Ice in the Sea Lane Sailed by the Titanic - 1912
A Ship Might Just as Well Strike a Rock: A Giant Iceberg, Akin to That Which Caused the Sinking of the RMS Titanic. The Illustrated London News (4 May 1912) p. 633. GGA Image ID # 1011862e22
Dr. H. R. Mill, interviewed by the "Chronicle“ after the "Titanic" disaster, said: “A certain amount of help in detecting the approach of icebergs is given by observing the temperature of the sea.
As a rule, on the ordinary Transatlantic steamers the sea-water temperatures are taken at intervals of two hours. But with a very fast vessel, such intervals are of comparatively little value for the purpose of giving warning.
I am not aware whether on these fast steamers, the temperature observations are taken very frequently but it would he an obvious prevention to do so.
These icebergs are usually comparatively small so far as area is concerned, but they are of great height, and extend to an enormous depth below the water so that they have tremendous momentum. A ship miqht just as well strike a rock."
The White Foe: Ice in the Sea-Lane Sailed by the “Titanic.”
Akin to That Which Gave the RMS Titanic Her Death-Blow: An Iceberg. Which Was Probably Part of the Ice-Field Encountered by the Ill-Fated Vessel. Photographed from the SS Tunisian a Few Days before the Disaster. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 699. © Illustrations Bureau. GGA Image ID # 1012190da2
In the Neighbourhood of the RMS Titanic's Collision with an Iceberg: Passengers on a Steamer Looking at an Ice-Field. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 699. © Fridoline. GGA Image ID # 1012220fab
It is a matter of common knowledge that the RMS Titanic’s death-blow had dealt her by an iceberg, and it is but natural under the circumstances that the ice in the sea-lane she followed should have been much discussed.
In the earliest stage of the Senatorial Inquiry. Mr. Bruce Ismay said. "We were on the southern route “the extreme southern route"; and, further. "It is absolutely and unqualifiedly false that I ever said that I wished that the Titanic should make a speed record or increase her daily runs.
I deny absolutely having said to any person that we would increase our speed to act out of the ice zone, or any words to that effect. As I have already testified. at no time did the Titanic during the voyage attain her full speed."
The ice drifts in the North Atlantic are a great menace to shipping, and it is asked is there a track outside the ice limit which Transatlantic liners can take?
The answer would seem to be "No” to act beyond even the average, as opposed to the abnormal limit, would mean an impossibly sweeping detour south, an impossibly significant loss of time.
After the disaster, and given the unusual position of the ice this year, it was decided, very wisely, to change the track of several vessels.
In the Sea-Lane the "Titanic " Sailed: Icebergs off Newfoundland. The Illustrated London News (4 May 1912) p. 660. Photographs by Holloway; Map by Courtesy of the “Daily Mail." GGA Image ID # 1012a8fccc
Images, Top to Bottom, Left to Right:
- From the Foot of an Arctic Glacier: An Iceberg off ST. John's. Newfoundland.
- Eight-Ninths of It Submerged; How an Iceberg Floats.
- Result of a Land Glaciers Calving: An Iceberg off ST. John's. Newfoundland.
- A Grave Menace to Shipping: An Iceberg on the High Seas.
- The Scene of the Disaster to the "Titanic": The Field. Ice and Iceberg Limits and the Approximate Positions of Various Vessels.
- Weathered by Sun and Rain: An Iceberg off the Entrance to ST, John S Harbour.
- Off the Labrador Coast: A Great Berg.
- Off the Labrador Coast: Floating Ice.
- With a Steamship beneath Its Great Arch: A Huge Berg.
- With an Arch: An Iceberg Photographed off ST. John's, Newfoundland.
"The great bergs broke off the feet of Arctic glaciers and floating south in the Arctic current till they meet the Gulf Stream are not commonly expected to cross the path of Transatlantic travel before summer, and it may be that the icebergs now reported off Newfoundland are the Laggards of last year's crop. entangled and frozen up in the flow."
We quote the " Times." which continues: "At any rate, a great ice-field with many icebergs has been obstructing the West-bound Transatlantic sea-lane off the Newfoundland Grand Banks for the past week. Ships’ captains estimate its length at 70 miles, with a breadth of some 35. . ..
Mr. J. H. Welsford, the Liverpool shipowner, who traveled on board the SS Carmania… stated that he had never seen the ice so far south as on his last voyage, and in such great bulk.
There were numerous 'growlers‘ -- large icebergs that had melted on top until their upper surfaces were almost awash—which in bad or failing light was challenging to discern."
The RMS Titanic sank after a collision with an iceberg between Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and Cape Race, Newfoundland. She was fourteen miles south of the possible range of ice-fields when the disaster occurred.