How did the Titanic sink to the bottom

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Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Seems to me that several other variables have been ignored when considering the vessel's descent to the sea -bed. I refer to variations in specific gravity,water temperature and deep or intermediate currents produced by these. Obviously void, watertight spaces would also have an effect as would slight, non-symetrical variations in pressure as such spaces became inundated. Any ideas?

Sailorjim
 
R

Richard D Edwards

Guest
Hi Jim.

I read your post with interest but I feel that the weight of the wreck - not just the 30,000 odd tons of bow section but also the weight of the water inside it - would have been too great in freefall for the variations in specific gravity, water temperature and deep or intermediate currents to have any great effect on the descent of the heavier items of the entire wreck. However I have no problem in agreeing with the above variations effecting the fall of the lighter items of debris, including the victim’s bodies.

In regard to the angle of the bow section at the moment she left the surface, as discussed in previous posts, after sinking a 1/400 scale weighted model, I found that the bow would have been at an angle of not much more than 14 degrees, very close to the 12 degrees proposed by Harland and Wolff, before she broke. In this scenario the rudder would have only just emerged from the water as survivors attested, and therefore the stern section really did simply “settle back a little” after the “explosion” before it stood upright and hurtled towards the bottom.

Incidentally, isn’t it curious that practically all the survivors spoke of an explosion before she went down, but not one of them recalled how dazzlingly bright that explosion was. Not one said how their night sight was effected by the sudden blinding light of it and no-one on Carpathia or even Mount Temple reported any such event. Clearly the “explosion” was the sound of the ship tearing herself apart, nothing more, nothing less.

Also, one of the surviving engineers from the boiler rooms said he saw the engines fall forward from his vantage point on a lifeboat. This most likely gave birth to the myth of the boilers falling through the hull before she sank. However, now that we know Titanic sank in three main parts, it is fascinating to know we have an eye witness who saw it happen, with the forward engine cylinders on the seabed as proof. A thorough reappraisal of his testimony may give us new clues in just how the hell a vast section of the hull could simply fall away from the broken forward and aft sections.

Anyway, back to the model. I found that the moment the bow had broken off it instantly descended straight down. Admittedly my little experiment only took place in 3 feet of water so although it could not show how the bow and stern behaved all the way to the bottom, it did give an insightful indication of what most likely occurred at the surface.

In time I want to amend the model to make it break into the three main sections - God knows how or when - but that's the plan.

It’s all fascinating stuff!

Cheers, Rich
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
quote:

I feel that the weight of the wreck - not just the 30,000 odd tons of bow section but also the weight of the water inside it - would have been too great in freefall for the variations in specific gravity, water temperature and deep or intermediate currents to have any great effect on the descent of the heavier items of the entire wreck.

The weight of the water inside a completely flooded hull weighs nothing when the hull is completely under water. It has neutral buoyancy. The hull itself weighs a little less compared what it would weigh if it were above water, say resting in a dry dock.​
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Absolutely Sam!
However, this was not a homogeneous mass of metal and salt water with an sg of 1025. I presume some of the boilers were empty. The others would have 1000sg fresh water in them. The bunkers would have plenty of coal in them and there would also be empty and partially full fresh water and ballast tanks. Additionally there would be miles of , admittedly small bore , sealed piping. Add to this fabrics and wood and you see what I'm getting at. Initially all the gubbins I mentioned would have inherent buoyancy. As the pressure of depth took over this would be completely lost.
Regarding final sea-bed attitude; how do you view this theory?
If the hull and parts returned to an almost even keel situation under the influence of gravity it would come under the influence of the current in the same way as does a stopped ship when afloat. My experience of a stopped ship in a wind and or current is that it will try to align itself at right angles to the major influence i.e. beam on. As you know, I believe the ship was heading west when she sunk. If you will, imagine this not completely broken vessel on an almost even keel, heading west; sinking bodily Under the influence of a southerly trending current, a floating ship would remain on an east west line. However, in a current, the hull see-saws back and forth. If this happened with Titanic it is conceivable that shortly after she went under, the excess see-sawing finally caused the hull to break. The stern section turned to port and the bow to starboard. The bow because of its greatest mass was toward the mid-ship. The stern in much the same way. Thus the parts descended to the sea bed slowly oscillating but with the broken ends slightly pointing downward. This would account for where some of the debris was found and why they now rest in opposite directions.
Sound Steven Spielberg-ish?

