The Archaeology of Titanic Reconstructing Falling Stars – Chapter 3
James Cameron, Chief Baker Charles Joughin, and the Mystery of the “Third Piece”
New Years Day, 2006: The documents that follow began to develop in the midst of a major forensic archaeological investigation in the mid-east – which became an ironic expedition intrusion, because the
field given birth by Sara Bisel of Herculaneum in 1980 actually entered into adolescence at the Titanic, in 1985 and 1986. During the decade-and-a-half that followed, from the Titanic to Egypt and Iraq, from the Titanic to Vesuvius and Ground Zero New York, forensic archaeology became adult.
On 6 December, 2005, a team of deep-ocean researchers announced that they had discovered two hithertofore unknown pieces of the Titanic’s keel lying on the floor of the Atlantic. The team leader’s initial interpretation suggested that the Titanic had gone under more rapidly than traditionally believed, and that previously unsuspected physical effects might have been involved. The news reports reaching me in the desert appeared to be garbled, quoting naval architect Roger Long as saying that the Titanic’s stern sank “faster” than most people thought, about five minutes after breaking away from the bow section.
According to the 1912 testimony of Chief Baker Charles Joughin, and according to later discussions memorialized by historian Walter Lord, the stern went under about three minutes after the break-away from the bow. Reports said that the “new” hull sections, located about a third of a mile from the stern of the wreck, contradicted previous researchers who believed the ship broke into only two major pieces – “which was how the the sinking was depicted in the 1997 film version of the catastrophe.”
An accurate interpretation of history – or at approaching as close as possible to truth – requires going to firsthand eyewitness participants. Reproduced here in enough pages to fill a a major scientific monograph is a first-hand discussion of the break-up of Titanic as revealed by the evidence of the debris field, illuminated by the accounts of survivors. The relevance of an exercise in
Titanic physics touches on fields ranging from ocean engineering, to human psychology, to a potentially life-saving understanding of collapse column-downblast-surge cloud formation during volcanic eruptions.
Not all agree, however. As an example of how opinions may vary, Titanic explorer Robert Ballard announced that he was unimpressed with the 2005 discoveries, or with any scientific discussions arising from them. Borrowing a quote from a T shirt once given to James Cameron (I believe, by restaurateur-historian Lewis Abernathy [who played the big guy with the beard in the film, Titanic]), Ballard commented: “They found a fragment. Big deal. Am I surprised? No. When you go down there, there’s stuff all over the place. It hit an iceberg and it sank. Get over it.”
I’ve often characterized the mysterious magnetic pull this single tragedy has on humanity as being next of kin to a Greek tragedy written by god with Shakespeare as his muse. It’s an unsinkable subject – and, with all due respect to Dr. Ballard, the last word will never be written or said, so long as our civilization exists.
New York, N.Y. January 2006
Date: Tue, 13 Dec 2005 13:27:38 -0800
To: Charles Pellegrino
From: James Cameron
Subject: Re: Titanic
I’ve pasted below a huge email I just sent to the new documentary guy. It represents all our current thinking jammed into about two dozen pages of discussion. Add to the mix now, if you can, this stuff is being served to the public soon, baked or half-baked.
Good to hear the new dig is going well. Tell [name withheld] I’m strapped trying to get this script done. Doubt I’ll be able to get
there (boo hoo). Do it [the desert archaeology] right — there’s only one shot at this.
From: James Cameron
Subject: Re: double bottom discussion
Cc: Ken Marschall [Titanic explorer, artist]
Bcc: Parks “Sparks” Stevenson [Titanic explorer,
pioneering forensic electrician]
I am happy to be involved in the discussion, though after a while you may be less than happy to have me involved. I tend to be pretty opinionated, and long winded about those opinions, when it comes to the Titanic wreck. However, the new finds are exciting, the more so because they seem to have brought together a lot of experts who really want to get to some final answers.
I’ve studied this wreck, up close and personal, inside and out, on 33 dives and more than a dozen ROV penetrations over 10 years. For me, the events of the sinking are very clear, especially after the two major sections of the ship leave the surface and through bottom impact and subsequent decay. The murkiest area is from the time the lights went out to the time the two major sections left the surface. The new bottom sections can shed a fair bit of light on these few mysterious minutes.
I have pasted below a series of emails which are my answers to some of the questions and dialogue which have arisen in the last few days. I have done a little editing for clarity, and to spare the feelings of some I really disagree with.
Make of it what you will. You are welcome to use any of my analysis as you see fit. As you will see I do not agree with some of Roger’s conclusions. However, a healthy debate is welcome, and hopefully what emerges will be a robust model, vetted by all who have expertise in this area, of the sinking of Titanic.
I don’t believe the ship sank exactly as we showed it in the film. Two things — first, even in the movie the special effects guys didn’t do exactly what I wanted — they made the break too clean and simple, with no large-area deformation — it was too much like a pencil breaking. I’ve always seen it as more a fresh baguette, bending before it tears in two. Also, since then, we have learned a lot more about the wreck, both inside and out, and I have worked with the historians to cull the testimony for clues to what has been found, and so there is a much clearer picture overall.
It is impossible to explain the many features of the bow section of the wreck without accepting that it moved very rapidly through the water for a relatively short time with its longitudinal axis very close to the velocity vector. The simplest, most elegant (and therefore by Occam’s Razor, the most likely) explanation for this is that the bow fell straight down for a short time. I believe this happened as it left the surface, and I believe it happened because the negative, almost fully flooded bow hinged down from the buoyant stern before breaking away. It either hinged down then broke, or started this process and broke in the middle of it and then went vertical because of the remaining buoyancy in unflooded air spaces aft (a righting-moment effect). In either case, the break-up did not take place with the ship’s back breaking in the opposite direction as Roger has concluded from looking only at the narrow scope
of evidence represented by the new bottom sections. I believe the tension and compression artifacts evident in these sections are explained in other ways, and the overwhelming body of evidence supporting the hinging model mitigates in favor of these alternate explanations.
I am of course intrigued by the possibility of greater clarity which may ensue from analysis of the new pieces. However I caution everyone to take advantage of twenty years of analysis of the wreck which has taken place already. I believe a robust and comprehensive model already exists for the sinking, breakup, descent and impact. The new finds do not contradict this model, although they do add to it. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Having said that, if I had to animate the sinking today, in the light of this current discussion’s re-examination of testimony and the evidence of the new pieces, as well as our June /July ’05 survey and analysis of the bow section, and some image-based forensic work done by myself, Parks [Stevenson] and Ken [Marschall] using my prior imaging and the NOAA ’04 stills — I would modify my previous animations in the following way:
1–I would show the stern cantilevered out of the water at amaximum angle of 30 degrees, but not less than 25 degrees, just prior to breakup.
2–I would show the ship listed to port at this point about 15 degrees.
3– I would show the two forward funnels toppling to port sequentially (1 then
2) when their bases are under water by about 20′, then sinking but staying attached to the ship by the remaining unbroken stays, probably dangling upside down along the side of the hull.
4– prior to breakup, as the stern is lifting to maximum height out of the water, I would show the bottom in compression, but not failing in compression, and the decks and shell plating above in tension,longitudinally.
5–at break-up I would show a failure in tension of the hull, starting at the point of maximum stress just below the aft expansion joint, and propagating step-wise down to the double bottom. The crack would start under the starboard expansion joint, followed a moment later by a crack on the port side, similar position.
6– at breakup I would incorporate Roger’s concept of the side shell plating separating from the double bottom in tension ( greenstick fracture effect).
7– there would be less fall-back of the stern during breakup (less dramatic angle change), but this effect should still be present. Possibly dropping from 30 degrees to 15 degrees.
8–as the breakup progresses, I would show any deformation of the double bottom due to compression being “pulled out” under subsequent tension as the flooded bow hangs from the stern just by the bottom sections, moments prior to separation.
9–I would show separation of bow taking place before the stern rotates again to a more steeply angled position (as opposed to the weight of the bow inducing this rotation)… the bottom sections pull away when the two major sections are at their greatest angle to each other.
10–subject to Parks and possibly Bill Saunders’ input, I would show the emergency lights glowing weakly for some moments after the break-up starts, then flickering and going out.
11–I would have the bottom rip across from starboard to port, and the weight of the bow imparting a strong roll moment to the stern, increasing its port list to 30 degrees.
12–I would show the bow (possibly) not quite hanging vertical-down at separation, but continuing to rotate an additional 10 or 15 degrees to a vertical position as it descends the first couple of hundred feet, due to rotational inertia from the breakup and also due to internal righting moment (trapped air aft). The mast should collapse aft and the funnels (dangling from stays) tear off in an aft direction, taking the davits, in the first 500′ of plunge.
13–I would show the stern overall lower in the water after separation, and changing angle more due to forward flooding than due to the negative bow pulling it down as we described it in the movie.
14–as the stern section floods and sinks lower, angling down forward, I would show the roll moment imparted by the detaching bow causing a cross-coupled effect which swings the stern around counterclockwise 45 degrees.
15-I would show the stern not as vertical in its final moments before sinking (possibly not above 45 degrees), only achieving full vertical just after the moment of submergence— say 100′ below the surface.
16– I would incorporate the idea, which Roger mentions in his email to me, of the bottom sections staying attached to the stern briefly as it descends, causing additional prying and the unseating/ejection of the boilers. I like the idea that it flapped under, hitting the underside of the hull.
17–the 2 bottom sections should stay attached to each other but should separate from the stern in the upper water column (depth around 2000′) when the stern completes its rotation from vertical to 30 degrees stern-down.
18–stern describes a long spiral as it descends, rotating 1.5 times on the horizontal plane, landing on the bottom almost under where it left the surface. Boilers and engine parts hit bottom before stern, directly under where the ship broke up.
19–bow descends vertically but changes attitude by 2000′ of depth, then descending with a 30 degree bow down attitude (this hasn’t changed since our older scenarios). It planes forward as it descends, on a 1:6 glide ratio — 1 forward to 6 down.
20–two bottom sections separate from each other deep in the water column, possibly only 1000′ above the bottom, after plaining away. Possibly they spiral as they fall, and flap relative to each other, like a falling book.
You will see a lot of discussion of the above ideas in the following endless exchanges, of interest really only to major rivet-counting geeks like me, Parks [Stevenson], Ken [Marschall] and Charlie Pellegrino. Which is why I’ve synopsized it above. Follow my easy 20-step plan and the spirit of Thomas Andrews will smile upon your efforts.
