Vertical stern or heavy list to port?

Seungho Kang

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Mar 5, 2019
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Very interesting sinking process was described by Joseph Scarrott:

"She went slowly down. bow first with a slight list to starboard until the water reached the bridge, then she went quicker. When the third funnel had nearly disappeared I heard four explosions, which I took to be the bursting of the boilers. The ship was right up on end then. Suddently she broke in two between the third and fourth funnel. The after part of the ship came down on the water in its normal position and seemed as if it was going to remain afloat, but it only remained a minute or two then it sank. The lights were burning right up until she broke in two."

Most survivors stories agree with each other. They saw a ship, sinking at an angle of about 60 degress, with all lights still on. Only after the lights went out, survivors stories split into 2 groups.
1 - Titanic sank as Cameron's movie shows it.
2 - Titanic sank as Night to remember shows it.
It's very interesting that some people saw the ship breaking(or exploding) earlier when every funnel was intact,
Emily Ryerson: "The two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife."
Ruth Becker: "...and when I heard the explosion, the Titanic broke in half..."(shows two funnels go away from the other two)

while the others saw the ship breaking in two when the third was nearly underwater.
Mr. CROWE. Two-thirds in the water, one-third of the aft funnel sticking up.
Senator BOURNE. How long did that third stick up?
Mr. CROWE. After she floated back again.
Senator BOURNE. She floated back?
Mr. CROWE. She broke, and the after part floated back.
Senator BOURNE. And the bow part, two-thirds of the ship, sank.
We should also keep in mind that survivors heard two explosions 8-10 minutes apart, and that the survivors' testimonies match together(for example the one Joseph Scarrott mentioned and the person I just quoted), which is impossible if their memory is distorted.

There were two sequences of the breakup, one when all 4 funnels were intact in front of the 3rd funnel, and one when the 3rd funnel was almost underwater, breaking from behind the 3rd funnel.

"Not long after the ship struck there came the first big explosion, then, a moment later, the second. It was this second explosion that did the most damage. It blew away the funnels and tore a big hole in the steamer's side and caused the ship to rock as if she were an eggshell.
This newspaper article from V Break Theory states like this because it was when the break area is more visible from the first, as the bow is already underwater.
I see that most Titanic theories often mix up the two sequences as one, and has only half of both explosions correct from these testimonies.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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It's very interesting that some people saw the ship breaking(or exploding) earlier when every funnel was intact,
Ruth Becker: "...and when I heard the explosion, the Titanic broke in half..."(shows two funnels go away from the other two)
Ruth Becker more show where the ship broke.

There were two sequences of the breakup, one when all 4 funnels were intact in front of the 3rd funnel, and one when the 3rd funnel was almost underwater, breaking from behind the 3rd funnel.
That is not what survivors who were close by as Jack Thayer described.

"Not long after the ship struck there came the first big explosion, then, a moment later, the second. It was this second explosion that did the most damage. It blew away the funnels and tore a big hole in the steamer's side and caused the ship to rock as if she were an eggshell.
This newspaper article from V Break Theory states like this because it was when the break area is more visible from the first, as the bow is already underwater.
I see that most Titanic theories often mix up the two sequences as one, and has only half of both explosions correct from these testimonies.
That newspaper is what we would call a yellow press report. It is stated that this came from Mr. Woolner who aside that he did not mention that one in a single word in a private letter, that newspaper report also claim that this explosion and damage with the funnels blew off happened before the lifeboats were loaded and lowered into the sea.
 
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A

Aaron_2016

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It's very interesting that some people saw the ship breaking(or exploding) earlier when every funnel was intact,
Emily Ryerson: "The two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife."
Ruth Becker: "...and when I heard the explosion, the Titanic broke in half..."(shows two funnels go away from the other two)

while the others saw the ship breaking in two when the third was nearly underwater.
Mr. CROWE. Two-thirds in the water, one-third of the aft funnel sticking up.
Senator BOURNE. How long did that third stick up?
Mr. CROWE. After she floated back again.
Senator BOURNE. She floated back?
Mr. CROWE. She broke, and the after part floated back.
Senator BOURNE. And the bow part, two-thirds of the ship, sank.
We should also keep in mind that survivors heard two explosions 8-10 minutes apart, and that the survivors' testimonies match together(for example the one Joseph Scarrott mentioned and the person I just quoted), which is impossible if their memory is distorted.

There were two sequences of the breakup, one when all 4 funnels were intact in front of the 3rd funnel, and one when the 3rd funnel was almost underwater, breaking from behind the 3rd funnel.

"Not long after the ship struck there came the first big explosion, then, a moment later, the second. It was this second explosion that did the most damage. It blew away the funnels and tore a big hole in the steamer's side and caused the ship to rock as if she were an eggshell.
This newspaper article from V Break Theory states like this because it was when the break area is more visible from the first, as the bow is already underwater.
I see that most Titanic theories often mix up the two sequences as one, and has only half of both explosions correct from these testimonies.

