Category Archives: Titanic

Titanic, 100 Years Worth of Breaking Up Theories.


First, we will look at the accepted version of Titanic’s sinking, and its evolution.

In 1912, it was believed the Titanic went down in one piece with the stern rising 90 degrees in the air, pausing, and then sinking beneath the waters; as most survivors claimed.

On 1 September 1985, the wreck of the Titanic was found by Dr. Robert Ballard. The wreck was found in two pieces the bow section almost 2,000 feet from the stern. The bow is relatively intact, but the stern looks like it was the victim of an explosion. This proved the ship did not sink intact, but broke up on the surface then sank.

The decks of the Titanic on the bow section at the break were collapsed down upon themselves. The explanation was, “Yeah, that must have happened when the Titanic hit the ocean floor. It hit with such force it collapsed those decks.” The reason for the stern section being in such bad shape? The experts could not explain it and did not know what happened to the stern.

From 1985 until 2008, this was the accepted theory, with slight modifications over the years.

Then in 2008, the book “Titanic’s Last Secrets,” came out. This book is about the research and Titanic exploration of the renowned wreck divers, shipwreck historians, and explorers Richie Kohler and John Chatterton (Deep Sea Detectives series on History Channel). They found two pieces of the double bottom of Titanic. They had the steel examined by experts. The conclusion? The steel would have been so brittle at the 30 degrees water temperature when Titanic sank that the keel would have only supported the stern rising to between 7 and 11 degrees before breaking. At this colder temperature the steel would not bend and stretch, it would fracture and break clean as if cut by a knife. So, now the new mainstream theory was the Titanic stern did not rise between 45 degrees and 90 degrees (as most survivors claimed), but only to about 11 degrees.

I didn’t buy it, I didn’t buy it in 1985. For one thing, if the force was so great to collapse thick heavy decks on the bow, what about those flimsy deckhouses? I looked at the ocean currents in the area at that time, and how long the stern remained on the surface after the bow disappeared. The two halves should have been a lot further than 2,000 feet apart if the accepted theory of the sinking were correct. I believed the ship broke on the surface, but not into separate halves. With the bow filled with water it would have been pulling on the stern, and the air-filled stern would have been more buoyant and resisted the bow. If the stern pivoted on the broken, but still attached section (like a hinge), it could indeed rise between 45 and 90 degrees into the air as the bow sank even deeper in the water. The stern needed something of weight beneath the water to allow it to rise straight into the air. Take an empty glass, turn it upside down and stand it on water in a water-filled sink. When you let go the glass falls over it cannot stand. The stern should not have been able to stand without the bow attached to it. There had to be a way of explaining what ALL of the witnesses saw and what the scientists discovered. I thought my 1985 theory was it.

I studied the published work of Kohler’s and Chatterton’s experts, and realized they did not take into account the temperature of the decks inside the Titanic, decks that were made from the same steel (though at a different thickness) as the keel and hull plates.

The wealthy women survivors testified to giving their coats and shawls to the handful of survivors from Titanic’s engineering department. These men were dressed in very thin clothing. The Titanic’s engine room was very hot, and the boiler rooms (where the steam was made) could reach temperatures over one hundred degrees. The decks in those areas would not be at freezing temperatures, they would not be brittle but, would stretch and bend instead of fracturing and breaking.

The night Titanic sank, the bow filled with water going lower and lower into the water raising the stern into the air. At an angle between 7 and 11 degrees, two sections of the Titanic’s double bottom broke free from the ship. The weight that had been borne by the keel was now transferred to Titanic’s interior decks and bulkheads (floors and walls), and they collapsed under the weight, pancaking down on each other above where the double bottom broke away. The stern settled back on an even keel and then began to rise into the air, as witnesses stated.

 

As more air escaped the stern, eventually the bow pulled the stern under. At a point, most likely less than 1,000 feet, the stern would have gone deep enough that the sea pressure would have exceeded the strength of the stern. At this point, the stern imploded separating the two halves of Titanic. The few remaining air pockets and the effects of the implosion would slow the stern down in its decent enough to land on the ocean floor 1,970 feet from the bow.

No evidence or witnesses discounted, the laws of science taken into account.

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Mermaids??? Yes, Mermaids! part two


I think I know who mermaids are, yes who, not what. But, to understand my theory about who mermaids are, it is helpful to understand how my mind works while doing research. When I research anything, I am not looking for something specific. I am looking for data, the evidence – all of it. Any theories I might have had are gone. I just want the data. Though it may be tempting to discount some of the evidence to make a theory stick, I know I am not going to find the truth that way. To be honest, I do research for me, just me. I still have the same curiosity I had as a kid and I need to know the five w’s and how.