I stand poised for further discussion. You may share any of my commentary below as you see fit.
I am not currently working on any Titanic related documentary projects, so my comments are just for the benefit of the community. I share all my Titanic analysis, as I have for years, with Parks Stevenson, Ken Marschall, and Charlie Pellegrino (“Sam Katz” in my cc’s).
later, Jim out
———————— THE FOLLOWING IS A 21 PAGE STRING OF EMAILS AND REPLIES BETWEEN ME (Charles P.), PARKS, KEN, CHARLIE AND ROGER LONG, FOR YOUR LIGHT READING PLEASURE.
To: Ken Marschall From: Jim Cameron Subject: Re: Titanic’s Breakup Cc: C. Pellegrino Bcc: “Sparks” Stevenson Attachments:
This will be debated until the sun goes out.
The two new pieces will indeed shed light on the final moments at the surface. I will look at the photos and your renderings carefully to see what speaks to me.
At first glance I see nothing which shouts out inconsistency with how I’ve always seen the break-up.
Unfortunately there’s not much of a story for a new documentary unless they come up with some brand new discovery, so people will bend the facts to fit the new theory.
I think this new concept of the bow somehow remaining buoyant enough to create an upward bending moment is absurd. It flies in the face of all physics and mechanics. There is no way the bow can create uplift when it is 20,000 to 30,000 tons negative.
I assume the author of this concept is trying to explain some observed evidence of failure in tension of the double bottom as well as some prying and folding of the shell plating which would indicate tearing away in a counter-intuitive upward direction. However, these indicators are completely consistent with the way we have shown the hull failing (more on that below).
The one idea which I do like is that as the hull began to split, it allowed some down-filling of the machinery spaces at those frames, well aft of where the forward down-filling was taking place. I believe it’s possible the hull might have opened to let some water in moments before failing entirely. And that’s an intriguing thought. But it would have been minutes, possibly only seconds at most. And it would have had zero impact on the overall pattern of the breakup.
In any failure, the stresses build until the yield strength of the material is exceeded, and a crack begins. Once that crack starts, the crack will “propagate” like lightning, moving at rates of hundreds of feet per second, until the stresses are reduced.
So it is more logical to assume that the bending loads on the hull, as the stern was lifted, increased until the first cracks in the shell plating appeared, at which point it was a matter of seconds before those cracks separated the plates with the highest stresses (the ones highest on the hull, nearest the expansion joint) either from each other at rivet joins, or by cracking them in two… then the next plates farther down would bear all the weight, and they would crack, and so on… this reaction propagating through the shell plating in seconds, leaving the aft hull unsupported.
The unsupported stern third of the ship would then fall, due to gravity, toward the surface of the ocean. Simultaneously the bow two-thirds of the ship, which had also been supported by an equal force on the forward side of the fulcrum created by the center of buoyancy, would also begin to fall. It would fall more slowly than the stern, due to hydrodynamic drag, but it would still fall.
I believe it fell to 90 degrees, probably even past 90, because of momentum and the way that its mass was supported by the double bottom.
It is impossible for me to imagine any other configuration than this, assuming that the ship broke at the surface. I have always believed, and logic utterly dictates, that the hull broke during or just before it reached the moment of maximum stress. I have always utterly rejected the idea [put forth by Haas and Eaton, 1996] that the Titanic arbitrarily chose to fall apart during descent after surviving having its stern jacked up out of the water, with 20,000 tons of steel cantilevered at a high angle. This is just not possible. The ship broke at the surface, as observed by many witnesses, because that is where the forces were the greatest.
We must conclude that the ship broke at the surface — it is the only logical conclusion based on materials science and stress analysis, to say nothing of many witnesses who actually saw it happen and described it in detail, accurately, even down to the exact point of break-up between 3rd and 4th funnels– and many more who heard it, but may have misinterpreted what they heard as the shifting of machinery inside the hull.
With the starting assumption that the ship broke at the surface, then it must have behaved as I describe above, with the bow angling down to vertical, or even past vertical, and the stern falling back close to level. Many observed the stern “right itself” and there are a number of reports of a powerful wave which propagated all the way out to the lifeboats 500 or more yards away, threatening to swamp some of the overfilled ones– this is consistent with the energy of the stern falling suddenly into the sea dissipating as wave energy.
Bear in mind the moment of breakup is a complex, dynamic situation, with the ship flooding rapidly as it breaks, its two dis-articulated sections changing attitude separately, and flooding rapidly, with the center of buoyancy shifting rapidly aft.
So the question is: did the buoyant stern remain attached to the bow long enough for the bow to reach vertical, and if so, for how much longer did it remain attached?
Here’s what careful observation of the bow section, over my 33 dives, reveals:
–The officer’s quarters longitudinal outer walls are “flayed” outward, progressively, from forward near the bridge to aft. This is consistent with a very powerful flow of water moving over the ship from fore to aft, almost parallel to the longitudinal axis. This flow entered at the shattered bridge and pushed the walls outward, laying them across the deck. The effect progressed aft as the top of the wall separated from the roof of the deck house. The position of the walls when the wreck was found is also consistent with that flow of water stopping at some point, because although the splitting and “flensing” of the walls is highly symmetrical, it stops after ten meters or so aft of the bridge, when there is no structure there which particularly would have stopped it. So it is more logical to infer that it was a progressive process which was stopped by other factors– stopping of the destructive flow. And this is very consistent with the ship plunging vertically, and then slowly “falling through” as pilots say, into a more horizontal attitude. We know the ship hit bottom in a more horizontal attitude — all of the impact and downblast effects, which are minutely documented, support this. I can calculate the impact attitude, from observations of the stem’s interaction with sediments etc. as around 30 degrees bow down. It may have been ten degrees more or less, but it was certainly not vertical. It is therefore inescapable that the ship went from a vertical initial plunge to a subsequent attitude closer to horizontal. The force to do this was applied by the V shaped flair of the bow, as you look at its vertical section in the forward frames. This would have acted like diving planes, to bring the bow up as it plunged vertically through the water. Once the attitude changed, the flow of water over the superstructure from fore to aft would have stopped completely, to be replaced by large turbulent vortices of water boiling upward around the edges of the boat deck, in the wake of the hull, as it descended.
–the foremast is collapsed aft with a force sufficient to snap shackles and stays which are rated to many tons of loading. The force required to do this can only have come from hydrodynamic loading of the leading edge of the mast. Since the mast is a narrow, cylindrical object without a great deal of sail area, the current required to do this must have been a) quite fast and b) orthogonal to the long axis of the mast, in an aft direction. This is completely consistent with an initial vertical plunge.
— The wheel house is completely gone, and the heavier debris from the wheel-house (telegraphs, ship’s wheel) were found very near what we assume to be the surface-zero epicenter of the break-up — meaning they did not get slowly and randomly picked off the ship throughout its descent, but were cleaned off in one event, close to the surface. This is very consistent with the ship experiencing an initial very high velocity flow along its longitudinal axis, fore to aft, which again agrees with the model of vertical initial descent.
–All davits except the two forward-most davits are ripped off the ship. Davit 2 is bent strongly aft. Davit 8 is collapsed in an aft direction. This strongly indicates that powerful currents sweeping fore to aft ripped the davits in an aft direction. 7 davits are clustered together in a tangle in the debris field, probably created by an entanglement of falls which have since rotted away
— these are most likely the 7 stbd davits (minus the forward Boat 1 davit– vs. the port side where four complete davits remain — one upright, one lying down aft at Boat 8, two more lying tangled near the bridge) — and this agrees well since there seem to be 6 complete davits in the cluster, and one separated davit arm in the pile (the separated arm being from the Boat 7 davit base, still on the wreck). This cluster is a little north of the surface-zero epicenter of debris — suggesting that it traveled a short way with the descending wreck as it planed north, probably due to entanglement, and then fell free. This is again, overall, consistent with the idea that the davits were ripped off the ship by strong hydrodynamic forces near the surface — which again supports the surface break-up/vertical plunge model.
Only the vertical plunge model can account for all the effects of powerful currents sweeping aft almost parallel to the longitudinal axis of the ship.
I could go on and on. Anyone who has studied the wreck in detail cannot come to any other conclusion than the model of surface break-up, vertical plunge of the bow, and the vertical or near-vertical plunge of the stern. The way in which the poop deck is bent double over itself so obviously supports a vertical plunge of the stern, that it is incontrovertible. This could only have happened near the surface, because eventually the stern hit bottom rudder first — we know this by the way the wing props are jammed upward by the force of impact by almost 15 feet, while the double bottom under the engines is sitting on or above the sediment, having swung down moments later with much less force. If the stern arrived after a 2.5 mile fall in that attitude, we can assume it fell most of the way in that attitude (once the air inside it was compressed, which would have happened in the first 1000 feet, the hull’s descent angle was determined by its shape, hydrodynamic drag, and gravity — none of which were changing for the last 11,000 feet of descent.) So the poop deck got bent backward as it left the surface, and it did so because the descent was vertical, caused by the heavy engines pulling the still-buoyant stern down in a vertical attitude — descending straight down as it flooded.
So you’ve got a bow which departed the surface vertically downward. You’ve got a stern which went from 30-40 degrees tilted, to almost horizontal and then to almost vertical for its plunge from the surface.
Any understanding of the new hull pieces must fit within these parameters. And nothing I’m seeing is inconsistent with this.
What’s fascinating is the possibility that we can now better understand exactly how the break-up happened. I need to study your drawings carefully.
It was impossible, by logical deduction, for both sides off the hull to give way simultaneously, down to the microsecond. So one side gave first, and the other followed almost immediately. But this would have given a slight twist, or turning moment, to the collapsing stern. Logically the starboard side, being somewhat higher due to the port list, should have given way first, all things being equal (it would have had the least support from the water below) — but with variations in manufacture, quality control of riveting etc., I think either side could have failed.
In any case, there would have been a twist imparted as the stern fell back. Joughin does describe it rolling quite severely (according to Charlie P: See Walter Lord/C. Pellegrino Files; see also Joughin Testimony, 1912 Inquiries into the Loss of the Titanic).
Equally obvious, the bottom must have torn away from one side to the other — when it bent to nearly 90 degrees and then experienced the strong tensile force of the entire forward 2/3 of the ship hanging from it, it must have failed on one side before the other — the cracks would have shot across transversely, but they had to start somewhere. So this in turn could have added an even greater turning moment to the stern section, which would manifest as roll.
