Titanic Sunk By Steering Blunder, New Book Claims

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It was always
thought the Titanic sank because its crew were sailing too fast
and failed to see the iceberg before it was too late.

But now it
has been revealed they spotted it well in advance but still steamed
straight into it because of a basic steering blunder.

According to
a new book, the ship had plenty of time to miss the iceberg but
the helmsman panicked and turned the wrong way.

By the time
the catastrophic error was corrected it was too late and the side
of the ship was fatally holed by the iceberg.

Even then the
passengers and crew could have been saved if it had stayed put instead
of steaming off again and causing water to pour into the broken

The revelation,
which comes out almost 100 years after the disaster, was kept secret
until now by the family of the most senior officer to survive the

Second Officer
Charles Lightoller covered up the error in two inquiries on both
sides of the Atlantic because he was worried it would bankrupt the
liner’s owners and put his colleagues out of job.

Since his death
– by then a war hero from the Dunkirk evacuation – it
has remained hidden for fear it would ruin his reputation.

But now his
granddaughter the writer Lady (Louise) Patten has revealed it in
her new novel.

"It just
makes it seem all the more tragic," she said.

could easily have avoided the iceberg if it wasn’t for the blunder."

The error on
the ship’s maiden voyage between Southampton and New York in 1912
happened because at the time seagoing was undergoing enormous upheaval
because of the conversion from sail to steam ships.

The change
meant there was two different steering systems and different commands
attached to them.

Some of the
crew on the Titanic were used to the archaic Tiller Orders associated
with sailing ships and some to the more modern Rudder Orders.

the two steering systems were the complete opposite of one another.

So a command
to turn "hard a starboard" meant turn the wheel right
under the Tiller system and left under the Rudder.

When First
Officer William Murdoch spotted the iceberg two miles away, his
"hard a-starboard" order was misinterpreted by the Quartermaster
Robert Hitchins.

He turned the
ship right instead of left and, even though he was almost immediately
told to correct it, it was too late and the side of the starboard
bow was ripped out by the iceberg.

the rest of the article

23, 2010

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