Was Murdoch drunk at the wheel?


Arun Vajpey

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“Purser H. W McElroy, as brave and as fine man as ever lived, was standing up in the next to last lifeboat, loading it. Two men, I think they were dining-room stewards, dropped into the boat from the deck above. As they jumped he fired twice into the air. I do not believe they were hit, but they were quickly thrown out. McElroy did not take a boat and was not saved. I should say that all this took place on “A deck”, just under the boat deck.”
Interesting. That means that Murdoch and his crew had started lowering Collapsible C when those two men tried to jump in when it reached A-deck level. That would have been when McElroy fired his gun twice into the air.

As I have said above and elsewhere, as an active 17-year old First Class passenger travelling with his rich parents, Jack Thayer would have been very familiar with Chief Purser McElroy, who interacted with First Class passengers a lot, including having his own (reportedly, very popular) table in the Dining Hall. Thayer is not likely to have mistaken someone else for McElroy.
 
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Seumas

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Interesting. That means that Murdoch and his crew had started lowering Collapsible C when those two men tried to jump in when it reached A-deck level. That would have been when McElroy fired his gun twice into the air.

As I have said above and elsewhere, as an active 17-year old First Class passenger travelling with his rich parents, Jack Thayer would have been very familiar with Chief Purser McElroy, who interacted with First Class passengers a lot, including having his own (reportedly, very popular) table in the Dining Hall. Thayer is not likely to have mistaken someone else for McElroy.
Dan Parkes (who knows more about Murdoch's life and the gunfire incidents aboard the Titanic than anyone else) and the authors of "On A Sea of Glass" were quite dismissive of McElroy firing those shots and I have to go with them on this. It was Murdoch.

It's only Thayer who identified McElroy as the one who fired. A number of crewmen who were familiar with Murdoch, having sailed with him before and spending the night working to clear the boats with him were quite certain it was him.

In any event it gave the heaving, restless crowd the necessary fright they needed and restored order.

I haven't forgotten about your other post and questions about Peuchen (aka Captain Mainwaring) Arun ! I'll reply to it a wee bit later when I've taken care of some errands :cool:
 
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Thomas Krom

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Another first class passenger, Hugh Woolner, said that Murdoch fired the shots on the boat deck at the inquiry:
Mr. WOOLNER.
Then they eventually lowered all the wooden lifeboats on the port side, and then they got out a collapsible and hitched her onto the most forward davits and they filled that up, mostly with steerage women and children, and one seaman, and a steward, and I think one other man - but I am not quite certain about that - and when that boat seemed to be quite full, and was ready to be swung over the side, and was to be lowered away, I said to Steffanson: "There is nothing more for us to do here." Oh, no; something else happened while that boat was being loaded. There was a sort of scramble on the starboard side, and I looked around and I saw two flashes of a pistol in the air.

Senator SMITH.
Two flashes of a pistol?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Pistol shots?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes; but they were up in the air, at that sort of an angle (indicating). I heard Mr. Murdoch shouting out, "Get out of this, clear out of this," and that sort of thing, to a lot of men who were swarming into a boat on that side.

Senator SMITH.
Swarming into the boat?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
Was that into this collapsible boat?

Mr. WOOLNER.
It was a collapsible; yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
That was the first collapsible that was lowered on the port side?

Mr. WOOLNER.
On the starboard side. That was the other side.

Senator SMITH.
You were across the ship?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
You were then on the starboard side?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes. We went across there because we heard a certain kind of shouting going on, and just as we got around the corner I saw these two flashes of the pistol, and Steffanson and I went up to help to clear that boat of the men who were climbing in, because there was a bunch of women - I think Italians and foreigners - who were standing on the outside of the crowd, unable to make their way toward the side of the boat.

Senator SMITH.
Because these men had gathered around this collapsible boat?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes, sir. So we helped the officer to pull these men out, by their legs and anything we could get hold of.

Senator SMITH.
You pulled them out of the boat?

