Discrepancy between Barrett's and Beauchamp's testimony?


Scott Mills

Member
Just quickly, I've been avoiding my own work for part of the day readings through some of the evidence at the British inquiry, and I was hoping someone could explain something to me.

Basically, I'm curious about:

Fred Barret says he's in stokehold 10 (No. 6. section) when he receives the "stop" order. He then says he and the engineer order the dampers shut, and almost immediately he dashes through the watertight door into No. 5. There is a lot more to it than this, but these facts should suffice.

Beauchamp on the other hand is a stoker in stokehold 10. He testifies that the collision came first "like a crash of thunder," then the order to stop, which loosely follows Barret's testimony; However, it isn't until sometime after this that he says water starts coming in, and then he claims it is coming from under the floor.

This seems on my first (not so careful) reading of the testimony to set up two conflicting accounts of the same events in the same place.

Barret:

1, Stop orders received
2. Orders to shut the dampers given
3. Stokers in the process of doing this
4. Crash and sudden inrush of water from the ships starboard side--two feet above the floor plate--occur simultaneously.
5. He and his engineer jump through the WTD as it closes, leaving everyone else behind.

Beauchamp:

1. Thunderous crash happens
2. Order for all stop appears
3. Order to shut dampers given
4. 5 minutes after the collision watertight doors drop
5. Water, when it does appear, is mostly gurgling up from beneath his feet
6. Escape ladder used to leave the stokehold. Seems like he's suggesting this is about 20 minutes after impact.


So someone tell me what I'm missing?
 
If we cut to the quick, the discrepancy between the testimonies of leading stoker Barrett and stoker Beauchamp is the amount of damage/flooding in boiler room #6. One man, Barrett, says the side of the ship opened and water poured in so fast that he had to escape for his life by ducking under a closing watertight door. The other man, Beauchamp, says the compartment did not suddenly flood, but rather remained dry for at least 20 minutes after impact while the furnaces were raked. These two accounts of boiler room #6 are too contradictory to be reconciled as differing opinions of the same events. Only one can be true. The question is, which one?

Titanic sank. That simple truth has clouded historical research into this paradox for a century. From naval architect Wilding we learned the ship could have floated with any of the first four compartments flooded, but not if water also ingressed into a sixth. Barrett's testimony fits Wilding hand-in-glove, especially because the stoker added an account of water entering the forward bunker of boiler room #5. It seems and open and shut case – The ship sank because Barrett saw damage that Wilding described as unsurvivable.

Unfortunately, the preponderance of evidence does not support this most famous of Titanic myths. Barrett's story flies in the face of the facts. In some detils, his testimony creates scientific impossibilities, but for the moment I want to focus on a single aspect of his testimony – the catastrophic flooding of boiler room #6 – and how it does not fit into the total picture of Titanic's last hours.

The easiest way to disprove Barrett's claim that boiler room #6 flooded catastrophically is to listen for the roar of escaping steam. Survivor accounts are full of descriptions of this screech that made conversations difficult on the boat deck. It started not at impact on the berg, but about 20 minutes later and continued for an extended period of time after that. The steam came from boilers being “blown down,” to eliminate any possiblity of an explosion caused by cold sea water touching the hot metal. (An unlikely event, but in 1912 all marine engineers feared boiler explosions which were still commonplace on smaller, older ships than Titanic.)

It's fairly easy to dope out which boilers provided that roaring steam: the four of boiler room #6. We know this from Barrett who said that the boilers of #5 were found “dry” later that night. He attributed their condition to having their feed water drawn out by the escaping steam. The boilers were still fired and under pressure in #5 at the moment when Barrett discovered they were dry. So, while some of the steam did come from #5, it was by accident. No attempt had been made to blow down those dry boilers. The only other boilers connected to vent pipes on the first funnel were in boiler room #6, the source of the escaping steam.

If Barrett had seen the side of boiler room #6 break open and the sea enter, then it follows that cold water would quickly have filled that compartment. Icy water would have cooled the hot metal which, in turn, would have condensed the steam in those boilers. As a result, if the flooding Barrett described had taken place there would have been no steam to vent. There would have been no roaring to block conversations like that between Second Officer Lightoller and Captain Smith about launching boats. But, we know the steam roared. That sound proved boiler room #6 did not flood catastrophically as Barrett described.

