Deaths within the ship


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Annie O'Greefa

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Here are three very morbid questions: Are there any estimates on how many people actually sank with the ship? I have heard anything from a handful to several hundred. How many might still be buried in the muck and mud at the bottom of Titanic? Are there any educated guess as to how many people died within the liner before the ship even sank? Thank You!
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I haven't heard of any such estimates and the only possible witnesses had more pressing concerns then keeping track of who was still inside the ship. Still, it seems certain that the engineers whe kept power up until literally the last minute (Well, last two minutes) never made it up on deck.

As to how meny might be buried in the muck, I would have to say zero. The local sea life consumed any organic remains and my understanding is that the seabad thereabouts is acidic enough to destroy what the crabs don't. All that remains of anyone who sank all the way to the bottom are the leather boots/shoes that they wore.

Sorry if the above seems a tad graphic, but there isn't a really nice way to describe it.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Erik Wood

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I would assume that several of the people stranded as the ship went down got sucked down. But I would think that actually on the ship would be in the very low hundreds. Some stayes and some where trapped.

Erik
 
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Traci Miller

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Hi Annie

Considering the relatively small number of bodies recovered after the sinking, I would think that initially there may have been many who had been trapped or who elected to stay aboard (such as the engineers, as Michael said, as well as the postal employees who went down to save the mail and were never seen again). Also, several presumably got off the ship only to freeze and then their bodies apparently sank, perhaps near where the ship came to rest on the ocean floor.

It seems apparent that the sea/organisms have claimed the bodies themselves. If you look at the photos taken by Robert Ballard, you will see several pairs of shoes that certainly look (from the position they are in) like they were on a person's feet - that's all there is left.

It is a sad and morbid subject, but there you have it.

Traci
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Erik; the odd thing about the final plunge itself was that nobody reported any suction at all. This includes...if memory serves...a baker who rode the stern down all tha way and didn't even get his hair wet. Go figure.(Shrug)

Annie, It's hard to say how meny were actually inside the ship when she went down. Certainly the unfortunate postal employees, but we can add the crews in the after boiler rooms who kept steam up to run the generators and the electricians as well. Beyond that, I suspect most of those trapped on board would have been out on deck to the last. The small number of bodies recovered may not, in and of itself be revealing. Let wind, currents, and hungry marine life do their work and it's amazing that the recovery teams found as many bodies as they did.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Michael,

That is rather odd. But just because the baker didn't feel it doesn't mean that it didn't happen. But I would tend to agree with the baker. Right now I would be weary of returning to a sinking ship in fear of it sucking me down. I still think that suction had something to do with the lack of wreckage and bodies. Current and nature had a lot to do with it. Plus once your body temprature passes freezing you body sinks anyway. I wish I had a reasearch lab to do a few tests.

Erik
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Perhaps Bill DeSena can help you here on the question of bodies. He spent several years as a police officer so he knows a thing or two from some rather gruesome first hand experience. Like pulling floaters out of the water.

I've found the lack of suction from the sinking stern rather odd myself, but every account seems to bear it out. Strange.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Thanks Michael,

I placed a couple of calls myself yesterday and I have a friend at Woods Hole and a friend who is an inspector. They told me that if she was completely in two at that point that suction would not be on the surface but would follow the ship i.e. the sides. The majority of the ship is on the way to the bottom and that is where the majority of the suction power comes from. But if some or even half of the stern section is dry and flooding as it submerges then there should be suction on the surface as the ship takes water from the surface and pulls it into itself. So that leaves the question was the stern mostly flooded when she went down or where there large air holes and did she finish flooding on the way down? Hmmm. More points to ponder.

Erik
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Interesting points, Erik. I think the latest has it that the break-up was well advanced on the surface, but the ship didn't finish breaking up until she was completely submerged. Judging from the mess that the stern was, I would bet that there were some air pockets...quite a few in fact, but once the stern was deep enough, the high water presures finished the job. I.e; implosion.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Good points. Wasn't it the Discovery Channel who said that the Titanic broke up apart on the surface that bow floated downward followed by the stern. I know in the movie (which is not in any way a crediable source)that is the way they showed it. Hmmm. No suction. Something that big. I will have to do some searching on my own.

Erik
 
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Bill DeSena

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Thanks Michael for the plug!

While I never had any shipwrecked bodies to deal with as you mention I have had experience with bodies that were found in the water.

Freezing cold water will cause a body to get heavier and aid its sinking along with clothing and traumatic injuries suffered during death eg.. amputations and crushing dismemberment can also remove lifebelts and reduce the natural buoyancy. Once the decomposition begins the abdominal region swells with gases and makes the corpse pop back to the surface until the skin bursts releasing the gas and the body sinks again. In freezing water the decomposition will be retarded and may never take place, examples of perfectly preserved bodies have been found frozen in the ice dating back a 100 years and more, like the iceman discovered in the Alps a few years ago who was several thousand years old and his skin still had visible tribal tattoos visible.