Mr. WOOLNER.
We pulled out several, each.

Senator SMITH.
How many?

Mr. WOOLNER.
I should think five or six. But they were really flying before Mr. Murdoch from inside of the boat at the time.

Senator SMITH.
They were members of the crew?

Mr. WOOLNER.
I could not tell. No; I do not think so. I think they were probably third class passengers. It was awfully difficult to notice very carefully. I got hold of them by their feet and legs. Then they cleared out, practically all the men, out of that boat, and then we lifted in these Italian women, hoisted them up on each side and put them into the boat. They were very limp. They had not much spring in them at all. Then that boat was finally filled up and swung out, and then I said to Steffanson: "There is nothing more for us to do. Let us go down onto A deck again." And we went down again, but there was nobody there that time at all. It was perfectly empty the whole length. It was absolutely deserted, and the electric lights along the ceiling of A deck were beginning to turn red, just a glow, a red sort of glow. So I said to Steffanson: "This is getting rather a tight corner. I do not like being inside these closed windows. Let us go out through the door at the end." And as we went out through the door the sea came in onto the deck at our feet.

Senator SMITH.
You were then on A deck?

Mr. WOOLNER.
Yes, sir.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Thanks. Although McElroy is still a candidate in my mind, I accept that it might have been Murdoch who fired those shots but if he did, his intention would have been to restore a semblance of order. People trying to rush an already crowded lifeboat with a number of women and children is potentially a dangerous situation.

Since Collapsible C started to lower at about 01:58 am, that is a bit early for what information I have in my research notes about John Collins' experiences towards the end. therefore, I was relying on what I read in various Titanic works.
 

Cam Houseman

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Since Collapsible C started to lower at about 01:58 am, that is a bit early for what information I have in my research notes about John Collins' experiences towards the end. therefore, I was relying on what I read in various Titanic works.
About this, a friend of mine says B-Deck and C-Deck were still above the water, based on Rowe's testimony of the Forecastle being above the water as he rowed away.

And, that Mrs. Stephenson and Mrs. Ryerson, when they said the "Square ports of B-Deck" they meant C-Deck.
Hugh Woolner jumped from A-Deck as Collapsible D was lowering, which was about 2:05. But that gives C and B-Deck to flood within 6-7 minutes. what do you think?

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1620141170033.png
 

Arun Vajpey

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About this, a friend of mine says B-Deck and C-Deck were still above the water, based on Rowe's testimony of the Forecastle being above the water as he rowed away.

And, that Mrs. Stephenson and Mrs. Ryerson, when they said the "Square ports of B-Deck" they meant C-Deck.
Hugh Woolner jumped from A-Deck as Collapsible D was lowering, which was about 2:05. But that gives C and B-Deck to flood within 6-7 minutes. what do you think?
I am not sure. Depending on the degree of the port list at about 02:00 am, parts of B-deck might have been still above the water on the starboard side on the spot when Collapsible C was lowered. But I am less convinced about the C-deck at that spot, but of course it would have been above the water further aft because of the dipping bow and rising stern.

But I find it hard to believe that B-deck was completely above water on the spot when Collapsible D was lowered. That was a port boat and because of the list, would have had a very short trip to the water surface. I always mentally pictured the Woolner-Stefansson jump from the A-deck to be more of a sideways effort (as the lifeboat would have been swinging away from the ship's side) and only slightly downward. It was almost like stepping across a large gap.
 
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Seumas

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Binoculars would have made no difference? I dont agree with that statement, its an important tool of the watch keepers even today. Its hard to understand how come they sailed with out them.

Lots of questions were left without answers but one thing is for sure, there was alot of cover up and white wash after the sinking that confused every one and that I can accept but to accuse Murdoch that he was drunk on his watch is another fantasy story which was made in order to sell another Titanic book.
I've restarted the debate on binoculars on another thread which you may find interesting reading. I accept the verdict of maritime veterans that they would have been of no use to Fleet and Lee.

