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Friday, April 20, 2012

TITANIC - Almerian. The Ship That Wasn't There?

Almerian. The Ship That Wasn't There?

At 2,984 GRT and 351.5 feet LBP, Almerian was one of the Leyland Line's smaller ships.  Her triple expansion engine of 284 Nominal Horsepower gave her a service speed of less than 12 knots.  In 1912, her master was Captain R Thomas.
At 10-00am on 4 April, she sailed from Mobile AL, with a cargo of cotton and lumber for Liverpool.  She reached Liverpool on 25 April.  (There is a discrepancy between the Mobile press and Lloyd's index, which gives the sailing date as 3 April.)
On 9 May 1912. Almerian sailed from Liverpool for Barbados.  Californian was then at sea, en route from Boston to Liverpool.
On 14 May 1912, Captain Lord told Lord Mersey's court that he had sighted an unidentified two-masted ship with a pink and black funnel close to Mount Temple on the morning of 15 April.  The funnel colours were those of the Leyland Line, but Lord did not mention this, or name the ship.  Lord had not mentioned this ship at Senator Smith's inquiry.  Between arriving at Liverpool on 11 May and appearing in Lord Mersey's court on 14 May, Lord had visited the Leyland Line's Liverpool office and spoken to its Marine Superintendent, Captain Fry.  (Lord's 1959 affidavit.  Arrival time from The Times shipping reports).
According to Leslie Harrison, secretary of the Mercantile Marine Services Association, and Captain Lord's best-known apologist, at some unspecified time Lord was shown a report from an unidentified person onAlmerian.  (See A Titanic Myth, pages 132-133).  This stated that Almerian had been close to Mount Temple on the morning of 15 April 1912 and gave an account of her movements.  It was claimed that Almerian sightedCalifornian steaming southward on the western side of the icefield that separated her from Carpathia on the morning of 15 April.  As it gives neither the time nor the position of this encounter, it adds nothing to evidence given as early as 26 April 1912 at the US inquiry, other than a dubious account of Almerian meeting Mount Temple.   It might be conjectured that this report was obtained during Lord's visit to Liverpool.
In February 2006, Titanic researcher, Dr Paul Lee, obtained and made public a typed transcript (126kb) of what proved to be a copy of a hand-written document.  It forms part of material assembled by Captain Lord on or about 21 May 1912.  Its text reveals that the report allegedly was written by Almerian's master.  It includes navigational details not mentioned in Harrison's book.  It is un-signed.  In March 2006, Dr Lee made public ahand-written version (318kb) of the document.  This was obviously written by Captain Lord and is presumably the copy referred to by Leslie Harrison on page 133 of A Titanic Myth.  A note on part two of the document(298kb) shows that it was used by Leslie Harrison in 1964, while preparing his petition to the Board of Trade of 1965.  We are no closer to the report allegedly made by Captain Thomas.  (Reproductions of documents courtesy of Dr Paul Lee.)
On the strength of the report, Captain Lord identified Almerian as the two-masted ship seen near Mount Temple by himself, Captain Rostron and others.  This was in spite of Captain Moore's statement that the small steamer that accompanied Mount Temple to the edge of the icefield had a black funnel with a white band containing a badge.  Almerian of course had a salmon pink funnel with a black top, the colours of the Leyland Line.  Lord's story added to the confusion, for nobody had noticed two two-masted steamers, with different coloured funnels, near Mount Temple.  Few appear to have even noticed the discrepancy in the evidence. Those who did, including the author, apparently mentally dismissed it as another minor oddity in the Titanic story.
Almerian was a slow ship, rated at less then 12 knots by Lloyd's Register.  Her arrival and departure dates are consistent with a speed of less than 10 knots.  She could have reached the area of the wreck by 15 April, but there was no reason for her to do so.  From Mobile, she would probably have steered a course to clear the Florida Peninsula, and steamed northward along the Florida coast until clear of the Bahamas.  She would then have steered towards the 'corner' for eastbound ships at 41°N 47° W, before commencing a great circle course for Britain.  At no time does this course pass close to the wreck site, the nearest point on it being more than 80 miles distant.
Alternatively, Almerian's master may have attempted to steer a great circle course from a point north of Fort Lauderdale FL to the Lizard on the English coast.  This course passes over the Grand Banks, far north of theTitanic wreck.  It is hard to see why Almerian should have risked the ice in this region, of which her master would have been aware in general terms.
It is submitted that there appears to be no reason for Almerian to be near the scene of the disaster on 15 April 1912.
In a letter dated 7 June 1912, the Leyland Line advised the Board of Trade that only two of its ships, namely Californian and Antillian, had been in the area of the wreck on 15 April.  On 28 June 1912, with the report in Lord's possession, Lord's counsel, Robertson Dunlop, did not mention Almerian in his address to Mersey's court, in spite of his efforts to identify the so-called 'third ship' and his access to Leyland records.  Whether this was done to conceal a guilty secret, or because the Leyland Line truthfully denied its ship's presence, is an open question.  Perhaps Dunlop simply did not ask the Leyland Line about the pink-funnelled ship seen by Lord though, as Leyland's usual lawyer, he should have been familiar with its funnel colours.
The weaknesses of the report are mainly found in the navigational data revealed by Dr Lee and judiciously omitted by Leslie Harrison.  It is claimed that at about 0300hrs on 15 April Almerian met with a ship, later identified as Mount Temple.  This occurred in 41°20'N, 50°24'W, a position that is more than 20 miles from any point on Mount Temple's track.  Almerian then steamed north along the meridian of 50°24'W, eventually turning east in 41°48'N and clearing the icefield.  On the way, she passed within 6 - 6½ miles of Carpathia.
In 1912, this account would have seemed reasonable, given the general acceptance of the accuracy of Titanic's CQD position and especially its longitude, 50°14'W.  If Carpathia picked up boats at the CQD position, she would be readily seen by a ship passing in 50°24'W.  Californian, steaming south, would be met more or less head on, as described in the report.
We now know that the longitude of the CQD position is incorrect and that Carpathia picked up lifeboats while east of 50°W.   She would have been invisible to a ship in 50°24'W.  It seems possible that the navigational details were concocted to fit the CQD position.  The report agrees with evidence from the US inquiry and, other than the dubious claim of sighting Mount Temple, contains nothing that was not mentioned therein.  It does not agree with facts found in modern times.

[ image: Almerian course.]

As can be seen, Almerian's claimed course passes about seven miles west of the CQD position.  It misses the wreck site by more than twice that distance.  At no time of the night is it near Mount Temple.

Though Captain Lord possessed the report by 21 May 1912, he may have realised that it was of no value, as he made no mention of it in his letters to his Member of Parliament and the Board of Trade.  Nevertheless, he identified the two-masted ship as Almerian to the end, and mentioned her in his 1959 affidavit.  Interestingly, the report is not included in The Californian Incident, a collection of documents compiled by Leslie Harrison in 1962.  Perhaps he also found it unconvincing.
In January 1913, Captain John d'Arcy Morton, nautical advisor to the MMSA, published Pushed Under the Wheels of Juggernaut in the MMSA's journal.  This defence of Captain Lord mentioned Almerian in passing, without navigational details.  This shows that at least part of the story was known to somebody other than Captain Lord.  The article was included in The Californian Incident.
Given the letter from the Leyland Line, the absence of a report signed by Captain Thomas and the unlikely navigation, the authorship and authenticity of the report must be suspect.  The author suggests that on the morning of 15 April Captain Lord noticed the two-masted ship seen near Mount Temple.  He took little notice of it, as he was searching for a way through the icefield that separated him from Carpathia.  On his arrival in England, a sympathiser gave him the Almerian story.  Lord then decided that the two-masted ship he saw must have been Almerian.
We are left with the ship seen by Captain Moore, which remains unidentified to this day, in spite of the efforts of British and American authorities to trace her.  Whatever her name, she played no part in the drama, for she came up from the south-west with Mount Temple and arrived on the scene long after Titanic sank.

TITANIC - The Statistics of the Disaster

This portrait by E. D. Walker depicts Titanic in the Belfast Lough on April 2, 1912.

Basic Statistics of the Disaster

324 1st class passengers, 201 survived.
277 2nd class passengers, 118 survived.
708 3rd class passengers, 181 survived
885 crewmembers, 212 survived
13 postmen/musicians, none lived.
Grand total: 2,207 on board, 712 survived.

The Statistics of the Disaster


Titanic Research

An in-depth analysis of the number of Titanic passengers lost and saved.

