"We had been struck amidships, or just aft of amidships"


A

Aaron_2016

Guest
The wireless operator Harold Bride said:

"The Captain told us we had been struck amidships, or just aft of amidships."


I wonder why the Captain told them that? Witnesses described two icebergs in the immediate area and these were seen and photographed aboard the Carpathia. One iceberg (large and white) was seen passing the ship and according to accounts it was a safe distance away from the side and "posed no danger" and "just as we got nearly opposite the iceberg, there came a tearing sound and the boat listed a little to one side." Is it possible that Captain Smith believed this first large iceberg was causing the damage, unaware there was a second much smaller one right ahead?

Was there a second iceberg (much lower, dark and blue) that was unknown to them and was striking the bow at this time which caused her to list to port as she grounded over it just as the first iceberg was passing amidships? One survivor believed it was a long spar from this iceberg which "jutted out a long distance hurting her keel" as the iceberg he saw was a safe distance away from the ship. Mr. Harder felt the collision and immediately looked out of his porthole. He saw a large iceberg as tall as the ship passing safely 100 feet away. Was he looking at the first big iceberg which Captain Smith had seen as well? Is it possible that almost everyone was looking at this big iceberg including Murdoch and were completely unaware that the second much lower one was striking the bow? Boxhall had a look over the rail afterwards and said it was "Very, very low in the water.....I do not think the thing extended above the ship's rail." Did he arrive on the bridge too late to see the first big iceberg pass by, and he instead saw the second one pass by which was much lower and harder to see?


Survivors mentioned two icebergs. One white and one blue, one close to the ship's side which left ice in their portholes on E-deck, and yet the other was seen 100 feet away from the ship's side as they passed by it. They described one iceberg as 40 feet high and the other as over 100 feet high and appeared like a large building passing the ship. Yet Boxhall said it was "very, very low in the water" and others said it was dark and covered in a haze. Even the lookouts could not agree what they saw. It was white and clear and lit up by Titanic's lights shining on it, and yet it was dark and hidden in dense haze and barely visible. Fleet said he turned his back to it in order to use the telephone and according to a survivor he spoke to he never received a reply from the bridge, so he never left his position and did not see the actual collision. QM Olliver said it was blue. Lookout Lee said "When I had a look at it going astern it appeared to be white." So Lee was looking at this big white iceberg going astern, and possibly did not observe the second one "very, very low in the water" approaching fast?


According to survivors just as the first one was passing amidships the ship listed to port for a moment as they slid over the shelf of the iceberg. Fleet noticed this and said "she listed to port right afterwards." Did he get a glimpse of the first big iceberg passing the ship when Lee was having a look at it "going astern" and that is when he felt the ship list to port "right afterwards", and unknown to both of them the second iceberg was hitting further forward as they were both looking aft?


The lookouts said the iceberg broke pieces off which fell onto the deck. They were asked how they knew this and they just said they saw the ice on the deck afterwards. Does that mean neither of them witnessed the actual collision when the ice fell and only noticed the ice afterwards when they were relieved from the crows nest and assumed that is where the collision took place as they were busy looking at it "going astern" when they felt the collision? Does all of this explain why the Captain told the wireless operators:

"The Captain told us we had been struck amidships, or just aft of amidships."


Lookout Frederick Fleet told Lightoller he saw the iceberg far away. He drew a sketch of the iceberg when he first saw it and rang the bell. (see below).


bergsighted_zps9ebaccju.gif



As you can see the iceberg is far away and already safely on the starboard side and far on the horizon! Is this the first big white iceberg that was seen passing the ship safely off the starboard side which "posed no danger" and just as it got amidships or "just after of amidships" there came "a tearing sound and the boat listed a little to one side" and unknown to them there was a second much lower 'blue' iceberg or growler hidden in the darkness/haze which was about to strike the ship and cause her to ground over it and list to port?



Titaniciceberg01.PNG



.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
1,399
323
218
64
There must have been other iceberg's in the "area" since the Titanic was approaching an ice field. But as far as I know, there was only one large iceberg in the immediate vicinity of the ship and she struck it. It was tall enough for some of the ice chunks to break off and fall into the forward well deck. The bow's initial port-ward movement (in response to Murdoch's "Hart-a-Starboard!" order) was not sufficient to avoid the iceberg but as the berg came alongside the bridge, he issued the "Hard-a-Port!" order which was just enough to keep the stern off the berg.

