Something to be aware of is that any transatlantic crossing was always a fast crossing. Now we have the factor of the increased vessel speed, at approximately 21 knots, becoming an influencing factor.

Observation of the Iceberg

The crow’s nest observed the iceberg from a distance of approximately 1.25 miles ahead of the vessel using sight of eye. In other words, they were not given binoculars. They called out their observations as the ship floated/moved quickly toward the iceberg. It is a known fact that approximately 1/10 of the iceberg is observed in the water with some 7/10 to 9/10 being below the water level.


Fig. 6. The estimated point of contact on the starboard side

Other concerns included:

  • The seawater temperature was at approximately 26°F, which means approximately 8°F below the freezing temperature of water. This, of course, was due to the salinity of the seawater at that point. How much salt was present in the seawater would determine the real-time temperature. However, the freezing point of the seawater was well below the freezing temperature of fresh water.
  • Due to the contamination elements in the wrought iron, the mechanical properties were not completely known. However, the mechanical properties of the wrought iron brought about serious changes in the expected properties.
  • The iceberg was apparently a large, sizeable volume (Fig. 6.) Take note that the iceberg was photo-graphed during daylight hours and not at night when the collision occurred.

There was also a temperature differential between the external plates that were in direct contact with the seawater and at room temperature on the inside of the vessel. This temperature differential would also be responsible for any concomitant precipitation within the wrought iron rivet.

Within the vessel itself, there were massive safety doors in the boiler rooms to reduce the risk of floating once the door was closed. However, those safety doors were being opened and closed for access into another hull compartments. This allowed massive amounts of seawater into the boiler rooms and engine rooms, thus contributing to the added water weight increasing at a very rapid rate.


Fig. 7. The vessel struck the iceberg on the starboard side of the vessel. All of the rivets at the bow were manufactured from the contaminated wrought iron and not steel. The iceberg impact was below the waterline of the vessel.

The hull and keel plate fractures were buried into the ocean floor once the vessel started to break up. This means that none of the bow rivets was ever recovered. At the secondary breakup of the vessel, however, the fractures appeared to initiate behind the funnel number three. These were the alloy steel rivets.

Check back next time when we wrap up this discussion.