Questions Than Answers, Part 2
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. The starboard side was not going up, but the [port] side was going down.— Chief Baker Charles John Joughin
As I reviewed the testimony, it occurred to me that one oft-overlooked characteristic of the sinking was the list of the ship. Testimony is contradictory, but by tying known events together to establish a trend, it appeared to me that the ship took on an initial starboard heel soon after the collision that soon went the other way and eventually developed into a port roll. This is hard to show in the conventional broadside view (also known in the architectural world as the sheer plan), so I decided to add a stem-on (or body plan) view in order to provide additional perspective. Taking the description of certain key eyewitnesses and applying them to the model, I was surprised to see how far Titanic had rolled by the time she sank beneath the waves. The port roll proved to be key to understanding possible scenarios that provided for the known condition of the two double-bottom sections, as I will describe in due course.
Discussing this with Roger, I found that he, too, had looked at a port list affecting the character of the sinking. Unfortunately, production constraints would prevent the port list and roll from being incorporated into the animation used for the televised documentary, but at least Roger and I were of like mind on this issue.
This part of the ship was right up in the air. You could see her propeller right clear, and you could see underneath the keel; you could see part of her keel.— Able-Bodied Seaman Joseph George Scarrott
Several witnesses reported seeing Titanic's stern raised to the point where the three propellers could be seen. A few described the whole of the rudder and a substantial portion of the keel rising above the water. This description is not unexpected, because even in Roger's low-angle theory, the rudder, screws and keel can be visible to eyewitnesses at certain vantage points. Again, Roger and I were in concurrence.
While the lights were burning, I saw her bow pointing down and the stern up; not in a perpendicular position, but considerable...I should think an angle of not as much as 45°...It was intact at that time.— First-class Passenger Arthur Godfrey Peuchen
When it came time to address the angle that Titanic's hull attained prior to the break-up, I started moving toward a different conclusion from Roger's. Decades of popular portrayals of Titanic's sinking have immortalised the image of the stern hanging high in the air, a notion that Roger and the LWDG analysis team were challenging. Just because the image was so well engrained in the public's consciousness didnít mean that it was correct, of course, but it needn't necessarily be wrong, either. Again, I turned to the eyewitness testimony for help.
As mentioned above, experience has taught me that eyewitness testimony can be contradictory. Rarely do the witnesses agree on every detail...the researcher instead must look for trends and a general consensus. Finding such an accord for the angle that the hull took before the break was next to impossible. In many a testimony given in court, the eyewitness was asked about the angle and they responded by demonstrating with their hands, a visual cue that was not illustrated in the official record. At a loss for a definitive trim angle, I chose a maximum 30°, based on what I perceived as a consensus of the admittedly vague eyewitness descriptions. I was fully prepared to change this if the evidence indicated otherwise.
With that, I was laying the groundwork for a scenario that would more closely resemble the traditional version of the sinking than the one that the LWDG analysis team was proposing. Because of this, my version would be referred to throughout our discussions as the "traditionalist" scenario.
I had an idea of what I thought that the double-bottom section was telling us, but in order to tie it all together into a complete break-up and sinking scenario, I needed help from others with more experience with and knowledge of the wreck. With 33 dives to Titanic, James Cameron knows the wreck like no other...he has seen more of it, both inside and out, than any other living person. His intimate knowledge of both the history and the physical remains of Titanic, coupled with a keen understanding of physics, has given him the insight to correctly interpret much of the evidence to be found on the ocean floor. Ken Marschall has been involved with explorations of the wreck since 1986 and with Jim since 1995. Ken's powers of observation and attention to detail are evident in the numerous reconstructions of Titanic that he has painted over the last 20 years. As a member of the LWDG analysis team, Ken had requested permission from Kirk Wolfinger, the producer of and driving force behind TFM:MP, to share the expedition's findings with Jim, and Kirk was more than happy to solicit Jim's opinions. It was therefore natural for me to approach both Jim and Ken for help in firming up the traditionalist scenario. One might immediately assume that Jim might be biased toward the high-angle theory because it was that image that he used in his 1997 film, "Titanic," but he made it clear from the very start that he had absolutely no interest in authorship and would rather keep an open mind to anything that might lead us to the truth.
Jim, however, did insist on one thing...we were not to neglect the work of previous analysts. The Titanic disaster has been thoroughly documented and analysed over the past 94 years, and it would be foolish to think that we could, as Jim put it, "completely revise history based on [an analysis of two pieces of debris that had been subjected to] a complex sequence of buckling and stretching forces which will never be completely understood." We might find during the course of our analysis that in light of the new evidence our understanding of Titanicís break-up and sinking might need to be changed, but we didn't want to start our analysis with the assumption that we were going to rewrite history. This was good advice and mirrored the attitude that the LWDG analysis team had already adopted...remain unbiased and let the evidence lead us to a conclusion.