Shallow Angle Break Theory

Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Timothy Trower on Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:18 am

Given the recent interest in the shallow angle break theory, I thought I'd start a new thread dealing with just that topic.
All the best,

Tim

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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Rachel M Barnes on Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:21 am

Hmmm .... I haven't read the book "Titanic's Last Secrets" just yet but I remember seeing a History Channel documentary about a year ago, or possibly longer, featuring the two shadow divers postulating on the weak hull theory. I remember thinking, and maybe somebody can actually address this question: if the hull was weak, and therefore broke "earlier" in the sinking as suggested, wouldn't it have been seen by more of the survivors? I re-emphasize that question given the article suggests that the ship actually broke into 3 pieces.

I can understand why the break-up wasn't necessarily seen by most of the survivors based on the long-held theory that it occurred after the lights went out, and this coupled with the moonless night and the distance the lifeboats were from the ship made it difficult to really see what was happening in those fateful final moments. However, an earlier break up probably would have occurred while the lights were still blazing right? Which in turn means those survivors in lifeboats, who could see perfectly clearly while the ship was still lit, would have seen a break up? More of the survivors closer to the ship, especially those scrambling in/around the collapsible boats near the bridge and officers' quarters (I'm thinking of A and B specifically) would have seen something conceivably? Considering these questions really makes me call into question the whole "weak hull" and "earlier break-up" theory.

Any other thoughts? These are just my ruminations based on what I have encountered.

Thanks!


Rachel


Moderator's note: This message moved to a topic better suited for this question.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Simon Mills on Tue Nov 04, 2008 5:45 am

Rachel,

I spotted your post on the message board and asked Tim Trower to move it to a more specific thread where I could make a start on answering your question.

I was one of the members of the research team who, between 2005 and 2007, helped Roger Long to formulate his shallow angle break theory, which formed the central emphasis of the two History Channel documentaries: Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces (2006) and Titanic's Achilles Heel (2007).

Much has been written in many forums and articles about the low angle break theory, although it is fair to say that in the popular press the manner in which the theory has been described by the individual journalist has not always given the true impression of the nature of the work involved.

Your post asks a number of specific questions and I can refer you to a particularly detailed article on the subject which I wrote for the Titanic Commutator (Volume 29, No. 172, pp 168 - 185). So far as I am aware it is probably still the most in-depth piece written for the more specialised and demanding Titanic world.

Parks Stephenson also wrote a follow-up piece in the next edition of the Commutator (Volume 30, No. 173, pp 4 -14) and hopefully these two articles combined will give you most, if not all, of the answers that you seek.

Regards,

Simon Mills.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Michael H Standart on Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:51 am

>>if the hull was weak, and therefore broke "earlier" in the sinking as suggested, wouldn't it have been seen by more of the survivors?<<

Not necesserily. A lot would depend on exactly where the break started in the first place and it doesn't stand to reason that it might have been where somebody could see it, or that a possible witness would even live to tell the tale.

Personally, I think it's misleading to say that the hull was weak. It was plenty strong enough to take whatever the North Atlantic could dish out, and that much was demonstrated by the team that Simon Mills was a part of. It just wasn't strong enough to survive the consequences of human fallibility.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Tom McCluskie on Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:07 pm

To say the hull was weak is fast becoming the next "unsinkable" leaving out the word practically. I had the honour of joining Simon and the team on investigating Roger Long's theory and am on record as frequently reporting the hulls of the Olympic class vessels were perfectly adequate for the anticipated service conditions. Harland and Wolff never designed or built a ship with defective materials or known weaknesses, why would they? further why would any shipowner deliberately contract for a vessel they knew would be unserviceable and unreliable in operation? It simply dosen't make any logical sense. For the record the steel and rivets used were of 1st class quality and the hulls were built to classification society (LLoyds of London) and Government (Board of Trade) standards. Supposition about brittle steel and cheap low quality rivets is unhelpful to those seriously investigating the loss of the RMS Titanic however it does make excellent material for sensationalist stories and television programmes.
It was like that when I got here
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby SamHalpern on Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:57 pm

In a short on-line paper I recently wrote I address the issue of why an angle of break between 10 and 15 degreees would have to ocurr if the hull was going to break at all. The bottom line, was that the greatest bending moments on the hull would happen at a shallow angle, not a high angle. The paper is called: Why a Low Angle Break?.

