The break up and descent

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I have a few questions concerning the break-up and the descent to the ocean floor.

Were there 4 major pieces (front, rear, the "Big Piece" seen at the exhibits, and the hull center section)?

Approximately what angle did the forward section plane away, and was it constant? Did I read somewhere that the rear spiraled down, and that's where the poop deck got peeled back?

I have more questions but I don't know what they are yet! :)
I don't think anyone can answer the angle question.

Regarding the pieces...there were 2 pieces (stern and bow) and a bunch of smaller pieces. The reports of a 3rd piece of the Titanic are really reports of finding large pieces of debris. A 3rd piece would indicate a large section of the ship such as the bow and stern. There isn't such a piece. The missing portion of the ship has been broken up into smaller pieces of steel and other debris, which the majority lies in the main debris field.
>>Approximately what angle did the forward section plane away, and was it constant?<<

I know some tank tests were done in an attempt to answer this question and if I recall correctly, the bow section tended to tip, plunge, plane up, stall, then tip over to repeat the process again and again until ploughing into the bottom. While this was done with a properly weighted engineer's model, this really can't be taken as a 100% certain sure answer as there were variables at work which can never be known.

>>Did I read somewhere that the rear spiraled down, and that's where the poop deck got peeled back?<< It was proposed that the bow did this but that much was falsified in the tank testing. The poop of the stern appears to have peeled back while the forward part of it was still angled down. Had it gone down tail first all the way, the slipstream would have kept it in place.
Hello, This is my first post, but I have been reading with great interest.

I have a few questions regarding the recently discovered hull sections. It has been a while since I saw the History Channel program, so please help clarify a few facts for me:
1. I seem to remember there are two of these pieces, are they near to each other and separated from the rest of the wreck?
2. Are they more or less complete sections of the bottom?
3. Is the entire hull of the titanic now accounted for or are there other missing sections?

Walter Hojka
The steel doesn't lie
Walter: To my knowledge the History Channel funded expedition to Titanic w/Chatterton, Kohler, Concannon, et. al. only located the *one* double hull bottom section, and yes, it is a complete beam width, port to starboard, bilge keel to bilge keel.

I believe the entire hull section(s) is now accounted for with this culmination.

The debris field is strewn with various size hull plating sections, as with the *Big Piece* recovered in 1996 by RMSTI/IFREMER.

Michael Cundiff
For the record -- John & Richie found two pieces of double bottom. They had originally been joined when in the ship. It appears that the split between the two pieces is directly in line with the after expansion joint and in way of where the floors got deeper in boiler room #1. The sides of the ship were stripped away from these pieces quite cleanly. It appears the boiler beds for the single-ended boilers of BR #1 may still be in place, but that's not certain. Both pieces were videographed during the Chatterton/Kohler dives.

-- David G. Brown
Now another set of questions,
1. Why was the tank top raised in the reciprocating engine room?
2. Were these engines mounted rigidly to the tank top?
3. Has anyone ever identified the remains of Bulkheads J and K in the wreckage? (These are the bulkheads fore and aft of BR#1)

Walter Hojka
The steel doesn't lie
That is not true! The one part of the double bottom was discovered and filmed in 1996! It was again filmed in 1998! Both times by RMS Titanic Inc. and which can bee seen in documentary's of the Discovery Channel like Titanic - Answers from the Abyss (1998) and Titanic - Anatomy of a disaster (1996)!

The tank top was raised there for more stability. I am sure other will write you a better explanation.
Remains of the bulkheads were discovered in the debris field. Some parts were also raised like a part of steel from one of the bulkheads and also a watertight door. Not sure I think it was in 1996.
Ioannis is partially correct. John and Richie were not the first people to clap eyes on those piece of double bottom. However, those who saw the pieces first either failed to recognize their significance, or deliberately withheld information against some future personal gain. Whatever the reasons, the Kohler/Chatterton team was the first to correctly explore and document the two pieces of double bottom. If they did not "discover" them in the sense of seeing them for the first time, I believe John and Richie can lay claim to discovering the true importance of those pieces and they were certainly the first to present full documentation of them to the general public.

