> Titanic Information
The Final Seconds before Collision: Part
6 of 12
Bruce A. Trinque
Part 6 – Quartermaster Alfred Olliver
Where were you when the collision occurred?
A: I was stand-by quartermaster on the bridge. I had
been relieved from the wheel at 10 o’clock, and
I was stand-by after 10 o’clock. I was running
messages and doing various other duties. I was not right
on the bridge; I was just entering the bridge. I had
just performed an errand and was entering the bridge
when the collision occurred.
Just state what happened.
A: When I was doing this bit of duty I heard three bells
rung up in the crow’s nest, which I knew that
it was something ahead; so I looked, but I did not see
anything. I happened to be looking at the lights in
the standing compass at the time. That was my duty,
to look at the lights in the standing compass, and I
was trimming them so that they would burn properly.
When I heard the report, I looked, but could not see
anything, and I left that and came and was just entering
on the bridge just as the shock came. I knew we had
Just describe what that shock was.
A: I found out we had struck an iceberg.
Did you see that iceberg?
A: Yes; I did, sir.
A: The iceberg was about the height of the boat deck;
if anything, just a little higher. It was almost alongside
of the boat, sir. The top did not touch the side of
the boat, but it was almost alongside of the boat.
What kind of a sound was there?
A: The sound was like she touched something; a long,
grinding sound, like.
How long did that sound last?
A: It did not last many seconds, sir.
How far aft did the grinding sound go?
A: The grinding sound was before I saw the iceberg.
The grinding sound was not when I saw the iceberg.
Where was the iceberg when you saw it, abeam or abaft?
A: Just abaft the bridge when I saw it.
… Did you notice the course of the berg as it
A: No, sir; I did not notice the course of the berg
as it passed us. It went aft the after part of the ship.
I did not see it afterwards, because I did not have
time to know where it was going.
Do you know whether the wheel was hard aport then?
A: What I know about the wheel – I was stand-by
to run messages, but what I knew about the helm is,
Do you mean hard aport or hard astarboard?
A: I know the orders I heard when I was on the bridge
was after we had struck the iceberg. I heard hard aport,
and there was the man at the wheel and the officer.
The officer was seeing it was carried out right.
What officer was it?
A: Mr. Moody, the sixth officer, was stationed in the
Who was the man at the wheel?
A: Hichens, quartermaster.
You do not know whether the helm was put hard astarboard
first, or not?
A: No, sir; I do not know that.
But you know it was put hard aport after you got there?
A: After I got there; yes, sir.
Where was the iceberg, so you think, when the helm was
A: The iceberg was away up stern.
That is when the order “hard aport” was
A: That is when the order “hard aport” was
given; yes, sir.
Who gave the order?
A: The first officer.
And that order was immediately executed, was it?
A: Immediately executed, and the sixth officer saw that
it was carried out.
How long did this sound continue; can you tell that?
A: I can not say exactly, but I should say it was not
Could you tell how far aft the sound continued?
A: I could not say how far aft, sir, because I do not
know where it started and where it finished. I do not
You could not tell about that?
A: No, sir.
Was it 100 feet? Did it rub against the boat behind
where you were?
A: Not behind where I was. It did not, to my knowledge,
rub behind where I was; it was before.
You can not tell, then, for how many feet it rubbed
against the boat?
A: No, sir.
But you think it got away from the boat before the place
where you were?
A: Yes, sir.
Quartermaster Olliver mentioned tending the lamps on
the “standing” compass, this was very probably
a reference to the “standard” compass, mounted
on a platform above the First Class Passengers’
Lounge, some 200 feet behind the bridge. What is not
clear in the testimony is whether Olliver was actually
at the standard compass when he heard the three bells
from the crow’s nest, or whether he was simply
indicating that he was absent from the bridge on that
errand and, perhaps, was already returning. In the latter
case, Olliver could have been quite near the bridge
when the three bells sounded. Depending on which interpretation
is applied, Olliver’s testimony could possibly
support either the 37-second interval based upon the
British Enquiry report or the much shorter time period
proposed by Pellegrino.