Abandoning Ship


Erik Wood

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A Very Good Morning To All:

Well Mr. Standart and I had a rather nice discussion on the process of evacuating a ship. Which lead to several questions popping into my oversized head. It donned on me that although the davits could have held a extra row inside the present it may not have helped and may have dampened the evacuation process. This has been discussed at some length on other threads but it is also important to bring up several facts that include:

1. The safety of the passengers while seeing to the quick evacuation of the ship.

2. The windows on A Deck

3. The type of boat used.

4. The speed at in which the ship was sinking.

5. The forward angle of the ship.

6. Crew and passenger behavior.

Theories on Number 1: As is today passenger safety is of the utmost importance. Whether it is getting them off or keeping them on the ship it does matter. Moving large quanities of people from one section of the ship to another is a hard evoloution plus you have to consider that the place they are going to can not hold the entire compliment of passengers. Yet the ship needs to be evacuated in a quick manner as is the case in this sceniro. So what do you do? Captain Smith decided that he would avert panic and see to the safe departure of hopefully at least half of his human cargo. He did this by not sounding any formal alarm and yet at the same time he had Officers instruct people to go to the boat deck and once there they were asked to depart.

So Smith accomplished number 1 on matter how we may disagree. He saw to the quick and safe evacuation of passengers. His reasoning for not sounding the alarm included.

The Theories on Number 2: As discussed previous if the ship had it's full allotment of lifeboats the first batch most likely would have to be loaded from A Deck which as Second Officer Lightoller would point out were locked. So now you would have had to ask the passengers to go to A Deck and climb through a window before entering a boat. This not only would have taken longer but would have been more dangerous. Only one person could enter a boat at a time unlike the boat deck where you could load two at a time. Ships such as the Queen Mary and Ile De France solved this problem by making the Promenade Deck doors tall enough to walk through.

So even though it sounds good practical logistics and seamanship seem to tell us that eventhough more boats may have saved some it would not have saved the amount we seem to think. Remeber that all of the boats could not be launched to the time frame of in which the ship sank. More lifeboats would have saved more if the same amount of peopel could have been lowered through the A Deck windows then when the ship sank some of the lifeboats would have been torn free as the ship sank. But mostly they would have been decoration.

Theories on Number 3:For the most part the boats used where the best available by far. Cruise ships of todays age rely on the use of there tenders to carry the majority of passengers to safety in the event of a emergency.

Theories on Number 4:We have to remeber that ship was sinking as the boats were being lowered(obviously) but the speed at which she was sinking makes it almost impossible to get 48 boats off. Titanics crew didn't even get 20.

So it would appear that the lifeboat count doesn't really matter. What matters is the conduct of Ismay and Captain Smith directly after the accident

Theories on Number 5:As the forward angle of the ship grows steeper the risk of tipping a boat grows. You have to pay out more line on one end then on the other. Coordination is parmount. You add that to the loaded boats and that spells disaster. Boats never broke from Titanics davits but lessons could be learned in seamanship from those who lowered the boats in the final hour. As the lord of the seas slowly pulled Titanic to her grave the deck became harder to stand on the angle of which the boats were being lowered would have been harder to keep level.

All in all Titanic's Officers did a good job in lowering the boats.

Theories on the final question: The crew behavior for the most part was one of valor, duty, honor and any other good name you can think of. Men staying to the end to keep power on full well knowing they were doomed. The attempted to keep control of the passengers until the end. Passengers for the most part kept control of themselves they saw to there families before themselves. That is rare.

My main point in posting this is realy to get others to yell and destroy my theories hence I have to defend them. I guess it pointed out to me that in my own eyes and my 20 some years at sea tells me that if they didn't have time to launch 20 lifeboats what makes people think that could have launched over 40. Plus there are so many other things that are involved in the evacuation of a ship that those unless in the Cruise Industry really can't understand. So this is just my 2 and half cents worth of writting and I would love to chat more one on one with any one who has questions on my theory. Or this thread I guess is a good place.

Just keep in mind that my wife says I have a nack for complicating the obvious and trivializing the momentus.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I always thought the attempt to get the secondary loading done from A deck to be the unnecessery comlication...and a perfect example of the mis-communication which always rears it's ugly head in a crisis. The order was given, but nobody seemed to get it so those A deck windows were never opened when anyone expected them to be. By the time they were, all the loading was being done from the boat deck, so it became moot.