Cheers,

Jim

Jim
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
quote:

As you know, I believe the ship was heading west when she sunk.
17670. Which way was her stern swinging? - Practically dead south, I believe, then.
17671. Do you mean her head was facing south? - No, her head was facing north. She was coming round to starboard.
17672. The stern was swung to the south? - Yes.

quote:

Sound Steven Spielberg-ish?
No. It sounds too much Jim Currie-ish to me.
Happy
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Sam!
Didn't think you'd bight!

Actually Rowe might have been correct but for the other evidence that suggested the 'light' or 'lights' were moving (from right to left). In this case, Rowe would be partly correct because he would be referring to relative movement. I would be interested to know just how he knew he was heading north. He did not see the mystery lights until he arrived on the fore-bridge, did not have a compass and was never as far as I know,in the wheelhouse. I have been delving into the evidence again but perhaps you can save my eyesight. I seem to recall somewhere that an officer or crew member said she was heading back toward her original course when he left. This together with the emergency turn to port are my main reasons for thinking she was heading to the west when she sank. I know about Olliver's claims but that is really hearsay - not helmsman's evidence.
As I see it. the scenario did not lend itself to reversing the wheel to turn to starboard as has been claimed. Why? she would have been well past the ice to have made that of any use. She was also seriously wounded. The soundings showed this. Additionally, why proceed ahead with what might be a gaping hole in the starboard side when there is no practical reason for doing so? The normal procedures in such a case are to first stop the vessel in a safe position then sound round to determine the full extent of damage. Then move only if it is safe to do so. I know,I've done it in the past. The only time you would move in such a precarious situation would be to take the vessel toward shallow water and beach her if you can. Not an option in this case.
Incidentally; how could anyone get too much 'Jim Currie' - 'ish' or otherwise? There are loads of people out there lining up to answer that one so don't bother!

Cheers,

Jim
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Jim. A good summary as to why Titanic was facing northward after coming to a stop is given HERE. As far as Rowe being near a compass, he did not have to go into the wheelhouse to check a compass. There was one on the navigating ahead of the wheelhouse, and he spent quite a bit of time moving about the bridge firing off socket signals and using a Morse lamp. My point is that he had opportunities to check the compass he care too. He also knew the ship's compass course after they passed the corner. He was at the wheel at the time. So he knew the ship was headed westerly since 5.50. Why would he say the ship was pointing northward after he came onto the bridge with those detonators later on? He must have seen something that indicated to him the ship's direction.

As in the referenced link above, Crawford's evidence I believe is quite strong. He was in boat 8 rowing toward the light, which we know was between 1/2 to 2 points off Titanic's port bow, and the Carpathia came up from the opposite direction. We know the Carpathia's heading was 308° true as she approached the area.

As far as Olliver's claim being hearsay, I strongly disagree. It was a first person account of what he heard Murdoch order and confirmed by Moody. He admitted that he did not hear any orders prior to arriving on the bridge which may have been given before the collision. What you have is a conflict in testimony between Hichens and Olliver in what subsequent orders were given after contact with the ice was made. Olliver said a hard-aport order was given while Hichens denied any such order was given. It is also interesting to note that Hichens never mentioned receiving any helm orders at all when he told his story of what happened to reporters before testifying before the US Senate. My own opinion is that Hichens was afraid he would be blamed for the accident if he admitted he turn the wheel in the direction of the berg.

Take care.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I'm not sure what you mean Sam. Are you suggesting Hitchins was scared he would be blamed for turning the wheel the wrong way? As you know, he actually did turn the 'wheel' in the direction of the berg and maintained this throughout. Olliver is a strange one I must admit. He claims to have seen the berg just after impact yet he also claims to have heard contrary helm orders and engine movement despite not being privy to all of these. He claims he was at the Standard compass at the time of three bells but, although everyone seems to agree that the contact came almost immediately thereafter - still had the time - I think about 12 seconds-to come over and round to the starboard side of the bridge, see the berg, hear a new set of helm and engine commands and even hear them repeated by the junior officer Moody and presumeably by the QM Hitchins. He even suggests that the engine orders were in the form of an ahead movement. How did he know that unless he had clear sight of the telegraphs. A contradiction to him is also given in the evidence of Hitchins. he states that at the time of the first emergency commands - Mr. Moody saw the helm order obeyed and the standby QM noted it and the time in the QMs Book. Now Olliver was that standby QM. He claims he was elsewhere at the time. I can understand confusion at the time, I can understand Hitchen's silence in front of the press but I cannot understand why both men so diametrically disagree. They were both watchmates. Did they know at the time of the first enquiry that none of the bridge records - including the QMs book survived? Is it posible,what Oliver really meant in evidence was that the rudder was hard 'to'and not 'a' Port? I find no justification in a starboard turn after the event as you know. To my mind, Olliver seemed a highly intelligent person who was not above capitalising on his experience. he may even have been guilty of a little 'artistic license'.
Enjoying the chat.

