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What happened to the Forward Tower?

Discussion in 'Collision / Sinking Theories' started by Seungho Kang, Mar 5, 2019.

  1. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    As an aside, if crack initiation did begin in the double hull, the strength deck is the corresponding member and might have actually held long enough to pull the stern into a more 'dramatic' trim condition as the entire bow was sinking. The geometry of that actually works out neatly. I've read the arguments for the crack starting in the keel, though, and I have to say I remain conflicted -- you can't separate any part of the hull structural girder, it was functioning as designed as a girder, until the bitter end the rest of the hull including the strength decks should have been distributing load and working as a system to resist much greater strength. At some point, the materials failed... Almost certainly at an identifiable weakness. Materials fabrication was not good enough to prevent variations in the period, something was weaker than the rest of the hull (this is why factors of safety were so high then, to guarantee you had a reasonable margin for the uncertainty of the means of production).
    Rob Lawes likes this.
  2. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    I believe the portholes may have been open along the D-deck galleys where she broke.



    The windows directly below on E-deck were possibly open as well.

    Charles Joughin
    Q - On E deck are the portholes in practice opened from time to time?
    A - Very, very often we keep them open the whole of the passage.


    To get an idea how she looked at the time the water rushed in we can look at the accounts of lifeboat 4 which rowed towards that area when she broke apart.

    Lifeboat 4
    Martha Stephenson (heard the ship starting to break as they rowed up the port side towards the stern)
    "The order was called from the deck to go to the stern hatch and take off some men. There was no hatch open and we could see no men, but our crew obeyed orders, much to our alarm, for they were throwing wreckage over and we could hear a cracking noise resembling china breaking, which we learned later was the cracking of the boiler plates. We implored the men to pull away from the ship, but they refused, and we pulled three men into the boat who had dropped off the ship and were swimming toward us"

    Lifeboat 4
    Thomas Dillon (was one of the men who swam to lifeboat 4). He was on the boat deck when he heard the cracking sound and saw the bow break off and lurch downwards and then rise back upwards.)
    "The bow seemed to bob up and then break off like a piece of carrot."

    Lifeboat 4
    Mrs. Hippach
    "We heard a fearful explosion. I saw the ship split open. At the same time the ship's bow rose up in the air as the steamer sank towards the center."

    Lifeboat 4
    Mrs. Chaffee
    "The ship sank steadily until just at the last, when it plunged rapidly. Just before going down it seemed to writhe (twist), breaking into the three parts into which it was divided. First the middle seemed to go down, lifting bow and stern into the air. Then it twisted the other way, throwing the middle up. Finally the bow went under, and it plunged, stern last."

    Lifeboat 4
    Mrs. Ryerson (Looked over her shoulder when she heard the explosion / cracking, and observed the bow breaking off and the 2 forward funnels leaning forward)
    "I could see all the portholes open and water washing in, and the decks still lighted.....We rowed toward the stern, some one shouted something about a gangway, and no one seemed to know what to do. Barrels and chairs were being thrown overboard. Then suddenly, when we still seemed very near, we saw the ship was sinking rapidly. 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."

    Putting their accounts together we can form a scenario based on what the occupants of lifeboat 4 saw.

    e.g. The lifeboat is lowered down on the port side. They observe many portholes open. They approach the stern and hear the plates buckling and breaking. They watch the bow break off and lurch downwards. Dillon jumps overboard and climbs into the lifeboat. They immediately pull away and observe the bow buckling and rising upwards as she sinks rapidly down in the middle.

    The above is just a summary of what those occupants in lifeboat 4 witnessed. Other occupants watched other events which completed the full picture of how she broke. The same procedure can be used with the occupants of the other lifeboats as some of them watched key moments of the break up occur which correlates to what the survivors in lifeboat 4 had witnessed as well e.g.

    The survivors who witnessed the bow rise up were in lifeboats 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, and also several on the ship and in the water.

    Taking them into account we can get a picture of how the tower debris broke as it first buckled and rapidly dropped down, sending the middle down, and the footprint of the forward reciprocating engines could indicate that the heavy machinery dropped out of the ship or crashed forwards and fell onto the back of the bow, and the immediate lightening of the tower debris would allow it to rise up, and twist the bow and stern the other way as they detached - as witnessed by Mrs. Chaffee above.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2019
  3. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    Aaron, why do you think that an untrained observer who has no night vision because the lights only just failed can tell the difference between the bow and the stern at night?

