How the break-up occurred

Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

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It is quite likely that the break-up process started when the stern was at an angle of 11 to 12 degrees to the sea level. In his book RITLOT-SST: A Centennial Appraisal, Sam Halpern demonstrates convincingly that the bending stress on the Titanic keel reached its maximum at 11 to 12 degrees; theoretically, if the break had not started then, it might not have happened at all because as the stern rose higher, the bending stress on the keel dropped sharply.

We must consider what we mean by "start" of the break-up. It is quite likey that when the stern reached around 11-degrees, the keel structure started to give way probably at its top surface between the 2nd and 3rd funnels. But IMO it was not an immediate "snap!" and so for a short time the failing keel still supported the hull and so the stern continued to rise. It was at that time that the dipping bow caused the Titanic to suddenly lose its longitudinal stability (a separate event) resulting in that sharp downward plunge that generated the well known "wave". When that happened, the stern rose further even though the keel was breaking (and that rise would have momentarily reduced the bending force) and probably reached an angle of around 25-degrees before the failing keel snapped and the full break-up, as witnessed by many survivors, occurred.

If makes you wonder if that’s what the first “explosion” was. Survivors mentioned some rumbling or an “explosion” as the bridge dipped under. Maybe that was the keel popping upward. And then the second “explosion” is the louder one accompanied with the stern settling back.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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The sounds of ripping metal coming from underwater may well have been described as "explosions" by many. Over time, some writers thought that they were exploding boilers.

Although there was a risk of boilers exploding when they came into contact with icy seawater, that did not appear to happen. The still very hot boilers in BR6 and then BR5 were the earliest to be exposed to flooding and did not explode. The boilers in BR4 and those further aft would have cooled down considerably by the time those rooms started to seriously flood; also with the steam vented the pressure would have dropped reducing the risk of explosion. Therefore, I fail to see how boilers could have exploded after 2:00 am.
 
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ShinGoji (Kiefer)

ShinGoji (Kiefer)

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We must consider what we mean by "start" of the break-up. It is quite likey that when the stern reached around 11-degrees, the keel structure started to give way probably at its top surface between the 2nd and 3rd funnels. But IMO it was not an immediate "snap!" and so for a short time the failing keel still supported the hull and so the stern continued to rise. It was at that time that the dipping bow caused the Titanic to suddenly lose its longitudinal stability (a separate event) resulting in that sharp downward plunge that generated the well known "wave". When that happened, the stern rose further even though the keel was breaking (and that rise would have momentarily reduced the bending force) and probably reached an angle of around 25-degrees before the failing keel snapped and the full break-up, as witnessed by many survivors, occurred.

This is what I want to point out, sorry for not elaborating my statement well, yes I do agree that the maximum angle is not always the maximum, and that for the fact it can have a first sign of failure and then still continue to go up, the process of the break-up was rather slow, considering that Joughin Heard a buckling sounds which the timeline states it was minutes away from the break-up which is one testimonial evidence for it.
 
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chrismireya

chrismireya

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....the process of the break-up was rather slow, considering that Joughin Heard a buckling sounds which the timeline states it was minutes away from the break-up which is one testimonial evidence for it.
Good point, ShinGoji.

Still, I have to say that (personally) I am always a bit cautious when it comes to Charles Joughin's testimony. This is because so much of his story was amended, embellished and/or fabricated. I do think that some specific events in his testimony were likely accurate (at least from his perspective). I just have a difficult time placing a high degree of trust in Joughin's words because of the underlying and oft-repeated lie (i.e., swimming in the water from the sinking until morning).

When I previously wrote that I feel that the break-up occurred quickly, I am referring to the final part of that "process." The "process" (that led to the breakup) actually began as the bow began filling with water and Titanic's structure began experiencing the war of buoyancy. Quite a few people didn't see the breakup for several possible reasons -- including location-perspective, darkness, etc. However, those who did seem to have indicated that the visible breakup happened quickly.

To my knowledge, no survivor described a slow ripping apart of the ship. This seems to indicate that the process started underwater and/or internally which culminated in a quick outer "ripping apart" of the outer structure. In fact, some people indicated that they were only aware of the breakup because the stern settled back and the bow (or "front part") was missing.

As such, I tend to judge testimony by the "big picture" -- an image or series of events that coincides with the largest number of synced eyewitness testimony. Whatever accurate testimony that Joughin (and others aboard the ship at the end) accounted for is potentially skewed by their own perspective too. They didn't see the sinking in third-person (i.e., sitting in a lifeboat a few hundred yards away). They experienced it (first-person) while standing somewhere on the deck (or from the point where they were about to jump or slip into the water).
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I have to say that (personally) I am always a bit cautious when it comes to Charles Joughin's testimony. This is because so much of his story was amended, embellished and/or fabricated. I do think that some specific events in his testimony were likely accurate (at least from his perspective). I just have a difficult time placing a high degree of trust in Joughin's words because of the underlying and oft-repeated lie (i.e., swimming in the water from the sinking until morning).
Very good point. Joughin probably really had a couple of drinks that night while the lifeboats were being loaded and I feel that might have affected his testimony. NOT because I think he was drunk - I believe he still had good control of his faculties - but because that meant he had to make at least a couple of trips to his cabin from the boat deck and remain there for a few minutes at least while he was having his tipple. During that timeframe, he would not have seen everything that was happeneing on the boat deck.

