I'm not an expert and I'm sure there's some other people who can aswer this better than I but, for what I understood speacilly with Cameron's movie, when that part of the ship where Jack and Rose fly (sorry but I can't remember how that is caleed in english!!) began to sink, the water inside the ship climb up and up. With the weight of the water and the ship propellers side all up in the air (the ass like Mr. Bodine calls it in the movie!) the ship got to heavy and everything started to blow up inside the ship and it just had to broke otherwise it probably would just blow all up! The heat intensity of the boilers, the water getting inside all the rooms, all over the place made those explosions and the air just got to heavy and had to get out someway!
I don't know anymore than this, and I tried to explain on the most commun words so that would be no confusion!
I'm not an expert either, but there's a good website at http://home.flash.net/~sparks12/titanic.html (Parks Stephenson) which I think explains the breakup very well. There are many other sites which look at how Titanic broke, but I particularly like this one!
I'll summarise briefly: Think of a toilet roll! When you hold a toilet roll and put pressure downwards on one end, the sides pop out and it bends at the bottom. (Titanic apparently broke from the bottom UPwards - and not from the top downwards as shown in Cameron's film.)
Catia is partly right: The weight of the stern sticking up out of the water was too much for the keel to bear. No ship is designed to have the keel held unsupported out of the water like that.
There are other arguments around which blame the "poorness" of the iron, the rivet holes, etc. for the breakup. They probably all contributed to some degree.
I may be wrong but a couple of year ago i did a scientific report on the break up and the wreck now. Now as the bow sank deeper and deeper, the stern stuck out of the air. Now from what i saw on a chart of stress on the steel were the Titanic broke was the most amount of stress and ideal spot to break because that area was were the aft grand stair case was. It split down to the keel and the bow pulled the stern back up in the air and then it detached the stern bobbed there for a bit then went under. I hope this will help.
FWIW, it's been argued that thestern did not completely detatch until after the ship was completely submerged. I don't remember my source for this off hand, so do take it with a grain of salt.
Katia; the boilers most definately did not explode. One of the reasons the crew banked the fires and let off steam was to avoid this problem. However, the stress on the keel was the most crucial single factor. The last documentary I saw on this was the same Discovery Channel presentation where they brought up the big peice and the bending loads claimed were in the region of 65,000 pounds per square inch which was close to three times what the Titanic was designed to survive. If you have the chance to do so, go to Parks Stephenson's website which Paul provided a link too. I'm planning to go there tonight to brush up on the subject.
Titanic basically broke apart because she experienced shearing forces that the hull was not designed to handle. She suffered strain on the upper decks, and compression at the keel, which leads one to believe that the ship broke from the top down, but possibly not the keel itself.
The ideal spot that Trent had mentioned in his post is the aft expansion joint. The naval architecture firm Gibbs and Cox performed a finite element analysis on the hull which revealed the stress concentrations to be the highest at the expansion joint. Check out this web site:
Michael is right, the boilers definitely did not explode. The evidence of this is the Titanic's condition. Scientist found several of the boilers still in tact and bolted to the floor in the boiler room where the hull was severed. Secondly, if the boilers would have exploded, I imagine that the bow hull would have sustained some serious damage.
The stern was dragged down, and the evidence is her tattered condition. It's thought that the ship didn't completely break in two, thus the bow pulled the stern down before she had a chance to fully flood, trapping air inside. As the stern sank, the pressure differential between the flooding water and the trapped air increased, and eventually, the air violently escaped, reeking havoc on the structure. There is also some evidence to support the idea that the refrigerated food hold may have imploded. After the ship sank, some survivors testified that bits of cork had mysteriously appeared on the surface. The food hold was insulated with cork, and when it imploded, it's possible for some of the cork to float to the surface.
Also, here is a link that may shed some light on Titanic's steel:
I couldn't pass up this line from Cameron's movie: "Thank you for that expert forensic analysis." Being more passenger-oriented than technically-oriented, I've tried to avoid these questions in the past, but the points you raised really got me thinking.
The arguments you present and the analysis by Gibbs and Cox are so logical that I now cannot understand why all ships do not break apart in this manner -- at least all ships that go down by the head. So this one question now arises: "What was so different about the Titanic's sinking than that of other ships?" Why don't all ships break apart as they go down? It wouldn't seem logical to design them with more longitudinal strength just so they would sink better. So what is so unique about Titanic's design or situation that caused this?
As a passenger ship Captain it is my opinon that she broke in to because of weight. Her forward end was in the water and full of water will her aft end was now on the strain of the forward end. Plus it was relatively dry. So Gravity plus just the mechanics of nature is what broke her apart. In the Critisms of Captain Smith Message Board. Michael and I are debating that if he had pumper water aft instead of over the side she might still be in one piece.
I'm going to check out those sites you mentioned (thanks for those) but before I do, one question leaps to mind.
You mentioned the break occurred at the aft expansion joint, and that this was the "ideal spot" for a break to occur. I'm assuming that the expansion joint itself had no effect on Titanic's break-up. As I understood it, the expansion joints only related to the superstructure, and were not carried down to the strength decks of the hull.
I can believe that there was an inherent weakness in the hull at that point - because of the open spaces of the aft grand staircase above, and the boiler rooms below - but I wanted to check the facts around the expansion joint itself.
Apologies if I find my questions are answered at those sites!
The thing that sticks out in my mind in terms of the Titanic sinking is the flooding pattern. If Titanic would have flooded more evenly(ie: water in the bow and stern) then, as Erik pointed out, she probably would not have been pulled apart. most sinking ships, at least from what I have observed, keep most of the ship in the water. What that does is allow the buoyancy forces acting on the hull to help support the weight of the ship. In the case of the Titanic, when the stern was raised out of the water, there was obviously no buoyancy forces helping to support the stern's weight.
