes to have a specialist like you at hand
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Lili. I'm not Michael but would be pleased to help you in any way I can re marine questions. Mais en Englais s'il vous plait. Je ne parle pas bon Francaise.
 
Hello Lili. I'm not Michael but would be pleased to help you in any way I can re marine questions. Mais en Englais s'il vous plait. Je ne parle pas bon Francaise.
Hello Jim, No, don't worry, nothing in French even if what you wrote is pretty good! If you don't mind my mistakes in English I probably do. One of my good friend is British (Yorkshire, Sheffield) and she's helping me out with English when I need it. She began 15 years ago and since then, I read almost only in English (books are cheaper : an example : "A Night to Remember" is 9.95$ in English but in French it's 29,95 for the same book! Anyway, thanks you very much for your proposal, it's very appreciated and maybe so priceless! :) But how I could I go in touch with you without getting the moderators here completely crazy and mess up with the topics? Thanks and have a fine day! Kareen
 

Rob Lawes

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Jun 13, 2012
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So to return to the ships log. Let's assume that it did reach the Carpathia safely. Could we assume that what happened to it afterwards would have been down to Bruce Ismay? I would imagine that none of the surviving ships officers would have dared to get rid of it. Ismay would have had the authority to request the bag from Rostron if indeed, the Master at Arms collected it and passed it up to the bridge. Ismay may not have been able to interpret courses, positions etc but would certainly now that the log could provide damaging evidence as to how the ship was handled. Food for thought.
 

Jim Currie

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Since the Mercantile Marine Act of 1850, the keeping of ship's Official Log Book is a legal requirement of all British Merchant Ship captains. It is an official record and must not be defaced or altered in any way. Back in 1912, they had a daily scrap log of events. The contents of this were carefully copied in ink into the Official Log Book every morning. After this was done, the scrap log was destroyed. Later, the Scrap Log became a legal document too and although entries were made in graphite pencil, these too were not to be altered or erased in any way. A single line was to be drawn through an error and initialed by the officer of the Watch. The contents of the Scrap Log continued to be copied into the Official Log Book but both books were retained to be used in the event of any inquiry into happenings on board the vessel. Since he was not an official member of Titanic's crew, Mr. Ismay would have been breaking the law if he took charge of Titanic's Official Log Book.

Hope the above is of use.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Ismay may not have been able to interpret courses, positions etc but would certainly now that the log could provide damaging evidence as to how the ship was handled.
Rob, I doubt the Titanic's logbook, or the scrap log for that matter, would have been of much use. After seeing the entries in the logbooks of HMS Hawke and RMS Olympic following the collision in the Solent back in September of 1911, the only entry that would have been made in Titanic's log for the 12th hour of the PM line for April 14th would be something along the lines of:
"11.40pm Struck iceberg along starboard side forward. Warning bell rung, watertight doors closed from bridge. Stop as required."
 

Jim Currie

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The last entry in the Official Log Book would have been made by the Chief Officer sometime am on April 14. Any information of use to anyone after that time would be contained in the Scrap Log or the Quartermaster's Log. Additional useful information would have been found in the personal work books of the junior bridge officers. If there had been any additions to the Scrap Log after change over at 10 pm, these would have been relative to routine navigation matters such as compass deviation checks etc. or any routine notations required by Company Rules At the time of the impact, most notes would have been on the QMs Log. These would include the moment of impact and actions taken, orders to 'sound round' and engine movement orders. The man who was to fill in the Scrap Log was Moody but he was otherwise engaged from the moment the order to clear boats was given so I doubt if there were any written records other than the QM's book
 
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Cap'n Jim -- ever find it odd that while the subject of the smooth log gets a lot of discussion, very little is said about the rough log or the QM book? Particularly with regard to the QM book...if one was kept...why did it not come up in the inquiries or subsequent historical analysis? You've just piled a whole 'nother layer of mystery onto the ol' wreck.

-- David G. Brown
 

Rob Lawes

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It is strange that those documents disappeared if they arrived on-board Carpathia. I agree that the last thing on anyones mind post impact would have been filling the log in.

The details regarding course changes, routines, fixes and all of the other stuff jotted down in the various logs would certainly have built up a comprehensive picture of the navigational conduct of the ship.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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What we do know comes from Hichens:

"Then the first officer told the other quartermaster standing by to take the time, and told one of the junior officers to make a note of that in the logbook. That was at 20 minutes of 12; sir."
 
A

Aaron_2016

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3rd officer Pitman

Q - Do you know if any of the logs were saved?
A - None, sir. We had something else to think of besides log books, sir.


.
 

Rob Lawes

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An easy thing to say after the event and with no logs on hand. It doesn't mean they didn't leave the ship though.