A New Theory in Topeka

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A little caution on that. Barrett only knew what he could see. He was in the after stokehold and bailed out as quickly as possible once the waterworks were fully on line. (Can't say as I blame him. {I'd} have bailed out too!) The damage he spoke to was two feet above the stokehold plates which were themselves 6 feet above the tank tops. Add in the 5 foot depth of the keel and we're looking at a portion of the damage which was 13 feet above the level of the keel. We'll have to check other witnesses in order to put together a pattern. Should be interesting to see if we end up agreeing with the Inquiries take on the evidence or come to different conclusions. I suspect we'll end up doing a bit of both.

Looks like I may be using my Microsoft Word to make an e-notebook of this stuff.

Erik Wood

If possible I want to reopen the discussion about the flooding of boiler room 5. If I recall rightly we have some who are of the opinion that it was a bunker door and not a collapsed bulkhead. I have VERY interested in this view and any others.
Well, collapse can mean a lot of possibilities. I seem to recall that the bunker itself was filling up very early on. I don't think that door to the bunker would have been up to holding it back. By the same token, with BR#6 filled up, all it would have taken would have been a seam somewhere giving up the ghost.

Guess I'll have to hit the testimony again to see what I can dig up.

Erik Wood

I am hinting at a larger problem, but mainly I am leaning torward a position that I believe (if I am wrong Cal please don't shoot me) Cal took. Without going into great detail I have noticed that Barrett doesn't mention any loud bang or boom, that would preclude a major bulkhead giving way.

Now given, this sudden in rush of water that Barrett speaks of could be a large open seem. Bulkhead doesn't have "go" in order for water to come in, in a uncontrolled manner. All it would take was a open seem or loss of a door.

My follow up question is do you think that open seem/ loss of boiler room 5 is directly related to the loss of boiler room 6. I am not counting the fact that BR 6 is full of water.
I wonder if something gave way elsewhere then. No bang...but perhaps a seam or two in the double bottom? The hull girder was under enormous strain and all it ever did was get worse. If something split from underneath, the water pressure alone would have been enough to fill the space with impressive speed.

The problem with the idea that "the" bulkhead failed is that there is not one, but three bulkheads. They are tied together and some, at least, are full of coal, forming a dandy dam. If a seam fails on the bulkhead that is carrying all the pressure, there are two more bulkheads that have not had any stress on them able to take up the load. I just can't believe that all three bulkheads would suddenly give up the ghost like so much wet cardboard. I keep coming back to the bunker door as the only thing that explains what Barrett saw: a sudden flood of water. By the way, I wouldn't necessarily expect the failure of a bunker door to make a loud noise, I would just pop out of its tracks, releasing the water.

Uh...that's why I was thinking along the lines of something being compromised involving the double bottom. (And yes...I could be way off base on that!) Still, I agree that if it was just the door, that would explain a lot as well. Either way, you get some very fast results!

Erik Wood

The interesting thing about a bunker door loss is that the flooding would not have been catastrophic, there would have been a sudden inrush, and it would have taken a considerable amount of time to flood the entire compartment. Let me say this:

I think that the loss of bulkhead E is the direct result of bulkhead D. When I say loss, all I mean is that water was now being allowed into the compartment at a uncontrolled rate. Via open seem, whatever.

The loss isn't related to boiler room 6 filling completely.
My "read" of Barrett's testimony is that he saw a lot of water coming at him -- for the second time that night -- and skedaddled. He was quite pointed that he did not know the origin of the water and my interpretation is that he didn't really care whence it came...it came and he went!

Barrett's description supports a sudden and catastrophic loss of bulkhead E. But, it does not require that to have happened. His words also support a much less exciting event like the opening of a bunker full of water. In the end, all we know is that Barrett got tired of working in freezing salt water and went on deck.

As Captain Erik has pointed out to me in a private e-mail, the one thing missing from Barrett's testimony is sound. If the bulkhead failed, or the WT door "blew" open, it would have made some little racket which you would think might have caught Barrett's attention.

One possibility -- we know the engineers were opening holes in the deck like the one into which Shepherd fell. Could it be that somebody opened an inspection hatch to a flooded tank beneath boiler room #5. The upwelling of water would have been quiet and spectacular as Barrett's testimony implies.

The only other detail that may be significant is Barrett's survival. He made it, while the others did not. This may indicate the situation was somewhat less dire as he painted. Perhaps to their ultimate dismay the other men did not feel the urgency to leave boiler room #5 so soon.

-- David G. Brown
>>He was quite pointed that he did not know the origin of the water and my interpretation is that he didn't really care whence it came...it came and he went!<<

Sounds like a good plan to me. If the compartment is flooding rapidly, or appears to be doing so, I'd say I have a powerful incentive to be someplace else!

Addendum: That's an intriguing question that David raises. If somebody had tried opening a flooded tank though, I don't think they would have completed the job. Then as now, such tanks had covers that were bolted down. After loosening a couple and seeing water well up, I certainly wouldn't have finished the job, but we can't be sure somebody else would have been that smart.

Always count on stupidity!

Erik Wood

I think I may have mentioned this before, but I have been in a hold (which was empty) when a water main broke (this was the main that carried fresh water from the tanks to forward). When it opened up I thought the world was coming to a end and my young career was over.

LESSON: When you see a lot of water coming in a place where water shouldn't be, your mind tends to overlook the obvious and go directly to the "Oh Crap" moment. Barret saw a inrush of water for the second time and decided that below decks wasn't the best place to be.

I have been pondering the bunker door or open seam ever since Cal mentioned it. My recent research seems to be proving (in my mind) that Cal was right. I think we have some different outcomes but in general he was right on.
Erik, I'm inclined to agree. The flooding in the coal bunker isn't exactly an unknown and that door was not designed to deal with that kind of pressure.

I'm intrigued by what you said about that watermain on your ship deciding to give out. I'm wondering if it isn't distantly possible that one of the pipes running through the boiler room on the Titanic might not have parted as well. With the stresses on the hull, something was bound to break, and not just a door. If this happened at the same time as the bunker door saying "I quit", things would have gotten "interesting" down there real quick! Especially if this pipe was lined up with the pumps!

But I wouldn't be hanging around long enough to investigate it!

Erik Wood

The boilers where dry as reported by Barrett I think. Dangerously dry. So I am not so sure that it was a water main. I dont know, but could be, perhaps a closer look at the plans.

I have been thinking on the bunker door or something associated with the door assembly. I am trying to figure it out.
Actually, I wasn't thinking about the ticking time bombs boilers at all. I was thinking about the pipes lined up with the pumps that they were using to try and buy a few extra minutes for the ship. Some other possiblities which come to mind are seams splitting open under the strain. In all the confusion, any noise from parting seams or failing rivits might not have been noticed at all.
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