In reality, the situation was more accurately depicted in the testimony of stoker Beauchamp. He spoke of standing around for a few minutes after impact while the officers sorted things out. Then, he and his fellow stokers and trimmers were set to raking out the furnaces and sluicing down the hot coals with sea water. The process took about 15 minutes, so it was some 20 minutes after impact when the men of boiler room #6 were sent on deck. The roaring of steam began almost simultaneously with the evacuation of the compartment by those men. In the context of 1912 marine engineering, the engineers would have dumped any steam from boilers in a compartment that would be unattended. It was the prudent thing to do, but quite noisy as people on the boat deck discovered.

– David G. Brown
 

Rob Lawes

Member
David,

I have to say, I was wondering about the Beauchamp and Barret testimony and you've got me convinced. I would say though in support of Barret, perhaps his statement isn't as far fetched as it sounds in one respect. If he was standing on the starboard side in Stokehold 10, imagine if in short order you see the full stop lamp come on, then hear the iceberg strike (which must have sounded pretty shocking in the metal boxes of the boiler rooms) and then (and this is where I'm linking his story in to what you have written), imagine if you can hear the sound of water entering the ship and even from the smallest of seam splits somewhere close by you get blasted by a jet of ice cold water. It doesn't even have to be a torrent. You would have an idea in your head what had just happened but I'm betting on the strength of getting hit by water your first instinct would be to get out of the way. Barret and the engineer he was talking too took the "leg it" option while others further from the impact, perhaps had better time to take stock of the big picture, Beauchamp may have been further from the starboard side and could see less water coming in from the side and would have been less aware of the water filling the bilges below the deck plates until they topped up. A bit of speculation I guess but perhaps it would explain why Barret left the compartment at the rush. It wouldn't sound good afterwards if the leading stoker of a section who would surely be expected to take charge in a crisis to have run when others held their ground and did their jobs.
 

Scott Mills

Member
David and Rob,

Interesting points. David, I have one question for you, why would steam have to come off of BR 6? What about boilers further aft? And if it is the case that steam venting began at midnight, how do you account for other stokehold survivors who mention orders to keep steam up around this time.

And, of course, the very real possibility that Titanic was steaming around midnight.

Rob, I feel your desire to help save Barret. The thing is, Beachamp's evidence is so different than Barret's they seem incompatible. It also seems to me that Barret reports that he returns to boiler room 6 and claims it is under 8 feet of water--while beaucahmp should still be working.
 

Scott Mills

Member
Just wanted to add, while reading through Frederick Scott's testimony I came across this:

5536. Did you hear the two?
- All four went.

5537. Did you hear the two ordinary ones ring first?
- No, they all four rang together.

5538. What did they ring?
- "Stop."

5539. Was that before or after the shock?
- After the shock.

This seems to further support Beauchamp's version of events as Scott says the order to stop was given after the collision. Beauchamp testifies to a collision, followed by a the order to stop, followed many minutes later by water coming up through the floor.


Berret says that the stop order comes first, then the collision and the immediate ingress of water from the starboard side of the ship, followed by his escape through the the WTD.
 

Rob Lawes

Member
Quick question regarding the boiler room indicators. Were they linked to the ships main telegraphs so that when the bridge rang on half ahead for example, the telegraphs would indicate in the engine room and the lamp indications in the boiler rooms change simultaneously or did the engine room watch keeper have to acknowledge the bridge telegraph and then separately indicate the change in engine states to the boiler rooms?
 
If you don't mind me speculating :

The orders on the engine telegraphs (Ahead Half, Ahead Full, etc) were not always consistent with a certain engine rpm, and therefore demand on the boilers. The chief engineer and captain would come to an agreement as to what speed the engines would run at for a given order. For example, we know that Half ahead was about 50rpm on the Reciprocating Engines with the turbine engaged. "Full Ahead" had different meanings depending on if the ship was in open water or not, as I understand. So to me, it would make more sense for the engineer on watch in the engine room to adjust the firing orders to accommodate for these slight variations, not to mention variations in the number of boilers on-line and so forth. I feel like having the stoking indicators linked directly to the engine telegraphs would be too inflexible, but I could be wrong.
 
Google "Kilroy Stoking Indicators Titanic" and you'll get more answers than you have questions.


