Saturday, April 14, 2012

April 14, 1912

The day began as any other.  It was a Sunday morning and church services were held in the morning by Captain Smith.  People ate breakfast, they read in the library, they wrote letters, listened to music, enjoyed the pool or the gymnasium.  According to Larewnce Beesley, "...going on deck after lunch we found such a change in temperature that not many cared to remain to face the bitter wind - an artificial wind created mainly, if not entirely, by the ship's rapid motion through the chilly atmosphere."  Due to the cold temperatures outside, he states many chose indoor pursuits, including spending time in the library, where you could see the "...clear sky with brilliant sunlight that seemed to augur a fine night and clear day to-morrow..."

Before luncheon (1:30 p.m.), the Titanic received three ice burg warnings.  The first came at 9:00 a.m. from the liner Caronia, "bergs, growlers, and field ice at 42N, from 49 to 51W."  At about 11:40 a.m., 12 hours before the ship would hit the ice burg that would ultimately send the ship to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, the Dutch liner Noordam indicated ice in the same area the Caronia wired about earlier.  The third message came from the Baltic at 1:42 p.m., stating "Icebergs and large quantities of field ice in 41.5 N 49.9 W."  A few moments after the Baltic's message was received, the liner Amerika requested Titanic forward a message regarding ice to the U.S. Hydrographic Office, as their wireless was not strong enough to reach it directly.  The wireless office obliged, keeping a copy themselves. 

Shortly after the messages were received, the wireless equipment went down.  The two wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold McBride spent the next four hours repairing the equipment.  At approximately 7:00 p.m. the wireless was working again and the two started sending messages that had backlogged while making the repairs.  At 7:30 p.m., the Californian sent an ice warning stating, about "three large bergs five miles southward of us" and gave their position as 42.3 N, 49.9 W.  The Titanic's distress call later that evening stated their position would be at 41.56 N 50.14 W.

But, this was unknown to the majority of passengers.  The day passed as any other.  Lawrence Beesley wrote he struck up a conversation with the Reverand Mr. Carter, a clergeyman of the Church of England, in the library.  The Reverend asked if Mr. Beesley knew the purser well enough to request space for a hymm sing-along, as there was nothing scheduled that evening.  Mr. Beesley made the inquiry and that evening a hymnal sing-along took place at 8:30 p.m. in the saloon.  At the appointed time, approximately 100 people came together in the saloon to sing hymns that Sunday evening.  The singing went past 10:00 p.m., just an hour and forty minutes before striking the ice burg.

What was happening on the bridge?  Due to ice warnings received, Captain Smith chose to have the Titanic sail an additional 10 miles south of the normal route.  He also posted several of the ice warnings received to the board on the bridge.  At 9:00 p.m., Captain Smith retired to his cabin leaving Second Officer Lightoller in charge, with the comment, "If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once."  When he left, the temperature was just a degree above freezing.

At 10:00 p.m. First Officer Murdoch came to the bridge to relieve Lightoller.  The first thing he stated to Lightoller was how cold it was.  Lightoller replied it was freezing.  Before going to his bunk, Lightoller gave Murdoch the news - they were getting close to ice, he had warned the carpenter not to let the fresh water freeze, the crow's nest had been advised to watch for ice, and if at all doubtful, call the Captain.

At 11:40 p.m., the look-outs in the crow's nest rang the bell that rang in the bridge indicating something ahead.  A call to the bridge followed, with Frederick Fleet saying "Iceburg right ahead." Murdock immediately called to "Hard a-starboard," which turned the ship to the right, while telling the engine room to run full speed astern on both engines.  Murdoch then sealed the water-tight compartments in the boiler room and the engine room.  Within 30 seconds the ship collided with the ice burg, but not head on. 

Seconds after the impact, Captain Smith arrived on the bridge asking what happened.  Murdoch told him they hit an iceburg and when asked about the water tight bulkheads, he was told they were shut.  Smith then sent Fourth Officer Boxhall to check the ship for damage and when he returned he stated no damage detected.  But, within moments the carpenter came to the bridge stating, "She's making water fast!"  Then one of the postal clerks rushed to the bridge calling out, "The mail hold is filling rapidly!"

Smith had sent for Thomas Andrews, the representative from the Harlan and Wolff Company who spent his time reviewing how the layout of the ship was used by passengers and what could be done to improve it.  If anyone would know the danger the ship faced with water rushing in, it would be Thomas Andrews.  When Andrews arrived on the bridge, he and Smith took crew passageways and stairs to assess the damage.  After seeing the damage, the Captain and Andrews reviewed a structural diagram of the ship and Andrews informed the Captain that the damage was too great for the Titanic to handle.  The bulk-heads did not extend high enough to keep the ship from sinking.  It was only a matter of time before the ship would be on the bottom of the Atlantic.

Shocked, Captain Smith headed back to the bridge.  At 12:05 p.m. he gave the order to Chief Officer Wilde to uncover the lifeboats.

During this time, passengers tell varying stories of knowledge of the collision.  Those closer to the waterline and nearer to the impact area claimed feeling the collision.  Higher up in the ship the impact was minimal and less noticeable. Emily Borie Ryerson stated, "at the time of the collision I was awake and heard the engine stop, but felt no jar.  My husband was asleep, so I rang and asked the steward, Bishop, what was the matter.  He said, "There is talk of an iceburg,  ma'am, but they have stopped, not to run into it."  According to Mrs. J. Stuart White, "I was just sitting on the bed, just ready to turn the lights out.  It did not seem to me that there was any very great impact at all.  It was just as though we went over about a thousand marbles.  There was nothing terrifying about it at all."  Both passengers were in first class.

Third class passengers realized the danger quickly.  Mr. Daniel Buckley, an Irish immigrant, stated, "I heard some terrible noise and I jumped out on the floor, and the first thing I knew my feet were getting wet; the water was just coming in slightly.  I told the other fellows to get up, that there was something wrong and that water was coming in.  Two sailors came along, and they were shouting, "All up on deck! unless you want to get drowned."  When I heard this, I went for the deck as quick as I could."

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