Andrews ran from his room. He took the stairs two at a time, rushed along the portside railing, and burst into the bridge control room to find the helmsman, Robert Hitchens, spinning the wheel from side to side with no effect on the ship. Unknown to them, the mechanism under the deck had been ripped apart by an explosion, the sound that Andrews had heard.
“We were steaming along steady-as-she-goes, and suddenly the wheel jerked in my hands. There was an explosion, a loud popping sound from below decks, and the wheel went limp. I instinctively tried to turn it but it had no effect on the ship.”
“Get Smith up here at once and stop this ship!” Andrews shouted to Boxhall.
Joseph Boxhall stood resolute. “We are steaming at full speed under direct orders of Captain Smith, and this ship will not stop without his order.”
“You fool! We may be out of control! We can be turned by ocean currents.”
“We don’t know that we are out of control, and we will not change course without a direct order.”
Andrews couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Who needed a commander to explain this? How could protocol and chain of command stand in the way of common sense?
“Stop the ship, you fool! You’ll kill us all!”
“Mr. Andrews, may I remind you that you are simply a passenger on this ship and I, as the officer on duty, am in charge. I have direct orders that this ship is not to stop but is to remain at full speed, unless directly ordered by the captain.”
Thomas Andrews did not give a whit about Boxhall’s blustering. He walked up to Boxhall, and in a voice that reverberated through the bridge shouted, “Get off your constipated British arse, get Captain Smith on the telephone, and stop this ship RIGHT NOW! Do I make myself PERFECTLY clear, Mr. Boxhall?”
Boxhall turned white. As he tried to stammer out a reply, a shout came down the telephone line from Fleet in the crow’s nest.
“Berg! Berg, dead ahead!”
Bill Blowers – Author of Dangerous Betrayal – The Vendetta That Sank Titanic. www.billblowers.com Hear Bill speak at the following locations. Admission is free, public is invited:
February 16, Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi, Simi Valley, CA. 1:30 PM
February 18, Ventura City Hall Auditorium, 510 Poli St. #109, Ventura, CA. 6:00 PM
February 20, Base Camp Cafe, 16311 Askin Dr. Pine Mountain Club, CA. 1:00 PM