Fresh ideas on why Titanic went down

The Titanic

Richard Corfield

First published in Witney Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Music Editor. Call me on 01865 425494. Follow me on twitter: @OxMailTimHughes

AN OXFORDSHIRE scientist is attracting international attention with his new theories about the world’s most famous maritime disaster.

Richard Corfield, from Long Hanborough, has advanced new ideas about the role of science in the sinking of the Titanic, on the 100th anniversary of the catastrophe.

Writing in the journal Physics World, he takes a look at the cascade of events that led to the demise of the ‘unsinkable’ ship, highlighting the significant roles played by maths and physics.

And he will share his findings at a special Titanic-themed dinner at The Boot, in Barnard Gate, near Witney on Saturday.

The evening, billed as a commemoration of the Titanic with food, companionship, reflection and education, will feature dishes served on the ship on the night it struck the iceberg.

The Titanic, which was bound from Southampton to New York, struck an iceberg just off the coast of Newfoundland, on April 14 1912, and became fully submerged within three hours, before dropping four kilometres to the bottom of the Atlantic.

There have been many stories recounting why the ship struck the iceberg, and why two-thirds of the passengers and crew lost their lives, including the lack of lifeboats, the absence of binoculars in the crow’s nest, and the shortcomings of the radio operator.

Mr Corfield, of Hanborough Consultants, has studied the structural deficiencies of the ship and how these – and the weather – contributed to its demise.

His investigations highlight the work of metallurgists who found that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion.

He explained: “This meant that, in practice, the region of the Titanic’s hull that hit the iceberg was substantially weaker than the main body of the ship.

“As well as the actual make-up of the ship, it also appears that the climate thousands of miles away from where the ship sunk may have played a role.

“At times when the weather is warmer than usual in the Caribbean, the Gulf Stream intersects with the glacier-carrying Labrador Current in the North Atlantic in such a way that icebergs are aligned to form a barrier of ice. In 1912 the Caribbean experienced an unusually hot summer and so the Gulf Stream was particularly intense. The Titanic hit the iceberg right at that intersection.

“No one thing sent the Titanic to the bottom of the North Atlantic. Rather, the ship was ensnared by a perfect storm of circumstances that conspired her to doom.”

  • Tickets for Saturday’s Titanic evening are £30 per head for a four-course meal taken from the Titanic menu. Wine is not included. Call 01865 881231.

Comments (12)

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9:04am Thu 26 Apr 12

Smilingbo says...

I know what sunk it...an iceberg!!!
I know what sunk it...an iceberg!!! Smilingbo
  • Score: 0

9:38am Thu 26 Apr 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

Another trying to cash in on the anniversary of the sinking.

"His investigations highlight the work of metallurgists who found that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion."....
......and how did these metallurgists come to their conclusions, by the time the Titanic wreck was found, it has been rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic for 73 years.
Another trying to cash in on the anniversary of the sinking. "His investigations highlight the work of metallurgists who found that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion.".... ......and how did these metallurgists come to their conclusions, by the time the Titanic wreck was found, it has been rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic for 73 years. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 0

12:12pm Thu 26 Apr 12

Milkbutnosugarplease says...

I think Elvis was steering. My book comes out next week.
I think Elvis was steering. My book comes out next week. Milkbutnosugarplease
  • Score: 0

12:47pm Thu 26 Apr 12

the wizard says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
Another trying to cash in on the anniversary of the sinking.

"His investigations highlight the work of metallurgists who found that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion."....
......and how did these metallurgists come to their conclusions, by the time the Titanic wreck was found, it has been rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic for 73 years.
At the depth where the wreck was found the water has less oxygen content so corrosion is far less than you may expect at sea level open to the atmosphere, so the remains are still fairly representative of what was original. The analysis techniques are very advanced these days so accurate results can be arrived at. What we have now is far in advance of what they had in the foundries of the day when the materials were made, and that is how they can accurately say what they do. You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior which is why the bilge pumps on these ships had such a hard time, in reality they leaked like sieves anyway. The real blame is a culmination of circumstances and a rather Gung-Ho Captain who was under pressure to have his foot hard down.
People say "its romantic", sorry but I find no romance in such a tragic massive loss of life, which was so needless, perhaps if they had been less stiff upper lip, the whole sad scenario would have never happened.
Have we learned a lesson from this, well apparently not, the Costa Concordia just goes to prove that human error still exists, thankfully without the massive toll this time.
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: Another trying to cash in on the anniversary of the sinking. "His investigations highlight the work of metallurgists who found that the rivets that held the ship’s hull together were not uniform in composition or quality and had not been inserted in a uniform fashion.".... ......and how did these metallurgists come to their conclusions, by the time the Titanic wreck was found, it has been rusting away at the bottom of the Atlantic for 73 years.[/p][/quote]At the depth where the wreck was found the water has less oxygen content so corrosion is far less than you may expect at sea level open to the atmosphere, so the remains are still fairly representative of what was original. The analysis techniques are very advanced these days so accurate results can be arrived at. What we have now is far in advance of what they had in the foundries of the day when the materials were made, and that is how they can accurately say what they do. You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior which is why the bilge pumps on these ships had such a hard time, in reality they leaked like sieves anyway. The real blame is a culmination of circumstances and a rather Gung-Ho Captain who was under pressure to have his foot hard down. People say "its romantic", sorry but I find no romance in such a tragic massive loss of life, which was so needless, perhaps if they had been less stiff upper lip, the whole sad scenario would have never happened. Have we learned a lesson from this, well apparently not, the Costa Concordia just goes to prove that human error still exists, thankfully without the massive toll this time. the wizard
  • Score: 1

