107 #52: If Titanic had rammed the iceberg head-on, she would have survived

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titanic iceberg

TRUE. She probably would have done, as one of Titanic’s designer’s, Edward Wilding, explained in the following fascinating exchange at the British Inquiry:

20266: ‘Perhaps I ought to put this general question to you. The contact with this iceberg was the contact of a body weighing 50,000 tons moving at the rate of 22 knots an hour?’


20267: ‘I gather to resist such a contact as that you could not build any plates strong enough, as plates?

‘It depends, of course, on the severity of the contact. This contact seems to have been a particularly light one.’

20268: ‘Light?’

‘Yes, light, because we have heard the evidence that lots of people scarcely felt it.’

20269: ‘You mean it did not strike a fair blow?’

‘If she struck it a fair blow I think we should have heard a great deal more about the severity of it, and probably the ship would have come into harbour if she had struck it a fair blow, instead of going to the bottom.’

20270: ‘You think that?’

‘I am quite sure of it.’

20271: (The Commissioner.) ‘I am rather interested about that. Do you mean to say that if this ship had driven on to the iceberg stem on she would have been saved?’

‘I am quite sure she would, My Lord. I am afraid she would have killed every fireman down in the firemen’s quarters, but I feel sure the ship would have come in.’

20272: ‘And the passengers would not have been lost?’

‘The passengers would have come in.’

20273: ‘Then do you think it was an error of judgment—to starboard the helm?’

‘I do not by any means say it was a negligent act at all. It is very difficult to pass judgment on what would go through an Officer’s mind, My Lord.’

20274: ‘An error of judgment and negligence are two different things altogether. A man may make a mistake and be very far from being negligent?’


20275: ‘Do you think that if the helm had not been starboarded there would have been a chance of the ship being saved?’

‘I believe the ship would have been saved, and I am strengthened in that belief by the case which your Lordship will remember where one large North Atlantic steamer, some 34 years ago, did go stem on into an iceberg and did come into port, and she was going fast?’

‘I am old enough to remember that case, but I am afraid my memory is not good enough.’

Mr. Laing: ‘The Arizona—I remember it.’

The Witness: ‘The Arizona, my Lord.’

20276: (Mr. Rowlatt) ‘You said it would have killed all the firemen?’

‘I am afraid she would have crumpled up in stopping herself. The momentum of the ship would have crushed in the bows for 80 or perhaps 100 feet.’

20277: ‘You mean the firemen in their quarters?’

‘Yes, down below. We know two watches were down there.’

20278: ‘Do you mean at the boilers?’

‘Oh, no, they would scarcely have felt the shock.’

The Commissioner: ‘Any person, fireman or anybody else, who happened to be in that 100 feet, would probably never have been seen again?’

20279: (Mr. Rowlatt) ‘The third class passengers are there too, I think, some of them?’

‘I do not think there are any third class passengers forward of the second bulkhead, and I believe she would have stopped before the second bulkhead was damaged. It is entirely crew there, and almost entirely firemen—firemen, trimmers, and greasers.’

20280: ‘Your opinion is that the ship would have suffered that crushing in in the first two compartments, but that the shock would not have shattered or loosened the rivets in any other part of the ship?’

‘Not sufficiently. As it would take a considerable length, 80 or 100 feet to bring up, it is not a shock, it is a pressure that lasts three or four seconds, five seconds perhaps, and whilst it is a big pressure it is not in the nature of a sharp blow.’

20281: (The Commissioner) ‘It would, I suppose, have shot everybody in the ship out of their berths?’

‘I very much doubt it, My Lord.’

20282: ‘At 22 1/2 knots an hour, and being pulled up quite suddenly?’

‘Not quite suddenly, My Lord. 100 feet will pull up a motor car going 22 miles an hour without shooting you out of the front.’

20283: (Mr. Rowlatt) ‘What you mean is that the ship would have telescoped herself?’

‘Yes, up against the iceberg.’

20284: ‘And stopped when she telescoped enough?’

‘Yes, that is what happened in the Arizona.’

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

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