    Why is the portholes being open relevant? The ship is already breaking open and sinking... Only minor interior partitions would fail under the pressure of water entering a few feet below the free surface. Bulkheads and structurally secured partitions would not. Remember, it's a dead calm, Titanic is stopped, both those are normally different in other shipwrecks, and the water is entering at the free surface, not under pressure near the bottom of the hull. I keep seeing you repeat "collapsing bulkheads" like we're in SMS Lutzow at Jutland, making 25kts with a torpedo hole forward. Titanic wasn't that much weaker than a warship if the time! Water entering at the free surface isn't going to collapse anything called a bulkhead.
    Ioannis Georgiou likes this.
  4. Kyle Naber

    Kyle Naber Member

    To be fair, I will say that people's eyes would have gradually been adjusting to the night as the power decreased and the lights burned orange. However, you're right in the sense that there's no saying that every single testifying person knew the correct terminology when it came to ships.

    Like if an airplane sank and someone said one of the wings rose up in the air but it was the nose, that's something that can easily be switched around and confused, especially in a time of panic and trauma.
  5. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    As the lights remained on the stern section after she broke and the night was illuminated by tremendous starlight which made the funnels appear white after the lights went out and the upturned collapsible lifeboat appeared white and attracted the attention of the survivors in the water we can speculate with a good degree of possibility that it was bright enough to see what was happening. It was so bright that Mrs. Candee said:

    "It was a marvelous sight all emphasized by a more than twilight and a heaven full of such stars as only an arctic cold can produce. They actually lighted the atmosphere. The sea with its glassy surface threw back star by star the dazzling array, and made of the universe a complete unity without the break of a sky-line. It was like the inside of an entire globe."

    The sea was described as a dark blue and the stars shined down and reflected their brilliance on everything below. The wireless operator on the Parisian said the night was so clear and bright that it looked just like daylight and it was so bright that a game of football could be played. Therefore this rules out any theories that suggest it was too dark to see anything.

    When the ship rolled over to port the waterline was level with C deck on the port side and level with E deck on the starboard side. The forward well deck was seen to submerge before the forecastle head which indicates how minor the forward trim was as she settled down heavily on her port side. Although the correct term is roll over as the waterline outside did not correspond with the water inside the ship. e.g.

    Helen Candee could see at least two rows of portholes still shining below the waterline which indicates how much the ship had settled down and rolled over with several decks dipping below the waterline that were not yet flooded.

    "When we reached the water I could see two lines of portholes under water, brightly lighted. That lighting of the ship to prevent the horrors of darkness during the death of the Titanic, represented the self-sacrifice of the electrical engineers.....Not until I saw the two lines of lighted portholes under the water had I the slightest idea of the truth. The Captain's voice again shouted emphatically. 'All boats row away from the ship. All boats keep together.'"

    A bit like Jack in the film Titanic as he watches the ship and porthole settle below the waterline.


    As the ship rolls over to port, more open portholes submerge along her entire broadside, drawing the lifeboats towards her side, and accelerates her top heavy roll as the boiler rooms below have not yet flooded.


    Fred Barrett was down in boiler room 5 and believed something had given way.

    "All at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through between the boilers and I jumped for the escape ladder. There was a knocking noise, but no explosion."

    Possibly much like this sound at 0:14

    Barrett was asked:
    Q - Supposing that the bulkhead which is the fore-end of No. 5 had given way, would water come through it and through this pass?
    A - Yes.
    Q - Do you know yourself where it was the water came from, whether it had got through the bulkhead or not?
    A - I did not stop to look.
    Q - Now can you give me any idea whether the water came from over the top of the bulkhead or through it?
    A - I do not see how it could come over the top.
    Q - You do not think it did come over the top?
    A - No.
    Q - Now, when it came through this pass between the boilers, did it come with a rush?
    A - Yes.
    Q - Something had given way?
    A - That was my idea.
    Q - Something that had been holding the water back gave way?
    A - That is my idea, my Lord.

    The first rumble / explosive sound was heard between 10 - 20 minutes before the second larger explosion.

    3rd officer Pitman said - "I assumed it was bulkheads going, myself."

    Quartermaster Olliver said - "I thought they were like bulkheads giving in."

    Mr. Mellors (standing near the bridge) said - "There seemed to be a tremble run through the whole of the ship and the next thing we heard were loud reports inside which I think were the watertight doors giving way."

