Lights in the Stern after the Breakup


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Aaron_2016

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Survivors saw the ship break in two between the 2nd and 3rd funnel. We don't know how clean the break was and how much of the bow was still connected to the stern, but one can guess that the lower decks were still connected to a degree and supplied power to the stern. I have also heard that the stern itself (perhaps with the benefit of closed watertight doors) had a means of producing its own power and that is why the lights remained on in the stern section.

Survivors heard two distinct explosive sounds up to 10 minutes apart. They saw the stern settle back and then they witnessed the stern turn around and face the opposite way. Now this is clearly when many thought the lights had 'disappeared' because from their view in the lifeboats (many of whom were rowing towards a ship off the port bow) would not have been able to see her deck lights once she had turned around because they would be looking at her keel end and unable to see her deck lights from that perspective. Survivors who had a better view clearly saw the lights in stern were still on after the break up and they told the Inquiry. I see no reason to doubt their word, so I was wondering after reading the evidence below do you believe the lights were still on in the stern section after the break up, and for how long afterwards?


Titanicbreak001.PNG




Thomas Ranger
"The forward end of the ship went underneath and seemed to break off, and the afterpart came back on a level keel."

Q - Can you say in relation to the fore funnel at what point the ship broke off?
A - About the second funnel from forward
Q - When she came back like that on a level keel were there any lights?
A - Right aft. The lights were right aft what were burning, on the afterend what was floating.
Q - And did they continue burning then right away aft to the taffrail?
A - Yes, right aft.



Edward Brown
"With the first report of that explosion I saw the afterpart of the ship giving a tremble, and I thought by the afterpart going up, and giving a bit of a tremble that the bow had fallen off."
Q - Did you notice whether the lights of this afterpart were still lighted or not?
A - There were lights burning then.



Charlotte Collyer
"Two other explosions followed, dull and heavy, as if below the surface. The Titanic broke in two before my eyes. The fore part was already partly under the water. It wallowed over and disappeared instantly. The stern reared straight on end and stood poised on the ocean for many seconds. They seemed minutes to me. It was only then that the electric lights on board went out."



Mr. Bright
"She broke in two. All at once she seemed to go up on end, you know, and come down about half way, and then the afterpart righted, itself again and the forepart had disappeared.....The lights had gone out in the forepart of the ship then. The lights were burning in the afterpart of the ship. It was only the after section, though, that was burning. The after part of the boat had her lights burning.

Q - After she broke in two?
A - Until she went under water; yes, sir.
Q - The bow lights were extinguished, were they?
A - You could not see anything of them after that.
Q - Did you see any lights on the stern after she settled?
A - Yes, sir; until she finally disappeared underneath the water.
Q - Until the stern disappeared, after the break?
A - Yes, sir.



Mr. Clench
"I should say a matter of 10 minutes before she went under.....I heard two explosions"
"The lights went out after the second explosion."


Mr. Brice
Q - How far apart in time, probably, were the two explosions?
A - From 8 to 10 minutes......The lights were still on in the after end of the ship after the first and second explosions.



Charles Lightoller
"There was an explosion.....There was another explosion, and I came to the surface"
"The ship had turned around while I was under the water."

(View of lights to most are now obstructed because they can only see her keel and when it rises some think it is the bow rising up.)


Ida Hippach
"The ship’s bow rose up in the air"

Lady Duff Gordon
"The bows of the great ship shot upwards out of the water"



I think it is safe to assume the lights in the stern section were indeed still lit after the break up, but for how long, who knows?



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Take into account that it was the stern that supplied electrical power to the bow, given that the dynamos and the engines were located in the aft section of the ship. What the bow section did provide was the steam from the boilers, but once the connection was severed during the break up this was no longer the case. Maybe a few lights remained in the stern after the break up, but I wouldn't say the lasted more than a few seconds.

Hope it helps.
 
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Stephen Carey

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Take into account that it was the stern that supplied electrical power to the bow, given that the dynamos and the engines were located in the aft section of the ship. What the bow section did provide was the steam from the boilers, but once the connection was severed during the break up this was no longer the case. Maybe a few lights remained in the stern after the break up, but I wouldn't say the lasted more than a few seconds.

Hope it helps.
I was about to say the same thing. The break was in the area of the aftermost (single ended) boiler room, but these boilers were not lit, so the break would have severed the steam lines running fore and aft and that would be it for the generators. Another item that would have stopped the generators dead would have been if the auxiliary seawater pump suction came out of the water, but it seems this was always underwater up to the break. We can't be sure which boilers were still supplying steam to the generators aft, but I would imagine whoever was left of the engineers below, would have been closing them off as the water encroached. I doubt any of the fires were still lit at that stage, so the firetube boiler steam reserve would have been supporting the generators. As far as I know, Titanic wasn't fitted with emergency batteries, though I believe Olympic was retrofitted with them at some stage in her career. The generators that consumed the least steam were the auxiliary or "emergency" sets, so I would guess one or both of these would have been running to the end.
 

