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Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Paul Rogers, Apr 11, 2001.

  1. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Some survivors heard an explosion and saw plumes of black smoke and coal shooting out of her funnel. Here is footage of the SS Norway exploding inside.

    Skip to 0:32

    Wonder if the steam pipes on the Titanic had become pressurised and exploded like this:

    Skip to 1:20 (might make you jump)

  2. PRR5406

    PRR5406 Member

    Doug, I simply meant, did compression of air mixed with Diesel fuel, result in an added effect of an additional explosion. I didn't mean to imply an oil explosion caused the sinking.
  3. Scott Mills

    Scott Mills Member

    I fail to understand why the explosions could not be the rupturing of Titanic's hull. It seems pretty straightforward to me that the rupturing of hull would release a tremendous amount of kinetic energy, which would certainly sound an awful lot like explosives being detonated.

    I am guessing that the failure of the hull did not happen all at once, and probably resembled a chain reaction, which means anyone on Titanic, in a lifeboat, or on the water would hear "multiple" events. Since the failures mostly occurred under the water, or at the waterline, with a lack of visual evidence to tell them otherwise, the brain of the observers would interpret the sound as an explosion; that is, unless one of the observers had some experience with the catastrophic failure of steel.

    There are reports (like Lightoller's) of people being "blown" to the surface; however, this most likely has to do with the sudden displacement of trapped air underwater either as the result of the implosion of the stern, or in case of people being stuck against a flooding vents and the like, by the collapse of an watertight pocket in the submerged hull of the ship. When the watertight cavity in the hull "collapses" suddenly, the escaping air will take the quickest path to the surface--the vent--and momentarily counteract the force of the water flooding down the vent. Thus the person trapped by that water would be "blown free."
  4. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    I'd say what you have written is exactly what happened. I fully agree with you.
  5. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Lightoller gave his opinion of the explosive force that blew him to the surface.

    US Inquiry
    "It was certainly air through the blower, and behind that was a great force, and that force, in my opinion, was from the boilers. I have heard great controversy as to boilers exploding owing to coming in contact with salt water, by men who are capable of giving an opinion; but there seems to be an open question as to whether cold water actually does cause boilers to explode. I was speaking to a gentleman yesterday who said it was very probably the rush of cold water going down below at such a terrific rate, and then, the hot air being forced out. I do not quite follow that, myself. In my judgment, it was a boiler explosion - a rush of steam, anyway."

    UK Inquiry
    "There was an up-rush of certainly warm water, but whether it was caused by an explosion or what, I could not say.....It was either the cold water reaching the boilers, if boilers do not explode under those circumstances, which is quite an open question. Some say they do and a great many capable men certainly say they do not explode. If her boilers did not explode it was not from that, and must have been the rush of imprisoned air; and the heat would be caused merely through its coming from the stokehold."

    However it should be noted there were several explosions heard during the sinking and were estimated to be up to 20 minutes apart, before she sank, during the sinking, and after she sank. Lightoller said when he rose to the surface - "The forward funnel was still there. All the funnels were above water." He then reached the collapsible boat and was pushed away from the ship when the funnel fell.

    Lightoller denied the ship broke but he confessed at the UK Inquiry that - "After the funnel fell there was some little time elapsed. I do not know exactly what came or went, but the next thing I remember I was alongside this collapsible boat again." Very suspicious.

  6. PRR5406

    PRR5406 Member

    Have all the boilers been examined to determine if they ruptured? Let's assume there was pressure in the last operating boilers to maintain lighting; no point in doing more than venting around 2:10AM. We know most of the engineers went down at their posts (God these were brave people!), the ship was lost and in the midst of a terminal struggle. Steam or air would have to belch out of the ship and cause some structural weakening. This probably accounts for Officer Lightoller's miracle escape. I don't believe the ship broke as a result of the boiler explosions, but weakening had to have taken place. Opinion only, the hull plating collapsed because of the massive amount of weight it was supporting in the sky.
  7. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Sparks were seen shooting out of a funnel. Also lumps of coal, and a mushroom cloud of smoke. We also have accounts of people blown into the air and a great number of people being killed by the explosion. When the stern settled back survivor Frank Prentice looked over the railing and saw hundreds of bodies "dead and alive" and "so much debris floating". Whatever happened, it was a horrific event. Ruth Becker said the screams started when the explosion occurred and the ship broke in two. This tells us that the people on the ship were calm before the break up.