Could you clarify what you mean by "alot of cover up and white wash after the sinking" ?

Because, If you mean things like (i) the rivets were poor quality, (ii) the steel was brittle, (iii) the rudder was too small, (iv) Ismay was calling the shots, (v) a bunker fire weakened the hull - then each one of them have been proved to be a lot of rubbish.
 

Cam Houseman

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Because, If you mean things like (i) the rivets were poor quality, (ii) the steel was brittle, (iii) the rudder was too small, (iv) Ismay was calling the shots, (v) a bunker fire weakened the hull - then each one of them have been proved to be a lot of rubbish.
Brought up a good point Seumas!

Coal Fire weakening the hull is a lot of crap. the "burn mark" was even on the spot where the Pool was.

Weakened the steel, but didn't boil the pool ;)

Although, we do have Hendrickson saying that the metal or whatever was glowing red in a small area, right?
 

Seumas

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Brought up a good point Seumas!

Coal Fire weakening the hull is a lot of crap. the "burn mark" was even on the spot where the Pool was.

Weakened the steel, but didn't boil the pool ;)

Although, we do have Hendrickson saying that the metal or whatever was glowing red in a small area, right?
Yes, but it was of zero consequence to the structural integrity of the bunker or the hull.

If you haven't already read it, give the article "Fire and Ice" a read. It destroys every claim made by Mr Molony about the bunker fire.
 
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James B

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I've restarted the debate on binoculars on another thread which you may find interesting reading. I accept the verdict of maritime veterans that they would have been of no use to Fleet and Lee.

I have been working at sea for more then 20 years, binoculars always matter, especially in the old days when there was no radar.
Could you clarify what you mean by "alot of cover up and white wash after the sinking" ?

Because, If you mean things like (i) the rivets were poor quality, (ii) the steel was brittle, (iii) the rudder was too small, (iv) Ismay was calling the shots, (v) a bunker fire weakened the hull - then each one of them have been proved to be a lot of rubbish.
Dont be naive, Ismay didnt join the voyage for r&r, he was there to make sure the Titanic will make headlines. You can debate all other matters but the truth is that the lack of leadership caused the Titanic to sink more then anything else, they were going blind full speed ahead into thier doom, no other officer or even the Captain could have seen the Ice berg on time with out ploting ice warnings on the chart, with out safe speed and with out proper look out (with binoculars).
 
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I have been working at sea for more then 20 years, binoculars always matter, especially in the old days when there was no radar.

Dont be naive, Ismay didnt join the voyage for r&r, he was there to make sure the Titanic will make headlines. You can debate all other matters but the truth is that the lack of leadership caused the Titanic to sink more then anything else, they were going blind full speed ahead into thier doom, no other officer or even the Captain could have seen the Ice berg on time with out ploting ice warnings on the chart, with out safe speed and with out proper look out (with binoculars).
I know it's only a couple of knot difference but she was not going full speed. Ismay testified that they planned a full speed run for the next day to see what she would do. Unfortunantley that didn't happen.
 

James B

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I know it's only a couple of knot difference but she was not going full speed. Ismay testified that they planned a full speed run for the next day to see what she would do. Unfortunantley that didn't happen.
22.5 – the ship’s speed in knots whilst traveling amid iceberg laden waters, just .5 knots below the top speed of 23 knots, when they couldnt see the ice bergs and while navigating in that area thats about 22.5 knots faster then they should have gone as per the colregs which are valid today, even if it wasnt the same back then the practice was considered as good seamanship, for me its just plain logic, you can see the danger, dont move till you do and use all the tools that you have to locate the danger in ample time, back then it was ice warnings and look out, with out it the result was they saw the ice berg at around 400 meters ahead with no chance to turn the vessel or stop while sailing at 22.5 knots

Rule 6, safe speed: Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.
 
