Could the stern have floated?

Scott Cosso

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Feb 12, 2004
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When the titanic broke in two initially, the keel still attached the two together. At this this time the titanic's stern fell back to even level. The Titanic's sunken bow pulled the stern back up before breaking free, putting to stern in a position to sink. The stern had little to no water in it at the time. So if it was level could it have floated if the bow broke completely free or would the weight proportion pull it down anyways? Any thoughts to this subject would be appreciated.
 

Jan C. Nielsen

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Dec 12, 1999
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In the program, "Secrets of the Titanic - Revealed" (or something like that) the Discovery Program researchers made precisely this point. The double-hulled bottom of the Titanic held together, and held the stern to the rest of the ship. This pulled down the stern, and caused it to sink. Also, the heavy engines were in the stern section. Perhaps these tended to pull Titanic down as well. I don't know if it's possible that unruptured bulkheads could have kept the stern afloat. With all the weight, my guess is that they would have been compromised. Elsewhere we have learned that not all bulkhead doors were shut (very few of them were shut) --further, the tearing of the ship in two may have fractured the overall construction and the bulkheads --as such, we'll probably never know the answer to this question.
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Jan

I think I've seen the programme you are talking about, and in it someone comments that those remaining on the stern felt that the break up was some "mechanism" kicking into action to save them and that when she fell back on an even keel some of the passengers truly felt that the Titanic had finally saved them at the last.

If this is true it sounds like an incredibly sad and cruel twist to the tale. I wonder if there are any eyewitness accounts of these feelings or if they were mentioned purely for televisual effect on the documentary.

Regards

Sam
 
Sep 21, 2005
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I watched a Discovery program about the Titanic yesterday-not sure if it was a similar one to the program menitionned above, but it claimed to reveal some new 'revolutionary' information about the sinking of the ship.

One claim that I was trying to get my head round was that the stern was only actually pulled up into the air at an angle of 12 degrees as the bow went down.As I understood it and have read, it was raised almost perpendicular(and no-not just from the movie!)I wondered how at an angle of 12 degrees that some survivors felt like they were on an 'elevator ride' when they clung to the stern. My only real theory is that the pulling and twisting motion of the bow as the keel held the two pieces together may have caused this kind of feeling.

I also do not understand fully how they came about the hypothesis that the bow section may have sunk in a helix motion as it went down.this was eventually disproved with a scale model reconstruction. Unfortunately science has never been my forte!

Any help would be gratefully appreciated.I'm afraid I havent been on the message board for a good 2 or 3 months so this may have already been explained or answered!Sorry!

Laura
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Dec 2, 2000
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Laura, bear in mind that this all happened at night, and you had a lot of people in fear of their lives. Not much of a shock then that the survivors tended to exaggerate things a bit. As it stands, the reason the conclusions were made as they were was because the engine and boiler mountings were not strong enough to hold any of them in place if the stern went perpendicular...or any other part of the hull for that matter.

If memory serves, the helix theory may have come about because hull plating bent at an angle would have had the same effect as an airfoil causing the bow section to corkscrew. I could be mistaken on this however, so be cautious. It's been awhile since I watched this program.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Laura

In accordance with what you say,it seems from recent research that the hull could not have reached an angle of more than 12 - 15 degrees before the stress became unbearable and the break up began.
The "elevator ride" came about after the break up and the stern arrived at a perpendicular position before disappearing.
To add to Michael's message,this piece of keel plating has been discovered and displays a considerable amount of warping and evidence of severe stress, which adds credence to this theory.

Regards

Sam
 
M

Mike Shetina

Guest
Hello, I have just began to use the message board a month and a half ago. Although I have used this site for longer than I can remember. Anyway, Charles Pellagrano puts forward the theory that the ship cracked in half and then the stern righted itself. According to him the ship sank because the bulkhead in the engine areas, had been opened to allow the pumps to go from one compartment to the next. This allowed water to flood one or two compartments aft of the break. He also says that the ships smoking room fireplace ashes would have spilled out into the room and burned. This seems unlikely. But if Thomas Andrews was still there, it wouldnt be pretty!!!
Later,
Mike Shetina
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I think it a better description to say that the stern settled back as opposed to righting itself. I'm in the process of reading Dr. Pellegino's book at the moment, and his belief that the stern could have remained afloat is one that I strongly disagree with.

We cannot know all of what was torn away, but we can observe that portions of the ship's engines are missing as is a large section of the double bottom and some of the boilers. Forces capable of doing that would scarcely have been kinder to decks, bulkheads and any supporting framework on either side of the break, and they weren't. The ship didn't just break, a portion of the hull literally disintegrated and fell to the bottom in pieces.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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Mike,

I can't see how Titanic's stern section could have floated on its own for any time longer than a few minutes. My personal opinion is that the stern didn't completely seperate from the rest of the ship until it was completely underwater. But even if the stern had seperated completely from the bow while still afloat and settled back to an almost level position, the engine room was demolished and open to the sea. The engine room was the heaviest part of the floating stern and would have caused the stern section to tip down as the engine room flooded almost instantly. This engine room down position would have allowed the water to flow quickly over the tops of the bulkheads. As the sea flooded into the aft compartments, the weight of the water filling the stern would have exagerated the unbalanced position of the stern and caused it to tip further and sink deeper by the engine room.