B-rad

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Gas powered generators should also be considered. I have not been able (myself) to find any info on Titanic having such generators. Another thing to consider is the emergency lighting. Not every light was connected to the emergency lighting. For instance, when the boiler rooms went dark, if itvwad because they switched to the emergency generators the emergency lights should have been lit (or if they were the same lights they should have remained lit). Could this switch from normal lights to red lights be the dimming seen by passengers.
 
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Aaron_2016

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My understanding is that the top decks broke but the bottom decks remained intact, so all of the pipes and connections that would supply the stern with power would remain intact after the partial break up. Survivors saw the ship break apart, and watched the bow go down and pull the stern up out of the water, and when it reached a high angle only then did the lights in the stern go out. This would suggest that much of the lower decks were still intact.

Titanicbreak002.PNG


Documentaries seem to suggest the break up immediately split the ship in two, right down to the keel which held the massive stern section to the bow and managed to pull it up as the bow went down. I think it is much more likely that the ship was more intact with several decks still connected, and possibly if the watertight doors were closed it would keep the water out a little longer.



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Doug Criner

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As the ship split, the impact on the electrical system is unimaginable. The ship used a 1-conductor system, with the ship's hull as the return path. Think of the number of short circuits and broken circuits. Many of the various fuses and circuit breakers would have tripped.
 

Dave Gittins

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Aaron, you have the break in the wrong place. It was just ahead of the fourth funnel. This is shown by the way in which the foremost cylinders of the engines broke away.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Aaron, you have the break in the wrong place. It was just ahead of the fourth funnel. This is shown by the way in which the foremost cylinders of the engines broke away.


Survivors saw the ship break in two between the 2nd and 3rd funnels and recent documentaries now show this version of events as the more factual representation of the sinking, and I think James Cameron showed this in his documentary and acknowledged that the break up was much closer and how the survivors were right the whole time. e.g.

Jack Thayer - "She broke in two just in front of the 3rd funnel."

Emily Ryerson - "The two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife."


I think the break up must have occurred in front of the 3rd funnel and then it spread down to the foremost cylinders of the engines.

Titanicbreak2.PNG
 

Kyle Naber

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I've said this on other discussions, but I'll leave this here for the sake of this one. I think the main power supply would have been destroyed in the breakup, but the emergency lights would remain on. They were placed by all of the escapes and at intervals in corridors and public rooms. So once the stern settled back, the main lights would have burnt out, but a few dots of light would be scattered in the aft well deck, in the promenades, and places like that. After being dragged up by the bow to an angle of about 60 degrees and doing a 180, the stern's final means of electricity were obliterated by the incoming sea water.
 

Rob Lawes

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Given that the main and emergency electrical generators would have been fed with steam from boiler room 2, if the break up stopped the flow of steam to the main generators it would have done the same to the emergency ones.
 
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Aaron_2016

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When the stern settled back it may have been significantly held together (top image) with the stern compressing into the bow. Then again, maybe only the top decks separated and the lower decks remained attached (bottom image) as the stern slowly settled back with wires and pipes wrenched forwards but still attached.


wiring.PNG


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Kyle Naber

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When the stern settled back it may have been significantly held together (top image) with the stern compressing into the bow. Then again, maybe only the top decks separated and the lower decks remained attached (bottom image) as the stern slowly settled back with wires and pipes wrenched forwards but still attached.


View attachment 3440

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Progressive flooding and stability testing supports a 23 degree breaking angle, so I don't see how the ship could still relatively remain intact apart from the double bottom. And even if the ship separated in either of the scenarios you present, I still don't see how pipes and cables could remain intact given how severely bent they would become.

Given that the main and emergency electrical generators would have been fed with steam from boiler room 2, if the break up stopped the flow of steam to the main generators it would have done the same to the emergency ones.

If they emergency lights and the main power we're both supplied by the same source, then wouldn't emergency lights be pointless? In any event where the power goes out, I would think emergency lights should be powered seperately so that they can still operate like what is shown in this simulation:

(At 0:45)

Here, lights remain on in a few different spaces while the rest are gone.
 

Rob Lawes

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The boilers in boiler room 2 fed the ships auxiliary systems. The primary feed for the emergency generators was also taken from this boiler room however it could be configured to supply steam from other rooms. We know however, boiler room 1 was never lit, the fires were drawn in boiler rooms 4 and 5 before they were abandoned and boiler room 6 was lost to flooding in the first moments after the collision.

That leaves boiler room 3 for which we have no reliable testimony as to the state of the fires and boiler room 2 which must have been providing steam as the main lighting systems were on.

As soon as steam was cut to the generators they would quickly wind down and the lights would go out. Also, as part of the DC power supply, there was only a single cable system with the ships hull providing an earth return. With that much damage going on internally the switchboard breakers would have been popping out everywhere.

Sorry but when she broke, the lights went out.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Sorry but when she broke, the lights went out.


