Why didn't Titanic capsize?


Stephen Carey

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In most I agree with you Scott, the only issue I'm having a problem wrapping my mind around is once Titanic began listing to port wouldn't she have kept that same list or more likely continued to list to port?

What would make her shift the list from port to starboard or vise versa? The only thing I can imagine causing it to shift is if the hull had a breach from the stress of the list. For example if she had an 8 degree list to port then the starboard hull might have had enough stress to partially buckle the hull.

If that had happened could that explain the two "explosions" heard by some of the survivors? It was said those two explosions were about 10 to 20 minutes apart. Possibly starboard hull buckling and then shortly after the port hull?
Costa Concordia is almost a carbon copy of Titanic. Similar damage, between 4-6 compartments open to the sea, no hope of surviving. As with all "Two Compartment Damage Stability" ships, both vessels had the capacity for more adjacent compartments flooding, until the weight of the ship overcame the weight of displaced water, when Archimedes takes over. Costa started to sink on an even keel, and if she'd stayed in open water would have just about gone down the same way. However when a ship sinks, towards the end it's difficult to say what will happen, and most move away from upright somewhere along the line. As the two vessels were both built with transverse WT bulkheads, they would most likely emulate each other. However, if one side touches an underwater object then the ship's natural buoyancy in staying upright (heavy weather would also affect it) is compromised, the water cannot equalise and so rushes over to the unsupported side, and this is in fact what happened to Costa. A shame she didn't sink in deep water actually as it would probably have saved everyone's lives and a lot of money in salvage!
Back to Titanic and Britannic - the double side fitted in Britannic and retrofitted in Olympic didn't save the ship, and I reckon Wilding didn't think it would either. Naval architects don't like outboard WT compartments, and both Lusitania and Britannic - possibly - showed he was right. Some later ships did have them, but not many, and the likes of Canberra and the current cruise ships don't have them either.
So what caused Britannic to list? Undoubtedly because she was holed on the starboard side, but even though the inner skin was called "double sided" it was in fact very narrow, only around 3' if I remember rightly without checking it in the plethora of stuff I have on the ship. This wouldn't have caused a capsize, only a list, and from the "sinking in real time" it seems that was the case - she went down in calm water with a slight list. To me, the speed that she went suggests that the WT doors throughout the ship were open, and that the ones up forward into BR6 definitely were because one of them is shown open in the underwater filming (just past an abandoned wheelbarrow). Britannic did have her bulkheads going up to the weather deck, so the open portholes would have hastened the end, but as we don't know how many were open, it's not really quantifiable. The closed decks, even though not watertight, would have restricted this water from down-flooding in to the bottom of the ship anyway, and I rather think it would have just risen with the waterline - the ship was lost anyway.
Back to Lusitania which went even faster, some deja vu from the report into the sinking by modern computer methods from RINA and H&W which I attended and which Sam references in his flooding article, there is a section where Peskett of Cunard and Wilding were discussing the subdivision of M&L v the Olympic class. Peskett was reticent on this as he was more or less subservient to Admiralty and had to mind his P's and Q's, but it was generally agreed that with coal firing, it was impossible to ensure the closing of the longitudinal bunker doors in the Cunarders, and that flooding would occur to such an extent - plus possible capsize - that M&L would have foundered in the same way as Titanic did with similar damage - as Lusitania tragically did a few years later. With oil firing this would not have been the case, and if L had managed to shut all her doors, would maybe have survived or at least lasted longer and with the capability possibly of correcting the list by counter-flooding. Interesting food for thought, but of course as in all these cases, pure conjecture!
Being a marine engineer of some 50 years working life, having sailed on all types of ship for 18 years and done a lot of naval architecture in my time, I find it to be a good thing to revisit in retirement to keep my mind awake and think things like this through...
If you haven't read it, the Costa report is quite good, though the translation from Italian is a bit awry at times. If anyone wants a link or attachment I can supply one. It's probably too big for this portal though.
 