1:31pm Thu 26 Apr 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

"You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior".....
.....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side.
I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it.
"You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior"..... .....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side. I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Thu 26 Apr 12

King Joke says...

Amazing, isn't it, how these detailed investigations only happen to bear fruit exactly 100 years after the event. They're not opportunistic charlatans at all, then.
Amazing, isn't it, how these detailed investigations only happen to bear fruit exactly 100 years after the event. They're not opportunistic charlatans at all, then. King Joke
  • Score: 0

7:28pm Thu 26 Apr 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

"and the shortcomings of the radio operator."......
.....the radio operator was at his post sending a distress signal until the power went off, his last transmission was C.D., he never got to add the Q, C.D.Q. being the distress signal in use at the time.
The reason the Iceberg caused so much damage, is because it breached the first 4 compartments, Titanic was designed to remain afloat if a maximum of 3 compartments became flooded, also the design of the decks meant that one corridor ran almost the length of the ship, and that would've flooded, due to the design, hastening the water's transit to other areas, and therefore causing it to sink faster.
"and the shortcomings of the radio operator."...... .....the radio operator was at his post sending a distress signal until the power went off, his last transmission was C.D., he never got to add the Q, C.D.Q. being the distress signal in use at the time. The reason the Iceberg caused so much damage, is because it breached the first 4 compartments, Titanic was designed to remain afloat if a maximum of 3 compartments became flooded, also the design of the decks meant that one corridor ran almost the length of the ship, and that would've flooded, due to the design, hastening the water's transit to other areas, and therefore causing it to sink faster. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 0

7:45pm Thu 26 Apr 12

the wizard says...

Dilligaf2010 wrote:
"You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior".....
.....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side.
I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it.
Yes, the methods were very crude to a point, and the outer plating was of questionable strength. Just because it was big and heavy gave no guarantee to its robustness.

With reference to the "riveting equipment". The method refereed to is flawed as there is no consistency.

Firstly there was no uniformity of the rivet material as we would know it in the modern day. Secondly there was no temperature monitoring, and thirdly, as the temperature was inconsistent, so was the stamina of the two guys belting the end of the rivet over. Obviously their strength would vary through their long shifts.

I think in finding the wreck it should be left alone as a memorial to the poor souls who lost their lives so very tragically, but sadly the modern day media circus almost forbids this.
[quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: "You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior"..... .....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side. I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it.[/p][/quote]Yes, the methods were very crude to a point, and the outer plating was of questionable strength. Just because it was big and heavy gave no guarantee to its robustness. With reference to the "riveting equipment". The method refereed to is flawed as there is no consistency. Firstly there was no uniformity of the rivet material as we would know it in the modern day. Secondly there was no temperature monitoring, and thirdly, as the temperature was inconsistent, so was the stamina of the two guys belting the end of the rivet over. Obviously their strength would vary through their long shifts. I think in finding the wreck it should be left alone as a memorial to the poor souls who lost their lives so very tragically, but sadly the modern day media circus almost forbids this. the wizard
  • Score: 0

8:11pm Thu 26 Apr 12

Dilligaf2010 says...

the wizard wrote:
Dilligaf2010 wrote:
"You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior".....
.....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side.
I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it.
Yes, the methods were very crude to a point, and the outer plating was of questionable strength. Just because it was big and heavy gave no guarantee to its robustness.

With reference to the "riveting equipment". The method refereed to is flawed as there is no consistency.

Firstly there was no uniformity of the rivet material as we would know it in the modern day. Secondly there was no temperature monitoring, and thirdly, as the temperature was inconsistent, so was the stamina of the two guys belting the end of the rivet over. Obviously their strength would vary through their long shifts.

