A private banking dynasty has hidden a terrible secret since a family member escaped the Titanic.
On the new “WHY THE TITANIC SANK” revelation/ slander/pack of lies.
By Brion Boyles
Not really a writing “piece”, but a rant in response to a woman trying to hawk yet another “conspiracy” book. She posits that there was confusion over rudder orders, the ship turned into the berg, Captain Smith tried to make for Newfoundland after the collision, etc… and that all surviving crew kept their mouths shut in order to spare the White Star Line bad publicity…Those who are students of RMS TITANIC are about the only ones who’ll find this the least bit interesting…
There are a great many things wrong with the ridiculous tales told by the woman who claims her grandfather, 2nd Officer Lightoller, had some “secret conference” with the rest of TITANIC’s’ surviving officers and conspired to hide culpability in the collision. She claims that she has known since being 10 years old that Lightoller covered up the fact that the helm had been put over the wrong direction due to the use of obsolete (read: sailing or obverse) helm orders, which lead to the collision. She puts forth as well the silly notion that Captain Smith practically drove TITANIC under the waves because White Star Line President Ismay ordered him to continue steaming along after the collision. I say BS.
There were several Officers that survived…3rd Officer Pittman, 4rth Officer Boxhall, 5th Officer Lowe and 2nd Officer Lightoller. That’s HALF the Deck Officers, and a LOT of people to keep a secret to their graves. This is not to mention the helmsman, Hitchens, who would have been the “guilty party” and might go along with a cover-up, but what about the lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, who also survived? Surely, in order to spare their hides, the lookouts… who came under EXTREME SCRUTINY, PUBLIC OUTRAGE AND SENATE / BRITISH BOARD OF TRADE HEARINGS… would have sung like birds that the ship swung INTO the iceberg AFTER they reported it! That didn’t happen…
Although 1st Officer Murdoch was the Officer of the Watch on the bridge when it happened and was lost in the accident, there was also 6th Officer Moody at the side of the helmsman at the time of the collision and he certainly would have noticed the helm going over in the wrong direction. That was his main job as Junior Officer of the Watch…to back up the Officer of the Watch and ensure his orders were carried out properly. Even so, ALL Officers on the bridge of a ship (I am a retired Navy Quartermaster and Qualified Officer of the Deck) habitually check and confirm that the helm is correct when a steering order is given, and ESPECIALLY in imminent danger of collision!! A ship takes a lot of time to answer helm. You have plenty of time to check, and there are usually helm or rudder position indicators throughout the bridge and on the bridge wings. Even if they hadn’t checked as the helm went over, the slightest pause in the ship’s reaction time would have piqued Murdoch and Moody’s panicked curiosity and caused additional checks. Repeatedly…and then some.
A Quartermaster is no idiot. They usually have been serving on the bridge of various ships a heck of a lot longer than the Officers they answer to. They are usually savvy about everything that happens or IS happening on the bridge. Due to their working environment, they often are a little more intimate with the usually class-conscious Officer ranks. Hitchens would certainly have swung the helm correctly as ordered (“old style” orders or not…this was not the first time either he or Murdoch had to puzzle out a mere course change with standard rudder orders!). However, if Murdoch had given a questionable order to avoid an iceberg on the starboard bow and given the circumstances, Hitchens may have openly questioned it. Certainly 6th Officer Moody would have. Any error would more than likely be corrected in seconds…probably before the wheel had spun more than a turn or two.
Lookout Fleet reported later that the berg was slight on the starboard bow, maybe a point or so. That’s perhaps 11 and a half degrees, folks. ANY turn toward the iceberg, even given her poor handling and response, would have resulted in a bone-breaking head-on collision instead of the scraping, rumbling jar that barely wakened passengers. But, that didn’t happen…
As to the farcical proposition the President of the line Ismay ordered Captain Smith to continue making way, no seaman in his right mind would attempt to load, lower and launch boats full of skittish passengers with even 3 knots on. As the order to clear boats was given early, and to load them within 30-45 minutes of the collision, Titanic wouldn’t have traveled more than a couple of miles, even if she drifted. As it was, Murdoch had rung FULL ASTERN as he ordered the helm hard over and basically brought the ship to a skidding, sliding halt…like a baseball player sliding into home plate. This, incidentally, is what ACTUALLY caused the accident. By ordering his engines reversed, he lost all steering forces acting against the rudder. In fact, TITANIC’s center screw was turbine driven and couldn’t go in reverse if it wanted to…and this was the primary screw that gave TITANIC’s rudder any effect at all. A large vessel requires propeller wash…not “glider action”… to make the rudder effective. By ordering the engines reversed, he rendered the rudder useless. He would have been better off whacking the iceberg with it.
Bruce Ismay was also being ripped apart in the papers and at the Senate/Board of Trade hearings…indeed, for the remaining 30-odd years of his life… for being a coward by taking a seat in a lifeboat. He would have most certainly defended his honor and stated that he tried to save the ship or passengers by ordering Captain Smith to steam on. No such animal occurred, though.
There is some historical confusion/question about the Captain ordering “SLOW AHEAD” (about 5 knots max) after the crash, but I doubt it was for very long even if it were true. No Captain would order ANY speed on a damaged ship after a collision of ANY kind without a full damage report. To do so is insanity and contrary to the common sense of a 2-year-old. For the least reason of not knowing what is now going to fall off!
Lastly, the ship began blowing off steam almost immediately, and the fires were drawn to prevent explosions in the flooding boiler rooms and excess steam from the others. There was steam enough to keep the electric generators going for a while and that was IT, without relighting the fires. In fact, the engine room shut down the ventilation system to save steam. However, most of the fireman had abandoned the flooding boiler rooms, and the rest were soon ordered to go “up top” to man lifeboat crews. Boiler room #6 was flooded right off, #5 within minutes and the rest were shutting the dampers. To make headway, even at “DEAD SLOW” under these conditions, would have sucked the remaining steam out of the boilers in 20 minutes and given TITANIC a very few sea miles before going dead in the water and dark as a coffin within a half hour. Most of the surviving crewmen were, in fact, firemen…and would have reported the engine room asking for propulsion steam after the collision. That didn’t happen, either.
In summary, this “new revelation” is a lame attempt by a woman with a tenuous tie to history trying to make money selling her book to gullible “conspiracy” fools… More holes in it than the TITANIC. Let ’em rest in peace, for crying out loud. Freakin’ cannibal.