Bunker Number 10 Boiler Room 6


diana handley

Oct 28, 2000
Diana-- You are unwittingly mixed up. However, you are in good company. Even the crew mixed things up a bit when it came to the correct designations of boiler rooms, stokeholds, and bunkers.

Each boiler room had two stokeholds, except boiler room #1 which had only one. They were numbered moving forward. The lower number stokehold was at the after end and the higher number at the forward end of each boiler room.

BR #1 -- Stokehold #1
BR #2 -- Stokeholds #2 & #3
BR #3 -- Stokeholds #4 & #5
BR #4 -- Stokeholds #6 & #7
BR #5 -- Stokeholds #8 & #9
BR #6 -- Stokeholds #10 & #11

The bunkers were different. They were lettered, starting with "A" in boiler room #1 and moving forward to "b" in boiler room #6. In addition, there were two auxiliary bunkers on either side of the firemen's passage beneath hold #3, which were known as the #3 bunker.

Boiler room #1 -- bunkers A, B, and C
Boiler room #2 -- bunkers D, E, F, G, and H
Boiler room #3 -- bunkers I, J, K, L, and M
Boiler room #4 -- bunkers N, O, P, Q, and R
Boiler room #5 -- bunkers S, T, U, V, and W
Boiler room #6 -- bunkers X, Y, Z, a, and b

Most of the lettered bunkers were on a mezzanine level approximating the orlop deck. These were the bunkers where the trimmers broke large lumps into furnace-size coal and "trimmed" the bunkers servicing the boilers on the stoker level below.

Orlop Level -- bunkers A, B, D, F, G, I, K, L, N, P, Q, S, U, V, X, Z, and a.

The rest of the bunkers were vertical storage compartments that lined the watertight bulkheads. It was from these that the firemen drew fuel to feed the furnaces. Again, moving from boiler room #1 forward, they worked out this way:


Bunker C
----Bulkhead J----------------------
Bunker E


Bunker H
----Bulkhead H----------------------
Bunker J


Bunker M
----Bulkhead G----------------------
Bunker O


Bunker R
----Bulkhead F---------------------
Bunker T


Bunker W
----Bulkhead E---------------------
Bunker Y


Bunker b
----Bulkhead D----------------------
Bunkers #3 port & stbd


So, there was no "bunker #10" in boiler room #6. There was, however, a stokehold #10 located at the after end of boiler room #6. Bunker Y served stokehold #10, while bunker b served stokehold #11.

After reading through the testimonies, I've come to the conclusion that the crew did not stick to these official designations with any precision. The boiler room numbers were used properly, but often as not the stokeholds (or "stokeholes") were often assigned the boiler room number, if identified at all.

The bunker letter designations do not seem to have been used by the crew. These seem to have been a convention of Harland & Wolff's drawing office. The letter designations were probably used by the engineers in calculating coal loading and burn rates. But, the "black gang" seems not to have been bothered by the letter designations.

-- David G. Brown

diana handley

thanks david may be you can help me then on what im trying to find out..i read that there was a fire in bunker 10 in boiler room six. but looking at the deck plans i can see two bunkers in boiler room 6 so which one was on fire thanks

sorry jason you can smack my hands
Oct 28, 2000
Diana-- Most of the people on this forum won't like my answer which is bunker "b" at the head of boiler room #6, starboard side.

Most people think it was in bunker "W" at the head of boiler room #5. I want to invite those who hold this opinion to join in so you get the whole spectrum of opinions.

Fire aboard a steel ship spreads by heat conducting through the bulkheads or decks to ignite new blazes in heretofore untouched compartments. A big part of fighting any fire is to prevent his sort of thing from happening.

In Titanic, we learn from Barrett and Hendrickson that hoses were played on the steel of the bunker to cool it during the fire. Nothing is mentioned anywhere of removing coal from any bunker other than the burning bunker during fire-fighting efforts. If the testimonies are true, this means that the burning bunker must have been against a bulkhead with little or no combustible material on the other side.

Looking a bunker "W" in boiler room #5, it is easy to see the requirement of nothing combustible is not met. This bunker backs up to bulkhead E which forms back wall of bunker "Y" in boiler room #6. So, there is combustible coal on both sides of bulkhead E. Any fire sufficient to cause distortion of the bulkhead steel would have transferred enough heat through the metal to ignite coal on the other side. From a pure fire-fighting point of view it is virtually impossible for bunker "W" to have been on fire--if the testimonies are accurate.

