Titanic: anatomy of a Disaster (1997)


Cam Houseman

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Hello Y’all.

The 1997 special, “Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster”, is one of the first documentaries to explore the theory of Titanic’s “brittle” or “weak” iron.

In the beginning, the narrator explains that to us. We get another animation, with Titanic: Adventure out of Time style graphics, which was pretty cool. We cover the team and the preparations to dive down to Titanic. We meet Paul Matthias, Charlie Haas, and more. They plan to use a seismic profiler, which Mr. Matthias explains is “like how a Physician uses an ultrasound”, to view the Iceberg damage along Titanic’s starboard side.
As the Nautile submersible finally dives down to Titanic, we get a recap of her disaster. (Another note, the music is really good in this one!) (And, I like that photo of Titanic peeking over the roofs of Belfast :) )

Olympic’s propellers are used for imagery. three million rivets used. Watertight Doors explanation, the usual.

we return to Nautile. The bottom of the Ocean come in view. The Famous Prow of her majestic bow comes into view. Someone talks about how amazing it is to see Titanic, “upright” on the floor, and I have to agree.

They begin to use the Sonar on the Starboard Gash, and the Seismic Profiler picks ups the rivets! They now attempt to use it and try to pick up the Iceberg damage beneath the mud. It takes them three hours!
An explanation of Why Titanic hit the iceberg. The quote from Captain Smith is said. The narrator emphasizes on Smith’s Confidence. The sinking is played out. A scene of someone acting as Mr. Thomas Andrews runs through a ship, to investigate. An image of a wet Boiler.
The Inquiries are explained, about how the testimonies contradict each other. They say the one person who could explain what happened was Thomas Andrews.
They agree with Wilding the damage was a “mere” 12 square feet.

A man named Named Bill Garzke comes and talks a bit. (Is he famous? This is the First Titanic documentary I’ve seen him)

John P. Eaton explains the Hull gashes, and how everyone thought the “only thing that could sink the Titanic” was a 300 Foot gash.

we return to Nautile, which has just been recovered and is being swung in onto the boat.
The scientists look at the Seismic profile image. The Hull Gashes on the Sonar are shown- slits, not a 300 foot gash in her hull. Which Engineer Edward Wilding (a good friend of Thomas Andrews, I’ve been told!) had predicted.

a man named John Bedford, a Naval Architect (sounds familiar) comes and talks for a minute or so.
A little while later, the BedFord and Hacket thing is mentioned (didn’t understand what he said)
That ‘97 paper by them is basically shown while in the making, they have a sinking Forensic analysis program I think, like the 2010 GHS study. (2012 sinking kind of program)
The program shows the Bow plunging down, after breaking in two.
some beautiful imagery of the wreck...only the usual Bow.

little while later, a model of the Bow and Stern wreck is shown, while Mr. Haas explains what a “revelation” it was that Titanic did indeed break in two. The Narrator says they’re trying to explain another puzzling mystery.
Jack Thayer’s and Paul Skidmore’s 1912 drawing is referenced.

Later, they return to Titanic. They place a Biological Experiment on the bridge. The experiment will say there for only several days.
a shot of the Remaining Two Reciprocating Engines. They study the Stern for clues of the Breakup. They think the Engines seem to have “snapped” in half.

the breakup is explained. The people are shown to be climbing towards the Stern, or jumping. The coldness of the water Is told. A clock with dramatic music is counting down to Titanic’s break. Someone narrates Lightoller’s quote of the Final Plunge, and the Number 1 Funnel Falling.

the ‘97 Report of the Breakup, and the stresses are explained. (The SNAME report, right?)
The breakup area was explored, the rest after that is basically, I think, exploring the idea of weak steel. Not sure if I buy that theory.
Full Documentary here:

again, the music was really good! It was interesting to see this played out. This description isn’t all of it, mostly the first 55 minutes of it.
I’m hunting down old Docs to share. I think it’d be pretty cool to have an index of all the Documentaries on Encyclopedia Titanica!
 
Mar 18, 2008
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A man named Named Bill Garzke comes and talks a bit. (Is he famous? This is the First Titanic documentary I’ve seen him)

Naval Architect Garzke is known yes. He contributed to the SNAME report of the 1996 and 1998 exhibition and also about Lusitania sinking.


a man named John Bedford, a Naval Architect (sounds familiar) comes and talks for a minute or so.
A little while later, the BedFord and Hacket thing is mentioned (didn’t understand what he said)

Bedford and Hackett wrote also about their study of the sinking.

Anatomy of a Disaster is about the 1996 exhibition and it was during that one when they came close to the double bottom hull which rest on the east of the wreck side and was then examinated during the 1998 exhibition more closely. You can see the results in "Titanic - Answers from the Abyss". It was during that expedition where they come to conclusion after having examinated the double bottom piece that Titanic broke at a much lower angle.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Naval Architect Garzke is known yes. He contributed to the SNAME report of the 1996 and 1998 exhibition and also about Lusitania sinking.




Bedford and Hackett wrote also about their study of the sinking.

Anatomy of a Disaster is about the 1996 exhibition and it was during that one when they came close to the double bottom hull which rest on the east of the wreck side and was then examinated during the 1998 exhibition more closely. You can see the results in "Titanic - Answers from the Abyss". It was during that expedition where they come to conclusion after having examinated the double bottom piece that Titanic broke at a much lower angle.
ah, thank you Ioannis! Sorry for my wrong synopsis. Did you like the documentary?
 
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Did you like the documentary?

Yes! And it was around that time when they did a lot of documentaries from the exhibition. One of the targets was to recover the big piece which failed in 1996 but was successful in 1998. It was also the time before the more "modern" documentaries came which had a lot of made up stuff.
The early ones had the brittle steel which was put an end about 1998 but others continue or came up with bad rivets, White Star cutting corners, V-Break, Achilles Heel or other "secrets" revealed. They even came years later up with the double bottom pieces which they "discover" and made a big deal about it, which actually was more a re-discovery as at last one of it was shown in 1996 and 1998.
The Cameron Dives were also great. Not sure why so many people did not like him. He has add more to our understanding of the wreck and interior than a Dr. Ballard ever did!
 
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Cam Houseman

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Jul 14, 2020
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Maryland, USA
Yes! And it was around that time when they did a lot of documentaries from the exhibition. One of the targets was to recover the big piece which failed in 1996 but was successful in 1998. It was also the time before the more "modern" documentaries came which had a lot of made up stuff.
The early ones had the brittle steel which was put an end about 1998 but others continue or came up with bad rivets, White Star cutting corners, V-Break, Achilles Heel or other "secrets" revealed. They even came years later up with the double bottom pieces which they "discover" and made a big deal about it, which actually was more a re-discovery as at last one of it was shown in 1996 and 1998.
The Cameron Dives were also great. Not sure why so many people did not like him. He has add more to our understanding of the wreck and interior than a Dr. Ballard ever did!
Good, Im glad!! I agree about James Cameron-- I didn't see anyone else trying to get down into Scotland Road, Turkish Baths, or The Turbine Room! And what Documentary showed a V-Break!?!?
 
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Yes agree with what you guys said about some of the earlier documentaries. Although they were more docu drama's some of the stuff around the 2012 anniversary that came out were pretty poor. You could tell they were cranking them out to cash in. At least that's my take on them. Too bad as some had good production values and the video's and sets looked pretty good. But they just made up a lot of stuff or got them wrong. I recently watched one on the net that was only a couple of years old and they were still saying a 300 ft gash.
 
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