On A Sea Of Glass Real Time Sinking Animation

J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

Member
Would there have been any reason (besides the break) for the lights to go out? From what I’ve read, the main lights went out during a loud noise.

I also loved seeing the reported “shower of sparks” go in the air during the break. I think that’s the first time that has been depicted in anything. I can’t recall who said it, but I remember someone saying that the sparks seemed to light up the whole scene for a second and you could see everyone and everything in the water around the stern.
Not really, no. The emergency dynamos were well above the waterline, being fed no doubt by the last remnants of steam from BR#2 (these were fed from Boiler Rooms Nos. 2, 3, and 5, but by that point, 3 and 5 were so far forward and under that anything left was likely coming from No. 2). I've heard some interesting theories about certain things with the dynamos and how they could have failed, but the most important thing to remember is that the survivors largely seemed to recall the lights failing and the noises that accompanied the breakup as being simultaneous. Like I said before, however, we discovered over a decade ago when first researching the breakup appendix for the book OASOG that there were multiple eyewitnesses who described lights on after the break.

You also asked:

>>>And speaking of loud noises/“explosions,” do you think that the reported four *bangs* as the bridge went under had anything to do with the correction of the port list/slight rising of the starboard side?<<<

In short, it would seem that way, yes. Lightoller referred to the plunge probably having something to do with a bulkhead going; the way it happened, looking at it from all angles as we did and could as we prepared the animation, reading survivor accounts of the noises that accompanies that 'slight but definite plunge', it did seem like something did give way that allowed water to rush into a previously unflooded portion of the ship. We can't be dogmatic about it, but Lightoller's hunch on this point tended to ring true for us as we worked on this.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
The 2:17 break is an excellent balance between the two points (the 2:15 plunge and the 2:20 disappearance of the ship), and if you try to push the break toward either extreme we discovered that the speeds no longer matched the middle ground of what was reported to have happened by those who saw it take place.

As an aside, placing the lights failing and the ship breaking at 2:17am not only works best with the majority evidence on statements from survivors.

So why did it take about three minutes for the stern to sink after the break? (Remember, it has to be between two and four, because each minute has sixty seconds, and it is highly unlikely that the ship broke at the precise time of 2:17:00; not is it likely that the ship sank precisely at 2:20:00 or that the plunge began at exactly 2:15:00; the break could have transpired at 2:17:01 and the ship disappeared at 2:20:45, or 2:17:50 and 2:20:01, any other combination of seconds, we simply can not be that specific, and trying to split hairs further than this is just absurd based on available data;

Thank you for posting in this thread, Kent.

I agree with what you say, especially being too precise with times, which should really be rounded-off to the nearest minute. But since even that would be difficult and perhaps unsatisfactory with the Titanic saga, I also feel that the best option is to quote events within a minute range eg the Titanic sank (the final disappearance of the stern) sometime between 02:20 and 02:21 am etc.

I have done the same thing, that is try to correlate various witness statements with a timeline of actual events, but perhaps not as professionally as yourself. The one place I like to start to look at hairs through a microscope even if not actually trying to split them is from events described on p118 of Sam Halpern's Centennial Reappraisal, for which you have contributed and written the foreword. I believe Captain Weeks was a consultant for that particular chapter.

Sam says that by 02:15 am the bow had reached a trim of about 10 degrees when the water started to come over the wheelhouse. Then "It was a minute or two after this that the ship became longitudinally unstable and started to tip over".

To my mind, that 'tip over' sometime between 02:16 am and 02:17 am was what caused the massive water displacement in the form of a 'wave' that moved stern-wards, knocking several people over. That particular event was one thing that stood out during my extensive research into John Collins' years ago; that it was the wave that tore the child from his grasp and sent him under but he swore that he saw Murdoch knocked overboard as well.

The point I am trying to make here is that it was shortly after the wave hit that the lights failed, which would be between 02:17 and 02:18 am, which more or less ties in with what you have said above. But from what I have tired to picture from various statements (too numerous to mention here), the break-up started at least several seconds after the lights went out and not immediately. That is why I feel that the break-up happened between 02:18 and 02:19 am. That still allows about 2 minutes for the after-break maneuvers of the stern section before it sank completely but I strongly feel that 3 minutes is stretching it too far.
 
