Could the stern have floated?

Dec 2, 2000
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I see. Sorry I’m a bit naive on this, I just know the basics.
Everybody is on a learning curve.
I do however believe Olympic and Britannic were the safest passenger ships in the world in 1915. And look what happened to Britannic.
Britannic might have managed done a LOT better if the watertight doors had been closed. Obviously there's some fudge factor here because we have no idea how much distortion would have been caused by the mine's explosion. Given a sufficient amount of racking and anything can be distorted, but in my opinion, had all of the doors been shut in the first place, the ship would have survived.
 
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SmileyGirl

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Thanks Michael but you guys know so much on here about the ins and outs of everything that I’ve never even thought of (I’ve only read about 20 general books on it). I am looking forward to learning all about the small details. I realise I know nothing about the sea either!
 
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mitfrc

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Thanks Michael but you guys know so much on here about the ins and outs of everything that I’ve never even thought of (I’ve only read about 20 general books on it). I am looking forward to learning all about the small details. I realise I know nothing about the sea either!
Apologising isn't necessary at all. I'm really happy people are interested in learning the ins and outs of naval architecture, which is a really rare subject these days in the western countries. I studied Ocean Engineering (basically interdisciplinary engineering for marine applications--ROVs, offshore platforms, offshore wind, buoys, etc) precisely because there weren't many career opportunities for proper Naval Architects, and now I work professionally as the manager of a couple of tow tanks, a wave tank, and hydraulic flume, but most of my knowledge of this is because I'm a nerd and I spent most of the period of 1999 - 2005 posting on the old warships1.com forums before they went to heck. Part of my job is to handle public outreach and I love fielding sincere questions, so ask away.

Michael H. Standart said:
Britannic might have managed done a LOT better if the watertight doors had been closed. Obviously there's some fudge factor here because we have no idea how much distortion would have been caused by the mine's explosion. Given a sufficient amount of racking and anything can be distorted, but in my opinion, had all of the doors been shut in the first place, the ship would have survived.
Absolutely no disagreement from me... I was actually bringing it up to drive home the point that operational decisions are everything. Britannic should have survived the damage; and if Britannic was sinking, her lifeboat davit system should have carried everyone away safely. Neither happened because of operational decisions.
 
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SmileyGirl

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That’s awesome. A lot of this is well over my head but I shall try and understand. I know nothing of seafaring generally which is sad. My New Years Resolution is to learn more about these aspects of Titanic and not just know about the people aboard.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I learned at least the fundamentals of naval engineering because I had to. Since I've been running with the techies and forensics people within the community, I had to understand such things as stability curves, margin lines and construction fundamentals above and beyond my training in damage control. That way, I would know what they were talking about and I could make a useful contribution to the discussion.

Britannic should have survived the damage; and if Britannic was sinking, her lifeboat davit system should have carried everyone away safely. Neither happened because of operational decisions.
Unfortunately, the Royal Navy and the merchant marine back in World War One didn't take the threat of mines as seriously as the should have. Even after the loss of the Audacious, some of the skippers out there just weren't getting the message. Those watertight doors and the portholes on E-Deck should never have been open in waters infested with hostile submarines and which were known to be mined.
 
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mitfrc

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They learned, though, and Harland and Wolff had started building massively more resilient ships after the sting of Titanic. Though she was ultimately sunk, Justicia's incredible resilience, taking six torpedo hits (granted, it's still debated how many exploded, possibly as few as half) and taking three hours to sink after the last two struck her, demonstrates what acceptable merchant design practice could do, with all lessons fully learned, in late WW1 -- that is a level of underwater damage no capital ship survived in WW1, and many foundered in minutes after taking as few as two torpedo hits.
 

David1819

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May 16, 2019
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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
I was thinking about this the other day. They could only know this if people on the stern when it split, survived and lived to tell the story. And if that was the case there would be no doubt about the ship splitting in two in the 70 odd years prior to the wreck being found.

It is most probably a fabrication.
 

mitfrc

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That is a very confusing statement, David, as we know as a point of fact that people on the stern when the ship broke up did in fact survive...
 

Scott Mills

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That is a very confusing statement, David, as we know as a point of fact that people on the stern when the ship broke up did in fact survive...
Correct, though not anyone below decks in a position to do anything. Although I don't know the context of David's post, a number of things have always struck me. For example, we know for a fact that many of the watertight doors from boiler room 6 aft were reopened so that crew and pumping equipment could move freely. This includes the doors between the electric room, turbine room, engine room, and boiler room number one.

Obviously, some of these were closed again (boiler room four); however, I assume any doors separating the engineering spaces with boilers still lit and the dynamos were open until the last. I have always wondered whether or not closing them, in the last instance, would have bought Titanic, or at least the stern section, any time at all.
 

mitfrc

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[It’s far more likely that the twisting motion, bending and flexural stress just fatally compromised the hull. Even if they were all closed two stern compartments would be open to the sea, and I would expect the stern to immediately capsize from instability. If the ship had broken in two around BR 4 with bulkhead doors closed through BR 2 then the stern might have been stable enough to float. See “Suevic”. The issue is less about keeping water out and more about remaining stable after separation.