What if THIS happened

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The bow of the wreck is pointing towards the north, but how did it get like this? The Titanic was heading west, she must have gone towards the south to try to avoid the berg, the order was 'hard a starboard', then the engines were reversed. Reversing the engines would nullify the rudder, that is maybe why she only managed a 2 point turn to port before hitting the berg. It is said that the Titanic was moved afterwards, forward, back, and forward again, before coming to a halt, this would mean that she was more or less back on to her westerly heading. She now starts sinking by the head and efforts are made to get folk off. When she is upending, all sorts of heavy and loose items are heading towards the bows of the ship, and then she starts to break in two. The bow section is tearing itself away from the stern but is held back by a large piece of keel still connected to the stern, with all of the weight hurtling forward, the bow section twists itself underwater and finally breaks free from the stern. Due to this twisting movement in trying to free itself from the stern, the bow section is now pointing towards the north, and it planes down to the bottom of the atlantic where it now rests, still pointing towards the north. If this is what happened, then how could the mystery ship that was seen off the port bow be the Californian, she was to the north, not the southwest.
She was pointing north because the succession of helm orders...first to port, then to starboard...had the ship finally settle on that course.

Way too much is made of the effects of engine reversal on the rudders without first considering the possibility that no such order was ever given at the crucial time. While Boxhall implies that it happened that way, there remains the testimony of survivors from the engine room that engine reversal didn't happen until after the collision with the iceberg.
The way I understand it, Murdoch put her hard a'starboard to try to avoid the berg. During the collision, he gave the order "hard a'port" to try to swing the Titanic's stern away from the iceberg. I don't think the rudder was ever changed from the hard a'port position. As a result, Titanic's bow swung to the north as the engines were put slow ahead and then stopped for good. (According to a survivor from Titanic's engine room, the "stop" command showed on the engine telegraph, but "full astern" never did, at least not before the collision.)

This would account for observers on the Californian seeing a ship south of them with her lights burning and then suddenly appear to put them out. When Titanic turned to the north facing Californian, her lighted side was all of a sudden not visible for a short time.

This scenario also fits with what was observed from Titanic--a ship to the north, slightly left of Titanic's port bow. As both ships drifted during the night, both appeared to various witnesses to be moving; their port and starboard running lights being visible at various times.

A "mystery ship" between the two is a possibility, I suppose, but so far there is still no solid proof of one.
Hichens stated, (BR 1000), the vessel veered off 2 points; she went to the southward of west.

So for Titanic to get back to be pointing north, she must have had a very violent turn from heading southward of west to be pointing north, yet Hichens says he did not get an order to 'hard a port'.

The commissioner; What order did he (Murdoch) give the engine room?

(989), (The attorney-General) I do not think he knows
(990), I think your Lordship will hear that it was, "stop: full astern"

Boxhall (15346), I heard the first officer give the order "hard a starboard", and I heard the engine room telegraph ringing.

(15350), Did you notice what the engine telegraphs indicated with regard to the engines?
- "full speed astern", both.

Boxhall then says the captain appeared and asked Murdoch what they had struck.

(15355), The first officer said, "An iceberg Sir. I hard a starboarded and reversed the engines, and I WAS GOING TO hard a port around it but she was too close, I could not do any more.

Notice that Boxhall stated that Murdoch said that he WAS GOING TO hard a port around it, not that the order was actually given.

There now appears to be some forward-reverse-forward movement of the Titanic, then she comes to a stop. Was Smith trying to bring her back onto her westerly course? Boxhall seemed to think that Titanic stopped on her westerly course.

(US inquiry, p.914): Senator Fletcher: Apparently that (mystery) ship came within 4 or 5 miles of the Titanic, and then turned and went away; in what direction, westward or southward?
Boxhall: I do not know whether it was southwestward. I should say it was westerly.
Senator Fletcher: In a westerly direction; almost in the direction which she had come?
Boxhall: Yes Sir.

Earlier Boxhall said this about the mystery ship.

(US inquiry, p.910): Boxhall: She was headed toward us, meeting us.
Senator Fletcher: Was she a little toward your port bow?
Boxhall: Just about half a point off our port bow.
Senator Fletcher: And apparently coming toward you?
Boxhall: Yes.

Boxhall is describing a ship approaching from a westerly direction, then turning and sailing away in the direction from which she had come, ie; WESTERLY.

The Californian was to the north of Titanic and 19/20 miles away, she did not move under her own power to come within 4 or 5 miles of the Titanic, so how on earth could the Californian have been the ship that came from a westerly direction, move toward Titanic, then turn and sail away?

In my scenario I said that the bow section could be pointing to the north because the bow section (when breaking from the stern), started to twist itself under water due to being held by a large piece of the keel keeping it connected to the stern, and that with all the heavy and loose items falling towards the bows, this could have made the bow section twist around to face north, break free from the stern, then plane down to land on the bottom, to still be facing north.