Newspaper accounts are very important, and it should be noted that when the reporters wrote down everything important that the survivors were saying, they had to contend with traffic and public noises in the background, and the broad regional accents of the survivors. Quite a number of accounts from the newspapers have small bloopers which are easily understandable, such as, the explosions which occurred shortly before the Titanic sank, could have been twisted accidentally in the confusion, and the story was published that the ship exploded shortly after the collision. Easy mistake to make, especially in the rush to get the news published, and the communication difficulties between the survivor, the reporter, and the editor would result in some accounts getting published with some slight errors and spelling mistakes without any series intent to mislead the public.

We therefore can easily read between the lines and interpret what the survivor was really saying by filtering out the easy-to-spot mistakes in some of the newspaper accounts. Although the key parts of their statements would remain vitally important in understanding what happened, especially when compared with other accounts from other sources.

The various contradiction between the survivors inside and outside the Inquiries can be explained by the seating positions of the survivors. I recall one of the officers said he instructed the passengers to sit low down in their seats so as to keep warm and to prevent them from rocking and upsetting the boat. This would result in the survivors having to look over each other's heads as they resisted the urge to look over them and rock the boat.

The survivors were also seated in various positions in the lifeboats and would only see what was in front of them.


e.g.



When the explosive sounds were heard a number of survivors did not want to see their loves ones and crew mates perish, while other's saw what happened but refused to say how she sank at the Inquiry because it was too traumatic to retell e.g.

Mr. Pearcey
Q - Then, when you saw that, what did you next see happen to the stern?
A - She went down. You see, it upset me, and I could not exactly say.
Q - It upset you and you cannot give us a description of what happened?
A - No.

The survivors were limited to what they could see within their huddled down view, and other's tried to turn around after they heard the explosions and attempted to turn and see what was happening to the ship right after she buckled open and her bow broke and lurched down e.g.

Mr. Carter
"I looked around just as the Titanic went down, being attracted by the explosions. Mr. Ismay did not turn and look, but instead was very quiet, pulling on the oars."

Mrs. Ryerson
"I was in the bow of the boat with my daughter and turned to see the great ship take a plunge toward the bow, the two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife."

The lifeboats were rowing in different directions, but most of them were trying to reach another ship that could be seen directly off the port bow. The various perspectives would mean they would all see different angles of the ship, and the various seating positions would mean they would see various stages of the sinking at different times, depending on what they could see, and when they turned and looked.

A rough idea



This I believe is why there were so many contradictions, even from survivors seated in the same lifeboats.
 
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Rob Lawes

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I'd never heard of Yellow Press reports until you said it Ioannis so I had to look it up.

Fascinating.

In 1941, Frank Mott said that there were five things that made up yellow journalism:

  1. headlines in huge print that were meant to scare people, often of news that wasn't very important
  2. using many pictures or drawings
  3. using fake interviews, headlines that didn't tell the whole truth, pseudoscience (fake science), and false information from people who said they were experts
  4. full-color parts of the newspaper on Sundays, usually with comic strips (which is now normal in the United States)
  5. taking the side of the "underdog" against the system.
Most of that is still practised today in modern journalism, especially with the advent of the Internet where people can publish their own version of the news with little to no regulation.

I've seen a number of examples of 3 and 5 on the Internet.
 

Kyle Naber

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Emily Ryerson: "The two forward funnels seemed to lean and then she seemed to break in half as if cut with a knife."
I think she easily could have been referencing the two aft funnels instead. They would have leaned in unison, during the “explosions” and then the whole of the stern settled back, sending the two funnels down in the process.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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While searching for more accounts I found another survivor who saw the ship break into three.

Survivor Harry Olliver:
"Suddenly there was a terrible crash, and the great ship appeared to split in twain, if not in three distinct sections. The rending of her timbers and steel plates making a noise that carried terror into the hearts of all. The end came swiftly."

I think she easily could have been referencing the two aft funnels instead. They would have leaned in unison, during the “explosions” and then the whole of the stern settled back, sending the two funnels down in the process.
I believe the ship broke first and this caused the bow to take a sudden lurch.

Survivor Walter Nichols said - "The ship sank slowly and steadily and then we heard a little explosion that must have been the first boiler. After that the lights began to go out in different parts of the ship. Then came a big explosion. We could see a mass of black smoke. The boat seemed to lift right up out of the water and tilt up on end, and then seemed to break and drop back. For one moment she was right up in the air standing on her nose."

His account indicates that the break up initiated with a buckling and small explosive sound and the lights in the forward half went out as the ship started to buckle open (bow breaking and lurching), and then he heard a "big explosion" and saw a mass of smoke shooting out as the ship broke more apart, and then he saw the broken stern lifting high into the air (this is when Mr. Brown turned and saw the ship had broken and her stern was rising up while he was in the water near the first funnel), and when the middle tower debris detached the stern would separate completely and this is when they saw her settle back again and the survivors would realize at that moment the ship had completely broken and dropped back again.

A number of survivors saw the ship break before the first funnel had fallen. Here is a rough illustration of their locations when they saw it happen:

A few more:

George Brayton
"I saw the water reach the bridge after the vessel broke in two and the forward portion began sinking first."

