Titanics hull rivets Michael H Standart read this


Adam H

I recently saw a documentary on the Discovery channel and they read reports from a boiler room engineer. He claimed that water was seeping in two feet above the keel plates, through 4 - 6 small slits. They did analysis on the damage and then did strength tests on rivets on the surrounding area of the wreck. It seems that too much "slag" was used when they were making the 3,000,000 or so rivets. Anyway, heres my theory as to what I think happened in boiler room 6 :-

The iceberg grazes along the hull plating and bends the keel and bow plates inwards, all the rivets along that section break away from their fastenings.

Does that sound right? I mean, they found the hull breaks when they investigated the wreck.
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Hi Adam, I doubt if there are too many people here who haven't seen this show, and just as many of us techies have problems with some of the points made. There were indeed 3,000,000+ rivets used in the Titanic's construction, but of the ones scooped up off the ocean floor and tested represent only 30 or so. That's not even close to being a useful number for statistical analysis. The rivets brought up could have been from a bad days lot or they could represent a trend. We just don't know.

Even if it does, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. Recall that you have 53,000 tons of ship crunching into a berg at least as large...and quite likely a lot larger...at 23 knots. With the energies involved in an event like that, something is going to break! I'm afraid even the very best rivets wouldn't have had much of a chance against that.

You're correct that they found openings in the side thanks to side scanning sonar, but one has to wonder; is this iceberg damage, damage as a result of hitting the bottom, or both? The image is interesting, but hardly conclusive.

For all of that, your take on the theory offered is essentially correct. The collision would have resulted in buckled and broken plates as well as rivets being sheered away. However, the keel is another matter. Whether it was damaged in the collision is debatable. That it broke under the strain of the unsupported weight of the stern lifting clear of the water is obvious. However, it would appear that the upper part of the hull collapsed first as this section had large open spaces and was structurally the weakest part of the ship. The keel was apparently the last to break.

If you want to see this explained in greater detail, you might want to check out Roy Mengot's site at http://www.flash.net/~rfm/index.html.

He's done an incredible amount of research into this and I think you'll find his insights most illuminating.

Michael H. Standart