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22.5 – the ship’s speed in knots whilst traveling amid iceberg laden waters, just .5 knots below the top speed of 23 knots, when they couldnt see the ice bergs and while navigating in that area thats about 22.5 knots faster then they should have gone as per the colregs which are valid today, even if it wasnt the same back then the practice was considered as good seamanship, for me its just plain logic, you can see the danger, dont move till you do and use all the tools that you have to locate the danger in ample time, back then it was ice warnings and look out, with out it the result was they saw the ice berg at around 400 meters ahead with no chance to turn the vessel or stop while sailing at 22.5 knots

Rule 6, safe speed: Every vessel shall at all times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.
Like I said...only a couple of knots. But she could have gone faster. And my understanding the test run planned was only going to be for a short run because they were worried about the coal use. More than one person from the crew testified that she was running around 21 knots or slightly less. Some said 22. Almost all said she didn't exceed 75 rpm. Olympic had run 80-81 rpm. With all the boilers lit Titanic would have done the same (most likely unless there was something wrong with her). With the glass like sea that night if she had everything lit and everything wide open turning 80-81 rpms she would have been over 23.5 knots. So I still say she was not going as fast as she could. But it is not that much of difference were talking about. You can read through the threads and see what others have said. It's been debated a lot with many different conclusions. I'm sticking by mine. Cheers.
 

James B

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Like I said...only a couple of knots. But she could have gone faster. And my understanding the test run planned was only going to be for a short run because they were worried about the coal use. More than one person from the crew testified that she was running around 21 knots or slightly less. Some said 22. Almost all said she didn't exceed 75 rpm. Olympic had run 80-81 rpm. With all the boilers lit Titanic would have done the same (most likely unless there was something wrong with her). With the glass like sea that night if she had everything lit and everything wide open turning 80-81 rpms she would have been over 23.5 knots. So I still say she was not going as fast as she could. But it is not that much of difference were talking about. You can read through the threads and see what others have said. It's been debated a lot with many different conclusions. I'm sticking by mine. Cheers.

The small diffrence of speed didnt matter and its not my point, my point is that they shouldnt have been going so fast under the coditions of visibility the prevented them from seeing ice in ample time in the first place, they were aware of the danger yet the Captain choose to take the risk with out taking precautions, blind fool.

I feel sorry for Murdoch who had to die thinking he was to blame and his family that many years later had to see Titanic 1997 and the idiotic theory of some woman who claim he was drunk.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Steven, James, anyone, may I PLEASE request that any point you want to make about binoculars (or not) be discussed in the recently renewed thread specific to the subject. I am really interested in people's opinions on this topic, especially those like yourselves with nautical experience.
 
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The small diffrence of speed didnt matter and its not my point, my point is that they shouldnt have been going so fast under the coditions of visibility the prevented them from seeing ice in ample time in the first place, they were aware of the danger yet the Captain choose to take the risk with out taking precautions, blind fool.

I feel sorry for Murdoch who had to die thinking he was to blame and his family that many years later had to see Titanic 1997 and the idiotic theory of some woman who claim he was drunk.
For whats it worth I don't think it would have made a difference either although some have argued differently. I've seen arguments that said 1 -1.5 knots faster and just going hard over could have made her miss the berg by the the few feet she needed to clear. I don't know about that. As for Smith I can't call him a fool. To me Titanic was a case of familiarity breeds contempt with a little bit of s*^# happens. He and the crew were doing what they and others ships did normally under similar conditions from all that have read over the years. As for Murdoch. I agree. He got a raw deal by the way he was portrayed by some. Including J. Cameron. Although I will give Cameron credit saying later it was a mistake to put the suicide scene in his movie. Cheers and have a good day/night.
 
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Steven, James, anyone, may I PLEASE request that any point you want to make about binoculars (or not) be discussed in the recently renewed thread specific to the subject. I am really interested in people's opinions on this topic, especially those like yourselves with nautical experience.
Yes you are right Arun. Sorry we veered off. Its easy to do especially on this board. As for nautical experience I don't really have any. I just go by other peoples research that makes sense to me. I was just a BB stacker that the navy gave a ride to so I could do my my job. I'll end my responses on this. Cheers.
 
