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Were most of the Titanic's lights on during the Sinking?

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by R.M.S TITANIC, Jan 8, 2018.


    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    I want to know... does anyone have any idea how many lights were on while the Titanic sank?
    LukeW17 likes this.
  2. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    A lot of survivors claimed that every porthole was lit up even as the bridge went under. But the problem with this is that the Titanic wasn’t fully booked, therefore not every single cabin would have the need to have a light on. Another problem I see with this is the way people generally act. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I leave a room, I turn off the light. I can see why public spaces would have remained lit, but I think only a few of the PORTHOLES were lit. The promenade and boat decks would have been bright, but the funnels would have been black, the poop deck would have probably been very dark, and things of that sort. However, compared to the night sky, the Titanic was very bright. I think some of the survivors were basically saying this, while dramatizing subconsciously.

    It probably looked something like this:
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  3. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    Survivors said a lot of the lights remained on while the Titanic sank, mainly down by the head but with some bodily submersion and a list to port.

    As the power faded as she sank lower the lights too would have dimmed, I believe several survivors said she had a reddish glow in the final moments.

    As the lights completely went out and she started breaking up, I believe it was the emergency lights on the stern that remained lit - at this point, the Titanic would have mainly been a black silhouette against the stars to most survivors

    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    Hmm... do we have any images of the Titanic with her lights on?
  5. Harland Duzen

    Harland Duzen Member

    The only known photos are the Edwardian ''Photoshopped'' ones of her entering Cherbourg which were taken during the day before the photographer drew and etched over them portholes and incorrectly placed lights.
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  6. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    I really wish we could get a look at what these looked like.
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  7. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    Same here.

    One thing we all know for sure is that the ship would be no where near as illuminated as it was sinking in the 97 film, apart from early on
  8. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    I think the passengers were expecting to return to their cabins very shortly and would have left their lights on. The event was so unexpected that they did not have time to dress appropriately before evacuating the ship and I think some of the passengers tried to return to their cabins and found they were locked by the stewards who had orders to lock the doors to prevent looters, although I'm not sure if the stewards were told to switch off the cabin lights and check each room before locking them, or if they simply tried the door handle and then locked each door accordingly. Electric lights were relatively new and I think if the passengers were at home and heard someone at their front door they would instinctively leave their light on as they would fully expect to return to their beds soon and would keep the lights and heating on. A number of passengers (perhaps many?) would still be using candle light, gas light, and oil burning lights at home. It may have been their first experience with electric lights on the Titanic and if the switch made a buzzing sound they may have been too afraid to touch the switch for fear of electrocution and would allow a steward or maid to deal with the light switches or the head of the family to take the risk.

    I recall one survivor who saw the water rushing into the open portholes on C-deck and she said the cabin lights were on and she could see far into the cabins and watched the sea swirl around the furniture. I recall another survivor who said the electric lights went off in sections of the ship and as the ship sank deeper more sections went out. There is good analysis of the electric lights during the sinking on this webpage.

    Charles Pellegrino Web Site

    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  9. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    Certainly a lot of the lights would have been on, but like Kyle said earlier there would have been numerous portholes without lights on due to the vessel not being fully booked at the time.

    Another thing I want to add, which is not just relevant to this question but the sinking in general - when we watch movies or simulations of the Titanic sinking we get a full camera view of the whole ship or several good angles of large parts of her: but the real Titanic was nearly 900 ft long and to the survivors there in front of her - in the boats and the water - she would have seemed enormous.

    So that’s why there were so many discrepancies about her breaking up, how many lights were on, all sorts of things etc


    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    Do we have any photos of the Olympic or other ocean liners at sizes similar to the Titanic with their lights on? Wait.. how powerful were the lights on the Titanic?

    Kind of off topic but...
    If the passengers most likely left the lights on...
    Why did the lights go out?

    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    Also, is this the photo?

    *Just noticed, smoke coming out of fourth funnel*
    Harland Duzen likes this.
  12. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    Yeah that is the photo which was mentioned earlier on

    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    But the Olympic lived much longer, surely we have photos of her at night!
  14. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    There is none that I can find, or see on the Internet.

    There is a book I got for Christmas from my parents called Olympic-Titanic-Britannic An Illustrated History of the Olympic Class Ships which I have just finished reading and I do not recall any pictures of the vessels at night, and Olympic is the main focus of the book


    R.M.S TITANIC Member

    Hmm... how powerful were the lights on the liners?
  16. Smoke did came out of the 4th funnel, but not as much as from the other 3.
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  17. The ones of her at night I have are from later years and show her illuminated from the lights at the dock while the ship is complete dark (no lights on).
    There are some of the Aquitania (as well Leviathan) fully light at night but from later years.
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  18. LukeW17

    LukeW17 Member

    I’ve not seen them pictures I will have to take a look

    Due to the Titanic unfortunately not completing her maiden voyage, we sadly are limited for pictures of her on the sea
  19. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    Although it faded and grew red throughout the sinking, the main power supply would have burned until the breakup. I think it was Parks Stephenson who proposed that the emergency lights would have stayed on right up until the last. This can explain numerous accounts.
  20. codad1946

    codad1946 Member

    Regarding emergency light, these were only lit if the steam-driven emergency/auxiliary generators were running, as the ship did not have emergency lighting from batteries, though I believe I read somewhere that Olympic was retroactively fitted with them. The only batteries were for the radio room (Marconi Room) which could be charged by the emergency generators as well as the main system.
    Most people leave cabin lights on when they are out of their cabins. Even ship's staff do this and it was quite common to tell cadets and first trippers that they would be hit with a large electricity bill for leaving lights on! This was believed on one ship, but backfired on the perpetrators as the victims went round switching all the alleyway lights off... I always left my lights on except in the bedroom when I went to sleep of course. Sometimes I switched my dayroom and office lights off if they shone through the bedroom door surround.
    The generators would keep running provided there was a steam supply (ie from No2 boiler room which would have been the last to flood as No1 boiler room wasn't lit at the time) and seawater for the auxiliary condenser. The ship broke in two before the sea suctions were uncovered by the stern being up in the air, so the ultimate failure would have been the steam lines fracturing as the ship broke. This would probably have been taken as an explosion by those who heard that sort of noise, as the rapid expansion of a gas/vapour is more or less the definition of an explosion. 5 boilers expanding through a large pipe would make quite a bang - even the safeties lifting made a racket, the same as they did in the Cameron film. As the generator ran down under the impetus of its flywheel, the lights would have dimmed, turned orange and gone out for the last time, with no steam to keep it going.
    I would imagine that Titanic's cabin lights were 60W, which was quite standard for an incandescent light bulb of the period. The 60kW available from the two emergency generators running together would have lit 1000 60W bulbs.