Titanic's Certificates of Clearance indicate that 922 passengers boarded at Southampton; 274 at Cherbourg and 120 at Queenstown; giving Titanic a total compliment of 1316 passengers.
Using original 1912 documents this study is an attempt to confirm or correct those figures. Two factors need to be taken into account:
1] Official 1912 figures generally lump First and Second Class under the heading: Cabin Class.
2] Adults aged 12 and upwards; children between 1 and 12; infants aged under 1 year.
With this in mind we can begin by noting that according to her Certificates of Clearance Titanic took on board 427 Cabin Class Passengers at Southampton; 172 at Cherbourg and 7 at Queenstown. This gave her a total of 606 First and Second Class Passengers. The corresponding figures for Third Class were 495; 102 and 113. Making a total of 710.
PRO document BT 27/780B offers the following breakdown by Passenger Class for those who boarded at Southampton.
 ACI A.MalesA.Femalesmcfcmifi 
First Class1754118010570311-180
Second Class226183247143837113-247
Third Class: While 27/780B breaks the figures down into British Subjects; Alien non-transmigrants and Alien transmigrants; this study retains the more familiar British Subjects [British and non-transmigrants] and non-British Subjects [transmigrants].
 ACI A.MalesA.Femalesmcfcmifi 
For a number of reasons it is not considered practical to accept that 180 First Class Passengers boarded Titanic at Southampton. [3 named passengers did not board; the Minahans boarded at Queenstown; while a number (including 7 personal servants) of others are not named within BT 27/780B. It follows then that we can therefore have no confidence in any stated figures [I have seen 142] with regard to the number of First Class Passengers who boarded at Cherbourg.
The First Class Passenger List contains the names of 323 passengers. It is here noted that in The Night Lives On that Walter Lord observed that one Frank Carlson failed to board at Cherbourg, but his name remained among those lost in the disaster. However, a Frans Olof Carlsson was on board, so the name Carlsson must remain. One and only one passenger can be accepted as having upgraded from Second Class. Alfred Nourney [travelling as Baron van Drachstedt] With all respect to both Walter Lord and the lady herself Mrs Cassebeer was booked to travel First Class. (In support of that I note that she paid a First Class fare of 27 pounds, 14s and 5d. The same fare as that paid by a number of other First Class Passengers. Mrs Cassebeer's name also appears on one of the First Class Passenger pages of the White Star Line Contract Ticket List.) This gives a total of 324 First Class Passengers. 176 men; 143 women and 5 children/infant. 58 men; 139 women and 4 children/infants were saved. 118 men; 4 women and 1 child were lost. = Saved 201; Lost 123.
Two Official Lists of Deceased Passengers exist. BT 100/260 names 123 First Class Passengers. MT 9/920/201 names 121; which includes Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffansson, who survived; but excludes Dr Minahan and 2 menservants. This brings the total back to 123.
Second Class requires only the deletion of Nourney, giving a total of 284. 167 men; 95 women and 22 children/infants. - [Note this includes Titanic's 8 bandsmen, who were officially listed as Second Class Passengers.] 13 men, 83 women and 22 children/infants were saved. 154 men and 12 women were lost. =Saved 118; Lost 166.
Both BT 100/260 and MT 9/920/201 name 167 Second Class Passengers of whom 1 lady [Mrs Lahtinen] was lost and 2 [Mesdames Brown and del Carlo] were saved. This brings the total to 166.
Because Third Class is broken into categories; it is easy to correct the breakdown of figures as given in BT 27/780B.
The British Subjects figures of 130 adult males; 33 adult females; 10 male children; 8 female children; 1 male infant and 2 female infants = 184, needs to be adjusted to allow for 4 adult male passengers [Alfred Lowe; Frederick Miles (see special note below) and Charles & Henry Sutton]; who did not board; plus Austin van Billiard and his two sons who are not listed. Masters Aks and Moor are listed as females; as is Francis Somerton; who is listed as Frances Somerton; occupation: wife. Born in 1899, Anthony William Sage was therefore at least 12 and counts as an adult. The correct figures should read: 129 men; 32 women and 22 children/infants = 183. Of that number only 38 survived. - 14 men; 16 women and 8 children/infants. Lost 115 men; 16 women and 14 children/infants. = 145
The Non-British Subjects figures of 210 adult males; 66 adult females; 12 male children; 20 female children; 2 males infants and 1 female infant = 311, needs to be adjusted to allow for a number of passengers incorrectly marked as male [Carla Andersen; Ida Andersson; Augusta Lindblom; Velin Ohman and Jelka Oreskovic]; or female [Johannes Kalvik; Milan Karajic and Nicola Lulic]; for 9 year Arthur Olsen whose age is given as 42. [As with the Contract Ticket List; Filip Oscar Asplund is counted as a child and Juha Panula as an adult.] Included is Elias Johannessen, who did not make it onboard Titanic. Missing is the name of Anders Gustafsson. The correct figures should read: 207 men; 68 women and 36 children/infants = 311. Of that number only 66 survived. - 30 men; 27 women and 9 children/infants. Lost 177 men; 41 women and 27 children/infants. = 245
BT 27/780B only applies to Passengers who boarded at Southampton. For Cherbourg in addition to Titanic's Certificate of Clearance we have The White Star Line Contract Ticket List. For Queenstown Titanic's Certificate of Clearance; BT 27/776 and the Contract Ticket List.
At Cherbourg every list [including the White Star Line Contract Ticket List] agrees with a figure of 102. However, the Certificate of Clearance figures of 63 adult males; 22 adult females; 7 male children 7 female children and 3 male infants are wrong. The correct figures should read: 62 men; 23 women and 17 children/infants = 102. Of that number only 37 survived. - 9 men; 15 women and 13 children/ infants. It is herewith noted that as I have only a questionable birth date of [16 April ?]1900 for Elias Nicola who could therefore have been 11 or 12 I have retained him as per the Contract Ticket List as a child. - Lost 53 men; 8 women and 4 children. = 65
Happily Queenstown agrees at 113 [there being no need to amend 27/776]. 52 adult males; 56 adult females and 5 male children. Of that number only 40 survived. - 7 men and 33 women. Lost 45 men; 23 women and all 5 children. = 73
Overall this gives us a total of 709 Third Class Passengers [183+311+102+113]. Of that number only 181 [38+66+37+40] survived. Lost 528 [145+245+65+73].
Allowing that Nourney is named in the White Star Line Contract Ticket List as a 2nd Class Passenger we may note that that Contract Ticket List names 323 1st and 285 2nd Class Passengers. For 3rd Class it is a little more complex. There are 4 main pages before the Scandinavians. Those pages name 173 passengers [plus 2 who prepaid] and are therefore on a subsequent page together with 13 [5 (plus the 2) named, plus 8 Chinamen, who are not included in the total which reads 7] others. However, 9 passengers who are in the non-British section are named among the 173. Also included within the 173 is Amy Stanley, who is counted as 2 passengers and a Frederick Miles [ticket No 392095] who although named in 27/780B was perhaps [see special note below] among those who did not sail. Missing are 6 Seaman/American Line employees who were traveling on ticket No 371060 [see BT 27/780B]; which is not listed on the Contract Ticket List. - 173+15-9-2+6 = 183. The numbers balance.
For the non-British at Southampton [after adding back the 9 passengers who are included in the British section]; as with Cherbourg and Queenstown the Contract Ticket List balances.
According to MT 9/920/201 passengers 289-823 were deceased Third Class Passengers. That gives a total of 535; less 4 [numbers 437 Thomas Emmeth; 638 Bert O'Donoghue and 812/813 Hanne and Georges Youssef] who were subsequently named on an attached Minute as being saved. In a bizarre twist in the attached Minute; the two Irish passengers who are named as having survived had their names replaced with two who died [Thomas Smyth and Bridget Donohue]. - Nos 822 and 823. - This mistake occurred because although both 27/776 and the Contract Ticket List names the two passengers correctly, the Official White Star Passenger List records their names incorrectly and therefore some official decided that 4 passengers were involved. Two lost and two saved. In fact there were only two passengers; Bridget Donohue and Thomas Smyth; both lost. So 535 becomes 533. From that we need to deduct the names of 5 passengers [numbers 512 Carl (Jansson) Johnson; 612 Hanna (Borak) Monbark; 613 Mantoura Moussa and the two Peter children] who survived. = 528 deceased Third Class Passengers.
According to BT 100/260 passengers 291-822 plus 828 [823 to 827 were the 5 Postal Clerks] were deceased Third Class Passengers. A total of 533. As with 9/920/201 a correction has to be made with regard to the Irish Passengers. Here the correction is even more Bizarre. Both the names of Bert O'Donoghue and Thomas Emmeth are crossed out, indicating that they survived; but Emmeth's number 439 then has the name of Farres Chehub Emir written in as a replacement. So 533 becomes 532. As with 9/920/201 the names of 5 passengers who survived need to be deducted. We need to add the name of Youssef Brahim whose name has been omitted. This confirms our previous total of 528 deceased Third Class Passengers.
In establishing the Total Number of Passenger Lost BT 100/260 names a total of 828; plus 290a; less numbers 823-827; less 7 who survived [2 in 2nd Class and 5 in 3rd ] less Bert O'Donoghue who did not exist; plus Youssef Brahim = 829-5-7-1+1 = 817. - [123 1st 166 2nd and 528 3rd Class]
Statistically for Third Class 20.8% of the British subjects at Southampton survived. For non-British it was 21/2%. For Cherbourg 36.3%; for Queenstown 35.4%.
Women and children: British 44.4%; non-British 34.6%; Cherbourg 70%; Queenstown 54.1%.
Adult male passengers: British 10.9%, non-British 14.5%, Cherbourg 14.5%; Queenstown 13.5%
 Saved  Lost  
   181  528

