Cavell Dillon and the RINA report


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Paul Lee

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I was reading the Bedford and Hackett RINA report and was surprised that they had given so little
consideration to the flooding of boiler room 4
"from below". This prompted me to take a closer look at
the testimony of Cavell and Dillon who were in that room and observed the water coming in.

Summarising the testimony, this is what we have:

Cavell was in the starboard side of boiler room 4, in the aft bunker when the impact occurred: the shock
disloged the coal and surrounded him. He came back into the boiler room and noticed the "stop"
signal indicated. At this point, the lights in the stokehold went out.
He went up to get some lamps and emerged into the alleyway (Scotland Road) and saw people
running aft, wet through, carrying lifebelts. The time from the collision until the time he
first saw these passengers was about two hours.
After Cavell found the lamps, he went back to boiler room 4 and found the lights back on:
apparently, they had only been out for a few minutes. Then the order was given to "draw the fires".
The fires were only partly drawn, and at this time he noticed the water gradually
coming up over the floor plates from below. As the water reached a depth of a foot (or
"up to their knees"), Cavell thought
that it was time to head for the escape ladder.
The presence of steam in the room prevented Cavell from seeing any of the engineers coming through
the door into boiler room 3.
Cavell went up the ladder to the alleyway, but found no-one up there. He thought it was "all right"
and went down again. From his vantage point on the ladder, he could not see
any men in number 4, so left the room for the last time,
and eventually emerged on the boat deck, in time to leave in boat 15.
Cavell thought, from the time he saw
the waterlogged passengers until the time he wound up on deck was about 2 hours.

-

After opening the watertight doors up to and including the one between room 3 and 4, Dillon
noticed some water at the foreward most point of boiler room 4, but it was only sufficient
to dampen the floor plates. In his estimation, the crew members in boiler room 4 had come
aft through the open door; behind him, there were a bunch of crews. From the time he left
the engine room to the time he left boiler room 4 and headed aft was an hour and ten minutes.
Finally, the order was given to leave their post and put their life preservers on. This occurred
1 hour and 40 minutes after the collision, or about 1.15am (Dillon thought the clocks had been
put back by about 20 minutes), meaning that he stayed in the engine room for 30 minutes.
Dillon found himself on the starboard side of the after well deck. He saw men and two women and
heard a cry for "any more women?" He chased the two ladies onto the boat deck and saw them deposited
in the last boat on the port side.


Reconciling these two witnesses observations causes some problems. Cavell said that he was up initially
for two hours, looking for lamps - quite a long time, whereas I believe that the order to quench
the fires in the boilers occurred a lot sooner than this.

He sees a sizeable quantity of water, and
leaves with enough time to get to boat 15, launched at approx 1.30am.
Dillon, however, sees only enough water to dampen the floor when he leaves the room. He thinks that
everyone must have come through the door with him, heading towards the engine room, but when Cavell
saw the water (up to the knees),
the men were still drawing the fires. Finally, at 1.15am, and having waited in
the engine room for 30 minutes, Dillon hears the order to abandon his post and goes up on deck, in
time to escort two ladies to what must have been boat D. Therefore, if his times are correct, when he
left no.4 at 12.45am to head back aft.
According to inferred timelines, boat D
left about 45 minutes later, at about 2.00am. I know that witness statements about timings are
unreliable, but Dillon is very sure of the duration of events - and he thinks the clock was put back by about 20
minutes. So, this makes me think that, between 12.45 and approx 1.30am, a fair amount of water had
entered the room - and, I believe the watertight door aft was open, allowing boiler room 3 etc. to
flood quite easily. This leads me to believe that Bedford and Hackett were wrong not to worry about events
in number 4 boiler room.

Cheers

Paul




PS I've done a quick back of the envelope calculation. If the boiler room was covered evenly in 1 foot of water, this would be VERY approximately 6000 cubic feet of water, or 160 tonnes. In about 45 minutes, or 3.5 tonnes per minute. Not much, granted, but perhaps enough to cause major problems later on....
 

Paul Lee

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Looking at other testimony, its amazing how long Cavell and Dillon stayed below. Major Peuchen and Mrs.Candee noticed a large number of stokers come up from below before lifeboat 6 was launched (so, sometime between 1.00 and 1.15am)- and Charlotte Collyer noticed a stoker with an injured hand at approximately 12.45am. And then theres the stokers who boarded boat 1 at about 1.05

Of course, with so few stokers surviving, let alone giving testimony about what was going on below, its impossible to tell what happened. Were they ordered on deck (getting their dunnage bags on the way, as Peuchen noted, which seems a bit unlikely as their quarters were probably underwater at this time), or having raked the boilers clean of fires, did they simply decide to make a run for it?

Cheers

Paul

 

Paul Lee

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Going back to this briefly....Collyer's account refers to the injured stoker before the first of "her" boats were lowered. She was in the third, which turned out be boat 14. Looking at the revised Titanic lifeboat lowering sequence, boat 14 went down at 1.15. Two boats before this would be 1.00am, and 15 minutes before this would be 12.45am, as stated.

From Barrett at the BOT, at least 15 minutes after the collision, the engineers in the engine room rang through to order all stokers (except Barrett) up on deck. Scott also relates this order; but his timescale conflicts with the movements of the ship and the timescale in which the Titanic came to a final stop, but he thinks it was about 12.45; at any rate, he arrives on deck to see boat 14 lowered.

When I get time I'll look and see if any of the stokers had the time to rescue their kits from their quarters. I think at least one did. This indicates to me, if my memory is right, that their areas on F and G in the ship was flooded. By midnight, their area on G deck was awash.
 
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Scott R. Andrews

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"...a fair amount of water had
entered the room - and, I believe the watertight door aft was open, allowing boiler room 3 etc. to
flood quite easily
..."

Well, perhaps not all that easily. Even if the engineers had left that door open, don't forget -- the clutch which prevented these doors from descending had an automatic overriding mechanism connected to a float located in the space between the stokehold deck plates and the tank top. Unless the door frame had become seriously racked, or some very solid and substantial object had been left in the door's path, the float should have caused the door to close before the water in BR 4 began to flow over the threshold.
 

Paul Lee

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Thanks - I'd forgotten about that. I wonder if that large pipe that was mentioned in testimony was still in situ, and whether it went as far aft as BR 4....that might have hindered the closing of the door...
 
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