My breakup theory

Mar 17, 2006
Well... I was thinking about it recently, and I came up with a break-up theory of my own (which is quite based on the 2005 History Channel break-up theory).

So anyway, the Titanic is at her final plunge. She reaches an angle of 11 degrees. She probably starts failing inside, between the third and the fourth funnels, but no break is visible on the outside yet, and all the lights are still on.
So she reaches an angle of 21 degrees - well, the angle at which the lights go out in A Night To Remember (1958). At that point, the Titanic starts breaking up between the third and the fourth funnels, on the outside, but from bottom to top, and the nearer the top the break is, the more of the ship is under the water (and the steeper is her angle).
Also, while the stern's angle is rising, the bow's angle remains the same, thus the stern crashes the bow's upper decks down, and tears the aft-most parts of them to pieces, which will later fall onto the ocean floor, forming the debris field. So basically the entire area with the third funnel is completely destroyed.
And so the stern reaches and angle of ~45 degrees, but the bow remains at the break-up angle, and so the ship looks like a diagonal, very wide "V" (the bow does NOT pop back on the surface, since this is practically impossible).
Of course, she also has the increasing port list, but only after the bow detaches, the stern's port list increases more, basically up to the point that the stern's decks are perpendicular to the water line. And the bow list remains 45 degrees for a while.
So the stern sinks more and more, and her bow list increases to 90 degrees, and she starts sinking vertically downward. She disappears beneath the waves, and under the water, spins for other 90 degrees to port, the part of the double bottom still attached to her finally detaches and splits into two pieces, and she finally goes down to the ocean floor, which she hits with the aft end (with the rudder and the propellers).

So, what do you think? Is such a sequence plausible? Any feedback is welcome. ;)
Aug 15, 2005
Darwen, United Kingdom
I'd say the aftermost (from the breakpoint) plates of the double bottom gradually drove into the forward like plate tectonics, creating a kind of inverted mountain in the keelplates that produced "That" third piece and finished the chain of weakness that plagued each deck fron the Boat Deck descending.

If you know whatI mean.
Oct 28, 2000
As a minor participant in last year's History Channel presentation, I've had the rare privilege of seeing both the raw video of those two pieces of double bottom and the forensic drawings of them done by Ken Marschall. All new theories must take into account what exists on the bottom. The physical evidence cannot be ignored.

Three key things are immediately obvious from studying the pictures and drawings.

1. There is no external ice damage to the bilge keel, the turn of the bilge, or the flat of the bottom.

2. The broken edges both where the pieces joined the bow and stern sections, and where they once joined each other exhibit none of the usual signs of compression damage. None. Rather, they show all of the usual indications of being torn apart in tension.

3. While the inverted positions of the pieces prevent close study, the vertical sides of the hull apparently came off the tank top cleanly. There does not seem to be any evidence of the vertical sides still adhering to either piece of double bottom.

Some other less critical observations: The flat keel plate appears to have bent back and forth while the two pieces were detaching themselves from each other. This seems best explained as an effect of the two pieces moving in butterfly-like motion before they parted from one another.

A second observation is that the boiler bases appear to be still intact and attached in situ on the pieces.

The break where the two pieces came apart appears to be directly beneath the after expansion joint on B deck. It is also where the floors began rising from their height beneath the boiler rooms to their increased height beneath the reciprocating engines.

To complicate matters, I suggest reading baker Joughin's description of what he heard while in the pantry on the starboard side of funnel #3, A deck. Not only did he hear steel coming apart, but he also heard people running aft on the boat deck over his head. He then went aft on A deck to eventually reach the poop. Joughin and the people running both crossed over the area of the ship that broke apart.

Compare the mass movement of people heard by Joughin to the testimonies of Col. Gracie and cook John Collins. Then, compare that to what Lightoller said about the ship's actions before he stepped into the cold Atlantic.

I'll refrain from drawing any of my conclusions into this discussion. I simply want to point out the matters which must be taken into account in any breakup scenario. There are many possible ways to explain both the personal experiences of survivors and the physical evidence on the bottom. Don't expect definitive results. Even the team that studied the pieces could not come to agreement on the down angle of the bow at breakup.

-- David G. Brown
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Good post David. If anyone is interested, THS Comutator #172 has some great detailed drawings of these missing pieces from Ken Marschall, pp. 176-178. It also identifies frame numbers and the location of where WTBs J and K would be on these two pieces. It is part of the article by Simon Mills entitled, "More Questions Than Answers: Titanic's Final Moments." Well worth seeing.

Haowei Shi

Aug 25, 2010
Ok,here is my thing:the water line has got to the ship's boat deck, then the first funnel came off and crushed swimmers.Then the lights went out and most people on the ship screamed.Then most people in the heard some groaning sounds:WOOOMMMGANGGANG.Then the ship break apart between the 3 and 4 funnels:BOOOOOM
The bow pluged to the bottom of the Atlantic while the stern float a minute,then sink slowly to the bottom of the Atalantic.Thats the end of my story of the break up of the Titanic.


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