People trapped in cabins and various rooms deep in the stern


Josh M

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Feb 22, 2018
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Hello

I know similar questions to this have already been answered, however it is something that I am morbidly fascinated with and I am hoping to obtain some further viewpoints on it from learned people such as yourselves.

From time to time my imagination conjures up mental images and sequences of interior parts of the ship during its final 20 minutes or so. For instance, I imagine being on the lowest level of the second class staircase, whereby a small reception like area would exist with some lounge chairs and illuminated signs directing passengers to various corridors. What a strange feeling to dwell in an area such as this, where only hours earlier life aboard was carrying on as normal. The lights were still on, the furniture still arranged, one might have even had the hunch that if they called for a steward one would still come. The only difference in this case would be the tilt of the ship and the probable lack of people.

However, I truly wonder what the chances were that any people at all were still roaming these areas late in the sinking? Titanic was large for its time, but as we all know it was rather small by today's standards. Even if a person was on G deck in the stern, if they had a clear route to the deck it would only take a minute or two to traverse this distance.

Do you think that the only people in the last 15-20 minutes in the deeper stern sections were either trapped or simply reluctant to leave their cabins or common areas; or do you think any crew members were still performing duties in these deeper areas at this time?

And finally, I know some people have calculated or speculated that considerably high numbers of passengers would have remained deep in the stern in cabins and various open spaces, but how likely do you really think this is?

If people really were in cabins, say down on G deck right up the back of the stern, then needless to say their experience upon titanic would have continued for perhaps up to half a minute or so after the ship slipped beneath the water. This is a very lonely, isolating and morbid thought.

Thank you in advance for any responses.
 
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IanMcD

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It is morbid to think about. Considering that there were over a thousand people lost it does seem probable that there were people still inside the ship, by choice or not, when it slipped under the water. This include the crew in engineering who kept the power on and manned the pumps as long as they could.
 
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Josh M

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Feb 22, 2018
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Hi Ian

I have previously read reports that it is somewhat a myth that the engineering crew were in the bowels of the ship keeping the power running until the bitter end. In fact, I read that quite early on in the sinking the engineers vacated the generator rooms and that no crew were really required to run them or maintain them because they were towards the stern of the ship and remained dry until close to the end. Even without the engineering crew conducting operating activities on the electrical systems they just kept running and generating power until eventually flooding.
 
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Rancor

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Jun 23, 2017
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Hey Josh,

I have read one of the articles that you may be alluding to ('A Last Bright Shining Lie' by Senan Molony) and I would have to disagree quite strongly with some of his points. I am a mere land-lubber and I'm sure one of the properly qualified members will be along shortly to set us straight but in the meantime I thought I'd have a go at a reply.

I don't believe the dynamo room was abandoned early on, or indeed at all. Whilst the dynamos themselves were forced lubrication with a wet sump (not unlike a modern automotive engine) and may not have needed constant manual lubrication like the main engines, the main switchboards controlling power distribution would have been a very manual process. With so much salt water intrusion into various decks there would have been breakers tripping all over the place, as shown in 'A Night To Remember' and the 1997 Titanic Movie - although only briefly in both movies. This would have required pretty much constant management especially towards the end when the flooding increased at a rapid rate. In Senan's article he mentions that the lights had a backup battery that would automatically engage in the event of a loss of power from the dynamos. I have not seen this battery on any plans, nor any mention of it or the automated system in any technical documents on the ship or in commentary from experts. I am happy to be corrected on this but I think to say that the power generation system was totally automated (especially in an emergency situation) is quite incorrect.

I also direct you to this page on Alfred White, a dynamo attendant. A letter detailed on the website tells how some crew remained below, even starting an additional dynamo during the sinking.

I do think Senan has merit in saying that some of the engineers may have made it on deck near the end. I think there is testimony for this and it makes sense, once the main engines were stopped for the final time there would have been little for them to do apart from making sure all the pumps were running, which wouldn't have taken the entire engineering staff. I base this on this reply from Codad1946 in another thread regarding the actions the engineers may have taken after the collision.