As far as building ships with more longitudinal strength, I don't really think that would help much. Over time since Titanic, I would think that ships would be built stronger, mostly due to computer technology. In fact, in a mechanical engineering article titled "How did the Titanic Sink?", naval architect William Garzke, who works for the naval architecture firm who did the finite element analysis, and personally explored the Titanic wreck, while commenting on Titanic's steel strength stated "no modern ship, not even a welded one, could have withstood the forces that the Titanic experienced during her breakup."
the expansion joints, both fore and aft, were actually designed to relieve pressure in the hull. Your right, the actually expansion joint did not run down the entire hull. However, discontinuities in superstructures also tend to magnify stress concentrations around them, which, the mechanical engineering article above pointed out:
" Structural discontinuities, such as expansion joints, result in stress concentration development. Typically, stress concentration levels are three to four times that of free-field stresses."
G'Day Dean, Erik and I have been discussing possible damage control stratagies that the Titanic's crew might have used to prevent the breakup and buy themselves a little additional time. You wouldn't happen to know of sites or resources that go over this would you? As far as I know, little has survived in the public record as to what they actually attempted. I'd welcome the information.
This question has been done to death on the Titanic newsgroup and numerous wild schemes have been put forward by the landlubbers. They've come up with stunts like stuffing the holes with gym mats and other similar guff.
In fact the ship had no way of limiting the inflow of water. There were no collision mats (Edward Buley) and Smith's little band of fumblers would never had rigged the several mats needed to do any good, even if they had.
The engineers did what they could with what they had. They brought as much pumping power to bear in the damaged areas as they could. Pipes were laid through the reopened watertight doors and the inbuilt pipes were linked up to give the best results. Trouble was, the 12 square foot holes let in water that at a rate beyond the pumping capacity of a 1912 battleship, never mind a liner.
I don't think there is much room for criticism of the damage control work. Sometimes things are beyond all help.
I tend to disagree. I am Captain so I used some basic math by using the numbers of the situation. I found that although they could not have controlled how much water was coming in they could have controlled where it went. Now just be cause I ran numbers doesn't mean that it would have happend but if you started transfering that ballast aft she probably wouldn't have broken up and shoring boiler room six even though it would have been somewhat meaninless seeing as it would have come over the bulkhead would have added at least another ten minutes and the transfering or ballast probably another 15 plus she might not have broken up. I found that by using the laws of implosion and then basic damage control math. I but I am still tryig to get more particulars on the machineary. As well as running different scenarios.
G'Day Dave, I have to admit to quite a bit of ignorance as to exactly what they had available back then by way of fittings and equipment. It couldn't have been that impressive by our reckoning as they didn't have the lessons of additional disasters and two world wars to draw on. You wouldn't happen to have links or book references that I could check out or obtain would you?
Gawd, Amazon.com is going to make a killing off of me at this rate.
This is another theory I read about in Claes-Göran Wetterholm's book (he was on both the 1996 and 1998 expedition to Titanic). It's suggested that aft of the turbine was a cooler room isolated with cork. At the sinking there had to be air pockets here and the air didn't get out before the ship sank thus making the pressure in this area increase quickly. When air is compressed enough it get's explosive leading to an implosion at some hundred meters and dividing the ship in two.
Maybe somebody already suggested this and I didn't understand but if somebody didn't well........
Hi Pierre, I checked my plans and on G Deck, starboard side, are storerooms for grocery bulk store, ice, milk, and vegetables. Just aft are storerooms for a variety of foods such as poultry, mutton, eggs, fish, fruit, bacon, ham and cheese. Cork was a very common insulating material, so I'm not surprised that some floated back up to the surface after the stern section imploded.
FWIW, compressed air is hardly explosive, (although it does heat up substantially when it's compressed.) However, while air compresses, water does not. Eventually, the water pressure increased to the point of causing the collapse of any spaces filled with air.
As to the breakup, that happened while the ship was still on the surface and was sufficiently noisy that some thought the boilers were exploding...which they weren't...while others such as Jack Theyer recognised it for what it was. The stern section may not have broken away completely on the surface, but unquestionably it did as the ship went down.
I double checked my deck plans as well, however, on "G" deck, there are rooms designated fruit, milk and butter, vegetables, fish, meat and poultry, ect. The actual refrigerator hold is located down on the "orlop" deck. To clarify, in my previous post I made reference to the "refrigerated food hold". In small lettering, inside the refrigerated area, it's labeled "refrigerated space for provisions or cargo." I assumed "provisions" meant food.
Michael, where did you get your deck plans? The ones that I was looking at are on the front and back cover of the Eaton and Hass book. I wouldn't doubt they could have errors in them?
Earlier you were talkin about how the crew could try to save the ship from breaking up and bye themselves some more time!!!
I know this for sure that if the watertight doors of the ship were left open the titanic would floud evenly throughout the ship and make it sink proportionaly and not bow first, however if this would have been performed not only would the ships power go out about an hour earlier but also all the weight of the water in the ship which would be filling evenly would cause the vessel to list tremendously on its starboard and port sides, thus making the titanic capsise and sink much earlier then 2:20 am.........
Now this would not only be the titanic but it would turn into the poseiden......and the loss of life would be catastrophic..knowing that the lifeboats would be inaccessable on either side!!
So in light of this evidence which has been scientifically proven.....i commend Captain Smith and his crew for the right decision that fateful night!!
Hope that answers your question......more questions feel free to contact me