Saturday, April 14, 2012

100 Years Ago: April 14, 1912 11:20 PM

Lookout Fredric Fleet rings Titanic’s bell three times and calls the bridge on the telephone from the crows nest.  His report: “Iceberg right ahead!”

Second Officer Lightoller orders: “Helm!  Hard to port!  All back full!”

Titanic has three huge bronze propellers.  The port and starboard screws, as they are called, are powered by enormous steam piston engines.  The center screw is powered by a new fangled steam turbine that uses waste steam from the piston engines.  But only when they are running forward.  With both main engines running all back full the center engine stops and so does the screw it drives.  It’s right in front of the rudder.  The stopped center screw causes turbulence and the too small rudder stalls.

The ship’s momentum carries it forward even against the straining engines that are trying to slow it down.

Titanic eventually starts to turn – but it’s too late.

Many survivors reported that the impact was barely felt.  The ship sideswiped the iceberg possibly only buckling a few hull plates and popping some rivets.

At 11:20 PM Titanic is mortally wounded.

The damage has gone beyond the first few watertight compartments.  The ship that was called unsinkable in the newspapers of the day is going to sink.  And nothing can be done now to stop it.


CORRECTION: I misremembered.  It was twenty minutes later at 11:40 PM

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