Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

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Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Mon May 02, 2011 11:36 am

What's left of an interesting thread from the old ATU site:

What's left? Not much. See below.


Last edited by eddie on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:50 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:49 am

^

Precautionary replication of the material above before the link to the old ATU cache expires:

*************************************************************************

Eddie wrote:

A Titanic mistake we can all learn from
New evidence suggests the tragedy could have been prevented. Why has it only now come to light?


Ian Jack The Guardian, Saturday 25 September 2010

Like many in my generation I first came across the Titanic's second officer, Charles Herbert Lightoller, in a cinema in the late 1950s. Kenneth More played him in A Night to Remember, which remains the most persuasive filmed account of the disaster, in part because certain qualities of British behaviour in 1912 – dignity, repression - were still accessible as memories to the Pinewood studios of 1958. As I remember, More spent quite a lot of time in a white seaman's jersey; he was the film's understated hero, calmly confident of his ability to take command of lifeboats and rescue the drowning. At the film's end, as the ship's most senior surviving officer, he reflects that he "will never be sure again, about anything".

The real Lightoller was only six years dead when the film was made. His widow, Sylvia, was one of many so-called consultants to the film and went to Pinewood to look at the model of the four-funnelled liner and the water tank that represented the north Atlantic. At its crucial moment, the narrative followed the path taken by the many films and hundreds of books before and since. The night of 14 April 1912, is exceptionally clear and calm.

The Titanic on its maiden voyage ploughs towards New York at 22.5 knots – about 25 mph, just short of its maximum speed. The end of the long, confident era of human progress lurks invisibly to the west. Hubris, nemesis. Suddenly, one of the two lookouts on the platform halfway up the mast rings three bells: an object ahead. Then he picks up his telephone and calls the bridge: "Iceberg right ahead." First Officer William Murdoch orders his helmsman to alter course and rings the engine-room telegraph to stop engines. All to no avail; within seconds – 37 seconds became generally accepted as the time between the first warning and the collision – the ice is ripping open the starboard side of the Titanic's hull.

These facts were first established at the public inquiries held in America and Britain within weeks of the sinking. Though questions attach to time and distance – one or two witnesses said the warning and the crash were almost instantaneous – nobody has seriously contested them since. Mrs Sylvia Lightoller, however, knew them to be an utter lie; her husband had confided in her, and her alone, the true version of events. Outside the family, she never broke this confidence, but this week her granddaughter, Louise (Lady) Patten, disclosed her grandfather's story in the course of her publicising her new novel, As Good As Gold. In terms of credibility, this was perhaps unfortunate. To embed an important factual revelation in the pages of fiction – and in a thriller at that – is to make the revelation ambiguous (is it fiction, too?) as well as to suggest opportunism (no, it's fact – see the media handout) on the part of the author and her publicists. Many novels have featured the Titanic – a good one was by Beryl Bainbridge – but none of them has attracted so much space in the broadsheets and time on the BBC with so little attention paid to the quality, good or otherwise, of the prose.

Never mind. The way Louise Patten came to believe grandfather Lightoller's story is entirely believable and she doesn't need to write novels – romancing isn't her way to earn money. Her husband is the former Tory minister Lord (John) Patten, she has a well-paid job in the City and sits on the board of Marks & Spencer. She grew up in a house above Lightoller's boatyard on the Thames at Richmond. Lightoller himself died in 1952, two years before she born, but his widow survived until 1970. Louise and her maternal grandmother grew to be very close: they shared the same house, and she heard her grandmother retell Lightoller's compelling story, often clarified by way of home-drawn diagrams and timetables, at regular intervals until she was 16.

The Titanic, of course, is barnacled by stories and wrapped in the bright, waving seaweed of myths. Lightoller's can be taken as true, I think, because he was so keen to keep it secret and because it doesn't particularly add to his reputation as a brave man (which he certainly was) who as a devout Christian Scientist feared God and worshipped the Truth. He had nothing to gain by inventing it for his wife's consumption. And though it hinges on a simple mistake, the maritime mechanics behind the mistake can be hard to grasp without visual aids, such as a model yacht with a moveable tiller-rudder combination. I sat with one last night. You push the tiller right, the rudder swings left, and if the boat were in a pond it would obey the rudder and veer left too. Sailing ships steered on this principle. The command "hard a-starboard" meant the wheel had to be turned to the left and not, as the instruction would suggest, to the right. Steamships, on the other hand, steered like cars. You moved the wheel to the right and the ship took the same direction.

Not all steamships followed these rules, however. On the north Atlantic, liners persisted with "tiller rules", meaning that the helmsman moved the wheel in the opposite direction to the command. The practice was abolished in 1928, but in 1912 it was thought to be safer because so many seamen (Lightoller, for instance) had trained in sail.