Jim.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>Are you suggesting Hitchins was scared he would be blamed for turning the wheel the wrong way? <<

Yes.

>>As you know, he actually did turn the 'wheel' in the direction of the berg and maintained this throughout. <<

Hmmm? Hichens turned the wheel to get the helm hard over to starboard; i.e., left full rudder. The rudder's tiller is what went over in the direction of the berg. Just like on an old clipper ship, turning the wheel counterclockwise puts the tiller over to starboard and the ship's head comes to port.

>>He claims he was at the Standard compass at the time of three bells but, although everyone seems to agree that the contact came almost immediately thereafter <<

Who is everyone? Hichens' testimony was all over the place. First he said he had no time to get the wheel over before the ship struck. Then he said he just about got the wheel hard over when she struck. Then he said the wheel was already hard over and Moody had just confirmed it when she struck. Also he claimed that he did not get the order from Murdoch until after Moody reported to Murdoch what Fleet told him on the phone. Then he first runs from bridge wing to the engine telegraphs and gives the order hard-astarboard. Fleet thought he was at the phone for about 1/2 a minute, and Hichens also estimated the order from Murdoch first came about 1/2 a minute after he heard the 3 bells from the nest. And let's not forget that it was Hichens who claimed the ship turned 2 points when she struck, something that takes 37 seconds from the time the order is first given as later measured on Olympic. So I think you can just forget about 12 seconds, or anything close to that.

And I'd rather not discuss right now what Boxhall claimed he heard or saw, where he was, etc., at least not right now. Let's just say I think Boxhall has his own agenda being the only surviving officer who was on watch at the time of the accident.

>>I find no justification in a starboard turn after the event as you know.<<

I know you believe that Jim. But I believe the damage to the ship would have been much worse if the helm had not been shifted after the berg passed aft of the bridge.

>>He [Olliver] even suggests that the engine orders were in the form of an ahead movement. How did he know that unless he had clear sight of the telegraphs.<<

As far as Olliver's observation of half-ahead on the engine telegraphs, he never said he saw that when he first came onto the bridge. He was just giving an answer to a question put to him about what he had seen regarding engine orders and who gave them. It could have been 10-15 minutes later for all we know as he was on and off the bridge running errands after the crash.
 
