True Course

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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David G., you've got a new book coming out? And I was savin' me pennies for the paperback version of White Hurricane (due out in Feb. according to Amazon). Now I'll have to save for this one as well. But happily so. If I can sell my condo in the next couple of months, perhaps I can join you all in Maine. I plan to resume my gypsy ways in a motorhome so I can be ready to attend any gathering of the ET fold. And I know in my heart that more than one person in the fold is an expert seaman, and appreciate all the views expressed for discussion.

Kyrila
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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I do not, however, see justification in the testimony for the claim that Boxhall was in the compass platform just before the accident. I think we can all agree that Boxhall was away from the bridge on appointed rounds about that time and it could be that he was on the platform at some point to help calibrate the steering compass. But there's not a hint of his being on the platform during the critical time discussed here in either his or Olliver's testimony or later remembrances. In fact, the lack of mention there is significant.
I have to agree with you here, Parks. As has been discussed at great length before, there is no inquiry testimony or other information that places Boxhall at that location immediately prior to the collision. However, Boxhall made a later statement in an interview that was consistant with his inquiry testimony as to his whereabouts immediately prior to the collision. This put him in his cabin after completing his rounds and immediately prior to emerging to return to the Bridge.

Boxhall does mention being out on the decks and at the compass during his final watch when asked about haze:

15340. Neither at 8 o'clock nor at any time during the night? - Whenever I was on the deck or at the compass I never saw any haze whatever.

But there is no evidence that puts him on the platform during the immediate period pre-collision - according to what he said, he had finished his rounds, was having a cup of tea and was about to return to the Bridge having been in his cabin. Any 'steadying' of the ship (if, indeed, it took place) had already been completed. We have nothing beyond supposition to place Boxhall on the compass platform at this crucial moment, and we have evidence against it.
 
D

David Haisman

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Parks,

The response was predictable and the ''safe'' route for many is to refer to ''dodgy and the closing of ranks'' testimony other than to answer straight forward questions drawn from relative experience.



David
 
Jan 28, 2003
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David B. seems to be saying that Murdoch did indeed make a hard-a-starboard, but that it was (I infer) in connection with the compass steadying and not a manoeuvre to avoid the iceberg, if I read him aright. So it would have been before the berg was sighted? Timeline seems a bit short for that. Would steadying the compass necessitate a hard-a-starboard? Not sure why everyone thinks Murdoch saw the berg before anyone else, but I'm sure that is covered somewhere on ET so I'll search for it.
 
Jul 7, 2002
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Dave B. wrote: "This paper is a succinct discussion of compass navigation in the 1912 era. As such, it is "must" reading for anyone trying to de-mystify the various courses and headings given in the testimonies."

Thank you, Dave!

I'd also like to say that Charlie is a great mentor. I learned a lot from working with him on this!

Cathy
 
Jul 7, 2002
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Hi Monica,

Yes, deviation is confusing! It took me a while to understand it, too. I hope Charlie's additional explanation helped.

I'm glad you liked the rest of the article, but please let us know if you have any other questions.

Cathy
 
Mar 3, 1998
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David,

I intended my response to be predictable. I would hope that no one reviewing the disaster today would consider themself to be more knowledgeable about the sequence of events than those who were there and described their part in it. It's one thing to interpret the survivors' reported actions based on experience but quite another to contradict or dismiss them, based on an unproven assumption that they lied about or otherwise obfuscated their actions. Certainly, a man can be mistaken in his memory of events, but for a modern layman (which includes everyone who was not on that particular ship at the time) to prove the error requires proof drawn from other participants or remaining evidence. So, back to my original predictable point...if you want salient and experienced comments, my advice for you is to turn to the remembrances of the crew. Anything else is mere opinion by someone who wasn't there. I shouldn't have to be explaining this to you of all people...you say very much the same in many of your posts.

Parks
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Regarding Boxhall-- This discussion belongs in a thread of its own as it is not really directly related to compass error, etc. I will find an appropriate loacation to make a longer posting in response to what has been written above regarding the fourth officer. Look for it in a day or two.

In the meantime, I will reiterate my belief that the physical layout of Titanic's bridge--in particular the compass platform--and the inadequate communications among the members of the bridge watch created by that physical layout played a critical role in the accident. I commend Cathy and Captain Charlie for recognizing this significant detail.

