What did survivors see of the breaking up of the Titanic?


Kyle Naber

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Ever since the discovery of the wreck, many questions surrounding the breakup of the ship came up. What I still wonder is what does seeing the ship split apart actually mean? Cameron's film presents a scenario in which little debate would have been formed during the inquiries. Newer progressive and stability testing shows a break which occurs right as water reaches the base of the third funnel:

Screenshot (29).png

Screenshot (28).png


If the Titanic was listing to port and broke just in front of the third funnel, wouldn't it only be possible to see the actual seperation of the plates from the starboard side?

Edward John Buley in lifeboat 10 (port side) was questioned at the inquiries:

"Senator FLETCHER: What do you mean by saying she snapped in two?
Mr. BULEY: She parted in two.
Senator FLETCHER: How do you know that?
Mr. BULEY: Because we could see the afterpart afloat, and there was no forepart to it. I think she must have parted where the bunkers were. She parted at the last, because the afterpart of her settled out of the water horizontally after the other part went down. First of all you could see her propellers and everything. Her rudder was clear out of the water. You could hear the rush of the machinery, and she parted in two, and the afterpart settled down again, and we thought the afterpart would float altogether."

This gives me the impression that the people in the boats on the port side must have heard a couple of explosive sounds, and then the stern would fall back on an even keel without the front half of the ship without seeing the actual break. What are your opinions?
 
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Aaron_2016

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According to Patrick Dillon the stern rose up 3 times before she sank. He was in the bar drinking when he first felt her take a plunge and settle back. He then went out on deck and witnessed the fourth funnel fall backwards. He felt her plunge again and held onto the rail as the stern went up a second time. He was sucked down and then blown upwards to the surface.

Q - She had sunk when you came up again?
A - Well, I saw what I thought would be the afterpart of her coming up and going down again, final.
Q - Then she had not sunk?
A - She came up and went down again.
Q - You saw what you thought was the afterpart coming up again?
A - I thought it was the ship coming up again. She came up and went down again, finish.

From his accounts the stern must have risen at least 3 times as the stern canted upwards and repeatedly settled back. Frank Prentice was also on the stern and felt her bobbing like a cork.


Patrick Dillon gave a second account a few days after his testimony. He was found drunk when he was rescued. His personal account is quite interesting as it details how he got drunk. He failed to mention getting drunk at the Inquiry. So did Charles Joughin. Wonder if they were together in the bar?


Patrick Dillon
"The poop deck was full of Third class male passengers. Those steward chaps and deck hands died game, no mistake, sir. One fellow while we were on the poop deck said, "Go to the First cabin bar room." We did and there was a steward in the saloon with two whisky bottles, one in each hand filling up tumblers on a tray. He said, "Go on lads, drink up. She is going down," and we made for the whisky. We got our share. I noticed one of the chaps who was standing there found a cigarette paper, another had enough tobacco to make a fag, and we had a draw or two while it lasted. There we stood smoking it. Then she plunged and then seemed to right herself. There were about 15 of us when she took the first plunge. After the second there were only five of us left. One of these was Mr. Daniels a First class passenger. He only had a pair of knickers, a singlet, and a blanket thrown over his shoulders. I think he jumped for it. I stood talking to Johnny Bannon, and we seemed to be the only two left. We made the sign of the Cross, both of us, for he was a Catholic. "If we are going to die," I said, "it will be best to die gripping something." We gripped the rail............"


He then described in graphic detail the horror of fighting for his life among the struggling people and how it was too cold for anyone to scream in the water. He said he was in the bar when he felt the stern settle back and one would presume the lights were still on because instead of running outside he counted the people around him and noticed people leaving the bar after she settled back the first time. If the lights had gone out at that moment he would have been standing in a pitch black room with no desire to remain there, but he apparently stayed there and noticed there were only 5 people in the room after she settled back.


Mr. Brown said he was "right before the forward funnel" when he saw the ship starting to break and noticed the lights were still lit in the stern section as it settled back. Dillon would have been in the bar at the time. Some survivors saw the first two funnels lean when she broke and I think it is a fare bet to say that the ship broke before or at the same time the funnels were falling. Samuel Rule said - "We watched the lights go out section by section as she slid down by the bows." Mr. Bright said - "The afterpart righted, itself again and the forepart had disappeared." The word 'disappeared' could imply that the lights had gone out in the bow section while it was still afloat. Survivors heard the screams when the entire ship had 'disappeared' which made them think the ship had completely sunk, but we have other survivors who said the screams occurred while the stern was still afloat and how there was absolute silence after the Titanic had sunk. I think few survivors actually witnessed the stern go under. They saw the lights go out and assumed she had sunk. This could explain why some watches stopped at 2:20am while others stopped 10 minutes later at 2:30am as the stern was still afloat. Edith Rosenbaum thought the people on the stern were cheering because they believed the stern would stay float.


