When and where did Smith know the ship was doomed?

George Jacub

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Hi Samuel,
You're right about being cautious regarding any time recollections of eyewitnesses, but you couldn't be more wrong if you're implying that Mrs. Warren's sighting of Mr. Andrews has any relation to the evidence of Boxhall and Hemming.
There is a BIG difference between fifteen minutes and fifty minutes. Boxhall and Hemming said they were told very shortly after the collison (15 minutes/Hemming; 20 minutes/Boxhall) that according to Andrews the Titanic was doomed. Mrs. Warren estimated that she saw Andrews racing up the stairs 45 minutes (not 40) after the collision, which would mean the earliest anyone would know of what he said would be 50 minutes or longer after the ship hit the iceberg.
Seaman Hemming was asked what he did after being told of Andrews' dire news. He said he went to help clear lifeboat No. 4 or No. 6. Boxhall said he was already clearing the lifeboats when he got the news from the captain. Under the Warren scenario, the clearing of the forward port boats wouldn't have started until almost an hour after the collision, which contradicts every other witness who lived.
Of course, you could also test Boxhall's time sense:

United States Senate Inquiry
Day 10
Testimony of Joseph G. Boxhall, recalled
... I think I worked out three stars for longitude.
snip
Senator BURTON.
What time did you do that?
Mr. BOXHALL.
I really do not know what time it was. I was working these things out after 8 o'clock, and Mr. Lightoller took them before 8 o'clock.
Senator BURTON.
About how long was that before the collision?
Mr. BOXHALL.
The collision was at 11.43, I think.


United States Senate Inquiry
Day 3
Testimony of Joseph G. Boxhall, cont.
3939. Did you see the Titanic sink?
- No; I can not say that I saw her sink. I saw the lights go out, and I looked two or three minutes afterward and it was 25 minutes past 2. So I took it that when she sank would be about 20 minutes after 2.
How would you rate his accuracy?
 
Mar 12, 2011
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I've often wondered how Thomas Andrews calculated the duration of time in which "Titanic" would remain afloat. Furthermore, while the ship was still somewhat able to remain buoyant, once the sea overwhelmed the foredeck, the immensity of weight being added by the second really changed the dynamic.
Two thoughts at one moment: This hugely modern, expensive, luxurious ship and its cargo will fall to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean; There are more people on this ship than we can safely remove with the clock running as it is.
A third: We need a miracle.
Obviously, I'm not a a naval architect or any other type of expert, but I imagine Andrews would have done a rougher version of the same calculations Edward Wilding did for the British inquiry. He would have estimated the volume of water that had already flooded into the ship and divided that by the time elapsed since the collision to get an estimate of the average rate of flooding. Then he would use that figure to estimate how long it would take for the amount of water in the ship to reach the point where the ship had no reserve bouyancy or stability left.(please correct me if my terms are wrong). I vaguely recall reading on the old boards that the "sinking point" for Titanic was around 35,000 tons of water, but I can no longer find the post. Edward Wilding estimated that Titanic took on 16,000 tons of water in the first 40 minutes, for an average rate of flooding of 400 tons of water per minute. 35,000 tons divided by 400 gives a result of 87.5 minutes, which jives fairly well with the hour to an hour and a half estimate.

The actual realities are a bit different. Obviously, the above calculation makes no accounting for the work of the pumps, but their 1,700 tons per hour capacity probably doesn't make much of a difference. It also doesn't account for the natural slowing of the rate of flooding as the head of water inside the ship became closer to equal with the outside. Andrews wasn't trying to calculate an exact time of sinking, though. He was just working out a quick "napkin math" estimate so that Captain Smith understood roughly how much time they had to work with (not nearly enough). I'd be interested in hearing everyone else's thoughts on this.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Michael,

I believe you hit the nail on the head. Your 35,000 tons intake to reach the point of longitudinally instability is spot on. The figure below, which was published in my book CentennialBookPage, shows angle of trim Vs. water intake. It was derived from the work of H&W naval architects Hackett and Bedford. Note how quickly the trim increase at the 35,000 ton water intake point. You are also correct about Wilding's estimate of 16,000 tons in the first 40 minutes. Andrews knew that holds 1, 2 and 3 were lost when he and Smith were seen coming back from inspecting the mailroom about 1/2 hour after the collision. Once Andrews figured out the flooding in BR 6 could not be controlled by the pumps, he would know that the ship itself was lost. Then, the only question remaining would be how long it could remain afloat. Once that information became clear to Andrews, he would likely do the same back of the envelope calculation that you just did. The result would show the ship would become longitudinally unstable in about 90 minutes.
Fig 06-16 (mono) TrimVsIntake.gif
 
Mar 12, 2011
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Sam,
That's the chart I was looking for! I had seen it before, and that's where I had gotten the 35,000 ton figure from. I couldn't remember where I'd found it. Anyway, it's good to know that I wasn't completely off base with my imaginings.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I have a related question. Assuming that Thomas Andrews and Captain Smith agreed between them that the Titanic was doomed to sink at around 12:10 am (about 30 minutes after the impact), would they have been able to reach that decision if Boiler Room 5 was still completely dry as some sources claim?
 

Rob Lawes

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I think Boiler room 5 didn't matter at that point. Once it was confirmed that the pumps couldn't check the flooding in boiler room 6 then the ship was doomed. With holds 1,2 and 3 and boiler room 6 flooded it didn't matter what state boiler room 5 was in.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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BR6 was the key. If the flooding could have been contained in check there, then the ship may have been able to stay afloat. Once it was determined that they could not do so, the ship was lost.
 

