The night of the iceberg..   Leave a comment

On this day, 100 years ago, history was in the making.  Titanic has nearly reached her final stop, and the events of this iconic day have been reported and researched over the years.  Typed words tend to lack emotion, so I would like to take this opportunity to say that the tragedy about to unfold affects me in a profound way, and I feel so sorry for those that suffered and lost on this night to remember.

9:00 am: The Caronia sends the Titanic a message warning them of ice and icebergs and relays exact coordinates.

10:30 am: Church is help in the 1st class dining area.

11:40 am: The Dutch ship Noordam sends a message to Titanic reading “much ice” in nearly the same coordinates the Caronia reported.

12:00 pm: Titanic’s officers conduct a meeting on the bridge to calculate their position and determine how far they have travelled using sextants.  They have travelled 546 miles since noon the previous day.

1:42 pm: The Baltic reports “large quantities of field ice” along with the coordinates, while they are about 250 miles ahead of the Titanic on their crossing.  This message is later handed to J. Bruce Ismay by Captain Smith, who puts the message in his pocket.

1:45 pm: The German liner Amerika reports “large iceberg” and its exact coordinates of 41° 27’ N, 50° 8’W. This message would never arrive on the bridge because the Marconi radio operators were busy sending messages from the passengers.

5:00 pm: Over the next few hours, the air temperature drops to around 33° F.

5:50 pm: Captain Smith alters the ship’s course a few degrees, turning slightly south and west of the projected course.  This may have been in response to the numerous ice / iceberg warnings he received.

6:00 pm: Chief Officer Wilde is relieved of his post on the bridge, taken over by Second Officer Lightoller.

7:15 pm: The forward forecastle hatch is ordered to be closed by First Officer Murdoch.  He was concerned that the glow from inside would hinder the watch from the crow’s nest above. The binoculars they would normally use are locked inside a cabinet that no one has a key for.

7:30 pm: The Californian sends 3 messages about large icebergs along with their coordinates of 42° 3’N 49° 9’ W. The message was delivered to the bridge, but it is unknown if Captain Smith was informed because he was attending a dinner party at the time.  The ice field is now only 50 miles ahead of the Titanic.

8:40 pm: An order is given by Second Officer Lightoller to watch over the fresh water supply, as the seawater is now hovering just above freezing.

8:55 pm: Captain Smith leaves his dinner party and reports to the bridge.  He discusses how calm and clear the weather is with Second Officer Lightoller.  They also discuss the visibility of icebergs at night.

9:20 pm: Captain Smith retires to his room, leaving behind an order to wake him “if it becomes at all doubtful…”

9:30 pm: Second Officer Lightoller sends a message to the lookouts in the crow’s nest to watch carefully for icebergs until morning.

9:40 pm: The Mesaba sends out a heavy ice pack and iceberg warning, reporting the location at latitude 42° N to 41° 25’ N longitude 49° W to 50° 30’ W, but these messages are once again overlooked. Combining all the warnings that Titanic received that night, the ice field is nearly 80 miles long and directly in their path.

10:00 pm: Second Officer Lightoller is relieved by First Officer Murdoch and the lookouts in the crow’s nest are relieved by Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee. At this time the temperature is 32° F the sky is cloudless and the air is clear.

10:30 pm: The sea water temperature drops to a freezing 31° F.

10:55 pm: 10 – 20 miles north of the Titanic, the Californian is stopped in the ice field and sends out warnings to all ships in the area, including Titanic.  When the Californian’s wireless operator calls Titanic, his ice warning is interrupted by the comment, “Keep out! Shut up! You are jamming my signal. I’m working Cape Race.” The operator aboard the Californian listens to Titanic’s wireless traffic for a bit, and then turns his radio off at 11:30 pm, and goes to bed.  This is standard procedure.

11:30 pm: The lookouts in the crow’s nest, Fleet and Lee, see a haze appearing directly in the path of Titanic.

11:40 pm: Lookouts in the crow’s nest see an iceberg right ahead, 500 yards away.  It is huge, about 60 feet above the water line.  Titanic is traveling at 20.5 knots at the time.  The lookouts ring the warning bell with three rings and call down to the bridge.  They report, “Iceberg right ahead!”  Sixth Officer Moody is on bridge and acknowledges the warning and relays the information to First Officer Murdoch who calls for “Hard a starboard” to the helmsmen, and orders the engines to stop, and then “full astern”.  Murdoch activates the water tight doors. After several seconds, the ship beings to turn to port, but they strike the iceberg on the starboard bow. The impact was felt by most of the crew in the forward area of the ship, but most of the passengers don’t notice.  37 seconds have elapsed from the sighting of the iceberg, to the collision.

11:50 pm: Within 10 minutes, the water is already 14 feet above the keel, and forward.  The first five compartments (with the watertight bulkheads) begin to take on water.  Boiler room #6 is already flooded to the 8 foot mark.

12:00 am: The mail room begins to take on water, 24 feet above the keel, enough for the bags of mail to float. Captain Smith, who is now on the bridge, receives reports of water pouring into number 1, 2, and 3 holds, and boiler room #6.  He surveys the damaged areas with Thomas Andrews, one of the ship’s architects. Andrews calculates that the ship can stay afloat for only 1 to 2 – 1/2 hours.  This is because more than 4 holds are breached, and the water will continue to spill over into the next compartment until all the compartments are flooded. This is the moment in which the gravity of the situation hit the men and they were aware of the tragedy that awaits the ill-fated ship. The bow of the ship begins to sink. Captain Smith sends out the message “CQD” via wireless, which is the distress call of the time (SOS wasn’t used until much later.) Titanic’s estimated coordinates at this time are 41° 46’ N, 50° 14’W. The boilers shut down, and the relief pipes begin to blow off steam, which is quite loud.

While it is uncertain whether this is the exact iceberg the Titanic struck, the red paint marks make it fairly likely

This could be the iceberg the Titanic struck


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