It is also possible [though, according to Pellegrino, not likely], that the double-hulled bottom – the actual keel – held together through the fall of the stern, and through the subsequent pulling of the bow as it angled down, so that the weight of the bow brought the stern upright. The bottom may have failed anytime between the fall of the stern and the end of the subsequent rise of the stern.
Eyewitness testimony of the stern “standing motionless” for what seemed like several minutes cannot be accounted for by a normal sinking process. I have studied lots of sinking ship footage. They almost always wind up vertical as they leave the surface, with either the prow or the stern disappearing out of sight. What’s different about all of these ships ( allied transports, warships, and some contemporary cargo and passenger ships) from Titanic is that they all sank in one piece — and what you always see is an accelerating rate. The rate of sinking accelerates toward the end, AND the attitude change accelerates… they go vertical only seconds before disappearing, some are even reaching vertical just as they are going under — they never hang vertical and linger for a minute or two with a hundred or so feet of their length exposed. That is because the overall buoyancy is diminishing progressively as the ship floods, and as the flooded section swings downward and is subjected to greater pressure, which compresses any trapped air at a rapid rate. By the end it’s going pretty fast.
To understand the observed occurrence of Titanic standing “like a tower” we need to assume that the buoyancy somehow became close to neutral for a moment, after having gone progressively negative for hours. This can only be accounted for by the shedding of mass — such as the loss of the bow section. This is a unique shipwreck — possibly unique in history — it has its own rules. Losing the bow at exactly this moment accounts for the sudden “equipoise” described by witnesses.
What could be debated is that the bow held on long enough to pull the stern upright. It may have detached right away, as the bow swung down, as the bending forces weakened the bottom plates, and separated the upper bottom plating in tension while compressing the lower plates (a levering effect). In which case the stern then became the equivalent of a separate 300′ ship, sinking due to massive flooding forward. This still gets you a vertical stern, but it would have to follow the Liberty ship model, of the stern reaching vertical just as it disappears from sight — and this is not precisely what was described.
Another factor caused by the bottom plates separating sequentially from side to side is that, because of the rapidly increasing angle between bow and stern on the long axis of the ship, this would have imparted a strong rolling moment to the stern. This was observed (See Jack Thayer account, and Lord-Pellegrino analysis) by people who said the ship turned away from them, hiding the people clinging to the decks from view before the final plunge. The roll would have been induced as the bow tore away from one side to the other, and would have produced a “coupled effect” as the stern tilted more vertical in the water, inducing both a toppling effect as well as continued roll, rotation around the longitudinal axis, which is now becoming more vertical. Thus the ship’s decks “turned their face away” as Thayer said. This could also be accounted for by Thayer’s movement relative to the stern in swirling surface currents, so perhaps it is not wise to read too much into this observation, although Thayer was very precise in his details, as only a young mind can be.
Given all of these possibilities, in all of their possible combinations, I am not surprised to see that some of the bottom plating is ripped upward at the break, while across the beam on the same side of the same bottom section, some is ripped downward — suggesting a strong twisting action at the moment of separation.
There may actually have been a moment where the bottom of Titanic literally had three discrete bends, with straight sections in between. This could be accounted for if the negative bow, pulling down in extreme tension at a sharp angle to the buoyant stern, actually peeled the bottom off the ship in a series of breaks as its weight hung under the stern. Pop, pop, pop.
There is probably some interaction with the bulkheads which comes into play here. The bulkheads seem to run down the center of the two transverse sections, which presumably means the bulkheads gave them strength and forced the bending of the bottom and its subsequent failure to happen midway between the bulkheads (which is where it seems to be). This is logical.
This new find needs more study.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
To: James Cameron From: Charles Pellegrino Subject: RE Titanic’s Break-up
Dear Jim: The best on-film analogy for how the Titanic buckled and broke (telescoping inward, double-bottom hull and all) is the Fairfield footage – from the Trinity Church photographer – right below, in the shadow of the north-east corner of the South Tower (near the corner of Church and Vessey: one of those rare duck’s-eye’views of a shotgun blast).
During those first three seconds leading up to the formation of a Vesuvius-ike collapse column, the two sections of the skyscraper behaved, at the sever, much as you have described for the Titanic at the sever (and somewhat as we see with the twisting and bending of Titanic’s bow-end, at impact with the bed of the sea). I’m sure the twenty-story sections of frame that traveled westward across West Street (as caught by video cameras a quarter kilometer northwest of the first collapse column) – will be framed-up by some historian of the future as a “missing third piece.”
Interestingly, much as you have observed and proposed for the Titanic, The South Tower’s upper section reached its terminal velocity of about 120 mph in one body-length (of approximately thirty stories). The North Tower upper section reached the same terminal velocity in approximately two body lengths (some twenty stories).
Similarly (referring back to the Fairfield footage), we see, along the east face of the South Tower, not just a single clean break but instead a buckling leading momentarily to at least three horizontal (perpendicular to compression) lines of breakage – preceding fluid-like disintegration – following extreme twisting of steel box-beams (and steel corner support systems) along a height of three stories. The similarity to the supporting structure of Titanic’s outer hull is emphasized, in this case, by the fact that the chief architect of the Twin Towers was afraid of heights, and in an attempt to make the extreme views more comfortable for others like him, he wanted the windows to be braced by supporting structures at intervals no wider than a man’s shoulders. A result of this was that the Towers were designed like the supporting structures of bamboo – with a net of interconnected vertical support on the outside. While this system of support created some problems with the central core during the fires of September (in accordance with a common FDNY phrase, “Don’t trust the truss”), the bamboo skeleton approach ultimately allowed the Towers to stand longer, against impossible punishment – which is somewhat reminiscent of how the Titanic stayed afloat nearly an hour longer than Thomas Andrews had predicted (they built her right – it was the abuses of people, that sank a good design).
By the way: The survival of Fairfield and his footage owes much to the fact that, though located in what might be called the hypocenter, he happened to be standing behind the same Building 5 airbag that saved St. Paul’s Chapel (more as a matter of shadow-shielding, 1/10 kilometer behind Mr. Fairfield, than a matter of actual shock-cocooning). We have no surviving footage southward down Washington Street and West Street – where the surge cloud emerging from the South Tower collapse column and downblast started out at 120mph and maintained velocities above 80mph for several blocks – giving dust mixed with air a tsunami-like force, in a league right alongside the collapse column that stamped Titanic’s stern flat. Once the surge cloud touched West Street and Washington Street at tsunami velocities, no camera equipment (and few people) came out of those areas. The power of an air-and-dust composite, like the power of moving water, is in its mass.
See you later, – – Charlie P.
To: Parks Stevenson From: James Cameron Subject: RE Titanic’s breakup Cc: Ken Marschall, Charles Pellegrino
A slightly better article was run in the Boston Globe – – Parks
Much adieu about nothing. This article is complete [bull feathers]. I’ve never believed Titanic’s stern stayed afloat for 20 minutes after it broke up. That’s ridiculous. Nobody ever said that. [Pellegrino: “This contradicts the accounts of every survivor who watched the stern go down – every one of them.]
There are so many crackpots in this arena.
Yes, the ship sank rapidly after its hull failed at the surface. Yes the stern sank within 5 minutes. What’s new about that? I never said the ship broke into two pieces — we’ve always known that a good 150 feet of the ship has been missing, broken into pieces, with only one 30-40 foot bottom section found. Now [two of] the missing pieces have been found. We knew they were down there somewhere — none of this changes anything that was previously known.
If you look carefully at our CG sinking animation, done in ’95, you’ll see two large pieces of the bottom tearing away like the peel of an orange as the bow separates from the stern. I was fully aware when we designed that animation that a substantial section of the bottom tore away, probably in several pieces. [AGAIN] – NONE OF THIS IS NEW!
What is new and interesting is why the two pieces were found near each other 500m from the epicenter of the breakup.
They must have stayed loosely attached for a while as they planed far away, then separated close to the bottom. This indicates that a strip of Titanic’s bottom 80′ long was pulled off together, with some articulation but some substantial attachment between the two sections. This is very consistent with the ship breaking up at the surface, and the very negative bow pulling down from the buoyant stern as it fell back toward the surface — yanking a strip off the bottom as the two separated. This would explain the bulkheads and side shell plating separating from the bottom in tension… it’s basically a greenstick fracture, with the two halves of the breaking bone separating from a thin strip of bending bone.
This would strongly indicate that the bow separated just before or just as the stern was starting to sink, after the stern fell into a more horizontal position — in other words at the point when the tension force of the bow pulling down was most orthogonal to the stern’s longitudinal axis — so that the bottom was torn away, downward, from the stern. This is consistent with their animation model which shows the side shell plating and bulkheads pulling away from the bottom, but is accounted for in a completely different way than their bogus “floating bow” configuration. Turn their entire animation on its side and bend it 90 degrees, and you’ve got the truth.
To: Parks “Sparks” Stevenson From: James Cameron Subject: Re: Titanic’s breakup Cc: Ken Marschall, Charles Pellegrino Bcc: Attachments:
[COPY – From Parks Stevenson]: Jim,
We haven’t even settled on a theory yet, that’s why this media attention was particularly galling. [The team] inviting a reporter to our working-level discussion (and not warning us of his presence) was a horribly bad idea. REPLY: Sparks, The biggest revelation that I am taking from this new find (aside from the fact that over 60 feet of keel and double-bottom structure was suddenly wrenched from the hull girder so completely that it separated the boilers from their foundations) is that the “plunge” or “wave” reported by [survivor Charles] Lightoller, [Colonel Archibald] Gracie and others must mark in time the start of the breakup. The ship gave every indication of steady progressive flooding up to that point, then in an instant moved so suddenly and [so] violently that everyone from the collapsibles to the Grand staircase [was] washed off the deck.