There were 107 children/infants on board. 5 in 1st Class; 22 in 2nd Class and 80 in 3rd Class.

Overall there were a total of 1317 passengers on board Titanic. First Class 324; Second Class 284 [including 8 bandsmen]; Third Class 709. Of those 524 were women and children.
 148 1st Class117 2nd Class259 3rd Class  
1st Class 96.6% saved; 2nd Class 89.7% saved [women: 92.9% - 1st Class 97.2%; 2nd Class 87.4%];
3rd Class 46.7% saved [women 50.8%; children 37.5%]
Men:176 1st Class167 2nd Class450 3rd Class793 
1st Class 33% saved; 2nd Class 7.8% saved; 3rd Class 13.3% saved
Passengers Saved 369 women and children and 131 men = 500 [38%]
Lost 155 women and children and 662 men = 817 [62%]
First Class201 [62%]Out of 324[Lost 123 - 38%]
Second Class118 [41.5%]Out of 284[Lost 166 - 58.5%]
Third Class181 [25.5%]Out of 709[Lost 528 - 74.5%]
 500 [38%]Out of 1317[Lost 817 - 62%]
The final % of Saved to Lost is an exact reversal of the proportion of 1st Class Saved to Lost. Also % wise more 3rd Class children were saved than 1st Class adult male passengers; while on a simple head count more 3rdClass adult male passengers survived than for 1st Class. - The British Inquiry figure concluded more 3rd Class than 1st and 2nd Class combined. - 75 to 71 [57+14].
At the beginning it was noted that this study was an attempt to confirm or correct Official 1912 figures for the number of Passengers on board Titanic. As far as Titanic's Certificates of Clearance are concerned there are reasons to reject the figures for Cabin Class; because 27/780B from which the numbers who boarded at Southampton has been taken contains too many errors. Names not included; names included in error and in the case of Hilda Slayter and the Rev. Kirkland included in both 27/780B and 27/776. Cabin Class can therefore best be established from the White Star Passenger List cross-checked back to the Contract Ticket List. On the other hand 27/780B and therefore Titanic's Southampton Certificate of Clearance for 3rd Class is reasonably accurate. It has been established above that the Contract Ticket List is accurate for the number of 3rd Class Passengers who boarded at Cherbourg; with that document and 27/776 being accurate for the number of 3rd Class Passengers who boarded at Queenstown.

Special Note: My only remaining query is with regard to one Frederick Miles, named on 27/780B as a 44 year old clerk, with U.S. Citizenship. While a tick alongside his name [I thank Hermann Soeldner {private communication} for drawing my attention to this point.] suggests that he boarded; many other passengers who were onboard do not have ticks alongside their names. The name of Frederick Miles also appears on the Contract Ticket List; which although otherwise accurate, contains a number of errors; all of which occur; in the 3rd Class "British" section; which is section in which the name Frederick Miles appears. It may however be that although no Passenger List; including the White Star Passenger List itself [or either of the Death Certificate Lists 100/260 and 9/920/201] includes the name of Frederick Miles; that he should be accepted as having been on board. [The tick alongside Frederick Miles' name on 27/780B; together with his name and ticket number on the Contract Ticket List leads Hermann to accept that Miles should be regarded as having been onboard Titanic.] If that is correct then the overall number of Passengers would increase to 1,318; with 818 lost.

Total Number of Survivors:
Of the 500 Passengers who survived 369 [73.8%] were women and children; 131 [26.2%] were men. 212 [192 men and 20 women] of Titanic's Crew also survived making a total of 712 survivors. - 389 [54.6%] women and children; 323 [45.4%] men. - Of those 323; % wise; 59.4% were Crew; 40.6% were Passengers. Of the 712 survivors approximately 53 were plucked from the sea or reached boats A or B; this suggests 388 women and children and about 271 men in the boats. % wise 58.9% women and children to 41.1% men.

Copyright © 1999/2000/2001 Lester J. Mitcham, New Zealand

TITANIC - Ice on Deck

Ice on Deck


Titanic Research

Further analysis of the iceberg impact.

My first article about the newly discovered Bremen Iceberg that appeared in Encyclopedia Titanica in July 2001 (The Iceberg — resurfaced? BELOW) was about the photograph itself. This second article concerns another part of the fateful moment of collision: this iceberg picture provides us with a possible answer to the question, why chunks of ice were thrown onto the deck but no damage was caused to Titanic’s upper decks. The conclusion: chunks of ice did not fall from the top of the berg straight down onto the deck – they were thrown upwards then rebounded at the overhang of the iceberg and finally fell onto the ship.
The common view is that the top of the iceberg threw chunks of ice straight down onto the deck 1. It is also the common view that there was no extreme overhang at the berg which has reached over to the ship straight above the deck. Regarding both aspects it is hardly possible that ice was thrown from an icebergs top which was NOT hanging over the deck: furthermore it is widely known that the upper decks did not even touch the berg. According to these points, this must mean that the berg would have thrown its ice some way horizontally over to the ship. And we can furthermore assume that the size of the berg maybe did not reach up to the upper deck2. The witnesses reported very different sizes and even Rehoreks photograph doesn´t give any clue to that question.

