How Cold Was The Water When The Titanic Sank?

water when the titanic sank

Even before the release of the movie Titanic in December 1997, the story of the sinking of the Titanic was an enthralling and emotional one. More than 1,500 deaths were recorded and it stands as one of the worst maritime disasters to have occurred during peacetime.

Most of the deaths were as a result of the shock of the cold water. This has led to a lot of persons wanting to know just how cold the water was. If you also have that question, then you are at the right page as we will be discussing that.

Another popular question people have with regards to the movie is whether Jack could have survived. That question will also be answered in this article so keep reading.

How cold was the water when Titanic sank?

When the Titanic sank, the water was below freezing temperature. It was 28°F or -2°C and that is in no way a conducive temperature. Majority of the people, who died after falling into the water, lost their lives because of this very low temperature.

To help you further understand the picture, recall that it was an iceberg that hit the ship and resulted in the sinking. This means that the water was so cold that ice could be sustained in it. You might now ask but the ocean was not frozen? The high salt content of the ocean prevented it from freezing.

The passengers that were saved by RMS Carpathia stated that when the sun had risen the next day, they could see enormous sheets of ice on the water. Arthur Rostron, the ship’s captain reported seeing at least 20 huge icebergs in the water.

Why was the water so cold when the Titanic sank?

We already mentioned that the water temperature was 28°F or -2°C when the Titanic sank, but many people are curious as to why it was that cold.

One of the reasons why it was that way was a high-pressure cold front from eastern Canada. You also have to take into account that the ship struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm and sank in the middle of the night. The temperature as at when the ship sank were 39°F or 4°C in the air and 28°F or -2°C in the water.

That the temperatures were that way is not strange at all. The median temperature for the North Atlantic Ocean in the area where the ship sank is about -2°C or 2°C in April.

How long did it take for Titanic passengers to freeze?

Within 30 minutes of the Titanic sinking, majority of the people who fell into the ocean lost their lives. The general notion now is that hypothermia was not responsible for their deaths, rather it was as a result of cardiac arrest or cold water shock-related matters.

Professor Michael Tipton of Portsmouth University stated that the shock of the cold water would have led to a lot of victims hyperventilating and taking in too much water, which caused their deaths. He also added that another reason would be that their heart couldn’t stand the strain of the extra work, resulting in cardiac arrest.

How many survivors were pulled from the water after Titanic sank?

Out of the hundreds that fell into the ocean, about 44 to 48 people survived. Majority of them were pulled into the lifeboats fast enough. You should also know that when the Titanic sank, a lot of the lifeboats that were deployed were not filled to capacity. This is one of the reasons why the loss of lives was so much.

The survival of the head baker on the ship, Charles Joughin is a popular story. He was very much a part of the lifeboat operation. He led his baking crew to move large amounts of bread to the lifeboats and he helped women and children to get into the lifeboats.

In fact, some of the women thought that they were safer on the ship and in that case, Charles Joughin had to force them onto the lifeboats.

He was made the captain of Lifeboat 10 but seeing that two sailors and a steward were already on board the lifeboat, he refused to board. What he then did was to go below deck to have a drink, after which he came back to the deck and went down with the ship.

Like we said earlier, most of the people who fell into the water died within 30 minutes, but not Joughin. He stayed in the water for about two hours till sunrise. Then he swam to one of the lifeboats but there was no space for him to get on. He however held the hand of a cook who was on the boat till he saw another lifeboat that had space for him and he swam to it.

Many believe that Joughin survived for that long in the water due to the fact that he was drunk. Although being under the influence of alcohol increases the chance of hypothermia, it also gives a calming effect. This could have been a reason why Joughin did not panic from the cold water shock and why he was able to tread water till he saw a lifeboat to swim to.

Another reason why Joughin may not have been so panicked could be because the sinking of the Titanic was not his first sinking experience. He was on board the SS Oregon when it sank in 1886, so maybe he already knew to stay calm and not panic.

