Specifics of the Breakup


Jul 9, 2000
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>>This seems not as much silly as it does erroneous in light of the many developments that have come about since this model was created. <<

In fairness to the Gibbs and Cox people, they did the best they could with what they had which...unfortunately...was nowhere near what we have available today. It's still useful as a baseline to show what happens when a hull is stressed beyond the limits of what it can possibly survive, but it's been superceeded by more complete data.

Those who advocated staying away from the wreck, and not even so much as go down for a look would do well to note that because of the discoveries of the past ten years, we have a better understanding of what most likely happened which stands to be further improved in the near future.

None of this would be possible if expeditions weren't going down to look things over and document what they find.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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JASON:

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Yes, I did, but I haven't had a chance to respond yet.

That's okay. It was sent on the spur-of-the-moment. It's not really important now. I'm sure that Mike, who also received it, realizes that by now.
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MIKE:

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In fairness to the Gibbs and Cox people, they did the best they could with what they had which...unfortunately...was nowhere near what we have available today. It's still useful as a baseline to show what happens when a hull is stressed beyond the limits of what it can possibly survive, but it's been superceded by more complete data.

That's why I summed it up to merely erroneous. It's all hindsight, and you know what is said about hindsight . . .
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The thing about the Gibbs & Cox model is that it provides a basis on which to elaborate. The theory of the break according to their account may be incorrect due to new evidence pertaining to compression, but the premise, I think, is still sound, and that refers to the imbalance of forces do to the weight of water against this particular type of metal and the fact that the construction wasn't designed to withstand the persistence of such forces.

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None of this would be possible if expeditions weren't going down to look things over and document what they find.

I am all for respecting the dead, and, yes, this is, in fact, a grave site. Still, I think we'd be doing the dead a disservice by not looking for answers that could save more lives in maritime situations. Legal stipulations have been set down to not remove anything from the wreck itself, only from the debris field, so discretion and respect are being maintained in the large, except for the independent salvage operators who like to strip wrecks clean of the contents. Yes, we've also recovered many artifacts from this wreck site, but such findings have served to educate and pay tribute to those lost as well as those who survived. One way of showing respect is by remembering who they were, what their world was like, and what actually happened on that fateful night.

Too idealistic? I don't think so.​
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Too idealistic? I don't think so.<<

Niether do I. I think just about everybody who takes an interest in Titanic wants to understand how and why it happened as it did, and that won't happen unless people go down there and take a look. Even a century later, there are lessons to be learned from the whole Titanic fiasco. Not making the effort to learn them would be a disservice to the memory of the 1500 who went out and never came back!
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Even a century later, there are lessons to be learned from the whole Titanic fiasco.

True, but as I said before, best to get what we can fast because that ship won't be around forever. The question is regarding this: How long before the ship is gone? It appears to be deteriorating faster and faster as time goes on. This no doubt explains what researchers like Cameron have been making ongoing dives over the past ten or fifteen years. They continue to gather ongoing information.

When comes the point when we stop and say, "Okay, we got everything we can possibly get from studying that wreck. Nothing more to see"? The unique thing about studying the wreck is that much of the information has turned up inadvertently, without a thought in mind to look for it. It proves as the saying goes: The things [lost] for which you're looking usually show up when you're not looking for them.

This is one of the considerations that makes Titanic research so interesting and exciting, because you know that you're bound to find something new on every single dive, whether you're intent on finding something or not.​
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Hi Jeremy,

Yes, I agree. Mine was a rhetorical question intended to emphasize that same point. The research is unending, except when the ship has, in fact, turned to dust on the ocean floor. That sense of endlessness in exploration and research is one of the many reasons that Titanic has become so fascinating (at least to me). When the learning stops, so will the interest, and as far as I'm concerned, that's never going to happen. ;)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Do you really think we'll ever gather all of the information from the wreck that we want?<<

Not a chance, and for just the reasons that Mark pointed out: The wreck is deteriorating, and cloud cuckoo schemes notwithstanding, it really can't be stopped. We may not see it in our lifetimes, but eventually, the decay will become so far advanced that we won't be able to seperate the patch of iron oxide from the mud.

That, in my opinion, is what makes the current research as important as it is. The window of opportunity is closing, so we need to learn what we can while we can.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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eventually, the decay will become so far advanced that we won't be able to separate the patch of iron oxide from the mud.

At that point, there wouldn't really be anything left to analyze, so even considering such a separation would serve no purpose. I know what you mean, though.


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The window of opportunity is closing, so we need to learn what we can while we can.

Yes, but how much? That's the question. Will we be able to answer all the crucial questions, like being able to tie together all of the primary phases of the sinking, from iceberg puncture holes to the final plunge of the stern, with respect to all of the significant forces that were at play on the hull? So many theories keep popping up all the time that I'm not quite sure whether they would muddle or inspire the development of ideas brought about by the data. We need to keep a clear and focused view of things, yet Einstein once said that imagination was more important than knowledge.​
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Will we be able to answer all the crucial questions,<<

Probably not. There are always those little nagging unknowns that we can never hope to puzzle out. Still I think it's worth the effort and some high profile shipwrecks serve to open up some of those windows of opportunity.

You might be surprised at just how poorly understood ship sinkings are...or were...from a forensics standpoint until recently. The attitude was "It filled up with water, went down, killed a lot of people, end of story." The dynamics of how ships behaved during a foundering and after the hull was submerged just weren't that closely studied.

