A New Theory in Topeka

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Erik Wood

I am bringing this thread back to life for a little while. I want to welcome the following folks to this private thread: Yuri Singleton, Rob Ottmers, Lisa Harrod, David Hudson, Jason D. Tiller and Roy Mengot are all new comers to the private forum.

I created this new thread to discuss a variety of things including but not limited to the event in Topeka but more importantly my theory that will be discussed in Topeka. This will give some folks a chance to read up on the testimony before the event and they can come battle equipped to give opposition or support the theory. Keep in mind that everything discussed here must STAY here and that it is all copywrited.

Rather then spill the majority of the theory at one time. Once a week I am going to put forth a new section of the theory. Hopefully we will keep it to one week per idea. The purpose of this isn’t to spill all of the beans but to give you a head start, as well as to make sure that you all understand the basics before the event.
The first thing is Barrett. Was he in Boiler Room 6 or was he in the vestibule before and during the accident?? Dave Brown brought this to my attention, he seems confused throughout his testimony and sometimes when you think he is talking about boiler room 6 he is talking about boiler room 5 and vice versa. The damage he describes fits that of hold 3 not necessarily of boiler room 6.

So, what do we all think??

Ack! Back to the transcripts!
This could be interesting. I take it there's a discrepancy in the testimony here which begs for attention. (Wouldn't be the first time.)

Michael H. Standart
Cap'n Erik,

I've read through Barrett many times and never got the sense that his testimony was confused. To the contrary, it seems to be one of our best resources about events below that night. Some of this may be bias on my parts, as Barrett is on of my most favorite players.

Most of the critical points of Barrett's testimony are supported by the testimony of others (Beauchamp being the prime exception). Please elaborate on what parts of Barrett where you are seeing the conflicts.

Looks like it went streight to the page. I glanced through the testimony and the only point that seems confusing on his location seems to be where he stated that he jumped into boiler room five along with the engineer. That would tend to imply that he was right by the vestibule. Yet, Barrett also indicates he was two feet away from the ship's side when it was opened up.

Maybe I'm the one that's confused. I'll be taking the BOT testimony with me to work to give it a closer look as it's a lot more detailed. I might be the one who's confused rather then Barrett!

Michael H. Standart

Erik Wood

It seems to have worked this time. Wow, that is my first trouble shooting and fixing thingy since I became a moderator. YIPEE, and I didn't destroy the board.

Anywho, I agree that that is my main focus of confusion. The BOT says the water rose 8 feet and was only to the stoker plates, but I can't find a quote of the time frame in which they are referring.

Mike & Cap'n Erik,

We will have a better time of this if we use line numbers from the inquiry or page numbers from the BOT.

I don't recall Barrett saying he was two feet from the ship's side. He says that water came in 2 feet above the plates. (Barrett @ 1868)

Here the BOT report has 8 feet of water above the the double bottom after ten minutes: <a href="http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTReport/BOTRepFlooding.html" target="_blank">http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTReport/BOTRepFlooding.html</a>
That's based on Barrett. The actual BOT report has question numbers in the margin to support the text. TIP has the number is parens.


Erik Wood

Ok, I found it quicker then I thought I would, here it is:

1875: Can you tell us at all compared with where you were standing whether it came from above or below? - About two feet from where I was standing.

So is he saying that the water was coming in two feet from where he was standing?? If so isn't the indicator that he describes earlier in his testimony in the middle of the boiler room??

Further he states earlier that it was two feet from the stoke plate and then goes on to say that it hole reached from "The third stoke hold to the forward end". What in Sam Carnation does that mean??


Each time I read Barrett's testimony I am reminded of the "volunteers" who come forward to be interviewed by TV reporters at some major event. (In another life I was a TV news producer.) For the most part, these people are well-meaning and seldom lie. But, they so often get their facts horribly mangled that I developed a personal rule never to use volunteer witnesses. Barrett seems that sort of witness in the Titanic saga. Everything he told is the truth, just like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle are a picture. The problem is both cases is sorting and fitting things together.

Erik has thrown this idea back into my lap without so much as a "heads up." So, I have not had time to prepare a proper presentation of my thoughts. Please allow me some slack in what I am going to write.

It occurs to me that Barrett belonged in boiler room #5 as he claimed. But, he was not there. Why not? The most logical answer is that he was taking a cooling off break away from the heat of the boiler furnaces. Stokers and trimmers were given regular breaks of this type to keep them from collapsing from the heat. Barrett could have climbed to the boat deck for a breath of cool night air. Or, he could have walked about 70 feet forward...through boiler room #6...and into the bunker area of hold #3. Here, he would have found the air temperature refreshing, but he would not have experienced an arduous climb up metal ladders or the cold night wind. I know which route I would choose...

