what if Capt. Smith kept the Titanic moving?

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Would it create more buoyancy in the bow if the Captian kept the ship moving instead of ordering a full stop? Buying them more time to:

Move closer to the Californian? Find an ice berg to evacuate? Move toward warmer water?

If in fact, the iceberg only created small holes in the hull, it doesn't seem to me that the ship would flood much faster if it was moving than if it were standing still. And to utilize every option available, would it have been advantageous to move all the passengers to the stern, to raise the bow?

The Captain did nothing, he gave up without a fight. Now, Captain Kirk on the other hand.....

-- Ron (bianchi@iserv.net), January 21, 1998


There might have been some buoyancy created by moving Titanic, but nowhere near enough to make a difference. Moving the passengers to the stern would not have made a difference.

Captain Smith seemed stunned and ineffectual, yes, but nothing could have delayed the foundering. -e-

-- Thomas M. Terashima (tom@nucleus.com), January 23, 1998.

The captain did not keep the ship moving as Thomas Andrews only gave the ship one hour (two at most) to stay afloat. So the captain knew it would not reach anywhere in time. And he had not been told of the Californians lights at this time.

-- Jennifer Payne (service@pc2000.com.au), January 22, 1998.

Captain Smith stopped the ship so that the damage could be assessed. After conferring with Thomas Andrews and his officers, it was apparent that the ship would have to be evacuated. Meanwhile, the ship's engineers had already begun venting large quantities of steam, while the stokers began shutting down the boilers, since the boiler rooms were beginning to flood.

It wasn't until after the loading of the lifeboats had begun that the lights of the ship to the Northwest (**probably** the Californian) were sighted. By that time, too many boilers had already been shut down, and too much steam vented, to re-start the engines again. Besides, you wouldn't want to launch lifeboats from a moving ship.

Some have suggested that once the ship's ultimate fate became obvious, the watertight doors should have been reopened to allow the ship to settle on an even keel, the thought being that it would have taken longer to sink in this way. But this goes against everything a shipmaster is taught. Thomas Andrews knew the ship better than anyone, and there's no evidence that he ever suggested, or even considered, such a strategy. In addition, allowing the engine rooms to flood would have meant cutting off electrical power for the ship's lights, wireless, and pumps.


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), January 22, 1998.

One of the prime concerns of the officers on the ship was, as Kip has said, to keep the lights burning as long as possible and to keep power to the wireless as long as possible. This, after all, was their only hope: That someone would see them, or someone would hear them. The Californian saw them (about 10 miles away) and did nothing. Several other ships heard them(including her own sister ship Olympic) but were too far away. The Carpathia, at 58 miles, was the closest and came at full speed risking her own well being dodging the ice that had doomed Titanic. One note: After the survivors were rescued by the Carpathia, a radio message was received asking if the Carpathia wanted to transfer the survivors to Olympic (almost an identical ship to Titanic) and the answer was no. This was probably the most prudent decision made that night! Can you imagine even seeing this sister ship after going through what they had just gone through?

-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), January 23, 1998.

I heard some where that if they hadn't tried to put the ship in reverse, they would have just turned away from the 'berg.. also have heard that even hitting the iceberg, had they kept going, they would have reached the Carpathia, or whatever the other ship was much sooner... anyone know anthting about this?

-- Cara Sammons (sammons@mint.net), January 27, 1998.

What about steaming towards the lights IN REVERSE? I think it may have slowed the flooding to the bow and at least gotten them within sight distance of what some say was the Californian. I think those morons on the deck of the other ship might have noticed the Titanic was sinking if it were closer. It's moot now, but I've been worrying about this stuff for about 35 years. What if, what if, what if. That ship's number was up. Everything that could have gone wrong did. Fate and all that.

-- Bonney Prince (hauptman@sover.net), January 27, 1998.

As to Cara's question, it's been said that if they'd hit the iceberg head-on they might not have sunk so quickly. Look at the bow of the Stockholm, the ship that hit the Andrea Doria in the 1950's. The thing was crunched like an accordian...but it didn't sink. The Andrea Doria did.

-- Bonney Prince (hauptman@sover.net), January 27, 1998.

To Cara: Holes are holes and water seeks it's lowest point so I do not think any of that would have helped. The curse of the Californian is that they did not have a 24 hour radio watch. I can understand somewhat the reactions to their visual observations of the Titanic and her position in the water. What I can not understand is their reaction to the flares! A vessel, to this day, does not fire off flares for no reason and I don't care what color they were I would make every attempt to contact that ship! They did none of that and I just have a real hard time with that whole scenario. It was so unnecessary and so negligent that it makes me sick. They all just said she was steaming away now and went back to bed when, in fact, she had just sunk. Absolutely unbelievable!


-- Peter Nivling (pcnivling@capecod.net), January 27, 1998.

Note to Cara:

I respectfully disagree with your comment that "that ship's number was up. Everything that could have gone wrong did. Fate and all that." I don't think fate had anything to do with ignoring the ice warnings. It is true that not all the warnings received on the 14th were delivered to the bridge, but those that were delivered were all but ignored. The only proactive steps taken that night were to alter the ship's course about 10 miles south of the normal shipping lane, and to close a foredeck hatch to keep the glare from bothering the crew on the bridge and in the crow's nest.