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What would have happened if the Titanic sank in warm water?

The answer is that if the Titanic sank in warmer water, more people would have survived. Most of the people who fell into the water were putting on life jackets. Also, those who made it onto the lifeboats were saved just a few hours after the Titanic sank.

That is not to say that they would last forever if not found and rescued on time. Even though the cold water shock can be ruled out, there is still the risk of hypothermia.

Hypothermia is a condition whereby your body loses heat faster than it can generate heat, resulting in a dangerously low body temperature. The normal human body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). If it goes below 95°F (35°C) there is a very high risk of hypothermia.

The water temperature in the Caribbean is usually between 75° and 85°. And so if it happened that the Titanic went down somewhere off the coast of Jamaica, more people would have survived.

However, this is nothing more than wishful thinking, since hitting an iceberg was the cause of the sinking of the ship. If it were warmer waters, there would be no iceberg to hit the ship in the first place.

We will now proceed to answer the question everyone has after watching the movie.

Could Both Jack And Rose Fit On The Raft / Door?

At first glance, it would seem that Rose and Jack could have fit on the door, but the fact is that it would not have been buoyant enough to carry them. If they had used life jackets to support the frame it would have worked.

Since the movie was released, people have argued that Jack didn’t have to die since there was enough room for him on the door that Rose was floating on.

For those who haven’t seen the movie or if you can’t really remember how it happened, Jack was able to put Rose on the door while he stayed in the water. Both of them passed out and when Rose came to Jack was already dead.

People were obviously very dissatisfied with this since there was visibly enough room on the broken door.

However, James Cameron the movie’s director has tried to explain that it is not about space rather it is about buoyancy. He argued that Jack’s weight would have caused the door to sink. You would think that this explanation would put the matter to rest but people were still not satisfied.

The show Mythbusters recreated the scene to see if fastening Rose’s life jacket underneath the door would have helped. It did work. The extra uplift created by the life jacket would have been enough to make the door support both Jack’s and Rose’s weight.

In response to this recreation on Mythbusters, James Cameron made it clear that according to the script Jack dies, and so nothing could have been done about it. He admitted that maybe the door should have been a bit smaller but if the script says that Jack dies, Jack dies.

So the answer to whether both Jack and Rose could have fit on the door is both yes and no. Yes because the lifejacket could have created the needed uplift and no because the script says that Jack dies.

Besides, in that type of condition how could Jack and Rose have even reasoned that they could use the life-jacket to improve buoyancy?

Why didn’t Jack and Rose take turns on the door?

This is another popular question that people have after watching the movie. But if Jack and Rose had taken turns with using the door to stay afloat, none of them would have survived.

The energy required to get onto the door and the repeated exposure to the very cold water and air would have taken its toll on them. It would have eventually led to both of them going into cardiac arrest or drowning.

Even though a lot of persons still get to ask this question, there is less argument and debate around it. The explanation is easily accepted and it is not hard to see that both of them would have been exhausted if they were taking turns.

Look on the bright side, at least Rose survived. What if she had died from the shock of hitting the cold water in such cold air temperatures?

If you are still not satisfied just remember that what you saw in the movie is what the script says should happen. At the end of the day, what the script says goes and so Jack could not have escaped dying.

In Conclusion

You may have come across campaigns to assist people who swim in the ocean survive a riptide. They are told not to panic as panicking will make them forget to try to float or tread water.

It is very understandable why the victims of the sinking of the Titanic were panicking in the water. They were already scared over the fact that their ship was sinking and combined with the shock of hitting the freezing cold water, who wouldn’t panic?

For fans of the movie, you now know that Jack could not have survived because the door would not have been able to support his weight in addition to that of Rose. For those who think they could have used the life-jacket to improve buoyancy, there was no way they would have thought of that under those circumstances.

Don’t forget that the ship Titanic actually did sink in 1912. It led to a revolution in the regulations surrounding lifeboat capacity and organization, to ensure safer sailings.