It's just a scenario, but I think it may be a possibility to explain why the bows are pointing northerly and not westerly.
17669. Was your vessel’s head swinging at the time you saw this light of this other vessel? - I put it down that her stern was swinging.
17670. Which way was her stern swinging? - Practically dead south, I believe, then.
17671. Do you mean her head was facing south? - No, her head was facing north. She was coming round to starboard.
17672. The stern was swung to the south? - Yes.
17673. And at that time you saw this white light? - Yes.
17674. How was it bearing from you? - When I first saw it it was half a point on the port bow, and roughly about two points when I left the bridge.

Jim Currie

Rowe's evidence is a bit of a puzzle Walter.It points to Titanic swinging slowly to starboard all the time . She could not have been swinging because of rudder effect since the ship had been stopped for over two hours when Rowe left her.

The hard right rudder theory has some strange anomalies. Those who saw the iceberg or claim to have seen it said it was just beyond the starboard quarter when the ship was slowing down and almost stopped 2 or 3 minutes after impact. The QM Rowe who you quote, said he could almost touch it as it passed the stern.
People who had come out of a brightly lit cabin and who looked through the glare of the ships lights could even describe it's shape. Very strange!

Apart from all that, if they had given a reverse helm and engine order as some people believe, then by the time Titanic came to a complete halt, she would have been almost 3 quarters of a mile to a mile further west and the iceberg way out of sight on the starboard beam. Rowe would have been able to describe a huge, wide arcing wake. He did not.
If any question should be asked, it should be: 'Why did the two sets of lookouts not see that light despite so many people seeing it fine on the port bow "about 5 miles away" just after Titnic stopped?' It may not have actually been 5 miles away, but it seemed so and that's what's important.

It is plain nonsense to think that somehow, you can take a ship of that shape and size travelling at high speed and turn her left then right like a motor car before bringing her to an abrupt stop facing in one direction - north or any other direction for that matter.
Anyone who says you can has only seen pictures of such a ship or has to come up with a second series of helm orders following on the first lot.

My personal opinion, for what it's worth, is that Murdoch, not realising how close he was to it, attempted to port round the obstruction, By the time he did know how close it was, it was too late to do anything else other than stop the engines to avoid damaging his propellers. if this had succeeded, he would have run them ahead once more and continued on the voyage. Sadly, it was not to be and the crunch came. Since it did and he did not know the extent of any damage, he did exactly what any sensible man would do - Shut the WT doors and stop the ship. Everyone starts this story dramatically.

I don't think it started off as a drama at all. I highly efficient man was confronted with a problem and he tried to solve it in the best way he knew how. The problem was bigger than he thought so he went into phase 2 of damage limitation. Unfortunately, phases 3, 4 5 etc., followed rapidly thereafter until control was lost along with the ship.
Q.M. George Rowe was at the docking bridge aft when the ship struck the berg (23.40), he said he remained there until 00.25, then took detonators to the 4th officer (Boxhall). He states that he helped fire the rockets until Smith told him to take charge of a lifeboat (collapsible C) at around 01.25.

Could Rowe have been unaware that Titanic had turned towards the south to try to avoid the berg, and that by her manouvering after she had struck the berg, he now assumed that her head was now pointing towards the north and not towards the west?

At the U.S. enquiry Rowe stated that the fore well deck was awash when they got to the water in Collapsible C. He also states that he saw a light and pulled towards it. He was asked by Senator Burton what he concluded the light was, Rowe replied that he thought it was a sailing ship.

Sen Burton: Do you think there was a sailing boat there?

Rowe:Yes Sir.

Sen Burton: And was she going away from you?

Rowe: Toward daylight the wind sprung up and she sort of hauled off from us.

Sen Burton: Did you see her?

Rowe: No Sir.

Sen Burton: Did you see any side lights?

Rowe: No Sir, I think there was a ship there. Indeed I am sure of it, and that she was a sailer.

Sen Burton: And the light you saw was a white light?

Rowe: Yes Sir.

Sen Burton: What did you judge it to be, a stern light?

Rowe: I judged it to be a stern light, yes sir.

Sen Burton: When did you first see her?

Rowe: When I was on the bridge firing rockets. I saw it myself, and I worked the morse lamp at the PORT side of the ship to draw her attention.

Q.M. Rowe thought he was looking at a sailing ship, he saw no side lights, and also thought that the white light was a stern light.

Therefor the 'ship' he was seeing could not have been Californian, because she was turned ENE at 22.21, and had swung around toward the east, so how could the Californian have shown her stern light towards the Titanic?

The Californian was signalling by morse lamp to a ship that had stopped nearby (4 or 5 miles).