Rob Lawes

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Which I think accounts for the further delay. The Captain may well have known that the ship was damaged in such a way that it would sink at 12:10 but they may have been waiting to see if the pumps could check the flooding in boiler room six. Smith would have known he needed assistance whatever the outcome (1st distress message) and later confirmed he was sinking (revised distress message).
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Smith would have known he needed assistance whatever the outcome (1st distress message) and later confirmed he was sinking (revised distress message).
The first message that I'm aware of that mentions that the ship was sinking was the one with Boxhall's corrected coordinates in it. I think the words came from Boxhall who wrote down the position and placed it on Phillip's desk after showing it to Smith.
 
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Dan Kappes

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Shortly after the Titanic hit the iceberg and the damage was inspected, the ship's designer Thomas Andrews told Captain Smith shortly after midnight that the Titanic was sinking.

In the various movies about the disaster, he tells Smith this in different locations.

In the 1958 movie A Night to Remember, he and Smith talk in Andrews' cabin.

In the 1997 film, they talk in the chart room of the bridge.

In the 2012 TV miniseries, they talk in the flooding boiler room.

What was the most likely location in the ship where they would have talked in real life?
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Forget the damn movies. They aren't meant to tell the truth. Maybe Andrews did tell Captain Smith the ship had only a minute 47 seconds to live and maybe he did not. But that's an issue for serious research and not for popcorn and iPhones. Watching movies never constitutes historical research.

In my research, the only time when Andrews and Smith were together that night was a half hour after impact when they went together to inspect the flooding in the bow, particularly the mail room. They were apparently accompanied by Chief Engineer Bell and Purser McElroy. Any conversation among the group is lost to history.

Other people may have pegged other moments and other places for Andrews and Smith to have met. A discussion of this would be most relevant and helpful. We can all learn from each other and research. Now, I'm back to the Marx brothers.

-- David G. Browon
 

Seumas

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It's absolutely impossible to know.

Asides from obviously Edward Smith and Thomas Andrews, others who just might have provided the answer - Joseph Bell, William Farquharson, Henry Wilde, William Murdoch, Hugh McElroy, John Hutchinson & Roderick Chisholm - all perished.

There's a ton of places it could conceivably have happened. For example it could be a working space such as - the navigating bridge, the wheelhouse, the chart room, the engine room or the engine room workshop.

Or a more comfortable, quiet and private surrounding such as - Andrews cabin, Chisholm's cabin, Captain Smith's cabin, Captain Smith's sitting room, the officers mess, the officers smoking room, Chief Engineer Bell's cabin, the engineer's mess or the engineer's smoking room.

We'll never know.
 

Dan Kappes

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If they were in a rush to inspect the damage and see if she was sinking, they probably talked somewhere below, I don't know if there'd be time to go to a comfortable room above deck.

After all, it was only 20 minutes after the collision when Smith knew the seriousness of the situation and ordered the boats lowered and the distress signal sent out. And once they knew the truth, they probably didn't want to waste precious time debating it.

Therefore, the 2012 miniseries has one of the most realistic locations in my view.
 

Seumas

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Therefore, the 2012 miniseries has one of the most realistic locations in my view.
Dr Paul Lee is one of the best Titanic historians alive IMO and here's what he had to say on that particular scene.

(half way down the page)

"Smith and Andrews survey the damage. Since this isn't one of the boiler rooms, it must be one of the forward cargo holds...except that they see the damage from an impossible vantage point. Without climbing ladders into the hold, the only way to see what was going on down there was to peel back the tarpaulins or solid hatchcovers and look down into the room. There was no observation gallery in the cargo hold. Also, note that the cargo holds were forward of the boiler rooms."

"So, having seen water flooding in, the duo see boiler room 6. They have obviously come from towards the rear of the ship, but the damage in the screengrab above is from a watertight compartment in front of the boiler room. And yet they are coming from behind it. Andrews tells us "this is as far as it goes" - but there was small damage to the coal bunker of boiler room 5 (behind room 6) which later on swamped that room. And one wonders how Smith'n'Andrews got to the boiler room. In real life, they'd have to climb, or look down escape ladders. Now, they enter the room through a convenient door. On the real Titanic, this wasn't there. Even if it was, it would have meant passing through a coal bunker."
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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In my research, the only time when Andrews and Smith were together that night was a half hour after impact when they went together to inspect the flooding in the bow, particularly the mail room.
That was based on the observation of Stewardess Anni Robertson who saw Smith and Andrews together coming back from the mailroom down on E deck. They then departed ways with Smith going back up. There are also other witnesses who saw Andrews later running up the 1st class staircase toward the bridge with a look of terror on his face. They placed the time about 40 to 45 minutes after the ship struck ice. We know from what Smith later told Boxhall that Andrews told him, Smith,that the ship had from an hour to an hour and a half left. That was before Boxhall went to rework the distress position.
 

Rob Lawes

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Didn't the bosun walk through the seaman's mess turning the men out by saying something along the lines of "Mr Andrews says she has an hour to live"?
 

Jim Currie

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Yes he did, Rob. However, Bride said that Captain Smith arrived in the wireless room 10 minutes after he, Bride, got out of bed. Bride got out of his pit at 11-45 am. Additionally, Smith was very familiar with the Olympic class vessel and when he got the soundings from the Carpenter...at the Time Boxhall left for his second inspection, he would have a very good idea that the game was up.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam -- regarding your post (above ) about my spelling or not of my own name. The problem is that I washed my hands just before sitting down to the confuser and couldn't do a thing with my fingers.

-- Dave
 
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