Construction Delays

Dan Kappes

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From my previous reading, I can only remember there being two major delays in building Titanic, first when the Olympic collided with Hawke, Titanic's construction got delayed because some men working on her had to be transferred to make repairs on Olympic and second, when the Olympic lost a propeller blade and she got Titanic's blade as a replacement. Because of this latter incident I think, Titanic's maiden voyage was bumped from March 1912 to April.

Were there any other times construction on the Titanic was delayed?
 
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Mike Spooner

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I have be asking the same question why the Titanic took 7 months longer to build than Olympic, and quite frankly the Titanic was never completely finished either! With missing furniture and other equipment to. They are quick to blame the delays of the Olympic miss-haps or repairs. But when you look at the time on the slipway which is the longest time to build the ship. The Titanic took nearly 4 months longer to build. Yet at this stage both ships are identical!
 

Dan Kappes

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Yeah, the Titanic and Olympic were constructed side by side as seen in this photo, but the Olympic was launched, fitted out, and set out on her maiden voyage long before the Titanic was even launched!

44706


Maybe Titanic's construction was delayed because of designer Alexander Carlise's attempts to add more lifeboats being rejected in 1910 and him retiring and getting replaced by Thomas Andrews.
 
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Yeah, the Titanic and Olympic were constructed side by side as seen in this photo, but the Olympic was launched, fitted out, and set out on her maiden voyage long before the Titanic was even launched!
Olympic's keel was laid 16 December 1908, Titanics 31 March 1909.

Maybe Titanic's construction was delayed because of designer Alexander Carlise's attempts to add more lifeboats being rejected in 1910 and him retiring and getting replaced by Thomas Andrews.
Nothing to do with the retirement of Carlisle. The lifeboat question had nothing to do with his retirement or the construction. I have done a short research artilce about his retirement.

 

Mike Spooner

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Yes I would agree Alexandra Carlisle leaving the company had very little in the delys of Titanic! Whether he retired or resigned is another question? As I believe he resigned!
Back to the question why has the Titanic hull has taken longer to build on the slipway than Olympic? I have to question as much impressive the 6,000 ton William Arrol gantry was? Was it the most commercial efficiency to build two ships side by side? As I can see there is a bottle neck with cranes movements and placing material along side the ship hull. Then looking at what John Brown shipyard used, who also face the same problem to build such large ships like Lusitania and Aquitania, followed by Queens Mary and Elizabeth they never used this type of gantry. As they used the standard method of tower cranes along both side the hull with a heavy load lifting capacity to. The cost of this method was only 25% of the Arrol gantry used at H&W. Yet surprising enough many the tower cranes as used in the other shipyards were built by William Arrol to!
One has to question who bright idea to use such a gantry? William Pirrie perhaps!
 

Logan H

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the Olympic was launched, fitted out, and set out on her maiden voyage long before the Titanic was even launched!
I'm assuming you got that from "Titanic: Blood and Steel", which severely distorted the timeline of the Olympic-Class liners. Like Mark Baber said, the Olympic's maiden voyage was two weeks after the Titanic was launched. (Titanic's launch: 31 May 1911, Olympic's maiden voyage: 14 June, 1911.)
 

Mike Spooner

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The question of why the Titanic hull took longer to build has not be answered yet!
Olympic keel lay was down 16 December 1908. Titanic keel was lay down 31 March 1909.
Olympic off the slipway 20 October 1910. 22 months and 4 days
Titanic off the slipway 31 May 1911. 26 Months.
As in normal practice its the first one that takes the time. But by the second unit build things should be speeding up. Clearly they have gone into reverse.
There may be a feasible answer to the problem? But I am yet to hear so why?
 

Bob_Read

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Hi Mike: You may be assuming that there were two full crews working side by side on both liners. There would have been some aspects of construction on Titanic which could only be accomplished once certain skilled workers were freed up from working on Olympic. Add to that the fact that these were not the only two ships being built at the time at the H&W yard. There may have also been material delivery delays to the yard where Olympic construction was given priority. It wasn’t any single incident but rather the real world problems of construction scheduling at a shipyard.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Bob,
Thanks for the reply and giving some reasons why the possibility of the delays for Titanic on the slipway.
I did also think with war arising ahead were war ships took priority over commercial ships, as there were many parts made in England and Scotland to.
 

Mark Baber

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Mike, the war was still a number of years off, and the first warship launch at H&W didn't occur until 1915.
 

Dave Gittins

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Thanks to one of his relatives, I have a copy of part of the journal kept by Charles Payne, H & W's yard manager. He worked out the times taken to build various stages of the ships. He shows that work on Titanic started faster than work on Olympic, but Titanic soon fell behind and when framing was finished she was one month behind. By the time plating was finished, the gap was 2.5 months. In the time between framing and launching, Titanic lost another 1.5 months to finish four months behind. I suggest that some of the slippage may simply have been due to weather. Olympic's plating was done at the height of summer, but Titanic was plated in winter.
 