In addition, both men said a hose was played on the steel during the fire. This was echoed in apocryphal newspaper accounts. Wet coal is more likely to spontaneously combust than dry. So, it is not good practice to wet down a non-burning bunker. The opposite is true--you want to keep the coal as dry as possible. My research shows that the preferred method of handling a burning bunker was to pull the coal out and not to use water as that was likely to cause additional spontaneous combustion.

It would have been impossible to play a hose on the hot steel of bunker E without wetting down coal, an action of dubious merit and great threat of increasing the fire.

Bunker "b" at the head of boiler room #6 has none of these objections. It does not back up to a full bunker on the other side of bulkhead D. Quite the contrary, the ship did not carry enough coal to have needed to fill the starboard auxiliary bunker in hold #3. So, there would have been empty space on the forward side of bulkhead D where a hose could have been used to good effect.

Of course, that empty space meant that no coal had to be removed as a preventive measure to avoid the spreading of the fire--as was apparently not done.

So, cold science rules out bunker "W" and points suspicion at bunker "b" in my opinion.

-- David G. Brown
Mar 3, 1998
As Dave well knows, I'm going to disagree. For bunker "b" to have been afire requires Barrett to have lost sense of where he was at the time of the collision, something that I don't believe a leading stoker in charge of a stokehold would do. Could Barrett have lied? By way of answer, I would ask...to what purpose?

For the purposes of another project, I read through the testimony regarding a bunker fire again today. This time, though, I had one question foremost in mind...could bunker Y also have been emptied, at the same time as W? I can't find anything that will answer that question one way or another. I think that it's a possibility to consider.

What would be the result of two empty bunkers on the starboard side of the ship, with the coal most likely redistributed to port bunkers? A slight port list, perhaps? Hmmm....

Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Interesting point you bring up Parks. A slight list to port was mentioned by Beesley as you well know. But that would have happened no matter which starboard side bunker(s) were emptied.

But back to the possibility of emptying two bunkers. According to Barrett, what we are calling bunker W was the only bunker that was emptied.

2292. Now, with regard to the bunker, you have said this bunker referred to just now was empty - the coal bunker? - Yes.
2293. Were there any other coal bunkers empty forward? - No.
2294. Was this the only one empty? - Yes.

2295. Had it been emptied in the usual way? - No.
2296. Why was it emptied? - My orders were to get it out as soon as possible.
2297. When did you receive those orders? - Not very long after the ship left Southampton.
2298. Was there anything wrong? - Yes.
2299. What was wrong? - The bunker was a-fire.
2300. Shortly after you left Southampton -
The Commissioner: Now how is this relevant to this Inquiry.
2301. Shortly after you left Southampton - I'll put another question or two, and you will see why I think it is relevant. (To the Witness.) How long did it take them to work the coal out? - Saturday.
2302. The whole Saturday. What condition was the watertight bulkhead in? - It was the idea to get the bunker out. The chief engineer, Mr. Bell, gave me orders: "Builder's men wanted to inspect that bulkhead."
2303. The bulkhead forms the side of the bunker.
2304. What was the condition of the bulkhead running through the bunker? - It was damaged from the bottom.
2305. Badly damaged? - The bottom of the watertight compartment was dinged aft and the other part was dinged forward.
2306. (The Commissioner.) What do you attribute that to? - The fire.
2307. Do you mean to say the firing of the coal would ding the bulkhead? - Yes.
2308. (Mr. Lewis.) This is the bulkhead between sections 5 and 6? - Yes.

On the other hand, there is this little observation of Beauchamp who was in BR 6 stokehold 10.
673a. [Mr. Raymond Asquith.] You mean it was coming through the floor? - Yes, coming through the bunker door and over the plates.
674. Through the bunker door? - Yes, coming through the bunker like.

This last observation is intersting because it says water was coming out of the bunker door onto the plates. If that bunker was emptied, or even partially emptied, it could explain that observation since damage was reported extending into the bunker behind that one, the one that Barrett said was emptied.

I agree with you that it is highly improbable that Barrett lost sense of where he was at the time of the collision, or for that matter, which bunker was emptied out. Also, it was very well known that the only way to put out a coal bunker fire once it was discovered was to dig down and expose the burning portions and flood it with water, or use the burning coal in a boiler. Today, flooding with water is not considered the best method, but in 1912 there were few alternatives.
Oct 28, 2000
Parks-- We are friends on opposite sides of this question. My thoughts about Barrett are too long and complex for presentation here. I'll summarize the high points.