We also know that most of the fireman were released from their duties as each boiler room had its fires drawn and was isolated. But to try and claim that the entire engineering crew downed tools and cleared off is unfair in my view.

I think the actions of the engineers in maintaining the electrical supply and keeping the pumps running right up until the end is still one of the most undertold aspects of the tragedy that deserves a big-budget movie all to itself. Yet people still seem more interested in two fictional lovers running around the first class cabins! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Rancor.
 
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Aaron_2016

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......However, I truly wonder what the chances were that any people at all were still roaming these areas late in the sinking? Titanic was large for its time, but as we all know it was rather small by today's standards. Even if a person was on G deck in the stern, if they had a clear route to the deck it would only take a minute or two to traverse this distance.

One of the ships which passed the scene (possibly the Bremen?) had seen many hundreds of empty lifejackets floating on the water. Her captain believed that the bodies had decomposed and had slipped out of their lifejackets and sank and left hundreds of lifejackets on the surface. This would mean that a significant number had got out of the Titanic.

However passengers were seen below decks very close to the end. They were not allowed to take their luggage with them to the boat deck and they were seen in the corridors just sitting on their bags and waiting to return to bed. There was also a breakdown in communication owing to the different languages and the stewards said there was difficulty to make the passengers understand that families needed to be separated as the order was called for only the women and children to be sent up first. The fathers would naturally turn aggressive as they had no idea where the stewards were taking their families as they continued to wait in the corridors for their families to return, or for their own turn to go up. Interpreters were seen on the main Scotland road corridor who were directing the passengers towards the aft section. Steward John Hart said he helped 3rd class women to the boat deck and a number of them thought it was too cold and too dangerous to leave the ship and he said they went back down below decks again. When Colonel Gracie saw the water reach the bridge he turned and saw a large crowd of 3rd class passengers suddenly appear on the deck and he thought they had come up from the decks below. This could be an indication that they were waiting below decks and were only now coming on deck at the end. There were also crowds waiting by the gangway doors. It is unknown if they stayed there, jumped out of the gangway doors into the water, or if they were indeed the crowd that Colonel Gracie had seen arrive on the boat deck "from the decks below" just as the water was washing over the boat deck.


.
 
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Josh M

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Feb 22, 2018
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Hey Josh,

I have read one of the articles that you may be alluding to ('A Last Bright Shining Lie' by Senan Molony) and I would have to disagree quite strongly with some of his points. I am a mere land-lubber and I'm sure one of the properly qualified members will be along shortly to set us straight but in the meantime I thought I'd have a go at a reply.

I don't believe the dynamo room was abandoned early on, or indeed at all. Whilst the dynamos themselves were forced lubrication with a wet sump (not unlike a modern automotive engine) and may not have needed constant manual lubrication like the main engines, the main switchboards controlling power distribution would have been a very manual process. With so much salt water intrusion into various decks there would have been breakers tripping all over the place, as shown in 'A Night To Remember' and the 1997 Titanic Movie - although only briefly in both movies. This would have required pretty much constant management especially towards the end when the flooding increased at a rapid rate. In Senan's article he mentions that the lights had a backup battery that would automatically engage in the event of a loss of power from the dynamos. I have not seen this battery on any plans, nor any mention of it or the automated system in any technical documents on the ship or in commentary from experts. I am happy to be corrected on this but I think to say that the power generation system was totally automated (especially in an emergency situation) is quite incorrect.

I also direct you to this page on Alfred White, a dynamo attendant. A letter detailed on the website tells how some crew remained below, even starting an additional dynamo during the sinking.

I do think Senan has merit in saying that some of the engineers may have made it on deck near the end. I think there is testimony for this and it makes sense, once the main engines were stopped for the final time there would have been little for them to do apart from making sure all the pumps were running, which wouldn't have taken the entire engineering staff. I base this on this reply from Codad1946 in another thread regarding the actions the engineers may have taken after the collision.