The problem that is going around these days is the claim that Titanic was a weak ship and H&W covered it up. The JMS study in early 2007 (referred to above) proved that that was not the case. At a 10 degree down angle by the bow, the stresses and bending moments on the hull were already a factor of two greater than what would be expected under the worst conditions of the North Atlantic. The ship did not sink because it broke; it broke because it was in the last stages of sinking and fast becoming unstable in the longitudinal direction. The claim that if the ship had not broke it could have stayed afloat long enough for Carpathia to arrive and save those still on board, has no basis in reality.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Simon Mills on Wed Nov 05, 2008 8:13 am

Sam,

Over the last couple of years I have unfortunately been seeing a lot of things written in the popular press that did not tally with some of the true findings of the research team on the History Channel project. It probably all started with the Associated Press article in December 2005 and continued up until April of last year with the Daily Telegraph (UK) piece. The Daily Telegraph article also led to a whole series of other journalistic masterpieces around the world, each increasingly detached from the reality of what we were actually saying.

In spite of the unjustified criticism in some of the Titanic forums, I still believe this analysis to have been of considerable importance in the world of Titanic research. The specific content of the JMS analysis remains subject to the Lone Wolf NDA, but you will find a summary (which I assume has been autorised) on the JMS website at: http://www.jmsnet.com/2008_Newsletter.htm This information pretty much tallies with the contents of the Titanic's Achilles Heel documentary, so beyond this I doubt that they are authorised to say any more.

For the most part I have to continue to be guarded about what I say in public on this investigation, but I can reiterate that as per my 2006 Commutator article, which was approved by the production company, my current belief is as follows:

1) Titanic's hull broke at a shallow angle, probably when the bow was down by about about ten degrees.
2) The break-up began from the top down.
3) Titanic did not sink because the hull broke in half. The break-up undoubtedly acted as a catalyst in the final stages of the sinking, but by then the ship was already doomed.
4) To me it is inconceivable that Titanic could have remained afloat long enough for Carpathia to arrive. I don't doubt that she would have floated longer had the hull not broken, but I believe that we are only talking in terms of minutes.

There is something else that I hope can be added to the mix at a later date, but the possibility of another research paper obliges me to remain silent at this time. It'll be good, though...

Regards,

S.M.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Rachel M Barnes on Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:19 am

Hi Sam~

First off, thank you so very much for responding to my questions! That's one of the things I absolutely love about being a part of THS; the ability to interact with so many who have so much knowledge and expertise on the ship (as well as everything possibly connected with her!). And I am grateful you took the time to address these, and that you made your recommendations. I am going to purchase the specified issue of the Commutator so I can read further on this.

In the meantime, I realize now, relatively foolishly, that I should have investigated a bit further into the "weak hull" theory before posting my comments. My questions pertained more to the time when the break up occurred. Based on what I had seen in the two History Channel documentaries, it sounded like the proposition that Titanic broke apart at a shallower angle indicated she started to break up earlier in the timeline of the sinking. Your article, "Why a Low Angle Break" does a fantastic job of describing why and how the ship would have broken in two at a shallower angle, and I see now, it also appears to have occurred at the same time as I had originally learned, just minutes before the ship actually disappeared.

