A senior officer who survived the Titanic disaster may have played down the iceberg collision to dodge negligence claims, an insurance document which is expected to fetch £12,000 at auction has shown.

Second officer Charles Lightoller’s statement was taken in New York days after Titanic sank in the Atlantic waters in 1912. According to his statement, he felt a “slight jar” when the luxury liner hit a “small and low lying” iceberg. The iceberg was actually up to 100ft high by 400ft wide, but the 46,000-tonne ship was speeding through an icefield at night and crew failed to spot it in time. Lightoller’s statement helped the ship’s owners, the White Star Line, win a $5 million insurance payout — equivalent to £290 million today, The Mirror reported. The statement is now set to fetch £12,000 at auction in Devizes, Wilts, on April 26.

“The captain was on and off the bridge throughout the watch. A sharp lookout was kept from the crow’s nest. The ship was on course South 86 degrees West true when the lookouts reported ice dead ahead,” the statement reads.

“The first officer immediately starboarded the helm reversed the engines full speed and closed all watertight doors. The ship swung to port but struck a ‘growler’ or small low-lying iceberg with the bluff of her starboard bow, making a comparatively slight jar with a grinding sound,” it reads.

More In: World | International | News