By Lightoller's account, First Officer Murdoch spotted the iceberg when it was two miles away – it was an exceptionally clear night, after all – and surprised his helmsman with a barked order to change course. Quartermaster Robert Hitchins, a steam man, momentarily forget the counter-intuitive nature of tiller rules and sent the ship towards the berg. By the time the course was corrected, valuable minutes had been lost and the later cry, "Iceberg right ahead", came as no surprise to those on the bridge. Lightoller, resting in his cabin, wasn't among them but in the two hours and 40 minutes it took the ship to sink he learned what had happened from his three senior officers, including Murdoch.

Neither they nor the young sixth officer, James Moody, who was also on the bridge at the time, survived. The living witnesses were confined to the wretched Hitchins and the two lookouts. To save whatever was left of the White Star Line's reputation, and to spare it from bankruptcy, a story was confected as the survivors, including the line's desperate chairman, Bruce Ismay, sailed to New York on board the Carpathia. The iceberg hadn't been seen because the night was too calm; no white waves broke around its base. Lightoller, a loyal company man, went along with this foreshortened version of history, in which the iceberg loomed out of the night with only 37 seconds' warning.

The collision, then, had not been inevitable and, just possibly, 1,500 people need not have died. It's as if another figure from my Kenneth More years, Buddy Holly, had been found alive and well in Sheffield. Do we think less of Lightoller because he kept quiet? Surely not; his discretion belongs to another age. But the last line given to him in the film was portentous: we should never be sure again, about anything.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:50 am



Charles Herbert Lightoller.

My lips are sealed.

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:52 am



Original movie poster.


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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:53 am

Cook Pass Babtridge wrote:

007, Sean Connery, is in that movie.

I like the Cameron movie better. Yeah, you read correctly.

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:54 am

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okgLvnAh8Gg
A Night to Remember- Trailer.

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:55 am

Eddie wrote:

The performance of helmsman Robert Hitchins left something to be desired.

Rather like an actor confusing "Stage Right" with "Stage Left".


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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:56 am

Nash wrote:

Quote:
but this week her granddaughter, Louise (Lady) Patten, disclosed her grandfather's story in the course of her publicising her new novel


That says it all.

I am a bit of a Titanic fanatic. One of my birthday presents was a book of the original enquiry into the sinking, I will read with interest what is said about Lightoller.

I was suprised to learn some time ago that the lookouts relied on their own eyesight to spot bergs as they had forgotten their binoculars!!


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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:58 am

Eddie wrote:

Eddie wrote:
The way Louise Patten came to believe grandfather Lightoller's story is entirely believable and she doesn't need to write novels – romancing isn't her way to earn money. Her husband is the former Tory minister Lord (John) Patten, she has a well-paid job in the City and sits on the board of Marks & Spencer. She grew up in a house above Lightoller's boatyard on the Thames at Richmond. Lightoller himself died in 1952, two years before she born, but his widow survived until 1970. Louise and her maternal grandmother grew to be very close: they shared the same house, and she heard her grandmother retell Lightoller's compelling story, often clarified by way of home-drawn diagrams and timetables, at regular intervals until she was 16.

...Lightoller's (story) can be taken as true, I think, because he was so keen to keep it secret and because it doesn't particularly add to his reputation as a brave man (which he certainly was) who as a devout Christian Scientist feared God and worshipped the Truth. He had nothing to gain by inventing it for his wife's consumption.


^

All this seems to lend credibility to the source of the Lightholler 'port-starboard' confusion story.


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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 6:58 am

Nash wrote:

^^

Yes, but I would argue that if he was so God fearing and always told the truth, he would have admitted his error to the public and the enquiry not just to wifey!!

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue May 31, 2011 7:00 am

Eddie wrote:

^ Good point.

But wifey would have been very annoyed if he'd told the truth, destroyed the reputation of the company and put himself and the rest of the workforce on the beach.

The lesser of two weevils, perhaps?

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue Jan 17, 2012 7:53 am

I'm getting fed up with the tabloid comparisons of the recent Italian cruise ship disaster with the sinking of the Titanic. Not much of a comparison at all. The Titanic tragedy was on an infinitely larger scale, in different waters etc etc

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Tue Jan 17, 2012 8:33 am

Italy cruise disaster toll reaches 7, captain grilled
By Dario Thuburn | AFP


Graphic showing the route taken by the ill-fated cruise liner, the Costa Concordia. Seven bodies have so far been found in the wreck of the Costa Concordia, which occurred off the coast of the picturesque island of Giglio late on Friday the 13th


Night view of the cruise liner Costa Concordia. Emergency workers searched Tuesday for 28 people missing from an Italian cruise disaster that killed 7 as the ship's captain faced an interrogation on accusations that he veered wildly off course

Rescuers found a body in the wreck of the Costa Concordia early Tuesday, bringing to seven the death toll after the liner ran aground off the coast of Italy, daily La Stampa said on its website as the captain faced interrogation.

The body had not yet been recovered, the report said, quoting rescuers. A further 28 people remained missing.

Rescuers continued Tuesday to comb the partly submerged wreckage of the giant vessel, a day after the head of the Italian coastguard, Marco Brusco, said there was "a glimmer of hope" for finding more survivors.

