How the break-up occurred

Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
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.
We have discussed this above in the same thread. Incidentally, at the forefront "some people" you speak of is Sam Halpern, who has done extensive research on the break-up and written convincing articles and an excellent chapter in his Centennial Reappraisal book.

What the various eyewitnesses saw as the ship breaking apart was the catastrophic culmination of an event that started between 2 and 3 minutes earlier. During those 2 or 3 minutes, keel was failing and the deckplates were being pulled apart but the two sections still were attached to each other. Also during that time, the sinking Titanic lost its longitudinal stability thereby greatly increasing the rate at which the bow dipped further and the stern rose.

I believe that Sam's calculation that the break-up started when the trim angle was between 11 and 12 degrees is absolutely correct, probably between 02:15 and 02:16 am. But that would not have been seen by any of the survivor witnesses, even though many would have heard the sounds of ripping metal which they described with various sound phrases, including "explosions". It was probably a minute or so later that the ship suddenly lost its longitudinal stability and gave that sudden forward and downward lurch which in turn generated the 'wave' about which several witnesses testified. This resulted in the rapid dip of the bow and rise of the still attached stern even though the break-up process was continuing. The lights failed at around 02:17 am and the stern had reached an angle of around 24-degrees before the final break-up and separation occurred 30 to 40 seconds later. That was what was seen and reported by various witnesses later.

As to Lightoller's report of the stern being at 60-degrees when the lights failed, you'll have to take it with a chunk of salt. It would have been difficult for him to judge angles of trim while soaked to the skin in icy water and balancing on top of an overturned lifeboat with several people even as others were trying to board. Remember that Lightoller also testified that the ship went down completely intact, something that we now know that it did not. Also, even expereinced sailors such as Lightoller would never have seen a spectacle like the 882-foot long Titanic sinking by the bow before and the 350 feet or so of the stern section sticking up in the air like it was would have created an optical illusion of a higher angle of trim than actually existed. Remember how many witnesses testified that the Titanic looked "enormous" during the final plunge? In the darkness, the 350 feet of the stern sticking out of the water at an angle of 24 to 25 degrees would have meant that the very end of the stern would have been very high from the sea level, thus creating an illusion of a much higher angle.

Of course, the 'perpendicular' stern came later after the break-up as discussed above.
 
  • Like
Reactions: PaisleyK
CherubPrime

CherubPrime

Member
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.
Just the heads up is at the time I was writing the comment my brain was confused at the time I meant to say the back end of the bow rising not the front end. So sorry about the misinformation I won't make that mistake again.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
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 ...
I would not associate launch time of a lifeboat with how far a boat might have been from the ship when the final plunge took place. Also, seeing the propellers out of the water from the boats was noted by several survivors. One of my favorite eyewitness accounts came from lookout George Symons which described pretty much what you articulated about the timing and sequence of the last few minutes. I'll repeat that here:

"Her foremost lights had disappeared [under the water], and her starboard sidelight left burning was the only light, barring the masthead light, on that side of the bridge that I could see...You could not see her keel...You could just see the propellers...A little while after that we pulled a little way and lay on the oars again. The other boats were around us by that time, and some were pulling further away from us. I stood and watched it till I heard two sharp explosions in the ship. What they were I could not say. Then she suddenly took a top cant, her stern came well out of the water then...She took a heavy cant and her bow went down clear...Head down, and that is the time when I saw her lights go out, all her lights. The next thing I saw was her poop. As she went down like that so her poop righted itself and I thought to myself, ‘The poop is going to float.’ It could not have been more than two or three minutes after that that her poop went up as straight as anything; there was a sound like steady thunder as you hear on an ordinary night at a distance, and soon she disappeared from view."

Asked to explain some of this further, Symons said:

"Her head was going well down...her stern was well out of the water...It righted itself without the bow; in my estimation she must have broken in half...I should think myself it was abaft the after expansion plate...I should say it would be about abeam of the after funnel, or a little forward...I saw the poop right itself...then it went up and disappeared from view."
 
  • Like
Reactions: chrismireya, Arun Vajpey, CherubPrime and 1 other person
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
I would not associate launch time of a lifeboat with how far a boat might have been from the ship when the final plunge took place.

One of my favorite eyewitness accounts came from lookout George Symons which described pretty much what you articulated about the timing and sequence of the last few minutes.

Agreed Sam. Symons was saved on Lifeboat #1 which was launched around 01:05am from the starboard side, before #14 on the port side. But do you think that due to the debate on board #1 whether to return to the ship to more survivors, it could have remained closer than expected by the time of its launch.