[As for the strange new ideas reported in the press, they – again – contradict most of the physical evidence. Especially contradictory is the idea that the ship, as it shifted into the final plunge, began lurching forward as if starting up again under its own power. – C. Pellegrino]
I think that is not a valid conclusion. Unlike you I have stood on a very high fidelity simulation of Titanic’s deck as it went under water. The shallow angle of incidence of the deck relative to the surface of the water causes the water to rush up the deck very rapidly with only a couple of feet of vertical change, once that deck begins to submerge. The water ships over the outboard side of the boat deck and creates a diagonal wave as it moves aft and inboard. We were not able to sink the set as rapidly as I believe Titanic was really sinking, but the effect was very dramatic. We sank our set at about 6-8″ per second — Titanic may have been going closer to 1′ per second. At this rate, you can appreciate that the water is moving aft on the shallow-angled deck at 6 or 7 feet per second (depending on the exact angle of the ship at that point) … in other words it would have reached the first class entrance in about 10 seconds after it shipped over the forward rail and boiled up out of the prom deck stairs.
To people who had not experienced a drop of water throughout the slow and steady sinking process to suddenly see and hear and feel (cold slap against the legs– literally a dose of cold water) this flood coming rapidly toward them, it would have felt like they were being hit by a wave at the beach, even though by comparison to that it was relatively small (only a foot or so).
This idea that the ship lurched forward is a sensory illusion caused by the water moving across the deck, in a fore to aft direction. Since the water is the only reference point for movement, it feels while you’re standing on deck that the ship is moving forward. We saw several similar “reference frame” illusions while making the movie, including an incredibly compelling illusion that the dining room was flat and the water angled at 10 degrees — which freaked us all out when we looked down to the end of the room. The eye and brain adapt to whatever reference frame makes the most sense in the moment. We learned from experience that after a few minutes, the straight lines of the architecture of the ship become a horizontal reference frame, even if the ship is tilted 6 degrees — so that everything is perceived relative to that frame. People on deck were probably mostly unaware of the bow down angle. Some were aware of the port list because it was effecting the launch of the boats.
Given this reference frame, it may have been surprising to see the water rushing toward them “like a wave” and may have induced a compelling illusion that the ship was moving forward.
It is impossible [as the new “theory” would have it] for the breakup to have begun at this point for one simple reason — if the structural integrity of the hull had been compromised, the mass of the sinking forward portion of the ship would not have continued to raise the stern out of the water. The two sections would merely have flexed relative to each other, and the stern would not have risen. So the structure of the ship must have been intact, except for flexion due to increasing strain, but the cracks had not yet begun to propagate downward from at or near the aft expansion joint. Many witnesses saw the stern high in the night sky — possibly as high as 45 degrees as Ken paints it, but certainly at least 30. This has never been disputed. And for that to happen the hull integrity must have persisted far beyond the Gracie’s so-called lurch.
As far as the quote is concerned…lesson learned, at my expense. I didn’t even know that we were in an interview. Welcome to the world of media.
SPARKS Reply: Jim, it’s ironic, too, because I was constantly referring to your set as the only attempt at re-creating that portion of the sinking (flooding of Boat Deck) on a 1:1 scale.
JIM C. REPLY: Sparks, our sinking animation from the movie is relatively accurate, even now. It is missing one crucial ingredient, which is that Titanic overall — if you could see it from a distance, and with the water column stripped away — would have been flexing like a bow from end to end prior to the hull failing.
We show this in the “Titanic Live” animation (summer 2005), although we don’t draw attention to it.
If you look carefully at the ’97 animation, you will see a large piece of bottom remaining attached between the bow section and stern for a few frames of film as the two major sections separate. (It’s also in Pellegrino’s original drawings, dating back as far as 1986).
To: “Roger Long” From: James Cameron Subject: now you’ve pulled my Chatty Cathy string Cc: Tadesigns-aol.com Bcc: Parks Stevenson Atta: Ken Marschall, Charles Pellegrino
Thanks for the email. It’s a pleasure to be able to discuss these things with a qualified engineer. So much of so-called Titanic science has been conducted by vociferous lay-men without much engineering background — yet the public treats them as vaunted experts.
I don’t profess to be a marine engineer, but I am very familiar with basic engineering principles and have made 33 dives to the wreck. I am extremely familiar with the minute physical details of the bow section, both exterior and interior, and believe that I have seen and imaged more of that specific part of the wreck than anyone. I am much less familiar with the stern section, having made only two dives there, and my direct knowledge of the debris field is very limited, although I have studied all the published data in detail. I am also not a historian, but I have over the past ten years worked with the best historians of Titanic, and continue to do so.
I approach my analysis of the wreck (as I did with Bismarck) by weighing the testimony of the steel against the testimony of survivors, and looking for explanations which can account for both. The steel doesn’t lie or misremember. So it has the final say. However, with 705 survivors, Titanic’s story can be filled in using their testimony cross-referenced with the wreck. There is so much the steel can’t tell, us about how it got exactly where it is.
Also, as a story teller, I think a lot about the subjective experience of the witnesses. I also think about what conscious or unconscious agendas they might have, which might influence their testimony. Lightoller must be taken with many grains of salt, since he was a company man… etc.
I think that all testimony regarding the final minutes of the ship’s life must not be given too much individual weight. About one third of those interviewed believed they saw the ship break up. Two thirds did not see it, or had no recollection. Several things must be remembered here:
1) the only light available at the moment was starlight. While the ship’s lights had provided plenty of illumination for the scene right up to the break-up, they were extinguished minutes, possibly only seconds before the massive structural failure. Individuals distribute widely along a curve of low-light response. My wife can read comfortably at a level of illumination in which I can barely see her, let alone what she’s reading. And yet I’ve always believed my night vision was about normal. Depending on witnesses’ individual thresholds of low-light sensitivity, they may have seen absolutely nothing until their eyes adapted minutes later, by which time the ship was gone. So while there are only a minority (although a significant minority) of people who remember the ship breaking up, there is NOT a majority who specifically remember it NOT breaking up. The absence of a negative does not equal a positive.
2) History is written by the victors. In this case, Lightoller as the senior surviving officer, and the whitewash British board of inquiry, recorded that the ship did not break up, and this became “history” until Ballard found the wreck in two pieces. But this should not have been a surprise… there was lots of testimony by witnesses saying they saw the ship break at the surface.
3) As you quite correctly point out, angles are usually, if not always misreported. I learned this first hand while making the movie, Titanic. We recreated the entire poop deck in 1:1 scale on a tilting platform which allowed us to go from 0 to 90 degrees of tilt, using large hydraulic rams. Most people, myself included, believed the deck was tilted to 45 degrees when in fact it was at 25. Consistently, 25 degrees was reported to be 45. In fact, beyond 25 degrees of tilt it was impossible to move around on the deck without having two solid hand-holds and a lot of upper body strength… and to be without a solid grip was to be sliding down the deck out of control. For shots above 25 degrees all personnel on the set were secured with full safety harnesses.
HOWEVER — I also observed a reverse corollary to this. When we were working on other sets, such as the full scale set of the ship, and the full scale set of D-Deck reception/dining saloon, both of which were built at a 6 degree tilt — we noticed that after a very few minutes the rectilinear shapes and lines of the architecture were cues which told our brains that the set was level, over-riding cues from the neurovestibular system. This is because the brain knows that architecture is “always” level. This was so powerful that when we looked at the water’s surface at the down-hill end of the dining room when we were flooding it, it appeared to all of us as if the water was sloped, like the base of a hill. It was a very strong and disturbing illusion, and one I’ve never encountered before or since.
So if there is time to acclimate, it may have seemed to people on board the ship that the list or pitch angles were actually significantly LESS than what they really were at any given point, in the absence of a horizontal reference (like a horizon line on a starless night).
So an understanding of the effect of reference frame on the subjective response of witnesses is critical to gleaning meaningful conclusions from their testimony.
Based on my tilting poop deck set experience, I believe the final angle of the uplifted stern was probably closer to 30 degrees than 45. Given that some observers were astern of the ship, this angle may have appeared much steeper, due to foreshortening. If one were relatively close to the ship, in the dark, and almost directly astern along the longitudinal axis, the stern section may have appeared quite tall and almost perfectly vertical.
It seems likely to me now that the stern was never as vertical nor as high out of the water in its final minutes post-break-up as we depicted it in the film. It likely collapsed back to some angle less than its peak cantilevered angle when the structural failure happened, not necessarily level but some value in between, then as it flooded and sank, it again took on a steep angle but much, much lower in the water. As I said in my lengthy reply to Ken Marschall, if the bow was still attached, the stern might have been pulled to a steeper angle. If it were not, then the stern would have obeyed the pattern of most sinking ships and approached a vertical angle only as it actually fully submerged, due to the increasing vertical righting moment.
Witnesses such as Thayer describe people sliding and tumbling down the aft decks, so it is likely the angle of the stern exceeded 25 degrees prior to break-up. Thayer is describing the scene with the lights still on, which clearly precedes the break-up, so I think it is safe to say that the ship reached 25 degrees as a minimum prior to structural failure. What happened after that, when the lights went out and things got loud, is subject to much debate and conjecture, due to sketchy and incongruent reporting.
To really understand what’s going on here, I recommend using the testimony of the steel itself, but a wider view of it, not just the stern and bottom sections. There are many features of the bow section which can only be explained by very high hydrodynamic loading along a vector parallel to the longitudinal axis of the ship. I have a long list of these, and they are well documented, and I believe we have successfully distinguished them from the effects of bottom impact.
These effects can only be explained by the bow section traveling through the water like a torpedo, with its velocity vector normal to its long axis, for some (presumably short) distance, and this is I think best explained by it detaching and dropping straight down from the buoyant stern. The forward part of the bow was fully flooded. There may have been some trapped air forward, but these airspaces would be well compressed (under Boyles Law), to some small fraction of their volume before the ship reached the angle responsible for massive structural failure. So the bow was highly negative prior to breakup. When the structural failure took place, the bow would have been unsupported and would have tended to descend in an arc around a hinge point (or region) at the area of failure. How many degrees of descent would be determined by the amount of time it stayed attached. It would have required only seconds to reach vertical, and the bending of the bottom would have greatly increased its likelihood of total failure during that time.
When the bow separated, even if it were not completely vertical at that point, it probably went vertical within seconds as a result of its own internal righting moment. Aft (on the bow section), near the break, there would still be a lot of trapped air — forward, where the flooding had been going on for hours and where the angle of the ship had put those spaces deeper in the water, the airspaces were gone or highly compressed. Buoyancy aft would tend to bring the bow into a vertical position as it descended. By 1000′ of depth, any buoyancy effects would be negligible and the bow would have reached terminal velocity. By this point the planing effects of the hull shape forward would already be “lifting the nose” and the bow section would be swallowing out its dive.
