Did the breakup seal the Titanic's fate to go down?


Dan Kappes

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I remember reading the words of one male survivor (I don't remember who) saying "I firmly believe that the Titanic broke in two and that is why she sank."

Would the Titanic still have sunk if she didn't break in two, or is the very fact she broke in two the main reason why the ship couldn't stay afloat? She stayed afloat for two hours, but once she broke in half she was gone within 10 minutes.
 
Apr 4, 2019
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Hi Dan,

I think the general consensus is that Titanic broke after her forward funnel had collapsed, indicating that the crow's nest was level with the water; something like a 15-20 degree angle down.

The sheer volume of water flooding into those large engineering spaces deep in the ship's hull; the boiler rooms, uptakes etc. was dragging her down at an ever-growing rate every second. Yes she had flooded relatively slowly over 2 hours, but towards the end she had half her structure underwater and water was pouring in at a rate far greater than it had been when she was initially holed. Consider all the cargo hatches, doors, sidelights left open, corridors, fidley and stokehold vents. Many of these were all opened to the ocean when her bridge sank below the water. In essence, as more of a ship is pulled down by the weight of water, more water can simply pour in from new non-watertight points.

The break-up should be considered a by-product of the sinking process and not at all the cause; that ship was doomed from the minute the berg scraped her hull in the way that it did.

~Mike
 
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The other question could be asked - did the break-up accelerate the inevitable sinking?

I would say perhaps, but only by a matter of minutes. Titanic broke because she had began her final plunge (the well-reported wave surging up the boat-deck) and the stresses upon her hull were simply too much. If she hadn't have broken (and her list might have played a role in her break-up in the first place) it could be said her descent into the ocean might have been more gentle and gradual like that of the Oceanos;

~Mike
 
Dec 23, 2017
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All forensic flooding simulations show that when the water reached the bridge, the ship only had 5-8 minutes to live tops before completely going under.

As such to say that the break-up caused it to sink is incorrect. The ship broke Because she was sinking.
 
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CM1971

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The other question could be asked - did the break-up accelerate the inevitable sinking?

I would say perhaps, but only by a matter of minutes. Titanic broke because she had began her final plunge (the well-reported wave surging up the boat-deck) and the stresses upon her hull were simply too much. If she hadn't have broken (and her list might have played a role in her break-up in the first place) it could be said her descent into the ocean might have been more gentle and gradual like that of the Oceanos;

~Mike
Wow. Even just a gradual sinking it still was might violent in it's own way. I can only imagine how horrifying it would have been to have this happen at night, and just hearing the hissing of escaping air and breaking of decks, walls and glass.
 
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Wow. Even just a gradual sinking it still was might violent in it's own way. I can only imagine how horrifying it would have been to have this happen at night, and just hearing the hissing of escaping air and breaking of decks, walls and glass.
Quite true, I think I may have been too liberal in my use of the word 'gentle'!

~Mike
 

Cunard51

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Wether the Titanic broke in half or sank doesn't matter, because the Titanic was doomed. When Thomas Andrews reached his conclusion he didn't say that Titanic could remain afloat as long as she didn't break in two. Maybe if she didn't break it half she would have stayed afloat a few minutes longer, but she would still have sank regardless, just my personal thoughts.
 
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You can not compare Oceanos with the Titanic. Every ship is different and sinks different.
In short as it has been already mentioned, no she did not sink because she breaks, it was the other way.
 

Jim Currie

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The naval Architects had already worked out the number of compartments which could be completely flooded yet allow the ship to remain afloat. The minute that number of compartments was exceeded, Titanic was doomed...no matter what happened thereafter. Wilding was a NA and had all the ship's stability data in his cabin. Captain Smith and Chief Officer Wilde would have copies of the relevant parts. All three men knew exactly when the point of no return would be reached.
Captain Smith knew the moment the ship's Carpenter gave him the sounding of the ship's compartments. That was about 10 or 15 minutes after hitting the iceberg.
 

Dan Kappes

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I guess the breakup was a by-product of the sinking and she would still have sank intact if her hull didn't split like many people used to believe.

I wonder if Thomas Andrews knew that the ship would break in half if the stern rose into the air, like it did.

If Thomas Andrews remained in the smoking room until the end, then he could have been a witness to the breakup, since it happened near that area. We'll never know.
 
Apr 4, 2019
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Dan,

I think Thomas Andrews was seen later on in the sinking near the bridge. Whether he knew she would break like that? Its an interesting question and one I never thought to consider!

~Mike
 
Apr 4, 2019
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That's a really good question too Dan.
I cannot recall another ship breaking like Titanic did as she sank. As such I suppose her builders would never have even considered the possibility of her breaking like that as she was never designed to be under that kind of stress.

~Mike
 
Dec 4, 2000
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SS Flying Enterprise
SS Carl D. Bradley
SS. Daniel J. Morrill
SS Amoco Cadiz (grounding then split in three and sank)
SS Luno (grounding)
MV Derbyshire
SS Rena
SS Pendleton (tanker split in storm)
SS Edmund Fitzgerald
SS Leonardo (cargo)
SS MOL Comfort
SS Schenectady (tanker split during fitting out)
Unknown number of Liberty Ships during WW-II

--David G. Brown
 
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SS Flying Enterprise
SS Carl D. Bradley
SS. Daniel J. Morrill
SS Amoco Cadiz (grounding then split in three and sank)
SS Luno (grounding)
MV Derbyshire
SS Rena
SS Pendleton (tanker split in storm)
SS Edmund Fitzgerald
SS Leonardo (cargo)
SS MOL Comfort
SS Schenectady (tanker split during fitting out)
Unknown number of Liberty Ships during WW-II

--David G. Brown
Hi David,

That's a good list and all really interesting info - but I don't know if any of these broke under the same or similar circumstances as Titanic? ie. Down by the head before breaking. Its interesting to me, for example, that Lusitania, Britannic and others sank by the head relatively quickly but did not break in the way that Titanic did. Obviously there are many factors at play but I would still say Titanic's break-up is unique in that it happened during the sinking, rather than those like the Pendleton or Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank because they broke.

~Mike
 
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