How much ice was fallen onto the deck? The Able Bodied Seamen William Lucas has been examined at the British Enquiry (Day 3) by Mr. Rowlatt:3
Rowlatt: ”Where did you see the ice on the deck?” 
Lucas: ”On the fore-well on the starboard side.”(...)Rowlatt: ”How much ice was there on the deck there?” Lucas: ”I suppose, about a couple of tons.”
However we have very different witnesses reports. Fourth Officer Joseph Groves Boxhall was examined from the British Enquiry to this point as well (Day 13):
Mr. Raymond Asquith: ”Did you then go up again through the other decks as far as C deck?” 
Boxhall: ”I came up the same way as I went down.”Asquith: ”Without noticing any damage?”Boxhall: ”I did not see any damage whatever.”Asquith: ”When you got to C deck did you see some ice there on the deck?” Boxhall: ”Yes, I took a piece of ice out of a man's hand, a small piece about as large as a small basin, I suppose; very small, anyhow; about that size (Describing.) He was going down again to the passenger accommodation, and I took it from him and walked across the deck to see where he got it. I found just a little ice in the well deck covering a space of about three or four feet from the bulwarks right along the well deck, small stuff.”
Boxhall was the only witness who described a bit more precisely the quantity of ice he saw on deck. Not a ”couple of tons” as Lucas said, but ”small stuff”. The Able Bodied Seaman Thomas Jones testified before the US Inquiry (Day 7), that he went on deck and could see ”some ice”. The Able Bodied Seaman Edward John Buley also reported ”a couple of tons of block ice” to the British Inquiry (Day 16). The Leading Fireman Charles Hendrickson saw ”a lot of ice...on the deck” (British Inquiry, Day 5). But none of these accounts was as precise as Boxhall´s one.
Another interesting statement was given by Lookout Reginald Lee at the British Inquiry (Day 4) after a short talk between the Commissioner and the Attorney-General:
The Commissioner: ”What is supposed to have caused the ice to fall on the deck? Was it some part of the ship, the Titanic, striking the berg above the waterline, or was it something that fell from the iceberg without the iceberg being struck.”The Attorney-General: ”I should have thought myself that it followed that the vessel must have struck the iceberg, and brought the ice on to the deck.”
The Commissioner: ”So I should have thought, but I was wondering what part of the Titanic would strike the iceberg.”
The Attorney-General: ”I do not think there is any such suggestion.” (To the Witness.) ”You have told us that you saw some ice fall on to the forewell deck?”
Reginald Lee: ”It must have been overhanging from the berg as she struck, otherwise it could not have come there, because there were no yards on the mast or anything of that sort. It must have been.”
The Attorney-General: ”It must have been either the head or the side?” Reginald Lee: ”It caused it to fall inboard. This is where it landed, just on that forewell deck.” (Showing on the model.)The Attorney-General: ”You did not notice that, did you. Did you notice whether there was any overhanging part?”Reginald Lee: ”No, I cannot say what was overhanging; I cannot say the size.”
If we try to get a precise quantity of ice on deck we cannot get a clear result: some witnesses said ”a lot”, some said ”some” ice. But Boxhalls description was the most precise one. Lee´s report is very interesting because he spoke of an overhang he did not see. Was the iceberg somewhat higher than the guard rail or not? Boxhall spoke of an iceberg which was floating very low in the water and probably did not extend above the level of the guard rail. Other witnesses said that the iceberg did. As mentioned above Rehorek´s iceberg photograph doesn´t give any clue about its size. If we assume the iceberg did not reach up to the upper decks, how did the chunks of ice then get onto the ship? As Charles H. Lightoller, Second Officer, explained at the US-Hearing (Day 1):
Senator Smith: ”Was the vessel broken in two in any manner (i.e.: as a result of the collision) or intact?”Lightoller: ”Absolutely intact.”Smith: ”And the decks?” Lightoller: ”Intact.”
Boxhall’s report to the same hearing, after having inspected the ship’s interior, was similar (Day3):
”... I went on the bridge and reported to the captain that I could not see any damage.”
Boxhall repeated this at the British Inquiry (Day 13).
If the Titanic had chipped chunks of ice off the iceberg at the forecastle level, then Lightoller and Boxhall would certainly have spotted some visible damage. But there are no reports from any other witnesses either of any damage suffered by the Titanic above the water line. This is also confirmed by the report of the British court of inquiry:4
”The collision with the iceberg, which took place at 11.40 p.m., caused damage to the bottom of the starboard side of the vessel at about 10 feet above the keel, but there was no damage above this height.”
This must mean that the Titanic did not come into contact with the iceberg in the area of the upper forecastle – but, nevertheless, chunks of ice were thrown onto the deck assuming that there was an overhang, but which did not reach over up the deck? This inevitably raises the question as to how they could have got there. In the Cameron film, in which the collision was reconstructed as accurately as possible, this moment is cleverly disguised: the Hollywood iceberg rises straight up out of the water well above the height of the guard rail, and chunks of ice break away high up and plummet straight (!) down onto the forecastle deck. If the collision had happened as it is portrayed in the film, then the Titanic would most certainly have shown signs of damage in the upper area. After all, the ship’s hull becomes a bit broader as it rises out of the water accordingly some damage caused by the perpendicular face of the iceberg must have been visible higher up as well. In reality, however, in 1912 this was not the case.
Looking at Rehoreks iceberg photograph, that has shown up in the year 2000 5, we now can state that chunks of ice could still get onto the deck even when the iceberg did not reach the height of the guard rail. On this photograph the face of the iceberg is slightly (not extremely) overhanging above the point of initial impact. Let us just visualize the collision again: the 50,000 ton ship rams the iceberg at full speed. The force of the impact causes chunks of the iceberg to be split away and projected some ice into the air. The smashed edge at the berg is clearly to be seen on the photograph, of course the bigger damage we cannot see on the picture was below the water line.
We can therefore assume that only a few chunks of ice were thrown onto the deck. As we mentioned earlier, Lightoller and Boxhall reported that above and below deck everything was ”intact”, which corresponded to the findings of the British court of inquiry, too. This is also an indication that only the lower sections of the Titanic hull struck the iceberg and that ice was thrown upwards then rebounded from the upper overhang of the iceberg and finally deflected onto the deck. Of course a bigger part of these chunks fell back into the water.
This theory - by the way - does not depend on the size of the iceberg: the rebound effect works with an iceberg that was or was not extending the upper decks.
(December 2001)
Please note: This article is protected by copyright. Any duplication of the pictures for commercial or journalistic purposes or for publication in the press, TV, Internet (also on private homepages) or in any other media is forbidden without the explicit consent of the author. This also applies to enlargements or graphic alterations of parts or all of any images. Duplication for private use is, of course, permitted.

1. I did not find a detailed description in a book, but in some films, specially in the Cameron film it is shown that the chunks just fell down on the deck, as it seems from the top of the berg.
2. Please see former ET article ”The Iceberg – resurfaced”.”The Iceberg – resurfaced”.
3. All witnesses accounts are taken from the ”Inquiry project”.
4. Report on the Loss of the S.S. Titanic, Reprint, New York 1998, Pg. 32.
5. Please see former ET article ”The Iceberg – resurfaced”.

The Iceberg — Resurfaced?


Titanic Research

Icebergs photographed after the sinking bear the hallmarks of a collision.

Nearly nine decades after the Titanic went down in the Atlantic, probably the first authentic photograph of the iceberg has come to light. It lay unpublished in private ownership until it was rediscovered in April 2000. The photograph shows scars of damage to the iceberg. Combining all indications as described in this report it can be claimed that this new iceberg photograph indeed shows the "real" iceberg. The original print now is kept in a bank safe in Munich.

