The Breakup Of The Titanic Viewpoints and Evidence by David Gleicher


Dec 12, 1999
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Thanks for the interesting article. Since you find Roy Mengot's "bottom up" theory the most credible, let me suggest one thing, that I didn't see discussed in your article.

Nothing was mentioned about any air pockets in the bow. After studying the wreck, we all agree that the bow was not damaged, and didn't implode. This suggests to me that before it went down the bow became fully filled with water.

As such, it seems to me that the bow wouldn't have been pushing up at all. Any possible pressure on the keel would have been somewhat minimized.

You see, if he bow still had air in it, that would have tended to push the bow up, and put pressure on the bottom. Further, after the breakup, the bow might have even popped up, briefly, to the surface -- as I've seen in films of other ships sinking. But, nothing like that happened --- because all the watertight compartments in the bow were compromised by the collision with the iceberg.

Had there been some evidence of implosion damage to the bow, I think Mengot's theory would have been a lot more persuasive.

Given that the bow was filled with water, simple logic dictates that would have put more pressure on the upper plates, than the keel.

Additionally, with the double-bottom, the keel would have been far stronger than the upper plates.

One thing you didn't mention, which, I think, may support Mengot's theory, is that the pieces of the ship were far apart. If it had been a top down break up, it seems to me that the bow would have taken a more direct path to the bottom.

However, the bottom up breakup fits well, in my opinion, with the evidence that the ship "planed" her way to the bottom. Meanwhile, the stern sank straight down, and imploded while doing so.

I agree that Mengot's theory is persuasive, because no one mentions that the superstructure broke apart -- suggesting a breakup from the bottom.

But, couldn't a top down breakup have happened under water? Wouldn't there have been the same "muffled" sounds?

Are you suggesting that the break up had already started below where Joughlin was, that the upper level structure didn't collapse on him, that he ran aft --- and therefore, the breakup must have started from the bottom? I didn't quite follow that part of it.

I think the testimony of these witnesses may not be all that reliable. Also, in several instances, you infer stuff from testimony that may not be there.

For example, you indicate that testimony to the effect that the ship "righted herself" suggests she had been dipping at only a 10 to 15 degree angle. If it had been more than that, the witness wouldn't have used those words, you say. Also, if Titanic had fallen back as represented in the film a huge wave would have been noted. Frankly, Dave, when you rely on someone's failure to mention something in testimony, I think it gets to be pretty speculative. All of these events occurred in the dark, and every person's account is exceedingly sketchy, to say the least.

I'm not saying Mengot's theory is wrong. I perceive some problems with it, though. There are problems with each of the theories. Nonetheless, you make a fairly persuasive case for it being the best of the three theories.

Thanks, for the article.
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Jan,

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Your first point involves a misunderstanding. The physics of Mengot's theory is like the others in that the bow filled with water and the force of its weight caused the ship to sink at the bow and for its stern to be pulled up out of the water.

The novelty of Mengot's theory is that the force in the opposite direction of buoyancy mid-ship compressed the keel causing the structure of the ship to fail.

The question of whether a top down break up could have occurred beneath the surface of the water is a good one, and I'm not sure what the answer is. As I say in the paper, the 1999 Discovery documnetary shows the top deck out of the water where the break up occurs.

It would seem to me that the effect of buoyunacy would be to relieve the stress at the top of the ship and increase it at the bottom, but I'm not sure if my physics is right there.

A few other things. As to Joughin, yes I think it is prretty clear that the ship was breaking apart at the keel when Joughin who was all the way up on A Deck, heard it and fled on the Boat Deck to the after Well Deck. He is the only known survivor, I think, to have been on the severed stern when it gently dived at a steep angle into the water for the last time.

The reliability of witnesses and the kind of evidence one adduces to support a point, it seems to me needs to be evaluated in individual cases. It is a consistency amongst reliable witnesses about a particular event that is crucial, not any one account.

As to pointing out where witnesses do not testify to something, I followed both Mengot and the 1999 decoumentary in saying that no reliable witness (and there were several) actually observed the stern falling from a 45 to 50 degree angle into the water, nor testified to a wave that would have been created by such a fall. To me that speaks against the popular theory. Similarly, the fact that no one observed the top deck cracking to me is telling as well when it comes to both top down theories.

DG
 

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