Encyclopedia Titanica

Three warnings were given to the officer on the bridge

First Officer, Repeatedly Refused to Act on Their Report of Danger.

New York Herald

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Thomas Whiteley, Tells of Hearing Men Who Were in Crows Nest Express Indignation Because Mr. Murdock, the First Officer, Repeatedly Refused to Act on Their Report of Danger.


Conversation of Two Men Who Saw Mountain of Ice That Caused the Disaster Overheard in Lifeboat by Man Now in St. Vincent's Hospital.


Senators Demand Fall Explanation for Word to World That "All Aboard Are Safe Hours After Vessel Had Gone to the ottom—The
Baltic Had Full Story. Committee Hears.

That three warnings were given to the officer on the bridge of the Titanic that icebergs were ahead, less than half an hour before the fatal crash, was the declaration made last night by Thomas Whiteley, a first [class] saloon steward who now lies in St Vincent's Hospital with frozen and lacerated feet.

Mr Whitney [sic] also says he understands that the first officer of the Titanic, Mr Murdock [sic], did shoot himself after the crash. This has been rumored, but never verified.

Mr Whiteley does not attempt to explain why the warnings were ignored or why the speed of the vessel was never reduced or the course changed, but he is positive, he asserts, that the first officer was warned distinctly three times. The warnings came from the two men in the crow's nest, Mr Whiteley said, and the fact that their warning was unheeded caused the lookouts much indignation and much astonishment.

After being thrown from the Titanic while helping to lift women and children into the small boats, Mr Whiteley finally swam to a small boat and was helped in. It was while there that he heard a conversation between the two lookouts, neither of whom he recalled having seen before, but who, he is confident, were on board the steamship.


The two men talked freely in his hearing and expressed wonderment that their attempts to get the officer to slow up or take other precautionary methods to avoid the bergs had failed. Mr Whiteley says he carefully marked every word they uttered.

"I don't recall the exact words of the men, but I am certain of the sentiment they expressed. They were very indignant. I was particularly astonished when I heard one of them say: - 'No wonder Mr Murdock shot himself.'

Asked if he knew how the reports from the crow's nest to the first officer were made, whether in person or by telephone, the steward said he did nott (sic) know, but his idea was it was done by bells - three bells meaning danger straight ahead, two bells starboard and one bell port.

"My only information is that I heard one of the two men say that he had reported to the first officer that he saw an iceberg."
"I heard one of them say," he said last night in the hospital, "that at a quarter after eleven o'clock on Sunday night, about twenty-five minutes before the great ship struck the berg, that he had told First Officer Murdock that he believed he had seen an iceberg. He said he was not certain, but that he saw the outline of something which he thought must be a berg. A short time later, the lookout said, he noticed what he thought was another mountain of ice. Again, he called the attention of the first officer to it.

"A third time he saw something in the moonlight which he felt certain was an iceberg. The air was cool and there were indications in his mind that there were bergs in the neighborhood. A third time he reported to the first officer that he had seen an iceberg. This time, as I recall it, he did not say merely that he fancied he saw one, but that he had actually seen one.
"His words to the officer, as I remember them, were - 'I saw the iceberg. It was very large, and to me it looked black, or rather a dark gray instead of white."

Mr Whiteley is not in a serious condition and will be out soon. He is a man above the average intelligence and seems very certain of what he says.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2008) Three warnings were given to the officer on the bridge (New York Herald, Sunday 21st April 1912, ref: #9116, published 12 December 2008, generated 9th June 2023 08:28:32 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/three-warnings-were-given-to-the-officer-on-the-bridge-of-titanic.html