Jim Currie

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Costa Concordia is almost a carbon copy of Titanic. Similar damage, between 4-6 compartments open to the sea, no hope of surviving. As with all "Two Compartment Damage Stability" ships, both vessels had the capacity for more adjacent compartments flooding, until the weight of the ship overcame the weight of displaced water, when Archimedes takes over. Costa started to sink on an even keel, and if she'd stayed in open water would have just about gone down the same way. However when a ship sinks, towards the end it's difficult to say what will happen, and most move away from upright somewhere along the line. As the two vessels were both built with transverse WT bulkheads, they would most likely emulate each other. However, if one side touches an underwater object then the ship's natural buoyancy in staying upright (heavy weather would also affect it) is compromised, the water cannot equalise and so rushes over to the unsupported side, and this is in fact what happened to Costa. A shame she didn't sink in deep water actually as it would probably have saved everyone's lives and a lot of money in salvage!
Back to Titanic and Britannic - the double side fitted in Britannic and retrofitted in Olympic didn't save the ship, and I reckon Wilding didn't think it would either. Naval architects don't like outboard WT compartments, and both Lusitania and Britannic - possibly - showed he was right. Some later ships did have them, but not many, and the likes of Canberra and the current cruise ships don't have them either.
So what caused Britannic to list? Undoubtedly because she was holed on the starboard side, but even though the inner skin was called "double sided" it was in fact very narrow, only around 3' if I remember rightly without checking it in the plethora of stuff I have on the ship. This wouldn't have caused a capsize, only a list, and from the "sinking in real time" it seems that was the case - she went down in calm water with a slight list. To me, the speed that she went suggests that the WT doors throughout the ship were open, and that the ones up forward into BR6 definitely were because one of them is shown open in the underwater filming (just past an abandoned wheelbarrow). Britannic did have her bulkheads going up to the weather deck, so the open portholes would have hastened the end, but as we don't know how many were open, it's not really quantifiable. The closed decks, even though not watertight, would have restricted this water from down-flooding in to the bottom of the ship anyway, and I rather think it would have just risen with the waterline - the ship was lost anyway.
Back to Lusitania which went even faster, some deja vu from the report into the sinking by modern computer methods from RINA and H&W which I attended and which Sam references in his flooding article, there is a section where Peskett of Cunard and Wilding were discussing the subdivision of M&L v the Olympic class. Peskett was reticent on this as he was more or less subservient to Admiralty and had to mind his P's and Q's, but it was generally agreed that with coal firing, it was impossible to ensure the closing of the longitudinal bunker doors in the Cunarders, and that flooding would occur to such an extent - plus possible capsize - that M&L would have foundered in the same way as Titanic did with similar damage - as Lusitania tragically did a few years later. With oil firing this would not have been the case, and if L had managed to shut all her doors, would maybe have survived or at least lasted longer and with the capability possibly of correcting the list by counter-flooding. Interesting food for thought, but of course as in all these cases, pure conjecture!
Being a marine engineer of some 50 years working life, having sailed on all types of ship for 18 years and done a lot of naval architecture in my time, I find it to be a good thing to revisit in retirement to keep my mind awake and think things like this through...
If you haven't read it, the Costa report is quite good, though the translation from Italian is a bit awry at times. If anyone wants a link or attachment I can supply one. It's probably too big for this portal though.
If Costa Concordia had stayed in deep water she would have survived.. The only reason she went over is because her master forgot she had gained draft due to sinkage. She was sinking on an even keel and flat-bottom -grounded. The result was "dry docking effect". As soon as she touched bottom. her C of G rose to a point somewhere above her masthead heightnand she overturned onto her side.
 