If memory serves, 18 boats out of twenty were successfully launched with Collapsibles A and B being floated off when the ship went under. I suspect that if they had adaquate lifeboat seating available that the could have launched more, but this would have required some extra assets that they didn't have, starting with enough trained crewmen who knew what they were doing for a more expiditious launching evolution.

Whether they could have gotten them all away is another matter. (They pulled it off on HMHS Britannic, but they didn't have a lot of people aboard at the time.) Certainly they would have had to hustle things along in a way they didn't attempt.

Oh and don't worry, Erik, yelling isn't my style these days.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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I guess what bothers me most about those who say if Titanic had had enough lifeboats all would have been saved is this.

As you pointed out there where short handed. They needed more people who knew what they were doing. The fact that they could only get 18 boats off in a 1 hour and a half says something as well. Plus if you filled these boats to capacity you might not have gotten 18 off. Loading takes time and a boat takes longer to lower when loaded. The boat weighs more and the weight can shift more easily. Plus you bring up another good point. They would have to hustle. Which for obvious reasons they didn't. Hmmm. I wonder if... Well I am going to go think on this and come back later.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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What intrests me most about the whole evcuation is this. The Time Frame. If the first boat left at 1245 and the ship sank a 220am that is one hour and thirty five minutes to get 19 other boats loaded and lowered. You figure that not even a fifth of the passengers were on the boat deck in the first hour. In the last half hour to 45 mintues is when the majority show up.

What if the boat deck had been jammed with passengers directly after the boats had been swung out? What if the problem had been to many people instead of not enough? Would this have been a good thing or a bad thing? Would the Officers have had enough crew members to control the mass amounts of people on the boat deck? This leads to several questions. Can you or anybody Help??

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I suspect if the problem had been too many people, it would have meant that a lot of these bloke would have realised that yes, this ship is sinking and leaving would be a very good idea. The passangers likely knew there weren't enough boats for all, so the calm which prevailed through most of this sad episode would have been replaced with panic.

I don't think they would have had enough crew to go around to control the crowds. Not when they had to resort to scrounging up the odd passanger and some stewards to serve as crew for the boats. Further, how many men there had any sort of crowd control experience? I'd be surprised if there was even one!

Further questions? Ask away, chum. Dealing with these issues is why were here.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Although none had any "experience". Lightoller, Wilde, Murdoch the rest did a good job handling the situation.

One would assume (or at least I would anyway) that if you take the boat deck as being full then add the extra row of boats you create a seen where maybe half of those that survived would survive under those circumstances. So in my mind I visualize the following.

If Titanic had enought lifeboats, for the sake of discussion we will say 48. And ALL of the passengers had been allowed to the boat deck or A Deck. Disaster would have ensued. Many more would have died. If boats could be properly lowered from the boat deck they would be fully loaded. Seeing as some would not fit on the boat deck the rest would crowd A Deck and the fantail they would be jumping into fully loaded boats. Which could or would cause boats breaking from davits. Then you would have just the massive panic on the boat deck. Some of the crew (assuming that there was enough to handle the job) would be using force to keep control of the crowd.

So to rap up all of the things that people who know little about ships and shipping as well as the Titanic story claim should have happened more would have died. More lifeboats and telling everyone would have created more death. Do I have this right?? Or am I on crack again.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Doesn't sound like you're on crack to me, but if the DEA is snooping in, I'll let them worry about it. That's what these blokes are paid for.

Would more lives have been lost? That's a hard one to answer. I suspect it would have a lot to do with whether or not they sounded the general alarm and had adaquate crewmen trained to deal with this sort of thing. They didn't and therein lies the problem. All the lifesaving goodies in the world are pretty useless if people who are supposed to use them don't know what they're doing.

One thought that occurs to me is if they had provided enough boats to begin with, it would have been based on the assumption that the ship was quite sinkable...as she proved to be...and that they would have prepared for it in the first place.

Other factors that spring to my demented mind; had they used better and more thorough damage assessment proceedures, they wouldn't have chanced getting underway again as they appear to have done, and that would have bought them some more time. At least an additional forty minutes and perhaps more as moving the ship appears to have aggravated the damage by putting stress on an already heavily damaged hull.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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I think that main bad part of getting back underway is the fact that the determing bulkhead was the one that had been damaged by fire. I wouldn't have risked it until a very detailed inspection had been done. I right in my book that Ismay was the determining in factor in getting back underway. Not Smith. I refuse to believe that it would have been any different.

The training is a big thing. But pure logistics is the other. To many people not enough room provides for more panic which leads to more violence.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I have some mixed feelings about that fire. Heating tends to strengthen steel, not weaken it, but there may have been some other factors at work here.