Occam’s razor says the simplest explanation is the most likely. The bow is lying almost due north of the center of the debris field and pointing almost due north. The simplest explanation is that it planed there in more or less a straight line. The very high degree of symmetry in the bow section wreck would tend to support this, and it appears to have landed with very little list and some significant bow down trim, but certainly far less than vertical. So it must have changed attitude during descent, and it is most likely this happened within the first couple of thousand feet of fall. The impact effects are complex and amazing, but not really that germane to the current discussion — except that they must be understood in order to be eliminated, so that what is left are the effects of the break-up and the initial plunge. By understanding the initial plunge of the bow section, it sheds much light on the break-up.
I’m happy to continue this discussion.
There are a couple of additional comments interlineated below.
Welcome to our [analysis] group. It’s great to have you part of this. Ken asked that I send this directly to you. I’ll also be forwarding my more formal analysis. Roger Long Marine Architecture, Inc. —– Original Message —– From: Roger Long To: History Channel Team, Deep Sea Detectives Program Series Sent: Saturday, December 10, 2005 7:40 AM Subject: Reply to Jim
(I’m going to avoid the last name from here on since email does occasionally turn up in odd places.) Ken, please forward. Jim in black. Myself in red, [where possible: Some of the early entries, here, occur as random snippets]:
DISCUSSION AS FOLLOWS:
He’s wrong on this as well.
Possibly. It’s Bill Lang, however. He was on Ballard’s original mapping expeditions and made his presentation in front of a chart he prepared showing every ARGO, ALVIN, and MIR track ever made over the site. He can call up any image from any point. I doubt anyone knows the debris field better from a mapping standpoint.
————Bill’s a smart guy. I rely on the WHOI maps for my understanding of the debris field. However, it is not logical to me that the breakup happened above two pieces with such large area to mass, and not above the clustered heavy objects.
I believe this indicates strongly, as Ken [Marschall] has said, that the two pieces descended most of the way to the bottom attached to each other, and through flapping and flexing motions, eventually separated before impact.
I’m convinced of this as well. I think the connection was primarily at the corner which accounts for the significant twisting and other deformation that is out of character with the rest.
———— I thought I saw this in Ken’s drawing, but didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Connected together, these pieces could have flapped and spiraled all over the place, quite far from their origin point at/near the surface.
The boilers fell out at the surface:
I see the two double bottom sections structurally broken but still attached to the stern after bow and stern separation. The Britannic has shown that the boiler foundation connections were fairly robust.
The connection of the double bottom sections at this point was primarily through engine bed plates and the engines themselves with some remaining tank top tabs.
As the stern began to pick up speed, the double bottom sections were bent back by the flow.
This is very logical, if they remained attached to the stern rather than bow. The poop deck is bent double by the initial vertical plunge of the stern, so I can imagine a similar effect with the double bottom sections, if attached. Then the hydrodynamic loads would have been very strong on the boilers, and orthoganol to the mounts — this coupled with some shocks from the bottom flapping and banging against the hull would have ripped them loose.
This would have been instrumental in turning the stern around.
—————- the stern definitely turned 180. The question is whether it turned 540.
The boilers were dislodged during this event which would have been in the upper part of the water column.
—————seems very likely. I like your analysis on this.
I understand that these boilers were unused at the time. If dry, they would have been fairly light.
————I’m not sure I understand this. Are you saying they’re light because no coal is inside?
Being absolutely uniform in their weight, shape, and piping connections, they could have drifted a fair distance and still remained closely clustered.
—————-I agree they would behave similarly, because of uniform shape and weight, and that this accounts for their clustering, rather than that they were ejected lower in the water column.
I always assumed boilers were fairly heavy relative to surface area/drag coefficient, and so would have had less lateral dispersion than other debris, except for very dense castings like engines, generators, pumps etc.
I actually think it is coincidence the stern section wound up so close, and at one point in the water column during descent it was actually farther away.
Excellent point and one I’m embarrassed to say we did not consider. We plotted the water surface and scale paper cut out of the ship on the ceiling to make a 3D model (on its side) above Bill’s debris field plot. It really puts things in perspective. The cone is much tighter than you would think when you look at the plot alone. You know the bar game where you drop identical quarters into a big jar of water trying to land one on a small platform? The scatter cone in this case is about the same angle with we have current and objects of radically different size and weight. I began to think it was amazing that stuff ended up as close as it did.
————-I don’t know if this is relevant but Titanic lies on the boundary between the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream, and due to this frontal zone, the mid-water currents tend to be confused. Typically you will have a current in the upper water column, down to about 4000′ going one direction, then a second deeper current going just as fast in the opposite direction or orthogonal, then a third much milder current in the bottom 1000′, which typically is SE to NW.
This concept is supported by the way the stern section’s back is broken,..
The displacement of the props requires the fracture of the massive spectacle boss casting. Hard to imagine when you look at construction photos of it. Amazing forces.
————I probably wasn’t clear in my description, since I assumed Ken [Marschall] already knew the effect I was talking about. To give you a little more detail: The stern section is bent in the middle about 15 or 20 degrees, not vertically, like the bow, but horizontally. Probably it broke in the middle the same way the bow section did when it impacted the bottom at an angle, but then as the far end settled — unlike the bow section whose far end (aft end) slammed straight down — the stern section’s far end (forward end) seemed to slam down with a strong lateral component. This is best explained by the idea that it was still rotating on the horizontal plane when it hit bottom. The wreck appears deformed, warped in the direction of this rotation, as well as being bent off at an angle. It appears to my eye like the rudder imbedded deeply, and once that area of the keel was dug in, the stern twisted as it came down. I’m sure this was a complex, coupled motion, with vertical bending at the moment of impact, which broke it’s back, then the rotational component deflecting the forward end of the stern section before it hit bottom.
This is only relevant because if the stern was rotating in the horizontal plane during its entire descent, it would have described a long spiral down through the water column, due to its planing angle. This accounts for why it did not plane far from the breakup point like the bow did… the bow had a stable heading and the stern did not. This spiral would put the stern landing right under the breakup point, within an dispersion radius equal to the radius of the spiral. And this seems to agree well with it landing near the boilers and other heavy chunks, but in the wrong direction.
No. The boilers fell out at the break up.
The fact of Brittanic’s boilers remaining in place at a 90 degree angle makes me think more force was required but separation was most likely very near the surface.
———- granted. But there was a lot of torquing, twisting and shock loading going on when those double bottom sections popped loose from the side shell plating — pretty different from Britannic, where they were contained within an intact hull.
Still I like your image of the bottom doubling back as the stern dove, and the boilers ripping off in the upper water column. For the same reason that I think the most powerful forces acting on the bow prior to bottom impact were in the first few seconds of its departure from the surface, before it changed from a vertical to more horizontal attitude, I think the stern experienced high flow rates and hydrodynamic loads in the first 500 or 1000′ of travel, which would have lessened as it also “fell through” into its stable descent attitude, which judging from impact was probably 20-30 degrees tail down.
It has also been suggested that the stern was subject to implosion at some depth, probably around 500 feet — this concussion may have helped break the mounts as well. Certainly the stern overall is much more collapsed than the bow section, though they would have had similar terminal velocities prior to bottom impact.
It came off when the bow and stern separated from each other, seconds or minutes before the stern sank.
“Minutes” sounds good to me.
And answering a later mail from Parks:
I think that is not a valid conclusion. Unlike you I have stood on a very high fidelity simulation of Titanic’s deck.
This idea that the ship lurched forward is a sensory illusion caused by the water moving across the deck, in a fore to aft direction.
This was exactly my belief. I’m glad to learn that it was confirmed by your rather elaborate “experiment”.
After our experiences with the full scale set, I have discounted the statements about the ship “lurching forward.”
While the illusion would account for the many reports of a wave, my understanding of the lurch described by Lightholler is not of a forward motion. He would have mostly had his head and attention down working on freeing the boat and the lurch would have been something he felt rather than saw.
———- lots of stuff was going on right then. If he was far enough from the longitudinal centerline, a sudden roll would displace him vertically several feet, and this might be indistinguishable from a sensation of the whole ship suddenly going down. A roll is easier for me to believe than the entire ship displacing downward suddenly enough for the human vestibular system to be able to sense it. Baker Joughin, while crossing the aft well deck, said a sudden roll to port knocked people off their feet. I’ve always assumed that happened somewhat later, but it might have been the same event.
A failing bulkhead would cause the longitudinal center of buoyancy of the ship to shift rapidly aft, and would accelerate the bow-down angle change. There might be an accompanying thump or shudder through the ship. This could also account for Lightoller’s “lurch.”
It is impossible for the breakup to have begun at this point for one simple reason — if the structural integrity of the hull had been compromised, the mass of the sinking forward portion of the ship would not have continued to raise the stern out of the water.
Many witnesses saw the stern high in the night sky — possibly as high as 45 degrees as Ken paints it, but certainly at least 30. This has never been disputed. And for that to happen the hull integrity must have persisted far beyond the Colonel Gracie’s so called lurch.
This is the essential conundrum of the whole current affair. The story the steel is telling us is at odds with the story told by the survivors. My job is to interpret the story of the steel although that requires reasonable incorporation of other sources.
– – – –
Jim C. (Continued): The steel can’t lie. But I don’t see what the steel is telling us as at odds overall — only with some of the testimony. Some will be vindicated, others debunked.
My experience with other post accident analysis makes me very skeptical of the recollections of people who have been in life threatening situations where reference frames are unfamiliar. You saw this effect on your sets when there was no danger and plenty of time for calm reflection.
One consistent effect I have noticed is a tendency to overestimate all angles by about 100%. I have read and heard many reports of sailing vessels being flat in the water when it is evident that the crew were standing on deck or I had stability data that proved the vessel would not have recovered. During stability tests, by necessity very calm and quiet events, I often have the crew exclaim, “I can’t believe that little weight is heeling her five degrees!”. At the measuring instrument, I can see that it is only half that.
When I was working for the British government as expert and witness in a wreck inquiry, the captain of the USCG Barque Eagle, a fairly experienced seaman one would think, testified that the ship heeled 55 degrees and her yard ends were in the water during a squall. The sailing master, one of the most level headed people I’ve ever met, later took me out on deck and pointed to a fitting. “The water came right to there, I was watching.”, he said.
