Why did the stern trap so much air? And other questions


Mar 7, 2016
Why did the stern trap so much air? I know I might of asked this before, but I just have to know. Also.. Why did the bow dig into the floor of the ocean.. while on the topic of the bow, why did the hatch on the forecastle deck blow off?

Henry Sincic

Sep 11, 2017
I don't believe to be qualified enough to answer the first question, but I'd imagine that there were just enough isolated spaces (refrigeration and such) in the broken off stern section to keep it poised upwards for a couple of minutes.

Regarding the latter 2 questions, they can both likely be answered by the speed of the bow when it impacted the ocean floor.


Chris cameron

Jul 4, 2016
The stern was pulled down after the break up before there was enough time for the air in the parts that were not flooded to escape, so therefore it imploded beneath the surface.
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Dec 13, 2016
I'm no expert but, it seems as if the damage caused by trapped air is limited to very aft, the area around the poop deck. Much of the damage to the forward section of the stern, imo seems to be caused by the break-up.


Jun 9, 2016
Regarding the bow hatch, once the ship lurched down, basically any time a void was suddenly faced with massive incoming water, the air was displaced and pressurized, forced upward. Remember, the hull was essentially water-tight, and the filling came from underneath. Those hatches were not designed for any such occurrence . BOOM! They burst upward.
The stern is essentially the same, with the rear being a sealed container. Air was screaming out any weakened vent as it sank into the sea. Once buoyancy was lost and the huge mass succumbed, the remaining air compressed and compressed until the sea burst through the sides. This would release quite a large bubble towards the surface as well, long after the stern disappeared.
Sep 15, 2017
The stern had large refrigeration storage spaces (enough to hold food for a ship that has a maximum capacity of 3,547 people at most for a seven-day voyage) and those would have to be kept closed and sealed in order to keep the food at a cool temperature. All of those space are prime to be vast amounts of air pockets and those refrigerators were insulated with cork. Eyewitness accounts have spoken of bits and pieces of cork that are on the surface after hearing "thunderous explosions" coming from the ocean depths. And that was after the stern had submerged. All of that trapped air would have been compressed as the exterior water pressure continued to increase. Then, the air pockets would instantly implode then explode outwards. So much destructive power was enough to blast out and peel back the poop deck, for example.
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Kyle Naber

Oct 5, 2016
Also, windows would have blasted from their frames and decking would have randomly shredded up, cranes would have swung out to port, as well as multiple air pockets popping would have all been happening as the propellors lifted out of the water for a second time. These sounds, combined with everything shifting around inside of the stern most likey wold have sounded like a violent thunderstorm until it sank. Then those refrigeration units would have imploded and the whole back end of the ship destroyed itself on the descent.
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Are there any survivor accounts that mention the sound of explosions deep below the water after the stern sank?

3rd officer Pitman said the explosions occurred after she sank and denied the ship broke in two, but Quartermaster Olliver was in the same lifeboat and he said the explosions occurred - "Before she sank and while she was sinking." and he also saw the ship break in two. Either Pitman was mistaken or he was intentionally trying to place the explosions after she sank in order to discredit anyone who claimed the ship had exploded and broke in two, as Olliver said they occurred before she sank i.e. when she broke in two.

Another factor is, when the ship's lights went out a number of survivors had mistakenly believed the ship had gone down. When the stern rose up after the lights went out there came a thunderous noise. If survivors could not see this and only heard the noise, they could mistakenly believe the explosions occurred after the ship went down i.e. after the lights went out. Survivors who were much closer to the ship were able to see the stern finally go under and this was possibly the moment the loud screams finally stopped as survivor Thomas Dillon said the water was so cold that nobody could scream. e.g.

Lady Duff-Gordon - "My impression was that there was absolute silence."

Sep 15, 2017
Testimony from lookout Reginald Lee at the British Inquiry is one example of the explosive sounds that were heard after the stern section sank.

2560. Did you see her stern?
- No. I cannot say that I did from where I was in the boat. I was standing in the bottom of the boat, and I did not actually see the last part of her go. I saw her just before that, but when people said, "She's gone; that's the last of her," I did not actually see it. I cannot say.

2561. Did you see her stern in the air at all during any of the time?
- Well, I did not see her just before her final disappearance. I did not see that, I cannot say that I did.

2562. Did you hear any explosions?
- After she had gone down, yes.

2563. After she had gone down?
- As she went down, you might say, you heard under-water explosions, like a gun-cotton explosion underwater at a distance off. I suppose it was the boilers.

Obviously, there is no physical evidence that the boilers exploded.
Sep 15, 2017
And first-hand testimony from 1st Class Passenger Edith Russell.

"At 2.20 I saw the starboard light disappear into the water. The stern of the ship, fully lighted, stood up to the sky - suggesting a skyscraper by night, so high and straight did it rise into the air. Then it seemed to shoot down into the water, every light blazing. There was a heavy explosion beneath the water, then a second and a third. Contrary to what the men in our boat had feared, these explosions actually thrust us farther away, as (if) by an invisible hand."

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