Hilary Popple

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My Uncle (a seaman all his life to this day)had the unenviable job in the sixties/seventies of sinking large ships (I think oil tankers)alone somewhere off Cape Town. He told me you could literally step off them as they went below the water - a very eerie experience. Obviously this was a carefully controlled sinking as opposed to an accident but it proves large ships could be sunk with no 'suction' whatsoever.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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So, Matthew, what you're saying, then, is that Joseph Groves Boxhall, fourth officer of the Titanic who had considerable experience under his belt as of the time of the sinking, was actually full of s***? True, he could have been mistaken (he was regarding the coordinates of the ship's sinking), but one would think that he could see the signs of suction (among other things). More people went under than those who didn't. On man who swam away without getting his hair wet (I read that, too) does not confirm that the Titanic didn't have suction.

By the way, please do not use all caps. It looks as if you're shouting. We can read lower-case just fine. Many of us may be up in years, but we're not senile and we're certainly do not poor visual acuity. Also remember that the man to whom you respond has a Ph.D. in Physics. I think he has a clue.

Hilary, please keep in mind that I'm not saying you're wrong or that I disagree; I am merely saying that the Titanic in particular may have had some suction. Just because it's possible that some ships may not have suction doesn't mean that Titanic didn't. She was a very large ship. Further, it's unlikely that a ship breaking apart in mid-sinking would be involved in a "controlled" sinking. The breaking itself is a confirmed reaction indicative to an uncontrolled sinking.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Many of us may be up in years, but we're not senile <<

Speak for yourself O.M. I'm a lunatic and proud of it!
crazy.gif


>>Also remember that the man to whom you respond has a Ph.D. in Physics. I think he has a clue.<<

Eh? Which one?

>>On man who swam away without getting his hair wet (I read that, too) does not confirm that the Titanic didn't have suction.<<

True, it doesn't. This was the story of the Charles John Joughin and came complete with accounts that he got himself drunk. A claim made that he himself would deny to his very last day. in regards what he actually said about not getting his hair wet, his statement to the BOT included the following:
quote:

"I got to the starboard side of the poop; found myself in the water. I do not believe my head went under at all."
Notice the qualifiyer in red. He may have been right, or he may have been so distracted...having a ship sink beneath you and struggling for your life is good for that...that he may not have noticed. It just goes to show that one needs to be careful when evaluating any acocunts from the eyewitnesses. They may be honest, but they don't always see the whole picture and could be mistaken.​
 

Paul Lee

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....now you mention it, Joughin's story of the alcohol preventing his body from succumbing to the cold doesn't seem right.

Paul

 
May 12, 2002
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Dan Butler gives Joughin's tales very short shrift in Unsinkable. He spoke to some experts on exposure and the effects of alcohol and (IIRC) came to the conclusion that Joughin was sorely mistaken, if not intentionally exagerating.

Cheers

Paul
 

Paul Lee

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His claim is also dismissed in Dave Gittins website, and, in a break from tradition, is one
of the few believable things in Gardiner's second book.

Paul

 
Jun 11, 2000
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I don't think, as regards Baker Joughin, that anyone can really assess his situation today. Scientific experiments concerning survival in icy water and/or the effects of alcohol dilating blood vessels are rarely able to be extrapolated to individuals. The fact remains that Joughin did survive, he got very wet and cold, he was in the water for longer than experts reckon is survivable, and he may or may not have been drunk (I think I might have been tempted that night...), so value judgements are of no use.
More to the point really, is how old was the man, how fit was he, and how much fat did he have deposited around him? People DO survive freezing water for longer than experts reckon - the Estonia and other examples. But they are the younger ones with strong hearts and good subcutaneous insulation. As to the booze - well, so much is written about its adverse effects, and much of it is tinged with moral judgements, that I personally rarely believe any of it. A teetoller who'd had a few for the first time, falling from the Titanic, would not have good chances of survival maybe. But someone who drank quite a bit, and who had the enzymes in his body to deal with it? A different proposition, I think.
And I think Hilary's post is very interesting - especially about her uncle doing it alone!

Thanks to Sam and Charles, I now understand suction better than I did, and can recognise the differences between phenomena. With regard to Titanic, a human in the water is a different proposition to a boatload of humans, and Boxhall may have based his view on what he saw happening around him - to humans - rather than what he felt happening to his boat.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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There was "suction" as Titanic sank...and there was no suction from Titanic sinking. A seeming paradox, but true.

First Officer Lightoller was "sucked" down by his account twice by the sinking ship. He correctly attributed this to downflooding through ventilators and fiddleys. That sort of suction is the result of water pouring down into the hull as it sinks beneath the surface.