I was then able, with complete stability and hydrostatic information in hand, to determine the exact heel angle. It was 25 degrees and the yard ends were many feet above the water. When you consider that the captain had an inclinometer right in front of him in the pilot house, you should be able to understand my jaundiced view of accounts given much later under the stress of hearings.
People also tend to fix vivid visual memories much better than they do their time or context in other events. A person working hard to save their life by launching a boat, adapting to the reference plane around them, suddenly having their attention drawn aft by a noise and motion, then suddenly presented with the unfamiliar sight of the stern against the sky, could well believe that the stern just rose up. Most people in my experience would then dramatically overestimate the angle. A later image of the stern very steep in the final moments could easily get mixed up with this.
It is my experience that these kinds of memory distortions happen more often than they do not under conditions of stress. I still believe that the accounts are a valuable resource and must be incorporated in our analysis but these effects have to be considered.
(NOTE, C. Pellegrino: Jim is right about the convergence and jumbling of the order in which events were experienced in times of extreme stress. For example, we were at the Titanic in 2001 when the 9/11 attacks occurred. I was in the communications shack at the time, and learned during the day that two family members were missing [one was found, the other was lost]. Though events over the next 48 hours were vividly remembered, had I not been keeping an expedition log I’d have remembered them in a sequence of wrong order – an inaccurate sequence that in retrospect appears to have evolved to connect the events together in a logical, more meaningful order. For example, I vividly recall Anatoly coming into the Com Shack with a Fax from Moscow, and with tears running down his cheek, an hour after the attacks began. In reality, this occurred the next day. My log, and the ship’s dive log, show that I completely misremembered this, and other event sequences.)
Jim Cameron: Taking an average of the accounts is valuable. Assigning weight to individual moments of individual accounts is risky. But it’s always cool to find some forensic evidence which supports testimony, even if only one person claims to have seen it.
Jack Thayer said he saw a dark shape come up near him, and this led to a drawing, published in papers, which showed the ship sinking with its back broken and a buoyant bow poking up as well as a buoyant stern. When we sank our interior set, the grand-staircase broke loose, due to tons of lift from the wood, and floated up through the middle of the set, almost pinning two stunt people to the ceiling. Thayer probably saw a huge section of staircase surface near him, and in the dark was unable to judge scale through distance, so might have thought it was the bow.
******************************************************************* Roger Long Roger Long Marine Architecture, Inc. Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA 04107 *****************************************************************
To: Parks E Stephenson From: Jim Cameron Subject: Re: “Third Piece” Cc: Ken Marschall Bcc: Charles Pellegrino Attachments: CORRESPONDENCE REGARDING THE “THIRD PIECE”
[From “Sparks”]: Jim,
Another unfortunate aspect of the news article is that our group was not categorizing the new find as a “third piece” in our discussions. We did look at the new debris field (which included the 2 double-bottom pieces and a chunk of debris that Ken is tentatively identifying as the remains of the structures at the base of the #3 funnel) as a third major debris field that might help us categorize the sequence of the break-up. This somehow got translated into a “third piece,” which we all know is a gross trivialization of the facts.
There are debris fields all over the place, but solely for purposes of what we’re trying to do, we’re looking at:
1) the bow section and the bow-related debris that streamed southward from the hull;
2) the stern section and the stern-related debris that followed the large hull piece down and settled around it; and
3) the new find, which is east of the other two fields and consists right now of the three major pieces of debris.
Bill (I forget his last name…Ken would know it [Bill Lang]) from WHOI claims that what we call the third debris field has a NE-SW orientation and that more debris relating to this area might be found farther to the NE. He also claims that the breakup happened almost directly above the location of the new find. I don’t see enough evidence to accept either of those conclusions without reservations.
– – “Sparks”
James Cameron comments: Sparks, [As I’ve said,] he’s wrong on this as well. Forgetting about which objects are near the two major wreck sections, you can see a pattern in the debris overall and it goes like this: the heaviest objects, like boilers, engines and heavy castings, form a central area. Steel structures with more sail area relative to mass are distributed over a larger radius. And lighter debris such as coal and china is spread even wider. This is the very general pattern and there are lots of exceptions, probably created by the major entrained flow around the stern, which sank relatively near this epicenter.
I call the area of the debris field with the heaviest objects “surface zero”, meaning it is zero displacement from the point on the surface 2.5 miles above it, where the ship broke up. Like ground zero as a term of art in nuclear air-bursts. This can also be called (using nuclear nomenclature) the hypocenter. Meaning the point below the center.
The new find is far from the hypocenter but the two pieces are separate and near each other. I believe this indicates strongly, as Ken has said, that the two pieces descended most of the way to the bottom attached to each other, and through flapping and flexing motions, eventually separated before impact. They have a very large sail area, and might have planed much farther than they did. They would have acted like wings in the water, possibly descending in a large spiral. Had they descended from the surface separately, they would have been widely separated in the debris field.
Earlier quote: “One of the most intriguing things about the debris field pattern are the 5 single-ended boilers lying in a loose group relatively close to the stern section, while their foundations are still attached to the aft double bottom piece hundreds of meters away.”
The boilers fell out at the surface and because they did not have shapes conducive to planing, fell in a group at the hypocenter. This is where the ship broke up. Their bedding structures were attached to bottom sections which acted like 747 wings in the water column, and that’s why they wound up so far away.
I actually think it is coincidence the stern section wound up so close to the hypocenter. It would have descended through the water at an angle sufficient to have planed it as far from the hypocenter as the bow is, given its impact angle (20-30 degrees stern-down). So it is likely it actually fell in a spiral to that place, and at one point in the water column during descent it was actually farther away. This concept is supported by the way the stern section’s back is broken, about midway along its length, and deflected a good 15 degrees laterally. It appears to me that the stern hit on the rudder, dug in deep, but its rotational moment was strong enough that it continued to try to rotate, which causes this strong deflection. I can’t remember without pulling out the old drawings from ’01 (Charlie Pellegrino might remember) but I think we concluded it was rotating clockwise when it hit.
– – Jim C.
Dear Jim: This would seem to indicate that the boilers stayed within the ship for a bit after the bottom and foundations beneath them detached. – – Parks
Dear Sparks: — no. The boilers fell out at the break up. The stern sank separately. It is coincidence, [as] they are near each other. The clustering of the boilers, after falling independently through 2.5 miles of water, is the clue to this conclusion. They had almost no planing tendency because of their cylindrical shape. They represent the surface position of the breakup. I believe the engine components are near them as well.
–the two bottom pieces were peeled violently from the ship by the tension forces of the bow pulling down while the stern rotated, falling back toward the surface, after the hull failed. At this point the boilers fell out and started their descent. The stern stayed on the surface for another couple of minutes. – – Jim
Dear Jim: Having seen the double-ended boilers still sitting snug in their foundations inside the Britannic wreck, I am wondering how the double bottom in Titanic’s BR#1 managed to rip away without taking the boilers with it. Were the boilers held momentarily in place by trapped air and the service pipe connections? If so, wouldn’t this indicate that the double-bottom piece separated early in the break-up process? – – Sparks
Dear Sparks: It came off when the bow and stern separated from each other, seconds or minutes before the stern sank. – – Jim
Dear Jim: At any rate, that’s the background behind what the AP reporter called the “third piece.” I was confused too. I thought they had found two completely new pieces, making a total of three, because we’d already seen one large piece. Ken clarified that the previously seen piece is one of the so-called “new” pieces. [RE: Marschall, Pellegrino notes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst.]
Parks Stephenson Principal Systems Engineer Raytheon Company San Diego, CA 92130
To: Parks Stephenson From: James Cameron Subject: Re: Titanic’s Breakup Cc: Charles Pellegrino Bcc: Ken Marschall Attachments:
“The shallow angle of incidence of the deck relative to the surface of the water causes the water to rush up the deck very rapidly with only a couple of feet of vertical change, once that deck begins to submerge.”
Point taken about the shallow trim angle. Why was 6 degrees chosen to tilt the ship…was that dictated by the physical set-up, or did you select that angle for a particular reason?
Parks: ————-based on preproduction tests with models it represented a compromise angle which could serve a number of scenes throughout the sinking — since we had no way of continuously varying the angle of the set for early and later scenes. By counter-tilting the camera in scenes earlier in the sinking, we could suggest the ship was at 3 or 4 degrees of bow-down pitch. And the same in reverse for later scenes. I think the forward boat deck probably submerged at an angle of 8 degrees, plus or minus a degree. By the time the dome over the grand-staircase goes under, you’re looking at between 12 and 15 degrees. Within a matter of a minute or two after the boat deck started to submerge, the ship was angling through 15 degrees as the water rushed aft along the boat deck past the gym. At somewhere aft of the gym, possibly around the compass platform, the aft flow would have stopped as the ship’s angle increased too much relative to its rate of submergence, and in fact the water may have locally flowed back the other way for a moment. We were unable to continuously change angle on the set as we lowered it, it was lowered straight down.
Dear Jim: I ask, because I am using Lightoller’s report of swimming to the crow’s nest after being ejected from the vent grating as a benchmark for my animation and am trying to decide what the exact angle would be at that point (estimating 8 degrees).
Sparks: ———–I believe he swam toward the crow’s nest when he first entered the water. Please check that. In any case, I find Lightoller’s account to be impossible to reconcile with ship’s geography.
–he describes diving off the deck house, swimming toward the crow’s nest before realizing it is (duh!) sinking too… then later being held down by down-flooding at the stokehold vent. He describes freeing himself and then subsequently being trapped again — in a very vivid description he says he imagines that the grating will fail and he will fall to his death deep within the ship. The head of pressure against the grate would need to have been a few feet to start his entrapment, and would have continued to progress at about 1 foot per second as that part of the ship descended. Assuming that what felt like minutes to him as he struggled was in reality ten seconds, he would have gone from say 5 feet to 15 feet of depth before being ejected by a blast of air. It may have taken him even deeper, say twenty feet. He then describes surfacing and swimming away from the wreck, fetching up against collapsible B and being at that point when the funnel falls and nearly hits the boat.