We also know that most of the fireman were released from their duties as each boiler room had its fires drawn and was isolated. But to try and claim that the entire engineering crew downed tools and cleared off is unfair in my view.

I think the actions of the engineers in maintaining the electrical supply and keeping the pumps running right up until the end is still one of the most undertold aspects of the tragedy that deserves a big-budget movie all to itself. Yet people still seem more interested in two fictional lovers running around the first class cabins! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Rancor.
This was a really interesting read Rancor and what you had to say makes a lot of sense. I will definitely have a read of the two links you gave included in your response. Indeed, if some of the engineering crew did in fact remain until the end then this event surely is worthy of a movie in itself.
 
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JJAstorII

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I think there must’ve been a large proportion of different reactions as simple as that sounds. I’m sure some were like the Strauss’ and figured since they were going to die they might as well try to do it privately and in some form of comfort while others tried to the bitter end riding her stern. Just depends on the kind of person you were and how you felt about dying when all plugs were pulled.
 

codad1946

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Apr 28, 2016
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Hey Josh,

I have read one of the articles that you may be alluding to ('A Last Bright Shining Lie' by Senan Molony) and I would have to disagree quite strongly with some of his points. I am a mere land-lubber and I'm sure one of the properly qualified members will be along shortly to set us straight but in the meantime I thought I'd have a go at a reply.

I don't believe the dynamo room was abandoned early on, or indeed at all. Whilst the dynamos themselves were forced lubrication with a wet sump (not unlike a modern automotive engine) and may not have needed constant manual lubrication like the main engines, the main switchboards controlling power distribution would have been a very manual process. With so much salt water intrusion into various decks there would have been breakers tripping all over the place, as shown in 'A Night To Remember' and the 1997 Titanic Movie - although only briefly in both movies. This would have required pretty much constant management especially towards the end when the flooding increased at a rapid rate. In Senan's article he mentions that the lights had a backup battery that would automatically engage in the event of a loss of power from the dynamos. I have not seen this battery on any plans, nor any mention of it or the automated system in any technical documents on the ship or in commentary from experts. I am happy to be corrected on this but I think to say that the power generation system was totally automated (especially in an emergency situation) is quite incorrect.

I also direct you to this page on Alfred White, a dynamo attendant. A letter detailed on the website tells how some crew remained below, even starting an additional dynamo during the sinking.

I do think Senan has merit in saying that some of the engineers may have made it on deck near the end. I think there is testimony for this and it makes sense, once the main engines were stopped for the final time there would have been little for them to do apart from making sure all the pumps were running, which wouldn't have taken the entire engineering staff. I base this on this reply from Codad1946 in another thread regarding the actions the engineers may have taken after the collision.

We also know that most of the fireman were released from their duties as each boiler room had its fires drawn and was isolated. But to try and claim that the entire engineering crew downed tools and cleared off is unfair in my view.

I think the actions of the engineers in maintaining the electrical supply and keeping the pumps running right up until the end is still one of the most undertold aspects of the tragedy that deserves a big-budget movie all to itself. Yet people still seem more interested in two fictional lovers running around the first class cabins! ;)

Thanks for reading!

Rancor.
Have you seen the DVD "Saving the Titanic"? It's not bad (I got it on Amazon), if a bit overdramatised in places. It focuses on the engineering staff efforts. I would like to have been consulted by the movie makers though! It would be really good to have a blow by blow account of what the engineers did - Stevefury's 3D models could be used to good effect in such a movie; all the valve swinging and stuff would be excellent, but probably only appreciated by us on this forum and others of a like mind. No love stories would put many off going to see it at the box office... As with the girl checking her reflection in the mirror in my Titanic doc - unaware of what went on down below and wasn't interested anyway!
 