Now back to our mermaids. Each piece of the evidence must be explained for a theory to be accurate. Looking at the range of dugongs and manatees, they do not live worldwide, yet mermaids have been sighted all over the world, so the scientists are wrong about that. Rereading some of the earlier accounts of mermaid sightings, I realized that not all mermaid sightings are of mermaids with a fish tail, some have legs like humans. As a matter of fact, part of the legend of mermaids is that they can go back and forth between legs and fish tail.

The Siren, oil on canvas, Leeds Art Gallery. source: http://www.wikipedia.org

Now I was not just looking for mermaids, I was looking for women. Women swimming, though not swimming for fun, some of the waters where mermaids had been sighted are very cold. No, these would be working women. I found that just such a thing has existed for thousands of years.

In centuries past women dove in deep waters holding their breath in search, primarily, of food to support their families. These women have also dove for sponges, pearls, and even to recover items from ship wrecks. Women were better at these dives because they have a higher body fat content than men, they can dive for longer periods of time. They would dive deep, rest on their return, and dive again, getting several dives in one day following this method. They dove wearing only loincloths. The cold wet clothing would make them even colder while they were resting, so they dove without clothing. Some of these divers would rub oil on their bodies to help keep warm. The water glistening on the oil on their bodies could possibly look like water glistening on a fish’s body.

Ama (pearl diver) in Japan. source: http://www.wikipedia.org

Did I find my mermaids? I now know where sightings of mermaids came from. In Korea and Japan, women still practice free diving just as women for centuries before them did. However, in our modern day, they wear thin suits for modesty. In Japan, they are called Ama and they dive for pearls. Did I find my mermaids in the waters of Japan, do mermaids exist? I borrow a paragraph from an esteemed colleague from the Sun.

Virginia Elizabeth, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia Elizabeth, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge. …”

Yes Elizabeth! Mermaids do exist!

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Back To Titanic


In the last two years I have made three new posts on Titanic.

One was sharing a paper Titanic model made by the husband of a fellow writer. The second was some new Titanic news (yes I know, a little unbelievable but it was). And the third was an article on newlyweds on the Titanic. I made the decision a long time ago to stop writing about Titanic, there are too many projects in my in-box (including articles on other ships). But my staff and some of the readers have been asking me for another Titanic and Olympic article.

So, on 13 April 2014, we will publish another article in the “Titanic and Olympic: How to tell them apart in photographs” series.

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This is a Story of Titanic Newlyweds You Don’t Know


Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned ...

Star-crossed lovers. The poster was fashioned after Titanic ‘ s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were several newlywed couples on board Titanic when she sailed from Queenstown (now Cobh, Ireland) in April of 1912. These are couples who married shortly before Titanic sailed, there were no couples married while Titanic was at sea. This article will introduce you to a few of them.

First up, John and Nellie Snyder, who were travelling in first class. When Titanic sailed John was just 24 and Nellie 23. The couple was offered seats in lifeboat number 7, ensuring their survival. The Snyder’s had a long and happy life, raising one girl and two boys. John died 47 years later from a massive heart attack. Nellie lived another 24 years and died at the age of 94.

The Bishop’s, Helen and Dickinson, where another first class newlywed couple. They were returning to their home in Southwest Michigan from a four-month European honeymoon. The Bishop’s were the fourth newlywed couple in lifeboat 7. Dickinson a wealthy, 24-year-old, widower had married the 19-year-old daughter of a family, which owned a company that manufactured an early version of the easy chair. Unfortunately, the Bishop’s lost their first son two days after he was born in December 1912. They divorced in 1916, Helen dying of a cerebral hemorrhage (from a fall) two months later. Dickinson of a stroke in 1961.

Photograph of a Lifeboat Carrying Titanic Surv...

Photograph of a Lifeboat Carrying Titanic Survivors – NARA – 278337 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward and Ethel Beane were a second class newlywed couple. Edward had immigrated to New York City. After several years he returned to England to marry Ethel and they sailed on Titanic. The Beane’s lost all of their money and wedding gifts when the great ship sank. Edward helped Ethel in lifeboat 13, but he stepped back when he was told, “Sorry, sir only women.” After the lifeboat reached the water, Edward saw it was only about half filled, so he dove into the water and swam for the lifeboat. His bride of one month was the person who pulled him into the lifeboat.

John Chapman, 37, and Lizzie Chapman, 29, were on their honeymoon after being married on December 26, 1911. John was also not allowed on a lifeboat. Lizzie turned to a friend and said, “ Goodbye Mrs. Richards, if John cannot go I will not go.” The couple died together. John’s body was later found and his effects returned to the family. Lizzie was never found.