Keith H

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Oct 13, 2017
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If Costa Concordia had stayed in deep water she would have survived.. The only reason she went over is because her master forgot she had gained draft due to sinkage. She was sinking on an even keel and flat-bottom -grounded. The result was "dry docking effect". As soon as she touched bottom. her C of G rose to a point somewhere above her masthead heightnand she overturned onto her side.
One wonders how the list to port started as the starboard side was damaged ?, could it have been due to coming up against the iceberg it nudged the Titanic over to port causing the water to slosh across to that side apart from the compartment separated by the fireman's tunnel .
As the bow compartments filled up you would lose stability from the ships bottom as the upward pressure equalised with the water inside thus causing this end of the ship becoming top heavy and trying to capsize against the other dry sections of the ship trying to keep the ship on an even keel causing a twisting stress to the hull ( a reason why she broke in half ) this is why I feel the Titanic didn't capsize ,
In the case of the Britannic the bow had struck bottom before she finally sank this allowed all the other compartments to fill so causing the ship to become top heavy along its length leading it to capsize
 

Keith H

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Oct 13, 2017
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If Costa Concordia had stayed in deep water she would have survived.. The only reason she went over is because her master forgot she had gained draft due to sinkage. She was sinking on an even keel and flat-bottom -grounded. The result was "dry docking effect". As soon as she touched bottom. her C of G rose to a point somewhere above her masthead heightnand she overturned onto her side.
In the case of the Concordia there were valves that allowed water to flow from one side to the other so maintaining trim , one wonders if such a fetcher was incorporated in the double hulls of Olympic and Britannic to maintain equilibrium to breached compartments.
Strange thing is when Concordia struck bottom it was her starboard side on a sea bed that shelved down the opposite way to her capsize to starboard...
 

Seumas

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One wonders how the list to port started as the starboard side was damaged ?, could it have been due to coming up against the iceberg it nudged the Titanic over to port causing the water to slosh across to that side apart from the compartment separated by the fireman's tunnel .
I'm not an expert on this but there has been an interesting theory discussed on ET in the past that the Titanic's post-collison list to port was because one of no. six boiler rooms coal bunkers on the starboard side had been completely emptied owing to the bunker fire. The adjacent port bunker would have been almost full. As I say the more technical minded could explain it much better than I ever could.
 

Rose F.

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Feb 19, 2021
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I'm not an expert on this but there has been an interesting theory discussed on ET in the past that the Titanic's post-collison list to port was because one of no. six boiler rooms coal bunkers on the starboard side had been completely emptied owing to the bunker fire. The adjacent port bunker would have been almost full. As I say the more technical minded could explain it much better than I ever could.
I'll have to reread Park Stephenson's own paper on the coal fire, but from what I've seen, there's three main hypotheses on why the ship had a slight port list:
  • Because a list to port documented earlier, likely because of the shift of coal in the coal bunkers between the No. 5 and 6 boiler rooms, it stands to reason that in the event that with no other forces acting on the ship to heel a certain way, she will naturally list to port
  • E-Deck has Scotland Road on the port side, allowing water to more easily travel aft on the port side. In specific, the Starboard side of E-Deck was cordoned off as it was part of First class luxuries, where the Port Side seems to be made up of 3rd class and/or crew spaces, so these areas are connected to the spaces forward of it and thus to other areas of the ship in the midst of flooding.
  • There was an open gangway door on the port side, increasing the amount of water that came in through the port and making her more inclined to list port.
Odds are, it was some combination of the three factors, rather than any one in particular.
 
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I'll have to reread Park Stephenson's own paper on the coal fire, but from what I've seen, there's three main hypotheses on why the ship had a slight port list:
  • Because a list to port documented earlier, likely because of the shift of coal in the coal bunkers between the No. 5 and 6 boiler rooms, it stands to reason that in the event that with no other forces acting on the ship to heel a certain way, she will naturally list to port
  • E-Deck has Scotland Road on the port side, allowing water to more easily travel aft on the port side. In specific, the Starboard side of E-Deck was cordoned off as it was part of First class luxuries, where the Port Side seems to be made up of 3rd class and/or crew spaces, so these areas are connected to the spaces forward of it and thus to other areas of the ship in the midst of flooding.
  • There was an open gangway door on the port side, increasing the amount of water that came in through the port and making her more inclined to list port.
Odds are, it was some combination of the three factors, rather than any one in particular.
Parks article...was this the one you were referring to?
If its another one post the link if you have it. Would be interested in reading it if you don't mind. Cheers and Welcome to E.T.
 
