The forward mast


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Wesley Burton

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Apr 22, 2004
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I'm in the middle of a debate with someone. He claims that the forward mast slowly collapsed while the ship was on the bottom. While I believe it fell aft on the ships descent. What are your opinions?
 
Jun 12, 2004
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My opinion is that it snapped back on the bow's impact with the bottom. Chances are that if the mast had snapped back on descent, the backrush of water through which the ship had knifed would have probably washed the mast away, or the movement of the falling bow would have caused the mast to roll off the side. The descent may have been straight (or, as I believe, arced), but everything not secured to the hull or decks would have easily been blown away by the force. The speed of descent would be consistent with this probability, as it took a mere ten minutes for the bow to strike the ocean floor. As we see on the wreck, the base of the mast is lying right next to the spot at which it was once erected from the forecastle deck. If the mast had broken free near the surface or on its way to the bottom, the chances are unlikely that it would have remained close to the point of the ship from which it had broken free.

But, as said: That's just my opinion...
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Since there was nobody present with a camcorder back in 1912 to follow the ship down, this question falls squarely in the realm of opinion. (There's never a guy with a time machine and a VHS recorder when you need one.
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) Personally, I agree overall with Mark's assessment...We may differ on some minor details...that it snapped and fell back on impact with the bottom.
 
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Matt Pereira

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Not only that but if the mast had fallen back on the descent that the chances are very very high the crows nest would have been washed away, but then again it was pretty beat up and bent so imo i would say its 50/50 for me as to if it was during the descent or when she arrived on the bottom
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Not only that but if the mast had fallen back on the descent that the chances are very very high the crows nest would have been washed away,<<

Oh I don't know about that. Maybe, but with all the cable rigging that was attatched, it might have been a harder beast to sweep away then we might think.
 
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Matt Pereira

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Michael true to that. But i remember seeing in the 1985 crowsnest view and it was pulled up on one side like the mast was down during the descent and the water bent the crowsnest and only bent it that far to allow for the water to wash past it instead of a flat restrictive surface. But true about the cable. cause when they cut the cable to try and find the Titanic name plates the crows nest was claimed to have fallen into one of the cargo holds in the well deck area
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>cause when they cut the cable to try and find the Titanic name plates the crows nest was claimed to have fallen into one of the cargo holds in the well deck area<<

You might want to try and double check the provenance of that particular claim. Variations of that have been used to accuse assorted parties such as RMSTI of molesting and damaging the wreck when there's no evidence that they did so. I would also point out that there's no real reason why the mast couldn't have simply fallen to one side in the manner in which it now lies upon impact with the bottom. It doesn't necesserily *have* to fall streight back.
 
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Matt Pereira

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Michael if i remember correctly thats what was said in the discovery channel special about the titanic a while back. i got most of it on tape, but then in another book which im going to have to look for i think it said the nautle (how ever you spell it) was the one that did that deed. Who knows maybe its like pelligreno`s book and they just made up something but i heard the same story twice. once on the discovery channel and read it once in a book, dont know if its in the other book im reading which is talking about all three olympic class ships.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Michael if i remember correctly thats what was said in the discovery channel special about the titanic a while back.<<

That's sometimes a good reason to be suspicious of the claim. They don't have a sterling track record for getting their facts strieght in all instances, and the producers of some documentaries aren't above pushing an agenda either. I'd be a lot more comfortable with information from a primary source.
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Has there ever been any discussion on what effect the radio antenna would have had on the masts when the ship broke in two?

Roy
 

Mark Draper

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Aug 24, 2001
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The wooden top would have snapped off and bent the mast slightly. On the stern the main mast was damaged due to impact with the ocean floor.
 

T. Eric Brown

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Jun 5, 2005
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To go back a bit, Mike, I found it interesting that you referred to the crows nest as a beast.

If the mast had broken on impact with the seabed, it is an incredible tribute to the builders in my opinion. By all accounts, the bow section was moving pretty fast (I've heard as high as 30 knots). The turbidity would have been immense. I'm no physicist, but it seems that it would take a pretty hardy mast to survive that fall.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>but it seems that it would take a pretty hardy mast to survive that fall.<<

Perhaps and maybe it had a little help by way of some of the rigging. All else aside, the mast was round, and narrow so it wouldn't have presented a lot of drag. Mind you, I'm not advocating anything one way or another, but I'm not ruling out the possibility that the mast could have survived the fall only to be finally toppled over by impact with the bottom either.
 
Mar 13, 2005
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Hi all. I have my own theory about the mast. As the stern rose, the ship broke apart, of course. I think that as it did, the mast was pulled aft by the large marconi antenna that was strung between the two masts. As the stern settled and the bow began it's plunge to the bottom, the antenna snapped off. Just a thought. Tell me what you think. I have a thick skin.
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Jul 9, 2000
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>>Tell me what you think. I have a thick skin.<<

I can't entirely rule it out. Still, that foremast would have been pretty tough. I think it would have taken way more then the cables that made up the Marconi antennea to break the mainmast. The weak link in the chain would have been the points where the thing was attached and they were probably not strong enough to do as you suggest. Note that I could be mistaken about that.

Trouble is that once the ship started to go under, a number of random events happened in very rapid succession so it's difficult to put together a really detailed picture of what happened and when.

You may be right, but I'd like to hear some independant input on this befor forming an opinion.
 
Mar 13, 2005
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Hi Michael. Thanks for your input. Suffice to say nobody will know exactly what happened, but looking at the mast today, all but a couple of cables near the crows nest location are still attached. I am just overwhelmed by what the sea did to that ship. We cannot tame nature, just hold on tight and enjoy the ride!
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>all but a couple of cables near the crows nest location are still attached.<<

I'm not surprised. In fact, it's a wonder that the remains of any cables survive at all. 93 years immersed in salt water is not kind to metal, or anything else for that matter.
 
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Matt Pereira

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Michael no i was wrong heres what was said.

"The crow's nest was photographed in 1986 but was reputedly knocked off in 1987 during an attempt to retrieve the phone to the bridge or the bell. The bell was lost during the sinking and the telephone recovered was actually found in the debris field. If a submersible was involved, it was most likely an accident. Traveling around the wreck in a large vehicle with poor visibility is inherently dangerous to both the sub and the ship.

The cable that hooks over the crow's nest runs all the way from the anchor chains and pulled it askew. When that cable was cut, the shifting cable may have ripped it off. In any event, the crow's nest is no longer on the mast.

The main cables were cut from the port side of the ship as a hazard to submersibles and to better look for the name Titanic on the port side "


the above was taken from Roy Mengot, website modeling a wreck of the titanic, under the bow section and sub sectioned in the well deck information. So if that isnt correct then i guess the site needs to be updated and corrected then.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>So if that isnt correct then i guess the site needs to be updated and corrected then.<<

Then maybe it needs to be updated. You'll notice however that Roy used the qualifyier "Reputedly" and you can bet he's had some very good reason to do that. RMSTI has consistantly denied causing any sort of damage to the crow's nest, but this particular legend has been circulating as "Fact" for years, usually being repeated as such by RMSTI's critics.
 
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