United States Senate Inquiry

Day 17

Ice Barrier - Nearby Ships

HYDROGRAPHIC OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., May 14, 1912.


MEMORANDUM ON CHART.

"TITANIC" - ICE BARRIER - NEARBY SHIPS.

The chart bearing the above heading shows the ice barrier into which the Titanic undoubtedly steamed. The ice as shown on this chart, it will be noted, is grouped in one barrier, and not shown scattered as on the chart headed "Ice as reported near Titanic." From all the evidence before the Hydrographic Office - that is, the hearings before the Senate committee and the various reports made by steamers of ice in the locality in question - the Hydrographic Office deems that the ice barrier was, to all intents and purposes, as shown on this chart. Copies of the above- mentioned ice reports are forwarded herewith. There may have been, and probably were, other ice fields or bergs in this general locality but they are not shown on the chart, as it is desired to bring out clearly, without other confusing details, the barrier into which the Titanic steamed.

An inspection of this chart will show that the Mount Temple ran into the southwestern end of this ice field at 12:55 A.M. (New York time), April 15. Thereafter to have reached the Titanic it would have been necessary for the Mount Temple to have steamed around the southern end of this ice barrier, and around it to the northward and eastward over 30 miles. As her highest speed does not exceed 13 knots (Lloyds Register) she could not have reached the scene of the Titanic disaster earlier than 3:15 A.M. (New York time) of that morning, or about 2 hours and 18 minutes after the Titanic sank (12:57 A.M., New York time).

A further inspection of this chart shows the Californian as located by the master thereof.

A still further inspection of the chart will show certain arcs of circles, shown in dotted lines drawn from the following centers: The position of the Californian, the position of the Titanic the hypothetical position of the Californian. These arcs are drawn to represent the following: The radii of the arcs drawn about the Titanic as a center and the Californian as a center are identical, the larger radius being 16 miles and the smaller radius being 7 miles. Sixteen miles represents the distance at which the side lights of the Titanic could be seen from one standing on the Californian at the height of the latter ship's side lights, or the reverse, the 7 miles radius being the distance at which the side lights of the Californian would cease to be seen by a person from a boat in the water. A further reference to the chart will show, midway between the plotted positions of the Californian and Titanic, a plotted "hypothetical position of the Californian." With the hypothesis that the Californian was in this plotted position, a dotted line is drawn on a bearing SSE given by the master of the Californian as the bearing in which he sighted a large steamer. This dotted line is drawn to intersect the track of the Titanic. A line parallel thereto is drawn to also intersect the track of the Titanic at a point at which the Titanic appears to have been at 10:06 P.M., New York time, April 14 - at 11:56 P.M. of that date by the Californian's time - at which time the large steamer is testified to have been seen by Ernest Gill, of the Californian. It thus appears that the bearings of the steamer given by the master of the Californian and the testimony of Ernest Gill of that ship will fix the Californian's position near or about the hypothetical position shown on the chart, if the lights seen on that ship were those of the Titanic.

A still further inspection of the chart will show that the Californian, if located in the position given by the master thereof, could have reached the scene of the disaster in about two hours, and, if located in the hypothetical position shown on the chart, the Californian certainly could have reached the Titanic in a little over an hour after she struck. The evidence taken in the hearings shows that the Titanic floated for two and a half hours after she struck the barrier.

JOHN J. KNAPP