    Mr. Thayer (standing between the 1st and 2nd funnels) said - "Occasionally there had been a muffled thud or deadened explosion within the ship. Now, without warning, she seemed to start forward, moving forward and into the water.....accompanied by a rumbling roar, mixed with more muffled explosions."

    Captain Moore of the Mount Temple had many years experience and told the Inquiry:
    "It may have been that these bulkheads with the water coming in had collapsed. It may have been that the pressure of the air had started something up......I dare say some bulkheads would go."

    As more portholes submerge on the port side she rolls heavily to port. The well deck submerges before the forecastle and the flooding of her port beam cabins pulls her down more and more by her port side.


    The starboard condenser rolls above the surface and soaks the occupants in a starboard side lifeboat as it is being lowered, as the port side rolls under. The bursting of one or more bulkheads and unsupported walls causes a tidal wave of water to filter out of the flooded forward compartments and rush aft, thus correcting the port list and Lightoller mistakenly believes that the weight of passengers has corrected the list as orders were given for everyone to make their way to the starboard side to keep the ship up as long as possible. Cracks and buckling sounds are heard and she breaks in the middle. She sinks heavily in the middle which drags her bow and stern down, thus propelling their ends upwards. The engines break lose and fall down, the water sagging the middle down rushes out, and the bow and stern return to their pre-break positions, and sink down independently.

    Just my two cents on what I believed occurred based on what I have researched so far.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2019
  6. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    All of your quotes from serious men are about bulkheads giving way lower in the hull where there is at least another atmosphere of pressure, and do not address my comment.
  7. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    The condenser outlet was always above the water line so I'm not sure where you got that from?

    Boats 11 (soaked by the outlet) and 13 (pushed aft by the discharge) were affected by it. Neither of these two boats or boat 15 launched within moments of boat 13, report being affected by the significant list to port that you describe.
  8. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    If there was a list of 40 degrees while those boats were being lowered in all certainty those boats and everyone in them would have perished. Any extreme lists before the last starboard boat is finished lowering away are impossible by the laws of reality and invalidate the theory. It's only possible to entertain discussion of an extreme list after lowering has been completed--and even then we have plenty of evidence against it.
  9. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    As the ship settled bodily as sections further aft flooded the starboard discharge outlet would submerge as well as the port one. When she began to roll over to port the starboard outlet raised above the water to a degree that soaked the occupants of the lifeboat. When lifeboat 15 was lowered the ship had rolled over so much to port that Frank Dymond said their boat had smashed against the side of the ship and damaged the gunwale by the thumping and scraping as they went down her side. Collapsible C had even more difficulty as their boat kept catching on the rivets which hampered the lowering of the boat. Frank Prentice said the ship righted and they finally managed to get the starboard side boats away as they were no longer stuck against the ship's side. "We couldn't get them down because she had a list to port, and you can imagine half way down they would have hit the side."

    The bow was tapered at the front with watertight doors below and above, with narrow passageways, boxed in rooms, cargo, mail, and coal reserve which would occupy a large percentage of space in the cramped bow section. The water would rise rapidly up from the mail room section and spill onto the E-deck corridor. The weight of water in the bow was only sufficient to pull her head down as far as E-deck. From that moment she flooded significantly slow, which created the illusion she was not going to sink any further. Even when lifeboat 13 rowed away shortly before she went down the occupants could see her starboard bow was still only down as far as E-deck, while the survivors on the port side could see her entire broadside settling very low in the water.

    Lifeboat 13 survivors

    Mr. Caldwell
    "At first, she seemed unharmed but, as we looked toward the bow of the ship, we could see that the lower line of portholes extended down into the water. The lights on the Titanic burned until a few minutes before she sank."

    Mr. Beesley
    "There was nothing else to indicate she was injured.......The lowest portholes in the bows were under the sea......We rowed away from her in the quietness of the night, hoping and praying with all our hearts that she would sink no more and the day would find her still in the same position as she was then."

    Mr. Littlejohn
    "Her forward E-deck ports were under the water and we could see the lights gradually go out on the E-deck as she settled down. All her other lights were burning brilliantly and she looked a blaze of light from stem to stern. We watched her like this for some time, and then suddenly she gave a plunge forward."

    Miss Dowdell
    "Then there was one great explosion. I guessed it was the boilers. The Titanic did not stay up long after that, but tilted, bow downward, with a great part of the stern in the air. She steadied for a moment, then plunged under. Her lights were burning to the last."

