How long to start sinking

Alex Hayward

May 3, 2012
sorry you'll have to bear with me i'm new to this forum, i would just like to ask how long after hitting the iceberg did it take for it to be noticable that the ship was sinking, i mean like how long until you would have been able to clearly see the bow starting to get lower and the stern getting higher


Paulo Renato

May 3, 2012
To the High crew members 10 or 15 minutes after the Hit, and the other passengers, after the first (or second) distress rocket, i guess.

Scott Mills

Jul 10, 2008
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States
We were just discussing this in another thread. Particularly when the crew knew, for sure, she would sink.

The speculation is somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes after the collision.

That said, the passengers are a different story. Certainly the rockets were and indicator to some, the flooding of forepeak and the forecastle submerging to others.

Most by 2:10 knew that they were in serious trouble. Though around that time Col. Gracie recalls over hearing 2 stewards muse of whether or not the "compartments will keep her up."

So even at the end some people had some hope that she would float.
Oct 28, 2000
As I see things, Captain Smith checked the ship's clinometer (wrongly called a "commutator" by quartermaster Hichens) about 11 minutes after impact and found the ship had a 5 degree list to starboard. At about the same time, Major Peuchen noted the ship was "tipping" to starboard as he spoke to fellow Canadian passenger Hayes. Another passenger, George Harder, noticed the list at this time. Surprisingly, lookout Reginald Lee said he did not notice any appreciable list when he came off watch 20 minutes after impact.

It is not until about an hour after impact that firm evidence of the downward tilt of the bow begins to surface. This is not to say it started that late, only that nobody mentioned tilting earlier in their testimonies. The first real hint is water coming up over the stoker plates at the forward end of boiler room #4. The first mention of the bow sagging down in wireless messages comes about 1 hour 18 minutes after impact when Phillips tapped out, "We are in collision with berg. Sinking head down." That message was sent to sistership Olympic.

About an hour after impact quartermaster Olliver looked back on the ship from lifeboat #5. He noted the ship was down 20 feet in the bow, which works out to about a 3 degree downward tilt. The forecastle deck was still above water when fireman Barrett came up from boiler room #5 a couple of minutes later. At about 1 hour 37 minutes after impact lookout Symons in boat #1 noted the forecastle was now under water. By 1 hour 53 minutes after impact seaman Buley noted the port navigation light was still about 10 feet above water when boat # 10 was launched. Perhaps two minutes later passenger Emily Ryerson estimated the boat deck was about 20 feet above water.

Whe boat #2 was launched about 1 hour 42 minutes after impact the ship was still carrying a starboard list. That list began to go away and be replaced by a roll to port roughly 2 hours after impact. This may explain why collapsible B on the port boat deck seems to have washed overboard minutes before collapsible A which rested on the starboard boat deck. In between, funnel #1 fell to port and upset collapsible B. Second officer Lightoller noted the front of the bridge roof and the base of the crow's nest were both awash when he decided to jump into the sea. That was moments before the funnel fell. From Lightoller's observation, the ship had about a 13 degree downward tilt by the bow at that time.

-- David G. Brown

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