Baker Joughin was probably right that his head did not get wet as he rode the stern down. There was no downflooding at that point. If anything, air was virtually "exploding" out of the stern.

Two men in different situations with different experiences. Nothing unusual in that. The ship Lightoller "took a header" off of was quite a different thing than the stub end which deposited Joughin in the Atlantic.

Regarding Joughin's alcohol--modern hypothermia studies would indicate he could not have consumed much alcohol. If he had, the dialation of blood vessels in his skin would have caused him to lose heat so fast that he would have succumbed quickly. However, modern studies also indicate his story about not getting his head wet may be exactly right. As I understand the data, a person who has consumed even moderate amounts of alcohol and whose face is submerged in cold water is quite likely to have cardiac arrest. This is apparently due to alcohol screwing up the "mamalian diving reflex" which is quite weak in humans but still functioning.

Something else...the descriptions of Joughin as "drunk" could well have come about through a misunderstanding of the early effects of hypothermia which are loss of fine muscle control, slurring of speech, and some mental confusion.

--David G. Brown
 
Mar 18, 2000
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I don't think Joughin himself said he was drunk - I think he said he had 'some' drink (sorry, don't have his account handy to check). I think it was authors of secondary material who interpeted that to mean 'drunk'.

So - how much *did* he have to drink? Maybe only a little, there is just no way to tell, we only have his account to say. And what is a 'little' to one person, maybe be a 'lot' to another.
 

Paul Lee

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Going back to Lightoller's evidence about him being sucked into the fiddley grating...he said that he managed to escape for the first time when a blast from the bowels of the ship pushed him away... As Paul Quinn says in "Titanic at 2am), the boiler rooms directly below would have been flooded at this time, so the oft quoted explanation of the boilers bursting doesn't quite ring true. Also, if the boilers had burst, surely there would have been some evidence of this on the wreck?

Paul

 

Paul Lee

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Talking about the sudden burst of air that allowed Lightoller to escape: David Brown has provided some intreresting commentary on Fred Barrett's claims about the flooding of boiler room 6. If Barrett is right, then some of the dampers in the boilers in room 6 were closed when the emergency bell rang. Any opened boilers open to the sea would produce a cloud of red hot steam.
In boiler room 5, the fires were drawn by the stokers. This leaves some of the fires in room 6 still burning, or at least very hot at the time of the sinking 2 hours and 40 minutes later.

So, this would explain how the blast of hot air ejected Lightoller from the grating - namely the shock of cold water pouring down the grating into the shaft leading to the boiler. However, if the boilers in room 5 were left opened after the fires were drawn, then water should have entered them, and over the top of the funnel uptake to the boilers in room 6, causing them to be quenched immediately. That this didn't happen is open to debate of course!

Cheers

Paul

 
Z

Zach Uram

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When the Titanic finally slipped totally beneath the surface of the ocean I am curious what type of suction force would have been created? Do you think it pulled down survivors? And if so was it a small or a great number?

Thanks,
Zach
 

Dave Gittins

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This has been discussed elsewhere. The general testimony was that there was little or no suction.

"Suction" is largely a myth. What actually sometimes happens is that as a ship sinks water rushes into large open spaces, such as holds, carrying floating debris into them. It's not suction as in a vacuum cleaner.

[Moderator's note: This message and the one immediately above it, originally a thread in the "Aftermath" topic, have been moved here, one of the "elsewheres" that Dave mentions. In addition, several similar threads from this topic have been moved to this newly-created subtopic. MAB]
 
Mar 18, 2000
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As Dave said, in general there was little suction, especially the type of suction the survivors in the lifeboats expected.

However, both 2nd Office Lightoller and Col. Gracie reported being sucked under as the bridge section dived under water. Keep in mind, other people in the water at the same time/place as Lightoller and Gracie, did not live to tell the tale.
 

Dave Gittins

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Lightoller was washed against a big ventilator and was only prevented from being swept below by a screen on it. This is the sort of thing I mentioned.

Gracie said he was at first taken down because he hung onto a railing. He said he expected to be taken further down by suction, but he wasn't.
 

