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Titanic - Left or Right?
When the Titanic is about to hit the iceberg, one of the crew men (I forget who) say's "Turn to the Starboard side!" That's the right side! The Titanic turned to the left! Does James Cameron know his lefts from his rights? Please send me a quick comment and/or vote!
Special Requirements:
Titanic video, eyes, and a knowing of left and right
Avg. Rating:    5.4 of 10 - (713 votes cast)
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Contributed By:
Mfrazier on 08-19-1999
Reviewed By:
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Comments:
Annette writes:
First, it's "starboard," not "starport." Second, I read somewhere that this was on purpose. Back in the Titanic days, they used to specify which way to turn the rudder, rather than which way to turn the boat. Therefore, if you turned the rudder to the starboard side, the boat would turn left, away from the iceburg as desired.
216 of 237 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
stokoe1984 writes:
In 1912, like Crypto said, the directions were opposite. And anyway, they said "Hard to starboard" so the back end of the ship would be pushed out to completely avoid the iceberg. Like all WELL-TRAINED seamen would attempt. DID YOU KNOW: If the Titanic had hit the iceberg head-on, it would have survived and limped to New York (or a closer port). Interesting!
38 of 42 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
eskovan writes:
No, it was NOT a mistake! Picture moving a rudder BY HAND by pushing the tillar bar. That's what they mean by moving the rudder starboard, pushing the TILLAR BAR to the starboard side of the ship (which will send the part of the rudder in the water to the port side and make the ship steer to port (left)).
16 of 22 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Jimbo writes:
The dialog during the collision is absolutely right. Back in 1912 ships' wheels were rigged for a generation of sailors trained on tillers. You turned the wheel to the right in order to turn the ship to the left. Wheels weren't re-rigged until a generation of sailors who grew up driving cars took to sea. The dialog may be right, but the visuals are dead wrong! When First Officer Murdoch gave the order "Hard astarboard," the man at the helm spins the wheel hard over to the left. That's what you'd do on a modern vessel, but not back in 1912. A few seconds later Cameron makes the opposite mistake; Murdoch orders "Hard aport," but the helmsman slams the wheel to the right. Both actions are verbally correct but visually wrong.
16 of 24 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
The Lone Gunman writes:
You are correct annette. Also the dialouge spoken is the EXACT spoken on the night of the disaster.
10 of 15 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Him writes:
Jimbo writes: Both actions are verbally correct but visually wrong. No. Both actions are verbally and visually right. In modern ships (and Titanic was a modern ship) the man at the helm spins the wheel to the left if he wants the ship to go the left and viceversa. The problem is that in 1912 sailors still used the old orders (the so called "false orders". When Murdoch orders "Hard-a-starboard", he wants the ship to move to left. So, the man at the helm correctly spins the wheel to the left.
8 of 11 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Schizophrenic writes:
In conclusion: As Jay-C said: if you want to go left, you ask to go to "starboard"(right), if you want to go right, you ask to go "port"(left) However, he said to go starboard (right) and the helmsman turn to port (left) and the ship went to the left!! this is not possible, if he turned it left, it would not go left, it would have gone right, therefore, the only slip-up is the helsman turning to the wheel to the wrong direction!
7 of 11 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Crypto3012 writes:
in the days of the Titanic, to turn a ship to starboard, you had to cycle the wheel counter-clockwise. This was changed after the sinking to avoid confusion.
6 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
lebache@lycos.com writes:
The order of "hard to starboard" is correct. The Helmsmen turning the wheel to the left and the ship turning to the left is also correct. There is no slip up in the dialog or the visuals. The first officer gave the command in reference to steering a tiller in the direction of danger. Before ships had wheels, they had tillers. If you wanted to go left you moved the tiller to the right and vice versa. The first officer was using the correct command that was universal to all sailors at that time.
2 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Jay-C writes:
I concur. I know more about Titanic than most of you can possible imagine. Back in the days of Titanic, if you wanted to turn the ship left, you would tell the quartermaster to turn the ship "Starboard", but if you wanted to go right, you would tell him, "Port."
10 of 19 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Jerryrip writes:
Jimbo is absolutely right. Hacker is wrong. Ships back in the early days of shipbuilding were rigged so that when the wheel was turned hard a'starboard, or right, the tiller was actually pushed to the right. Of course there were no tillers used on ships in 1912 anymore but this a holdover from those early days. There was a slipup as far as the direction that the helmsman turned the wheel in the movie though.
