Bulkheads and the hull

AL Glover

Jun 4, 2002
1st to ALL here,moderators,posters,& ESPECIALLY 1 poster,for my earlier comments,
(IT WAS NOT meant as a personal attack on a poster/you, it was "words" of a point of view/opinion) all i can i APOLOGIZE & hope your forgive me,
friends again??

comment: on the construction,
"""""IF"""" Titanic's watertight bulkheads would have been "capped" or topped off,(ie would have become the lowest passenger deck flooring)
with the damage done from the iceberg,
would she stayed afloat?
at the time 1910-1911,(when Titanic was being built)
id or was there anything known as welding steel to steel?/
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
Al, I'm afraid there's no easy way to answer that, but given the chain of events which followed the accident itself, I doubt it very much. Quite a bit has been made about water coming uyp and spilling over icecube tray style, but unfortunately, the available evidence points to a very different reality. All the flooding observed came up from below and put enormous stresses on the hull girder which led to the breakup. To my knowladge, none of the flooding actually observed rose up, and spilled over.

To do as you suggest would require the fitting of a number of watertight hatches, scuttles, and fittings to deal with such things as ladderways, trunks, wireways, and ventilation and training a crew to set same would have been a very time intensive exercise requiring a long work up period that only warships have time for. As transitory as manning tended to be on a merchent vessel, a lot of trained people would come and go unpredictably and randomly. Not a good thing when you need a trained cadre of crewmen to do the job who really need to be around for awhile.

Further, merchent vessels can't afford long workup cycles needed to properly train a crew to correctly employ a complex watertight protection system. Warships can, but they're not in the business of making money. Merchent vessels are in the business of making money and can't afford the luxury of non-revenue earning cruises to train crews which will just disappear at voyages end.

The short version is that I don't think such a scheme would have worked out.

Regards welding, the technology was in it's infancy at this time, so it wasn't much in use. That's why the Titanic was held together with 3,000,000 rivits rather then long beads of welded steel. I understand there was some welding done to the Titanic...the details escape me at the moment...but it wasn't done to anything critical.
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Michael said: "All the flooding observed came up from below and put enormous stresses on the hull girder which led to the breakup. To my knowladge, none of the flooding actually observed rose up, and spilled over."

It is true that flooding in BR4 and BR5 was observed to be coming up from below, but there is well documented evidence that water was coming over the top of bulkheads as well as the ship's head continued to sink lower and lower. From Assistant 2nd Steward Joseph Wheat:
"I went and saw if all the people were out of those rooms first, and as I was coming up there was water running down off E deck on to F deck, down our section...It was running down the stairway....I should think it would be about a quarter or ten minutes to 1...I thought the water had come up the stairway leading down to the Post Office, and then ran along E deck, and then down on to F."
Oct 28, 2000
As I see it, all of the flooding that caused the ship to reach the point of "unfloatable" came up through the bottom. That is, by the time when Wheat noted the water running down to F deck there was no hope of saving Titanic. Eventually, a lot of downflooding occurred as secondary flooding became the predominant form of ingress.

However, the flooding of the first three holds, boiler room #6, boiler room #5, and some of the water in boiler room #4 all came through the bottom and not over top of the bulkheads. Some of it came through direct ice damage. Later, it appears to have come through loss of watertight integrity of the double bottom due to hogging (bending) of the hull.

By about 1 a.m., the fat lady was taking off her makeup after finishing her swan song for Titanic. The ship was past the point where it could have been saved. This is when open ports and companionways began to allow the sea ingress from above. It was also when the water inside the ship would have begun to go over top of bulkheads. But, aside from speeding up the inevitable, water going over the bulkheads at 1 a.m. was irrelevant to understanding why the ship sank. The outcome was already decided by that time.

As Lightoller testified, the first flooding was in the peak tank and first three holds. A small ingress was occurring in boiler room #6. Some 20 minutes later the firemen's tunnel and boiler room #6 were found flooded.

Next came a foot of water rising over the stoker plates at the head of boiler room #4. Obviously, this water came up as it could not have overtopped bulkhead F simply because boiler room #5 was still dry. Both Dillon and Cavell were eyewitnesses to this water rising in boiler room #4. Both men said it rose upward.

The flooding of boiler room #5 is available to us through Barrett's testimony. To me, it is water moving horizontally between the boilers. It does not sound like water pouring down from overhead. Barrett's "rush" of water makes most sense as horizontal movement.

