Loss of power during sinking


Justin K

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Does anyone know the exact time during the sinking when the ship lost it's power? Was it before the break up or was it caused by the breakup?

The electric generators were on the tank deck and were in the aft most compartment behind the turbine engine room, which means the electric generators would have been well out of the water at the time of the break up.

Any information would be great. Thanks!
 

Anna Simpson

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I do not know the exact time, but (correct me if I'm wrong,) I believe Titanic lost power before she broke in two. It was somewhere around 2-5 minutes before the breakup.
 

Justin K

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That is what I keep hearing but it doesn't make any sense on what would of created that chain of events. The dynamos and the switchboard would have been out of the water at the time of the breakup, unless I am missing something, it seems to make more sense that the actual breakup cause the loss of power.
 

Scott Mills

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Not at home so I cannot check the details, but Titanic lost some power on three separate occasions.

The first was shortly after the collision when electricity (and light) was lost in the boiler rooms. This lasted 5 to 15 minutes.

Then twice either immediately before or during (for the second power loss) the structural failure.

The first loss was the "blinking" of the lights off as the primary automated dynomo system failed. Then the back up electrical system automatically engaged causing the lights failed for the last time. I suspect this coincided with the break up, but thats speculative.
 

Justin K

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Was the first outage just in the boiler rooms or throughout the whole ship?

What do you think cause the failure of the primary dynamo system?

I would guess that the failure of the back up system was the breakup.
 

Scott Mills

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From witness testimony the initial power outage seems to have been isolated to the boiler rooms, and then possibly only boiler rooms starting with 4 then going forward.

What is clear is that power was not lost as far aft as the engine rooms.

And like I said, I agree. The final loss of power, after the lights went off then back on, was most likely the failure of the backup system during the intitial stages of structural failure. Like I said though, this is pure speculation as nobody in a position to know for sure survived.

I think the most important thing here is that Titanic's electrical systems were mostly automated. The exception being that steam was needed.

Therefore the scene in Cameron's movie was totally fictitious. Indeed, most if not all of Titanic's engineers were releved of their posts as early to as 1:30.
 

Scott Mills

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Justin,

I am taking this from our resident Seanen Molony's article: A Last Bright Shining Lie

The ship’s lighting circuit worked off a generator which did not involve any direct input by engineers. If the main supply should fail, the electricity needed to maintain lights was provided by the immediate start-up of a stand-by battery. This secondary source of power was introduced by means of an automatic switch in the circuit. No human hands were needed in the process.

The generator was aft in the ship and late to be immersed. The lights flashed off - and then came back on again - when the stern was in the process of upending. This is widely testified, and is the standy-by battery coming automatically into effect. The remaining engineers were topside at the time.

Given this if I were to speculate about the failure of the primary dynamos was the result of one of two things.

Either inundation of the generator itself, or flooding causing the cessation of steam production/delivery from whichever boiler was providing it to the generator.
 

Dan Johnson

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Most likely the power failed due to disruption of the flow of steam to the dynamo's. The dynamos should have remained above the flooding until almost the last.

What "stand-by" batteries? What does Molony mean "start-up" of batteries? The emergency dynamos should be able to cut in automatically. It would take a good number of large size batteries to provide 100 volts and enough current. I know the Marconi installation had a backup but not the rest of the ship.

From Shipbuilder, Midsummer 1911:

"Emergency lamps on distinct circuits, deriving current from the emergency dynamos, are placed at intervals in all the passages, public rooms, and compartments throughout the vessel, so that, in the unlikely event of an entire extinction of the ordinary lighting, there would still be illumination available at all the points where the passengers and crew would congregate. In fact, anyone could find their way from one end of the vessel to the other at night by means of the lights on these circuits."

The emergency dynamos had their own steam supply. There steam lines probably failed just after the mains.
 

Justin K

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"The generator was aft in the ship and late to be immersed. The lights flashed off - and then came back on again - when the stern was in the process of upending. This is widely testified, and is the standy-by battery coming automatically into effect. The remaining engineers were topside at the time."

I get from this that the power went off during the break up, and then the backups kicked in and supplied power to stern for a few more seconds. Does this sound correct?
 

Scott Mills

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Dan,

Interesting point you have there. Perhaps we should ask Seanen directly about this.

Justin,

It's really impossible to be exact here. As I said I believe that the first loss of lighting came right before structural failure, and the final loss of lights due to the breakup.

But your guess is as good as mine! :D
 

Arun Vajpey

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Judging from most eyewitness accounts, the lights went out just before the break-up. It is therefore likely that the breaking-up contributed to the power failure.
 

Scott Mills

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Judging from most eyewitness accounts, the lights went out just before the break-up. It is therefore likely that the breaking-up contributed to the power failure.

Aruba,

Agreed, but we should also take into account the testimony of those on board until near the end. Jack Thayer, for example, recalls the lights taking on a sickly red color before he leaves the ship. This seems to indicate that the current, before the breakup, was getting weak.

This could have been a result of flooding causing the interruption of steam to the primary dynamos, or as I tend to think, the reduction of steam resulting from unmanned boilers cooling and thus producing less steam.

I also think that lights off, then on, indicates failure of the primary system and a brief engagement of emergency power.
 

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