New Theories about the Titanic
 
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New Theories about the Titanic

      2/22/2006

A recent expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic led to a shocking discovery. "This ship didn't split apart because it sank," said John Chatterton, a co-host of the History Channel's "Deep Sea Detectives." "It sank because it split apart. And if you're the person onboard a ship, having it split apart is even scarier than having it slowly sink." Chatterton and his co-host, Richie Kohler, set out on an expedition to research the legendary ocean liner last summer. They encountered two huge sections of the bottom 60 feet by 90 feet from the area where the ship had split in two. That led to a new theory about how the Titanic had sunk.

Using Russian deep-sea submersibles, the expedition was on its final day with no sign of its target: the ship's massive bottom structure, called the keel. So Kohler and Chatterton headed to a remote debris field. With the clock running out, they were shocked by what they found. The usual explanation of the Titanic disaster says the ship, which was traveling from Southampton (England) to New York City, hit an iceberg on its right side, which opened a huge gash. As the front filled with water, the rear flew high in the air, as seen in James Cameron's movie "Titanic." The expedition says the new evidence paints a different picture. The ship also tore open its bottom against the submerged section of the iceberg. As it filled with water from the side and below, it was literally ripped apart by the opposing forces.

The result, Kohler and Chatterton say, was that the ship sank even faster than the crew had expected. In similar accidents, ships had stayed afloat for several hours, allowing enough time for passengers to be rescued. But the Titanic and most of its passengers were lost in two hours. If Kohler and Chatterton are correct, the speed at which the Titanic sank had a huge effect on how many people survived.


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