Morgan Meis marvels at a recently revealed secret:

He turned the steering wheel the wrong direction. That is the latest revelation about what happened to the greatest ocean liner of all time, Titanic. This fact, claims Louise Patten, granddaughter of Titanic's Second Officer Charles Lightoller, was kept a secret until now.

According to Louise Patten, there was some confusion in those days about what "hard a-starboard" actually meant. The new steam ships had mechanized steering systems that meant you had to turn the wheel the opposite way for starboard as you did on the old sail ships. With the iceberg looming out in the dark night, the helmsman turned the wheel the wrong way. Later, after Titanic did, in fact, strike the iceberg, the people in charge (Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line that owned Titanic, leading the way), decided to push forward at full speed anyway, hastening the demise of the ship.

Charles Lightoller survived that night with the iceberg and was the only man left alive who'd heard those conversations. Fearful about his own career and the fate of the entire White Star Line, Lightoller kept his mouth shut, telling the secret only to his wife. She, in turn, passed it down to her granddaughter Louise Patten, who reveals it now.

That's Titanic for you.

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