When was ice seen

  • Thread starter David O'Sullivan
  • Start date


David O'Sullivan

I always thought that, though the bridge watch were aware of the presence of ice, the ship steamed ahead at 22kts right up to the impact. In his "Chronology — Sinking of S.S. TITANIC" (available on this site), David G. Brown lists the following events:
2256 (Bridge time): First sighting of ice field. Uncertain hazy line on the horizon. (Later called “haze” in testimony)
2325: Captain Smith summons Lightoller & Chief Officer Wilde to bridge as ship nears ice.
2336: Titanic completes two point left turn. Signals Hichens to steady up.

These events would indicate that the bridge watch was clearly aware of ice up ahead and was changing course to the south to avoid it. It obviously didn't see the berg until it was too late.

I'm preparing a radio show on the lesser known aspects of the disaster (non-movie events) and would appreciate any reaction to my comments above.
Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>These events would indicate that the bridge watch was clearly aware of ice up ahead and was changing course to the south to avoid it.<<

Not exactly.

Put in the proper context, the bridge team was well aware of the presence of ice and the lookouts had been given special instructions to watch out for growlers and bergy bits. The turn you're referring to was specifically in response to the sighting of the berg itself. If you wish to do any in depth research on this by way of the actual testimony of the survivors, go to http://www.titanicinquiry.org/ That should be a very useful starting point.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Unfortunately Mr O'Sullivan, not everything that appears on this or other websites is necessarily accurate or even credible. You would do well to go to the primary source documents that can be found on the site that Michael referenced. As you will see, the specific events reported in that particular chronology that you refered to will not be found in the primary evidence. The problem with most on-line chronologies is that a reader like yourself has no way to determine what is true and what is conjecture because specific source information is never given.

What you will find in the primary eveidence is that the ship's captain and officers fully expected to reach the region of reported ice that night, and they discussed that fact amongst themselves. You will also find that the lookouts were given specific instruction to look out for ice, particularly small ice and growlers well before reaching the ice region. You will also find that the ship's course was not changed until after the iceberg was sighted ahead, and that was an avoidance maneuver, not a change of course to go south of the ice.

Tad G. Fitch

Dec 31, 2005
Hi David, how are you? I hope that you are doing well. There is a lot of spurious information on the internet regarding events surrounding the Titanic disaster, so I would be cautious in believing some of them. If you are looking for an accurate chronology of events leading up to the collision with the iceberg and following it, I would highly recommend "Report Into the Loss of SS Titanic, A Centennial Reappraisal."

Chapter 13 in particular presents a highly-detailed and fully sourced chronology of events, and allows the reader to trace back to the source material, so there is no question where the information comes from. This is by far the best referenced chronology ever constructed. Chapter 5 deals partially with actions taken, or not taken, to avoid the ice.

I believe this would be most beneficial for your show. The book also contains a lot of information on navigation issues during the voyage, and tackles a number of myths. There really is nothing at all that supports that a course change such as what was described actually took place. It makes for a more sensational story, but there is nothing to back it up.

Here is the URL for a page about the above-mentioned book in case you are interested:


Kind regards,

David O'Sullivan

Thanks for all your replies and reference links. It seems I misread David G. Brown's information and that his entry for 2336 does indeed refer to the avoidance maneuver we are all so familiar with.

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