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Grounding of the Titanic

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Parks Stephenson, Jun 1, 2001.

  1. On 31 May 2001, the 90th anniversary of the launch of Hull SS401, David Brown presented a White Paper to a meeting of the Marine Forensic Panel in the offices of Gibbs & Cox, Crystal City, Arlington, VA. The White Paper was the result of a combined analysis of Titanic's collision by Dave Brown and Parks Stephenson. The Paper is available for viewing by clicking on the Grounding of the Titanic link on the front page at:


    As of this writing, the images which accompanied the original paper have not been uploaded. These will be added later. Also, I am looking into posting this paper in the research section of this site. Failing that, the paper will remain as a link off my main site.

  2. Thanks Parks, I'll have to check that out in the morning, You know how I feel about your site...it's terrific!

  3. Thanks for bring this to our attention, Parks! Please let us know when the the images are up.

  4. YES! YES! YES! I am SOOOO excited that you gentlemen finally decided to submit your work!
    I believe that you gentlemen are "spot on" as to what happened to Titanic and it is such a relief to finally hear it has been presented to the panel for review!

    The website is wonderful, thank you very much for sharing it with us and please keep us up to date as to the progress of the hearings!

    I am soo excited, can you tell???

    3 Cheers for the Captains!!


  5. I just read the paper half an hour ago and I'm looking forward to the images myself. David and Parks did a super job on this work, and I only hope it gets the attention and sparks the discussion and debate it deserves to.

    Well done!

    Michael H. Standart
  6. People may notice incongruities between the Paper and the information relating to the collision found elsewhere on my site. I spent all my available time working with Dave on the Paper, leaving my site to lag behind in the process. I will hopefully have the relevant sections rewritten before weekend's end.

    The images that remain to be uploaded are excerpts from the builder's plans to illustrate the various spaces involved. If you're familiar with those, then you're not missing anything.

    When Dave gets back online, he'll have something to say about the reception he received from the august Panel.

  7. Erik Wood

    Erik Wood Member

    Captain Brown and Parks,

    Good Luck and from what Dave has said you will need it. My venture so far has been apparntly a little more successful but that is because I have yet to use the name Titanic in my work. Having read the work in question it is a excellent piece of "white paper" and deserves far and honest feedback of all. I admire deeply Captain Brown and Parks efforts and hard work. They give us all something to shoot for in our research of Titanic.

    While having read and discussed the "grounding theory" with Captain Brown both over the phone and in person my opinions may be somewhat jaded. However, I think that if any true mariner were to read this "white paper" then they would find that it is a very accurate description of how a ship works for the most part. It leaves very little detail out and is crammed with knowledge and facts. I must admit that I have used Captains Browns theory (of course crediting him fully) for the grounding theory in my efforts to describe the breakup and define a little more indepth the damage, they have by far out done me on the board. Captain Brown and Parks efforts show there commitment for excellence in research.

    It is interesting that so many fight the obvious. So I no longer do.

  8. My presentation at the Marine Forensic Panel was met with everything from fixed attention to indifference and even feigned sleep. Most of the people remained to listen to me. To say that I was "playing to a hostile room" would not be an exaggeration. But, before anyone's blood boils, I must state that our (Parks & Dave) theory of the Titanic effectively grounding on the iceberg constitutes a major change from the conventional view of the accident. Many people in that room have spent years studying the accident and have invested a great deal of themselves in the conventional story. It would be presumptuous for us to think that they would suddenly abandon all loyalty to their own work.

    In other words, my reception was exactly what I expected. At no time did I ever expect the members of the Panel to accept our "white paper" without resistance.

    The important thing is that the idea has now been formally introduced. Some members of the panel will give it no more thought. Others will read it with mild interest. One or two will study what our documentation and will question us. If we are lucky, we will change a few minds. And, if we are even luckier, those few changed minds will find weaknesses in our arguments and help us to improve our theory.

    -- David G. Brown
  9. Dave and Parks,

    My congratulations on a very interesting paper on the GROUNDING OF THE TITANIC on the iceberg, it was thorough and comprehensive and I, too, are looking forward to the images you will include later.

    I have a question for either one of you or both, would your theory explain Walter Lord's assesment of the iceberg damage in "The Night Lives On" on page 65 in the chapter called The Gash and I quote:

    Nor was that all. There is important, often-overlooked evidence that the next compartment aft, Boiler Room #4, suffered damage entirely independant of the gash. Initially, there was no sign of damage here, but an hour and 40 minutes after the crash, water began seeping over the floor plates from somewhere below. The flow was gradual, but more than the pumps could handle.

    And just a few sentences down, he writes:

    It must be emphasized that this water came from below, not above. The flooding of Boiler Room #4 was not part of the process of the forward compartments filling and overflowing into the next compartment aft. Rather, it came from a seperate injury to the ship, probably to the double bottom, entirely apart from the familiar gash along the starboard side. In Short, The ice did even more mischief then generally thought.

