Titanic's physical orientation before and after collision.


Sut

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Sep 28, 2015
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I've always been curious as to the position Titanic was facing as she was sinking. I know her bow is now facing north, but what would the entire North Atlantic scene look like as a bird's eye view or satellite image, including the relative positions and direction of all other ships in the area that night, particularly the Californian and the Carpathia.
 
Sep 11, 2015
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Hello Sut - As I am a junior member as well, and have made only one more post than you, I thought this would be a fun first attempt at answering someone else's question. I give this answer with my directions being in very general terms, and fully admitting I know absolutely nothing about sailing. The Titanic was traveling west as it approached the iceberg. The Californian was also traveling west, parallel to Titanic roughly 13 miles north. Californian was ahead of Titanic (meaning farther west) and encountered the ice first, around 10:20pm. Californian then stopped for the night and begin rotating clockwise (starboard) while drifting south with the current. At different times throughout the night her bow was facing in different directions as she rotated, sometimes facing Titanic head on and sometimes not. Titanic is traveling west when it encounters the iceberg. The ship turns left (southwest) to (unsuccessfully) avoid the iceberg. After hitting the berg, the ship turns right (northwest) to (successfully) avoid having the iceberg tear up the rest of its starboard side all the way to the stern. I am not sure of it's final orientation, which I believe is a debated topic. Also debated is whether or not the ship moved again under its own power, and if so for how long and in what direction. I believe it's generally agreed she was still facing north whenever it was she stopped for good. My understanding is she was facing northwest, and like The Californian she also rotated clockwise (starboard) while drifting south with the current. The Titanic rotated only a little, going from facing northwest to facing northeast, and was facing northeast when she sank, as the wrecked bow is facing northeast on the ocean bottom. The Californian was roughly 13 miles northwest of Titanic. Since the ice field ran from northwest to southeast, the Californian was able to make it further west than Titanic since Californian was further north. The Carpathia was heading east, and was about 50 miles southeast of Titanic, when it received the distress call. The Carpathia had to turn around and head northwest to reach the lifeboats.
I hope this answer is accurate and helps you understand the orientation of these three ships. In a very rough sense these three ships were on a straight line running from the northwest to the southeast. The Californian is the northwest starting point. The line runs southeast through Titanic's position 13 miles away, and then connects to Carpathia roughly 50 miles southeast of Titanic. All of these ships were east of the massive ice field that was also running northwest to southeast. I have taken most of this answer from my reading of the relevant chapters of Report Into The Loss Of The SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal Whatever I have gotten wrong is entirely my fault. One last interesting item to note is that the stern most likely rotated before it sank, as some witnesses reported. The stern rose out of the water and then settled back when the ship split apart and the bow headed to the bottom. The stern then filled with water and stood up on end. At this point the stern rotated about 180 degrees and then sank. On the ocean bottom the stern actually faces toward the bow, not away from it.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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As your first attempt to answer someone else's question, I must admit you did a great job.

I do need to comment on your 'last interesting item to note'. The stern didn't rotate 180° at the surface, because it didn't fill with water while descending. This meant that, as the stern descended deeper, some of the areas like the First Class Smoking Room remained dry. Suddenly, the stern imploded under the water pressure, and started to spiral down to the bottom. Still spiraling, the stern crashed on the ocean floor, leaving huge marks in the sand still visible today. That the poop is facing the bow section is pure coincidence.
 

Sut

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Sep 28, 2015
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Thanks so much for the great information. It's now a lot clearer in my mind's eye as I visualize the area.
 

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