Well before boiler room #5 experienced that "rush" Titanic had passed the point of being "unfloatable." (To make a pun on the usual "unsinkable" appellation.) Once a ship goes past its ability to float, there will be all sorts of downflooding as water rushes in to replace the air.

But, that "ice cube tray" idea of water flowing over top of the bulkheads as the cause of the sinking is (and always has been) balderdash. It was a myth created in 1912, in my view to help hide the ultimate breakup of the hull. With the overflooding myth in place, the ship should not have achieved enough of a down angle to break apart, which is what Wilding testified in London.

It broke apart. The first photos from the bottom showed Titanic in two big pieces. So much for the "intact" sinking...and for the myths needed to support this distortion of the truth.

-- David G. Brown

Erik Wood

Aug 24, 2000
In Brief:

The ice cube tray theoy is a mathmatical impossibility, especially in the first part of the sinking. Now keep in mind that after bulkhead F and probably part of that compartment was filled from above. By this time the ships foundering was going to happen. Let me caution all that that does not mean secondary flooding did not occur from above, it means that the primary cause for the failure of a bulkhead or compartment was not from water coming from above.

I classify the sinking in several manners. Directly after ice contact the ship was not foundering in the traditional sense, after the failure of bulkhead D (whether that be from collapse, open seam whaterver) the complete foundering of the vessel is a mathmatical certainty. A certainty based in the reality that water (or direct ice berg damage caused flooding) did NOT sink the ship. In order to come to this conclusion you have to understand the nature of the accident.

My paper on the symposium website (and via email request) highlights this much better then I can in this post.

Matt Pereira

Well down flooding happened due to open port holes and Lightoller`s open gangway door on D deck on the port side. Down flooding happened, is that the only way that water entered the compartments i dont think so, i agree with others that as the weight of the water pulled the bow down, and the bows bouyancy that the bow still had left was causing a tug of war and that caused small seperations in the floor plates and caused water to leak past. Only way i can explain or see how some compartments flooded quicker than others such as the fore peak tank didnt flood more than just that tank the compartment is belived to have remained dry till water reached the anchor chain opening in the hull and allowed water to flood that fore most compartment.

As far as the water tight cover for each compartment that wouldnt work too well. Theres always the possibility that the water tight hatch over the compartment get left open due to break down of communication just like how the windows were left open by the passengers and no one thought to get the word out to make sure all the windows were shut to keep the hull as water tight as possible. Im sure Titanic could have bought some time if those port holes were closed, Not much time but the way i see it even a min more is still more time. Im sure once the D-deck gangway door that was left open im sure that quickened the flooding cause it gave the ocean another 12 sq ft of opening that water could pour in through
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>As far as the water tight cover for each compartment that wouldnt work too well.<<

As I'm prone to say, the Devil is always in the details. There's nothing wrong with fitting a watertight deck to a ship. Warships are built this way as a matter of routine and having this feature hypothetically may have slowed Titanic's demise considerably.

Hypothotically however is one thing and stark reality is a whole 'nother smoke! I say "May Have" because the real trick in extensive watertight subdivision is setting it properly, and this is no small trick. For a warship, it's not only desirable since it must be able to survive battle damage and keep on fighting, but practicable as well. Workups take close to a year or more during which the crew practices at setting all the hatches, valves, closures and the like all the time. By the time the vessel goes on an operational deployment, a well trained crew can close everything in about six minutes.

The problem is that merchant vessels just don't have that sort of time to drill the bejesus out of the crew so they can set the literally thousands of closures needed to make this happen effectively. Nor do they have the manpower. They have to put to sea and start making money and keep on making money right now!

This is hardly conducive towards the training a good crew needs to make this work. The best possible system for a merchent vessel is one that's dirt simple and can be set quickly, preferably at the touch of a button or by way of tripping manual levers or turning handcranks.


Mar 18, 2012
Titanic's Watertight Subdivision

Here is the bulkhead division I came up with for my redesign of Titanic. I hope to apply this in my future redesign of Britannic (the third sister).

titanic stitched.jpg

Here is the data:
1. Titanic has 17 major watertight compartments (18 if you include the aft peak tank)
2. Bulkheads A, D, F, K, L, M, and N (and also the additional bulkhead dividing the electric generator room) go up to B deck.
3. All other watertight bulkheads taken as high as possible.

Survivable Flooding Scenarios:
1. 4 compartments flooded forward. (as per original design)
2. 3 compartments flooded elsewhere

titanic stitched.jpg

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