Dear Sparks: –Here’s what’s wrong with that. If he is 15 or 20 feet underwater when the blast of air frees him, at the very base of the funnel, he needs to swim to the surface, get oriented, and swim toward the boat, and reach it before the funnel falls. But if he starts this move when the base of the funnel (same level as the vent) is 20 feet under water, and going down continuously at 1′ /sec, and he completes the move OUTSIDE THE RADIUS of the falling funnel (80′ or more) — then the funnel would have been almost completely submerged by then and could not have fallen. He’s swimming up 20′ and horizontally 80′ to arrive outside the radius-of-fall of a 75′ funnel — and even a strong swimmer, not pausing for a second to catch his breath or look around for something to swim to, would have required at least 40 seconds to do that. He’s in ice water, fully dressed, in boots and sweater, out of breath from being dragged down — a swim to outside the radius of funnel fall would have taken at least a minute, and that’s assuming it was a highly motivated swim with a defined target. At 1’/sec sink rate, the standing funnel is completely submerged by that point (given that its base is 20′ submerged when he starts the move). So it can’t fall. It’s upright and underwater — can’t fall.
Now, I believe the things he describes did happen to Lightoller. He’s a whitewasher, and probably hid some facts to benefit the company and his career, but I don’t think he’s a liar, and his account is quite vivid.
I think what happened is that he got held down by inrushing water at the vent fwd of funnel 1. When the funnel base was crushed by 20′ of hydrostatic head, it tore free of the inner casing, which allowed tons of water to rush down the uptakes. The sudden pressurization of the uptake spaces counteracted the inflow of water at the relatively small orifice of the stokehold vent and blew him free. It could not have been a boiler explosion, because the boilers below were all flooded by this time. This is the only logical place for an uprush of pressurized air to be coming from — the failure of the funnel at its base. So Lightoller is beginning his swim to the surface and to Coll B JUST AS the funnel is failing and falling. He doesn’t see it at all. When he surfaces he thinks he’s near funnel 1, but really it’s already gone, under water — he missed it — he’s really seeing funnel 2. In the darkness, confusion, cold etc. he doesn’t count the funnels aft — his brain connects the dots — a funnel was there when he went under, and it’s still there. But it’s a different funnel. He gets to B, and the funnel falls — but it’s funnel 2.
It would have felt like they were being hit by a wave at the beach, even though by comparison to that it was relatively small (only a foot or so).
As you know (please bear with me whenever I summarize testimony with which you are already familiar…I do it in order to organize my thoughts), Gracie was standing near the angle in the Officers’ Quarters where the Marconigram tubes turn downward to C Deck. He claims that when he saw the water coming, both he and Clinch Smith tried to jump up and grab the railing on top of the deckhouse, but both jumps fell short. As Gracie came down, the water hit him and he decided to jump again with the rising water, rising “as if on the crest of a wave at the seashore.” Thanks to the water lifting him up, he was able to grab the rail on this second attempt and lift himself up onto the roof. Before he could regain his feet, though, the water closed over him and he was dragged down with the ship, still clinging to the railing. – – Jim
Dear Jim: all that is correct. At 1’/sec sink rate, the 9′ deckhouse would have fully submerged in 9 seconds.
Dear Sparks: Assuming that when Gracie fell back after his first [attempted] jumps, the water hitting him was about 18″ deep (based on a combined aft-moving wave and inboard-moving wave, which is what we saw happening), it would have taken a subsequent 7.5 seconds for the water to lift him above the roof. Small to medium swells at the beach probably have a vertical rate about two or three times this fast, but with a physical reference point right next to him (the wall) he would have felt lifted quite rapidly. He’s not talking about getting slammed by a ten foot wave… he’s talking about the lifting effect of water, which people normally only experience at the shore. It’s a metaphor.
This idea that the ship lurched forward is a sensory illusion caused by the water moving across the deck, in a fore- to-aft direction.
Dear Jim: Point taken.
Dear Sparks: After our experiences with the full scale set, I have discounted the statements about the ship “lurching forward.” The rising rate of flooding may have caused a sudden acceleration downward at right about this time, as flooding on A-deck gave access for the water to down-fill into the grand staircase.
Dear Jim: I understand what you’re saying about the perspective from the people on Boat Deck. Lightoller tells us about a “slight but definite plunge” that he felt atop the Officers’ Quarters roof, and he watched the people on the deck below become engulfed by the water. Lightoller thought a bulkhead had given way. I’m not convinced that any bulkhead gave way, save a portion of the fire-damaged Bulkhead E. If I understand you correctly, you attribute Lightoller’s plunge to downfilling of the Grand Staircase?
Dear Sparks: Correct. The rate of sinking is speeding up rapidly at this point. While the boat deck is going under, the grand staircase is down-shipping water from the prom decks, which are probably fully equalized.
Dear Jim: I doubted the notion of the ship lurching forward. If anything, I was thinking along the lines of your next point:
If the break-up had begun at this point, in fact the downward arcing of the bow would have accelerated, and the deck would be moving aft relative to a fixed point on the surface.
But then your next point caused me to back away from that:
It is impossible for the breakup to have begun at this point for one simple reason — if the structural integrity of the hull had been compromised, the mass of the sinking forward portion of the ship would not have continued to raise the stern out of the water.
Dear Sparks: Our sinking animation from the movie is relatively accurate, even now. It is missing one crucial ingredient, which is that Titanic overall — if you could see it from a distance, and with the water column stripped away — would have been flexing [somewhat] like an archery] bow from end to end prior to the hull failing.
There is one suggestion that I will make to build upon it…that of making the port list more significant in the later stages of the sinking. Joughin tells us that just as he reached the after well deck, the ship “gave a great list over to port and threw everybody in a bunch except myself…I clambered on the [starboard] side when she chucked them.” He also mentioned that during this movement to port, the starboard side “was not going up, but the [port] side was going down.”
A lot depends on where Joughin was at this point in time. He may have been experiencing the tearing away of the bow section, which I’ve always assumed imparted some kind of roll moment to the stern. It’s logical that with the port list, all other things being equal, the bow would have torn away from the lowest point last, meaning the port side of the bottom. This would have yanked the stern hard down to port as the bottom tore across from stbd to port, and then released it… which might account for the lurch.
The problem with this is that Joughin rode the starboard rail of the poop deck, aft of the docking bridge, down into the sea. So he doesn’t have time to get there, in this scenario. So, either the lurch happened when he was already on the poop deck OR He didn’t get off at the poop deck OR it’s not the tearing away of the bow section [that he’s describing].
I think, even drunk, Joughin knows where he is. So let’s eliminate the second scenario. We can check his account to see exactly where he is when the lurch happens. If it is on the well deck, then it’s probably not the end of the breakup. So what else can it be? With the ship listed to port, the release of a funnel falling might impart enough of a roll moment to knock people down. It’s a significant mass, hanging out on a 75′ moment arm, suddenly becoming uncoupled from the ship.
There is the possibility that a drunk baker, in the pandemonium, is actually able to get across the well deck, past all the stumbling people, up the choke-point of the well deck stairs, and 80′ aft to the curved rail, in the space of time it takes the stern section to sink. If this were the case, it lends support to observers who saw the stern “right itself”… meaning come back closer to a level attitude — which would have happened when the hull failed. Only with the stern near level could he have made that move. The well deck stairs are so steep that even a 20 degree bow-down pitch of the ship would render them vertical, or even past vertical. It was difficult climbing the aft stairs even at the 6 degree angle of the set. So if the lurch was the breakup, and Joughin made tracks aft while the stern was settled level and before it’s immediate flooding pulled it into a steep angle, he might have made it. He might also not have made it as far aft as I’ve always thought from his account. Charlie Pellegrino thinks he got off the side of the poop deck, maybe even forward of the docking bridge. If the ship was rolled significantly to port, this might still have been the last part of the rail to go under. – – Jim
Dear Jim: RE your note, “If you look carefully at the ’97 animation, you will see two large pieces of bottom remaining attached between the bow section and stern for a few frames of film as the two major sections separate.”
I’m going to watch it again as soon as I can have the TV to myself. The DVD/CD drive on my computer developed a fault recently and won’t recognize DVDs.
Thank you for your detailed replies…your experience is well appreciated.
– – – – – – – –
To:Jim Cameron, Parks Stevenson From: Charles Pellegrino Subject: Titanic’s Break-up
Dear Jim, Parks: Lightoller swam toward the crow’s nest directly from the roof of the bridge – and he clearly stated that the roof and the crow’s nest (with the nest about to dunk under) were almost level with the water at that time. He was very certain of this. In the British Inquiry – 14054 – Lightoller walked into the water from the roof of the officers’ quarters: “Well, I was swimming out towards the head of the ship, the crow’s nest. I could see the crow’s nest.”
He then wondered [as he spoke to the examiners] whether or not he had a thought of pulling himself out of the water, into the crow’s nest.
In his 1935 published memoir (“Titanic and Other Ships), Lightoller wrote: “Turning to the forepart of the bridge, I took a header… Ahead of me the lookout cage [the crow’s nest] on the foremast was visible just above the water… I struck out blindly for this, but only for a while.” The various Lightoller descriptions all have the crow’s nest about to reach the water when the water reaches the roof of the bridge – – a basis for, under consultation with Walter Lord, the angles given in the illustration sequence for “Ghosts of the Titanic,” and for the less detailed sequence (1987) for “Her Name, Titanic.”
On the subject of lights seen after the stern broke away: Lightoller was clear in his 1936 audio account (see posting from Walter Lord File, under “Crew,” Charlespellegrino.com) that all the lights went out at once, when he thought he heard the boilers break away. Lightoller (in the water at that time – and for two periods of many seconds actually under the water) appears, from his accounts, not to have seen very well in the dark – – whereas others, equipped with “owl eyes,” saw a red flagstaff kerosene lantern (Joughin) and other dim objects, including the ship’s figure seen under starlight, and star-lit shapes nearby. We also have rare but pervasive accounts of the brief flickering back on of the lights (Joughin and White are examples of this), followed by almost instant dousing, followed by a dull but persistent red glow seen through some of the windows along the tilting and submerging decks – after the stern broke away from the bow. The red glow was, accordingly, extinguished as the windows, one-by-one, reached the water. The electric lights were down to a brown-out red glow, near the end, just before the break; and I have often suspected that accounts of post-break reddish electric lights somehow burning impossibly might actually have been small and possibly spreading fires ignited near the smoking lounge fireplace and elsewhere when she tilted, broke, and accomplished such mischief as spilling burning coals from a fireplace – forward and across carpeting. Sparks from an anvil chorus (or, rather, from a brief symphony) of cracking and self-hammering steel, would have provided literally thousands of simultaneous ignition points, each one looking for kindling. The mysterious lights behind the windows might be corroboration of this effect.