M

Matt Pereira

Guest
Not to get off the subject but I havent finished reading Hitchens testimony but I have seen that he said roughly 5 mins after the Collision
that the commutator infront of the compass was showing a starboard list of 5*
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I've gone back a bit Sam.
First; if the vessel was moving rapidly away from the ice in a curve toward the south why would there have been more damage? She would have been well clear before any turn to starboard would have a beneficial effect. Turning her to starboard would head her back towards possible danger. From experience, the proper course of action would be: hard-to-port (Murdoch's porting round it), full astern together if there was actual contact with an obstruction(double ring straight through 'stop' back to 'full' then back to full astern. No mistaking that one I can tell you. Go to bridge wing, watch for stern wash coming forward. When wash is midship - ring stop. If there is any forward way on the vessel - 'half ahead' for a few minutes then 'stop'. When vessel is stopped dead in the water order immediate sounding of all relevant compartments to determine extent - if any- of damage. Order junior officer to work DR. Inform Chief Engineer and other department heads of situation when it is clearly known. Alert Radio Officer and send out preliminary CQD if their is evidence of damage.
As to her finally facing north - I looked at the statements you referred me to.
I can't understand why you would believe the evidence of amateurs over that of professional navigators. If, indeed, she was coming round to starboard (which I don't doubt she was) this implies she was slowly rotating as was 'Californian'. If so, why did she stop doing so facing north ? Why did she not continue to turn towards the eastward? If it was the fact that she was sinking - why did she seem to Rowe to be still turning at a fairly constant rate? at some time after 0045 when he was firing rockets? If she started somewhere east of south, she would have swung 180 degrees in less than an hour - is this a fact?
Actually, the evidence of Major Peuchin ( the yachtsman) suggests that's what happened. he states his boat moved directly north from the port side - that would make Titanic heading east! However, emergency boat 1 with Boxhall was launched on the port side and came round to the starboard side before moving off to the NE. Boxhall says he moved of to the NE from the starboard side. This would suggest a westerly heading.
The lady who corrected Rowe about the Pole Star must have had amazing eyesight or have been a very good amateur astronomer to pick out Polaris in what must have been a myriad of bright stars veiled by The Aurora. Incidentally; was there not doubt cast on the accuracy of 'Californian's' Polaris sight for that very reason?
As for Crawford's evidence. At first I dismissed it completely as being from one who would not know the difference between north and the south end of a north bound camel. He was , after all a non-seaman. Then I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. His evidence may in fact have been correct. As I recall , Carpathia did not head directly to pick up the first boat but turned because of a berg. By this time all the other boats would possibly be turning to converge on her position. This would in fact mean that Crawford's boat did approach from the NW and Carpathia would be on the port bow of his lifeboat.
Back to Olliver. He says he was at the standard compass when he heard the three bells Was that compass situated abaft the funnel and its intakes? If so he must have had good hearing. He then went to the bridge in time to see Murdoch at the WT doors lever and saw Smith ring 'half ahead' then 'stop'. He also said he heard the reverse helm order. This is probably the missing link in the puzzle. Olliver was correct in what he saw and heard. In fact, this fits neatly with my example above. Smith did not know the extent of his damage but his ship was stopped and turned to the south perhaps even the SSE. She was also making stern way so he ordered the forward movement to bring here to a complete halt - stopping her port-wise swing at the same time. Olliver, being the standy QM was then ordered to contact the Carpenter and sent down to the Chief. He was down in the ER for quite a time so this might explain why he failed to hear the steam blowing off after the final stop order. It would also explain why he was able to confirm the upward movement of the firemen.

Talk to you later,

Jim.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
>>I can't understand why you would believe the evidence of amateurs over that of professional navigators. <<

There was no evidence offered by a professional mariner in this case. Boxhall just assumed the ship was heading in the same direction she had been steaming. Good try with the Carpathia porting around the berg just prior to picking up boat 2. But the Carpathia's mast lights would have been visible for quite some time before she came close to that point. Crawford saw her come up from the SE from a distance of several miles. He just didn't know where SE was, but he was heading in the opposite direction from it. That makes him moving to the NW and the Titanic had to be pointing northward from his detailed description.

Boxhall testified that he, Murdoch and Smith went out onto the starboard bridge wing to see the berg. Why would they do that if the ship had continued to turn to port stopping about south? I'd go out onto the port wing to see it if I were there and the ship did as you say. Also, at least three other seaman testified that the berg was off the starboard quarter before it disappeared into the night. Rowe, out on the poop, testified that the ship did not appear to be under starboard helm, that is left rudder, at the time the berg passed aft of the poop. This is consistent with the helm being shifted over to the opposite direction as Olliver claimed it was. Such action would have started to check the original swing of the ship to port and started a swing to starboard after the berg passed aft of the stern.

Anyone familiar with the stars would not have any difficulty finding Polaris that night, including C/O Stewart on the Californian. The issue with that one is not whether he was able to see Polaris, but whether he really took a latitude sight as claimed.

Later,
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Hi Sam!

You actually pointed me to professional evidence (perhaps not directly given but not all evidence is evident) which stated that both Navigating officers believed the vessel was pointing west. They were professionals so why ignore them? You then compared the evidence of amateurs - a science teacher, a lady?, an amateur yachtsman and a steward.
Why should a science teacher be any more reliable in his direction estimation? What type of science did he teach? The lady, in fact refers directly to the Pole Star buried in the Northern Lights with an altitude of about 42 degrees. The yachtsman is completely useless as a witness (except for his barber's pole sighting). He states "We started right off from the port side of the boat directly straight off from her about midships, on the port side, right directly north, I think it would be because the northern lights appeared where this light we had been looking at" (The same man stated he thought Hitchens was raving about seeing a light or buoy). This would suggest the ship was actually heading east. As for the steward; you said it yourself -'he just didn't know where SE was'.
Regarding survivors: they were all fairly close to each other in little pockets. I suspect they all turned towards Carpathia's and Boxhall's flares and rockets a bit before Carpathia's steaming lights would be seen clearly at extreme range of about 9 miles. Perhaps not too long after Titanic finally sank say about 0300hrs.
As for professionals: if, as he claimed (and why wouldn't he?) that he, Boxhall rowed the No.1 E. boat round the stern to just abaft the starboard beam. then rowed 3/4 mile away to the NE; it is hardly likely he would row away at an angle. If the ship was heading north as you say then he could not have rowed to the NE but to the SE. This was a highly trained navigator and would know every star in sight (no pun intended). Why ignore this?
The No.6 boat was on the port side - the lights were on the port bow. Hitchens rowed directly out from the side of the ship first for just over half a mile then lay on his oars before heading for the mystery lights. The only indication of north is the Aurora. Only Peuchin saw the ship sink and saw the Aurora. Since he saw the ship then the Aurora he must have been facing north and his boat the opposite way. It wasn't until later that he changed his rowing position.