The Titanic was signalling my morse lamp to a nearby ship that had approached her (4 or 5 miles).
IF, and it is a very, very big IF, Titanic and Californian were only 4 or 5 miles apart, how come they never saw each others morse lamps signalling to each other? At 4 or 5 miles apart they should have been almost blinding each other with the morse lamps, yet they got no replies from the ships that they were morsing.
Samuel Halpern has an article on this subject on ET; in it he notes that Officer Stone testified that the Californian's bow was facing WNW after midnight. According to the testimony you gave here, Rowe could thus very well have seen Californian's stern light at the time the foreward well deck was awash. Rowe would have been working the Morse lamp from the port bridge wing, would he not? If so, it strengthens the case that the light was seen off Titanic's port bow, and that the stricken liner was facing roughly north.

I need to get the complete transcripts from both inquiries, so I can get all this information firsthand--are they available in print? I have Wyn Craig Wade's book, which has the highlights of the Senate Inquiry, but I'd like to have a complete record of both.

I don't believe Titanic and Californian were ever as close as 4 or 5 miles. Everything I've read suggests a distance of 10 to 19 miles, where I understand a Morse lamp could be mistaken for a flickering masthead light. It really doesn't matter whether there was another vessel between Titanic and Californian or not. The main issue here is the rockets; Stone and Gibson reported 8 white rockets to the south at the same time the Titanic fired an identical number. And when Stone was later asked why the rockets continued to be seen from the same location after the "mystery ship" moved away, he had no answer for this. A mystery ship, even a whole fleet of them, cannot account for Lord's lack of action regarding the rockets.

Jim--- 'Why did the two sets of lookouts not see that light despite so many people seeing it fine on the port bow "about 5 miles away" just after Titnic stopped?'---That's a good question! Do you believe that Titanic's bow was still facing west throughout the sinking? You mentioned that it was impossible for Titanic to swing and change her orientation due to being stopped, yet Californian's officers claimed that their ship had done exactly that, despite having been shut down since 2230 that night. I don't understand this.
Hi Stephen, Just a quick response (it's getting toward 3 am here). You can get all the testimonies if you just google in; 'Titanic inquiry project', this gives you both the US and British enquiries into the disaster.

Regards, Martin.
Thanks, Martin! It's getting late here, too, but I'll go ahead and bookmark that site.

I made a mistake regarding Halpern's article here--the Californian was facing N-NE around the time of the Titanic's collision and gradually changed her facing to W-SW during the night, not W-NW as I said earlier.

Best Regards,

>>Could Rowe have been unaware that Titanic had turned towards the south to try to avoid the berg, and that by her manouvering after she had struck the berg, he now assumed that her head was now pointing towards the north and not towards the west?<<

Yes, he could have been unaware of it. Don't forget, he wasn't on the bridge and wasn't privvy to the orders given. He would have known nothing more then what he would have seen for himself and what he was told.

If you wish to read the transcripts in whole and in context, go to http://www.titanicinquiry.org/
BTW, Rowe did not assume that the ship was oriented towards the north. He didn't have to. All he had to do was take a look at a compass and as a quartermaster, he certainly would have been aware of what the orientation of the constellations told him, to say nothing of what any handy compass told him.

Then there is the most secure datum we have which is the oreintation of the wreck itself with the bow pointing towards the northeast.
Just because the Titanic may have been pointing a certain direction when she was sinking, certainly doesn't mean the bow section of the ship landed on the bottom in the same direction. There could have been many factors. Especially more drag on one side than the other, like a mangled hull after hitting the berg and breaking up. When she detached from the stern and planed away, who is to say that she must have gone straight forward on her way down? Not to mention the stern ended up a flippin' half mile away. So there's my two pesos.
>>Just because the Titanic may have been pointing a certain direction when she was sinking, certainly doesn't mean the bow section of the ship landed on the bottom in the same direction.<<

The tank tests done with specially designed and weighted engineers models tends to indicate otherwise. The people who did this even accounted for the possibility of drag on one side and failed to get the thing to orient itself differently.
Stephen, To get a fair perspective on the Californian incident, it is wise to read about this subject from both sides of the camp before deciding on which side of the fence you come down on. I have books written by both camps, and also have read lots of articles about this subject here on ET. It is also a good thing to read the various posts that have appeared here on ET about this subject, and of course you can read all the testimony online. If you are going to read articles, books, etc from one side, ie; Sam and others, it is only fair that you should also read articles, books, etc from the other camp, ie; Senan and others. There are many, many posts on here that make interesting reading, ie; Captain Jim makes some very good, and very interesting, well described points, and with being a retired mariner who served many years at sea, he certainly knows what he is talking about, have a read of his posts and you will see what I mean.
Regards, Martin.
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