Regardless of that, what we appear to be looking at is a grounding incident with substantial damage to the double bottom, as well as (Maybe) some on the side of the ship which ensured that the inner hull was penetrated. Add to that the distortion of strength/load bearing parts of the structure, then imposing hydrostatic pressure on an already weakened bulkhead by moving through the water. Small wonder that this bulkhead in Boiler Room Six gave up the ghost. Once that happened, a possibly manageable situation...one where they could have sat tight until help arrived...quickly went south on them.

There are some people lurking around who have a better knowladge of the working details of the ship then I do, so I'll put it out to them; what sort of damage control equipment/features did the Titanic have available? Watertight bulkheads, pumps, suction hoses we know about, but how about shoring equipment? And as an aside, firemains and fire protection?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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The heat thing I guess is bothering me because in my experience it tends to warp the bulkhead which can cause it to weeken plus the movement as you mentioned. All evidence that I have seen points to the fact that situation as you stated was well in hand until a certain someone insisted on making way again. The bulkhead may have been weak from the fire fighting efforts, and then you have the fact that it was also not the bulkhead but the bunker that lay between the two that was holding water out.

I too am interested in shoring equipment if any on board.

Erik
 
K

Karen Sweigart

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Ok, I have a question. If they would have had more boats that they couldn't load the usual way because of time constraints, but they set free, would they have been easy enough to climb into from the water? It looked to me (if I go by "Titanic") that you'd have a heck of time climbing from the water into a lifeboat without someone pulling you in. Thanks Karen.
 

Cal Haines

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Michael S. wrote:
... what we appear to be looking at is a grounding incident with substantial damage to the double bottom, as well as (Maybe) some on the side of the ship which ensured that the inner hull was penetrated....

I going to leave this part for later, but I disagree with Mr. Brown's grounding theory and I think the "evidence" the Titanic attempted to get under way again is pretty thin.

... Add to that the distortion of strength/load bearing parts of the structure, then imposing hydrostatic pressure on an already weakened bulkhead by moving through the water. Small wonder that this bulkhead in Boiler Room Six gave up the ghost. Once that happened, a possibly manageable situation...one where they could have sat tight until help arrived...quickly went south on them.

Every time I hear about how watertight bulkhead (WTB) "E" just collapsed I want to scream. It's not just one bulkhead, but a system of three massive bulkheads that are tied together. WTB "E" is much heavier that the hull of the ship. Someone needs to explain to me how it, and the bunker bulkheads on either side can just collapse.

The WTB "E" is framed with 36" deep I-beams, on centers 2'9" or less, and plated with 56 pound plate on the bottom strake--56 pound plate is about 1.37" thick. The weight of the plating decreases with each strake, as follows: 56, 54, 52, 50 pound. The upper strake is down to about 1.23", still pretty serious stuff, eh? Bulkhead "E" is heavier than the hull of the ship, yet everyone assumes it could just collapse without so much as a whimper? Myself, I think the engineers at H&W knew how to design for the loads that "E" was intended to carry, which is boiler room #6 full of water and #5 empty.

The adjacent bunker bulkheads ("Q" and "R") are framed with 9" I-beams with a 20" web every third or forth frame. The lower strake of plating is 44 pound (1.09"), the rest are 30 pound (0.74"). (The plating on Titanic's bow is only 0.60".) Each bunker web frame is tied to the WTB by two 15" I-beams, so it's not just one bulkhead that has to collapse, it's all three. Pardon me if I have difficulty imagining such a structure collapsing like so much wet tissue paper!

I think Morgan Ford is correct in his theory that what Barrett saw was the result of a bunker door failing and allowing water trapped in the bunker to rush out into boiler room 5. By the time this happened water was up to E deck, 8 feet above the top of the bunker and nearing the top of bulkhead "E". In fact, failure of a bunker door is exactly what the final report of the British Inquiry concluded. (see page 33)
Quote:
In No. 5 boiler room there was no water above the stokehold plates, until a rush of water came through the pass between the boilers from the forward end, and drove the leading stoker out. (Barrett, 1969)​
It has already been shown in the description of what happened in the first ten minutes, that water was coming into No. 5 boiler room in the forward starboard bunker at 2 ft. above the plates in a stream about the size of a deck hose. The door in this bunker had been dropped probably when water was first discovered, which was a few minutes after the collision. This would cause the water to be retained in the bunker until it rose high enough to burst the door which was weaker than the bunker bulkhead. This happened about an hour after the collision. (Barrett, 2038,2039,2041)​