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Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
The other point is that the break-up was not a sudden event like as though the Titanic was chopped in two by a gigantic machete. Irrespective of where people think it started and progressed, it could have stretched over a period close to a minute. Therefore, it is quote conceivable that the lights - or at least some of them - were still on when the break-up process started and went out during it but IMO before the bow section completely separated from the stern. And while the whole process would have been heard and described by the onlookers as very loud, what most of them actually saw in the near darkness would have been the culmination of the break-up and separation of the bow and stern sections.

What I mean is that with the darkness and the fact that the bow section was submerged would mean that the witnesses would not be able to make out the 'bending effect' on the keel but they would be able to hear plenty. What most of them described as the 'break' would be when the stern section actually fell back into the water.
 
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Cam Houseman

Cam Houseman

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The other point is that the break-up was not a sudden event like as though the Titanic was chopped in two by a gigantic machete. Irrespective of where people think it started and progressed, it could have stretched over a period close to a minute. Therefore, it is quote conceivable that the lights - or at least some of them - were still on when the break-up process started and went out during it but IMO before the bow section completely separated from the stern. And while the whole process would have been heard and described by the onlookers as very loud, what most of them actually saw in the near darkness would have been the culmination of the break-up and separation of the bow and stern sections.

What I mean is that with the darkness and the fact that the bow section was submerged would mean that the witnesses would not be able to make out the 'bending effect' on the keel but they would be able to hear plenty. What most of them described as the 'break' would be when the stern section actually fell back into the water.
Ohhh, you have a good point Arun, the survivors saw her lights go out, and then began hearing loud "booms" and "explosions" for a period of 30 seconds-a minute, right Arun? Then Titanic broke. Sort of like what Jim Cameron had (but y'know, without the outdated info-which is fine, considering what they had at the time :) )

I see a lot of animations having the lights go out and the ship breaking in two instantly after
 
Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
The break definitely did not happen suddenly. I think as soon as the bridge plunged and the stern started to heave up, lots of stress was slowly bending the hull. But when that bending became too much, Titanic went past the point of no return and major structural failure happened which caused the main lights to go out. This would have looked like a sudden dimming accompanied by a very large noise.


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.

The breakup took a while to actually fully take place, but the major separation was fairly quick imo.
 
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Steven Christian

Steven Christian

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Ohhh, you have a good point Arun, the survivors saw her lights go out, and then began hearing loud "booms" and "explosions" for a period of 30 seconds-a minute, right Arun? Then Titanic broke. Sort of like what Jim Cameron had (but y'know, without the outdated info-which is fine, considering what they had at the time :) )

I see a lot of animations having the lights go out and the ship breaking in two instantly after
That would make sense for the survivors farthest away in the lifeboats. I've seen estimates of 1-2 miles for some of the boats that were rowing for the mystery light. Take the shorter distance of 1 mile. They would see the lights go out then followed by about 5 seconds for any sound to reach them from any associated explosion or sound from the dynamo's breaking loose. Lightning and thunder.
 
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J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

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In point of fact, we have always argued (since the release of On A Sea of Glass and the breakup appendix we wrote for that) that the breakup was not a single moment in time. Rather, the sudden and visible break -- where the top of the ship visibly opened up as shown in our animation -- was but the final failure in an ongoing series of structural failures; during the initial segments of the process, no doubt other portions of the ship's hull took up some of the strain until they finally failed (in a process that we likened to the initial damage and final collapse of the World Trade Center twin towers in 2001).

However, the visible break was what survivors saw and reported. It was sudden, just as you see in the animation. For this film, (literally the result of decades of analysis by a team of historians) we balanced out the majority of eyewitness statements and known timings, and drew lines between that and the forensic evidence available on the wreck. To try to artificially reduce the amount of time that it took for the stern section to settle back, rear up, lose buoyancy, and eventually sink is really beyond what is available to us in the historical record.