5 of 9 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Julius writes:
Hey, pokedave2001, it's obvious that we are talking about slip-us (mistakes) here, not discussing why Titanic hit the iceberg!
3 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Godzilla writes:
Well Crap. If we cant even decide which way to turn the boat. How would the guy in the movie know in the time he had to turn it.
6 of 12 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Lauryn writes:
So, if I'm getting this straight, the explanation goes like this: Back in the days of the Titanic, when a sailor wanted to turn port and pass the iceberg on the starboard side, he would say "Hard a'starboard" and the ship would turn port because the rudder needed to turn the opposite way. Am I right? Okay, so if I am, why would the helmsman turn the wheel hard a'port if the ship's rudder needed to go starboard?
4 of 8 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Chadalien writes:
The flow of water over the rudder would only lessen the effectiveness of the rudder. It would not cause it to work in the opposite way! Correct though, the ship would have survived a head on collision.
3 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Arty writes:
Bottom line is that, regardless which way you turn the wheel to go where ever, the point is he says "Starboard"- Right, and the ship turned to the Left. Surely the helms-man knows how the rudder is rigged or he wouldn't be helms man, and so why would the Officer in charge say which way to turn the wheel, rather than say where he wants the ship to go, which is much more logical.
5 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
bunnystew writes:
Ok, so he was told to turn right and he turned left. Well, no wonder he hit the darn iceburg!
8 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
ChumpSucka writes:
First of all you are wrong...second of all...it is starboard not starport...anyone would know that...just like left from right....
2 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
pokedave2001 writes:
who cares, the point is that they crashed!
8 of 18 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Scott Larson writes:
I don't feel like taking the time to check and see if this makes a difference, but I remember that as they are turning, they also put the engines in reverse. If the turned the front end to port, the back end would turn to starboard. Maybe they were steering the back of the ship.
1 of 4 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
C-Mike writes:
Duh, of course he said "hard a'starboard", because that's what the real person said on the night of the disaster. Read any book about the Titanic to confirm this. For example, "Exploring the Titanic" by Robert Ballard; "882 1/2 Amazing Answers to your Questions about the Titanic" by Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter. When the guys says "hard a'starboard", it means a collision is about to ensue on that side. So that order means turn left. Except when Jack Sparrow says this order in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. He wants the ship turned right because Davy Jones' ship in on the port (right) side of the Pearl. Clear enough for you? Good.
2 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
brent84ty writes:
Ok here's how it goes....Back then to turn the ship to the right you would turn the helm to the left. So, think about it, if they turned the helm to the left the ship should go to the right...Right? But if you notice they reverse the engines, which would change the water-flow over the rudder, causing the ship to turn left. Trust me on this one guys, I know what I'm talking about...I've read enough Titanic books and watched enough movies to know...this is what really happened.........And I do have proof to back this up...
5 of 13 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
diadempro writes:
James Cameron addresses this issue in his annotated screenplay. He said it caused confusion, but it is correct as stated in the movie. The wheel controls the rudder, which turns the ship the opposite direction the wheel is turned. In other words, turn it to the right, the ship moves left, etc. (I forget if this is a natural occurence when the ship is normally moving forward, or if it's due to the fact that they put the engines in full reverse to try to slow down the ship). Note: I composed the above before I read the other responses to this post. Seems like enough people concur with the spirit of this to give Mr. Cameron at least a 50% benefit of the doubt. Finally, since this seems it was a deliberate attempt at reality rather than a screw-up, why is the rating for this "slipup" still 6.2? Can we lower it to something more reasonable (2 or 3?)
1 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Scott writes:
This is at least a 7 on the slip-up scale. The helmsman turns the wheel to port and the ship turns to the port side. No way the order would be "hard to starboard" unless the helmsman had to turn the wheel to starboard for a left turn. Turning the rudder in the opposite direction would work if the ship were actually MOVING backwards, but not just because the propeller was spinning backwards. Very good comments on this thread though.
3 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
HEHEHEME writes:
Facts are facts and physics are physics. Forget about old sailors, dates, tillers, rudders, wind, and soap. It is simple enough, when asked to turn to starboard the ship turns to port and the iceberg passes by on starboard. For those experts out there the wheel is turned to port. Unless the sailors were completely untrained they should know which is which. IT WAS A SLIPUP!!!
7 of 19 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes


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