Within a few minutes enough water would have entered the stern's compartments to cause it to probably capsize, or roll over onto its side, and then eventually sink. The stern would not have floated in an upright position because it wasn't designed to do such a thing. It was just too far out of balance to remain stable. Its that inherent instability and unbalance that leads me to beleive that the stern was still attached to the rest of the ship when it sank, because it remained so upright as it flooded. I think it was being "pulled" under as much as it was sinking due to its own weight and damage.

As far as the smoking room catching fire because of the ashes in the fireplace dumping out, I can see that happening, but not for very long. I mean the coals and ashes may have indeed spilled out across the floor at some point as she tipped up, but they would have probably tumbled across the room, along with the everything else that wasn't bolted down, that includes Andrews, and wound up in a pile of debris along the forward wall. For a minute or two some of the furniture or carpet may have began to smolder or catch fire but within a few minutes any fire would have been extinguished by the inrushing sea water.
Either way, by fire or water, Andrews along with about 1500 others didn't enjoy the final minutes of Titanic as she broke up. My God, the violence of collapsing decks, water blasting through passageways, imploding bulkheads, and the screams of others would have been a hellish nightmare. Its impossible to think about it for very long. The stern was a death trap,and the ultimate reality of Titanic was horror. In view of this truth its amazing that anyone who survived that night would ever want to discuss it afterward. It must have seemed very akward to the survivors as the years went on that people would become so fasinated with Titanic. To many, myself included, its easier to think of Titanic in terms of technical details such as rate of flooding, stress points, speed, location or "what ifs", that allows us to seperate the flesh from the steel and avoid the emotional overload that comes from looking at Titanic in the face.

Okay, that was way too heavy talk. What was the question???

Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Yuri, on all the above, I couldn't agree more.

As to the question, it was; Could the stern have remained afloat? For the reasons we touched on here, I would say the answer would have to be no.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jul 22, 2001
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What about the theory that the ship may have survived longer had all the water tight doors been re-opened letting the water flow through on an even level as oppose to it dragging the bow down? Would this have kept Titanic afloat longer, maybe saving more of the passengers and crew? sorry if this has been disscussed elsewhere.Emma
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Sorry Emma, this one was discredited several years ago and showcased on one of the Discovery Channel documentaries. Tank tests with a properly weighted and balanced model showed that the after compartments flooded at an earlier time causing a loss of power that would have left the ship in the dark long befor it ever happened in the real world. Further, the ship ended up rolling over on her beam and sinking fully a half an hour earlier.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Do you remember the beat-up that went along with the programme, Mike? Something along the lines of declaring that, if the tests showed that the Titanic would have stayed afloat with level flooding on both sides, Smith would not have been guilty of negligence so much as outright murder for not ordering all the watertight doors opened? Oh-Kaaaay...

Was quite relieved when they decided Smith wasn't such a bleeding idiot after all - although I imagine there was more than a touch of disappointment on the part of those conducting the experiment that they couldn't proclaim startling new proof that she could have been kept afloat longer.

Not having any engineering inclinations at all, I wonder if the more technically inclined could enlighten me as to just how accurate such an experiment would be? Would a scaled down model, weighted correctly, give an accurate enough idea of the dynamics of what would have happened to the full sized original? How many times would the experiment need to be repeated to confirm results? Would there be other *significant* variables in the scaled up version?

~ Ing
 
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By emma richardson on Sunday, September 9, 2001 - 08:42 pm:

What about the theory that the ship may have survived longer had all the water tight doors been re-opened letting the water flow through on an even level as oppose to it dragging the bow down? Would this have kept Titanic afloat longer, maybe saving more of the passengers and crew? sorry if this has been disscussed elsewhere.Emma

Hello Emma, In a TV Special starring Bernard Hill (Capt Smith in JC's Titanic), this idea was discussed and experimented with. And exact replica of The Titanic, scaled down of course, was used and the scenario was repeated but this time the watertight doors were left open, it was found that a full 40 minutes before her scheduled sinking at 2:20, the ship lost power and capsized without all the boats getting away, the result was more deaths in less time. For the record, I felt that this scenario would work before I viewed the test.

Regards, Bill
 
May 5, 2001
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By Inger Sheil on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 09:02 am:

Was quite relieved when they decided Smith wasn't such a bleeding idiot after all - although I imagine there was more than a touch of disappointment on the part of those conducting the experiment that they couldn't proclaim startling new proof that she could have been kept afloat longer.

Hi Inger.....I know this is like fixing the barn door after the horses escape but I don't suppose slowing the Titanic down after so many ice warnings would have helped..eh?....Probably would've enjoyed a fruitful life on the sea with her sister, The Olympic.
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Hello Bill, thanks for that answer. I am curious to know how long the power would have lasted had Captain Smith re-opened the water tight doors?
Em
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Sorry I worded that TOTALLY wrongly! What I meant to say was.....surely the power would have been lost shortly after the collision? Leaving Titanic and her passengers and crew in almost total darkness much earlier than in reality? Though having just said that it has made me wonder if any other ships lights would have been spotted by more people in the darkness? I hope that this makes sense to someone?! Em
 
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By emma richardson on Monday, September 10, 2001 - 10:17 pm:

Hello Bill, thanks for that answer. I am curious to know how long the power would have lasted had Captain Smith re-opened the water tight doors?

Well Emma, if you're interested, I got the name of the program off the tape I have, it's called "TITANIC: Secrets Revealed" and they estimated that The Titanic would've lost power and capsized shortly after at about 1:40 AM, a full 40 minutes before they actually did sink, they estimated the loss of life as staggering, especially all those people running into each other in the dark.

SO they think Capt. Smith at least did the right thing by NOT doing this.

Regards, Bill

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