I think it was Antoinette Flegenheim who also mentioned the propellers and she was on Lifeboat #7. Do you really think she could have seen those details through the darkness? Would the position of the propellers bave caused a recognizable silhouette against the starlit sky if the viewer was is the right position?
 
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
We have discussed this above in the same thread. Incidentally, at the forefront "some people" you speak of is Sam Halpern, who has done extensive research on the break-up and written convincing articles and an excellent chapter in his Centennial Reappraisal book.

What the various eyewitnesses saw as the ship breaking apart was the catastrophic culmination of an event that started between 2 and 3 minutes earlier. During those 2 or 3 minutes, keel was failing and the deckplates were being pulled apart but the two sections still were attached to each other. Also during that time, the sinking Titanic lost its longitudinal stability thereby greatly increasing the rate at which the bow dipped further and the stern rose.

I believe that Sam's calculation that the break-up started when the trim angle was between 11 and 12 degrees is absolutely correct, probably between 02:15 and 02:16 am. But that would not have been seen by any of the survivor witnesses, even though many would have heard the sounds of ripping metal which they described with various sound phrases, including "explosions". It was probably a minute or so later that the ship suddenly lost its longitudinal stability and gave that sudden forward and downward lurch which in turn generated the 'wave' about which several witnesses testified. This resulted in the rapid dip of the bow and rise of the still attached stern even though the break-up process was continuing. The lights failed at around 02:17 am and the stern had reached an angle of around 24-degrees before the final break-up and separation occurred 30 to 40 seconds later. That was what was seen and reported by various witnesses later.

As to Lightoller's report of the stern being at 60-degrees when the lights failed, you'll have to take it with a chunk of salt. It would have been difficult for him to judge angles of trim while soaked to the skin in icy water and balancing on top of an overturned lifeboat with several people even as others were trying to board. Remember that Lightoller also testified that the ship went down completely intact, something that we now know that it did not. Also, even expereinced sailors such as Lightoller would never have seen a spectacle like the 882-foot long Titanic sinking by the bow before and the 350 feet or so of the stern section sticking up in the air like it was would have created an optical illusion of a higher angle of trim than actually existed. Remember how many witnesses testified that the Titanic looked "enormous" during the final plunge? In the darkness, the 350 feet of the stern sticking out of the water at an angle of 24 to 25 degrees would have meant that the very end of the stern would have been very high from the sea level, thus creating an illusion of a much higher angle.

Of course, the 'perpendicular' stern came later after the break-up as discussed above.

I was referring to those who believe the event began and finished at 10 degrees. Not those who stated it began at 10 and finished at 25.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Would the position of the propellers bave caused a recognizable silhouette against the starlit sky if the viewer was is the right position?
I would think that bronze propellers from a boat a few hundred yards away would be somewhat visible in starlight. More so than any iceberg.
 
Samuel Halpern

Samuel Halpern

Member
Lightoller thought the ship was at an angle of 60° when the lights went out.
As Arun said, you need to take these subjective estimates with a grain of salt. Are you aware of what 5/O Lowe had said about tilt when he first came out on deck sometime after midnight?

Mr. LOWE. I do not know. I was awakened by hearing voices, and I thought it was very strange, and somehow they woke me up and I realized there must be something the matter; so I looked out and I saw a lot of people around, and I jumped up and got dressed and went up on deck.
Senator SMITH. What did you find when you got up there?
Mr. LOWE. I found that all the passengers were wearing belts.
Senator SMITH. Life belts?
Mr. LOWE. Yes, sir; I also found that they were busy getting the boats ready to go overboard.
Senator SMITH. What did you do?
Mr. LOWE. I met somebody, and they said she had struck an iceberg, and I could feel by my feet that there was something wrong.
...
Senator SMITH. The bow, you say, was down?
Mr. LOWE. Down, and the stern was up.
Senator SMITH. Could you tell at about what angle she was at that time?
Mr. LOWE. Do you want the perpendicular angle or the horizontal angle?
Senator SMITH. The horizontal angle.
Mr. LOWE. I should say she was about 12° to 15° by the head.

Anybody want to believe that?
 
  • Like
Reactions: chrismireya, Jason D. Tiller and Arun Vajpey
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
As Arun said, you need to take these subjective estimates with a grain of salt. Are you aware of what 5/O Lowe had said about tilt when he first came out on deck sometime after midnight?