The ship struck the berg on the starboard side and the initial list was to starboard. Later, with continued flooding. water filled the "Scotland Road" (which was on the port side of the ship) and that plus other factors like the emptier port-side coal bunkers in BR5 caused the list to change to port.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Not sure if they did order "hard a-starboard" because if the iceberg sketched by Fleet was in that position there would be no need to turn the ship hard left, and this would simply swing the stern into the danger. Murdoch made a courageous move on the RMS Arabic when the ship was on a collision course with a passing sailing ship. The officer in charge ordered the ship hard right, but Murdoch knew this would swing the stern into the passing ship, so he countermanded those orders and grabbed the wheel off the quartermaster and kept the helm straight. Both ships passed safely. I think his quick thinking and good sense of judgement would have made him realize the danger of ordering "hard a-starboard" when he saw the iceberg, as it would increase the danger of the propellers hitting the iceberg and disabling the ship.

Hichens said Olliver was next to him when he was given the order "hard a-starboard" but Olliver said he never heard that order. The only order he heard was "hard a-port". Hichens said the ship had turned 2 points when he looked at the readings right after the collision, but the lookouts believed the collision caused the ship's helm to turn, as they grounding over the ice and slid off the plate / shelf of the iceberg. e.g.

Frederick Fleet said:

"She listed to port right afterwards."
Q - Just immediately on striking the berg?
A - Just afterwards.
Q - Did it seem that the blow came beneath the surface of the water and caused her to shift?
A - Yes, sir.



icedamageske1.JPG



Survivors described the grounding sensation as "little pushes" as the keel must have caught on the shelf of the ice...."It was just as though we went over about a thousand marbles." 1st class steward Frederick Ray described the collision as "A kind of a movement that went backward and forward. I thought something had gone wrong in the engine room. I did not think of any iceberg." When survivors looked over the rail they said the ship was moving very slowly in the water, had hardly any way in her, or had stopped altogether, and some took their time to venture on deck and observe the iceberg passing the ship.

I think the keel was catching on the ice and this caused the "little pushes" and made the ship decelerate as she passed over the ice, which made it appear the ship was moving very slowly when they observed the iceberg passing the stern. QM Olliver believed the iceberg may have "stopped the way of the ship" as they grounded over it. "I reckon the ship was almost stopped." Q - He must have backed the engines, then? A - "He must have done so, unless it was hitting the iceberg stopped the way of the ship."


George Harder told the Inquiry:

He felt the collision from his starboard side cabin amidships and went to his porthole to have a look. "When I went to the porthole I saw this iceberg go by. The porthole was closed. The iceberg was, I should say, about 50 to 100 feet away. I should say it was about as high as the top deck of the boat."

Was he looking at the big enormous iceberg that was passing a safe distance away from the side? If this was the same iceberg that struck the ship it would surely have passed his porthole in a flash as it was hugging the side of the ship, yet he observed this huge iceberg "50 to 100 feet away" from the side as it passed and was as tall as the boat deck. I think that iceberg got everyone's attention and they just didn't notice the second one which was so low, and hidden in the dark haze that it almost passed entirely undetected. The Captain of the Carpathia said he stopped very close to an iceberg about 40 feet high and how he did not notice it until daylight right next to the ship. If he missed it, I think many observers on the Titanic may have missed it, as the larger iceberg was much more alarming to see at the time.


Survivors mentioned 2 icebergs between them and the Carpathia. Some believed they were looking at the actual iceberg that sank the ship because there was a piece broken off it. Joseph Scarrott saw the icebergs just after the collision and used the plural word for iceberg(s) as they both passed the ship. He said: "Her starboard quarter was going off the icebergs, and the starboard bow was going as if to make a circle round it." Following that they asked him: "I want to ask you about the two icebergs." So in their minds he was suggesting to them that there were two icebergs that passed the ship. The Carpathia stopped close to 2 icebergs (possibly the same two icebergs) and picked up survivors. The survivors had to row passed them, and no doubt these were the icebergs they mentioned, with one having a piece broken off, and some believed it was clearly the iceberg they had struck. They certainly caught the photographers attention. Here they are:


icefield1.jpg


icebergsday.JPG


icebergsnight.JPG



Other survivors described the ship heeling to one side and apparently grounding over the shelf of the iceberg or spur from the big one as they passed by, e.g.