Of course, I still wonder if the ship had broken in two at a shallower angle, does that mean the "classic picture" as it were that we see of Titanic's sinking (her 45 degree angle, submerged from the base of the 1st funnel forward) is incorrect? I'm going to guess that it isn't entirely incorrect since Charles Joughin does describe the stern coming up and going straight down like an elevator, but I imagine the physical sinking of the ship was a bit more tumultuous than Cameron portrayed it. I also ask if the huge "dip" the ship took that created the wave into which Lightoller jumped, that caused Collapsible B to float away, and swept Gracie away, was at all connected to the break up?

I'll definitely read up more on this, but thanks again! I do appreciate all the feedback!

Rachel

P.S. I never believed 'em when they said the hull was designed with weaker materials ... please! :D
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Steve Hall on Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:34 am

After doing a talk on Titanic at the Australian National Maritime Museum, much of the open question talk revolved around the switching of the Olympic and Titanic. Once the newspapers grab hold of something they ring every piece of copy out of any possible angle to create interest. So often, one journalist innocently adds a few pinches of salt for taste and the next a touch further and before you know it, you may as well be drinking sea water. Always best to watch the shows for yourself.
Regarding what Sam said about, I fall in with his comments.
One can speculate all one likes, however the ship was doomed. Did it break from the top or from the bottom? It’s an open ender really. If she broke from the top down, it’s hard to understand how people were still making their way to the stern :shock: . If it broke from below, then hull plates would have simply fallen off (with an unmistakable sound). If that had been the case, light would have been visible (shinning :idea: ) from the ships interior. I have a feeling the break-up started within the ship.
It was interesting the witness report of sighting coal being blow out the third funnel.
However with all things Titanic, research continues.

Regards
Steve
:ugeek:
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Simon Mills on Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:58 am

Steve:

Newspapers are well known for altering stories as they go down the line, and it sometimes amazes me that a journalist can pick up a day's money for simply re-working an existing story and, in the process, often making a complete hash of it. In England there is an old story (very) about a military order being re-worked as it went through the oral chain of command, when it allegedly changed from: "Send reinforcements, we're going to advance" to: "Send three and four pence, we're going to a dance!" It may be apocryphal, but it seems apt in this case.

Articles in the Commutator are not available on line, so I'm afraid that the only way you can see the articles to which I referred in my earlier post is to either read the magazine or borrow a copy . Unlike any other article it was actually proof-checked by Roger Long for accuracy, and the description of the break-up, as per the visual evidence in the two pieces of the double-bottom and elsewhere, does go into a little more detail than simply giving preference to the top down over the bottom up theory. We spent a great deal of time (and History Channel spent a lot of money) to ensure that the research was properly carried out.

Regards,

SM
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Steve Hall on Thu Nov 06, 2008 6:06 pm

"Newspapers are well known for altering stories as they go down the line, and it sometimes amazes me that a journalist can pick up a day's money for simply re-working an existing story and, in the process, often making a complete hash of it." [SM]

How true Simon, how so very true.
People are just best watching the actual shows when they're on.

Regards,
Steve
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby SamHalpern on Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:57 pm

Hello Simon.

Just to follow up with your post regarding what is publicaly available from JMS on the Titanic study. There is a USCG Ship Structure Committee Website Case Studies paper that is available on line which gets into quite a bit of detail regarding that. It can be accessed here: http://www.shipstructure.org/project/1451/titanic.pdf.

Cheers,
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby SamHalpern on Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:10 am

Hi Rachael.

I think there are two aspects to the stern going up. One was just before the break actually happened, and the other was a few minutes later when the remaining stern section took the final plung. As several witnesses testified, the stern was going up as the bow went down just before the lights went out. Then some saw the stern settle back and thought it was going to float by itself without the front part of the ship. That, according to some, last a just a few minutes. Then the front of the remaining stern section went down as the aft end came up. Some described that as taking on a relatively high angle before it went under for good. Lookout Symons gives a very vivid description. It looked to him the ship broke near the aft expansion plate when the light failed.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Simon Mills on Tue Nov 11, 2008 8:30 am

Sam,

Thanks for the info on the paper on the USCG site. Up until you posted this link I wasn't aware that Susan Salancy, who I understand is one of the engineers from JMS, had even written this summary, which is a bit more detailed than most of the data that has been published so far. Now that I know that the information is out there I do feel safe to maybe answer a few of the more precise questions in a little more detail if I am ever asked. Then again, I can just send them the same link...

