Coal and Sparks shooting out of the Funnels



I wonder if the funnel fell at the same moment of the break like in this animaiton:

If I recall correctly, Lightoller remembered seeing the second funnel being submerged by actually quite a bit but never saw its collapse.

Jack Thayer also describes the break and then the second funnel. "One of the funnels seemed to be lifted off and fell towards me about 15 yards away, with a mass of sparks and steam coming out of it. I saw the ship in a sort of a red glare, and it seemed to me that she broke in two just in front of the third funnel."

Possibly this could mean that the second funnel collapsed right in front of him as the ship had broken apart, and when the funnel wasn't a concern to him anymore, he noticed that the stern had broken off.

Could the tensions caused by the break have transferred sparks and debris up through the funnel?
Wonder what caused the ship to roll so violently and if this caused the ship to twist and buckle apart, or if this was the immediate after effect of the initial buckling and rapid flooding. Mrs. Hippach described the ship twisting and then breaking into three. Lightoller described the ship - "reeling for a moment, then plunging" and how there was - "An explosion, there was another explosion, and I came to the surface. The ship seemed to be heaving tremendous sighs as she went down."

The reeling and twisting of the ship from side to side, forward to back, must have been a significant part of the breaking. John Haggan said - "The ship was shaking very much, part of it being under water. On looking up at it, I could see death in a minute for us as the forward funnel was falling and it looked a certaintly it would strike our boat and smash it to pieces."

Mary Glynn was in lifeboat 13 which was estimated to be half a mile away when the Titanic went down. Mary said: "We watched the Titanic rolling and bobbing like a cork. All her lights were burning, and over the water we caught the strains of 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ Finally Titanic ceased rolling, seemed to hesitate a moment, and plunged her bow into the ocean." She also said - "There was a terrific explosion, which threw the water in a turmoil, and fragments of the ship were hurled high into the air. I supposed the boilers had exploded."

Emily Hart was also in her lifeboat and saw millions of sparks fly into the air when she appeared to explode and break apart. What is interesting is that she was able to identify the furniture etc that was blown a considerable distance away from the ship and when the "millions of sparks" illuminated the sky and reflected on the ocean (lighting it up as well) she was able to see a considerable amount of wreckage floating close by. e.g. "She appeared to be breaking in halves.........For a few moments we could see everything that was happening, for, as the vessel sank, millions and millions of sparks flew up and lit everything around us, and in an instant the sea was alive with wreckage."

Mr. Osman testified that the explosions threw coal, smoke and steam up through the funnels and then the stern righted herself. I believe Mr. Hyman saw the same thing, as he heard the steam escaping and saw parts of the ship blown into the air.

Mr. Hyman
"There came a terrible explosion, and I could see men, women and pieces of the ship blown into the air from the after deck. Later I saw bodies partly blown to pieces floating around, and I am sure more than a hundred persons were blown off into the sea by that explosion. A terrible hissing of steam began and the awful cry went on. I tried to close my ears, but there was some mysterious attraction and I had to hear that cry. The hissing and screaming kept up, and finally the ship seemed to right itself."

I believe the animations presented by honor and glory are too brief and the sinking must have been much more chaotic and violent, maybe even unpredictable, as the funnels collapsed in different directions and water rushed into all sides of her forward and aft on both sides, but considerably unevenly as ruptured decks, hull plating, and opened windows would allow the ship to settle on all sides very rapidly which tilted the ship and rolled her back and forth and threw the funnels over and she buckled completely, broke and sank. I believe this is something that would be incredibly hard for a single survivor to describe in one brief statement and why there were so many survivor accounts that seemingly portray the sinking in a different way, especially as they observed the ship from different perspectives at different times of the sinking.

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Kyle Naber

Oct 5, 2016
I think the recent video of THG's breakup seems pretty violent to me, especially if you're there in real life. Yes, it settles somewhat slowly, but you have to picture yourself as small as one of those people clinging on the decks or watching from the boats. You'd hear the "explosion," the break bobs up like a cork and pieces fall out of the opening, the funnels collapse and most of the lights go out. If you didn't know what was happening completely (everyone witnessing it) it would seem like something extremely catastrophic like boilers exploding was happening. But really, the weight of the stern just had to be relieved.
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Scott Mills

Jul 10, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
Old news, but there is good evidence of catastrophic implosion damage on some of the boilers in the debris field. This is exactly what one would expect in the case of a boiler failure resulting from cold water coming into contact with an active boiler. Given that, I suspect that, as David points out, water finally came into contact with some of the lit boilers, which were being used to keep the electrical dynamo's, pumps, lights, and electrical equipment running. The resulting implosion would then cause water to flash to steam, with a corresponding explosive force, or "boom!"

The detritus from the boiler room, including the still smoldering remnants of what was in the boiler (or boilers), would then be carried by the steam along the path of least resistance: up, and then out of the funnel.

Occam's razor is very sharp, and this seems like the simplest, and thus most likely, explanation for the phenomena/event reported by the survivors.
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