Abraham Hyman:

"They were looking about and admiring something, and so I looked and I saw what looked like a big pile of ice that was glistening under the stars.......as I watched I saw the boat go to one side as if it was avoiding something, and I saw a very big iceberg right in our path. But we were surely going a safe distance away from it, and so I was not frightened and nobody else was either." (The iceberg seen by George Harder, Captain Smith and sketched by Fleet?). "We got pretty nearly opposite the iceberg when there came a tearing sound and the boat listed a little to one side." (Felt by the lookouts) "I heard some of the sailors talking and heard them say that the ship had struck a spur of the iceberg that jutted out a long distance, and had slid upon it, hurting her keel."

Unknown to them there was a small growler / iceberg that Boxhall and Olliver observed passing the ship afterwards which was much lower, blue, and barely visible in a low lying haze. If everyone was observing the bigger iceberg, perhaps their eyes just couldn't focus on the smaller one hidden in the dark as it passed the bow 400 feet further forward. Could this second one have caused the actual damage and caused her to list / heel to port as she slid over it, and gave them the wrong impression that it was caused by the big iceberg as it was safely passing amidships but had a spur which "jutted out a long distance, and had slid upon it, hurting her keel" without realizing there was a second one further ahead that was causing the damage? Which made Captain Smith say to the wireless men - "The Captain told us we had been struck amidships, or just aft of amidships."



.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
502
278
One berg? two bergs? anyone willing to bid three? The possibility exists that Titanic was waylaid by a pack o' bergs. I've often thought the evidence suggests two icebergs were involved. Unfortunately, the evidence for two is circumstantial while we know that at least one iceberg did some very real damage to the ship. So, I stick to one iceberg in my writings even though I wonder...what if...??? History, as I'm fond of saying, does not reveal its alternatives.

As to beings truck "amidships" or "just aft of the bridge" there is good, solid evidence it happened. Trimmer Cavell saw what he gauged to be about a foot of water over top of the stoker plates in boiler room #4 about an hour after impact on the iceberg. At the time, boiler room #5 just forward was functionally dry, so the water did not come from there. In London, naval architect Wilding tried to explain how this happened as the ship moved past the berg. His suppositions are interesting reading, but all we really know is that the hull was breached in way of boiler room #4 -- which is abaft the bridge and towards "amidships" for an observever on the bridge.

My view is that the ship and berg did bump hard one last time in way of #4, causing just enough damage for relatively slow water ingress. This last bump may have been what men in the smoking room and passengers elsewhere described. If so, initially there would have been the sensations of grinding over the ice from the bow. Then, there would have been about a second of no contact followed by this last thump.

-- David G. Brown
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Interesting. I always thought the ship's enormous length and the distance covered would have brought her against more than one iceberg. Lightoller noticed the officers looking over the port and starboard bridge wings when he got up to have a look, so there must have been cause for concern that icebergs were passing on both sides of the ship. It is strange that Captain Smith ordered "half speed ahead" when they were facing a northerly direction as this would increase the chances of meeting more icebergs further north, unless his idea was to approach the Californian, or he was simply testing the propellers, or like Boxhall he was unaware the ship was facing a northerly direction.

.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
1,399
323
218
64
Trimmer Cavell saw what he gauged to be about a foot of water over top of the stoker plates in boiler room #4 about an hour after impact on the iceberg. At the time, boiler room #5 just forward was functionally dry, so the water did not come from there.

-- David G. Brown
That part is something that I tried to bring-up in another thread but somehow it got sidetracked.

