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The Final Seconds before Collision: Part
4 of 12
Bruce A. Trinque
Part 4 – Second Officer Charles
Lightoller, who had been lying awake in his bunk at
the moment of collision, could prevent no direct evidence
about what occurred on the bridge, he did testify to
a conversation he had had with Lookout Fleet.
Did you have any talk with Fleet, the look-out man?
A: On the “Carpathia”?
He has not been called yet, but you might tell us what
A: I asked him what he knew about the accident and induced
him to explain the circumstances. He went on to say
that he had seen the iceberg so far ahead. I particularly
wanted to know how long after he struck the bell the
ship’s head moved, and he informed me that practically
at the same time that he struck the bell he noticed
the ship’s head moving under the helm.
… You say that you had some conversation with
Fleet, the look-out man, when you got to the “Carpathia,”
and you have told us what he said. You gathered from
him, apparently, the impression that the helm was probably
put over before and not after the report from the look-out?
A: Distinctly before the report.
That was the inference you drew?
I should call your attention to this. We have had the
evidence of the Quartermaster, who was steering at the
time – a man named Hitchins. Has your attention
been called to the fact that he distinctly says that
the order “Hard a starboard” was given after
this report, and not before?
A: I was not aware of that. … I am only giving
what Fleet told me, you understand.
What he says is they heard three bells, that there was
a telegraph [sic], and the answer “Thank you”
from Mr. Moody, that he reported an iceberg right ahead
to Mr. Murdoch, and that Mr. Murdoch rushed to the telegraph
to stop the engines, and at the same time ordered “Hard
If that is right, your impression gathered from Fleet
must be wrong?
A: If Hitchins is right, then Fleet must be wrong.
Officer Lightoller may have misunderstood what Fleet
had said aboard the Carpathia. Neither Fleet nor Lee
indicated that the vessel began turning as early as
when the three bells were struck. Both lookouts associate
the Titanic beginning to veer to port with Fleet’s
telephone report to the bridge.