Stern heightangle at breakup


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May 31, 2003
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I've been looking into theories that the stern never made it all THAT high out of the water at the breakup, hence no dramatic falling back of the stern like in the movie. To be honest, the whole 45 degree angle breakup struck me as just a tad bit out there.
 
Apr 21, 2003
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David, I've been thinking about that for a while now too. Many years ago I read the british hearing. Charles Joughin's depiction of the sinking was particularly interesting. If I remember correctly it went like this (if I don't remember correctly then someone please slap my fingers!): He said the stern was on its side! Joughin underlined the the Notice board he was standing on was the one on the starboard side underneath the docking-bridge and NOT the one on the stern. The attorney (I think it was) sort of indicated the upright stern position with his arm asking "Wasn't it like this?" Joughin replied: "Oh no! It was no way like that!" He even recalled seeing a group of passengers in the aft well-deck being thrown into the port-side forward corner of the well-deck when the stern went onto its side.
A number of passengers said the propellers were clear of the water. I surely believe that. But I too think the 45 degree angle is a little far fetched. Maybe even the rudder was completely clear of the water. I believe that the breaking up must have taken place shortly after this.
 
Jul 9, 2004
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Hi David!
About a couple of years ago discovery channel had a documentary about this subject (the breaking of Titanic.) They made a computer model of the ship and concluded that the ship must have broke at an 12 degree angle. So, Camerons movie isn't right...
 

Paul Lee

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Gee, you mean Cameron's movie isn't 100% right? *rolleyes*

I think the finite element analysis of the Titanic's hull was deeply flawed and discredited shortly afterwards.

The only bit of evidence I can think of that limits the angle that the ship would have reached is Edward Wilding at the BoT inquiry where he stated what it would have to be for the boilers to break loose from their beds.

Paul

 

Steven Hall

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To me that the ships trim angle just prior to her final dive could have been gauged by the ships forward mast. It would have been like an attached depth and trim angle tool.
Lightollers mention of the bottom of the crow's nest just meeting the water immediately after he dove off the roof of the officer's quarters. So the water line would have been from the bottom of the crow's nest to a point just forward of the base of the forward stack.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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I’m no scientist or technical expert so I’m not looking at this the same way as you guys. But survivor accounts are rife with expressions like:

"the ship dropped back a bit, then went down" (Lucy Duff Gordon, Boat 1),

"she came back up, we thought, but then went under" (Edith Russell, Boat 11)

"the stern shot back into sight. A minute later she swayed and disappeared."
(Dorothy Gibson, Boat 7)

And there are many other testimonies that seem to indicate that the stern was high enough above the water to have dropped back after the break-up. That she was as high as depicted in the movie seems unlikely but then we cannot be sure. Theorists didn’t believe the ship had broken into until the Ballard expedition.

I don’t recall which other survivors attested to it, but I tend to recall that quite a few described thinking that the ship would "right itself" and had "floated back" or some expression like that. Granted, most of these people did not know what was going on in the dark - they only heard sounds and saw shadows - but there is a common thread running through many of them that shows (to me) that Titanic split into while her stern was well clear of the water.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Do not forget that Titanic ceased to exist as a ship prior to the wreckage disappearing beneath the waves. What did or did not happen, could or could not happen to the intact ship had nothing to do with the separate bow and stern sections.

-- David G. Brown
 

Paul Lee

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God, someone help my fevered mind. I recall someone saying that as Boat 4 rounded the stern (so, probably about 1.40am), the screws were just being exposed above the water. It isn't in Boxhall's testimony, but I have read it somewhere!

That picture I did shows the screws still well below the waterline.

Paul

 

Dave Gittins

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I don't know all their boats, but Thomas Ranger, Frederick Scott, George Symons, Edward Buley and Arthur Bright all testified to the propellers clearing the water. As I recall, boat 4 left at about 1-50 and was close by throughout the sinking. Ranger and Scott were in it, so they are probably the ones you are thinking of.

