Trying to pass the berg


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Mia Lewis

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I apologize deeply if this has been discussed before, I am sure it has, but I am not sure where, maybe the moderator can move the post to the appropriate thread...Anyway, my question is..If they had tried to pass the berg on the left side instead of the right, given the evidence of the size of the berg, the distance between the ship and the berg, and the speed of the ship, do any of you think it would have cleared?
Thank you
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I'll take a shot at this and say no. The reason I say this is that the Titanic's central propeller and the starboard-side wing propeller rotated clockwise, and the port-side wing propeller rotated anti-clockwise, when viewed looking forward from astern and ship moving ahead. This arrangement would give a natural tendency of the ship's stern to go to starboard thus swinging her head to port. So the the turn to the left was easier if you like for the ship. This all assumes the berg was dead ahead to begin with. It may have been slightly off the starboard if we take the drawing made by lookout Frederick Fleet to be anywhere near accurate. In that case the turn to port would be the proper evasive reaction anyway.
 
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Mia Lewis

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Thank you for your response. I never looked at it that way. That makes sense!
 
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Scott R. Andrews

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Hmmm... I'm glad Mia asked that question. I never really gave it much thought before this, but that makes really good sense, Sam; on a single or triple screw vessel, why try to fight propeller "walk" if you can actually make it work for you in some cases!

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
Dec 23, 2004
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<table border=1>[tr][td]
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A shipboard discussion on the Collision
Avoiding a collision.doc (21.5 k)[/td][/tr][/table]​
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Allan: Are you sure that Murdoch did not intend to do just what you said; i.e., reverse just the inboard screw to sharpen the turn? As it turns out, there probably was not enough time to carry out his intent. All evidence suggests that the collision took place before any changes to the engines could be effected.
 

Erik Wood

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In fear of opening a HUGE can of worms I want to tag onto Sam's post.

I would argue that if Murdoch's intent was to reverse only the inboard screw (inboard in reference to the danger), and he ordered that engine reversed it would not have had enough time to actually take effect, BUT that if it was slowed or the pressure was taken off the pipe then the drag created would have been enough to aid in a turn into the berg as part of a rounding maneuver or some other unknown maneuver.

Further I would suggest that the friction from contact in addition to the shifted rudder and slowed inboard screw would have been enough (mathmatically anyway) to clear the stern in the manner in which Boxhall and Rowe describe.

I say "mathmatically" with caution. Somethings can work on paper but not in reality.

To me the evidence seems to indicate the opposite of Sam's conclusion or at least some of it does.

I brought this topic up briefly in Maine and ever since I have been pestered (I say that in the nicest of ways) beyond all hope on it from several people including an author writing a book on the subject. My main reason for discontent with the conventional wisdom is that "mathmatically" the ship can't clear herself using only her rudder given the generally accepted distances and maneuver information.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Erik: Are we talking about the same thing here?
In my reply to Allen I was was referring to reversing the port engine (inboard to the direction of initial turn) to sharpen a turn to port away from the danger directly ahead. The question is whether this would have been enough to get more room to allow for a successful porting maneuver by later shifting the rudder and further shifting the engines.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Reversing one screw to sharpen a turn is a possibility, but one not supported anywhere in the evidence. Even though Boxhall and Scott disagree on the specific engine-order command telegraphed to the engine room, both state that both engines received the same command.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I believe I heard that Boxhall said in a radio interview to the BBC something about full astern on the "port" engine. That was in 1962, and not in evidence. In the 1912 evidence he said he saw full astern on both. The truth is we don't really know what happened.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Sam,

If Boxhall was right and the port engine was reversed, then I don't understand the situation at all.

At 22.5 knots, 45,000 tons of momentum and with those reciprocating engines, you can't easily throw the engines back and forth.

Parks
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I am going to try and get my own copy of the tape. I only heard small parts of it. In the testimonies Boxhall only spoke about a hard-starboard helm order and full astern on both engines. He never said anything about a hard-aport order being given although he said that Murdoch had said that he intended to port around the berg but it was too close. Boxhall did say at the BOT that he noticed the engine telegraphs indicated "full speed astern, both." He also said, as you know, that they were going full astern "for quite a little time," whatever that actually means.

If in the 1962 radio broadcast he spoke only of the port engine being reversed, I would guess he was trying to describe an attempt at the time the hard-astarboard order was given to turn the ship more tightly. And this, I assume, would be the situation a good half minute or more before the collision itself. By the way, Scott's description of engine orders to stop on both engine telegraphs were for the time immediately after the collision, not before. Could it be that there were two sets of orders given, the first (which may or may not have been a split order) at the time that a hard-astarboard order was given; the 2nd just after or as the collision took place calling for all stop?

Several weeks ago I noticed something in Hichen's testimony at the American Inquiry. Hichens said:
"He rushed to the engines. I heard the telegraph bell ring; also give the order 'Hard astarboard,' with the sixth officer standing by me to see the duty carried out .... The sixth officer repeated the order, 'The helm is hard astarboard, sir.' But, during the time, she was crushing the ice, or we could hear the grinding noise along the ship's bottom. I heard the telegraph ring, sir. The skipper came rushing out of his room ..."