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Mike Spooner

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If Costa Concordia had stayed in deep water she would have survived.. The only reason she went over is because her master forgot she had gained draft due to sinkage. She was sinking on an even keel and flat-bottom -grounded. The result was "dry docking effect". As soon as she touched bottom. her C of G rose to a point somewhere above her masthead heightnand she overturned onto her side.
Jim,
There was a recent documentary by a group of marine expects on TV last week. Saying the ship had no power control and only under control of the 25 mile wind which was controlling her final destination. Were she took a sharp turn where the volume of water in the hull shifted to starboard side and landed up on the shore line rockets. The conclusion was if hadn't landed up on the rocks she could of well turned over with thousands of lost lives!
 

Mike Spooner

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Jim
I found the TV Costa Concordia documentary and will be repeated as show:
The show will air at least two more times this week.
Feb 21, 10:00 pm and Feb 22, 12:00 am, all times Eastern, please adjust times for your time zone.
The second part of the show explained how the ship ended up on the rocks close to land after the initial collision. Most people had previously thought that the captain had intentionally steered the ship into the shallow cove near the island in order to keep it close to land to prevent sinking. The show revealed that the ship had lost all power and propulsion minutes after ship hit the rocks which ripped open the bottom of the ship. At that point it drifted out to sea on its previous momentum. However as a stroke of luck, the 25 winds in the Mediterranean were such that they blew the ship back towards the island and beached it on the rocks. The closing moments of the documentary stated that if the ship had sunk in deeper waters, meaning completely, many more people would have lost their lives. Perhaps even 100’s or 1000’s of people.
 

Jim Currie

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Be careful about TV Documentaries. Mike. Most are based on "Look what we have discoverd -Gosh!." and "Good, entartainment"..principals.
As with all such disasters, millions of words and almost as many pontifications are publiciced concerning them. The hard evidence is usually ignored by those who have pre-judged and jumped to conclusions. However, even when such evidence is available or becomes available, they immediately set out to rubbish it, since it makes them looks like fools.
The following was concocted from actual evidence and the "Black Box" of the Concordia. Apart from a bit of self-aggrandisement by an individual, it seems to accurately describe what I remember.
costaconcordiatragedy.jpg
 

Rose F.

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Parks article...was this the one you were referring to?
If its another one post the link if you have it. Would be interested in reading it if you don't mind. Cheers and Welcome to E.T.
That's exactly what I was looking for, as the Internet seemed to run away with his claims and exaggerate it into "The ship would have capsized if it weren't for the coal fire!" Which is actually pretty far from what the study says.

I'll need to do a more thorough read of the GHS, but already I'm starting to see some differences of interpretation from Thomas and Stettler (who wrote the study) and Park's thoughts on it after the fact.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Be careful about TV Documentaries. Mike. Most are based on "Look what we have discoverd -Gosh!." and "Good, entartainment"..principals.
As with all such disasters, millions of words and almost as many pontifications are publiciced concerning them. The hard evidence is usually ignored by those who have pre-judged and jumped to conclusions. However, even when such evidence is available or becomes available, they immediately set out to rubbish it, since it makes them looks like fools.
The following was concocted from actual evidence and the "Black Box" of the Concordia. Apart from a bit of self-aggrandisement by an individual, it seems to accurately describe what I remember.
View attachment 75725
Jim, I understand what you are saying and be weary of new evidence. However how we trust what was said the first time round? It rather remind me of the TITANIC story as times goes by we keep learning more new information of the disaster.
 
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Jim Currie

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Jim, I understand what you are saying and be weary of new evidence. However how we trust what was said the first time round? It rather remind me of the TITANIC story as times goes by we keep learning more new information of the disaster.
Hello again, Mike.