Personally, I think we can have our cake and eat it. I'm pretty confident that the ship as a whole was never tilted at more than about 12°. The stern is another story. Plenty of witnesses said it stood at a very steep angle before sinking. Why not? It was still crudely attached to the bow and had the weight of the engines at its forward end.
 

Paul Lee

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Thanks Dave.

In the "Ghosts of the Abyss" book, Cameron speculates that the first funnel fell partially due it being in a vertical, rather than raked back posture. If Lightoller's description is accurate (and my picture is right!), then the funnels were pretty close to being vertical.

Just my 2p

Paul

 
Jun 12, 2004
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I think that even Jack Thayer Jr. stated that the stern stood right in the air and that it "turned away..." meaning shifted to port as it was filling with water. The water filling the front end of the stern, combined with the weight of the engines, would be enough to pull that bugger significantly high out of the water. Thinking of it this way, the aft part rising high out of the water may not be inconceivable, but it most likely would have happened only after the forward part of the ship broke away. Attachment at the keel may have pulled the stern out of the water to some extent, but chances are the the weight of the water filling the stern is what caused the aft part of the ship to "stand high" or "stand right."
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Mark,
Looking at the account of Thayer and others in Boat B; when the ship sank, boat B was at the front of the wreck (where she was narrowly missed by the falling funnel). Descrptions afterwards include the fact that "the propellers were above us" etc., meaning that yes, the Titanic did pivot to port in the last few minutes.

Heres a question: Titanic was almost certainly pointing in a north-westerly or northerly direction when she sank. If she pivoted to port before she sank, the bow section should be pointing roughly west. But it is pointing NNE.

A navial engineer I spoke to said that the ship's bows would be pointing in the same direction as when she left the surface. A pivot to port is inconsistent with that.
So, the pivot must have occurred after this.

Paul

 
Mar 20, 2000
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Surely Paul is right that the pivot occurred in the detached stern and not the bow before the break. After all, the aft section is pointing the opposite way on the seabed, right? My memory of seeing Roy Mengot’s model last year is that the stern is flipped around. This supports the pivoting theory of Thayer and others. To me it totally explains why Baker Joughin got from the starboard side of the stern to port collapsible B — Titanic’s stern, twisting back over the spot vacated by the bow, basically delivered him to the side of the lifeboat.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Yes, that would make sense, and that would also explain how Joughin got to the lifeboat safely. The stern shifted to port after the forward part broke away until it faced the opposite direction.

Still, I want to ask a question: Is it possible that the bow section could have arced on its way to the bottom? My reasoning is no because the fact that it was filled with water deprived it of its buoyancy, making it too heavy to do anything except go straight down in the trajectory in which it was pointing. Also, we have to remember that as a vessel on the water sits, it shifts directions with the current within time, meaning that as the Titanic sat sinking, it's position not only drifted from the point of impact with the iceberg, but it also shifted directions, if that's clear. Therefore, that may have contributed to the difference in direction between the bow and stern sections.

Of course, Randy's explanation would explain it: The bow broke off and headed down to the bottom in a NE direction. The stern shifted around in a port direction (to the left) so that the tip of the stern was facing NE, then it sunk straight down to the bottom where it sat with the aft end pointing in the same direction as the bow somewhere north of it.

One question: I don't remember, but how much distance between the bow section and stern section on the ocean floor?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Regarding Joughin and collapsibles A and B: After these two boats had floated off they were caught up in the swirl of water above the sinking bow and effectively switched sides, so when Joughin reached B it was slightly to starboard of the wreck site. In any case I doubt that it mattered to him, as his own account suggests that he was swimming aimlessly for some time and could just as well have chanced upon collapsible A, or boat 4, which might have been even closer to his point of entry into the water.
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Jul 9, 2000
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>>Hey, that's walking distance ;) hehe<<

A little too damp for my tastes.
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