Regards,

S.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Eric Cramer on Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:56 pm

This is my first-ever posting on this forum and please excuse me if anything I say is either ignorant, obvious, or already discussed elsewhere.

I've just finished reading "Last Secrets of the Titanic," and it describes the damage shown on newly discovered sections of the ship's bottom as indicating the bottom first took a shallow "V" configuration (bending up) before bending in the opposite direction (bending down, breaking, sinking). While a number of eyewitness reports definetly describe the stern settling back before the final plunge, no one described this effect, the "bend before the break (and yes, I'm playing very fast and loose with terms here -- I'm a former journalist with a long-time interest in the Titanic, not a nautical designer or engineer).

I guess what I'm saying is "I don't understand." An 11 or 12 degree break angle, is pretty shallow -- it would have occurred while the lifeboats were still being lowered. Surely someone would have noticed if the ship were breaking. In "Ghosts of the Titanic" Pellegrino said Joughin noticed leagage in his cabin, near the third funnel, which he attributes as a sign of the impending breakup.

I'm still doing my own reading on this subject. Is there a fairly topical "no-engineering-degree-required," perhaps with illustrations, description of this theory somewhere? I have a hard time picturing the breakup beginning before the propellers are above the water -- not at least without some account of it happening from those who were there.
I'm not discounting the shallow-break theory here -- people with a vast deal more knowledge than I have developed it and they are probably correct. I'm just trying to gain a better understanding of it.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Parks Stephenson on Sun Dec 21, 2008 2:55 am

Having been a member of both the Earthship Productions (James Cameron) and Lone Wolf Documentary Group analysis teams -- along with a working relationship with NOAA -- I have had access to a good deal of forensic evidence regarding the break-up. Based on my own interpretation of that evidence and comparing it to statements made by eyewitnesses, I attempted to illustrate my own conclusions in an article that I authored in Vol. 30 / No. 173 (2006) of The Titanic Commutator. You can also find it on my website, marconigraph.com, in the Titanic section, article entitled, "More Questions Than Answers, Part 2." I attempted to have computer illustrations do much of the talking for my theory.

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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Eric Cramer on Sun Dec 21, 2008 9:29 am

Mr. Stephenson -- thank you for the response and I will certainly look at your web site.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Simon Mills on Sun Dec 21, 2008 10:22 am

Dear Eric,

If you are looking for a few appropriate graphics which illustrate the low angle break (your shallow "V" configuration), a good place to start would be Titanic Commutator Volume 29, No. 172. On pages 168 - 185 you will find a detailed summary of the scenario developed by the History Channel research team between 2005 and 2007, along with graphics from the original animation developed by Roger Long during the research process.

Regards,

Simon Mills.
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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Timothy Trower on Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:19 am

Nearly all of the illustrative material that Simon and Parks have mentioned are not in Titanic's Last Secrets; I feel this is much to the book's detriment inasmuch as mere word pictures are not enough to illustrate what the low-angle break is all about.

I won't say much more on this subject -- my review of the book will be in the next Commutator (currently at the printer) -- but Parks and Simon know this subject intimately, and the resources they've suggested are invaluable.
All the best,

Tim

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Re: Shallow Angle Break Theory

Postby Eric Cramer on Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:57 pm

I can't yet read "Commutator" articles as I'm not yet a member (blushing furiously) an error soon to be corrected.
I agree that illustrations of the breakup would have been a major improvement to the book.

I can't explain my own fascination with the loss of a ship that happened 50 years before I was born, but I've been interested in the Titanic (and because of the Titanic, by all the big liners) since I was in sixth grade. I think it's viral <grin>.
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