On A Sea Of Glass Real Time Sinking Animation


Kyle Naber

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Fair enough but as you have said yourself, there are quite a few variances with times. Therefore, while the 'solid and reliable evidence' can be applied to actual sequence of events, it is much more difficult to do that with the timelines of those events. All that can be done is to get as close as possible.

As I have said before, the one thing that I don't want to do is to truncate times for events between the 'lurch' and the break-up simply to allow more time for the maneuvers of the stern section afterwards.

I think a lot of it comes down to making sure that the post-break movements happen slowly enough to look natural. It’s easy for an intact ship to drop down quickly; a mangled stern that needs to still go vertical and spin around? That might take a bit more time. Just my take on things.
 

J Kent Layton

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I think a lot of it comes down to making sure that the post-break movements happen slowly enough to look natural. It’s easy for an intact ship to drop down quickly; a mangled stern that needs to still go vertical and spin around? That might take a bit more time. Just my take on things.
Very true, Kyle. We had to balance the varying timing reports and also make sure that nothing was happening either too fast or too slow. It's easy enough to throw a digital model around and ignore physics (lots of movie studios seem to do that these days, in fact); but we had to account for all of that in our animation. Like I said in my first post: We aren't saying it's 100% perfect, and we have some things that even we want to tweak moving forward, but if you don't see it in this animation, or you do see it, be assured that it is all in there (or not) for very good reasons.
 
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Nikki Farmer

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As long as its under 32/33 degrees and trim, I think the angle was higher than that
Yea this will always be one of the many topics that'll be open to discussion when it comes to Titanic. The On a Sea of Glass appendix gives a range between 20 and 30 degrees, and there was numerous survivor accounts pointing to about 30 degrees of forward trim.
 
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Kyle Naber

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I think 20-25° before the break is most likely where reality lies. Lots of survivors remember the stern being well out of the water while the lights were on.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I think 20-25° before the break is most likely where reality lies.
I am no expert but Sam Halpern makes a very convincing presentation as to why the break could have occurred at a much lower angle.


Lots of survivors remember the stern being well out of the water while the lights were on.
IMO, that depends on the survivor's impression of "well out of water". The stern of a ship rising is a very abnormal event and is likely to have made a deep impression on onlookers even when slight. By 02:05 am the propellers were well out of the water and by 02:15 am the stern had reached an angle of about 10 degrees. Given the size of the Titanic, the poop deck area would have been very high above the sea level even at a 10-degree trim down. Of course the lights were still on then.

Also, the stern did reach higher angles a few minutes later after the break-up. As it flooded and sank, the stern section rolled to port, rose and rotated.

Depending on which survivor saw what part of the above from his or her vantage point, their impression would have been different. Add to that the differences in the manner of later reporting, and there would appear to be considerable differences in what people saw and heard.
 

James B

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The angle which and if the ship broke is less important, the point/frame/bulkhead which was subjected to the most strsses would have had astractural failure regardless of the trim/angle.
 

Kyle Naber

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I am no expert but Sam Halpern makes a very convincing presentation as to why the break could have occurred at a much lower angle.



IMO, that depends on the survivor's impression of "well out of water". The stern of a ship rising is a very abnormal event and is likely to have made a deep impression on onlookers even when slight. By 02:05 am the propellers were well out of the water and by 02:15 am the stern had reached an angle of about 10 degrees. Given the size of the Titanic, the poop deck area would have been very high above the sea level even at a 10-degree trim down. Of course the lights were still on then.

Also, the stern did reach higher angles a few minutes later after the break-up. As it flooded and sank, the stern section rolled to port, rose and rotated.

Depending on which survivor saw what part of the above from his or her vantage point, their impression would have been different. Add to that the differences in the manner of later reporting, and there would appear to be considerable differences in what people saw and heard.

I’m not sure about that. Lightoller described the lights all going out at an angle of what he estimated to be 60°. 15° could never look to be that high in my opinion.
 

J Kent Layton

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In short, we are well aware of Halpern's research on a low-angle break and his calculations of peak stresses. We work with Sam all the time, and his research is terrific.

However, viewing the breakup as an ongoing failure, we believe that reconciling those calculations to eyewitness accounts means that as the stern continued to come up out of the water and the angle increased, the stresses decreased and the break continued over time as the stresses decreased. This likely allowed the stern to reach a higher angle than stress calculations alone would indicate. We have pretty good eyewitness testimony on how the ship looked before the break, and that is translated into the angles you see in the animation. We wrote a great deal about this in the appendix on Titanic's final plunge and breakup that we wrote ten years ago for OASOG. We have since refined some of those theories as we have taken in more eyewitness accounts and also working with the model for this animation. It's amazing what began to come together when we didn't go into it with preconceived ideas and simply took what we knew and began animating it.