First of all, I thought that it was around 01:05 hours that Cavell saw water coming through the stokehold plates in BR4. Might have been earlier. By then BR5 was not flooded to the extent that water could overspill the intervening bulkhead between the two boiler rooms but how do you mean BR5 "functionally dry"? Had they pumped off enough water to work it if necessary? I was under the impression that the starboard side damage from the iceberg had carried over beyond the bulkhead between BR6 and BR5 and so BR5 had started flooding right from the time of impact albiet more slowly than BR6.

Also, did that water ingress into BR4 noticed by Cavell come from hitherto undetected damage to the double bottom when the ship 'rode' over the iceberg briefly? In his book The Night Lives On, Walter Lord seems to think so.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,242
502
278
Based on the full testimony of leading Stoker Barrett, I do not see any evidence of water in boiler room #5 until the moment he saw that famous "rush" of water through the pass between the boilers. However, discussion of the condition of boiler room #5 is not the point of this thread. What we see is that Barrett was still working in #5 at roughly the same time as Cavelle was noting water over the stoker plates in boiler room #4. That water could not have come from #5 under any of the reasonable scenarios of the flooding. So, where did it come from?

It's possible the damage to #4 was "undetected" during the emergency following impact. Even if noticed early on, it was not the focus of attention for saving the ship. Damage should have been suspected, however, because of what happened to Cavelle during the accident. He was caught by tumbling coal and had to dig himself out of the pile. Something caused that mini-avalanche. I suggest it was the "thump" felt around the ship. If so, Cavelle's experience was the result not of the primary accident, but this second impact as the berg and ship were beginning to part company.

If somebody wants to cross slice bars over what took place in boiler room #5...that's another topic for heady debate.

-- David G. Brown
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
1,399
323
218
64
However, discussion of the condition of boiler room #5 is not the point of this thread.
If somebody wants to cross slice bars over what took place in boiler room #5...that's another topic for heady debate.

-- David G. Brown
Ah, yes. I suddenly remembered reading other threads about flooding of BR5 being a Titanic hot potato that has touched raw nerves in some circles.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,383
710
248
Germany
Also, did that water ingress into BR4 noticed by Cavell come from hitherto undetected damage to the double bottom when the ship 'rode' over the iceberg briefly? In his book The Night Lives On, Walter Lord seems to think so.
It is very likely the iceberg hit the side at the forward part of BR 4. The water was under the stokehold plates and as the engineers were working at the pumps they must have know it for some time.
About 1:20 am the water rose to high and BR 4 was given up (about 10 minutes after the "loss" of BR 5 and before the order was given to the black gang to leave the BRs.)

However Sam Halpern gave also another explain.
FloodingInBR4

Regarding BR 5, Mr Brown sure is referring to his false claim that BR 5 was not damaged and Barrett was in Boiler Room 6. We had that discussion several times and the evidence of Hendrickson and Barrett show that it is nothing more than another false theory.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
1,399
323
218
64
Somehow I had missed that Sam Halpern paper. Thanks Ioannis. I have always wondered about BR4 and that is a very good explanation.

I have always believed the accounts which indicated that the initial iceberg damage on the starboard side carried over about 2 feet beyond the bulkhead between BR6 & BR5 into the hull wall of BR5's forward coal bunker. IF that was exactly what happened, where would the initial water ingress into BR5 be accumulating? I go along with your views about that in that other thread.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Gretchen Longley felt the collision and immediately got up and checked the corridor twice. When she returned she found a second iceberg had passed by and left ice on her porthole window. Her cabin was D9. Could ice have been scraped onto her porthole window? According to her newspaper account: "Before we left another iceberg came along and scraped the sides, forcing ice through the portholes."



D9cabin.PNG
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Apr 21, 2009
1,399
323
218
64
Based on the full testimony of leading Stoker Barrett, I do not see any evidence of water in boiler room #5 until the moment he saw that famous "rush" of water through the pass between the boilers.
-- David G. Brown
It seems like it was somewhere between 12:10 am and 12:15 am that Thomas Andrews and Captain Smith agreed that the Titanic was doomed to sink. My question is, within that time frame, would they have been able to arrive at that conclusion based on what they knew about the damage in the first 4 watertight compartment plus BR6? Or putting the question in another way, if BR5 was completely dry by 12:10 hours, would they have enough information to make the decision?
 

Similar threads