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James B

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Steven, James, anyone, may I PLEASE request that any point you want to make about binoculars (or not) be discussed in the recently renewed thread specific to the subject. I am really interested in people's opinions on this topic, especially those like yourselves with nautical experience.
When you discuss blame at sea or maritime incident you cant discuss one subject and seperate it from the other, its always achain of events that leads to the accident or in this case the tragedy. Focusing on one topic makes you miss the whole picture.

Ps, I came to answer the accusation mentioned in this post and only to defend Murdocks name, I hope that I managed to do that the way he would have done it if he could. His tragedy eclipse the small inconvenience of changing the subject in the post or simply by not adressing it as you want but how I think is the right way to do it.
 
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Jim Currie

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I have been working at sea for more then 20 years, binoculars always matter, especially in the old days when there was no radar.

Dont be naive, Ismay didnt join the voyage for r&r, he was there to make sure the Titanic will make headlines. You can debate all other matters but the truth is that the lack of leadership caused the Titanic to sink more then anything else, they were going blind full speed ahead into thier doom, no other officer or even the Captain could have seen the Ice berg on time with out ploting ice warnings on the chart, with out safe speed and with out proper look out (with binoculars).
The name of this thread is nonsense. the man's name was MURDOCH...the last two letters sound softly gutteral and he was not"at the wheel" HICHENS (the middle two letters sounded as written) was at the (steering) wheel. (Not an American propeller).
As a matter of interest - RADAR had limited use in detecting icebergs - particularly when the shape did not allow good echo return of the pulse, or the beg had a low profile.
You should read the Carpathia evidence in full. If you do, you will find that she was making about 14.5 knots, and had almost her entire Bridge Watch and half her deck crew on lookout...many of which were using binoculars. Despite all this extra precaution (while running through an icefield at full speed with a ship full of passengers) Carpathia almost hit the same iceberg as did for Titanic.
It follows that unless Titanic or any other vessel, had had a Suez Canal searchlight mounted on her bow, it was a matter
of bad luck rather than caution, lack of binoculars, or
the incompetence of anyone, that caused the disaster

PS I have more than double your sea-going experience - much of it on the bridge during the N Atlantic ice season. ;)
 
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James B

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The name of this thread is nonsense. the man's name was MURDOCH...the last two letters sound softly gutteral and he was not"at the wheel" HICHENS (the middle two letters sounded as written) was at the (steering) wheel. (Not an American propeller).
As a matter of interest - RADAR had limited use in detecting icebergs - particularly when the shape did not allow good echo return of the pulse, or the beg had a low profile.
You should read the Carpathia evidence in full. If you do, you will find that she was making about 14.5 knots, and had almost her entire Bridge Watch and half her deck crew on lookout...many of which were using binoculars. Despite all this extra precaution (while running through an icefield at full speed with a ship full of passengers) Carpathia almost hit the same iceberg as did for Titanic.
It follows that unless Titanic or any other vessel, had had a Suez Canal searchlight mounted on her bow, it was a matter
of bad luck rather than caution, lack binoculars, or
the incompetence of anyone, that caused the disaster

PS I have more than double your sea-going experience - much of it on the bridge during the N Atlantic ice season. ;)
If you consider that the fact that the radio operator ignored the ice warnings because he was too busy sending private messeges of the passangers and even told the SS Californian to shut up while they tried to warn them as bad luck then you are right.

And where was the Captain in the story, why did he leave the judgment of sending private messeges vs ice warnings in the hand of the radio operator? Feared the 1st class passangers wouldnt love him anymore?

Its bad luck alright for the crew and passangers to have someone like that in command.

As far as radar is concerned: if ice warnings are ignored and ice limits are not ploted and updated then you are right, noting will help.

 
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