As far as the angles after the break: the stern did reach a very high angle. This is confirmed because as it rotated, eyewitnesses from every conceivable angle reported that it went vertical or almost vertical. If it had not gone nearly vertical, you would have had people from one perspective reporting that, but those watching from other angles would have disagreed completely, and that is not what we found.

Meanwhile, as I said before, the roll to port was not what has been shown in recent depictions over the last decade or so. That heavy port roll post-breakup, and the stern staying over on that side, is simply incorrect. It is largely based on one eyewitness, and goes against other testimony.

There are very, very good reasons for what we show in this animation.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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However, viewing the breakup as an ongoing failure, we believe that reconciling those calculations to eyewitness accounts means that as the stern continued to come up out of the water and the angle increased, the stresses decreased and the break continued over time as the stresses decreased. This likely allowed the stern to reach a higher angle than stress calculations alone would indicate.
That sounds logical. Am I correct in thinking that what you are saying is that the major damage (like the keel starting to break) occurred at a low angle of about 11 to 12 degrees like Sam calculated but complete separation did not occur and so the bow continued to dip and stern rise further while the break-up process continued? I can buy that but please indicate Kent, at approximately what angle you believe the bow and stern sections actually separated and the latter fell back.
As far as the angles after the break: the stern did reach a very high angle. This is confirmed because as it rotated, eyewitnesses from every conceivable angle reported that it went vertical or almost vertical.
Most accounts agree that the stern reached a very high angle after the break while rotating at the same time. Thank you.
 

Kyle Naber

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That sounds logical. Am I correct in thinking that what you are saying is that the major damage (like the keel starting to break) occurred at a low angle of about 11 to 12 degrees like Sam calculated but complete separation did not occur and so the bow continued to dip and stern rise further while the break-up process continued? I can buy that but please indicate Kent, at approximately what angle you believe the bow and stern sections actually separated and the latter fell back.

Most accounts agree that the stern reached a very high angle after the break while rotating at the same time. Thank you.

I don’t think that the rotation was the result of any port list. Yes, a port list would cause the decks to change direction, but it’s entirely possible that the rotation occurred as the aft well deck reached the water towards the end.
 

J Kent Layton

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That sounds logical. Am I correct in thinking that what you are saying is that the major damage (like the keel starting to break) occurred at a low angle of about 11 to 12 degrees like Sam calculated but complete separation did not occur and so the bow continued to dip and stern rise further while the break-up process continued? I can buy that but please indicate Kent, at approximately what angle you believe the bow and stern sections actually separated and the latter fell back.
And again, that's the ticket -- we simply can't split hairs about specific angles. We do know a few things: we know Titanic's flotation pivot point (FPP) throughout the sinking; Sam calculated that long ago and when you use his research things begin to work correctly during the sinking. We also have reports of water being at certain spots at certain times, and we know of certain lists this way or that at specific times, as well. Toward the end, however, things got really fast and really messy.

Here is what we do know: When Lightoller went into the sea, he said the Crow's Next was just about coming level with the water. That's a vital clue on angles when factoring in the FPP. We also know that the forward portion of the ship actually bobbed back up slightly and briefly after the forward dip; it is depicted in the animation, but to give some idea of how slight it likely was, you can't actually see it in the final cut. However, eyewitnesses in that area were very clear on the point. We know also that the wave that washed aft from the forward plunge was expended around the vicinity of the No. 2 funnel, and that is where Gracie was deposited. We know that when Gracie went under in that vicinity, he claimed the ship's decks were intact.

We also know that many survivors said they could see the roof of the Lounge (or referred specifically to that area of the ship) when the ship's upper decks parted and she opened up at the top in the main (and visible) break. Indeed, since the main split was just fore of the No. 3 funnel and many people clearly saw the ship's top decks open up, we know that the ship had to have broken before that area was submerged from lifting the ship's stern into the air as the bow descended.

There are many things that we know were going on that we simply could not show in this animation -- and those things actually begin to explain the stern's odd motions in corkscrewing around, and are reflected in damage patterns to vital pieces of the wreck that have been observed.

However when you use the FPP and run through the angles, accounting for a margin of error this way or that, things do begin to line up. But no, while I will say that the model never hits thirty degrees in this animation until the stern lifts up post-break, because we may have certain refinements to make with things moving forward, I won't be discussing the specific angle that the model sits at at the moment of the break; I won't be splitting hairs that close on a specific number.

So at what point was the ship beginning to break up, or was her hull at least audibly protesting the strains being imposed on it? Here is an interesting clue: as Boat No. 4 was moving aft along the port hull toward the stern (she began to pull out and away only after crossing the aft davit and fall for Boat No. 16), there were reports of loud and horrendous noises coming from within. Although many have taken these references to being 'breaking china', there's plenty of unbroken china within the wreck safely stowed in their cupboards. It was much louder than that concept alone would explain. Joughin wasn't the most reliable witness at all points, but he did mention something interesting at about that time about the sound of metal parting while he was in the A Deck pantry. The ship's hull was clearly under tremendous strain up to a few minutes before breaking.