Mr. LOWE. I do not know. I was awakened by hearing voices, and I thought it was very strange, and somehow they woke me up and I realized there must be something the matter; so I looked out and I saw a lot of people around, and I jumped up and got dressed and went up on deck.
Senator SMITH. What did you find when you got up there?
Mr. LOWE. I found that all the passengers were wearing belts.
Senator SMITH. Life belts?
Mr. LOWE. Yes, sir; I also found that they were busy getting the boats ready to go overboard.
Senator SMITH. What did you do?
Mr. LOWE. I met somebody, and they said she had struck an iceberg, and I could feel by my feet that there was something wrong.
...
Senator SMITH. The bow, you say, was down?
Mr. LOWE. Down, and the stern was up.
Senator SMITH. Could you tell at about what angle she was at that time?
Mr. LOWE. Do you want the perpendicular angle or the horizontal angle?
Senator SMITH. The horizontal angle.
Mr. LOWE. I should say she was about 12° to 15° by the head.

Anybody want to believe that?

That’s very true. The ship was definitely not at 60° when it broke apart. My point in mentioning Lightoller’s estimate was to illustrate a higher angle break. 20-25° could have looked towering at sea level. I’m not so sure how 10° could be mistaken for 60°, though.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
Mr. LOWE. I should say she was about 12° to 15° by the head.

Anybody want to believe that?
I think we both know someone who not only appeared to believe it but used it as a yardstick to argue his points. ;)

My point in mentioning Lightoller’s estimate was to illustrate a higher angle break. 20-25° could have looked towering at sea level. I’m not so sure how 10° could be mistaken for 60°, though.
Lightoller neither mentioned nor correlated anything with the break-up; he testified that the ship went down intact. He alluded to the failure of lights, which probably went out seconds before the final catastrophic break that was seen by some survivors, by which time the stern was likey at an angle of around 25*. From the sea-level that could easily have looked a lot higher, particularly to someone balancing on top of an overturned lifeboat with around 350 feet of the stern section looming over him. People like Lightoller who were a lot closer to the ship during its final plunge are therefore more likely to have overestimated that angle.

The point is, neither Lightoller nor anyone else would have had the mindset at the time to look at the rising stern, gauge its angle to the sea level and correlate it to events like the lights going out. break-up etc. The testimonies came after several days (American Inquiry) and around a month (British Inquiry) later OR somewhere inbetween or later for statements to the press and were based entirely on personal recollection. Considering the nature of the disaster with its enormous loss of life, disruption of plans, livelihood etc for the survivors, a significant degree of inaccuracy would invariably crept-in as far as the finer details of various events were concerned.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Samuel Halpern and Jason D. Tiller
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
I think we both know someone who not only appeared to believe it but used it as a yardstick to argue his points. ;)


Lightoller neither mentioned nor correlated anything with the break-up; he testified that the ship went down intact. He alluded to the failure of lights, which probably went out seconds before the final catastrophic break that was seen by some survivors, by which time the stern was likey at an angle of around 25*. From the sea-level that could easily have looked a lot higher, particularly to someone balancing on top of an overturned lifeboat with around 350 feet of the stern section looming over him. People like Lightoller who were a lot closer to the ship during its final plunge are therefore more likely to have overestimated that angle.

The point is, neither Lightoller nor anyone else would have had the mindset at the time to look at the rising stern, gauge its angle to the sea level and correlate it to events like the lights going out. break-up etc. The testimonies came after several days (American Inquiry) and around a month (British Inquiry) later OR somewhere inbetween or later for statements to the press and were based entirely on personal recollection. Considering the nature of the disaster with its enormous loss of life, disruption of plans, livelihood etc for the survivors, a significant degree of inaccuracy would invariably crept-in as far as the finer details of various events were concerned.

