History Channel’s: “Titanic At 100: Mystery Solved”

A very good program, I only wished they showed more of the mapped out debris field. There were only two problems I saw with the program.

First: The investigators went into their research with preconceived ideas about how the accident happened and how Titanic sank. (If you have not already read my two articles “MY Research Methods” (here’s the link http://wp.me/P1MLkF-9C ) and “My Research Methods: part 2” (here’s the link http://wp.me/P1MLkF-bZ ))

When they tested the rivets they tested them with the stress applied along the length of the rivet, as if something were hitting the side of the hull plate. They did not test the shear strength of the rivets. This would be true of the rivets on the bottom of Titanic. But the rivets whose failure caused the most damage were on the side of the ship. Titanic ran over an underwater ice shelf on the iceberg. It did not run into the iceberg, but over the iceberg. The bottom plates were pushed up by this underwater shelf across the one inch thickness and they flexed upward. However, at the turn of the bilge (where the bottom becomes the side of the ship) the underwater ice shelf was pushing up across the six foot (two meter) width of the plates.

Try this to see what I mean. Take a playing card, say the ace of spades, lay it flat on a table. Now pick the card up a thumb on each end, and while holding the card parallel with the table bend the card upward. This is how the hull plates on the bottom of Titanic flexed when it ran over the ice shelf. Now turn the card on its side so you can see the ace of spades and have someone push up on the thin edge that faces the table. It does not want to flex. That is what happened to the hull plates on the side of Titanic as it ran over the ice shelf.

With the weight of the ship being pushed upward in a small area of the hull by the ice something had to give, and that was the rivets. Even when ships from any era are put in dry dock they must be supported every three to four feet (or less) or the hull will fracture, permanently damaging the hull. Look at the photos below.

American Queen a stern-wheel steam paddle steam ship.
Note blocks evenly spaced under hull to support the ship.
Photo courtesy Great American Steamboat Company.

WW2 battleship Texas in drydock. Notice the blocks every few feet to support the hull.
Photos courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife

The modern Zaandam in drydock. Notice the blocks ever few feet to support the hull.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.

Second: They assumed that the ship broke into two separate pieces while it was on the surface. During the show they showed two things that conflict with eyewitness testimony. They showed the stern only rising a few degrees out of the water, and they showed something a lot less than 200 feet of the stern rising out of the water.

They noted the stretched steel on the broken pieces of double-bottom and correctly described this as happening when the bow was hanging on the stern. But those pieces stretched as the bow pulled the stern under.

Conclusion: I hate to point out these discrepancies. The show was outstanding as was the work of all those involved. However, unless we correctly identify exactly what happened and why, we are at risk of this happening again (as I stated in my book Titanic, A Search for Answers).

We will never get to the bottom of the Titanic disaster as long as we continue to look at the evidence searching for clues to prove our theories. We must look at the evidence AND THEN arrive at a theory.



Filed under New, ships, Titanic

2 responses to “History Channel’s: “Titanic At 100: Mystery Solved”

  1. George

    They showed testing the rivets at room temperture, at a slow and even push. Try doing it after cold-soaking the steel and rivets for a few days at 31 degrees, then raming the steel at 20 knots and scraping the side just like a razor blade across a beard. Those rivets all stick out a bit and were probably ripped right off the ship.


    • Very true George. Also, they did testing from only one impact angle … the side. If it could be shown, beyond doubt, that the iceberg ran into the side of the ship fine. But there is another theory that the Titanic ran over an underwater ice shelf. The evidence on the ocean bottom, available so far, cannot rule out either theory. If Titanic did run over an under water ice shelf, some rivets would have been exposed to shear stresses which were not tested. Soon I will be posting an address to a web site that does a very good job of laying out evidence for this second theory.
      Thank You George, very good comment!