  8. Scott Mills

    Scott Mills Member

    Certainly, and the snapping of the steel hull would have created just such an event. Don't ever underestimate the power of kinetic force!

    As for reports of a mushroom cloud coming out of the funnels--I've never read these. That does not mean they do not exist, but I am skeptical. I will say there are about a million things on a sinking ship that can cause sparks, and again, air pressure alone from the collapse of watertight pockets underwater would be enough to throw coal, people, and heavy solid objects all over the place.

    I just have a very hard time imagining that water caused a boiler explosion. This was in 1912 not 1860. I think this was covered earlier in this thread, but the First World War saw a lot of boilers of Titanic's type hit with sea water while fully lit, and to my knowledge not one of them exploded.

    That does not mean you couldn't have had a flash steam explosion in some part of the ship I suppose, but most of the ships boilers with the exception of some in BR1 would have been extinguished--and even then, flash steam explosions are very different than boiler explosions.
  9. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Philip Mock
    "After the noise I saw a huge column of black smoke slightly lighter than the sky rising high into the sky and then flattening out at the top like a mushroom."

    Fred Barrett
    "When the ship was sinking a volume of smoke came up."

    Harold Bride
    "Smoke and sparks were rushing out of her funnels. There must have been an explosion, but we heard none. We only saw a big stream of sparks."

    Charlotte Collyer
    "It came with a deafening roar that stunned me. Something in the very bowels of the Titanic exploded and millions of sparks shot up to the sky"

    Jack Thayer
    "The second funnel, seemed to be lifted off, emitting a cloud of sparks."

    Frank Osman
    Q - What do you think those explosions were?
    A - The boilers bursting.
    Q - What makes you think that?
    A - The cold water coming under the red-hot boilers caused the explosions.
    Q - You reasoned that out?
    A - Yes; but you could see the explosions by the smoke coming right up the funnels.
    Q - Did you see any steam and smoke coming?
    A - Yes.
    Q - Did you see any sparks?
    A - It was all black; looked like as if it was lumps of coal, and all that.
    Q - Coming up through the funnels?
    A - Through the funnels.
    Q - That is, there was a great amount of black smoke coming up through the funnels just after this explosion?
    A - Just after the explosion.
    Q - And there were lumps of coat, etc, coming up?
    A - Yes; pretty big lumps. I do not know what is was.
    Q - Did any water come up?
    A - I never seen no water; only the steam and very black smoke.

  10. Scott Mills

    Scott Mills Member

    I'm guessing that this too would be the result of the final break of Titanic. In addition to causing catastrophic damage to part of the ship that's breaking, the very break itself is going to cause hydrodynamic effects in the hull already submerged. Basically water, air, and debris are going to be pushed all over the place.

    In fact, the funnel itself falling is going to cause sparks I'm guessing. If there had been an actual explosion of a boiler or a flash steam explosion you'd see flames and steam in as the main part of the ejecta.

    And thinking about it--depending on your take on Beauchamp's story of dampening the boilers in BR6 (I think he might have been where he said he was, but that's contrary to the general wisdom), if any boilers were going to explode it would have been the boilers in BR6.

    This is because this is the one boiler room where we know for certain they were all lit, though the dampers had been shut, when they were immediately inundated with ice cold sea water. It is much less likely that, were there going to be any sort of explosion related to water coming into contact with a boiler, this would happen in one of the after boiler rooms where the fires had been extinguished.

    Maybe there were boilers making steam in BR1&2 late into the sinking, but these boilers were located at the spot of the break and all ended up on the bottom of the ocean--with no indication they exploded.

    Other than this, I am really struggling with any sort of machinery on Titanic which would be libel to create an explosive detonation that "lifted off a funnel" and blew people and debris all over the place.


    Just google a video of a structure collapse and listen to the noise and look at the amount of debris and ejecta that goes everywhere. The same thing would be happening on Titanic, except since most of what would be failing on Titanic was high tensile steel, I imagine the noise and energy release would have been even more frightening... particularly given people were on the structure failing.
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
    PRR5406 likes this.
  11. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    As a point, boilers don't explode on contact with cold water. They implode.

    The cold water will cause the steam inside the boiler to condense and this creates a vacuum. If there is no way for the pressure to equalise inside and out the boiler could implode.

    I don't think this happened in BR6 because the boilers were allowed to 'blow off'
  12. It is interesting to note that the boilers in...what would be boiler room 2 I believe, seem all to be caved in at their tops. Whether this is due to the break up...or from another source I'm not sure. They all do seem to have the same exact damage though.