The Titanic came close to crashing into two other ships on its maiden voyage but, despite the ill omens, continued upon its ill-fated trip to New York.

Had the ship collided with one of these two other ships perhaps the final disaster, which saw 1,500 souls lost, on April 15, 1912 as the Titanic crashed into an iceberg, may have been averted.

The near misses are described in a letter from the Titanic’s chief engineer, Joseph Bell, to his son Frank, who was training to be an engineer in Belfast. The letter is to go to auction at Henry Aldridge and Sons, in Devizes, Wiltshire in England, and is expected to fetch between $15,900 and $23,900.

Bell told his son how the mooring ropes of the two liners, the New York and the Oceanic, broke as the Titanic passed. This caused the New York to set off across the river.

He wrote “I hope you got to Belfast alright to start work on time, I got your wire from Liverpool, we have made a good run from Southampton, everything is working A1.

“We nearly had a collision with the New York & Oceanic when leaving Southampton, the wash of our propellers made the two ships range about when we were passing them, this made their mooring ropes break and the New York set off across the river until the tugs got hold of her again, no damage was done but it looked like trouble at the time, keep well and be a good lad, regards to Mrs Johnston.”

Bell died in the disaster. He left behind his wife, Maud, and four children. He had transferred over to the Titanic from the Olympic and oversaw its construction in Belfast.

Andrew Aldridge, from Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneers, told the Irish Examiner, “It’s a bit of a 'Sliding Doors' moment, which describes a near miss that would have changed history.

“If the Titanic had collided with the New York or Oceanic as she left Southampton, the ship would have been delayed and may well have not have come into contact with an iceberg.”

The Titanic at Southampton: Chief engineers letter to son, to go to auction, describes scene that could have changed ill-fated maiden cruise.Wikimedia