The survivors saw the lights on the stern after she settled back. Whatever we may think was possible or impossible, we must remember that is what the survivors saw. Whatever the power needed to stay on, they must have got it, as they saw it on. When the stern settled back and the lights stayed on, they heard two explosive sounds and yet even then the lights were still on "after the first and second explosions". They then saw the stern cant violently upwards and as it was rising high into the air it corkscrewed and even then the lights were still on. This was undoubtedly after the initial break. The lights finally went out when the stern was almost vertical and there was a rumble and then the stern settled back a second time. This is were the confusion among the testimony comes from.

Let's assume that the ship has partially broken and the stern has slowly settled back. This would be within full view of some lifeboats but not within any view of other lifeboats who were positioned at a different angle. Mr. Beesley did not believe she broke in two. I believe he may have turned and observed the ship after she broke. He described what happened next:

"...........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, and as they did so, there came a noise which many people, wrongly I think, have described as an explosion; it has always seemed to me that it was nothing but the engines and machinery coming loose from their bolts and bearings, and falling through the compartments, smashing everything in their way......We could see her now only as the stern and some 150 feet of her stood outlined against the star-specked sky, looming black in the darkness, and in this position she continued for some minutes. I think as much as five minutes, but it may have been less. Then, first sinking back a little at the stern, I thought, she slid slowly forwards through the water and dived slantingly down; the sea closed over her and we had seen the last of the beautiful ship on which we had embarked four days before at Southampton."

As we know the stern was already broken when it rose high up and corkscrewed we can see the ship must have been broken already when Beesley looked back at the ship. This is just one of several accounts from survivors who saw the lights go out when the stern was almost vertical. Frank Prentice felt the stern bobbing like a cork. This tells us that the stern may have rocked and settled back more than once - Hence the confusion of when the lights went out. As we don't know how bad the initial break was, we cant say how much of the lower decks were intact, pulled apart, or compressed together. We don't know if the break up was from the top decks to bottom, or bottom to top, or tore apart from left to right, or right to left, or even if it was a diagonal break as the ship was listing heavily to port with one side pulling apart and the other side compressing together. With so many 'unknowns' at this time we really can't say for certain how she broke or even what caused her to break.


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Rob Lawes

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Aaron, you say 'the survivors' as if it is beyond contest and that all reports, testimony and statements say the same thing. This is obviously not the case. Some survivors claim they saw the lights on after the break up but by no means all.

Just today I was reading a post on the ET facebook page that links to an article in the New York Evening Post from April 1912.

Survivor Maximilian Stehli states "there was a loud crash. The lights went out. Other people who left the ship after, say she broke in two"
 

Kyle Naber

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Here's another one:

George Frederick Crowe, Steward in Lifeboat 14 Mr. Crowe saw the Titanic break in half. Page 620:

Senator BOURNE: Did you see the ship sink?
Mr. CROWE: I did, sir.
Senator BOURNE: Would you explain in your own way how it appeared to you?
Mr. CROWE: 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.
 
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Aaron_2016

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It all depends on perspective. e.g.

Survivor A hears an explosion and observes the top decks ripping apart between the 2nd and 3rd funnel. They watch the 2 forward funnels lean forward and the stern settles back and they notice her lights are still on in the stern section. In their eyes this is the moment she broke in two and they tell the Inquiry the lights were still on after she broke.

Survivor B hears an explosive sound and looks at the Titanic. They can't see the ship initially break from their vantage point, but they see what happens next. They observe the stern rising high into the air and is corkscrewing around. Again, they don't realize the ship has already broken because of their position from the ship. The stern is almost vertical. They only see the 4th funnel above the sea. There is another explosive sound and now the lights go out. The stern settles back again and slides down into the sea. In their eyes this is the moment the ship broke in two.

As we can see both were right. One observed the initial break, and the other observed the separation. Both describing the same event from different locations. The stern rotated and according to Lightoller it turned around while he was under the water. This gives us an idea of the speed in which she turned around. This naturally would hide her deck lights and for some (perhaps many) she would appear as a black mass, not realizing her lights were still on, while others with a better view could see the lights were still on as they told the Inquiry, but for others like Jack Thayer: "She turned her deck away from us, as though to hide from our sight the awful spectacle."

It all depends on the witnesses perspective.

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Aaron, you say 'the survivors' as if it is beyond contest and that all reports, testimony and statements say the same thing. This is obviously not the case. Some survivors claim they saw the lights on after the break up but by no means all.

Yes, there are some survivors who said the lights were still on while most said the lights went out.
 
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Harland Duzen

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I know this sounds stupid but What if light from the stars or some other source reflected on the hundreds of portholes on the ship? This is probably extremely unlikely since it was pitch black but you never know...
 

Kyle Naber

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I know this sounds stupid but What if light from the stars or some other source reflected on the hundreds of portholes on the ship? This is probably extremely unlikely since it was pitch black but you never know...

Interesting idea, but I think once the lights went out, it was just a black silhouette.
 

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