107 #35: Titanic’s engines were put in reverse just before collision, making the ship less responsive to her helm and compounding the accident

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FALSE. The only evidence we have of Titanic’s engines being put in reverse comes from Fourth officer Boxhall, who did not arrive on Titanic’s bridge until immediately after the collision.

It is most likely that the order Murdoch rang down to the engine room was simply ‘stop’, which would have no adverse effect of Titanic’s ability to turn. This order was indicated in the boiler rooms by a red light.

We know this from the following testimony given by Leading Fireman Fred Barratt to Senator Smith in one of Olympic’s boiler rooms, whilst she was berthed in New York. It is interesting to note that even this order was not received in time to fully act upon it before the collision:

FRB006: ‘Were you there when the accident occurred?’

‘Yes. I was standing talking to the second engineer. The bell rang, the red light showed. We sang out “shut the doors” (indicating the ash doors to the furnaces) and there was a crash just as we sung out. The water came through the ship’s side.’

Titanic therefore had no time to reduce her speed prior to the collision, meaning her turning ability was not adversely affected in any way.

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1


    1. Because Titanic did order reverse to bring her to a stop, although this order did not *take effect* until after the collision. Smith then ordered Slow Ahead for some minutes, before stopping Titanic’s engines for good.

  1. From my point of view, saying that stopping the props has no effect on the steering capacity is totaly false. Indeed, first by stopping the central prop, you reduce the flow on the rudder and therefore the forces acting on it. Morevover, with these 3 huge propellers stopped, I can not imagine how the flow was disturbed, probably completely turbulent, with a huge reduction of effificency of the rudder in these condition.

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