Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Steering confusion sank Titanic, new book claims

Virtual museum - A shipyard worker's ticket to the launch of the RMS Titanic (Ulster Folk & Transport Museum, Cultra)
This May 31, 1911 photo provided by the Library of Congress, shows the hull of the S.S. Titanic. under construction in dry dock. The tragic sinking of the Titanic nearly a century ago can be blamed on low grade rivets that the ship's builders used on some parts of the ill-fated liner, two experts on metals conclude in a new book. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)
The starboard side of the Titanic bow

A novelist whose grandfather sailed on the Titanic claims her new book reveals the truth behind the sinking of the ship.

Louise Patten said Charles Lightoller, who was second officer on the ship which sank when it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, said an order to steer the ship away from the danger was misunderstood.

She said that different steering systems were used for steamships and sailing ships and her grandfather maintained this caused confusion when an order was given to turn the ship.

Mrs Patten said: “Crucially, the two steering systems were the complete opposite of one another. So a command to turn ‘hard a-starboard' meant turn the wheel right under one system and left under the other.

“The steersman panicked and the reason why Titanic hit the iceberg, which has never come to light before, is because he turned the wheel the wrong way.”

Mrs Patten lived with her grandmother who told her the story. Her novel, Good As Gold, tells the story of a banker who escapes the sinking ship.

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