Percy Keen said - "We saw the fore part of the ship break away up to the foremost funnel." This could be interpreted as 'We saw the fore part of the ship break away 'when the water was' up to the foremost funnel."

Lightoller said the bow gave a sudden lurch and he was pinned against the forward grating as the water rushed down the forward vents and when he was pinned under the water he believed there had been two or three explosions and when he reached the surface again he said the ship (possibly the stern) had turned around and he could see the forward funnel was still standing.

Mr. Brown was in the water near the forward funnel when he turned and saw the broken stern rising on its own with lights blazing. Lightoller was sucked down against the grating while Mr. Brown watched the broken stern rising up. Lawrence Beesley saw the stern rising up and turning around with lights blazing. Lightoller believed there was a series of explosions while he was still under the water, and when he reached the surface he could see the forward funnel was still in place and (very likely the stern) was now facing the opposite way. He found the collapsible boat which had been sucked towards the ship by the suction of the 2nd funnel, and Jack Thayer saw the stern was now revolving right above them, and this is when Lightoller grabbed onto the collapsible just as he witnessed the first funnel falling which pushed the collapsible a considerable distance away.

Mr. Wennerstrom described the moment the collapsible was thrown over to the other side of the ship (possibly by the collapse of the second funnel) and the wave would sweep the collapsible over to the starboard side. He said:

"So came a second explosion that threw us clear across the deck, as a wonder, we landed right in front of a collapsible boat, that had until now been overlooked. We took hold of same and in some way, we got one side loose and in some other way, the other side. We had not to push the boat off the deck, as the Titanic by this time was under the water and we were floating about her decks, and the Titanic turned her nose down under the water and her back-part raised higher and higher. When the third explosion came we were right above one of the funnels and the explosion ripped the bottom out of our boat and threw us clear around the Titanic to the other side. Here we stayed and laid, holding fast to our bottomless canvas-boat, which was filled with water, but could not sink account the cork-railing around her sides. It was a scene that I will never forget. It was horrible, but at the same time in one way that I am not able to explain, a wonderful dramatic act."
 
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Dan Kappes

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In Walter Lord's book A Night to Remember, he includes a sentence during the ship's last moments which says, "The Titanic was now perpendicular."

And I remember reading that one survivor said the ship looked like "a big finger pointing up at the sky".

In the 1997 film, Bodine says during the opening sinking simulation that after the ship breaks in half down to the keel, "As the bow sinks, it pulls the stern vertical and then finally detaches. Now the stern just kinda bobs there like a cork for a couple of minutes, floods, and finally goes under about 2:20 AM, 2 hours and 40 minutes after the collision."

Here is a screenshot of the stern in that scene.

And here is the scene in the film during the final plunge when the stern becomes completely vertical.


Did the stern really become completely vertical like this and bob like a cork for a couple minutes before sinking or not?

I remember producer Jon Landau saying in a commentary track for the film that the incredible weight of the engines caused it to become vertical, but Cameron's later 2012 analysis doesn't show her getting vertical and bobbing, just sinking down at a tilted angle, which can be seen at the 1:30 mark on this video:


All other Titanic films show her sinking at a tilted angle; the 1997 film is the only one I think that shows her completely vertical during her final plunge.
 

Kyle Naber

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Probably not. It most likely reached an angle of 75° at the most. It’s important to keep in mind that people naturally exaggerate as story tellers and people’s points of view would have drastically impacted their opinions.

If I did by any chance go completely vertical, it wasn’t high up out of the water. You would have only seen the poop deck and the well at 90°. However, I think the double bottom detached as the fracture occurred. From there, the stern I think would have tipped to port and sank naturally from a horizontal position, reaching a relatively high angle at the end, only lower in the water.
 
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Miller88

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This has always puzzled me. How could the stern sink within 5 mins? With the bow section no longer weighing it down the stern would have sat higher in the water when it was righted.

If the bow was still attached and partially pulled the stern down then once it completely detached the stern would have shot violently back up.

The only scenario I can see is the bow staying attached until the stern had been pulled under far enough for the pressure to implode the stern which would be something along the lines of about 500 feet. Even then I'm not sure if the bow would have the weight to pull the stern down if the stern still had a large amount of air in it.

I weigh 230 pounds and a beachball can keep me afloat, so how does the bow pull the stern down? Also, how can the stern flood within 5 mins if it also has watertight doors/compartments? Could the breakup have caused the keel to be pulled apart the length of the stern? That's the only way I can see the stern sinking so quickly.
 
May 30, 2019
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Hi folks,

New joiner here. I've been fascinated by Titanic since I was a boy, when I discovered that I was related to a member of the victualling crew (William Dyer).

Recently, I've been diving back into it all and rekindling my fascination for Titanic, and have a question regarding her sinking. We know that she struck the iceberg on her starboard side, so can anyone tell me why she listed slightly to port? Would that be anything to do with the way the watertight compartments were sealed or how she coasted after impact?

Apologies if this is basic stuff; I do not have much nautical knowlegde to pull from.

George