The officers ***knew*** they were heading into a region of ice; they ***knew*** that there would be no moon that night; they ***knew*** the ocean was flat calm; they even remarked about how those conditions would make icebergs more difficult to spot, yet they went charging ahead at full speed, in a new ship that had never had a proper shakedown.

"Fate" to me implies forces or conditions over which one has no control, but I don't think that applies to the Titanic. What happened on April 14, 1912 was not the result of uncontrollable forces, but of overconfidence and complacency, or as Walter Lord termed it, "arrogant casualness."


-- Kip Henry (kip-henry@ouhsc.edu), January 28, 1998.

Got to give you that one, Kip...bad choice of words. Arrogant casualness is more accurate. Yet, sometimes things happen for a reason and charging full speed ahead into an ice field was only the beginning of a series of events. Sometimes we contribute to our own fate.

-- Bonney Prince (hauptman@sover.net), January 28, 1998.

I have studied this problem extensively, and I have come up with an answer for this question. Captain Smith was at that time the only person to have driven a ship that big, and he knew how well she could turn ( Took the Olympic on her maiden voyage ). Titanic was about 120 feet longer then her nearest rival, so nobody was really used to a huge ship like that. 880 feet or so may not seem like a lot, but when you look behind you and see about 2.5 city blocks behind you, you realize how big it is. The best solution to have kept the titanic from sinking would have been to hit the iceberg dead-on. But Mr. Murdoch, who was at the bridge, and never been in command of a ship, thought that the ship could turn faster then what she could. If the ship had gone dead ahead, there was no way that the iceberg could penetrate 4 bulkheads because the iceberg is not like a brick wall, it will give. It would have been useless for the ship to continue onward with the boilers lit, because if the 30 degree water hit the boilers, there would have been a huge explosion, and the ship would have sunk within minutes. They made the best possible decision at that time to stop her and put the boilers out.

-- Lance Nerland (nerlandl@hotmail.com), February 10, 1998.

this topic looks to be pretty dormant... but here is a "what if?" that has long bothered me: what if the Titanic used it's steam and remaining time to return to the only thing they knew of that was afloat and might have been able to hold some of the passengers - the iceberg itself. There was even a picture taken in the day(s) shortly after the Titanic went down of the suspected iceberg showing it to have a distinct smudge/possible paint-scrape from the Titanic. In the picture the iceberg looks rather flat, mesa-like. Certainly, one's chances at survival would have been better huddled on top of this with fellow survivors than in the 30 deg water.

-- chuck (chucklesinri@yahoo.com), October 06, 2003.

actuialy if they were to go full speed ahead they would turn much quicker then they would ketch a small part of the iceburg. when they stopped the boat the drifted cloaser and cloaser to the iceburg. AS they got near the iceburg htey wanted to go in revurse but that made them turn the boat into the burg. Its like a car you turn right it goes left so when they went in revurse the went left and caught the burg

-- john jacob pacanti (swimrox91@aol.com), May 03, 2004.

I have often wondered if they could have unloaded the passengers (or remaining passengers) on the iceburg itself. Good idea; but don't know if that is possible. Another idea..... What if they had used the steam released to sound the steam whistle? It may have been possible that over a flat calm sea the sound would have carried to the nearby vessel that WOULD NOT RESPOND to their OBVIOUS distress rockets. Maybe the other vessel was AFRAID to try to make it through what was no doubt an 'ice field' that the Titanic boldly sailed full speed into, and from there to eternity. I also think maybe to try to steam to the 'mystery vessel' would have been a thought. But as mentioned earlier steam had already been vented by the time it was seen. I personally think to read the portion in regards to the Britannic, in the book "Lost Liners" will give some insight to the proposition of 'continuing to steam ahead' with a shattered hull. See in "Lost Liners" what happened when they continued to steam the Britannic once the hull was breached. Enjoyed the chat, Dean

-- Dean Cauldwell (charliesangelsman@hotmail.com), July 21, 2004.

First Capt Smith almost ran into two ships befor he left on the trip to N.Y.But the fact is if the Titanic would have hit the ice burg head on it would not have sank at all.True there would have been injuries maybe a few deaths but if he would have kept it in reverse it would not have sank if he would have hit it head on.Going at top speed and being warned of ice burgs was not the smartest thing he did.The only way that the titanic could sink was just the way it did.By ripping open the side all carpartments below could fill with water.If hit head on that would not have happened.Even though Capt Smith was british white star line was owned my the United States.It was Capt Smiths fault but also the ships company for not putting the proper amount of life boats on the ship.The main reason for this was the fewer the life boats the more attractive the ship was top side.Was it the Capts. fault yes...was it white star lines fault Yes..was it the ship builders design fault yes...if the lower capartments had been built higher to seal one off from the other this may not have happened either.

-- Grey ghost (Ramstine@centurytel.net), August 19, 2004.

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