I believe that Joughin remained on the port side aft for the most part and his cabin trips would have been during loading and lowering of Lifeboats #16, #14 and #12, ie approximately between 01:15 am and 01:35 am. That is almst certainly the reason why his recollections later about the order in which they were lowered were vague. I think he says somewhere that the lifeboat with which he assisted loading, Lifeboat #10 (probably the only one where he worked), was lowered before the others on portside aft (which was not the case) while at the same time mentioning the large 3 foot gap between the sides of the ship and lifeboat (which was true). His "throwing babies across" was probably a figure of speech in describing small kids being helped to negotiate the gap, which might occasionally have required a gentle toss across.

I think Joughin was telling the truth when he mentioned about sounds of metal parts coming apart - it could have bee the early stages of the break-up.

Quite a few people didn't see the breakup for several possible reasons -- including location-perspective, darkness, etc. However, those who did seem to have indicated that the visible breakup happened quickly.
"Quick" and "Slow" are relative terms depending on the event being described, and of course, the observers' perspective. No one is claiming that the break-up of the Titanic was a slow process, but at the same time, it was not a "intact this moment, gone next" type of snap either. IMO, the break-up, as measured from the first cracks in the keel and decks started just after 02:15 am when the angle of trim of the Titanic was between 11 and 12 degrees and the bending stress on the keel reached its maximum. This would not have been seen by the people on board or in the lifeboats but a few might have heard sounds of ripping metal though other noises revalent at the time. During this time, the ship was also rapidly losing its longitudinal stability and so the dip of the bow and consequent rise of the stern would have continued despite the "breaking back". The stern probably reached an angle of 25 degrees before the catastrophic snap of the keel followed immediately by the full-break-up happened. But the onlookers in lifeboats who saw the break-up would only have seen that final snap and so believed that it happened very quickly.
 
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Ryan H

Ryan H

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"My breakup theory which may not be accurate but I was thinking in my head was basely a composite of Roger Long's, Park Stevenson's 2006 Theory and James Cameron's 2017 theory with some bits of the 1998 Three Section Break Up theory.

The Internal Failure starts at the 11° as the ship starts to go higher and higher which caused the stern to start to bend, due to the breakup starting at the front of the Second Funnel unlike the Roger Long when he said it goes down to the bottom, the stress stops going down and then goes right to the middle underneath the Second Funnel as the ship goes up to 28-30°.

Then the back section of the ship which is the bow can't take it anymore and its snaps. The Middle section is still connected to the Stern as the Second Funnel falls off with the Bow still somewhat holding on, the Stern starts to tilt to Port which caused the front end of the bow to rose up for a moment before going under as it then splits from the Keel.

Meanwhile, the Stern which is tilted to port starts to go under as it slowly goes up vertical with the Stern even itself one last time. As the Stern goes down the middle section then breaks off as the Stern starts to spin 90 degrees before going underwater at 2:20 AM."


Originally it goes up to 23-25° but General Skywalker who is on Titanic: Honor and Glory discord server has said that the ship went higher than that as Olaus Abelseth saw that people start sliding down the deck. So I had changed it and there you go. I like to call this the Y-Break up theory due to the Y like shape during the breakup.
 
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Ryan H

Ryan H

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P.S I meant the Third Funnel sorry about that I got confused with the funnels as my brain just shut off for a moment when making the theory.
 
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Seumas

Seumas

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Sorry, but I am not convinced on this suspiciously cinematic high angle break theory of over twenty degrees.

I favour the ten to fifteen degree argument.

Over time, I have also learned to take some of the things that the H&G team come out with a large pinch of salt.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

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I am not convinced on this suspiciously cinematic high angle break theory of over twenty degrees.
I think this depends on one's definition of "break". Generally, that refers to what some people in the lifeboats saw and heard around 02:18 am when the straining keel finally snapped and the two sections separated almost completely. Just before that happened, the stern very probably was at an angle of just over 20 degrees, probably as high as 24 degrees.

But that does not mean that the break started and finished at that stage. I am completely convinced by Sam Halpern's excellent explanation with graph on pp118-119 of his RITLOTSST-ACR book in which he demonstrates that the bending force on the keel reached its maximum at around 12-degrees trim. This very likely happened just after 02:16 am and that was when the keel started to fail along with the decks; in other words, the break-up did start when the stern was at an angle of about 12-degrees to the sea surface. But it would not have been a sudden 'snap!' but a process that probably extended over 2 minutes or so, at least partly because of what happened next.