The problem with all of this is that those who cannot visualise a described event and cannot come up with a logical reason for it based on a realistic construction of that event, go public with a personal version of it. For this reason, many individuals in this story have unfairly and illogically been branded as liars, fools. idiots and even irresponsible criminals. I am most aggravated by the reasons for publishing such inaccuracies based on individual Eureka! moments, all of which purport to be historical truth.

For a person to tell anything but the truth, that person has to have had a motive for doing so. The following motives were developed by arguably, one of the most knowledgeable person on the subject - Dr. Paul Ekman. Here are his 9 most frequent reasons for lying. I highlight the relevant ones in red and offer reasons for doing so.

"1. To avoid being punished. This is the most frequently mentioned motivation for telling lies. It’s important to note that there were no significant differences for lies told to avoid punishment for a purposeful misdeed versus an honest mistake.
2. To obtain a reward not otherwise readily obtainable.
3. To protect another person from being punished.
4. To protect oneself from the threat of physical harm.
5. To win the admiration of others.
6. To get out of an awkward social situation.
7. To avoid embarrassment.
8. To maintain privacy without notifying others of that intention.
9. To exercise power over others by controlling the information the target has.
"

With regard to Titanic crew, passengers and the rank and file crew witnesses from other vessels, we can eliminate reasons ,3,4,6.7.8 & 9 from the above list.

We know that certain crew members received payment form their stories so parts of the contents of such stories should be viewed with suspicion. There is therefore verification of motives 2 & 5 .
However, there was and remains to this day, an unusual aspect about a ship crew member witness which amateur historians ignore at their peril.

As by the very nature of their employment, a ship crew member rarely is alone when performing his duty. Consequently, unless he knows that all possible witnesses to an event have perished before he steps into the witness box, the following facts will govern the veracity of his answers:
A: No way he can be sure that the incident he is describing was, unknown to him, witnessed by another crew member.
B: A second witness to the same event may be called and subsequently demolish his lie.

Unless a positively identified "purposeful misdeed" was discovered, the only crew members who were likely to be punished were Certificated Officers. We have no firm evidence from them or others of any form of misdeed.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hello again, Mike.

The problem with all of this is that those who cannot visualise a described event and cannot come up with a logical reason for it based on a realistic construction of that event, go public with a personal version of it. For this reason, many individuals in this story have unfairly and illogically been branded as liars, fools. idiots and even irresponsible criminals. I am most aggravated by the reasons for publishing such inaccuracies based on individual Eureka! moments, all of which purport to be historical truth.

For a person to tell anything but the truth, that person has to have had a motive for doing so. The following motives were developed by arguably, one of the most knowledgeable person on the subject - Dr. Paul Ekman. Here are his 9 most frequent reasons for lying. I highlight the relevant ones in red and offer reasons for doing so.

"1. To avoid being punished. This is the most frequently mentioned motivation for telling lies. It’s important to note that there were no significant differences for lies told to avoid punishment for a purposeful misdeed versus an honest mistake.
2. To obtain a reward not otherwise readily obtainable.
3. To protect another person from being punished.
4. To protect oneself from the threat of physical harm.
5. To win the admiration of others.
6. To get out of an awkward social situation.
7. To avoid embarrassment.
8. To maintain privacy without notifying others of that intention.
9. To exercise power over others by controlling the information the target has.
"

With regard to Titanic crew, passengers and the rank and file crew witnesses from other vessels, we can eliminate reasons ,3,4,6.7.8 & 9 from the above list.

We know that certain crew members received payment form their stories so parts of the contents of such stories should be viewed with suspicion. There is therefore verification of motives 2 & 5 .
However, there was and remains to this day, an unusual aspect about a ship crew member witness which amateur historians ignore at their peril.