So what was the noise of metal simply protesting under increasing strain, and what was the noise of elements of the structure actually parting? Realistically no one can say. However, it is likely that nothing actually parted until roughly the time that peak stresses were reached, because as the stresses decreased with increasing angle, enough of the structure remained to hold the rest of the ship together until things finally crossed the line and she broke.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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There is an interesting reason I asked Kent or anyone about the relationship between the break and the angle of the stern as seen by the onlookers. Kent's post took me back to the 1997 version of Cameron's depiction of this at the start of the film (NOT later) when Bill Paxton's bearded colleague illustrates graphically why he thought the stern rose after the break. I know it is only a movie (and I did not like it) but I have considered only those parts that might be close to the corresponding actual events.

Could the sequence of events be as follows? (Apologies for the non-technical lingo)

  • At about 02:16 am the Titanic lost its longitudinal stability and gave a sudden downward lurch at the bow, causing displacement of a large body of water rush stern-wards in the form of a 'wave'.
  • That resulted in the stern rising higher (with the lights still on) and in about 60 to 90 seconds it reached an angle of 11 to 12 degrees, at which time the stresses on the keel caused it to bend and the resultant 'stretching effect at the top decks started the break-up top down.
  • The break-up process caused the flooded bow section to dip further and while the two parts were still attached at the keel, it briefly dragged at the forepart of the stern section which then rose higher at the rear end. A few lights probably still remained on at the the stern even then.
  • The keel snapped, separating the bow and the stern section; the former started to sink immediately while the latter 'fell back' and started flooding rapidly through the exposed deck surfaces. IMO all the lights would have failed by then.
  • Since the flooding of the stern section was from front to back, the front past started to sink while the rear part rose again as air left was displaced to that part. At some stage the rising stern section also started to rotate counter-clockwise (as seen from above).
  • The stern attained a very high angle before it almost vertically downwards and disappeared.
 

J Kent Layton

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You're right, the 1997 film is just a movie, one that I happened to like a lot about, and you will never hear me say anything bad about that film in general terms. Most of the things that we know are incorrect in the film we've only learned were incorrect since the film came out as a result of good research done due, in part, to the film's popularity. A lot of work was put into getting the film's historical elements up to a standard that was way beyond Hollywood's typical concept of 'good enough for film', and Cameron has done much over the years to further historical research on the disaster.

However, and very briefly, the sequence of events for the breakup that you just suggested does not seem to match what we know happened even remotely. And again, I will not split hairs regarding this minute or that, or this angle or that. We simply do not have enough data available to get that deep in the weeds, as the saying goes.
 

Arun Vajpey

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You're right, the 1997 film is just a movie, one that I happened to like a lot about, and you will never hear me say anything bad about that film in general terms.
I think you might have misunderstood me. I meant that I did not like the introduction of Rose and Jack romantic angle.
 

Kyle Naber

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I think you might have misunderstood me. I meant that I did not like the introduction of Rose and Jack romantic angle.

I can see why some would have this opinion. I think this is what caused the film’s success, however. I think the movie really is about the love story and the sinking and ship itself serve mainly as a backdrop (as Winslet even put it). The plot really focuses on the fictional story, and I think when we can keep this in mind, we’re a little more gentle with our critiques.

To get even further off topic, I would really like to see a remake of A Night To Remember with a more modern understanding of the disaster and film-making technology. I’d expect something like this to come out within the next 10-20 years easily. I would just hope those in charge were passionate about historical accuracy over impressive cinema.
 
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Kyle Naber

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I do find it interesting how general consensus moved from the 1997 sinking theory, to a very shallow angle break (and almost underwater “V” formation) to the 2012 heavy port list and then sort of back to a diet 1997 with some small edits. I feel like a culture of strict wreck analysis and computer technology formed and survivor accounts took a bit of a back seat, when those are some of the most valuable pieces of information imo.
 
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Nikki Farmer

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Here is what we do know: When Lightoller went into the sea, he said the Crow's Next was just about coming level with the water. That's a vital clue on angles when factoring in the FPP. We also know that the forward portion of the ship actually bobbed back up slightly and briefly after the forward dip; it is depicted in the animation, but to give some idea of how slight it likely was, you can't actually see it in the final cut.
Oh the very slight bob up is visible in the animation. At 2:37:41 watching the forward mast we can see the tip of the crows nest come back above water slightly just before the plunge.
 

Arun Vajpey

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At 2:37:41 watching the forward mast we can see the tip of the crows nest come back above water slightly just before the plunge.
I tried very hard to see if I could make out this detail but not sure if I saw anything. Perhaps a very slight rise of the mast but I might have imagined it. Perhaps my 65 year-old sight is not sharp enough.

Update: I went back and tried again and yes, I spotted the momentary rise of just the top of the crow's nest. To be able to spot that movement, one needs to keep looking at the nest as it submerges.
 
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