As Sam described, around the same time the flooded and sinking bow caused the whole ship to suddenly lose its longitudinal stability which resulted in that sudden forward and downward lurch (and the resultant water displacement in the form of a 'wave'). The flooded bow dipped suddenly and so the stern would have continued to rise despite the fact that the break-up had already started. That would explain the "explosive" sounds that several survivors heard around this time - it was due to tearing of metal on a very large scale. Going by Sam's graph on p119 of his book, this continued rise of the stern would have resulted in easing of the bending force on the keel, likely prolonging the break-up process. Therefore, it is possible, even probable, that the stern did reach an angle of almost 25 degrees before the final catastrophic snap and separation of the two sections - as seen and reported by some survivors - occurred.

What I am trying to say is that those witnesses who reported at the time that the ship broke into two saw only the final a catastrophic event but not the entire process of the break-up. At least that is how I have understood the break-up process by marrying what the witnesses reported with Sam Halpern's analysis.
 
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Ryan H

Ryan H

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I think this depends on one's definition of "break". Generally, that refers to what some people in the lifeboats saw and heard around 02:18 am when the straining keel finally snapped and the two sections separated almost completely. Just before that happened, the stern very probably was at an angle of just over 20 degrees, probably as high as 24 degrees.

But that does not mean that the break started and finished at that stage. I am completely convinced by Sam Halpern's excellent explanation with graph on pp118-119 of his RITLOTSST-ACR book in which he demonstrates that the bending force on the keel reached its maximum at around 12-degrees trim. This very likely happened just after 02:16 am and that was when the keel started to fail along with the decks; in other words, the break-up did start when the stern was at an angle of about 12-degrees to the sea surface. But it would not have been a sudden 'snap!' but a process that probably extended over 2 minutes or so, at least partly because of what happened next.

As Sam described, around the same time the flooded and sinking bow caused the whole ship to suddenly lose its longitudinal stability which resulted in that sudden forward and downward lurch (and the resultant water displacement in the form of a 'wave'). The flooded bow dipped suddenly and so the stern would have continued to rise despite the fact that the break-up had already started. That would explain the "explosive" sounds that several survivors heard around this time - it was due to tearing of metal on a very large scale. Going by Sam's graph on p119 of his book, this continued rise of the stern would have resulted in easing of the bending force on the keel, likely prolonging the break-up process. Therefore, it is possible, even probable, that the stern did reach an angle of almost 25 degrees before the final catastrophic snap and separation of the two sections - as seen and reported by some survivors - occurred.

What I am trying to say is that those witnesses who reported at the time that the ship broke into two saw only the final a catastrophic event but not the entire process of the break-up. At least that is how I have understood the break-up process by marrying what the witnesses reported with Sam Halpern's analysis.
That is a problem when you doing a break up theory. Due to there are no images of the sinking because of no cameras that small of the time we had to guess based on accounts of people seeing it. (That does not mean using the V-Break!!) In one account it is said that the people starts to slip as the ship goes higher and higher. Here is my sinking theory timeline which look like this.

2:15 AM: The Final Plunge has begun, as the port list ease the Bridge starts to flood. Collapsible A starts to leave the Titanic as the coward of people who is till on the Ship starts to run towards the stern. Collapsible B meanwhile was capsized as it floats away from the Ship.

2:16 AM: The ship was about 11° as the first funnel falls off. The Internal Failure starts to build up in the front of the third funnel as it starts to go down but then stops as it goes right underneath it. The Grand Staircase dome breaks as it starts to flood more and more water.

2:17 AM: Titanic starts to rose higher and higher up to 28-30°, second funnel has also fallen off as the ship reach the maximum angle. The ship starts to bend at the stern connected to the middle part with the stress builds up then at the last minute of the hour it snaps.

2:18 AM: The ship was now into three sections as the third funnel falls down, stern still connected to the middle section starts to list to port as the front end of the bow starts to rose up for a moment before going underwater. The bow then disconnect from the keel as it starts to go down to the sea floor.

2:19 AM: Around that point the fourth funnel canted to port, with the stern even itself one last time as it goes up vertically created what people called it the black finger in the night sky which stay still for a moment. Then it starts to go down and the middle section disconnects from the Stern when it starts to split into many parts.

2:20 AM: The stern has submerged underwater and it starts to implode as many people on the lifeboats hear sounds of the ship ripping apart.
 
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Thomas C.

Thomas C.

Member
Just before that happened, the stern very probably was at an angle of just over 20 degrees, probably as high as 24 degrees.