There were many other newlywed couples (some say as many as 20), a few of them are:

Neal and Eileen McNamee (both lost)

John J. and Madeline Astor (Madeline survived)

Victor and Maria Castellana (Maria survived)

Lucian and Eloise Smith (Eloise survived)

Over the course of more than two decades, the one Titanic story that has intrigued me more than any other is the story of another honeymoon couple. I cannot tell you their names, I cannot tell you anything about their lives or how they died, I cannot even tell you if they survived. I can tell you how they spent their time on board Titanic. This story came to me from a Titanic survivor. There was a newly wedded couple immigrating to America to start a new life. The couple did not have enough money for them both to travel in second class, so the new groom bought a second-class ticket for his wife, and a third-class ticket for himself. The couple were frequently spotted at a gate separating second and third class passengers. They would talk and hold hands through the gate.

This story has been one I have returned to many times over the years, always searching for the identity of the mystery couple and their story. Where were they from? Where were they going? Had he gone ahead for a few years to make a new life, and then return for his bride, as so many men did in those days? What were their names? Did she step back from a lifeboat when he was refused admission? Did they even find each other after Titanic struck the iceberg?

Maybe this couple is my enigma, the one Titanic mystery to elude me. And maybe that is as it should be. I always take a reasoned, logical, scientific approach to life, particularly to research. I approach things very unemotionally; search for the last scraps of evidence, then painstakingly applying logic to arrive at the best possible analysis, always aware that emotion is my worst enemy when trying to arrive at facts. So, to some my romantic nature may seem odd and incongruous with this other side of my personality. But, it is the romantic side of my nature that has decided it does not want to know the truth behind this couple; if they survived, how they survived (if either of them did), or even if they ever existed at all.

In my mind (and heart), they can be whatever I need them to be at the time. The loving couple, who defying all odds, found each other in the chaos of the sinking Titanic and survive together, boarding a lifeboat arm in arm. I can have her weeping in a lifeboat at the loss of her husband as he swims to her side and is pulled into the lifeboat. I can have them finding each other only to arrive at the boat deck after all the lifeboats are gone. Maybe she refuses a seat in a lifeboat because her groom is denied a seat, and they die together. Or, he could have picked her up and forced her into a lifeboat (with or without the aid of one of Titanic’s crew) against her wishes, before he stepped back and died with the other men. No matter my fancy of the moment, if one survives without the other, my imagination always has the survivor living out a long life forsaking all others for the love that was lost. My favorite though has them living a long, joyful, fruitful life together; dying within a year of each other leaving children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to mourn a couple who held hands where ever they went, always.

The engineer and research part of my personality will never give up the chase, and will continue to track down any lead that will finally resolve this issue. But, I do not think my quest will be pursued with the same gusto it once was. I think this is one battle my romantic side has finally won. I think this is one story where the unknown is the greater story. In my mind they stand for all the “if only” and “should have been” tragedies of that great ship. In my mind, they are standing at the gate, holding hands through bars that will never separate their love for each other. Maybe, just maybe, that is how this story should end.

Unlike previous Titanic films, Cameron's retel...

Unlike previous Titanic films, Cameron’s retelling of the disaster showed the ship breaking into two pieces before sinking entirely. The scenes were an account of the moment’s most likely outcome. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would like to read more about Titanic newlyweds we recommend, “Titanic love Stories: The true stories of 13 honeymoon couples who sailed on the Titanic”

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Titanic, In The News … and This I Like!


The violin of Wallace Hartley the bandleader of the Titanic. Found tied to his body when he was recovered. Photograph by AP

The violin of Wallace Hartley the bandleader of the Titanic. Found tied to his body when he was recovered. Photograph by AP

Wallace Hartley’s violin has been discovered and will be auctioned off, according to a story by the Huffington Post (click to read the article).

Yes, ladies and gentlemen … THE Wallace Hartley. The man who led his band in playing music as the Titanic sank to help keep the passengers calm. Even after these men were released from duty by Captain Smith they chose to stay and continue to play.

Mr. Hartley encouraged the other members of his band to save themselves, but they all stayed aboard Titanic, doing what they could to keep the calm and make it possible for as many people to be save as could be. If not for the courage of these musicians, it is possible that panic may have broken out aboard the ship with passengers rushing the lifeboats. That would have meant even fewer passengers saved than actually were saved.

Common men, doing a common job, in the face of certain death. Sacrificing their own lives so that others may be saved.

And that, to me ladies and gentlemen, is heroism.

 

English: Wallace Hartley, bandmaster and violi...

English: Wallace Hartley, bandmaster and violinist on board the Titanic. Français : Wallace Hartley, chef d’orchestre et violoniste à bord du Titanic, mort dans le naufrage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Monument to Wallace Hartley, bandmast...

English: Monument to Wallace Hartley, bandmaster onboard RMS Titanic, Colne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: RMS Titanic Musicians' Memorial, Sout...

English: RMS Titanic Musicians’ Memorial, Southampton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

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