Brief Porthole Analysis


Jan 5, 2001
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It is interesting to return to the topic of open portholes and the role that they played in Britannic’s sinking. Widely-accepted is the belief that once the open F and E deck ports — forward and amidships — were submerged, allowing water rapid access into hitherto unbreached watertight compartments, Britannic was doomed.

While the ports may have accelerated flooding forward, I believe in particular that the E deck ports amidships on the starboard side would have played a large role in the ship’s increasing starboard list, and, from 8.50 a.m., the water reaching D-deck; we should also consider the volume of water liable to be seeping below deck and into boiler rooms amidships. This may well have further reduced her ability to float upright and contributed to her ultimate capsize just after 9.05 a.m.

I think it was computed that twenty-five open portholes could have contributed to 400 tons of flooding per minute, the same rate as on Titanic with her open twelve square feet. This excludes the primary explosion damage. Assuming a circular gash in Britannic’s hull as totalling 600 square feet as opposed to Titanic’s 12 square feet, flooding totalling as much as 20,000 tons may have had access to the forward six watertight compartments in one or two minutes. The 600 square foot figure comes from an expert source, although I’ve no idea where they got it from, whereas with my amateur sleuthing I had estimated flooding of 16,000 tons in the first minute or minute-and-one-half.

Recently I remembered an old 1970s report that Captain Bartlett had sent a party below to close all open portholes. But that’s easier said than done. Finding even twenty-five open portholes in the bowels of a listing, rapidly sinking ship, before they went below water, not knowing which doors they were behind, would have been harder than finding a contact lens in the Atlantic Ocean.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Too right Michael. I like your title 'Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon.'
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Best,

Mark.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Thanks Mark. I just tries to calls them as I sees them. As to the Britannic, I'm sure "Iceberg" Charlie must have been grateful that there were no patients aboard when they used the ship for a minesweeper. If there had been, things would have been "interesting."
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Certainly. We can add to Britannic's record that she might have saved other ships from those mines -- the problem being, were they worth more than Britannic?

I'd say no materially, but if they had more human lives than they were.

Best,

Mark.
 

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