CLASH OF THE TITANS
14 April 1912
11:40 pm April 14th, 1912. Titanic collides with an iceberg, opening up the first 5 compartments to the sea, 300 feet in length. Contrary to the popular belief that the ship's bow was torn open by a huge gash, the damage consists of many cuts & openings produced by bent, buckled plates and sheared rivets – some of these openings are quite narrow, barely as wide as a human finger.
Experts who attempt to offer this scenario at subsequent inquiries are silenced by Titanic's owners - presumably because the 'multiple cuts' theory potentially raised uncomfortable questions about the type & quality of the steel used in the ship's construction. It was later calculated by experts that the total damage caused by the collision with the ice measured no more than twelve square feet. About the size of a large refrigerator door!
Captain Smith rushes to the bridge and is told what has happened. He makes sure the watertight doors are all closed and has the carpenter and an officer sent below to check on any damage. He summons Thomas Andrews to the bridge to get his input as well.
He, above anyone else, as Titanic’s chief designer should know if there was any danger. Shortly, the carpenter and Fifth Officer Lowe return with an ominous report. The first four compartments are flooding and the five clerks in the mail room are frantically dragging hundreds of registered mail sacks to a higher level as water is coming into the compartment.
Andrews arrives and he and the Captain hurry below to inspect the damage first hand. They quickly pass a few First Class passengers who had been awakened by the collision and were standing in the entrance hall on B deck. No words were exchanged but these passengers noticed the worried look on the faces of these two men as they hurried by.
The damage proves to be far more extensive than originally reported. The first five compartments are flooding and the mail room is now flooded. The water is up to the foul line in the racket court and steadily rising. Once they return to the bridge Captain Smith confers with Andrews and is told “Titanic will sink”. He gives the ship no more than two hours to stay afloat. This crushing truth is unbelievable to a captain who has never had to face this situation before in his long career. After securing the ship’s position he hurries down the short corridor to the wireless room and informs the two operators to send out the call for assistance. He returns to the bridge to find Mr. Ismay standing there in his pajamas and overcoat. “What’s happened, Captain?” When he’s told the news is unbelievably bad. “She can’t sink – she’s unsinkable!” Andrews replies” Well, she can’t float. Too many compartments are open to the sea. The weight of the water in the forward compartments will pull her bow down and the flooding will progressively worsen as each compartment fills and spills over into the next until she finally founders (sinks)”. Ismay leaves the bridge go below to his luxury suite to dress warmly.
The captain returns to the wireless room and is informed that several ships have responded to their call for assistance. All, except one, the Cunard liner Carpathia are too far away and are asking for more information first. The Carpathia is just 58 miles away to the southeast and is now making all possible speed to Titanic’s radioed position. They will arrive in about four hours time. Captain Smith realizes this will be too late. Titanic will be gone before they can arrive. “Keep sending out our position and call for assistance. There must be nearer ships”
He returns to the bridge and finds all of his officers awaiting further orders. “Uncover the lifeboats and awaken all the passengers. Have them put on warn clothing and their lifebelts and go to the boat deck” he says. “Put the women and children into the boats first”. Captain Smith and all his officers realize that there are not nearly enough boats to rescue all the passengers, let alone, crew on board the Titanic this night. At most, all the existing twenty boats, fully loaded, could accommodate just under 1,200 people. His final words to his deck officers “there must be no panic. If we keep our heads the passengers will keep theirs”. Murdock and Lightoller quickly go the boat deck and order the hastily assembled deck crew to uncover and swing out the lifeboats. The boats were to be stocked with water, blankets and food provisions. When this is accomplished Murdock calls out “Stand by for further orders”.
Far below in the engine and boiler rooms the stokers and trimmers were frantically damping down the boiler fires. The steam had built up to excessive pressure and the safety valves were now blowing off this excessive steam. If the cold sea water hits these red hot boilers it would cause an catastrophic explosion. High above on the boat deck all four of Titanic’s huge funnels suddenly and thunderously began blowing this steam high into the air. The noise was extreme and it was difficult to give orders and have them fully understood.
Titanic was now stopped forever. After the encounter with the iceberg the engines had been put to “slow ahead” and the ship again moved slowly through the water. After about ten minutes time it was realized this forward motion would add pressure on the damaged hull plates and flooding would increase more rapidly. They needed all the time they could get to launch the lifeboats. Captain Smith rang down to the engine room “All stop – Finished with engines”. It was now just past midnight, Monday morning April 15th 1912.
Morning - April 10, 1912
11:45 A.M.: The Titanic blows horns and signals imminent departure.
12:05 P.M.: Lines are cast off and Titanic began her maiden voyage and sails for Cherbourg, France
April 10, 1912 - 5:30 P.M.
Arrives Cherbourg, picks up more passengers
April 10, 1912 - 8:30 P.M.
Picks up anchor and sails for Queenstown
April 11, 1912 - 11:30 A.M.
Arrives Queenstown, picks up more passengers
April 12 & 13, 1912
Travels though calm waters
April 14, 1912
Warnings of Icebergs Ahead
April 14, 1912 - 11:40 P.M.
April 14, 1912 - 11:50 P.M.
Water had poured in and risen 14 feet in the front part of the ship