As by the very nature of their employment, a ship crew member rarely is alone when performing his duty. Consequently, unless he knows that all possible witnesses to an event have perished before he steps into the witness box, the following facts will govern the veracity of his answers:
A: No way he can be sure that the incident he is describing was, unknown to him, witnessed by another crew member.
B: A second witness to the same event may be called and subsequently demolish his lie.

Unless a positively identified "purposeful misdeed" was discovered, the only crew members who were likely to be punished were Certificated Officers. We have no firm evidence from them or others of any form of misdeed.
Jim you beginning to sound like a Lawyer where common-sense goes out the window, just like the inquiry did so to!
 

Hillary P

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Dec 6, 2020
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Costa Concordia is almost a carbon copy of Titanic. Similar damage, between 4-6 compartments open to the sea, no hope of surviving. As with all "Two Compartment Damage Stability" ships, both vessels had the capacity for more adjacent compartments flooding, until the weight of the ship overcame the weight of displaced water, when Archimedes takes over. Costa started to sink on an even keel, and if she'd stayed in open water would have just about gone down the same way. However when a ship sinks, towards the end it's difficult to say what will happen, and most move away from upright somewhere along the line. As the two vessels were both built with transverse WT bulkheads, they would most likely emulate each other. However, if one side touches an underwater object then the ship's natural buoyancy in staying upright (heavy weather would also affect it) is compromised, the water cannot equalise and so rushes over to the unsupported side, and this is in fact what happened to Costa. A shame she didn't sink in deep water actually as it would probably have saved everyone's lives and a lot of money in salvage!
Back to Titanic and Britannic - the double side fitted in Britannic and retrofitted in Olympic didn't save the ship, and I reckon Wilding didn't think it would either. Naval architects don't like outboard WT compartments, and both Lusitania and Britannic - possibly - showed he was right. Some later ships did have them, but not many, and the likes of Canberra and the current cruise ships don't have them either.
So what caused Britannic to list? Undoubtedly because she was holed on the starboard side, but even though the inner skin was called "double sided" it was in fact very narrow, only around 3' if I remember rightly without checking it in the plethora of stuff I have on the ship. This wouldn't have caused a capsize, only a list, and from the "sinking in real time" it seems that was the case - she went down in calm water with a slight list. To me, the speed that she went suggests that the WT doors throughout the ship were open, and that the ones up forward into BR6 definitely were because one of them is shown open in the underwater filming (just past an abandoned wheelbarrow). Britannic did have her bulkheads going up to the weather deck, so the open portholes would have hastened the end, but as we don't know how many were open, it's not really quantifiable. The closed decks, even though not watertight, would have restricted this water from down-flooding in to the bottom of the ship anyway, and I rather think it would have just risen with the waterline - the ship was lost anyway.
Back to Lusitania which went even faster, some deja vu from the report into the sinking by modern computer methods from RINA and H&W which I attended and which Sam references in his flooding article, there is a section where Peskett of Cunard and Wilding were discussing the subdivision of M&L v the Olympic class. Peskett was reticent on this as he was more or less subservient to Admiralty and had to mind his P's and Q's, but it was generally agreed that with coal firing, it was impossible to ensure the closing of the longitudinal bunker doors in the Cunarders, and that flooding would occur to such an extent - plus possible capsize - that M&L would have foundered in the same way as Titanic did with similar damage - as Lusitania tragically did a few years later. With oil firing this would not have been the case, and if L had managed to shut all her doors, would maybe have survived or at least lasted longer and with the capability possibly of correcting the list by counter-flooding. Interesting food for thought, but of course as in all these cases, pure conjecture!
Being a marine engineer of some 50 years working life, having sailed on all types of ship for 18 years and done a lot of naval architecture in my time, I find it to be a good thing to revisit in retirement to keep my mind awake and think things like this through...
If you haven't read it, the Costa report is quite good, though the translation from Italian is a bit awry at times. If anyone wants a link or attachment I can supply one. It's probably too big for this portal though.
I would love the link for the report!
Thank you
 

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