Somehow Mr. Brown manages to translate this into:
Quote:
The report concluded that the relatively thin metal of the bunker was not strong enough to retain the weight of this water, so it broke open under the pressure.​
D. Brown, The Last Log of the Titanic, International Marine / McGraw-Hill, 2001, page 159.​

The bunker doors are 34.5" x 51.5" x 32 pound (0.78") plates, stiffened by a vertical angle bar riveted to the center and a single strap across the bottom. The doors run in vertical tracks made up of two riveted straps. There is nothing to keep the doors from flexing outward at the top and only friction against the closing strip (which appears to be a wooden block) at the bottom. The doors were not designed to be watertight, just to hold back a column of coal. I have no idea what the angle of repose of coal is, but I think it's safe to say that a bunker full of water exerts a lot more force on the door than one full of coal. There's no question in my mind that the bunker door will give up the fight long before the bulkheads do.

Then there's the fact that the aft bunker in BR #5 is, in all probability, full of coal. Even if they did empty it to keep it from catching on fire, as Garzke (without support from the inquiries) suggests, I would expect them to fill it back up again from the lateral bunkers as soon as the fire was out. If the adjacent bunker were full, you have all that mass to try to move when the bulkheads "collapse". A 9-foot deep bunker full of coal seems like a pretty good dam to me.

I don't have a problem with the idea that water rushing out of bunker through a 3' x 4' hole, with around 30 feet of head behind it, could rush aft "through the pass" (I assume Barrett means the passageway between the boilers) and momentarily fill it up to a pretty alarming degree. A couple of the bunker doors are only a few feet out of line from the gaps between the boilers. One critic of this theory points out that the contents of the bunker only translates to 3 or 4 (I forget) feet of water on the stokehold floor. I disagree that it will spread out evenly at the onset. And I don't think this takes in to account the fact that a significant amount of the surface of the stokehold floor is taken up by boilers, particularly as the depth of water increases. It also assumes that the water will wind up under the floor plates. Not so, the floor plates are at the level of the bottom of the bunker door, the water will rush out on top of the plates. It may then find its way underneath via the joints in the plating.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 
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Thanks for all of that, Cal.

Now if we can get Dave Brown to comment on this, we can have a more varied debate going on.

One question goes begging though; what sort of damage control equipment did the Titanic have? (Firemain arrangement, stations/hydrants, shoring material, etc.) Are there any resources available where I can check?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Tracy Smith

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Karen, yes it is very hard to climb into a boat from the water. I know this one through personal experience.

When I was 13, I was with my family on my uncle's boat. We were out in the middle of the Narragansett Bay, and I jumped off the boat to go swimming. My cousin had let the boat's dinghy into the water, and I tried to climb into it. It was like trying to push a stalled car uphill......

I eventually got myself up and over, only to keep on going and fall off back into the water on the other side.
proud.gif
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Karen, by your question, do you mean loading the boats while they're in the water?

I wouldn't want to try that. To pull this off, you would have to use the side doors, and by the time the ship settles low enough in the water for people to step in, you would want to close them real quick to make sure you don't have another way for water to get in. Perhaps a few hardy souls could shimmy their way down to a boat by way of a rope, but I wouldn't expect a passanger to try that.

If you're suggesting that people jump for it and swim to a boat, well, in 28 degree water, that would certainly be a court of last resort. Some tried it, and a few lived to tell the tale.

A very few! If a swimmer wasn't pulled out fast, hypothermia would do the poor bloke in.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Cal Haines

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Michael S. wrote:
One question goes begging though; what sort of damage control equipment did the Titanic have? (Firemain arrangement, stations/hydrants, shoring material, etc.) Are there any resources available where I can check?

Hi Michael,

The short answer is probably "very little". There was discussion of the topic in the USENET group alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic some time back, but unfortunately the Deja.com archive is gone (acquired by Google) and cannot be accessed at present. As I recall the discussion, there was some suggestion that Titanicmight have carried collision mats and that Smith should have been familiar with them by virtue of his Royal Navy experience. This is not an area that I have spend much time delving into, but I don't believe that shoring supplies were aboard, or that the practice was even in use in 1912. Apparently damage control, even aboard warships, was in its infancy. Even the 1941 edition of Knight's Modern Seamanship has very little to say on the topic, indicating that "minute subdivision" was the key to controlling hull damage.

