Could Titanic's double bottom have been torn open by the iceberg

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Sandy McLendon

Member
Mark:

Thanks very much. I wonder why Lightoller went out on such a limb, though. Any competent questioner could have picked his testimony apart in less than two minutes- it would have been far safer for Lightoller to say, "I cannot say- I was looking elsewhere at that moment," or "I couldn't see anything."

It seems to me that the course he chose invited trouble, though in the event, it never happened. Ah well- these are the little enigmas that keep us intrigued here, eh?
 
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Bill Wormstedt

Member
Sandy:

You are assuming that the questioner *wanted* to pick Lightoller's testimony apart! I don't think the BI *wanted* the truth of the breakup known. There were too many exchanges of the following type:
Assessor: Did you see the ship sink?
Witness: Yes.
Assessor: Let's change the subject. Now lets talk about ......
 
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Mark Robert Hopkins

Member
Bill,

I agree also, but we can't deny that Lightoller was the highest ranking officer to survive, so he knew that he'd be a prime target, so it's understandable that he, and the other officers, would be on the offensive. Ismay was, too, as he was whisked to the stand before he could blink and was the first of all to be interrogated - in both Inquiries. If I remember from the Inquiry transcripts, the inquisitor directed the question of the ship's break up to him, and he said that he didn't see it. Although he claimed to have had his back turned (viable, considering the state of mind he was in aboard the Carpathia later on that morning), it's conceivable that he may have denied as well - not out of fear of his job (he was one of the owners of the WSL, I think, aside from him being chairman), but out of already existing apprehension toward having himself and his company cast in a negative light. This, ultimately, would have also reduced the Ticket sales. I'm sure he knew that the sinking itself had done enough damage as it was.
 
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Mark Robert Hopkins

Member
sorry that should be "defensive," not "offensive." Almost missed that, hehe.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
Hi Samuel,
Yes, I'd like to see those additional equations if possible.

I think David Brown's logic about the stopping of the watches sounds about right to me. Off the top of my head, Weikman's watch stopped at about 1.50am, which would have been more or less the time he went into the water. Gracie noted the time of the collision as being midnight, so if you take 20 minutes off his watch time, you get 2.02am, which is some corroboration for the time the bridge area went under. I don't have details of Thayers watch, so I can't comment on that.

Admittedly, this doesn't jibe with the accepted final wireless signal from the Titanic at 2.17am. I do have problems with this. If you look at what happened to Bride during and after he wireless cabin (from his newspaper accounts and testimony
there doesn't seem enough time for him to do what he said he saw and did in the next three minutes. To my mind, the Titanic time of the last signals should be earlier.

at 10.25pm New York Time (or 12.15am Titanic time), La Provence, Mount Temple and Cape Race hear the Titanic signalling. If the 2.17 am time is wrong (or at least the time difference with New York is wrong), then this would push the initial CQD messages' time closer to midnight, which would compress the timeline for Boxhall's, and then the Captain's, inspections of the ship.

Paul

 
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Paul Lee

Member
By the way, Samuel, you are right of course- once the water levels inside and outside the hull are equal, no more water will enter the hull. The "h" in my equation is the difference in height between the water level in the hull and the water level outside. Once this "head" is zero, the pressure forcing the water into the hull is also zero.

Paul

 
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John Flood

Member
"this doesn't jibe with the accepted final wireless signal from the Titanic at 2.17am"

I agree. I think the final wireless signal must have been sent earlier. As you say Gracie was swept off the ship at 2.02am, as the bridge was going under. I would imagine the wireless room would have been flooded, at most, a few minutes later than that.

But I don't believe the hull broke completely apart as early as 2.00am. I am certainly no expert, but I can't see how the stern could of stayed afloat for up to twenty minutes with all its decks open to the sea.

Is this possible?

All the Best,
John.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
If the time on Gracie's watch is correct (2.02am), then the bridge and wireless cabin must have gone under earlier than that, assuming Gracie's watch stopped immediately upon contact with the water. Gracie was further along the boat deck when he encountered the wave. At this point, the wireless room would have been partially submerged.

Paul

 
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Sandy McLendon

Member
Bill:

I can see how Lightoller's testimony worked out in the event- what I can't see is how Lightoller dared give it. He'd already been through the American hearings, and Senator Smith had proved to be a most dogged and thorough questioner (though I'm aware most British observers didn't see it that way at the time). That experience should have shown Lightoller how unexpected questions could arise.

Unless Lightoller had already been assured of what was going to happen at the British Inquiry, I simply don't see how he dared testify that the ship sank intact, when at best, the truth was that he was probably not in a position to see the event.