As I said in my initial post: if it isn't portrayed in the video, it's with good reason. The balance only really works at about this speed, whether it started at 2:16 and ended at 2:21, or at 2:15 and ended at 2:20. We simply can't get into the weeds on timing without inputting our personal ideas beyond what is available in the historical record, and that is something that we have always refrained from doing.
 
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Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
On the topic of light failure, would the emergency lights be glowing that cherry red color? I understand that the steam pressure had been lowering throughout the sinking, but the separate generator for the emergency lights surely would have been fully energized given its location?
 
J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

Member
On the topic of light failure, would the emergency lights be glowing that cherry red color? I understand that the steam pressure had been lowering throughout the sinking, but the separate generator for the emergency lights surely would have been fully energized given its location?
We know that as power faded, the lights were getting dull-red. We believe that in the last little flare of power, what few lights remained on the emergency circuit probably would have continued that trend. I do believe we have a statement about that somewhere, but I would have to look that up.
 
Arun Vajpey

Arun Vajpey

Member
For this film, (literally the result of decades of analysis by a team of historians) we balanced out the majority of eyewitness statements and known timings, and drew lines between that and the forensic evidence available on the wreck. To try to artificially reduce the amount of time that it took for the stern section to settle back, rear up, lose buoyancy, and eventually sink is really beyond what is available to us in the historical record
Kent, I accept everything you have said. But IMO the keywords there are 'based on eyewitness accounts', which as you know were very varied and in some cases extended up to and over 5 minutes. Personally, I am NOT trying to 'artificially reduce' any timeframe but simply saying - as I have said elsewhere in the past - that on times like those that the eyewitnesses in lifeboats were at the time, there is usually a 'time-stretch' phenomenon. For people in a stressful situation fixating all their senses on one (admittedly collective) event, time perception slows down and their later reports will reflect that. The so called "it seemed to take ages" quip is very common as we all know where to the observer a chain of events occurring over 30 to 40 seconds will easily seem like a couple of minutes. That includes experienced sailors.

I am not claiming that the time perception thing affected them precisely during the break-up but not before or after. IMO, after about 02:15 am, there would have been so many sights and sounds battering their senses over a relatively short period of time that on reflection later the whole sequence of events would appear to have taken longer than it actually did.
 
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J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

Member
Kent, I accept everything you have said. But IMO the keywords there are 'based on eyewitness accounts', which as you know were very varied and in some cases extended up to and over 5 minutes. Personally, I am NOT trying to 'artificially reduce' any timeframe but simply saying - as I have said elsewhere in the past - that on times like those that the eyewitnesses in lifeboats were at the time, there is usually a 'time-stretch' phenomenon. For people in a stressful situation fixating all their senses on one (admittedly collective) event, time perception slows down and their later reports will reflect that. The so called "it seemed to take ages" quip is very common as we all know where to the observer a chain of events occurring over 30 to 40 seconds will easily seem like a couple of minutes. That includes experienced sailors.

I am not claiming that the time perception thing affected them precisely during the break-up but not before or after. IMO, after about 02:15 am, there would have been so many sights and sounds battering their senses over a relatively short period of time that on reflection later the whole sequence of events would appear to have taken longer than it actually did.
Exactly, Arun. That's why we went with the current timing after a great deal of research and study. It balanced out a wide variety of variances in eyewitness reports and fell within the known parameters that were easier to gauge.

As an aside, if you really want to think about something mind-blowing, we have found quite a few reports that the time that the ship sank was actually 2:22am. If that were true, a nagging possibility from what we're looking at, that would actually give more time for the forward plunge, breakup, and final sinking to take place. However for this animation, we chose to stick to the traditional sinking time of 2:20am because we haven't had enough time to finalize any conclusions on the 2:22 reports.
 
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Kyle Naber

Kyle Naber

Member
Exactly, Arun. That's why we went with the current timing after a great deal of research and study. It balanced out a wide variety of variances in eyewitness reports and fell within the known parameters that were easier to gauge.

As an aside, if you really want to think about something mind-blowing, we have found quite a few reports that the time that the ship sank was actually 2:22am. If that were true, a nagging possibility from what we're looking at, that would actually give more time for the forward plunge, breakup, and final sinking to take place. However for this animation, we chose to stick to the traditional sinking time of 2:20am because we haven't had enough time to finalize any conclusions on the 2:22 reports.