Rancor

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Jun 23, 2017
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Have you seen the DVD "Saving the Titanic"? It's not bad (I got it on Amazon), if a bit overdramatised in places. It focuses on the engineering staff efforts. I would like to have been consulted by the movie makers though! It would be really good to have a blow by blow account of what the engineers did - Stevefury's 3D models could be used to good effect in such a movie; all the valve swinging and stuff would be excellent, but probably only appreciated by us on this forum and others of a like mind. No love stories would put many off going to see it at the box office... As with the girl checking her reflection in the mirror in my Titanic doc - unaware of what went on down below and wasn't interested anyway!
Hey Codad1946,

I remember seeing that one a few years back, and thought it was pretty well done, especially given they were probably working with a modest budget.

You are right, some of Stevefury's work would really help with building the picture and help explain some of the systems. Then they could cut to the actor next to said bit of machinery. I wonder if he has plans to do the dynamo room?
 

Rancor

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Jun 23, 2017
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If you'll excuse the double post, thought I'd just add that it's a bit hard to say whether the main dynamos were still running or had been shut down, with power coming from the auxiliary dynamos only. Alfred White's letter doesn't really specify. From my reading I reckon there was still one main dynamo running, but others with actual knowledge and experience in these engineering matters (Codad1946 above and Parks Stephenson) believe it was the emergency dynamos only by the end.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
The wireless operator Harold Bride said they had candles standing by just in case the ship lost power. I understand they were not needed. When the power was failing in the wireless room the sea was near the promenade deck below and Mr. Woolner said the lights on the ceiling of the promenade deck turned red. When the ship broke and the stern rose up and turned around the survivors noticed the brightness of her stern lights and how they never lost any of their brilliance as the broken stern rose up and turned around. Could this be an indication that some levers were switched and the bulk of her electricity was used to keep her stern lights on? Is it odd that the ship was losing power (the forward half at least) and yet the stern half still remained brilliantly lit up? It sounds like there were changes made in the engine room in relation to the power.

.
 
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Rancor

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Jun 23, 2017
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Hey Aaron,

I guess without a wiring diagram I am totally speculating here, but I would imagine the electrical supply would be divided up into different areas. Perhaps into decks (A deck, B deck, etc) or maybe into sections (1st class dining room, grand staircase). Each section may have had a main circuit breaker/switch located in the switchboard room. Depending on how exactly this was arranged it may have been possible that during the break the forward sections tripped out as the wiring was torn apart and shorted out on the hull, but the aft compartments were on separate switches and were unaffected.

There is also the problem of the loss of steam supply as the supply pipes were broken, but as you say some survivors saw the lights in the stern remain on. So perhaps the break up was in stages and the steam supply remained intact for a while. Or maybe it was difficult to tell exactly when the breakup occured for those in the lifeboats, and they thought it happened earlier than it did. I suspect we will never know for sure, but it does make for interesting discussion!
 
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Arun Vajpey

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There were certainly people deep inside the Titanic when the final plunge occurred, however I think that they were only a few, since by that moment the seriousness of the situation had dawned on almost everyone.
What is "only a few"? I feel that there might have been around 100 or more people below decks in the after third of the Titanic during the final plunge. IMO most of them were not actually trapped anywhere but simply decided to remain in or, in a few instances to go back to, their cabins after they realised that there was no way off the ship at that stage. Of those, some might have been in cabins at the very stern, which would mean that even after the break-up of the ship it might have taken the water up to a minute to traverse all the remaining bulkheads and other obstructions to flood those areas even as the ship sank. It would have been a very long and horrible minute.
 

PRR5406

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I would conclude that engineers and supervisory personnel likely remained inside, even if they had told staff to make a run for it. Once the power shorted out or the generators failed, it would be pitch dark inside a labarynth of sloped decks and corridors. Trying climb out and find stairwells and ladders would be managed only by touch and familiarity with the spacial arrangements. Using a robot to explore the engineering cavities of the ship would give evidence in the form of boots and gloves. Pretty horrible way to greet death.
 

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