Speaking before the latest body was found, Brusco said four crew members and 25 tourists including six Italians remained unaccounted for.

A German official said 10 Germans were still missing while two French couples and two US nationals were among those unaccounted for.

Six bodies had earlier been found in the Costa Concordia, which came to grief off the picturesque island of Giglio in Tuscany late on Friday.

Three victims -- two French passengers and one Peruvian crew member -- drowned after jumping into the chilly Mediterranean waters to escape.

Rodolfo Raiteri, head of the coastguard service's diving team, told AFP on the shore: "The conditions inside are disastrous. It's very difficult. The corridors are cluttered and it's hard for the divers to swim through."

Choppy seas forced a temporary evacuation of the stricken 17-deck cruise ship for several hours on Monday after it slipped on a rocky shelf under the sea, sparking fears that the hulk could sink entirely.

Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli warned that the stricken vessel, which hit submerged rocks and keeled over off the island holiday spot, was an "ecological timebomb" in the pristine waters of a marine nature reserve.

The head of the company that owns the vessel said it had hit a rock as a result of an "inexplicable" error by the captain, Francesco Schettino, who was arrested on Saturday along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.

"He carried out a manoeuvre which had not been approved by us and we disassociate ourselves from such behaviour," said Pier Luigi Foschi, the boss of Costa Crociere, Europe's largest cruise operator.

Italian prosecutors accuse Schettino and Ambrosio of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued.

A transcript of a conversation between Schettino and a port official was released Monday showing that the captain refused to return to the ship.

"You must tell us how many people, children, women and passengers are there and the exact number of each category," the official tells Schettino, according to the transcript of the conversation on one of the ship's "black boxes".

"What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue?" the official says.

The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it ran aground shortly after starting a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on its way to Marseille in France and Barcelona in Spain, just as many passengers were having dinner.

Island residents have already said the ship was sailing far too close to Giglio and had hit a reef known as the School Rocks, well known to inhabitants.

The Corriere della Sera reported Monday that the captain had passed close to the island's rocky shores to please the head waiter who comes from Giglio.

It also quoted witnesses as claiming the waiter had warned Schettino just before the accident happened: "Careful, we are extremely close to the shore."

Crews on Monday put down anti-spill booms as fears of a leak of the ship's 2,380 tons of fuel rose and local officials called for strict curbs in the future on shipping routes in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

A Dutch company specialising in salvage operations, Smit, was to begin pumping out the fuel this week. Officials said the ship itself could then be taken off Giglio in an unprecedented operation using massive floating devices.

Passengers meanwhile described confusion on board as the lights went out and how they were at first told it was just an electrical fault -- before the ship lurched sharply on to its side and panic set in.

Rose Metcalf, a 23-year-old crew member, wiped away tears as she told how she wrote a note to her mother in case she did not survive.

"There was absolute panic. It was just terrifying, I was just trying to keep people calm. People were white, people were crying, screaming," she told BBC television on her return to England.

Ennio Aquilino, a fire brigade chief who was one of the first on the scene and still bore the scars from a fall during the rescue operation as he saved a French woman, said it had been "an apocalyptic scene."

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:14 pm

Titanic sank 100 years ago today:
***************************************************************************************************************

Modern Toss

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Re: Titanic's helmsman confused port and starboard

Post  eddie on Sun Apr 15, 2012 9:34 am

Titanic Memorial At Sinking Site 100 Years On

Sky News


Titanic Memorial At Sinking Site 100 Years On

Passengers on a Titanic memorial cruise have been marking the 100th anniversary of the disaster with a ceremony at the site of the sinking.

Rev Huw Mosford held a short service on the MS Balmoral to remember the 1,512 people killed, after the vessel reached the fateful spot in the Atlantic overnight.

Deckboys then threw wreaths into the water from three sections of the cruise ship, which has been retracing the route of the ill-fated liner.

The 1,309 passengers of the ship - including descendants of the victims - heard the captain make an announcement before an emotional minute's silence was held for the victims of the accident.

It was 2.20am on April 15, 1912, when the liner sank on its maiden voyage. It was sailing from Southampton to New York when it collided with an iceberg 375 miles off Newfoundland. Of the 2,228 passengers on board, only 706 survived.

As well as a service in Southampton, the 100th anniversary is also being marked in Northern Ireland and in the Irish Republic, where many of the victims were from.

At Lahardane, or Addergoole, in County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, villagers organised a church bell ringing overnight.

The tiny parish suffered the greatest proportionate loss - 11 residents died in the maritime disaster.

A century later, they are still mourning their dead.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny was due to attend a ceremony in Lahardane's newly-constructed Titanic memorial park.

The largest commemoration is taking place on the other side of the Irish border.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend a service of remembrance at Belfast City Hall.

Lord Mayor, Niall O Donnghaile, will unveil a new section of the city's long-established Titanic memorial garden. It includes the first monument in the world to list all 1,522 victims.

The city recently opened a new £97m Titanic visitor attraction - the largest in the world.

The ship was built in and launched from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

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