TRUE. Titanic carried a permanent, but slight, list to port on her maiden voyage, caused by the loading of the ship. However, immediately after the collision, which was on her starboard side, she listed to starboard, as the initial water rushed in. Passenger Norman Chambers noticed both Titanic’s permanent list to port and her list to starboard immediately following the collision:
NCC005: ‘However, there was then a noticeable list to starboard, with probably a few degrees of pitch; and as the ship had a list to port nearly all afternoon, I decided to remain up, in spite of a feeling of perfect safety.’
This initial list to starboard immediately after the collision was caused by water from the breaches in Titanic’s hull initially being trapped on the starboard side of the previously watertight firemen’s passage, which ran longitudinally down the centre of the forward part of the hull.
However, as water continued to pour into the hull, its pressure began to equalise across Titanic’s keel. This allowed her permanent list to port to be restored and then exaggerated by the water which continued to rush in, as Colonel Archibald Gracie recalled in his 1912 account, The Truth about the Titanic:
‘When we were loading the last boat, just a short time before it was fully loaded, a palpable list toward the port side began, and the officer called out, “All passengers to the starboard side,” and Smith [his friend Clinch- Smith] and myself went to the starboard side, still at the bow of the ship.’
It may seem that the order to move men around Titanic in an attempt to keep her on an even keel was an odd one, given the ship’s great weight. However, because Titanic was now lying on her rounded bilge keel, and not the much flatter central keel on which she was designed to float, the shape of her hull made her ‘tender’, and thus it was possible to affect the list to some extent by moving people around. The number of people required to make a significant difference, however, was more than were available; one of the Titanic designers, Edward Wilding, estimated that moving 800 people 50 feet would only have corrected the list by about 2 degrees—not much when the ship was listing by as much as 10 degrees.
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