I still would like to know the mechanism whereby Titanic stopped swinging with the current - regardless of how exactly she ended-up.
As far as the bridge wing gathering is concerned - the vessel was travelling - let's say 37.5 feet/second when she hit the ice. OK, she may have been 'free-wheeling' with the props stopped giving a bit of drag but she was still belting along and the ice was moving rapidly down the starboard side. I can easily imagine the instinctive reaction would be to rush over to the side as this monumental bit of frozen water crunched its way down the side. Additionally; the best place to actually see it would have been abaft the beam as it passed through the glare of the ships lights. As Lord said 'you can never mistake these ships'.
Passenger evidence suggests it passed very close -ice on the well deck and ice on the outside rims of portholes. I'm afraid you would have been disappointed Sam if you had gone to the port side. Given the angle and speed of turn; I would suspect the offending ice would have been 3 or four ship lengths away to the NE with the glare of ships lights between before there would be sufficient line of sight. If the lookouts couldn't see it in complete darkness ahead, I don't think anyone would see it after it passed astern out of the glare of the ship's lights -no matter what side they were standing.
I am still having trouble with understanding why Rowe -at his position on the poop could have any notion as to what direction the helm was in. Actually, if, as I suspect, the engines were gathering speed towards full astern together at that moment of time - there would have been tremendous cavitation as the blades attempted to overcome the forward momentum. Those on board would have felt the unmistakable shuddering and vibration which would slowly abate at first then more rapidly until settling down as the blades bit into solid water. The rudder would have very little effect until the vessel was stopped and started going astern. During this time, the rudder should have been midship to lessen the turning effect and give maximum effect to the stopping action. To bring the ship's head back to it's former heading, slow ahead port and continuing astern starboard would have done the trick without any appreciable forward momentum. No other rudder would have been necessary.

All great fun!

Talk to you later,

Jim.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
quote:

All great fun!
Yes it is great fun.

Rowe didn't know what the direction the helm was in, just that it didn't appear to him that the ship was acting as if she was under hard astarboard helm. The only thing I make out of that is that the ship was not still turning to port as the berg was passing the poop. If it were, the berg should have been up against the rail, not just very close by, and he would have also heard scrapping along the side as was heard up in the bow if the ship was still under hard left rudder. Also, there was no known damage aft of the first funnel. Why not if the ship was still carrying hard left rudder all along?

As far as Boxhall being a highly trained navigator and would know every star in sight, I agree. But the issue is did he even bother to look at the stars at all between the time of the accident and the time Titanic sank? Nowhere does he say he did. He never explains how he concluded those directions. You are making an assumption here. I've seen too many professional mariners make assumptions that led to disaster. In my opinion, Boxhall probably never even thought about what direction Titanic was pointing until asked about it at the inquiries, and his answers were given in terms of relative bearings assuming the ship was pointing westward.

When Rowe left the bridge he said the light was then about 2 points off the port bow and the ship's head was facing north. Rowe was a trained seaman. Boxhall left the ship about the same time Rowe left the bridge. It was when the they stopped firing the socket signals. Rowe had the ship facing north. Boxhall had the ship facing west at the same time. Conflicting testimony. At least Rowe's observation was supported by your so called amateurs.

Talk more later.​
 
B

Bill Wormstedt

Member
How's this sound?

Rowe - all alone out on the stern docking bridge, was in an excellent position to see the stars changing position over his head. He would easily be able to see the ship swinging in a clockwise direction. And he had nothing else going on to distract him, such as a collision which he wasn't aware of.

And stretching a bit, couldn't he easily look over the edge of the poop and see what direction the rudder was in?
 
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