The Ship of Dreams
prior to the collision the engineers would have been following their usual
routine watch keeping tasks of supervising the boiler rooms and tending
the main engines and turbine. The ship was proceeding at its normal full
speed and in the engine/boiler rooms those on watch would have had no reason
to believe that anything untoward was likely to happen. It is unlikely
that any engineer would have been at the engine control platform when the
telegraph rang to request an engine stop and then reversal thus there would
have been a time delay before the engine controls could have been moved
to stop and reverse. How long that delay was must be pure speculation but
it would probably not have been longer than 30 seconds. A single engineer
could have dealt with both engines within 10 seconds. Unfortunately no
engineer survived and the inquiry evidence from the engine room hands who
did is confused to say the least.
Beauchamp (boiler room No 6) mentioned that the telegraph (obviously the
boiler room telegraph) rang stop after a thunderous shock: this telegraph
would have been actuated by the engineer at the engine control after he
had responded to the bridge telegraph and adjusted the engine condition.
Dillon was in the engine room and stated that the telegraph rang two seconds
before he felt a shock. He said that 1.5 minutes after the shock the engines
stopped and 30 seconds later went slow astern.
Ranger was in the electrical workshop above the turbine room and 2 minutes
after feeling a shock he noticed that the turbine was stopped.
Scott felt the shock and afterwards heard the engine telegraphs ring; he noticed
"stop" on the main engine telegraphs.
suggested at the inquiry that Murdoch on the bridge rang the engine room
telegraphs to "Full astern" for both engines soon after the iceberg was
sighted and by all accounts it took between 30 and 40 seconds from that
time until impact. It is unlikely, therefore, that the engines were going
full astern before the impact; the iceberg was too close for the engines
to have any influence upon the collision.
& Hass (Triumph & Tragedy page 45) indicate that during trials
Titanic came to a stop from 20.5 knots in less than half a mile from the
engines being reversed. Such a trial would have been conducted with engineers
at the engine controls and awaiting the telegraph orders, in the Atlantic
the situation was different. Presumably in this case the engine control
was moved from full ahead to full astern without an intermediate stop,
and the exhaust steam was already being directed to the condenser rather
than the turbine.
cylinder was fitted to the reversing system and could have reversed the
engine linkages in about 10 seconds; it would not have been necessary to
shut the engine steam supply valve in order to reverse the engine but it
would have been necessary to move the changeover valve and direct reciprocating
engine exhaust steam from the turbine to the condensers. At normal sea
conditions the turbine would have been running and it would have provided
forward power until the steam was redirected to the condenser, even when
the reciprocating engines were running astern.
doubt the engines did stop but there was insufficient time for them to
have any effect before the collision. The engines responded quickly to
the controls as can be seen from the trials information but they were still
going ahead at the time of impact as it took time for the engineers to
reach the controls and then further time for the engines to react. Over
the years it has become an accepted fact that Murdoch rang "Stop: full
astern" on the engine room telegraphs for each engine but there is no confirmation
of this. At the British Inquiry the helmsman, Robert Hitchens, stated that
he did not know what orders were telegraphed to the engine room (answer
to question 989). The Attorney General offered the suggestion "I think
your Lordships will hear that it was "Stop: full speed astern" (990). In
subsequent evidence Boxall stated that he noticed that both telegraphs
indicated "Full speed astern" (15350) and the Attorney General was obviously
making reference to this evidence which he expected to be given later in
the inquiry. In actual fact Boxall was not on the bridge when the telegraph
was rung and so he is only stating what he observed when returning to the
bridge after the impact. He did not know the sequence of events in terms
of telegraph orders; if there was an intermediate "Stop" request prior
to going full astern the duration of that is unknown. In an emergency it
would be normal practice to ring the telegraph directly to full astern
without the intermediate engine stop request and that may well be what
Murdoch did. The evidence of Scott and Dillon would suggest that there
was an intermediate stop request but the evidence of all involved on the
bridge and in the engine room is rather confused and engine room survivors
do not recall any "Full astern" request on the telegraph. Going to an intermediate
stop position prior to going "Full astern" would not necessarily have made
any difference, the ship was going to hit the iceberg because it could
neither turn quickly enough to avoid it nor stop in time to prevent a collision.
Even if the engines could have been brought to a dead stop the moment the
engineer touched the control there was nothing that the engineers could
have done to prevent the collision. There must be doubt about a "Full astern"
request both in actuality and in timing if there was one. Even if there
was an immediate request for "Full astern" it will not have made any difference
to the outcome and Titanic could not have avoided the iceberg. The time
interval between the telegraph request and the impact was much too short
for any action to be taken by the engineers, the iceberg was not noticed
Titanic : Engineers Page!
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