New Claims Over Titanic Sinking

A novelist whose Lancashire grandfather sailed on the Titanic claims her new book reveals the truth behind the sinking of the ship.

Louise Patten said Chorley-born Charles Lightoller, who was Second Officer on board the ship which sank when it hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, said an order to steer the ship away from the danger was misunderstood.

She said that at the time, different steering systems were used for steam ships and sailing ships and her grandfather maintained this caused confusion when an order was given to turn the ship to starboard.

Mrs Patten said:

"Crucially, the two steering systems were the complete opposite of one another. So a command to turn 'hard a-starboard' meant turn the wheel right under one system and left under the other.

"The steersman panicked and the real reason why Titanic hit the iceberg, which has never come to light before, is because he turned the wheel the wrong way.''

Mrs Patten's grandfather died before she was born but she lived with her grandmother who told her the story.

She said:

"As a teenager, I was enthralled by Titanic. Granny revealed to me exactly what had happened on that night and we would discuss it endlessly.''

Mr Lightoller was in charge of the lifeboats on the ship's port side when it sank.

After surviving the disaster, which killed more than 1,000 people, he continued with a career at sea and commanded one of the little ships that rescued British troops from the beach at Dunkirk.

The story of the Titanic, which sank on its way from Southampton to New York, inspired countless books and films including the 1997 version starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. Mrs Patten's novel, Good As Gold, tells the story of a wealthy banker branded a coward after escaping the sinking ship.