Tom McLeod

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Then there is wrong place at the wrong time age old problem to be in. According to Jack Thayer, Thayer jumped away from the ship, while his shipboard friend Milton Long swung his legs over the rail of the ship and slid down the boat never to be seen by Thayer again although his body was recovered. In my mind Long may have got sucked into the open part of the the prominade deck by an inrush of water and perished before he could come up. There are those who got taken out by funnels coming down, a few reports of some people being drawn into the places where the funnels stood. If any of the missing officers and some passengers reported to be around the bridge section of the ship got trapped like Lightoller and say the screening on the vents failed or they did get swept into the funnel shafts, that would be a one way ticket to the bowels of the ship. There is some testimony about such events, but not many, by 2am there where not a lot more people who lived to tell their tales.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Tom... you can research the effects of 'suction' quite easily by reading ONLY first-week accounts from that OTHER large vessel which sank soon after the Titanic.

In the case of the Lusitania, more people survived by sinking with the ship than escaped in the lifeboats~ with fully 100 of the 761 survivors getting away in one boat, and a second boat successfully lowered with only three people in it. And while the term 'suction' was invariably used to describe what happened as the ship sank, a close reading of all the accounts seems to point more towards a violent, buffetting force that pushed people AWAY from the ship as she went under.

Mr. Myers, for instance, who sank with the Lusitania in a port side lifeboat, was driven into things under water with enough force to break bones and rupture his abdomen, but he was not pulled down with the ship.

Mrs. Pye described a suction she encountered while she was under water which dragged her daughter out of her arms. BUT, Mrs. Pye was in the lifeboat that was driven up against the davits and destroyed as the boat deck submerged. At that point the ship still had about two minutes to live. The suction SHE encountered was most likely just the force of the water washing across the ship and into the submerging A deck.

Quite a few people were sucked into the funnels, but washed back out again. Mrs. Gwyer being the most oft-quoted of these.

Rita Jolivet and friends stood in the A deck lobby (facing the elevators, by her own testimony, and there was no one trapped in them) until seconds before the ship sank. They emerged from the port door as the water washed over the top of the funnel deck from starboard. The force of this wave tore Miss Jolivet out of her buttoned shoes, and pushed her against the rail as the ship sank. But, she surfaced almost immediately.

Belle Naish and her husband were standing in the same general area as the Jolivet party when the ship sank. As she described it, one moment the water was coming over their feet, the next it was up to their waists, and then suddenly she was below the surface feeling a strange sense of peace as she looked up at the sunlight from under water. She described being pulled down for a few moments and then drifting clear and coming back to the surface.

Dwight Carlton Harris was several yards from the ship as she sank....perhaps 20. He saw a huge upheaval, which drove the hundreds of people who sank with the Lusitania (as well as a huge amount of wreckage) outward and away from the spot from which the ship had disappeared. MANY spoke of riding this wave away from where the she sank, but Harris gives by far the best account by anyone who watched this mass of people and debris wash TOWARDS him.
 

Tom McLeod

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The events of the Lusitania where in my mind as I punched out my last post. Would such suction be more of a problem in a ship like the "Lucy" sinking so quickly as opposed to the slower rate in which Titanic sank? I do remember some of the Lustania stories you mentioned. But thanks for including them.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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From what Jim is describing, it looks like "suction" wasn't the problem with the Lusitania, but the exact opposite. When you consider that a lot of air as well as any debris is being expelled from the hull as the water floods in, it makes sense. I would think that much the same happened with the Titanic when she began the final plunge.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>Would such suction be more of a problem in a ship like the "Lucy" sinking so quickly as opposed to the slower rate in which Titanic sank?

I think that they sank at equivalent speeds. That is to say that although one took over two hours to reach the point at which she was at zero buoyancy and the other lasted eighteen minutes, it seems that once the point of no return was reached (with the Titanic, I am considering that to be the moment she started breaking in half, and with the Lusitania the moment she took that violent lunge foward that so many survivors described) it took about four minutes for the ship to go.

As I've said before MANY times, what makes the Lusitania preferable to the Titanic is that, in hundreds of cases, only minutes elapsed between arrival on shore and the writing down of accounts. And, it happened by daylight.

There are serious problems with both the Gracie and Lightoller accounts which can, and probably SHOULD be looked at as we did with the elevators. In either case, their better known accounts were written with an eye on publication and are laden with just the sort of improbably precise details one expects in such cases. As you'll recall, I immersed myself in 37 degree water at night to experience a degree of what the Titanic victims mentally went through...and, therefore tend to accept accounts by those who later described it as being a blur which somehow ended with the teller at one of the collapsibles, while questioning accounts laden with interesting observations.

In that light, I believe that Lightoller washed off the a ship clinging to boat B, and that Gracie washed off the ship and ended up next to boat B VERY quickly.

I honestly recmomend that, before proceeding, anyone interested in this particular subject immerse themselves in near-freezing water at night. You'll look, anew, with a jaundiced eye at survivor accounts. Winter is coming. Go, try it.
 

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