As to fire-fighting equipment, I don't recall any mention of it in the summary of the BOT inquiry. The sections that discusses the pumps, BOT Report, Pumping Arrangements and BOT Report, Machinery, do not mention fire pumps. I assume that the general purpose pumps handled that duty. I also don't recall mention any fire-fighting equipment in The Shipbuilder or Engineering. About all that The Shipbuilder has to say about "Sundry Pumps" is a mention of fresh water pumps with a capacity about 7,800 gallons per hour--a typical urban fire engine can pump about 10,000 gallons per minute (if I recall correctly).

My read of Barrett's testimony is that the flooding of BR#6 was immediate and very severe. It would be interesting to see if modern U.S. Navy damage control methods and equipment could have controlled the flooding there. But unless the flooding in BR#6 could have been controlled, Titanic was doomed to founder before help could arrive.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 

Erik Wood

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I will attempt to explain Mr. Browns theory as it is one that I happen to partially believe. Now keep in mind that is 24 years of me running into things and some experiences from other more seasoned Captains that has brought me to believe this. If you look at the testimony of the majority of passengers and crew what did they describe? For the most part a slight shudder. That alone is not enough to stay that it was a grounding but you have to remeber that 90% percent of the flooding came from down and not through the side. Titanic did suffer some side damage right around the bulkhead between boiler rooms five and six. That was as the ship was reacting the rounding manuver that Murdoch gave.

But the majority of damage was done underneath the ship in the double bottom. The rest of the flooding including the forpeak,the holds. All was done at the deck plate level. Or below. If the ship had hit the berg broadside she would have sank more like the Andrea Doria. The damage would have been contained to three comparments instead of 5.

Since I have grounded a ship a good many times when you ground it is more of a shudder effect. The ship very slightly vibrates.

The main problem with this theory is that if the ship had actually grounded she would have stopped her self on the iceberg. We all know that she didn't. This is where my theory varies from the of Captain Brown.

It is my belief that Murdoch gave the order hard over order. The bow clear very obviously the berg as the stern swung in he ordered all stop and shifted the rudder. This is where the actual contact with the berg is. As Titanic slowly began to turn to starboard her underbelly came up and on to the underwater shelf (much narrower then Captain Brown suggests)tearing holes along the bottom of the ship until she reached about the bridge wing which is roughly Boiler rooms 5 and 6 where she punched a hole broadside. There for the underbelling to the majority of the hit with the exception of boiler rooms six and minor damage which according to both Barret and others had minor damage which the pumps could control. We have to remeber that that room was still used until the bulk head collapse.

Mr. Haines brings a very interesting bit of info to the plate. Mainly that unlike the movies the bulkhead could not have just fallen over. It is as Mr. Haines points out three different bulkheads. There is where the slightest difference in collision theory can make a world of difference. It is my belief that the underbelly along the starboard side had been damaged up to boiler room six. The bunker in between the bulkheads on both sides was full of water. The thinner metal between the watertight bulkhead and the bunker is what gave way the water tight door had held but the bulk head it self had been comprimised by the underbelly.

We also have to remeber that there is a five degree list shortly there after. Right after the collision. That is almost instantanous with the collision. You ask any other captain and they will tell you either bottomed out, or you have a stress fracture somewhere. Bottoming out is basically a soft grounding.

To account of the chunks of ice on the well decks you have to remeber that Titanic's mass was probably 10 times that of the berg. So when the bottom of Titanic rubbed the bottom of the berg the weight pushed it down hence the the top of the berg leaning in rubbing the side of the berg. Another thing to remeber is that the bunkers where not full. Barret had cleared the majority of coal out of the bunker between boiler rooms 5 and 6 that day by order of the Chief Enigeer. Plus she left Southampton withe less then half of what she could have carried.

I would be happy to discuss this more indepth on a private level. captewood@hotmail.com. That was mainly for Cal.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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A caveat to the above is the following:

I am in NO way speaking on the behalf of Captain Brown. Plus it is important to remember that we are arm chair quarterbacking something that none of us actually saw.

Erik
 

Cal Haines

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Some corrections:

WTB "E" has 0.56" plate on the bottom strake. The thickness of the plating decreases with each strake, as follows: 0.56", 0.54", 0.52", 0.50". For bunker bulkheads "Q" and "R" the lower strake of plating is 0.44", the rest are 0.30".

Typical pumps on city fire trucks are in the 1,000 to 1,250 GPM (gallon per minute) range.

Thanks to Morgan Ford for pointing these out, apologies to the rest of you for the errors.

Warm Regards,

Cal
 

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