See you later, – – Charlie P.
To: Parks Stephenson From: Jim Cameron Subject: Re: More on Titanic’s breakup Cc: Ken Marschall Bcc: Charles Pellegrino Attachments:
Dear Jim: You may have noticed this during one of your many dives, but during my time on the wreck, I was surprised to see when we “flew” just a few feet over the forward starboard fidley [described vividly in Charles Lightoller’s survival account] – – it was bowed upward (outward) in the middle. I knew from imagery looking down on the grate that it had been deformed, but didn’t realize until I was actually looking at it that some force from within the fidley trunk had pushed the bars of the grate upward and apart. The companion grate to port lies flat and relatively undamaged. Could this be corroboration for Lightoller’s account? Maybe. – – Sparks
Dear Parks: I don’t think his account necessarily needs corroboration on this point– it seems a very odd thing to claim, or even to imagine, if it didn’t happen –but you’re right — we made a close examination of that grate with the Xbot, and its definitely pushed out. I visualize some object broken loose below and flung upward by escaping air, whacking into the grate from below. But equally possible, something flying around outside the ship, like the end of a broken shackle, could have gotten wedged in the grate and then put under outside tension, pulling it out.
Dear Jim: One more observation about Collapsible B. I have always assumed that B landed upside-down on the Boat Deck after being shoved off the roof of the Officers’ Quarters. However, when I was collecting personal accounts recently to try and flesh out the nature of the “wave,” I could not find any direct observation about B landing upside-down. On the contrary, Bride states directly — and Lightoller implies indirectly — that the boat was ready for launching but was swept from the deck. Bride thought about getting in when the wave hit and hung onto an oarlock (which would have been difficult for him to do if the boat were upside-down on the deck) as both he and the boat were swept overboard. I speculate that the boat turned turtle at that point, with Bride underneath. If so, this might also mean that the same force that washed the boat overboard and turned it turtle (Collapsible A on the other side was momentarily attached to Titanic by her bow lines and the force of the “wave” upset the boat and threw out Steward Brown) also pushed the boat aft, more toward the #2 funnel.
I asked Don Lynch if he knew of any account that specifically stated that B landed upside-down on the deck and he could not immediately think of any. I didn’t, however, ask him to make a dedicated study of this. – – Parks
Dear Sparks: I’ve never read an account specifically saying the boat reached the deck upright and was prepared for launch in that position. However, the image of it flipping off the roof in “Night to Remember” is so indelible that I have always assumed this was common knowledge. Now that you mention it, it’s probably wise for us to confirm it happened this way, if it did.
I believe Bride went to the roof to help with the lowering — in that position the boat was still upright. Later, he was washed off the ship and wound up, surprisingly, under the boat. I always thought this was an effect of suction, turbulence and the confused currents over the sinking ship, that he randomly came up under what turned out to be the upturned collapsible. However, I’d like confirmation of this.
I don’t believe that the boilers exploded. Beauchamp makes it clear that the fires were fully drawn in BR#6. There was no time to draw the fires in Britannic and the boilers in her BR#6 show little evidence of explosion, if any. The only detail that gives me pause are two of the single-ended boilers imaged by NOAA last year…both boilers had cracked furnace fronts, two of which were forced outward. Now, the testimony doesn’t indicate that the boilers in BR#1 were ever lit for speed, but I can imagine Chief Engineer Bell lighting the boilers in BR#1 after the collision and loss of BR#5 and #6 (and water rising in BR#4) in order to maintain service steam [to keep the electric generators running] for as long as possible. The boilers wouldn’t have been completely online by the time the ship sank, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility that earlier on the engineers wouldn’t have tried.
They knew the flooding was progressing fore to aft, and it was logical that the engineers would have known that BR 1 would have provided emergency steam longer/later than the forward rooms. 6 and 5 were already shut down, 4 had flooding and I’m sure they could see the pattern. Toward the end, some steam was still being made somewhere, to turn the dynamos. I vote BR 2, but probably they brought BR 1 on line as a backup.
Now, as for Charles Joughin and the behavior of a dying ship:
Joughin’s account [From the British Inquiry] places him at the well deck when the ship “gave a great list to port.” He also states that it would have been impossible to reach the poop, except from outside the railing.
6039. Then, after having thrown these deck chairs overboard, did you go up to the boat deck again? – I went to the deck pantry. 6040. Tell us what happened? – I went to the deck pantry, and while I was in there I thought I would take a drink of water, and while I was getting the drink of water I heard a kind of a crash as if something had buckled, as if part of the ship had buckled, and then I heard a rush overhead. 6042. Is the deck pantry on A deck? – Yes. 6045. People running – yes? – When I got up on top I could then see them clambering down from those decks. Of course, I was in the tail end of the rush. 6047. (The Solicitor-General.) They had run along as far aft as they could on the boat deck? – Yes. 6048. Did you see them clambering down to get on to the A deck so as to get further aft? – Their idea was to get on to the poop. 6049. You say that you heard this sound of buckling or crackling. Was it loud; could anybody in the ship hear it? – You could have heard it, but you did not really know what it was. It was not an explosion or anything like that. It was like as if the iron was parting.
— ———–looks like Joughin was hearing the first stages of the break-up. He was not far from the greatest concentration of stress.
6051. Was it immediately after that sound that you heard this rushing of people and saw them climbing up? – Yes. 6052. What did you do? – 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.
————– seems a little far fetched that the drunk guy was the only one NOT thrown off his feet.
6053. That was when you were in the well, was it? – 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. 6054. You mean the starboard side? – The starboard side. 6055. The starboard was going up and she took a lurch to port? – It was not going up, but the other side was going down.
—— his perception was of a powerful list, the ship rolling to port. This could be the moment of the bow tearing away, if it detached from the port side, which would have pulled it down significantly prior to detaching.
6056. 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? – I have no idea, Sir; I know they were piled up. 6057. What do you mean when you say, “No idea.” Were there hundreds? – Yes, there were more than that – many hundreds, I should say. 6058. (The Solicitor-General.) 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? – No, Sir.
———- interesting comment, because it would appear to eliminate any major longitudinal axis change.
6059. She took a lurch and she did not return? – She did not return. 6060. Can you tell us what happened to you? – Yes, I eventually got on to the starboard side of the poop. 6063. (The Solicitor-General.) What you said, I think, was that you got to the starboard side of the poop? – Yes, on the side of the ship. 6066. (The Commissioner.) “I got on the side of the ship by the poop”? – Yes. 6068. You got hold of the rail. Let Mr. Wilding turn the model up till you say how far you think it had gone. (Mr. Wilding turned the model.)? – I should say about that, but then the forward part is sloping. (Showing on model.)
————- too bad they don’t have photos or descriptions of where he is pointing.
6069. The forward part is down by the head? – Yes. 6072. Were you holding the rail so that you were inside the ship, or were you holding the rail so that you were on the outside of the ship? – On the outside.
———- imagine how far over the ship must have rolled to make this position possible. He’s standing here, stable enough to be checking his watch and transferring stuff from pocket to pocket — so he’s holding on with one hand — but he’s outside the ship’s rail — it would seem the list would have to have been 20 degrees or so at this point.
6073. So that the rail was between you and the deck? – Yes. 6074. Then what happened? – Well, I was just wondering what next to do. I had tightened my belt and I had transferred some things out of this pocket into my stern pocket. I was just wondering what next to do when she went.
——— he’s in a relatively stable position, not holding on for dear life, when his position on the ship reaches the water.
6075. And did you find yourself in the water? – Yes. 6076. Did you feel that you were dragged under or did you keep on the top of the water? – I do not believe my head went under the water at all. It may have been wetted, but no more. [later…] 6201. They would have to go up two or three staircases. As a matter of fact, when you came across to the boat deck, did you see some of the people on this poop deck? – Very few on the poop deck. 6202. Where were the people whom you saw? – In the well deck. 6203. All in the well deck? – Yes.
———— I’ve always imagined they clustered as far astern as possible, meaning the poop deck.
6204. And they would get from the well deck to the boat deck? – This was at the finish I saw the people. I never saw them in that quarter of the boat till the end. [later…] 6251. When you were on the poop did you see anybody attempting to come up on to the poop after you – following you up? – It was an impossibility for them to get on to the poop. 6252. Are there no ladders going on to the poop? – But the ship was like that. (Showing.) The ladders would be astern. The people were all on the port side in one bunch. There was nobody on the starboard side; in fact you could not see.
——- I’m not sure what this means. There are ladders port and stbd. I think he’s talking about the longitudinal angle… the difficulty of climbing the ladders when the ladders have tipped past vertical.
6253. 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? – She was not far out of the water at any stage that I saw.
——— absence of a negative is not a positive. He would have had very little reference for the height of the ship looking down into dark water. The people in the boats could see this better.
6254. So that to say that she stood up like that – (Showing.) – would be wrong? – It would be absolutely wrong. 6255. She simply glided away? – She went down that fashion (Showing.) It was a glide. There was no great shock, or anything.
—— this is still interesting. I would love to have seen the angles he’s showing with his hands.
[later…] 6359. (The Solicitor-General – To the Witness.) There is one other thing. You may be able to tell us about the electric light in the afterpart of the ship. You have described how you heard the breaking of the metal, the rending of metal, followed by this rush of people to the poop. At the time when you heard the rending of metal, were the electric lights burning in the part of the ship you saw? – The electric lights were burning right to the very last. I saw the time by my watch at a quarter-past two.
———— aren’t the dynamos in the area of the break-up? Doesn’t it seem to indicate the breakup happened very late relative to final submergence if the lights are still on at 2:15?
6360. You looked at your watch? – Yes. 6361. You were carrying it? – Yes, I had it in this pocket. I was transferring it from this pocket to my stern pocket. 6362. And you looked at it as you did it? – Yes. 6363. Were you holding on to the rail at the time? – No, I was getting towards the rail. It was a quarter-past two then.
——— so he doesn’t go outside the rail before 2:15.
6364. And the electric light was burning then? – Yes. 6365. So that there was never a time when you were on that ship when there was not electric light where you were? – Right to the very finish that I saw. 6366. (The Commissioner.) Your opinion is it was burning until the afterpart of the ship went down. Do you mean that? – Yes, I saw it.
———— this seems impossible. Let’s not forget the guy was drunk, and even sober most people jumble the sequence and timing of events. Th