1. The Rehorek Iceberg
A Bohemian named Stephan Rehorek was on board the German steamer Bremen 1. This ship sailed past the scene of the accident on its way from Bremerhaven to New York. This event is described in detail in Logan Marshall’s book: 2 on 20th April the Bremen sailed into the area of the disaster, the people on board could see wreckage and the bodies of more than a hundred victims floating on the water. What is more, according to Marshall, an iceberg was sighted "in the vicinity" which fitted precisely the description of the Titanic iceberg 3. A plan by the Bremen to pick up the dead bodies was finally not implemented when it was heard that the Mackay-Bennett, chartered for that purpose, was only two hours away.
Stephan Rehorek, too, was witness to the horrifying consequences of the tragedy and he took a photograph of the iceberg. After his arrival in New York he sent a first postcard home, postmarked 25th April. On the front of this card was a picture of the Titanic:
"Dear Mother and Father, Best wishes from New York. I am sending you a picture of a dutch 4 fast ocean liner which sank on its maiden voyage. It was the biggest in the world. Two days away from New York it collided with an iceberg and the ship was severely damaged on one side. Almost 1,600 people drowned and about 670 were rescued. I have a photograph of the iceberg and will send it to you (...) I also saw the bodies of the drowned and the wreckage from the ship. It was a dreadful sight."
Some weeks later 5 he had the photographs of the icebergs printed onto postcards and from Cherbourg sent one of it to his parents, and wrote:
"Dear Mother and Father, (...) This card is a view of the iceberg that collided with and sank the Titanic liner. I will send a card to Josef, too."
The postcard sent to his brother Josef has also survived, but it shows a souvenir picture of the "Titanic". From the message on the card it seems that Stephan Rehorek only had one single print made of the iceberg photograph, because he tells his brother:
"Dear Josef, I am sending you, too, a postcard of the ship that sank (...) We were following about a thousand miles behind it.(...) Next time you come home our brother will show you pictures of the icebergs which were photographed from our ship."
Stephan Rehorek kept two other existing photographs, which show another iceberg. One of the pictures shows part of the steamer from which Rehorek took the photographs. Obviously Rehorek did not sent the pictures with that iceberg floating in the background, nor the photograph showing the iceberg at closer quarters, as postcards because he did not think the iceberg depicted was the famous one that sank theTitanic.
These postcards have until now been in private ownership, the photographs have never been published 6. The iceberg card shows the place where the ice was chipped away: on the photograph a severed edge is discernible exactly on the side scraped along by the Titanic. It is clear that the damage to the iceberg was greatest below the water line but this is not visible on Rehorek’s photograph. Although we now have the shape of the fateful iceberg depicted in a photograph, we still cannot deduce with any certainty how large it was. We do not have any recognizable reference objects.
2. Eye-witness reports
A few days after the tragedy the Senate Investigation Committee convened in New York to discover the details of exactly what happened. One after another, witnesses were asked to describe what happened during the collision. Most of them had been asleep at the time and only very few had actually seen the iceberg. The fateful collision itself lasted only a few seconds and, what is more, it was a black, moonless night. So the descriptions of the iceberg were all very different from each other. It was Frederick Fleet, the lookout positioned in the crow’s nest at the foremast who caught sight of the iceberg first and, therefore, had the best view of it, but he failed miserably when he was asked to describe it to the investigation committee. He was unable to provide satisfactory answers to the majority of Senator Smith’s questions: 7
Smith: "How long before the collision or accident did you report ‘Ice ahead’?"
Fleet: "I have no idea."
Smith: "About how long?"
Fleet: "I could not say at the rate she was going."
Smith: "How fast was she going?"
Fleet: "I have no idea."
Smith: "How large an object was this when you first saw it?"
Fleet: "It was not very large when I first saw it."
Smith: "How large was it?"
Fleet: "I have no idea of distances or spaces."
Smith: "Was it the size of an ordinary house? Was it as large as this room appears to be?"
Fleet: "No, no. It did not appear very large at all."
Smith :"Was it as large as the table at which I am sitting?"
Fleet: "It would be as large as those two tables put together when I saw it at first." 8
This last answer partly is still being misinterpreted today. First of all, what Fleet says is usually held to be his own description but, in fact, the idea of comparing it with the size of a table was suggested to him by Senator Smith; the words were more or less put into his mouth. And the second misinterpretation which persists is that the quotation has always been understood as if Fleet, when he spoke of "two tables put together", was describing the shape of the iceberg. In fact, the sailor was referring to the apparent size of the iceberg. Fleet said absolutely nothing about its shape.
Senator Smith wanted to know the exact size of the iceberg and persevered:
Smith: "How large did it get to be, finally when it struck the ship?"
Fleet: "When we were alongside, it was a little bit higher than the forecastle head."
Smith: "The forecastle head is how high above the water line?"
Fleet: "50 feet I should say."
Smith: "So that black mass, when it finally struck the ship, turned out to be about 50 feet above the water?"
Fleet: "About 50 or 60."
Some others also saw the iceberg go by and described their impressions to the investigation committee. Joseph G. Boxhall, the Fourth Officer on the Titanic was questioned by Senator Smith:
Smith: "Did you see it? (i.e.: the iceberg)"
Boxhall: "I was not very sure of seeing it. It seemed to me to be just a small black mass rising not very high out of the water, just a little at the starboard quarter."
Smith: "How far do you think, should you judge? (...) Did it extend up to B deck?"
Boxhall: "Oh no; the ship was past it then. It looked to me to be very, very low in the water."
Smith: "How far do you think it was above the water?(...) Above the ship’s rail?"
Boxhall: "No."
Smith: "And how far was this rail above the water´s edge?"
Boxhall: "Probably about 30 feet."
One remarkable account was given to the British Commission. Titanic seaman Joseph Scarrott had seen the iceberg in that fateful night:
Mr. Butler Aspinall: " What was the shape of this iceberg?"
Scarrott: " Well, it struck me at the time that it resembled the Rock of Gibraltar looking at it from Europa Point. It looked very much the same shape as that, only much smaller."
The Commissioner: "Like a lion couchant?"
Scarrott: "As you approach Gibraltar - it seemed that shape. The highest point would be on my right, as it appeared to me."
Scarrott first described the view as from the "Europa Point". But the commissioner asked for another point of view - the "lion couchant". The widely known shape of the Rock of Gibraltar (with the highest point on theleft side) usually was compared with a "lion couchant". It is the view that ships get right after they have entered the Bay of Gibraltar heading for the harbour. It is remarkable that Scarrott resembled the Rock with the highest point on the right side. That means: Scarrott saw an iceberg that looked like the Rock but inverted. Fortunately the steamer Bremen had the same position to the iceberg as the Titanic has had some days before: so Rehorek took his iceberg picture from the same point of view as the eye-witness Scarrott has had on board the Titanic a few seconds after the collision. For this reason we can create a direct comparison between both views: the shape of the Rock (as to be seen as a "lion couchant" from the Bay) and the shape of the iceberg. Indeed the Rehorek iceberg matches the Rock - with the highest point on the right side, as Scarrott has said.
3. Icebergs in the area
Not far from the scene of the tragedy, on April 15th the German steamship Prinz Adalbert passed by an iceberg with signs of red paint on it. A photograph was taken of it merely out of curiosity at the unusual red paint marks. As it is told, it was only later that the crew learned that the Titanic, whose keel had been painted red, had collided with an iceberg. This meant that this iceberg must have been one of the "chief suspects". Even though the puzzle of the red paint cannot be solved, this can hardly have been the iceberg which the Titanic collided with: it is known that the Titanic ripped great chunks out of the iceberg and did not simply leave a few scars of red paint. We cannot say anything of the real origin of the red color. Maybe it was from a ship, maybe it was a colored layer. Icebergs with layers in different colors (mostly brownish) are not scarce. But there is nothing in the Prinz Adalbert iceberg photograph which suggests the impact of violent forces. Another question is not answered yet: How is it possible, that from this wireless equipped steamer (with a range of 250 nautical miles) a daylight picture of the "suspicious" iceberg has been taken the day after the disaster without any knowledge of the catastrophe? Unfortunately the picture is black and white and further studies about this color are not possible. Of course a dark layer crossing the berg is clearly to be seen.
The cable ship Mackay-Bennett was chartered to pick up the bodies of the dead. Another iceberg was photographed from this ship but here again there is no recognisable scraping damage nor is there any resemblance with the witness’ drawings or Scarrotts account. The same is true of all the previously known photographs of icebergs taken in the vicinity of the scene of the tragedy.
How many icebergs were there in the area? It is well known that the Titanic sank near a large field of icebergs. Arthur Rostron, Captain of the rescue ship Carpathia, reported to the US investigation committee:
"By the time we had the first boat´s people it was breaking day, and then I could see the remaining boats all around within an area of about 4 miles. I also saw icebergs all around me. There were about 20 icebergs that would be anywhere from about 150 to 200 feet high and numerous smaller bergs."
This statement only appears to be in contradiction to the pictures we have of the rescue operation: on some pictures showing life-boats and survivors shortly before their rescue by the Carpathia there are no signs of any icebergs or even crawlers at all. It must simply have been that the photographer had his back to the field of icebergs which means they must have been on the other side of the Carpathia. In this context it is worth mentioning an observation made by the German steamship Rhein: the ship crossed the area a few days after the catastrophe and reported not only of bodies and wreckage drifting in the water but also of only three larger icebergs in the immediate vicinity of the disaster 9
4. Drawings
Two drawings show the basic shape of the iceberg that was rammed as it was seen by eye-witnesses. One of them is a quick sketch from memory by Joseph Scarrott. What is characteristic of the iceberg are the two clear peaks as well as a slight rise in the middle. At either end the iceberg falls steeply into the water. It is not really possible to identify any further details from the drawing but the basic shape depicted in this drawing closely matches that in one of the others: 10 on the morning after the tragedy Colin Campbell Cooper, a passenger on the rescue ship Carpathia, made a drawing of the iceberg with its two peaks (see inset picture). The rise in the middle, recorded by Scarrott, can be identified in Cooper’s drawing to the right of the foremost peak. As Cooper was one of America’s most well known painters and, apart from having a well-trained eye, he also had a talent for form and structure, his picture can be taken to be an accurate depiction of the shape of the iceberg. Not only are the two peaks clearly recognisable in his drawing – as in Scarrott’s drawing, too – but also a further, as yet, little noticed detail: at the lower edge Cooper sketches an area where part of the iceberg has been chipped away. One can imagine, once the surviving eye-witnesses of the Titanic disaster were safely on board the Carpathia, that news of a close-hand re-encounter with the fatal iceberg, identified by some of the surviving eye-witnesses, would have spread around the ship like wildfire. Cooper would have grabbed his drawing materials and captured this moment in his drawing. Consequently, a photograph resembling Cooper’s drawing of the iceberg must be a picture of the iceberg that rammed the Titanic. And this is precisely the case with the photograph taken by Stephan Rehorek.
5. Summary
So, does this mean with absolute certainty that we are looking at the most famous iceberg in the history of Christian seafaring, or is there still cause for doubt? Each clue taken on its own would not be sufficient evidence, but the sum of all the clues does point very strongly to the conclusion that the Rehorek photograph really shows the fateful iceberg:
1. The photograph was taken shortly after the tragedy in a certain vicinity to the place where the dead bodies and the wreckage of the ship were drifting in the water. This is also true for the other, well known, photographs claiming to show the fateful iceberg, but this is the only link they can claim except the red color of the Prinz-Adalbert iceberg .
2. The shape and details of the Rehorek iceberg match the drawings made by eye-witnesses. And the shape perfectly match the Rock of Gibraltar that had been compared with the iceberg by the eye-witness Joseph Scarrott.
3. The otherwise undamaged iceberg displays only one place where ice has been chipped off.
4. The damage to the Rehorek iceberg is at exactly the spot at which the Titanic would have hit it 11.
It can therefore be claimed that this recently recovered photograph which has been taken in April 1912 from the Bohemian Stephan Rehorek probably shows the iceberg that was rammed by the Titanic.