To me, hearing an estimate of 60 degrees (and knowing it wasn't actually that high) when the lights went out, followed by "a huge rumbling roar," just tells me a higher angle break. Anywhere from 20-30 degrees seems most plausible to me. It makes sense that structural failure would begin sooner (10-15 degrees), but the "big event" that those saw would be at a later stage. I think we're both going back and forth when we already agree haha.
 
chrismireya

chrismireya

Member
One of my favorite eyewitness accounts came from lookout George Symons which described pretty much what you articulated about the timing and sequence of the last few minutes. I'll repeat that here:

"Her foremost lights had disappeared [under the water], and her starboard sidelight left burning was the only light, barring the masthead light, on that side of the bridge that I could see...You could not see her keel...You could just see the propellers...A little while after that we pulled a little way and lay on the oars again. The other boats were around us by that time, and some were pulling further away from us. I stood and watched it till I heard two sharp explosions in the ship. What they were I could not say. Then she suddenly took a top cant, her stern came well out of the water then...She took a heavy cant and her bow went down clear...Head down, and that is the time when I saw her lights go out, all her lights. The next thing I saw was her poop. As she went down like that so her poop righted itself and I thought to myself, ‘The poop is going to float.’ It could not have been more than two or three minutes after that that her poop went up as straight as anything; there was a sound like steady thunder as you hear on an ordinary night at a distance, and soon she disappeared from view."

Asked to explain some of this further, Symons said:

"Her head was going well down...her stern was well out of the water...It righted itself without the bow; in my estimation she must have broken in half...I should think myself it was abaft the after expansion plate...I should say it would be about abeam of the after funnel, or a little forward...I saw the poop right itself...then it went up and disappeared from view."
I've always appreciated this testimony -- because it is clear, articulate and unpretentious (very different from what some other testimony later seemed to be). In his words, Symons states:
  • "You could just see the propellers..." This is immediately after saying that "you could not see her keel." He could be speaking about making out the propellers (but not the keel) due to the darkness. However, I tend to interpret this that, at this point of the sinking, the propellers were just out of the water. This sort of lends to the shallow break theory.
  • "I stood and watched it..." This is a slightly higher vantage point than others seated in his lifeboat who might not have had such a good view as someone standing. After all, there was differing testimonials about certain aspects of the sinking -- including whether or not the ship broke up. If you're focused on rowing (as you're seated), have your back to Titanic or if someone else is simply impeding your view, you might not see as well as someone standing up.
  • "Then she suddenly took a top cant, her stern came well out of the water..." This is an interesting remark. The word "cant" means a "thrown lurch" or "sudden tilt" to a British man of 1912. This comes immediately AFTER Symons mentioned the "two sharp explosions" that most people now attribute to coming from the breakup itself. If the "explosions" were from the breaking of the ship, he seems to indicate "she suddenly took a top cant" with the stern coming "well out of the water." I'm not sure what to make of this -- but Symons seems quite resolute in his sequence and description.
  • "She took a heavy cant and her bow went down clear..." This is a clear description of the moment of breakup of the bow from the stern.
  • "...and that is the time when I saw her lights go out, all her lights." Again, this is a clear testimony of the moment the bow broke free breakup. He is testifying that ALL of the lights went out.
  • "...so her poop righted itself..." This is a bit puzzling to me (and, hopefully, someone can help me out). I'm not sure why Symons is using the word "poop" here. He already differentiated between the "bow" and the "stern." Yet, he uses the word "poop" here (i.e., poop deck). I've always assumed that he simply used "poop" to refer to the whole of the stern (after having seen the poop deck cant). Perhaps Symons was using his hand as a visual in his testimony to represent the poop deck (because he included "like that" before saying it). Maybe he assumed that the stern would float because of the way it rested back after the breakup.
  • "It could not have been more than two or three minutes after that that her poop went up as straight as anything;" This is added testimony to indicate that some time had passed between the breakup and then the raising and sinking of the stern. Others have mentioned as long as five minutes. Yet, Symons is saying that it couldn't have been more than two or three before the "poop" went "as straight as anything."
  • "...there was a sound like steady thunder..." This suggests more of a rumble than an "explosion" (as he alluded to earlier). I suppose that the guess is that it was merely the sound of the final moments as water filled the now-straight-as-anything stern before Titanic disappeared.
Any tips for clarity's sake about what Symons meant when he referred to the poop?
Was he referring simply to the stern itself (as I've always assumed)?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jason D. Tiller, Wolfric Kintobor and Samuel Halpern
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
Any tips for clarity's sake about what Symons meant when he referred to the poop?
Was he referring simply to the stern itself (as I've always assumed)?

I think he means the stern altogether, yes.
 
  • Like
Reactions: chrismireya, Tim Aldrich, Jason D. Tiller and 2 others
CherubPrime

CherubPrime

Member
I had updated my break-up theory now by removing the Roger Long theory and replacing it with On the Sea of Glass as the basic. I still had some elements of the three section break up, Park Stephenson and James Cameron's 2017 theory.