    A number of survivors saw the same thing i.e. the ship settling steadily and then the bow breaks and lurches forward and downward, before rising upward as the middle goes down.

    All water that entered C, D, E, decks would spill down to the lowest accessible sections forward middle and aft owing to the lack of the forward trim and the natural and unnatural bending of the ship along her beam with possible sagging in the middle, and the roll to port would bottle that water against the port side and effectively delay the sinking of the ship and buy her more time. Even when the forward well deck had submerged the water would rush along the corridor and bottle against the port side cabins, rolling her over so much that Colonel Gracie thought she as going to capsize.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2019
  10. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    That would still only describe a slight list to port. The list you describe (over 10 degrees) would have prevented lifeboat 15 from launching at all.
  11. Actually there was a list to port when No. 15 was lowered. The list to port started about that time (Nos. 9, 11 & 13 were not affected by it but Nos. 15 as well as Nos. 10, 12 & 14). However the list was not so big.
    When collapsible C was loaded and launched there was a list to port which QM Rowe estimated to had been about 5 to 6 degrees to port. Sam Halpern calculated a list of about 10°.
    Of course it could have been not above it.
    Rob Lawes likes this.
  12. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    Aaron, even non-watertight bulkheads resist and slow the passage of water. Pressure is pushing the water up until in equilibrium with the free surface.

    The ship is longer than she is wide; a ten degree trim to the bow will result in the bow being much further below the water than you seem to appreciate in your posts.

    Flooding aft on E deck would find it easier to pour back down into the next nearest watertight compartment, so almost none would be going aft. Certainly not enough to flood three entire WTCs like in your drawings.
  13. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    The port list (roll) was gradual. No one is suggesting she rolled immediately 20 - 50 degrees to port. She righted herself on several occasions and rolled back over to port again so much that she appeared to be about to topple over. When lifeboats 2 and 4 were lowered the roll to port was significantly worse. The ship was continually rocking from side to side and eventually twisted herself apart.

    John Haggan
    "The ship was shaking very much."

    Miss Glynn
    "We watched the Titanic rolling and bobbing like a cork. All her lights were burning, and over the water we caught the strains of 'Nearer, My God, to Thee.’ Finally Titanic ceased rolling, seemed to hesitate a moment, and plunged her bow into the ocean."

    Mr. Barkworth
    "I remember somebody shouted: 'Go gently!' as if a sudden shift of weight would have disturbed the ship's position."

    Colonel Gracie
    "There was a very palpable list to port as if the ship was about to topple over. 'All passengers to the starboard side,' was Lightoller's loud command, heard by all of us."

    Samuel Hemming
    "The captain was there, and he sung out: "Everyone over to the starboard side, to keep the ship up as long as possible."

    2nd officer Lightoller
    "I think the ship righted. When the order was given to the passengers to go to the starboard side. I am under the impression that a great many went over and the ship got a righting movement......the ship took a dive, reeling for a moment, then plunging."

  14. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    A 10 degree trim towards the bow would submerge the forward half of the ship. A number of survivors did not see her like that when she broke. Even when Mr. Pearcey got into collapsible C he watched the ship settle down and noticed she was not going down by the head. I recall another survivor who tried to debunk the rumours that the bow sank down and he said that the ship appeared to sink 'all at once'. I believe the ship began to buckle open when the forward half was still appreciably above the water. The explosions were estimated to be up to 10 minutes apart. The second one was characterised as 'the big one' with the total separation of the ship, but the first one was speculated by the survivors and examiners to be the collapse of a bulkhead, the bursting of a watertight door, the implosion of boiler room 4, or the initial buckling and first signs of breaking.

    Mr. Brice
    Q - How far apart in time, probably, were the two explosions?
    A - From 8 to 10 minutes.

    QM Olliver
    Q - Did you hear explosions?
    A - I heard several little explosions, but it was not such explosions as I expected to hear.
    Q - Were these before or after she sank?
    A - Before she sank and while she was sinking.
    Q - What did you think those explosions were?
    A - Myself, I thought they were like bulkheads giving in.

    Mr. Clench
    "I heard two explosions."
    Q - Then in about 10 minutes there was another explosion?
    A - There was another explosion, but I could not say how long from one to the other.
    Q - How long a time would you say it was after the second explosion before she sank out of sight?
    A - I should say a matter of about 20 minutes.
    Q - Then did the ship disappear?
    A - The lights went out after the second explosion. Then she gradually sank down into the water very slowly.