The survivors said otherwise;

After getting clear of the ship the lights were still burning very bright, but as we got away she seemed to go lower and lower, and she almost stood up perpendicular, and her lights went dim, and presently she broke clean in two, probably two-thirds of the length of the ship.
-George Crowe

And then, as we gazed awe-struck, she tilted slowly up, revolving apparently about a centre of gravity just astern of amidships, until she attained a vertically upright position; and there she remained--motionless! As she swung up, her lights, which had shone without a flicker all night, went out suddenly, came on again for a single flash, then went out altogether.
-Lawrence Beesley

By the time we had got out of reach of the suction we stopped to watch her go down, and you could watch her go too it went in the front until it was standing like this: \ and all the lights went out, shortly after we heard the engines explode and then the cries of the people for help. Never shall I forget it as long as I live. I dare not let myself think of it.
-Amelia Brown

As the minutes passed, the stern of the ship rose higher in the sky. At one point we could clearly discern her great propellers against this formidable background of stars. Presently her stern rose perpendicular with the surface of the water, and the next second it vanished from our view. The lights which had burned so brilliantly throughout the night had went out in a snap, and in a deafening series of creaks and roars, the ship slid under the surface.
-Antoinette Flegenheim
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I am aware of what the survivors said. But that perpendicular position of the stern was later, after the break-up and falling away of the detached bow section. When that happened, the still dry stern section fell back (also reported by many survivors) but soon started flooding rapidly through the exposed deck spaces. That was accompanied by the stern rising again and it was then that it acquired an almost perpendicular position before sinking steadily.

It is depicted very well in the OASOG video clip of the real-time sinking.

George Crow was rescued on Lifeboat #14, which was launched around 01:25 am. It is likely that it was quite far away from the Titanic during the final plunge. Amelia Brown was on Lifeboat #11 launched at about 01:32 am and Beesley on Lifeboat #13 that was lowered at 01:40 am.

As for Antoinette Flegenheim, she was rescued on Lifeboat #7, the very first to be launched at 12:40 am. It is very doubtful if the boat was close enough for her to have seen the propellers from that distance in the darkness.
 
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chrismireya

chrismireya

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I am aware of what the survivors said. But that perpendicular position of the stern was later, after the break-up and falling away of the detached bow section. When that happened, the still dry stern section fell back (also reported by many survivors) but soon started flooding rapidly through the exposed deck spaces. That was accompanied by the stern rising again and it was then that it acquired an almost perpendicular position before sinking steadily.

It is depicted very well in the OASOG video clip of the real-time sinking.

George Crow was rescued on Lifeboat #14, which was launched around 01:25 am. It is likely that it was quite far away from the Titanic during the final plunge. Amelia Brown was on Lifeboat #11 launched at about 01:32 am and Beesley on Lifeboat #13 that was lowered at 01:40 am.

As for Antoinette Flegenheim, she was rescued on Lifeboat #7, the very first to be launched at 12:40 am. It is very doubtful if the boat was close enough for her to have seen the propellers from that distance in the darkness.
Very good examples. Distance, darkness, vantage and perspective played a crucial role in what the survivors actually saw. There was an interesting Titanic sinking video that showed up on my YouTube 'recommended videos' list just today that helps illustrate this:


Notice just how the sudden darkness (when most of the lights) dictate just what a person in a lifeboat might actually see. It does help explain the differences in testimony -- sometimes between people in the same lifeboat!

I do think that there may have been some emergency lights (or oil lamps) that might have remained on after the breakup. That might have helped some people still see the breakup just a bit better. However, the point is that it became quite dark -- especially if you were in a lifeboat between 200-1000 yards from the ship.
 
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
I am aware of what the survivors said. But that perpendicular position of the stern was later, after the break-up and falling away of the detached bow section. When that happened, the still dry stern section fell back (also reported by many survivors) but soon started flooding rapidly through the exposed deck spaces. That was accompanied by the stern rising again and it was then that it acquired an almost perpendicular position before sinking steadily.

It is depicted very well in the OASOG video clip of the real-time sinking.

George Crow was rescued on Lifeboat #14, which was launched around 01:25 am. It is likely that it was quite far away from the Titanic during the final plunge. Amelia Brown was on Lifeboat #11 launched at about 01:32 am and Beesley on Lifeboat #13 that was lowered at 01:40 am.

As for Antoinette Flegenheim, she was rescued on Lifeboat #7, the very first to be launched at 12:40 am. It is very doubtful if the boat was close enough for her to have seen the propellers from that distance in the darkness.

I think Thomas’s contribution is a nod to a higher angle break. We know (from physics and testimony) that the ship didn’t break at a perpendicular angle, but it must have been a considerable height based on these quotes. I think some people recently have played the breakup down to a small and insignificant event. Lightoller thought the ship was at an angle of 60° when the lights went out. This definitely rules out a 10-15° breakup in my eyes.
 
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