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Antisinking blankets

This discussion on "Antisinking blankets" is in the Collision / Sinking Theories section; I read somewhere that the titanic had blankets that could be draped over the side ...

      
   
  1. #1
    Ken hogan
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    I read somewhere that the titanic had blankets that could be draped over the side and sucked into the damage, stopping the flooding, and saving the ship. Is there any truth to this at all, or is it another myth? Someone set the facts straight please. and if they did have them any ideas why they didn't use them?

  2. #2
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    Ken -- you are speaking of "collision mats" which are designed to cover relatively small areas of damage. The concept worked reasonably well on wooden warships that were less than 1/3 of Titanic's length. It also works for modern yachts.

    The idea is to bring a flexible material (often just canvas) over the opening. It is maneuvered into place by ropes that come down from the deck. Some go under the keel to the other side. Once in position the collision mat is usually held in place by the force of the water. Collision mats are not intended to completely stop the water, just slow the inflow to the point that the ship's pumps can keep up.

    For those who are curious, the collision mats used on wooden ships were made of old sails. Sailors would spend hours, days, weeks pulling "small stuff" (heavy thread) through the canvas and clipping it off to give a "hairy" appearance to both sides. This process was known as "fothering a sail." On long days at sea any activity is better than none.

    The concpet of collision mats breaks down when you are talking a ship the size of Titanic. Imagine trying to maneuver something the size of a drive-in movie screen using only ropes. The damage was underneath the ship, complicating things. Couple that with the short length of time during which a collision mat would have made a difference. Once the forpeak went under, water coming in through ports, doors, and hatches would probably have sunk the ship anyway.

    In the end, collision mats are an idea out of a different era.

    --David G. Brown

  3. #3
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    By all the evidence, especially that of navy trained Seaman Buley, Titanic carried no collision mats, which were not normally seen on liners.

    Seamen were warned against attempting to block holes with anything less that proper collision mats, which were very strongly made for the job. The pressure of water at any real depth would cause things like canvas, mattresses and other suggested things to be torn up by the sharp edges of the steel. Then the bits would choke the pumps and matters would be worse than ever.

    In short, nothing practical could be done to cover the holes.


    Dave Gittins
    Titanic: Monument and Warning.
    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

  4. #4
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    Good info Mr. Gittens,

    They aren't carried today either. Now we have soft patches, block patches, box patches and junk notice I say junk, like that.

    Erik

  5. #5
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    Junk! LOL! I remember using stuff like that (Box patches!) in the Buttercup trainer at Treasure Island in San Francisco back in 1990. They had to be kept in place by shoring and were barely useful for containing water coming up through a small hole.

    As cruise missiles, bombs, and torpedos are known to make some rather large holes, I can't say as this inspired confidence!

    Cordially,
    Michael H. Standart

  6. #6
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    Yachtsmen have been known to block holes by making the crewmember with the biggest backside sit in the hole. Of course, these holes are not far below the surface and the pressure is not too great. I'm afraid Titanic could not have been saved by having Rose and Molly Brown sit on the biggest hole.
    Dave Gittins
    Titanic: Monument and Warning.
    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

  7. #7
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    During the American Inquiry, Senator Fletcher asked E Buley, (AB.) ‘What is a collision mat’ ? He responded, ‘It is a mat to shove over the hole to keep the water from rushing in’. Fletcher was not doubt trying to establish if Titanic carried such mats. (day 6, Am Inq)
    Olympic was required to carry approved collision mats supplied by the British Navy during her war acquisition service. This hints that the Olympic & Britannic did carry collision mats although ones not acceptable by the British Navy.
    Did Titanic have collision mats on board ? The answer appears to be yes. At Southampton on the 10th April, as Titanic steamed up the Test River, the New York broke her mooring lines and her stern swung out towards Titanic port side. Crew on the ships stern (Titanic) quickly assessed the danger and deployed collision mats. (Ref page 26, RMS Titanic, A Modern Legend. David Hutchings)
    This (somewhat) hints that not only did Titanic have collision mats aboard; it clearly indicates that they had been readily accessible on the ships stern. If we accept this, the same provision was quiet likely stored on the ships foc’sle also.
    His (Smith’s) knowledge of collision mats would have no doubt been in his mind on the 4th March 1912, when under his command the hapless Olympic, which in the process of turning in the Victoria Channel struck bottom near the West Twin Island, and was obliged to put back in dry-dock for examination. (Belfast Telegraph)
    Almost all ships of that period (circa 1912) carried emergency canvas. To cite examples, Cunard Line registered ships carried this provision right through until the late 1930’s, while British Naval ships also carried collision mats from the early 1700’s right through to the present. Coincidently, they were used on the bow of the HMS Hawke following her collision with the Olympic in September 1911.
    A collision mat was for blocking the free inflow of water through the hull. They were usually (3 to 4” inch thick) 4’ up to 8’ foot square sheets with the inboard being tarred hemp and the outboard of heavy waterproof canvas.
    Either way – I don’t think it would have helped very much on the night of the 14th April.

  8. #8
    Noel F.Jones
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    "At Southampton on the 10th April, as Titanic steamed up the Test River, the New York broke her mooring lines and her stern swung out towards Titanic port side. Crew on the ships stern (Titanic) quickly assessed the danger and deployed collision mats. (Ref page 26, RMS Titanic, A Modern Legend. David Hutchings)"

    There could be some confusion here. The context calls for FENDERS, not collision mats.

    Noel

  9. #9
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    Indeed it does Noel

  10. #10
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    I'm afraid Hutchings doesn't know what he's talking about. Lawrence Beesley is quite clear that the action was on New York and possibly on Oceanic (Beesley mistakenly says Teutonic). He refers to the fenders as mats, but this is just a matter of him not knowing the terminology. I see no photographic evidence of fenders being deployed on Titanic. I'll stick with Buley. He was former RN and knew a collision mat when he saw one. He was pretty certain that Titanic had none.

    Mr. BULEY. No. I should think if that had been a small hole, say about 12 by 12 feet square,
    in a collision, or anything like that, it would have been all right; but I do not think they carried
    collision mats.
    Senator FLETCHER. What is a collision mat?
    Mr. BULEY. It is a mat to shove over the hole to keep the water from rushing in.
    Senator FLETCHER. You think she did not carry collision mats?
    Mr. BULEY. I do not believe she did. I never saw one.
    Senator FLETCHER. Did you ever see collision mats used on merchant ships?
    Mr. BULEY. I had never been on a merchant ship before. I have seen them frequently used
    in the navy.
    Dave Gittins
    Titanic: Monument and Warning.
    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

 

 
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