-- David G. Brown
>>Why was the tank top raised in the reciprocating engine room?<<

I think you'll find that the tank top was raised because the keel section itself was a foot deeper. I believe the reason for this was to beef up the structure to support the weight of the engines. Those beasts were pretty heavy.

>>Were these engines mounted rigidly to the tank top?<<

Yes. Take a look at a photo of the foundations they were mounted on. The engines were bolted down to them.

>>Has anyone ever identified the remains of Bulkheads J and K in the wreckage? (These are the bulkheads fore and aft of BR#1)<<

If they have, they're not advertising the fact. As complete as the destruction is in this area, they would probably be very difficult to recognize, even for the trained eye.
I have heard various descriptions of the ship hogging. I understand this to mean that the ship was bending. Is this correct? Where would the slack come from? The steel as far as I can tell was probably not very ductile, so perhaps the rivet hole stretched. Anyone have any ideas on how much the ship hogged?

Walter Hojka
The steel doesn't lie
>>I have heard various descriptions of the ship hogging. I understand this to mean that the ship was bending.<<

That's essentially correct. The reason it happens is because the bow and the stern, being narrower then the rest of the hull, is not as bouyant so you both ends tend to want to sag under their own weight. It's really not a question of slack since this sort of thing is expected to happen to some degree. A stiffening of the hull keeps this down to acceptable levels.

>>The steel as far as I can tell was probably not very ductile, so perhaps the rivet hole stretched.<<

Perhaps but if this is the case, it still had nothing to do with why the ship sank. The steel itself was known as Battleship Steel since it was used in the construction of the U.K's warships. By the standards of 1912, it was about as good as it got and you would probably have to go to the Krupp works in Germany to get better.
David: Thanks for the input and recollection...yes I recall now that P.H. Nargeolet first stumbled upon a *single* double bottom piece...some distance from the forward and aft primary sections.

Michael Cundiff
Yes, it was seen by Paul-Henry Nargolet in the 1990s. I think it was 1994 but not sure. They then filmed it in 1996 and was close examined during the 1998 RMS Titanic INC./Discovery Channel expedition. Interestingly they came in one point to a similar conclusion as the Kohler/Chatterton expedition, that the Titanic break at a much lower angle! If I remember correct it was said 15°- 20° angle (1998) while the later one point out a 11° angle. Not to forget that the 1998 expedition was having only one part of the double bottom while the 2005 expedition was having both!
The problem with Titanic research is that too much is known, but too little is revealed. If somebody really did make a forensic study of the two pieces of double bottom prior to Chatterton & Kohler, why in blue blazes did they not publish their findings widely? What possible reason did they have for not distributing this basic data about the wreck?

Seriously, no one should be able to claim credit for "discovering" or "finding" anything if they do not distribute their results. By comparison, Kohler and Chatterton not only located those pieces, but they also did proper forensic study of them. And, then they published what they found in the widest possible medium--TV.

The only argument against the Kohler/Chatterton discoveries is to praise previous visitors to the wreck for either not knowing what they were looking at; or for knowing what they saw and deliberately either hiding or downplaying that information.

As far as the lower angle of the breakup is concerned, the angle can be calculated quite handily from data contained within the testimonies of survivors. It has been known and published since 1912 -- but overlooked. Captain Charlie Weeks and I "discovered" this data perhaps 10 years ago and discussed it quite freely among Titanic researchers.

The pieces of double bottom did not by themselves prove any angle for the breakup. It was the computer study of the hull girder ordered by Roger Long in conjunction with the forensic study of the pieces of double bottom. This study was done using a program developed to help salvors understand strains on grounded, sunken, or otherwise damaged hulls with an eye toward not creating additional problems during salvage efforts. It showed the strains on Titanic's hull did not exceed the design parameters set by Harland & Wolff until the angle reached 11 to 15 degrees. So, the computer simply confirmed what the eyewitnesses said.

-- David G. Brown
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