Vigilance Bound The Real Reason for Titanic's Collision


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The following article proposes a fantastic new theory for why the Titanic actually struck the fatal berg. I chanced upon this notion quite accidentally while vigorously researching the testimony of Robert Hichens, active-duty Quartermaster on Titanic at the time of the impact. My hypothesis stems directly from actual testimony excerpted from the U.S. Senate Inquiry. It is presented here to this esteemed assemblage as a model of what can truly be achieved by an intensive, creative culling of the transcripts. (All things considered, I'm surprised no one else -- to my knowledge -- has proposed this perfectly logical explanation previously.)

While scrutinizing Hichens' American testimony, I stumbled upon the following, almost trivial revelation (US 450):
Mr. HITCHENS. ... I heard the second officer repeat to Mr. Moody, the sixth officer, to speak through the telephone, warning the lookout men in the crow's nest to keep a sharp lookout for small ice until daylight and pass the word along to the other lookout men.​
No big deal, right? Just the usual, expected orders passed along to keep a sharp lookout for ice. ... But wait a minute! What was the operative phrase there? "SMALL ice!" Hmmm...

Now naturally, "one drop of water doth not a torrent make". A simple error, I thought, from a simple man. A mere omission! Nothing more. So I investigated further to rule out any possible ambiguities. And later in the same testimony I discovered (US 458):
Senator SMITH. Had you heard you were in the vicinity of ice?
Mr. HITCHENS. I heard by the second officer ... I heard the second officer distinctly tell Mr. Moody, the sixth officer, to repeat through the telephone, and keep a sharp lookout for small ice until daylight, and to pass the word along for the other lookout men.
Senator SMITH. You heard no officer say anything about icebergs, or an ice field, or growlers, or whatever they call these things, except what you have described, when he said it was freezing?
Mr. HITCHENS. Yes.​
Now this is a horse of a different color! Here, not only was the same curious statement essentially reiterated, but subsequent questioning by Senator Smith yielded positive confirmation that no other form of ice whatsoever was stipulated in those orders. In fact, the lookouts were instructed to keep a watch SOLELY for "SMALL ICE"!

By now I'm sure many of you can see the startling implications here, and hence the source of my profound inspiration. Here was a ship in incredibly dangerous waters -- surrounded by looming menace on all sides -- yet the attention of the very "eyes" of the ship was totally dedicated to a craning search for ice perhaps no larger than that Hugh Woolner put in his drink!

Thus my proposition! The collision of the Titanic with that monstrous berg was made inevitable -- the fate of the great ship sealed -- by the shameful fact that Messrs. Fleet and Lee were diverted from their erstwhile primary purpose to a futile and frivolous attempt to locate -- from a perch no less than 85 feet above the water, with no binoculars -- ICE CUBES!

Is it any wonder, then, that no one spotted the impending monolith in time? Certainly no casual survey from the extreme altitude of the crow's nest could ever yield the desired, miniscule prize. The lookouts would have been required to peer relentlessly, with a near-fanatical zeal, into the murky depths below to have any hopes of success!

And what frivolity could possibly have provoked the officers to such an order? Were the refrigeration units on the blink? Were the stokers just "too hot" in their nice, comfy stokeholds? Did Captain Smith -- or, more likely, Mr. Ismay! -- demand an utterly natural form of coolant for his "nightcap"? Can it be that the entire ship was jeopardized needlessly merely to satisfy a wanton whim of luxury?

Perhaps we'll never be able to ascertain with certainty the answers to that final piece of the riddle. But one thing is for sure -- the "Millionaires' Special", the "Ship of Dreams", that floating palace of luxury succumbed to its own vain desires. And all because somebody wanted a goddam ice cube!


(Author's note: The article above is totally facetious -- a spoof induced by way too many long hours dedicated to a study of the transcripts.The opinions expressed here do not reflect those of the author during his more lucid interludes. Note: No animals were harmed during the making of this satire.)
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(c) 2000 J.M.Feeney
 
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Hi, Tracy: Hope you enjoyed! This bit of errant silliness grabbed me by the neck, and I just couldn't resist its awesome tug.