Except for a cooling break, there would have been no reason for Barrett to be away from boiler room #5 where he was stationed. Yet, he was obviously at ease while talking to an engineer who was his superior. This indicates (but is not proof) that Barrett was not "goldbricking" while away from his duty station. Cooling off was a necessary part of his job.

I think we can all agree that hold #3 was definitely damaged by the accident. In fact, it is probably the only place that Barrett could have been where he undoubtedly would have seen water come "pouring in" the way he described. Such an event did not take place in boiler room #5 and an argument can be raised that it also never happened in #6. But, hold #3 was catastrophically opened to the sea during the accident.

Anyone in the bunker section of hold #3 had to duck into the vestibule at the aft end of the firemen's tunnel to escape. That vestibule was about the size of an apartment bathroom. Except for ducking beneath a falling automatic watertight door, the only way to safety was up a set of escape ladders. Again, Barrett's choice was obvious--go under the slowly closing door to the relative safety of boiler room #6.

From there on, Barrett's story is not all that much different from Beauchamp's Both men describe the short section of open seam across bulkhead E in the same general way. It is significant that Beauchamp saw this open seam in the bunker at the aft end of boiler room #6 while Barrett reported it at the forward end of boiler room #5. This is the orientation that would be expected for two people viewing the same opening from different sides of bulkhead E.

Barrett, then, seems to have gone back to his duty station in boiler room #5. As Cap'n Erik can show better than I can, there are sound reasons for the rush of water Barrett later saw coming between the boilers of boiler room #5 as the conventional story holds.

Beauchamp's testimony is unequivocal that boiler room #6 remained dry long enough for him to pull the fires out of his furnaces. Then, he spent some time milling about the base of the exit ladder before he and the others were sent up and out of that space. The only water Beauchamp describes is that coming from the small length of open seam across bulkhead E. This opening was inside the bunker that lined that bulkhead.

Special to those of you who visited the S.S. Willis B. Boyer in Toledo -- I got the idea of Barrett going forward to cool off while visiting the Boyer's forepeak last year. It was a hot spring day, but the water temperature was still in the low 50 degree (F) range. The forepeak was downright cold. And, I knew that once, long ago, members of the Boyer's crew had used the forepeak for smoking something other than tobacco.

My intention is not to rewrite history or put words into Barrett's mouth. Rather, I want to sort out his testimony and fit it into the larger puzzle of the night.

-- David G. Brown

Erik Wood

Dave is right, I kind of dropped this on him yesterday without so much as a "hey guess what.." so I do apologize for that. Should have consulted with you a little better.

But I did enjoy what you said about Barrett and I look forward to the continuing conversation.


Sorry about not holding up my end of the discussion. I've been very busy of late.

David, I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that Barrett was assigned to boiler room #5. In BOT #1838-1851 <a href="http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTInq03Barrett01.html" target="_blank">http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTInq03Barrett01.html</a> Barrett testifies that he was in boiler room #6, which the stokers referred to a section 6. Section 6 is divided into two stokeholds, #10 and #11.

Regarding Barrett being 2 feet from the side of the ship, I don't read his BOT testimony that way. At 1875 he is asked if water came in above or below where he was standing and he replies that it was two feet from where he was standing, that is two feet above. We have to remember that 90 years, an ocean and other factors separate Barrett's dialect from ours.

The business about the third stokhold to the forward end makes sense as well. The third stokhold from the bow would be the forward half of BR#5.

In his US testimony he also states that the water came in two feet above the plates and again puts himself on duty in #6.


Q. Were you on duty on the night of the accident? - A. Yes.

Q. Where? - A. In 6 section.

Q. Were you there when the accident occurred? - A. Yes. I was standing talking to the second engineer. The bell rang, the red light showed. We sang out shut the doors [indicating the ash doors to the furnaces] and there was a crash just as we sung out. The water came through the ship's side. The engineer and I jumped to the next section. The next section to the forward section is No. 5.

Q. Where did the water come through? - A. About 2 feet above the floor plates, starboard side.

Q. How much water? - A. A large volume of water came through.

Q. How big was this hole in the side? - A. About 2 feet above the floor plates.

Q. You think it was a large tear? - A. Yes; I do.

Q. All along the side of No. 6? - A. Yes.

Q. How far along? - A. Past the bulkhead between sections 5 and 6, and it was a hole 2 feet into the coal bunkers. She was torn through No. 6 and also through 2 feet abaft the bulkhead in the bunker at the forward head of No.5 section. We got through before the doors broke, the doors dropped instantly automatically from the bridge. I went back to No. 6 fireroom and there was 8 feet of water in there. I went to No. 5 fireroom when the lights went out. I was sent to find lamps, as the lights were out, and when we got the lamps we looked at the boilers and there was no water in them. I ran to the engineer and he told me to get some firemen down to draw the fires. I got 15 men down below.