I think in finding the wreck it should be left alone as a memorial to the poor souls who lost their lives so very tragically, but sadly the modern day media circus almost forbids this.
Fortunately the wreckage is now under the protection of UNESCO, so hopefully it'll be left alone.
[quote][p][bold]the wizard[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Dilligaf2010[/bold] wrote: "You also have to bear in mind the riveting equipment of the day was also quite inferior"..... .....you're not wrong there, a hot rivet was placed in the hole, one chap would hold it in place from one side of the metal, whilst 2 others beat lumps out of it from the other side. I wasn't aware that anybody had removed any of the structure from the ocean floor to be able to test it.[/p][/quote]Yes, the methods were very crude to a point, and the outer plating was of questionable strength. Just because it was big and heavy gave no guarantee to its robustness. With reference to the "riveting equipment". The method refereed to is flawed as there is no consistency. Firstly there was no uniformity of the rivet material as we would know it in the modern day. Secondly there was no temperature monitoring, and thirdly, as the temperature was inconsistent, so was the stamina of the two guys belting the end of the rivet over. Obviously their strength would vary through their long shifts. I think in finding the wreck it should be left alone as a memorial to the poor souls who lost their lives so very tragically, but sadly the modern day media circus almost forbids this.[/p][/quote]Fortunately the wreckage is now under the protection of UNESCO, so hopefully it'll be left alone. Dilligaf2010
  • Score: 0

10:16am Fri 27 Apr 12

xjohnx says...

NONE OF THIS IS NEW.

As a marine Engineer cadet in 1970 we discussed this in lectures.
This is just another attempt to make money from the death of 1500 people.
NONE OF THIS IS NEW. As a marine Engineer cadet in 1970 we discussed this in lectures. This is just another attempt to make money from the death of 1500 people. xjohnx
  • Score: 0

6:20pm Fri 27 Apr 12

Orchard says...

I am fortunate to have a signed copy of Richard Corfield's book the Silent Landscape on my book-shelf. The text describes the voyage of HMS Challenger between 1872-1876 which mapped oceans depths all those years ago, a similar voyage he had been part of previously. So he is a most able scientist and writer worthy of the Titanic story.

I have an old magazine 'the Deathless Story of the Titanic' which was kept by my grandfather. In the last pages of the edition are international comments with the Kaiser sending warm telegrams of sympathy and ordering a searching investigation into the provision of lifeboats on passenger liners. Pity he did not see the folly of the Schlieffen Plan and give Germany a more peaceful role for the twentieth century?
I am fortunate to have a signed copy of Richard Corfield's book the Silent Landscape on my book-shelf. The text describes the voyage of HMS Challenger between 1872-1876 which mapped oceans depths all those years ago, a similar voyage he had been part of previously. So he is a most able scientist and writer worthy of the Titanic story. I have an old magazine 'the Deathless Story of the Titanic' which was kept by my grandfather. In the last pages of the edition are international comments with the Kaiser sending warm telegrams of sympathy and ordering a searching investigation into the provision of lifeboats on passenger liners. Pity he did not see the folly of the Schlieffen Plan and give Germany a more peaceful role for the twentieth century? Orchard
  • Score: 0

1:45pm Sun 29 Apr 12

King Joke says...

... Pity Britain didn't see the folly of powers on each side of Europe building up huge arms caches to 'balance each other out' and 'maintain peace'. Yes invading Belgium and France was Germany's fault but it was against a backdrop of an insane international strategy.

THe Schlieffen Plan was folly, it didn't take into account the Belgians sabotaging their own rail system to slow the German advance, which is what happened.

Back to the Titanic! In hindsight it was wrong to have insufficient lifeboats for all aboard, but I'm sure the same arguments about 'Health and Safety gone mad' were just as heated then as now. Somebody somewhere calculated that it was not worth adding a few shillings to the price of a boat ticket to cover the cost of extra lifeboats.
... Pity Britain didn't see the folly of powers on each side of Europe building up huge arms caches to 'balance each other out' and 'maintain peace'. Yes invading Belgium and France was Germany's fault but it was against a backdrop of an insane international strategy. THe Schlieffen Plan was folly, it didn't take into account the Belgians sabotaging their own rail system to slow the German advance, which is what happened. Back to the Titanic! In hindsight it was wrong to have insufficient lifeboats for all aboard, but I'm sure the same arguments about 'Health and Safety gone mad' were just as heated then as now. Somebody somewhere calculated that it was not worth adding a few shillings to the price of a boat ticket to cover the cost of extra lifeboats. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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