I also agree about the suction it could have accounted for the lack of bodies and its hard to think that regardless of the flooding dynamics of the vessel that something that big hurtling for a dive to the bottom wouldn't produce a huge funnel of suction behind it the physics of the problem must be able to demonstrate something like this happening. I also think that from the camera views of the wreck showing some of the locked gates for Third Class areas still padlocked that a fairly large number of the steerage passengers never made it to the open decks. In fact, I recall one documentary theorizing that those in the bow section may have been the first to die when the waters rushing into the bow rapidly filled their cabin areas. If that's true then there must still be a large number of remains still inside the ship.

Regards
Bill
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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G'Day Bill, I figured you might have something useful to add to this one and I wasn't disappointed. In regards the suction, the near lack of it strikes me as very odd, but I can't get away from the fact that it was reported that way by the witnesses. Perhaps the stern section's sinking was just slow enough so that it wasn't noticable.

As to the locked gates, I'm not certain it was a factor in and of itself. They were locked all the time anyway as legal requirements dictated that 3rd class be kept seperate from the others. There were ways up from the lower decks which the steerage passangers could use and surely did. The question is how meny of them knew their way around? And how meny could read posted signs giving directions to the upper decks? Language barriers can be a bigger brick wall then locked gates. The middle of a crisis is a bad time to try and become bi-lingual.

I recall seeing the same documentary you did, by the way. Discovery Channel, wasn't it? I'll have to double check my deck plans to see how the steerage accomadations were arranged up forward.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Martin Pirrie

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Jun 28, 2000
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It took me about 2 days to find my way round a small Caribbean cruise liner and that was with access to the whole ship. Most second class and lower order passengers would have never been outside their own areas before the collision and with the listing ship and general panic afterwards,would have stood no chance.

Edward Hart stated at The American enquiry that the gates were unlocked. But I dare say that some were not.

Hart escorted third class passengers to the lifeboats until, I believe, the listing of Titanic made further journeys impossible. If I had been a surviving passenger in third class, I would have been eternally grateful to have had Edward Hart as my steward.

Martin Pirrie.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Martin, Edward Hart sounds like quite a guy.

I know what you mean about finding your way around a strange ship. I've served on a frigate, two dock landing ships (Like the Fearless and Intrepid of the Royal Navy) and two aircraft carriers, with the carriers being the most difficult to learn. The old Ranger was like a rat warren to a then new recruit,(Myself) but I had an easier time learning my way around the George Washington. It still took me a few weeks to learn where some of the more obscure spaces were.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Martin Pirrie

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Sorry, I wrote that Edward Hart stopped collecting third class passengers when I believed that "the listing of Titanic made further journeys impossible". Hart made three journeys, collecting all his allocated passengers and was then ordered into the lifeboat 15 by Murdoch.

Martin Pirrie.
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi all,

I also served on the USS Ranger. My first day onboard I went to the head for a shower and wrapped in nothing but a wet towel tried to find my way back to my compartment. I walked around the deck lost for about 20 minutes until someone asked me what I was doing and showed me the way to my birth. I had the advantage of having been trained by the navy to note the bulkhead number so I could find my way around a ship but failed to do so in this situation. The passengers in Third being considered more cattle than people probably never received any information on how to locate themselves within the ship.

I can fully appreciate the disorientation that Third Class passengers must have had to endure plus the locked gate obstacles to get past and then a seat in a boat. Its a wonder any of them survived at all.

Regards
Bill
 
Mar 20, 1997
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While Steward Hart got the lion's share of the praise for helping save some of the Third Class passengers, there are a few other stewards who might also deserve to get belated accolades for the efforts on behalf of the Third Class passengers.

I believe in one account, Hart said he was assisted by or observed Pantryman Albert Victor Pearcey taking groups of passengers up to the deck. This would seem to be borne out by Pearcey's placement in lifeboat C, which with the exception of Ismay and Carter, was filled with steerage. It seems possible that after Hart had made his escape, Pearcey was still guiding a group up toward the bow. I believe in the Women and Children First book, it was stated that the majority of Middle Eastern survivors went up in one large group and they are almost all placed in Pearcey's boat so it stands to reason that Pearcey would be a good candidate for having helped them to safety.

Then of course there are stewards William Denton Cox and Mueller who acted as an interpreter and who both went down with the ship.

Arthur
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Are there any published statistics on the 1)third class passenger survivor/victim, 2)third class of British citizenship survivor/victim versus
3)third class of non-british citizenship survivor/victim? I guess that I am wondering if citizenship entitled some to more clear directions during passage?

I agree with Bill De Sena. Only a few days on a large ship like that and not all the avenues were open to them due to the water. And also the communcations was a problem. Thanks for the information from those that shared about interpretors. (Was the part about you in the towel on the aircraft carrier on The Discovery Channel too...just kidding).

If the stern section was nearly upright in the water for like say five minutes or so, kinda shifting a little and the slowly going under taking water on a little at a time, wouldn't that cut the suction?

Maureen.
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi Maureen,

Chuckle,...no it was too small a scene for discovery channel...hehe;-)

Bill
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Hi there Bill,
Glad you appreciated the humor. You guys are really great to "listen to" and I learn alot from your banter. But I really appreciate the seriousness and the "technical" call for factual data rather than just emotional "stuff". I respect all of you. Maureen.
 

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