1. Rehorek does not, in fact, say that he was on board the steamer "Bremen" owned by the "Norddeutscher Lloyd" shipping company. There are, however, a lot of indications that this was so: 1. What he writes about the situation in the text on the postcard corresponds exactly to Logan Marshall’s description of the trip made by the Bremen. 2. One of Rehorek’s postcards carries a "Bremerhaven" postmark, which is where the "Norddeutscher Lloyd" company was based, 3. An earlier card sent by Rehorek shows a picture of the Bremen. 4. Rehorek says himself that he was travelling "1000 miles" behind the Titanic, and so he must have passed by the scene of the tragedy around 20th April. According to Logan Marshall this is the date on which the Bremenreached the area.
2. Logan Marshall: The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters (1912), Chap. XXI
3. Marshall quotes a Bremen passenger: "The officers told us that was probably the berg hit by the Titanic..."
4. We will never know why Rehorek wrote of a "dutch" liner. According to all informations about Rehorek that are available yet he could have been a seaman. But if he was, he probably should know that the Titanicwas not dutch. Reading several other postcards he sent home he seems to have travelled many times over the Atlantic. In another card he wrote that he is "looking forward to join a royal maneuver" of the german fleet. Was he a seaman or not? We cannot say yet for sure.
5. Postmark from 10.6.1912
6. As a collector of Titanic documents, I use the Internet a great deal. This is how a Czech collector of postcards obtained my e-mail address and offered me a total of seven of Stephan Rehorek’s postcards, among them the pictures of the icebergs. It transpired only later that one of them probably was the very first photograph of the iceberg showing the place where it had been rammed by the Titanic.
7. All accounts are taken from "The inquiry Project".
8. Fleet obviously meant the Senator’s table and another one next to it.
9. Logan Marshall: The Sinking of the Titanic (1912), Chap. XXI.
10. Both drawings printed in: Eaton/Haas: Titanic, Triumph und Tragödie, Munich 1997, Pg. 141.
11. I asked a glaciologist from a renowned research institute to provide an expert report on the point of impact on the ice. However, quite understandably, on the basis of only one photograph he was not able to draw any definitive conclusions. The damage to the iceberg could be an indication of natural decomposition – but it could equally be the result of external impact. Consequently the damage to the iceberg should not be seen as evidence, but rather as a clue.
Please note: This article is protected by copyright! Any duplication of the iceberg photographs for commercial or journalistic purposes or for publication in the press, TV, Internet (also on private homepages) or in any other media is forbidden without the explicit consent of the author. This also applies to enlargements or graphic alterations of parts or all of any photographs. Duplication for private use is, of course, permitted.
Many thanks to Günter Bäbler for his support and to the "Titanic Inquiry Project".
The author: Henning Pfeifer (*1962) is member of the Titanic Verein Schweiz (Swiss Titanic Society) and is working as a journalist in Germany.

Text and Images © Henning Pfeifer, Germany

TITANIC - Titanic's Rudder

Was the Titanic's Rudder Large Enough?

Titanic Research

There have been several times when the question has been raised about whether the Titanic’s rudder was large enough. It has been suggested that if the rudder had been larger she would have turned more quickly and thus missed the iceberg.
The usual way of determining the proper size of a rudder is to compare the area of the rudder to the longitudinal area of the ship’s hull on the centerline ( LBP x Draft).
On page; 207/208 in Modern Ships, La Dage says the “usual ratio for a cargo ship is about 0.015, while … a usual ratio for a tugboat would be about 0.03 or 0.04.” In Reed’s Naval Architecture on page 149, Stokoe says rudder area for fast ships should be 1/60th of hull area, and for slow ships 1/70th. In Ship Design and Construction the authors say “For merchant ships, the area of the rudder is usually about 2 percent of the product LT for ships 120m long and over”; L is length between perpendiculars and T is draft.
Titanic’s LBP was 850’ and her full load mean draft was 34.5’, so her longitudinal area on the centerline was 29,325ft2; this must be reduced by 455 ft2. This is the area of the cutaway forefoot (13ft high by 70 ft. long). Thus her effective hull area on the centerline is 28,870 ft2. Her rudder area ( using Simpson’s Rule) was 401.63ft2. Dividing through one gets a ratio of 0.014, compared to La Dage’s 0.015. Using Mr. Stokoe’s method, a rudder that was 1/60th of the hull area would be 481.75ft2 and 1/70th would be 412.43ft2 . Using the method in the SNAME book, a rudder that was 2% of the hull area would be 577.4 ft2 ;1.5% would be 433.1ft2
So Titanic’s rudder would be very slightly too small. In each case, the amount the rudder is too small is minor, so it probably didn’t influence the outcome significantly. Particularly when you take into account other activities like stopping or reversing the engines and lag time for the steering engine to put the rudder over.
La Dage, John H. Modern Ships 2nd Ed. Centerville, MD. Cornell Maritime Press, 1979.
Stokoe, E. A. Reed’s Naval Architecture for Marine Engineers 4th Ed. London: Thomas Reed, 1991.
Taggart, Robert Ship Design and Construction. New York: The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 1980.

Mark Chirnside 

Just a chain of thought… 
It has often been reported that the rudder of the ‘Olympic’ class was undersized, considering the size of the vessels. 
Maritime Historian John Maxtone-Graham cites that the rudder design was twice in question: when Titanic failed to clear the iceberg, and during 1934 when Olympic rammed the Nantucket lightship. 
However, to me this seems unfair: Titanic’s engines had at least been stopped at the time of the collision, if not been put astern, as some people think, and in any case the central propeller had surely slowed considerably, reducing the slipstream that ‘fed the rudder’s turning power.’ 

Olympic had been running at a reduced speed of ten knots when the Nantucket light vessel was spotted from the liner. Her helm was put hard over for a port turn, then the port engine was reversed to assist the turn, its starboard counterpart soon following. Captain Binks – a ‘splendid seaman’ by all accounts, who would ‘never take a risk’ unnecessarily, nearly sixty and due to retire at the end of December 1934 – estimated that by the time of the collision, Olympic’s speed had been as little as three knots; the engines had clearly been doing hard work, taking seven knots off the ship’s speed. It must be admitted that she had failed to miss the 133-foot light vessel (if my memory serves), so Olympic could not have turned more than one or two points. (One point is 11¼ degrees.) But the engines were working astern at the time, and although reversing the port engine first would have some turning effect, the slipstream that fed the rudder had certainly been severely reduced… 
There is a comparison to be made as well… I am no expert on the Imperator, but this 909-foot-long vessel had a rudder of ninety tons, that, judging from photographs and the 16½-foot propellers, was about fourteen feet at its widest point. It was not below the waterline, as on the ‘Lusitanias,’ but partly above water underneath the counter stern. (Imperator’s sisters’ rudders were entirely below water, if memory serves.) 

The ‘Olympic’ class’s rudder: ‘The total weight of the rudder is 101¼ tons, while its length over all is 78 feet eight inches and its width fifteen feet three inches. The diameter of the rudderstock is 23½ feet.’ 

Therefore – and I may be wrong on this – the rudder on the German liner was even smaller, yet the German vessel was larger. It would be interesting to know whether it was ever questioned that her rudder was undersized. 
During Titanic’s trials, it was reported that Carruthers was impressed at her turning circle: at 20½ knots, her turning circle diameter was 3,850 feet while the ship moved 2,100 feet. 

I would greatly appreciate and like to hear thoughts on the matter from the numerous experts out there…
Erik Wood 

You have delved into one of the many mysteries of maritime travel. It is my belief that width is more important then length when it comes to rudders. Mainly because if you turn the rudder hard over it is basically covering one entire propeller making the turn promptly. But that is just my thought on that. 

