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The Final Seconds before Collision: Part 7 of 12
By Bruce A. Trinque

Part 7 – Trimmer Thomas Dillon

British Enquiry:

Q: Were you on duty in the engine room on the night of the accident?
A: Yes.

Q: Is there more than one engine room?
A: I do not know.

Q: I see on the plan immediately after the last boiler there is a compartment marked “Reciprocating engine.” Is that where you were?
A: That is where I understand I was – in the engine room. I have never been down below before; it was my first trip down there.

Q: Would you be in a coal bunker, or where?
A: In the engine room where the main engines are.

Q: What were you doing there? What were your duties there?
A: I belonged to the upper section, but the upper section of boilers was not lit up, and they sent us to the engine room to assist in cleaning up the gear.

Q: Did you feel the shock when the ship struck?
A: Slightly.

Q: And shortly before that had the telegraph rung?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you say at all how long before she struck that was?
A: Two seconds.

Q: What was the order given by the telegraph?
A: I could not tell you.

Q: You just heard it ring. Then a few seconds after that you felt a slight shock?
A: Yes.

Discussion:

Although Trimmer Dillon was disoriented as to his location due to the temporary nature of his work assignment, he did appear confident that the engine room telegraph sounded only two (or, a few) seconds before the collision with the iceberg. This appears consistent with the time frame proposed by Pellegrino. Given that the order to put the helm hard-a-starboard and the order via the telegraph to the engine room were essentially simultaneous, Dillon’s testimony argues against the accuracy of the British Enquiry 37-second estimate.

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