  15. mitfrc

    mitfrc Member

    BTW, a post by Mark Chirnside from 2003 cited Edward Wilding, a HW Engineer, as saying the boilers wouldn't leave their footings until a trim or list of 35 degrees was obtained, and the engines possibly not even then; we know as a matter of fact such a condition was not obtained before the ship broke up.
    Roger Southern and Kyle Naber like this.
  16. Aside that No. 13 left about 1 hour before the ship went down it is interesting how you only quote the accounts which fit with what you claim. No. 13 was rowing away and the people looked back from time to time.


    "About two o'clock that morning we could notice the Titanic settling very rapidly, with the bows and the bridge completely under water. In a few moments she was devoured by the great waters of the ocean.

    "No sooner were we off that [sic] the Titanic began to go down rapidly. The bow disappeared first. (...)Then there was one great explosion. I guessed it was the boilers. The Titanic did not stay up long after that, but tilted, bow downward, with a great part of the stern in the air. She stayed for a moment, then plunged under.

    Dr. Dodge

    After we had been afloat possibly half an hour I observed, on looking at the steamer, that the line of lights from the portholes, showed that the vessel had settled forward into the water, but to no great extent. ... Watching the vessel closely, it was seen from time to time that this submergence forward was increasing. ... The gradual submersion of the vessel forward increased, and in about an hour was suddenly followed by the extinguishment of all the lights, which had been burning brightly, illuminating every deck and gleaming forth from innumerable portholes.


    In the distance she looked an enormous length, her great bulk outlined in black against the starry sky. Every porthole and saloon blazing with light. It was impossible to think anything could be wrong with such a leviathan, were it not for that ominous tilt downwards in the bows, where the water was by now up to the lowest row of port holes.

    Presently, about 2 a.m., as near as I can remember, we observed her settling very rapidly, with the bows and the bridge completely under water and concluded it was now only a question of minutes before she went down, and so it proved.

    Beesley from his book

    There was nothing else to indicate she was injured; nothing but this apparent violation of a simple geometrical law - that parallel lines should "never meet even if produced ever so far both ways"; but it meant the Titanic had sunk by the head until the lowest portholes in the bows were under the sea, and the portholes in the stern were lifted above the normal height. We rowed away from her in quietness of the night, hoping and praying with all our hearts that she would sink no more and the day would find her still in the same position as she was then. The crew, however, did not think so. ... And all the time, as we watched, the Titanic sank lower by the head and the angle became wider and wider as the stern porthole lights lifted and the bow lights sank, and it was evident she was not to stay afloat much longer. ... At about 2:15 A.M. I think we were any distance from a mile to two miles away. ... About this time, the water had crept up almost to her sidelight and the captain's bridge, and it seemed a question only of minutes before she sank.
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  17. That section would remain dry only for some time. Marked in purple: water would come down from the staircase from E Deck, thought the fan room and the pipes in the swimming bath.
    Kyle Naber likes this.
  18. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    No, I was talking about the difference between the port side and the starboard side. I did not list every account from every available source, because I only wanted to show the difference between the port side and starboard side in relation to this topic. i.e. when the port side was down to C-deck the starboard side was still above the water to E-deck which correlates to the roll to port, and how the first explosion resulted in the bow taking a sudden lurch down into the water as it broke off.

  19. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Guest

    Yes, and that "some time" could have been significant as the ship was listing to starboard at the time it washed down into the turkish baths and Wheat closed the watertight door which stalled the flooding of the swimming pool area forward. The water would flood into the swimming pool when the ship eventually listed over to port. We don't know how much water went in before she broke because Joughin looked down the corridor and could see the corridor was practically dry as the ship rolled more to port. We don't know if the water washed into the port side cabins and left the corridor, or if the water had receded back down the staircase when / if the forward bulkheads collapsed. All we can do is speculate until a proper examination of the wreck is made to a satisfying degree.

  20. Mr. RAY.
    I went along E deck and forward, and the forward part of E deck was under water. I could just manage to get through the doorway into the main stairway. I went across to the other side of the ship where the passengers' cabins were; saw nobody there. I looked to see where the water was and it was corresponding on that side of the ship to the port side.
    Rob Lawes likes this.