I've spent the last couple of days in research, mainly about the ER telegraphs.
I followed the lead of Fredrick Scott whom Karol had mentioned and it lead me to the Federal Titanic inquiries. A lot of it is redundant and monotonous but some of it is quite riveting (No pun intended).
First was the stark differences in the accounts between the Bridge and the engine room telegraphs.
The officers who saw the bridge telegraphs said they saw the main engine and emergency telegraphs at "FULL ASTERN". However people in the engine room had a different testimony.
I tried to filter out most of the hu-bub and get to the meat of it, with the reference numbers:
**** Fredrick Scott Trimmer assigned to the Turbine room:
5514 (He)Was leaning against the fwd side of the aft engine room WTD (Looking into the main engine room). 5520 Nothing (unusual) was being done in the main ER. 5522 A shock was felt and he believed it to be something had wrong in the main ER. 5525 There are two main engine telegraphs and two emergency ones in the ER. Both were in his view. 5620,5628 All 4 telegraphs rang after the shock was felt. 5540 (Some time after that) the WTD closed. 5526 First "STOP" was rang on the main engines, then the emergency ones. 5543 The "STOP" was acknowledged back to the bridge. 5567 Engine room rang "STANDBY" to the bridge. 5624 10-15 minutes passed then the ER received "SLOW AHEAD" for about 5 minutes then "SLOW ASTERN" for about 5 minutes then the final "STOP". 5633 All telegraph orders were completed after about 20 minutes as he observed standing in/near the doorway.
Thomas P Dillon Trimmer, upper part of main ER.(First time in ER).
3716 Felt a slight shock at accident then telegraphs rang. 3717 Two seconds between shock and hearing telegraphs (Couldn't see them). 3721 Engines stopped 3723 About half a minute the engines went slow astern. 3725 Engines ran for two minutes in slow astern then stopped. 3728 Engines ran ahead again for about two minutes. 3736 Three minutes passed between the crash and the WTD's closure. ******
Fredrick and Dillon's accounts differ in time and fwd-aft engine directions but are basically the same.
The Bridge account of engine order telegraph commands follow the popular view. That the main engines and emergency telegraphs were rang to full full astern, then stopped after the collision.
A forward boiler room person testified closer to the ER account:
**** George Beuchamp Fireman BR 5
992 Felt a shock like the roar of thunder. 664 Immediatly after the telegraph went "STOP", "Shut all dampers" order given. ****
Yet one forward boiler room person testified closer to the Bridge account:
**** Fredrick Barrett Leading Stoker in BR 6
1860 A red light came on indicating the engines supposed to stop. "Shut all dampers" was ordered in the BR. 1866 The crash came before we had them all shut. ****
I suppose this has probably been discussed many times before. I think the ER account is more believable. Why?
I suppose it may be said that a lot of the discrepancies are because of the chaos of the moment. The high tension, drama and stress of avoiding the obstruction.
But there was no such effect down in the engine room. Everything was normal down below up until the alarm and/or the shock was felt. Even after the shock and following telegraph orders, they did not believe anything was serious hence no chaos.
I am quite sure it was crazy in the forward boiler rooms but they were not the ones receiving orders from the bridge.
So I believe the ship struck, the engines were -not- put to full astern. Instead they were stopped for a few minutes, ran again in a certain direction, then reversed and stopped again.
The question here isn't if the engines could actually be reversed from a near full forward to full astern in the time allotted, but rather telegraph indications.
I would present yet another conspiracy theory regarding the discrepancies. I personally think the officers did a CYA maneuver. I think running the ship in the aft and forward directions accelerated the flooding. So they created a story to stop the ship as soon as possible after the collision. But I digress my conspiracies.....