While Titanic did miss the berg (as in not hitting it broadside or head to) she still hit. Part of the reason I believe is due to the speed change. As you stated rudders need free water to make them effective and while they will work with the gliding power of the ship it is preferred to not use it that way. There is much other debate on that but the key to your question is what do you think the key use of the rudder is other then turning? 

The rudder needs to be small enough to be able to keep a steady course. The larger the rudder and the larger the ship the harder it will be to keep a steady course. When you turn the rudder slightly it will cover more of the screw space which will result in the ship turning further in one direction. You have more horsepower and bigger screws. 

If the ship has a smaller rudder but is bigger it is to aid in it's ability to keep a straight course in open seas. The smaller the ship the bigger the rudder but the wider the props means the ship will turn promptly with more power but when free water is taken away then the ship will slow. 

Forward momentum only works for so much. Twin screw ships can turn faster when they apply one of the engines to a stop or reverse mode while turning. As Mark pointed out above. 

These are just some ramblings that don't make a lot of sense but those of you seafares out there you know what I tried to say and hopefully you can say it in a way that is better understood. 
Parks Stephenson 

I'm at work at the moment and do not have access to my library at home. However, I have at least two period Naval Architecture manuals for use by Royal Navy and Merchant Marine officers that describe the style of rudder as used in the Olympic class as one of the most common in use at that time. If I remember correctly, most of the capital ships in the Royal Navy used the same style rudder. Later tonight, after the kids have been put to bed, I will go through those texts and extract the relevent discussion for you. If not tonight, then hopefully sometime this weekend. 

My impression after reading those sections is that there was nothing lacking in the design or size of Titanic's rudder, as viewed by expert opinion of that time. I think debate over the adequacy of the rudder stems from people trying to come up with new reasons why Titanic failed to avoid contact with the iceberg. Hindsight is not always 20/20, especially when one is not aware of the original reasons as to why that particular shape was selected for use. 
I read through the extracts on rudder shape of W.H. White’s Manual of Naval Architcture (London, 1900) and W.J. Lovett’s Class-Book of Naval Architecture (London, 1905) and compared those with the same section in Gillmer’s textbook on Naval Architecture (Annapolis, 1982) for any differences. Basically, here is what I found: 

Where rudders are concerned, bigger is not always better. It’s true that the larger the rudder, the more surface area there is to generate hydrodynamic torque, but larger rudders also generate more drag and require more pressure from the steering engines to turn them effectively. British naval architects during the first part of the century appear to have preferred the unbalanced rudder, where the blade of the rudder is entirely aft of the stock. This places the centroid of pressure (CP) relatively far out on the blade, increasing the pressure required by the steering engines to move the rudder. The balanced rudder was known (one that places the CP on the stock by having a portion of the blade ahead of the stock), but the drag that design induces was considered too excessive for merchantile use. Other factors affecting a rudder’s design will be familiar to aviators...tip vortices (similar to cavitation), induced drag and stall. Another consideration is protection against grounding damage. 

So what was the ideal design? To quote Lovett, "Even the highest authorities are at variance in respect to the best form of rudder." The White manual discusses four of the more common rudder shapes in use by the Royal Navy (one balanced, three unbalanced) and weighs the pros and cons of each, comparative to the hull to which they are normally attached. For the rudder shaped like Titanic’s, White mentions that it is "a form now commonly used in the steamships of the Royal Navy," and that one major advantage of its shape is that "by tapering the rudder, the power required to put the helm over is made considerably less...in screw steamers where the rudder is placed abaft the screws...then the form [of the rudder here under discussion] is to be preferred." The rudder shape accepted by the H&W architects therefore appears to be a compromise (as most rudder designs are) between weight and surface area, while taking advantage of the position of the centre screw and providing protection against potential grounding. 

So, was Titanic’s rudder big enough? White states that "for steamships...the extreme breadth of the rudder [is often] from one-fortieth to one-sixtieth of the length...in merchant ships much smaller rudders are used, and values as low as one-hundredth have been met with". Without running a model in a tow tank, I can only judge by dimension and compare to White’s stated guidelines. Titanic was 850’ long along the waterline, her rudder was about 15’ wide at the fullest part of the blade. That’s makes it about one-fiftyseventh of the length and therefore follows White’s rule of thumb. 

Would a Titanic II have a differently-shaped rudder? According to Popular Mechanics, it will be. However, the shape of an enlarged rudder not only requires more powerful steering engines, but also introduces the risk of stalling the rudder at extreme rudder angles. Again, going back to White, he cautions that (in a given example) a "broad rudder, with an area 37 per cent. greater than the narrow one, has therefore less turning effect by about 11 per cent." 

There’s no set standard for determining what the optimal shape for a rudder for Titanic ought to have been. Oftentimes, rudder shapes are determined by copying a shape that worked well for another ship of similar dimensions (I kid you not). But, given the methodology laid out in the contemporary Naval Architecture books, it appears that Titanic’s rudder was of adequate design to effectively maneuver the ship. Comparing that design to rules laid out in the more modern textbook, I see no glaring deficiencies, especially considering the capability of the three-crank steam-driven steering engines. 
Mark Chirnside 

Sorry for this short post, I’ve had trouble with my computer recently, damaging by authorial progresses with editing of the manuscript…The noise in this place doesn’t help. 

Then the rudder was not undersized, contrary to popular belief. One thing that I had not really thought about would be that a larger rudder could make it harder to steer a straight course. And that a broader rudder could actually reduce turning effect is also a serious design consideration. 

Your thoughts Eric that a rudder could cover nearly a whole propeller got me thinking about a photo I had seen of Aquitania; her rudder is hard over, covering three-quarters of her propeller. In fact, her two middle propellers are very close to each other. This certainly aids manoeuvring. Aquitania was partly built to Admiralty specifications like her two ‘near sisters.’ All vessels had semi-balanced rudders, possible because of their quadruple screws rather than the triple-screw design of the ‘Olympics.’ I hope this sounds coherent. A loud hammering is continuing from next door and so I am having trouble thinking straight. 

Then again, a thought about those vessels is that because they were propelled by turbines, these are slower to reverse and therefore they cannot do emergency stops as well. But, on the other hand, there are other advantages… 