Had anyone challenged Lightoller on this point, it would have called his overall credibility into question, and that would have looked worse for WSL, not better. Unless he knew for certain he would not be challenged on the point, he would have done far better to have left it alone, is my thinking.
 
Steven Hall

Steven Hall

Member
I see now — the time taken was from the hand time-pieces previously adjusted.
I’ve always thought of the ship breaking apart snapping the Marconi cables between the masts as an indication of the breakup. With the last garbled message being received as an indication the cables had fallen.
A most interesting thread.
 
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Paul Lee

Member
I always took the last signal to have been an attempt to retune the equipment, and then the stoker came in and interrupted the task (he was trying to steal Philips' lifejacket).

I've had a quick look at Bride's testimony. He says that he got out of bed at 11.55pm, and took over from Philips, who was about to retire for the night. The captain came in to the office and ordered the call for assistance. Philips came back into the Marconi room and resume signalling, this time for help.

This doesn't quite jibe with his story in the New York Times. In that account, both Philips and Bride were in the Marconi room, the latter imploring the former to go to bed. The Captain came in and said "we've struck an iceberg" and said that he wanted the call for assistance when ordered. Ten minutes later he came back and ordered this to be done.
Also, Bride reported that five minutes later, the first SOS was sent out. According to the BoT inquiry, the first mention of SOS was at 12.45am - or about half an hour afterwards. Of course, Bride may have got his times muddled. It was understandable.

None of this pushes the first SOS closer towards the midnight mark. BUT, if the final signal from the Titanic was sent at (at least) 2.07am, then this would mean a time difference of 1 hour and 40 minutes with New York Time, not 1:50, as used at the BoT. Perhaps a navigator on the board can tell me what longitude this time difference equates to?

Cheers

Paul

 
Inger Sheil

Inger Sheil

Member
Sandy, I think it's possible that Lightoller was genuinely convinced the ship sank intact. As has been mentioned above, Gracie - who presumably had no motive to lie on this point and who was emphatic that the ship sank intact - went to some pains in The Truth About the Titanic to address this point and explain why he thought those who believed the ship had broken were in error. Gracie and Lightoller had conversations after the event, and I wonder if the impressions of each reinforced the mistaken conviction of the other.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>I can see how Lightoller's testimony worked out in the event- what I can't see is how Lightoller dared give it.<<

Two points here, Sandy:

One: As per what Inger said, Lightoller may have genuinely believed what he said. In other words, it was an honest statement of what the man *believed* to be fact. It may have been wrong, but it was not a lie.

Two: On some level, I think you may still be assuming that both Inquiries were totally dispassionate searches for The Truth, no political or personal agendas, no conflicts of interest, and let the chips fall where they may. Don't you ever believe that one.

Senator Smith had an agenda of his own in that among other things he saw this as an opportunity to nail J.P. Morgan's hide to the barn. That's not to say that he didn't have other concerns or a genuine interest in safety of life at sea, but he wasn't going to worry too much about whether the ship sank intact. Frankly, I don't think he even believed the stories of the break up.

Regards the British Inquiry, it was not for nothing that Lightoller called this affair a whitewash. The fact that the Wreck Commission...supposedly seperate from the Board of Trade...was appointed by that same Board of Trade whose regulations, oversight, and practices were going to be under scrutiny. It's basically the Fox Gaurding the Henhouse with hens "mysteriously disappearing" and the only one doing the investigation as to why is another Fox.

They were not about to ask the tough questions that would tend to put themselves under the microscope, nor was that same Wreck Commission about to let anything out that was going to embarrass the nation or it's interests.
 
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Sandy McLendon

Member
Inger:

Since I don't like to think ill of Lightoller, I suppose your theory is the best explanation. Certainly, we can all be honestly mistaken, even at times when contradictory facts are staring us in the face. Lightoller was seaman enough to know that he couldn't really have seen what he thought he did, had he thought it through, I think. But the intense emotions generated by the final moments of Titanic were probably enough to cloud the best judgement, and that's the explanation I think works best.

Michael:

I appreciate the reminder about the honesty of both enquiries; I was already taking them both with huge grains of salt. I must say that I believe the American one to have been somewhat more dispassionate and thorough than the British one. Senator Smith took a lot of heat for what seemed like simple-minded questions, but he seems to have worked very hard to cut through all the techno-babble, making people speak in plain English.

Thanks!
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Maybe this discussion should be shifted to a new thread, "Who said they saw what?" It appears to have gone off topic. The problem I have is when people state, as if it were fact, that so-and-so really knew that the ship broke in two but .... Yet these same people offer no supporting evidence to prove their assertions. Feelings don't necessarily represent facts.
 
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