    Then he went on and said that the ship would've sunk anyway with that compartment damaged no matter what.

    So Mr. Lord's assesment at least backs up your theory that the Titanic sustained damage to the bottom.

    My Hat's off to you guys, it was a brilliant piece of journalism.


    ** Quotations in bold print taken from "The Night Lives On" By Walter Lord.
  10. Congrats, guys!

    David - when you were telling George B. and I some of the changes to your ideas *since* you had written your book, I was hoping that you would see fit to publish them somewhere. Very glad to see you did!

    Not to leave Parks out of the equation, either!
  11. Hi David, I'm glad that they at least heard you out even if a few pretended not to. Hopefully, this will lead to a fresh appraisal of the evidence, all of which has been around since 1912!

    Michael H. Standart
  12. Our Paper about the grounding is not all-inclusive. The argument focused on the central event and as a result, left other questions unanswered. One question which puzzles me is how ice came to fall into Titanic's forward well deck. Keep in mind the reported height of the iceberg, along with the lack of reported contact (or evidence apparent on the wreck) between the ice and any portion of the upper (C Deck and above) hull, masts and rigging.

    Any thoughts along this line would be appreciated.

  13. Hi Parks, FWIW, I'd account for the fact that bergs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and it's not inconcievable that something may have been jutting out from the side that the ship hit. Likewise, the impact forces may have been enough to send exposed chunks flying in all directions...including the well deck.

    Michael H. Standart
  14. Dave Hudson

    Dave Hudson Member

    Perhaps a spur or peak was fractured and dislodged by the impact. If the fracture was angled in the right way, it could have sent a sizable piece of ice falling at an angle toward the welldeck. When it landed, it shattered into small chunks. This is just an idea and I really have no clue what I'm talking about. happy.gif
    It makes sense to me though!
  15. Michael and David,

    Basically, you're saying the same thing (David, I looked at your diagram) and you both could be right. I also favour that theory, based on the absence of evidence pointing to the iceberg impacting the ship above C Deck (or even the waterline).

    In our Paper, I took it upon myself to address this. Dave and I discussed it, and the possibility that Titanic actually tipped the berg when she rode over it. That started to divert focus from our main topic, so I ended the thought about the fallen ice ambiguously.

    I don't know if we'll ever solve this, but I'm looking forward to the discussions.

  16. Parks and David,

    Sorry I'm a little late to this discussion. I am in the process of digesting your very impressive paper.

    It is a pleasure to read. It certainly makes perfect sense and explains many points regarding the accident.

    Of particular interest was the flooding of the firemen's passage, as on this point the BoT report had always troubled me.

    I hope as Michael says that it gets the level of attention and discussion that it deserves.

    Best regards

  17. Parks, I find it inconcievable that the Titanic wouldn't tip that berg over a bit. It's not as if the thing was firmly planted in the bottom. Even acounting for fuel burn and consumption of stores, the ship still had to mass something like 48-49,000 tons by that time.

    Not exactly a feather.

    Unfortunately, the witnesses who actually saw the berg didn't get a very good look at it befor it disappeared into the night, and at that, only for a few seconds.

    Michael H. Standart
  18. Michael,

    You can start to see why I left the thought about the fallen ice hanging in the paper. To complete the thought, you'd have to consider tipping the berg, which would lead into a discussion about the relative instability of icebergs, which would bring up the "black ice" theory, but if the berg recently turned over, then how could surface effect erode and create a ledge, but then if the berg hadn't recently tipped over, then the surface would have crystallised, then Lightoller's description of a one-in-a-100-year coincidence wouldn't really hold true, because the "black mass" description would have only been a cover-your-keister tactic dreamt up by the lookouts...

    Aaaarrrggh! The mind explodes. I didn't want brain matter splattered all over our nice, clean report. I'd rather make the mess here.

    Also, how much of Titanic's mass actually weighed on the berg? Not a feather, but also not all 49,000 tons, surely.

  19. Good points.(And perhaps the ledge was already there???) Or maybe it was the force of impact which sent ice chips flying everywhere.

    I know! I know! This would very likely involve some impact above the waterline. How would one find evidence of that after nearly a century? It may well have been there, but I'm sure Father time and impact with the bottom would have masked it over pretty thoroughly. This whole thing is a can of worms no matter where you go.

    Let me get my Industrial Strength Tylenol and we can mull this over further. Sooner or later, you know that question's going to come up, especially when the peer review comes in.

    Michael h. Standart
  20. Mike Herbold

    Mike Herbold Member

    Maybe this mental image will help explain the ice on the deck. Picture an iceberg calving. What does it do? It just falls over, away from the main part of the glacier. Because of its inherent density, it physically can't go the other way, so it falls away from the main body of ice. That's with no disruption to its base. A little jolt could easily loosen up a spire of ice.

    Another possible scenario. Parts of the iceberg had already melted underneath, causing it to be curved like the bow of a ship, and the deck of the Titanic hit one of those protrusions.