Six Seconds to Disaster - the Death of Titanic

Titanic Research


For almost a hundred years, scientists, historians, navigators and enthusiastic amateurs have delved into the mysteries surrounding the loss of the White Star liner RMS Titanic.
Some have concentrated on the engineering aspects of the ship... her engines, boilers and auxiliary machinery. Some find fascination in the lives of the people who were on board her on that fateful maiden voyage to New York. Yet others are interested in the aesthetics... her basic design, furnishings and fittings etc. As a result of all the digging and delving, there is now a huge database covering every single aspect of Titanic. Without doubt, all this information will be put to good use, resulting in a plethora of books, pamphlets, articles and short stories. All of these, scheduled to see the light of day at or near April 14, 2012... the centenary of that dreadful moment when the great ship struck an iceberg in the cold North Atlantic Ocean and plunged over 2000 fathoms down to where she now lies.
I am not about to produce a book or try and emulate all those clever people who have spent years minutely examining the circumstances surrounding the disaster and writing books about it. By April, 2012, there will be enough Titanic books to build a staircase to the moon thus avoiding the huge expense of using a rocket!
I am a relatively latecomer to this arena so have a very narrow field of interest in the subject.
I first joined this excellent web-site a couple of years ago and was astounded at the wealth of information contained within its pages. I was a struck by the depth of knowledge by many of the contributors. However, one particular part of the story fascinated me.
As a professional mariner and Marine Accident Investigator, I was irresistibly drawn to the detailed information available concerning the few minutes before Titanic began her death throes.
Like most people, I had sat through the movies and television programmes covering the accident. While these were excellent in their construction and production, I could not but chuckle at the artistic licence taken by those who marketed such entertainment.
The most glaring error concerned the time interval between the moment the iceberg was sighted by the lookouts Fleet and Lee and the moment the ice penetrated Titanic’s hull below the water line.
In various film versions of the accident, the officers on Titanic’s bridge could have sent out for pizzas while waiting for the crunch to come. That is understandable; such films were made to entertain... not educate.
Almost every paper and article I read concerning the final moments before Titanic’s original course was altered, caused me to doubt what I was reading. With few exceptions, they promoted a 37 seconds period to turn the ship 2 points... 22½ degrees to the left of her original course...the period from the time of the three bell lookout warning to the moment of impact.
Such a conclusion in itself is unremarkable but when that same 37 second interval of time is used to support other theories then a closer examination is necessary. One such theory connects the use of a second emergency helm order to the positions of the Leyland Liner SS Californian and  that of the sinking Titanic.
The most important part of the period between the lookouts warning and the moment of impact is the part starting with the first helm order. Specifically, the moment the ship’s head started to turn left.  I firmly believe that the time taken for this to happen did not exceed 6 seconds. Consequently there was no time to give or execute a successful hard-a-port helm order. But let’s be fair and have a look at the evidence for the 37-second duration.
The 37-second time to turn before Titanic hit the iceberg was based on evidence given by Robert Hitchens, the Quartermaster who was steering Titanic at the time.
Hitchens informed the US Inquiry that the ship’s head had altered 2 points to the left between the time he was given the emergency turn order and the moment the ship hit the ice. Since Titanic was at the bottom of the ocean, there was only one way to find out just how long it would take for Titanic’s bow to turn 2 points; by simulating the turn using Titanic’s sister ship Olympic.
The simulation showed that a 2 point emergency turn would take 37 seconds to complete. And so the 37 seconds myth was born.
This test could not be an exact replica of the events that night. Never-the-less, it supported the theory thatFirst Officer Murdoch’s initial hard-a-starboard helm order was immediately followed  by an order to turn the ship the other way... hard-a-port.  Let us consider the evidence put forward to support a second helm order!
Quartermaster Frank Olliver told the US Inquiry that he distinctly heard First Officer Murdoch give a second helm order to turn the ship to the right
Able Seaman George Scarrott said that when he saw the offending iceberg, it was out from the starboard side of the ship and agreed that this indicated that she was swinging away from it thus the ship was turning rapidly to the right.
A passenger stated that the iceberg was about 50 feet off the starboard side of Titanic confirming Scarrott’s observation
Conversely, Quartermaster George Rowe who was located at the ship’s stern told his questioners that the offending iceberg was 8 to 10 feet off the ship’s side. But when it passed his position, it was so close, he could almost touch it. If Titanic ’passed’ the iceberg, she did not swing away from it, as would be the case with a hard-a-port helm order given in sufficient time.
So how to treat these bits of conflicting evidence?
The evidence of Joseph Scarrott and that of the passenger points to the stern of Titanic swinging away from the iceberg as her bow turned rapidly to the right. But did the bow act in this way as the result of a helm order? Was there time to give a second emergency helm order?
There is no reason to disbelieve the evidence of Frank Olliver relative to the second helm order however there is enough hard evidence to state that such an order was not part of the iceberg avoidance manoeuvre. This being so, Titanic did not turn to the northward. Subsequently, the moving ship seen on her port bow in the early hours of April 15 was not and could not have been the SS Californian. So how to go about proving it?
Let us first look at the time to turn 2 points to port and the experiment to prove it.
The experiment made on the Olympic was fatally flawed. Simply because it was made by conducting an emergency left turn at speed without considering any other contributing factors. On the other hand, theTitanic emergency turn was not simple but extremely complicated. Olympic did not have the added problem of a very big chunk of ice virtually pushing on her starboard bow. Additionally, although the Olympic’s bow took 37 seconds to turn 2 points, Titanic’s bow did it in about 6 seconds!
The Six Second Turn
Titanic was steering a course of 265 True. Barring accidents or emergencies, she would maintain that course until she got close to her destination. As we know, a dire emergency in the form of an iceberg caused her First Officer William Murdoch to shout to the helmsman to put the rudder hard over to the left... hard-a-starboard!
Quartermaster Hitchens, the man steering the ship, immediately obeyed this order and spun the steering wheel over to the left as far as it would go. He had barely got the wheel over to it’s maximum when the ship hit the iceberg.
By experiment, it takes 4 to 6 seconds to turn a ship’s steering wheel hard over from the mid-ship neutral position. It follows that Titanic had changed from her normal course for a mere 6 seconds when she hit the iceberg... not 37 seconds!
Now that we know that Titanic had changed direction for 6 seconds before she hit the iceberg, was there time for an effective reverse helm order to be given? The physical evidence of Able Seaman Scarrott and the passenger suggest that such an order was given. How else could the iceberg be 50 feet off the ship’s starboard side?
Let’s examine the possibilities.
The ship’s speed was close to 36 feet per second and we know from other evidence that she was damaged from just before the Forepeak bulkhead to a point just aft of the watertight bulkhead in boiler room 5... a distance of about 206 feet. This meant that the iceberg was in contact with Titanic for close to 6 seconds. Five (5) seconds after that the iceberg would be mid-ship. Ten, Seconds (10) later, it would pass very close to Quartermaster Rowe. So how was it that Scarrott and the passenger saw the berg clear of the ship’s side? I suggest the answer lies with the complicated physics involved when a very large ship travelling at speed, brushes against an immoveable object.
If we consider the iceberg in a pushing role...rather like a tug pushing on her bow then we might just have an answer to the mystery,
If, when a ship is turning, a tug pushes on the bow opposite to the direction of turn, the ship tends to turn back towards the tug doing the pushing. If the pushing effort is removed, the ship resumes her original direction of turn. It is all to do with an imaginary point on a ship called the ‘pivot point‘...the point about which a ship turns...much like the fulcrum of a sea-saw. Until recently, people thought that the pivot point was fairly fixed depending on whether the ship was going ahead or astern. Turns out, this is not the case. In fact, in certain circumstances, it actually changes position fairly quickly. The following rough sketch substituting Titanic’s iceberg for a tug might explain it better. The black arrows represent the sideways-pushing currents generated.
As can be seen, the pivot-point position changes quickly relative to the position of the iceberg. Initially, at B, the effort on both sides causes a resistance to a left turn and the pivot point moves aft. Eddy currents are set up on the port bow and the ship keeps moving straight.
At C, the bow moves into clear water. As more of it moves ahead of the pushing point, the bow swings to starboard and the stern moves to port.
At D, the contact with the ice is lost... no more relative push and the bow resumes it’s turn to port and the iceberg closes with the ship’s side. However, the beam of the ship reduces toward the stern so the ice passes clear... just!
The foregoing is one explanation as to why Titanic seemed to be turning under a hard right helm order given immediately after the initial hard-left one. But was there time to give such a second order? More important... was there time to observe the effects of it?
Earlier I explained that it took a maximum of six (6) seconds to apply full left or right rudder from the mid-ship position. Titanic’s rudder was hard left when she hit the iceberg. If, at that moment, Murdoch had ordered a hard right application, it would have taken about 3 seconds to return the wheel to mid-ship then six seconds to spin it hard over the other way. A total of nine seconds! In that time, Titanic would have moved on another 324 feet and the berg would be just over 300 feet from the stern. Five or six seconds later, it would pass Quarter Master Rowe. All of these estimates depend on Mr. Murdoch giving instant orders... without a second’s delay in his decision making. While this is possible, it is just not practical! Apart from the time factor, the rudder was acting in disturbed water and the ship speed was dropping rapidly. A second helm order would not have been effective enough.
There is no doubt that a second helm order was given. However, the physical evidence discounts the possibility of it having been given as part of an emergency iceberg avoidance manoeuvre. Consequently, it is highly unlikely that Titanic was deliberately turned toward the north.
As to that second helm order:
According to the transcript of the US Inquiry, Quartermaster Olliver stated that the second helm order was given when the iceberg was ‘away up stern'. According to the same transcript, part of his duties was to attend to ‘the lights in the standing compass’.
In fact, I believe that Olliver was indicating that the berg was away astern and that he was attending to the Standard Compass. The terminology used in the transcript is totally inaccurate!
There is a perfectly reasonable explanation for the second helm order.
When it is a captain’s intention to put people in lifeboats, he will stop his ship and point her in the most favourable direction before doing so. He will take into consideration the prevailing conditions of wind and weather. Captain Smith had ideal conditions; he could point his ship in any direction. However, he would not do this or consider putting people in boats until it was absolutely necessary to do so. There was only one other reason why... after he had taken the way off his ship... he would start his engines once more and at the same time give a helm order. That would be while he still had hopes of resuming the voyage. In that event, it would be while he waited for departmental reports, he would turn his ship back to her original heading and be ready to carry on. To do this, he would order a brief half-ahead on his engine and if Titanicwas pointing south; hard-a- port the helm. As soon as the ship‘s head started turning he would order stop engines and then steady the ship‘s head on her former course. At that time, the iceberg would be somewhere off the ship’s starboard quarter. This would be about ten minutes to quarter of an hour after impact. Shortly after that, Boxhall’s mystery ship was approaching Titanic from a westerly direction. It was not, nor could it have been the SS Californian.