<a href="http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/AmInq18Barrett01.html" target="_blank">http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/AmInq18Barrett01.html</a>

As to a cooling break. I don't think it would be any cooler in the fireman's tunnel, probably the opposite. If you needed to cool off, the best place to be would be under one of the fan discharges. With the fans blowing 29 degree air into the boiler room they may have been a bit much that night! )I've often wondered what it would be like to have the 400 degree boiler in front of me and the ice cold blast of the fan's on my back.)

I think that if Barrett had left his post for some reason he would have said so. He admits abandoning his post when the water came in; he has nothing to lie about. Beauchamp is another matter. I can't get Barrett and Beauchamp on the same sheet of paper. Yes, Beauchamp says the water did not rise in #6 until the fires had been drawn, but this directly contradicts Barrett and Hendrickson who independently testify that BR#6 was flooded when they tried to enter, shortly after the collision and around the time that the lights went out (an event that Beauchamp seems to have missed). I think Beauchamp was "helped" to remember something that he may have done in BR#5 as if it had happened in #6. Why? Simple, Barrett had testified that he and the senior engineer then on duty had abandoned BR#6 when the water came in; not very British, what with all the engineers dying so bravely that night and all. OK, so Barrett and Hesketh ran, the lowly stokers stuck around and took care of business... If you believe that, I have some ocean front property here in Arizona that I would like to sell you.


Erik Wood

I know that this is going to seem like a stupid question (especially since I am a moderator on this here board) but how in the heck did you get part of your post to indent and all that. I tried to do that but gave up.

Anyway to the meat of your post Cal I would have to agree with some of it but not all of it. With a paper due to my editor this week I don't have time to dedicate to the post. Although I will stand by my ASSumption that the damage that Barrett describes best describes the tunnel and hold 3 and not boiler room 6. Now that little tidbit is open for debate and I will be publishing something directly regarding my line of thinking and explanations.

I don't quite understand what you are getting at in the following:

I think Beauchamp was "helped" to remember something that he may have done in BR#5 as if it had happened in #6. Why? Simple, Barrett had testified that he and the senior engineer then on duty had abandoned BR#6 when the water came in; not very British, what with all the engineers dying so bravely that night and all.

Let me do some firmer research and I will get right back to this.

Cal very succintly states the argument against my hypothesis that Barrett was in hold #3 at the time of impact. Honestly, I have gone down Cal's line of thinking in my public writings, so I cannot disagree directly with what he says without contradicting myself.

However, I do not feel that Beauchamp was wrong in any sense when he testified about the condition of boiler room #6 immediately following impact. He said it was unflooded (if there is such a word) until after he pulled down the fires and waited around to be told to leave that space. This puts Beauchamp in an obvious conflict with Barrett, as Cal mentioned.

As I say, my hypothesis came while standing in the forepeak of a 1911-vintage steamship on a hot day. It was cold in that steel cavern because of the temperature of the water surrounding it. The director of the museum related a story of how the crew would smoke wacky tabacky in that compartment during the last years (the late 1960s) of the ship's service. One day very early in the sailing season a man went down to have a toke and discovered that the ship was flooding from loosened rivets caused by impact with surface skim ice. He reported the flooding and it was solved with wooden plugs kept for the purpose.

I have always been bothered by the early flooding of boiler room #6. There is very little buoyancy in the narrow shape of the bow, so that with hold #1 and #3 definitely gone and hold #2 probably flooding--if hold #6 flooded within the first 10 minutes, how did Titanic float so long?

I have proposed my Barrett in hold #3 hypothesis mostly to stimulate thinking and posts like the one from Cal. On the surface it does not appear that moving Barrett into hold #3 changes any of the critical facts of his story. And, I think my hypothesis puts Barrett's story into closer alignment with the overall process of foundering that is Erik's study.

However, I can't say any of the above with conviction because my personal schedule has let me do little more than propose the hypothesis. Sometime in the near future I plan to get down to some serious research on the matter to see if I can refute any of Cal's arguments. In the meantime, as I stated from the begining, my hypothesis is no more than an uproven suggestion for research.

Comments, suggestions, and criticisms are welcome.

--David G. Brown

Erik Wood

Oh, I tried that and it kept coming up errors. I will try it again right now.

Is this going to work??​

How do you get the lines like Cal had???

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