Cheers!
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Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Hi John, I had a feeling you were pulling our legs with this one. Perhaps you should pass this on to this Gardiner for chap for a new edition of that Titanic conspiracy thing. He'd have a feild day with this.
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Make sure he knows how 'reliable' Hitchens is.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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I must beg to differ with Mr Feeney! The evidence is that the lookouts were distinctly told to look out for small ice and growlers. They took growlers to mean polar bears, which are particularly good growlers and spent a lot of time carefully scanning the sea for them. They eventually heard that the only polar bear around was curled up in bed with young Douglas Spedden. While Lee and Fleet were sneaking into first class in an attempt to bearnap Polar, Titanic carelessly ran herself into a berg. If she'd had eyes painted on the bow, as Chinese ships do, she'd have seen the berg in good time.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Mr. Gittens, you scalliwag!

You've outdone me here, and in only a fraction of the space! (ROTF apoplectically LOL!) May I quote your astute observations in future negotiations with Mr. Gardiner? (Michael, thanks for the tip!)
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Was THAT what the good Senator meant when he said, "... or whatever they call these things"?
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(Of course, I must supplement my own arguments with Walter Lord's anecdote that one of the first class passengers was STILL requesting ice for his drink after the brush -- from the berg itself, no less! Some people are just never satisfied.)

Cheers!
John Feeney
 
Sep 20, 2000
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By George, Sam!!! I think you've got it! Hey, keep this one under under your hat, and maybe we can BOTH approach Gardiner, and make out like bandits!
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Of course, we'll have to cut Dave Gittens in. And Michael should at LEAST be cited in "Acknowledgements". But hey, I hear there's plenty good money to be made in revisionist history!!
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Sam Brannigan

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Hey John
I hope Gardiner will "acknowledge" me as the long lost son of "Paddy the pig". All my mates call me "Sam the sausage". (Well they will if I cut them in on the royalties)

Conspiratorially yours
Sam
 

Sam Brannigan

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Oh please dont Michael! We dont want the mummy getting upset and decimating our rank and file through Gardiner.
Lets keep the mummy strictly within Titanic FACT so it doesnt interest him. There must be something more ridiculous and less harmful we can send him.

Regards
Sam
 
Sep 12, 2000
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You guys are really funny!
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But actually Polar Bars were sold in the Parsienne Cafe by the Iceman. The lookouts were eating their Polar Bars when the iceberg came out of nowhere and sank the ship. Fleet and Lee shared this with a Texan who relayed the story to the NYT. Speaking a different language, the NYT reporter misinterpreted the expression "Polar Bars" for "Polar Bears" and the rest is history.

And Sam you should really try to leave Gardiner's mummy out of this as you said.

Growling polar bears.....mohahhahhha! Mums the word!Maureen.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Do you have any idea how many books could not have read or how many things could not have researched and yet the whole story is known and is presented to us like a soap opera always full of absolute truth. Wow, what a creative mind! It takes a lot to come up with stuff other than mummy stuff and other than polar bear stuff and yet all that who done it stuff and not have even read the first book on it. No wait, maybe he wrote another book and he;s quoting that, which means he did read a book. Or it came to him through osmosis and the bernoullini effect took its toll on the facts as they made for the South African Coast on an ice floe.

You guys (Dave, Michael, Sam)are truly being too hard on this rocket scientist...{she stops to ponder}, had we had this type of genius on the NASA program years ago...why we may never had developed Tang or Isotoner Gloves! (Giggles)

All things to ponder.

I love you guys!
Maureen.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Wait, when editing I wiped out John's name , sorry about that John.

I love this humor though! Thanks.
Maureen.
 

Sam Brannigan

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You've just found him a new myth to work on Maureen - how do we know it was Challenger that blew up in '86?
If you count the number of portholes on the starboard wing etc etc blah blah blah ......

Cheers!

Sam
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Now don't forget, all. The truth behind the legend is that death befalls anyone who tells the mummy's TALE! But of course that's just silly nonsense. Why, I could relate that story a hundred times and never suffer even a broken fingernail!

In fact, if I recall correctly, wasn't there some really idiotic part where the mummy was supposed to have ...
urggh ... grik ... akk ... arrrggghh.
 

Sam Brannigan

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Come, come John! No need for such hysterics over a silly mummy....... John......JOHN!!!
AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!
 
Sep 20, 2000
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Oh, Sam, now I think you're just indulging in history-onics!
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The mummy's tale is just ... Hey, was that my ear?! Um ... never mind!

Cheer!
 

Sam Brannigan

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Oh woe is me!!

Once I was rich and had two legs, all my children were healthy and the only time I felt suicidal looking at a photo, was when Eric posted one of the Mauretania being scrapped on my intro page.

Cursed Mummy!!

Anyway, back to small ice! They did talk in funny ways in ye olde days, didnt they?

What's "... a big side out of the water"?

Cheers!
 
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