Oh wow this is a first for me. But then you open the can of worms of everyone’s clocks being precise, people estimating times, etc. I will say that bridge to break seemed pretty quick, but some survivors describe that plunge as being sudden and violent.
 
J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

Member
Oh wow this is a first for me. But then you open the can of worms of everyone’s clocks being precise, people estimating times, etc. I will say that bridge to break seemed pretty quick, but some survivors describe that plunge as being sudden and violent.
The 'slight but definite plunge' was very fast, yes. It has never been portrayed at the correct speed in any film or previous animation (at least that I've seen). This is the first animation that gets anywhere close to the correct speed.

Interestingly, some have argued that this plunge happened as early as 2:10am; they seem to be basing their evidence off of a recovered chronometer from the wreck site (combined with an incorrect time difference to New York) that has caused a lot of trouble for historians over the years. We were able to show that the time shown on the chronometer is meaningless, since the entire mechanism was missing and the hands were completely dislodged when recovered. (See our book Titanic: Solving the Mysteries for more on that gem.) This (along with other factors) has led to numerous recent depictions being too slow in their movement.
 
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Nikki Farmer

Nikki Farmer

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Exactly, Arun. That's why we went with the current timing after a great deal of research and study. It balanced out a wide variety of variances in eyewitness reports and fell within the known parameters that were easier to gauge.

As an aside, if you really want to think about something mind-blowing, we have found quite a few reports that the time that the ship sank was actually 2:22am. If that were true, a nagging possibility from what we're looking at, that would actually give more time for the forward plunge, breakup, and final sinking to take place. However for this animation, we chose to stick to the traditional sinking time of 2:20am because we haven't had enough time to finalize any conclusions on the 2:22 reports.
Yea there were some discussions a year ago on forums and discord about the clocks and watches and the time at which they stopped working. Like how clocks found from inside the wreck that stopped at 2:15, and others closer to 2:20. Then there was the watches recovered from people, a lot of them stopped at 2:20am, others at 2:22, 2:25 and even a few that stopped working as late as 2:30 if I recall?

I think the animation does a incredible job at portraying the sudden fearful plunge that was reported by survivors along with the surge of water that moved aft at 2:15, 2:16am leading up to the break up.

Also Kent along with the foremast light thing that was brought up I did notice a few other details about the model that I'm sure you, Levi, Liam, Tom and Michael Brady are aware of. I noticed that the c-deck gangway doors seem to be missing from the aft 2nd class promenade just forward of the aft well-deck. As well as the window type on the forward A-and B-deck promenades. :)
 

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J Kent Layton

J Kent Layton

Member
Yea there were some discussions a year ago on forums and discord about the clocks and watches and the time at which they stopped working. Like how clocks found from inside the wreck that stopped at 2:15, and others closer to 2:20. Then there was the watches recovered from people, a lot of them stopped at 2:20am, others at 2:22, 2:25 and even a few that stopped working as late as 2:30 if I recall?

I think the animation does a incredible job at portraying the sudden fearful plunge that was reported by survivors along with the surge of water that moved aft at 2:15, 2:16am leading up to the break up.

Also Kent along with the foremast light thing that was brought up I did notice a few other details about the model that I'm sure you, Levi, Liam, Tom and Michael Brady are aware of. I noticed that the c-deck gangway doors seem to be missing from the aft 2nd class promenade just forward of the aft well-deck. As well as the window type on the forward A-and B-deck promenades. :)
Good eye, Nikki! In short, we did not have time to get all of the 'fixes' into this model that we wanted. We were starting from nearly scratch, and we wore ourselves out to the bone getting the model 'close enough' and then spent the greatest time animating it so that events were taking place at the correct times which, I discovered along the way, is NOT easy. We already have a list of fixes for the model that we hope to be able to get to in the coming months. Thanks!

By the way, Nikki, if you would like a complete breakdown on all the times given for both the collision and sinking, you should refer to Titanic: Solving the Mysteries. It is the first time I have ever seen a breakdown of this nature and in this thoroughness. I hope this helps!
 
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