--David G. Brown
 
D

David Haisman

Guest
Parks,
To answer my criticisms of David Browns article where he states some half a dozen erroneous shipboard practices,perhaps I should remind you that some of us are more knowledgeable than many of the self imposed experts on this site.
When I first went to sea, just some 40 years after the Titanic disaster, much of our training was a direct result of that tragedy along with many unchanged work practices continuing thereafter. Crossing the North Atlantic on Canadian voyages and stopping in ice fields off of the Straits of Belle Isle in dense fog with ships full of passengers was the norm in those days. Having no more assistance than a war time radar set showing more clutter than anything else, along with Lookout duties in those conditions came pretty close to what may have been experienced in Titanic's day.
Witnessing the masters and bridge officers thoroughly exhausted from days on ice routine was something you don't forget. To hear some of the ''experts'' on this web site criticising those same types has been pure sacrilege!
When David Brown writes such stuff as I was commenting on he should be answerable to what he has written or state quite clearly that it's not of his making but merely passing on such material. There are a lot of people out there that are under the impression that the Hollywood version of the tragedy of Titanic is gospel and as long as this kind of misleading text is bandied about,we are heading for a circus!
So, back to what I'm trying to put over and that is quite clearly this.
If people don't state that their writings are their own work or not, they should be prepared to accept criticism from those with relative experience.
I feel I have given out much information over the past couple of years regarding many ship board practices that were similar to Titanic's time but most of it unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears and has been a waste of my time.
I would have preferred some straight answers to my questions and criticisms but that would have been too much for some I fear.
Next Tuesday 13th, I shall be coming off line indefinitely as I can't be bothered to read this stuff much longer so if anyone wants a final ''dig'' before then they had better get their oar in quickly.

David
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Hi Cathy,
Thanks for reassuring me that you, a technical writer (!) had a few problems too. Very game of you, I think, to have undertaken it in the first place.
happy.gif
I think I've got it all in principle now, but am still a bit puzzled about the shoreside range markings, but I'll re-read it again and try to concentrate this time!
Monica
 
Jul 7, 2002
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David H wrote: " I feel I have given out much information over the past couple of years regarding many ship board practices that were similar to Titanic's time but most of it unfortunately has fallen on deaf ears and has been a waste of my time.
I would have preferred some straight answers to my questions and criticisms but that would have been too much for some I fear.
Next Tuesday 13th, I shall be coming off line indefinitely as I can't be bothered to read this stuff much longer so if anyone wants a final ''dig'' before then they had better get their oar in quickly. "

I'm sorry to hear that, David. I always enjoy reading your posts because I respect your knowledge and experience. I know the discussions can be frustrating at times, but that's why I appreciate reading them. Even when I disagree with something someone has written, I learn from it.

Anyway, I hope you will keep your web site on-line and come back to ET once in a while.

Best wishes,

Cathy
 
Jul 7, 2002
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Hi Monica,

How about this: shoreside range markings are just a way of measuring deviation when you are close to shore. Instead of comparing the ship's bearing to the azimuth of the sun, a star, or a planet, you swing the ship towards tall buildings you can see on shore (usually churches) and measure the deviation.

Deviation varies as a ship's heading changes because the metal of the ship moves in relation to the ship's compass as the ship swings around (Kemp, Peter. The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1976. p. 244).

Here's how it works: I swing my ship to point at church A, then measure the deviation. Then I swing my ship to point at church B, and measure the deviation again. Comparing the two numbers helps me calculate the amount of deviation on my current heading.

Does that make sense? If I am mistaken, I'm sure Charlie can set us both straight. He's the real expert!

Cathy
 
Mar 3, 1998
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David,

I understand and respect your right to debate the issue that Dave Brown raised. I have exercised the same right in this very thread. What I take issue with -- as I always have -- is your oft- and plain-stated disdain for the opinions and/or experience of others on this board, myself included. Speaking for myself, I have never doubted or belittled your sea-going experience, even when you were dismissing mine. But I'll be damned if I'll respond to your questions when I know that you'll only slap me for it. So, if you would like my response on information that you have provided, then you'll have to return some of courtesy that I attempt to show you. If you don't care about my opinion, then you can look to someone else for a response. In this most recent thread, I directed you toward the surviving crew remembrances because I know from previous conversations that you do not want to hear what I have to say. If you don't respect me, then maybe you would respect them.

In other words, your 'sea stories" have not fallen on deaf ears...you just make it difficult for some, myself included, to respond to, or comment on, them. Silence does not mean that people aren't listening and learning. We're not aboard ship now...in a forum such as this, people won't respond to chastisement. My children taught me that lesson when I retired from our Navy and I'm still trying to learn it. What worked aboard ship doesn't always work on dry land.

If asked, I would rather that you not leave the board, despite our differences. But I have no say in the matter.

