Ballard's Original Salvage Statement


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Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Bill,and I'm glad to hear from you...not so thrilled that your concerns got short-shrift by Ballard and Company though. Dismissing or ignoring a credible alternative is not very good science.

A possible example of a coal dust explosion taking a ship out may well have been the USS Maine. Just how credible this is I can't really say, but I'm surprised that nobody in this group knew about it. If memory serves, it was proposed in an artical on the Maine published by National Geographic!(Or by Naval History magazine. Either way, not an unknown to this group.) Go figure.

That 150 to 50 psi drop you mentioned is pretty dramatic and the possible causes and consequences you mentioned strike me as being more credible. God help anybody or anything in the way of this!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Bill Sauder

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Michael:

The pressure drop was interesting because it apparently did not fall to zero right away. Lord Mersy cut short an engineer that was about to describe the situation so we may never know the details, but I suspect a pipe failed in the No 1 boiler room. Schweiger definitely reports a large burst of steam, but as I mentioned earlier, there are survivors from two of the boiler rooms and the port side of the wreck does not show signs of an internal explosion (boiler or otherwise).

On Lusitania, all boiler rooms feed their steam through separate lines into a manifold in the engine room before being sent to the throttles. All though it is grossly unfair to say now, the Platform engineer should have checked to see if the pressure failure was in the No 1 Stokehold and shut the isolation valve to that steam range.

I suspect that steam was still being produced in No 2 and 3 stokeholds, but when it reached the manifold, it simply diverted out the rupture in No 1. The numerous twists, valve passages, and reduction in pipe diameters might have acted as cataracts preventing free venting of the steam to the atmosphere and that is why the pressure seems to stabilize at about 50 pounds ... at least for a few minutes.

Had the engineer isolated the damaged pipe, the Lusitania might had electrical power for at least a few more minutes, possibly right up to the time of her sinking.

Bill Sauder
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hmmmmm...sounds like Lord Mersey was in a hurry to get onto other things. I don't suppose the transcript is available somewhere so I can do some checking on this, maybe see what he was trying to get to?

What I'm left wondering though is just what was the source of the secondary explosion?

We'll probably never know.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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