I believe his magical appearance on the last day of U.S. Senate testimony carrying under his arm an 882-foot visual aid (SS. Olympic) smacks of spin doctoring at its 1912 best. He then proceeded to tell a tale which was supported by no one else. In fact, if Barett makes a liar out of Beauchamp and calls into question the sanity of his superior officers.

I find too many inconsistencies within his testimony about both his actions and the actions of Hesketh and Shepherd. For Barrett's testimony to have been true, it would require that Hesketh and Shepherd must have forgotten about the catastrophic flooding of boiler room #6.

Barrett wants us to believe that Hesketh escaped boiler room #6 by nipping under a W/T door. Yet, some 10 minutes later in Barrett's account Hesketh has completely forgotten this event when he orders Shepherd and Barrett back into #6. That's nonsensical. And, while Barrett never says how Shepherd got into #5, this man who was the charge engineer of #6 agrees to go back even though he must have known #6 was already flooded. Again, nonsense.

Officers who see a compartment flood don't send men back into that space when no work could possibly be accomplished. Barret as a member of the crew might have felt compelled by the social norms of the day to go back, but certainly Shepherd would have raised some protestations. Even then, officers did not go back into flooded compartments without a "beg pardon" if they know in advance it's either suicide or a hopeless task.

There's more proof that Hesketh did not know boiler room #6 was flooded at impact. Later, after the tunnel was discovered flooding, fireman Hendrickson went aft to report it. He ran into Hesketh in Scotland Road. From Hesketh's reaction we can deduce two things: 1.) the lights were out in the boiler rooms at that time; and 2.) Hesketh did not know #6 was flooded. These deductions are based on the fact that Hesketh ordered Hendrickson to go aft for oil lamps and take them forward to #6.

All of this couples perfectly with the problem of fire propagation in a steel ship. Bunker "Y" would have to have been emptied if "W" were ablaze. Yet, we have no evidence this was done. Bunker "b" would not have required emptying anything as the forward side of bulkhead D was exposed for fire containment efforts (wetting the steel with a hose).

The suggestion that coal was re-distributed to port bunkers is interesting. I'm not entirely sure how that could have been done given the gravity-feed system used, but maybe. Moving all but the burning coal from any one bunker to another bunker on the other side of the ship would have a double net effect on trim. Certainly, this is a possibility.

I would think that rather than lift coal up to the mezzanine bunkers, it would have been much easier to move it horizontally. And, bunker "b" is perfectly located to suggest just such a solution to the problem. All that would have been needed is to wheelbarrow the stuff through the vestibule at the end of the firemen's tunnel and into the empty port auxiliary bunker. This would have gotten rid of fuel for the fire while at the same time have placed the coal handy for feeding into the furnaces of boiler room #6. And, it would have left the starboard aux bunker empty for continued work with the hose.

Yes, it would have been possible to move the coal from "W" into the port aux bunker. But, moving the coal from "Y" is another story. Suddenly, you have an awful lot of shoveling and wheeling going on that produces no headway for the ship. And, we have no reports of the sort of confusion which might have resulted.

The location of bunker "Y" is beneath the swimming bath, so there was a buffer deck between it and 1st class accommodations directly above. Still, I wonder how a fire in bunker "Y" would not have produced some odors or even smoke in the passenger areas--things which we have no reports of in the testimonies.

One thing about bunker "b" troubles me. Although it has no accommodations directly above, it does have the mail room. Somehow, I wonder how the postal clerks thought about a bunker fire burning so close with all that combustible paper about. Maybe that's the real reason for using the fire hose on the steel.

Summing up here's how I view the evidence--

Fire in Bunker "Y"
Barrett (prodded by a question)

Fire in Bunker "b"
Physical design of ship
Shipboard firefighting techniques
Actions of Hesketh
Actions of Shepherd
Actions of Barrett
Testimony of Beauchamp
Actions & testimony of Hendrickson
Anecdotal evidence of Dilley

-- David G. Brown
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
To help others visualize these references to various bunkers, boiler rooms, and stokeholds, I contribute the following diagram.
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>Michael, you collect junk mail?<<

Yep, usually from credit card companies as well as socio/political/religious activist groups who want to pick my pocket in the name of business or whatever agenda their pushing. I don't answer any of them but I really need to start shredding the lot.

The Victoria's Secret Catalogues Church Bulletins can stay.

Seriously, Sam, you might want to consider collating all of your diagrams into some sort of book. Titanic Tech For Dummies perhaps?

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