There is widespread confusion among people regarding why ships like the Titanic do not experience implosions when they sink, unlike what happened to the Titan submersible.
During a dive to explore the Titanic wreck, the OceanGate submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion” that claimed the lives of all five individuals on board.
Experts believe that the occupants of the submersible would have been killed instantly, with their bodies disintegrating into dust within milliseconds, too fast for them to comprehend what was happening.
This is not the first instance of fatalities resulting from a submarine implosion. In 2017, the Argentine submarine San Juan was destroyed by an implosion, leading to the loss of all 44 crew members.
These incidents have prompted people to question the underlying mechanisms and understand why a submersible like the Titan can experience a catastrophic implosion while the wreckage of a massive ship like the Titanic remains relatively intact on the seabed.
The fundamental answer lies in the absence of a significant pressure differential that would cause an implosion.
When the hull of the Titan sub failed, the disparity in pressure between the interior and exterior of the vessel resulted in a catastrophic implosion, leading to its destruction and the loss of lives on board.
Physics professor Arun Bansil, quoted by IFLScience, explained why implosions such as the one that destroyed the Titan occur.
He stated, “When a submersible is deep in the ocean, it experiences the force on its surface due to water pressure. When this force becomes larger than the force the hull can withstand, the vessel implodes violently.”
If the pressure inside an object is lower than the external pressure, an implosion can occur if the structure cannot withstand the force exerted. In the case of the Titanic, implosion did occur for certain sections of the ship.
According to IFLScience, parts of the ship, particularly the stern (rear) section, imploded while sinking to a depth of approximately 60 meters (200 feet) below the water’s surface.
The sections of the ship that sank to the ocean floor relatively intact did so because air could escape from them.
As they filled with water, the pressure inside and outside those parts of the hull equalized, preventing implosion. Conversely, areas where air could not properly escape experienced different pressures and consequently imploded.
This explains why the bow (front) of the Titanic wreckage remains recognizable while the stern has suffered significant destruction.