.
 
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PRR5406

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Cameron and "Honor and Glory" both depict the stern as breaking away, possibly still joined by bottom plating, then heaving over to the left and slipping under at a relatively shallow angle. Witnesses at the time reported the stern to rise upward, almost vertical, and hold for as long as a possible 5 minutes. That seems a long time to me, but when your reviewing tragedy, it seems to lengthen in time. I can see the upright position, in fact it makes good sense to me. I'm curious as to how the modern analysis could show something otherwise.
Thoughts?
 

Kyle Naber

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The stern sinks much slower in their updated version. Because of this, it would appear (in all of the darkness and confusion) as though the stern had stopped at an angle of about 60 degrees. When talking about their real time sinking video, they discussed vantage points and how the ship would have appeared from each lifeboat. And as they reviewed the testimony, it all made sense. Some angles, the break was clear and obvious, while from other lifeboats, you most likely wouldn’t have seen it break at all. From some lifeboats, the stern would have appeared vertical, to others, sinking on its side, going straight down.
 
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Aaron_2016

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.....I can see the upright position, in fact it makes good sense to me. I'm curious as to how the modern analysis could show something otherwise.
Thoughts?


Survivors who saw the break up described the bow breaking off and the stern trembling back for a moment with lights still blazing and then rising high up into the air and corkscrewing around, and as it rose almost vertical like a skyscraper with lights blazing there came another terrific explosive sound and the stern settled back again and the lights went out. Survivors were asked how long the stern remained afloat after she broke. Their estimations ranged from 5 minutes to 20 minutes. What I find baffling is that Charles Joughin was on the stern and he said the stern did not rise up:


"...It was like as if the iron was parting."
Q - Like the breaking of metal?
A - Yes.

Q - What did you do?
A - I kept out of the crush as much as I possibly could, and I followed down, followed down getting towards the well of the deck, and just as I got down towards the well she gave a great list over to port and threw everybody in a bunch except myself. I did not see anybody else besides myself out of the bunch.
Q - That was when you were in the well, was it?
A - I was not exactly in the well, I was on the side, practically on the side then. She threw them over. At last I clambered on the side when she chucked them.
Q - You mean the starboard side?
A - The starboard side.
Q - The starboard was going up and she took a lurch to port?
A - It was not going up, but the other side was going down.
Q - It is very difficult to say how many, I daresay, but could you give me some idea, of how many people there were in this crush?
A - I have no idea, Sir; I know they were piled up.
Q - What do you mean when you say, "No idea." Were there hundreds?
A - Yes, there were more than that. Many hundreds, I should say.
Q - You said this vessel took a lurch to port and threw them in a heap. Did she come back; did she right herself at all?
A - No, Sir.
Q - She took a lurch and she did not return?
A - She did not return.
Q - Can you tell us what happened to you?
A - Yes, I eventually got on to the starboard side of the poop.

Q - It has been stated that she turned practically perpendicular. I want to ask your opinion about that, because I think it is very important. Did you see the propellers come out of the water at all?
A - She was not far out of the water at any stage that I saw.

Q - So that to say that she stood up like that (showing.) would be wrong?
A - It would be absolutely wrong.

Q - She simply glided away?
A - She went down that fashion (showing.) It was a glide. There was no great shock, or anything.

Q - She simply glided away?
A - She simply glided away.


It is strange because quite a number of survivors saw the stern at a very high angle before she took her final plunge. This could be an indication that the stern was still canted over to port when it rose high up, so that Joughin would not realize he was high in the air.


.
 

PRR5406

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Whatever weight remains stuffed into the stern section is causing her to hold position. As you stated in the narrative, air is compressing and can't escape fast enough, resulting in portholes, hatches, and doors blowing open. The relief of that air pressure will allow water to further surge up into the hull, and ultimately, what little trapped air remains will be overwhelmed. The stern is pulled under the surface. With outside water pressure squeezing the hull, with that last bit of atmosphere trying to get out, we get the implosions that destroy the plating. The decks peel upward as the speed increases in the fall.

Wouldn't it have been amazing to watch from below as the primordial ooze is slammed by these two huge structures?
 

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