Notice the two separate references to engine telegraph orders being rung. The 1st at the time hard-astarboard is called; the 2nd when she was crushing the ice.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Sam,

We don't know if Hichens was giving a strict chronological timeline or merely repeating himself, just as we don't know if Scott saw the absolute first set of engine-order commands, or what Boxhall could have seen on a darkened bridge without his night vision.

Boxhall said that he could hear the telegraph bells ring before he reached the bridge and then saw the indicators pointing to FULL ASTERN after he got there. The implication here is that the engines were ordered FULL ASTERN until Smith took the conn.

Scott seems to have only heard one series of bells, but who knows how accurate his recollections were?

The firemen were specific in their recollections about the indications on the boiler-room telegraphs, because they remember the colours of the lights they saw there. The boiler-room telegraphs signalled FULL until they flashed to STOP. Therefore, if Murdoch twisted the ship using the screws, he would have gone directly from FULL AHEAD to FULL ASTERN on one of the screws. I have actually done this on an aircraft carrier as part of a drill, and based on my experience, I find no survivor testimony that describes anything similar the actions taken or change in vibration felt with such a configuration change. Also, a tight turn such as you suggest would cause the ship to lean to starboard, an action that is not only missing from survivor accounts but also directly contradicted by Lookout Lee.

Parks
 
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David Haisman

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'' Notice the two seperate references to engine room telegraph orders being rung''

Possibly a delayed action (quite common) to a double ring astern which is the laid down procedure on British Merchantmen for emergency engine room action.

In todays terminology, when a ship turns hard to port, the vessel will lean to starboard or vice versa.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Parks: I only suggested what might have been called for. What was done was quite a different thing. There obviously was not enough time to do anything much with the engines before the collision ocurred, especially since the orders came down quite unexpectedly. My questions are related to intent, not to what actually resulted.

Most accounts had the engines running from 1 to 2 minutes after the collision before they stopped. According to Boxhall, Murdoch ordered full speed astern. But we know from testimonies that this was not achieved, and the engines were stopped. Some backing of the engines apparently did take place shortly after they stopped, but not at full astern speed. And even without backing any engine, under hard helm there would have been a lean to the opposite side of turn as David pointed out. I was on the USS Saipan last September for family day when she was put on hard left rudder while going at about 21 knots for the turn back to Norfolk. As you know, you can easily see the ship lean to starboard, very noticeable with a flat flight deck to use as a reference against the horizon. Strangely, it didn't feel like it was healing as much as it did. I took a nice picture of it.

David, thanks for the explanation of a double ring down. Would that also be the procedure if the order were for an emergency stop instead of full astern?
 
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David Haisman

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Hi Sam,

To clarify the use of the '' Chadburn style'' telegraph system and not to confuse these systems with Bridge Control, Voith Scneider, Kitchener Gear, or any type of electronic system, the following was always observed by skippers in my day.
Always give them a '' bloody good ring!''
for obvious reasons.

For Standby or emergency Full astern , definitely take the handle ''around the clock '' twice. I would consider this to have been a common sense factor in Titanic's day also as with all steamships.
I have myself used a ''delayed double ring astern'' several times in my coasting days for good reason.
This simply means to ring full astern and then, with a tricky tide under her or sluggish response from the engine room(not the engineers fault but it happens) I will ring full astern again ten or 15 seconds later.
The engine room is then under no illusions that this is an emergency situation and they will then give her that bit extra.
I have witnessed this also as an S.O.S. on the bridge of the Ascania in Montreal and also as a QM on the Golfito in Southampton's inner dock.
It is all basic good common sense and quite a natural response from a professional with experience in these telegraph systems.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Thank you David for the explanation of the double ring down to the engine room. That certainly makes a lot of sense. On the issue I posed it could very well have been a delayed double ring down with the 1st coming the same time as Murdoch called for a hard-astarboard and the 2nd as the ship started to crush the ice as Hichen's said. But we also know, at least according to greaser Scott, that they went to stop on both main engine telegraphs and emergency engine telegraphs soon after the collision happened.

Cheers.
 

Erik Wood

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I shall stand down from my post. I mis read Sams orginal post to Allen and upon further review don't see the need to debate my theory any further OTHER then to ask:

If the ship couldn't have cleared herself by rudder alone (as the computations and common sense seem to tell us) when using it in the traditional theory, then what did allow it to occur?? Physics prohibit it using the traditional chain of events.

Olliver said that the only order he knew occured in relation to the engines was ALL STOP and by the descriptions of the iceberg both men should have arrived on the bridge around the same time.
 
Dec 23, 2004
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It is quite usual for a good team in the deck department to have an understanding with the technical department regarding the use of the telegraphs. Double rings can be very useful at times to get out of tight corners, either a double ring full ahead or a double ring full astern! In my experience if you are running full ahead and pull the Chadburn back to stop and then bang it down against the full ahead stop a couple of times it means you want a bit of extra speed. If you take the telegraph handle all the way back to full astern and then put it down to full ahead and bring it back slightly then down again you give her all she's got ahead. To go from full ahead to full astern with all you've got you ring full astern and then repeat the procedure. It is normal on coastal vessels to use 'stand by' as dead slow ahead and 'finished with engines' as dead slow astern in the normal run of things. White Star may have had standing orders regarding use of telegraphs??
 
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