Why were so few bodies found?

losolo

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Apr 13, 2012
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I just finished studying all the passenger lists and so many of the passengers are listed as "died in the sinking. Body not found". I was wondering why these bodies were not found. Could it be that they were still trapped inside the ship when it went down. Also I noticed that a number of women and children in 3rd class perished. Why would that be?
I would really appreciate it if someone could perhaps answer my questions
 

Doug Criner

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Dec 2, 2009
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A body floating in the water would be difficult to see from a search ship. With wind and currents, the bodies would have been spread over a larger area. And, as lifebelts became water logged, the body would float lower in the water, making them even less visible. Of course, yes, a few bodies may have been trapped inside the wreck.

There have been many discussions regarding the higher loss of third-class passengers. You could read the books, and still wouldn't have all the answers.
 

turricaned

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Apr 12, 2012
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Because it's supposed that a lot of passengers, especially those in steerage, returned to their cabins when it was clear that all the lifeboats had left. The bodies recovered were, by and large, those wearing their lifejackets and standing on the Boat Deck when she sank.

All the engineers, and most of the "black gang" (greasers, stokers etc). perished below decks and they make up a considerable number of the crew lost.

The controversy over the number of women and children in steerage who perished comes down to several factors. Firstly, a significant number did not speak English, so it is presumed that some never even understood the instructions they were given. Secondly, steerage passengers were held behind gates for some time after First and Second class passengers were allowed up to the Boat Deck. Some have taken this to mean that the steerage passengers were deliberately held back from an opportunity to save their own lives by the crew, but given the apparent confusion amongst the crew as to just how much danger the ship was in until the final minutes, this may not be a fair appraisal.

For years, the assumption that she went down intact meant that the popular image was of Titanic sinking by the head until she was almost vertical, then slipping beneath the waves. With what we know now regarding breakup on the surface, something that as far as we know was not predicted by Thomas Andrews (on which the evacuation plan was based), it's possible that the crew ran out if time long before they thought they would.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I would really appreciate it if someone could perhaps answer my questions <<

It's really not hard to understand when you know just how difficult it is to see something as small as a human body out at sea, even if it has a dayglo orange lifevest on. I've been involved in search and rescue operations at sea and also observed man overboard drills where the only way you knew where the rescue dummy (Called "Oscar" in Navy parlance) happened to be because the smoke float gave it's position away.

Wind wave and currents to say nothing of hungry sea life which reckons a body as "breakfast" doesn't help matters and every passing day makes it a lot worse.

The real wonder of it is not that so few bodies were recovered, but that they managed to recover as many as they did.
 
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Chung Rex

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Dec 25, 2006
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I speculated that the mode of breakup (whether bottom-up, up-bottom or else) affect the ease of passengers moving to open deck on time once the break-up (and the failure of electricity) happened.

In some configurations, the bow bent slightly upwards upon breaking, making a rapid-flooding scenario at the bow session near the breaking point at a very low angle (perhaps 3 to 5 degrees for bow when the stern stood at ~10 to 15 degres). The flooding of that sestion would be quite three dimensional- from the breaking point, from the bow and from the upper deck. People would have been caught by surprise because they never predicted where the ship broke while they were inside the ship, and the bow dipped down suddenly. Unless people could go stright upward to the boat deck, they would be likely caught in the rising water and found no quick way to escape. I suspect that they would drown quickly. Their corpses might have been largely released when the bow finally accelerated downward at a larger angle from the bow, but by then the corpse would have been deep underwater and might be more dense then water, making them unable to re-surface.

If some corpses did made it to the surface, the appearance should be distorted by immense pressure and therefore being discovered by crews on lifeboats.

Some youtube simulations might be flawed, but some else might be found useful for the scenario.
 

Kyle Naber

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Oct 5, 2016
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I doubt the breakup affected the number of casualties. Forensic analysis says the break occurred when the stern was well out of the water (not as high as in cinematic depictions) so I think if you were still on board at 2:10am, you had little to no chances of survival no matter what happened to the ship.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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>>I would really appreciate it if someone could perhaps answer my questions <<

It's really not hard to understand when you know just how difficult it is to see something as small as a human body out at sea, even if it has a dayglo orange lifevest on. I've been involved in search and rescue operations at sea and also observed man overboard drills where the only way you knew where the rescue dummy (Called "Oscar" in Navy parlance) happened to be because the smoke float gave it's position away.

Wind wave and currents to say nothing of hungry sea life which reckons a body as "breakfast" doesn't help matters and every passing day makes it a lot worse.

The real wonder of it is not that so few bodies were recovered, but that they managed to recover as many as they did.
I know this is an older post but since it got revived...You are definantley right about that. Its a huge ocean. I saw 2 different real man overboard incidents when I was on the carrier. One actually was a pilot ejecting but still a man in the water. Because we were steaming pretty fast for flight op's after a minute or so you couldnt see him anymore. But with his survival gear (smoke and dye) the chopper and rescue swimmer got him out really quick. The second one was quite a story. Because we had been out so long (ended up being a 102 days between port calls) the Captain decided to have a stand down day and a steel beach party. Shut down the galley and brought the grills up on the flight deck and had a BBQ. Well because the galley was shut down The MAA's had to bring the prisoners up from the brig to eat. One took off and jumped overboard. Even on a deck 60' above the water after a minute you couldn't see him. Some fast thinking sailors who saw it threw life jackets overboard with their strobes turned on and that helped the chopper get him. The Captain was pissed. Later I heard the bozo got a six six and a kick. As for the Titanic situation I too think it was pretty amazing they found as many as they did. I have no way of knowing for sure but I think probably a lot didn't have their preservers on correctly or with sea action they just worked there way out of them and went down. Predators also a definant possibility. I don't know the predator situation that far out and in the cold water but we know what happened to the poor guys on the USS Indianapolis. Pardon the long post.