Were the Titanic just a clunky old frieghter, I doubt anyone would know or even care about not only what happened, but how and why it happened. However, she was a crack express liner that managed to pass from a footnote in history to legend because she managed to sink her first time out and kill 2/3rds of the people aboard, some of whom were quite prominant personalities of the time.

Love the legend or lump it, it catches people's interest and that sort of thing makes it a bit easier to get potential sponsors to open up their purse strings and fund the research. Without that, I doubt we would come even close to understanding the dynamics of shipping casualties because nobody would care beyond the guys in the white lab coats.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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After going into the archive to look for a link, I noticed this and realized that I had initially missed it. I'll address it now:

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Mark,

The steel shell plating is not fragile...it would be a major undertaking to cut through the hull. Besides, cutting into the hull would be a violation of the wreck protection treaty. No legitimate expedition will attempt to cut through the hull.

Not only for the reasons mentioned, but cutting into the hull would definitely affect the status of the evidence we seek. I thoughtless suggestion on my part. My apologies. Let's just hope that access can be gained safely from inside. That would be a feat, and I look forward to hearing about it.


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Love the legend or lump it, it catches people's interest and that sort of thing makes it a bit easier to get potential sponsors to open up their purse strings and fund the research

The irony here is that the legend is filled with myths and falsehoods which keep the legend going and growing. To further twist the irony is the fact that such a myth-riddled legend has inspired countless dives because it is filled with myths to either confirm or destroy. To thinks that the 'glory' myths spurred their own destruction. That's what makes Titanic so interesting as well.​
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>The irony here is that the legend is filled with myths and falsehoods which keep the legend going and growing. <<

There is that much. We find ourselves dealing with it every day and there are some myths that have taken on such a life of their own that they're very difficult to kill. From the tech side of the house, there's the myth of inferior steel. It just never seems to go away. Then there's that incredibly silly ship switch theory which won't die even though Bruce Beveridge and Steve Hall wrote an entire book which nuked it as thoroughly as anything can be nuked.

The bad news is that all this can be a substantial barrier to clear thinking and analysis. The good news is that the legend keeps interest alive so clear thinking people have the opportunity to get the resources they need to check things out and get the facts.

Perverse, isn't it?
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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I am curious as to whether anymore indepth information about the pieces found and shown on the history channel will be discussed again, and more information released on them.

Does anybody have any information on this???
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Damn Erik, it's good to see you back with us again!

Unfortunately, the History Channel appears to be holding things close, although it looks like they're doing something with it for an upcoming documentary. Since Parks discussed what he could above without breeching Non-Disclosure, I think we'll just have to wait for the end result to come out.
 
Feb 7, 2005
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Hey, Capt. Erik! Great to see you on the board again. As Mike said, the History Channel has something in the works which sounds like it will deal with the very subject you're asking about. No one seems to be able to talk about it much, however, other than to say it'll air sometime this year.

I'm writing this from a hotel room in Cincinnati where John and I are staying after seeing the Titanic artifact exhibit earlier today. At dinner tonight we wondered about what you were up to, and how we looked forward to hearing from you again. What a nice surprise to get on the laptop and see you on ET again! Hope all is well with you and your family.

Denise
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Captain Erik--

Your hat is ready for shipping. Contact me directly. I've lost all information due to a 'puter puke.

News, too.

-- David G. Brown
 

R.M.S TITANIC

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Mar 7, 2016
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I personally am a Titanic enthusiast, but I have questions about the sinking, particularity the break up. My first question is why did the bow hold on from the double-bottom. Wouldn't it server from stress in a second or two? And second, why did the stern trap so much air?
 

Harland Duzen

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Jan 14, 2017
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First, aptly named avatar!

I can't be certain with the first question, but I can answer the second:

The Stern was only opened on one side and naturally contained air pockets from all the cabins inside, the Stern was also full of Cork which was forced out due to air pressure which didn't help.

Welcome to ET!
 

Kyle Naber

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1) The double bottom is basically the foundation of the ship. It was designed to be extremely strong and resistant to breaching. Unfortunately, this didn't matter in Titanic's case as it ground up onto a ledge of an iceberg and opened up the side of the ship. This might be why Britannic got double side plating. When the ship split, the crack went all the way through down to the double bottom and this was able to keep both sections together for about 30 seconds. The flooded bow then became a dead weight that had to go to the bottom of the ocean and because the keel was still intact, it dragged the the stern back up into an almost vertical position before finally disappearing. It's estimated that the double bottom detached from the stern at an angle of about 60 degrees where it appeared to many that it "stopped motionless" up into the sky, when really the sinking rate had just slowed.

2) The reason that the stern sank with so much trapped air is simply due to how long it took to founder than that of the bow. The bow had about 2 hours and 38 minutes to flood, so the air had plenty of time to escape and move to other parts of the ship. This would build a pressure in the other parts of the ship that hadn't met water yet, this being the stern. So the ship breaks apart between the second and third funnels, the bow swings down, and the stern, loaded with trapped air, settles back. Once the bow reaches an angle of 90 degrees, it begins to pull the stern back up into the air. The double bottom then detaches and the stern now drops down into the water. But the problem is is that the water is coming in faster than the air can escape. So this results in bursting windows, refrigeration unit explosions, shredding of the decks and much more. All of this contributed to the "rumbling, roaring" sound that so many survivors reported hearing. Also, because the open end of the severed stern is facing the downward current of the water, edges of debris start tearing up, basically pulverizing the stern section and people in the water could actually hear and feel the underwater explosive noises which was the implosion of the ship.
 

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