Parks
 
Aug 10, 2002
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monica:
Just to clarify something Cathy & I said. You have to have two fixed charted objects onshore, then you determine the compass bearing when they are in line. That is the heading of the range, while your ship is lined up on the range you observe the difference between your compass course and the range. This difference is total compass error. I wish you could make it to Maine in April, it will be very interesting, and we could show you some examples of ranges in the bridge simulator.
Regards,
Charlie
 
Aug 10, 2002
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Hello, my fellow Titanic enthusiasts:
I am saddened to see all the acrimony that has arisen in this thread. We are all entitled to our own opinions, but we must respect others rights to their opinions. It is fine to disagree with someone else, but do it in a gentlemanly fashion. I view the whole Titanic issue like a large mosaic or picture puzzle. It is made up of many small pieces, each of us has a broad general interest in the whole picture, and a specific interest in one or more of the individual pieces. As I see it the only way we will ever put the puzzle together is by working together to fit the individual pieces that we each have been working on together. To do this might require some reshaping of individual pieces so they fit.
I believe that the best sources of information are they primary sources. These are things like: testimony at either inquiry, testimony in court and publications by survivors. Everything else is a secondary or a further removed source. As we know the primary sources far from answer all the questions, this is where we have to fall back on our personal experience and knowledge, to fill in the gaps or make the pieces fit together. If we can work together and draw on each others strengths we have the best chance of making the pieces fit.
Regards,
Charlie
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I am saddened to see all the acrimony that has arisen in this thread.<<

So am I as there's no need for it. If one person or another claimed to be inspired inerrant on this or any other matter, that might be a different story, but this hasn't happened.

I've been aware of the ideas that David Brown and Erik Wood have been researching for nearly two years now, and I think they can demonstrate that there's enough there...from their read of the evidence available...that some sort of manuever had been completed prior to that fatal encounter with the ice. Something which led to a loss of situational awareness just long enough for them to have a run in (Literally!) with a nasty surprise.

Whether anything happened exactly as these two men believe is certainly debatable, but both of these men bring their own insights as mariners...and Erik's insights as an accident investigator to the table...and I think that at least warrants giving them a fair hearing.

David Haisman brings his insights as a sailor in the British Merchant Marine to the table as well, and in that vein, I think a collaberation between them would be well worthwhile. The end result would certainly be a lot more credible then the mythos that's been perpetuated for nearly 92 years.

How about it???
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Charlie,
how I wish I could make it to Maine as well. And I can't resist simulators either, wish you hadn't told me about it. Thanks to you and Cathy - I think I have actually got it all straight now.
Parks - was interested in your comment about your children teaching you that people won't respond to chastisement. Among other classes I do, I teach marketing to the Military (all services) who are about to retire into civilian life, and the most difficult thing they find is to step down from orders to co-operation. I think it's odd, as the services are always going on about teams and so forth, but when it comes to real team behaviour, they find it very difficult. I can see why - a team in the services has to do as it is told, no questions etc., but they do find the transition difficult - people actually have the temerity to ask 'Why'!
 
Mar 3, 1998
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<font color="#000066">So am I as there's no need for it. If one person or another claimed to be inspired inerrant on this or any other matter, that might be a different story, but this hasn't happened.

Well, if one only looks at this thread in isolation, I can see that what you say is true. Given that perspective, I therefore apologise to the membership at large for taking the attitude I did with David without apparent provocation.

<font color="#000066">Something which led to a loss of situational awareness just long enough for them to have a run in (Literally!) with a nasty surprise.

Despite the way you worded it, I hope that you do not intend that to be a statement of fact. I have seen nothing that proves that First Officer Murdoch lost any situational awareness during his watch. On the contrary, my read through the evidence seems to indicate that he was quite alert and responsive to the situation.

Monica,

Yes, teamwork is important in the military and aboard a naval vessel, as it is in normal, successful life. The main difference I find between the military and civilian life is that in civilian life, a leader can often be questioned. In family life, leadership is a much more nebulous thing; in fact, I have given up any pretention of leadership in my household. The new puppy has more authority than me. :) I was a fairly senior-ranking officer by the time I retired, and accustomed to having orders carried out without much question and with alacrity. I was also a single man for most of my military career (not counting my first, childless, marriage) and started a family only during my last year in uniform (and after my last sea tour). It was therefore a shock when I moved from the environment that I had grown up in for over two decades to the new one. That was over 8 years ago and I'm still learning to adjust. In my wife's view, my attitude has been getting better with each passing year, and I guess that I can't really argue with her (see, I AM learning!).

Parks
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Parks-- no offense taken as I know that none was intended. Nothing good comes of weak debate. I expected resistance to my suggestions and demands for proof. Proof will be forthcoming in April if my plans come to fruition.

With regard to Murdoch's loss of situational awareness...I am quite certain he was a victim of this problem, but no more than Captain Smith, Boxhall, Moody, Olliver, and Hichens. The problem that I am citing arose from the lack of communications among these men due to the physical layout of the bridge. Hence my original comments about the compass platform.

And, while I believe their communal loss of awareness was the primary factor in the accident, I also agree that Murdoch's performance that night was otherwise above reproach.

-- David G. Brown