Mike Spooner

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Thanks Dave for your answer as I can see some of the points makes sense in the delays of Titanic.

Mark.
The arms race between Britain and Germany was well under way years before Titanic was even thought about!
H&W only come into the war after war had started 1915. Therefore makes me suspicious if H&W were been short change on delivery dates, as many key parts came from England and Scotland were the war ships are been made!
 

Mike Spooner

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Getting back to the construction delays for Titanic. Had White Star gone soft with H&W!
It's all very well to say Titanic past her sea trials test on the 2nd April, were the Board of Trade gave her an one year seaworthy certificate. But does not mean the ship is a completed ship. The BoT interest is she a floating vessel with the propulsion engines are working and the steering gear is in good working order. I guess the bridge instruments play there part to. As far the passenger creature comfort goes that's no concern of the BoT.
As describe in the book: ON A SEA OF GLASS. Titanic leaves Southampton as an uncompleted ship. Now who has made that decision?
As I see H&W a typical shipyard builder has given a delivery date to there best ability. Yet they cannot forecast the future of labour unrest or subcontractors letting them down on vital parts on delivery dates. Or a national coal strike which must of had an impact on power stations delivery the power to the shipyard.
Some of the reasons have been given why for the delays which I think are a fair comments. Probably the best is the lack of skilled labour force in Belfast. As H&W is not the only company in Belfast by a long way. Looking into the history of shortness of skilled labour force it would appear on going problems for many years beforehand. Resulting to import the skill labour from England and Scotland.
I see the first major delay is when the Olympic collusion with HMS Hawke war ship. Resulting the ship returned back to Belfast for repairs where parts are robbed of Titanic to complete the repairs. Where the schedule maiden deliver date for Titanic is change from the 20th March to the 10th April. However another disruption will occur when the Olympic is to suffered a broken propeller blade 24th February resulting the ship returning back to Belfast. Where the shuffle between the two ships took place entering the dry dock at high tide. I can see more time is been lost for Titanic completion. Why haven't White Star added on those days too?
Or was it H&W delivery date unrealistic in the first place? But never less White Star took delivery of the ship as uncompleted.
One would of thought to complete the ship is far easy to do in port than at sea! With the national coal strike in progress laying up many ships due to the lack of coal. Yet that decision to sail the ship on the 10th April can only come from the Board of Directors.
As for the captain and officers go I cannot see making much different if the passenger creature comfort are not completed. But below deck to complete the ship is another story. What was the plan on the return crossing 20th April. A cut back on the ship capacity for carrying passenger due to unfinished cabins.
Then the 4,427 tons of coal at Southampton is removed from five other ships for Titanic, which cannot of be a five minutes job.
Then the start of the coal bunker fire.
This sounds like pretty poor management decisions coming from the top! Never mind a hundred years ago we can see the same thing happening today with some companies. When things don't go quite to plan senior management are always quick to blame others for there lack not thinking out the drawbacks in the first place.
Was there financial problems? As describe in Mark Chirnside excellent book OLYMPIC* TITANIC*BRITANIC. Where a Mortgage Debenture scheme raised by banks in London and well supported giving the impression money was not the problem. So what was the hurry?
 

Mark Baber

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Mike, Titanic was not "uncompleted" in any sense that should have delayed her 10 April sailing. The ship was fully operational, both mechanically and in terms of passenger service and there was no reason not to sail as planned. White Star had not "gone soft with H&W," as you put it and did not "hurry" to sail for any untoward purpose, as you seem to be suggesting. The ship was ready to go and, so, she went.
 

Mike Spooner

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You may be right the ship does not make money by sitting in a port. But would a few weeks longer make any difference? As sitting in Belfast to complete the ship, I see this is as no cost to White Star, but putting the pressure on H&W to complete the ship as to the purchase order!
 

Mark Baber

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The cost to White Star would have been the disruption of its schedule. Either the sailing would have had to be scrapped completely, with a resultant loss of revenue, or another ship would have had to be diverted from another service.

And nothing in the history of the White Star/Harland & Wolff relationship supports the thought that the shipbuilder needed to be pressured to complete a ship properly. They did it regularly for over 60 years.
 

Mike Spooner

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The cost of sending of Titanic on the 10th April? It raise the question if this was the most economical to run a shipping company.
If ships are laid up in Southampton due the lack of coal through the national coal strike in progress. There must of been mooring fees to pay for. Probably basic running cost to cover for as well.
If 4,427 tons of coal is remove from 5 ships St Louis, New York, Philadelphia, Oceanic and Majestic for the Titanic crossing. One has to ask wouldn't be more economical to use one of those ships instead of Titanic? I can see there are costs to remove the coal from the 5 ships. However which ever ships you pick will require less coal than Titanic burning rate. If Titanic was remain in Belfast to complete the outstanding work which I see far better to do whistle in port than at sea, and in port at H&W no mooring fee to pay for.
Then there is the less crew numbers of what ever the ships you decide use at Southampton to pay for to. Removing one ship from Southampton is one less mooring fees to pay for!