 
  • Like
Reactions: Cam Houseman
Dr. Wacky

Dr. Wacky

Member
New theory.... any flaws with it?
Testimony supporting theory:

FREDRICK BARRET: "She looked like a great lighted theater [sic] floating on the sea. We saw her sink until her stern was right out of the water with the propellers in the air, then she broke in half, the weight of the half out of the water being to great for the strain I suppose. The after end sank down to the level of the water for a few moments and then as the water rushed in it went down at angle and slid gently beneath the waves."

COROLINE BONNELL: "As we pulled away from the ship we noticed that she was hog-backed, showing she was already breaking in two."

MAY FURTRELLE: "She began to settle by the nose. Then came two dull explosions. We saw her break in two. The bow which had been pointing downward, dipped, turned up again, writhed and sank with the stern- exactly as though one had stepped on a worm. "

GEOREGE HARRIS: "From this point on, the ship settled rapidly, and suddenly broke amidships. "

BERTHA LEHMANN: "All at once there were three loud reports, they sounded something like a very loud crash of thunder when it strikes very close to you. We all looked at the Titanic, it had broken apart. The front part of the boat went under first. The helm of the front half sank and then the middle. The last part of the boat was still above the water. The broken part of the last half of the boat sank slowly into the water and then the stern. "

GOREGE MCGOUGH: "When I left the, 'he said, 'she was down to below the forecastle. I saw her back break, and I heard an explosion, either of her main steam-pipe, or of the boilers. "

PERCY OXENHAM: "I don't believe there was one passenger who had any idea the big ship was in danger of going under until twenty minutes before it plunged to the bottom. The last explosion occurred about that time, and then the passengers became excited and there was great confusion. By that time the boat I was in had pulled away a considerable distance. I could hear music, but couldn't distinguish the tune. When the big ship parted and the hulks drifted apart before going under we all sat still shivering and afraid. It was the most wonderful and at the same time awful thing I ever saw. The halves seemed to rise out of the water, gaining impetus for the great trip to the bottom 2,000 fathoms deep. "
These are just the few survivor testimonies that I could find that support the theory. I bolded the parts that I think could be of use
 

Attachments

  • final_62ebe84b68c9cb006661c13a_203798.gif
    final_62ebe84b68c9cb006661c13a_203798.gif
    3.6 MB · Views: 65
Dr. Wacky

Dr. Wacky

Member
New theory.... any flaws with it?
Testimony supporting theory:

FREDRICK BARRET: "She looked like a great lighted theater [sic] floating on the sea. We saw her sink until her stern was right out of the water with the propellers in the air, then she broke in half, the weight of the half out of the water being to great for the strain I suppose. The after end sank down to the level of the water for a few moments and then as the water rushed in it went down at angle and slid gently beneath the waves."

COROLINE BONNELL: "As we pulled away from the ship we noticed that she was hog-backed, showing she was already breaking in two."

MAY FURTRELLE: "She began to settle by the nose. Then came two dull explosions. We saw her break in two. The bow which had been pointing downward, dipped, turned up again, writhed and sank with the stern- exactly as though one had stepped on a worm. "

GEOREGE HARRIS: "From this point on, the ship settled rapidly, and suddenly broke amidships. "

BERTHA LEHMANN: "All at once there were three loud reports, they sounded something like a very loud crash of thunder when it strikes very close to you. We all looked at the Titanic, it had broken apart. The front part of the boat went under first. The helm of the front half sank and then the middle. The last part of the boat was still above the water. The broken part of the last half of the boat sank slowly into the water and then the stern. "

GOREGE MCGOUGH: "When I left the, 'he said, 'she was down to below the forecastle. I saw her back break, and I heard an explosion, either of her main steam-pipe, or of the boilers. "

PERCY OXENHAM: "I don't believe there was one passenger who had any idea the big ship was in danger of going under until twenty minutes before it plunged to the bottom. The last explosion occurred about that time, and then the passengers became excited and there was great confusion. By that time the boat I was in had pulled away a considerable distance. I could hear music, but couldn't distinguish the tune. When the big ship parted and the hulks drifted apart before going under we all sat still shivering and afraid. It was the most wonderful and at the same time awful thing I ever saw. The halves seemed to rise out of the water, gaining impetus for the great trip to the bottom 2,000 fathoms deep. "
These are just the few survivor testimonies that I could find that support the theory. I bolded the parts that I think could be of use
Ill admit there are flaws. some don't line up perfectly with the accounts I've stated. Ill try to improve on this theory. Until then this is what I've got
 
Top