August 2005 - Titanic Research and Modeling Association
titanic-model.com/articles/tech/TechFeatureAugust2005.htmOnly five of Titanic's boilers were single-ended; these were the ones whose .... (All of this effort was coordinated by the use of the "Kilroy's Stoking Indicator", the ...
Titanic Engineers


www.uco.es/~ff1mumuj/titanic1.htmWhen the Titanic went down she took with her the lives of many brave people .... the same firm also supplied sets of Kilroy stoking indicators for each stokehold.
The “Black Gang” | RMS Titanic Remembered


The “Black Gang” | RMS Titanic Remembered were sealed up alive inside the Titanic's hull as she was being built ... to the inexorable ringing of Kilroy's Patent Stoking Indicator, a mechanical timer ...
Body of Stoking Indicator - RMS Titanic, Inc.


www.rmstitanic.net/community/.../161-body-of-stoking-indicator.ht...TITANIC LAS VEGAS ... Body of Stoking indicator Titanic Artifact Photo ... attached plaque that reads "KILROY'S PATENT STOKING INDICATORS EVERSHED ...
Titanic's Prime Mover - An Examination of Propulsion and Power by ...


www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic_prime_mover~chapter-0~part-...Jul 9, 2007 – Generating Steam Steam was generated in Titanic's boiler rooms ... was also a Kilroy's stoking indicator equipped in each of the 11 stokeholds.
"The Electrician" 28 Jul 1911



marconigraph.com/titanic/electrician/elec_110728_3.html... illuminated multi-coloured pictures of sections of the “Olympic” and “Titanic,” and ... for instance, there are Kilroy stoking indicators which automatically transmit ...



-- David G. Brown
 

Rob Lawes

Member
Re-produced from the Titanic Research and Modelling assocation website:

The Stoking Indicators shouldn't be confused with the boiler room telegraphs, which were the focus of a close-up camera shot in Cameron's "full ahead" scene. The boiler room telegraphs were used to announce, usually well in advance, what steaming conditions the engine room would be expecting within a relatively short period of time, say, within the next fifteen minutes to half hour. They weren't intended to be used like the engine order telegraphs, which were intended to communicate very specific orders which were intended to be carried out immediately.

Thus, in reality, the "Full Ahead" seen on the boiler room telegraph in the film would actually have been communicated well before Officer Murdoch rang "Full Ahead" to the Chief Engineer Bell on the engine order telegraphs:

Normally, as a ship proceeds out of or approaches port, the revolutions are increased or decreased over a period of time and the bridge notifies the engine room in advance of these anticipated changes in speed. As this happened, the engine room would change the boiler room telegraphs in advance of any significant increase or decrease of the required firing rate; in response the firemen would begin changing the damper and ash pit door settings necessary to increase and decrease the combustion rate in the furnaces and, in consequence, the rate of steam production. The advance notice was important to maintaining efficiency with Scotch boilers; with all of the water they contained, it took more than a little time to increase or decrease the rate at which steam was produced.

Likewise, one or more of the boiler rooms would receive a "Stop" order at sometime towards the last few hours of the voyage as the ship proceeded at a slower pace on her final approach to picking up the pilot and proceeding towards the dock or anchorage. In the boiler rooms, a "Stop" order did not necessarily mean "finished"; under normal circumstances, it meant stop regular firing, partially close the dampers and ash pit air doors, and maintain the fires in a "banked" condition in order to reduce the production of steam to a minimum to prevent loss of feedwater through "popping off" of the safety valves.

I think that pretty much answers most questions.
 
>>Beauchamp:

1. Thunderous crash happens
2. Order for all stop appears
3. Order to shut dampers given
4. 5 minutes after the collision watertight doors drop
5. Water, when it does appear, is mostly gurgling up from beneath his feet
6. Escape ladder used to leave the stokehold. Seems like he's suggesting this is about 20 minutes after impact.

So someone tell me what I'm missing? <<

The most problematic point in this sequence is the 5 minutes, which came from Beauchamp, for the WTDs to drop. We know that Murdoch was seen at the WTD switch just as the ship struck ice. We also know from 3 separate sources that Murdoch told Capt. Smith that he closed the doors within a minute after Titanic stuck, when Smith came out onto the bridge. We also know that it took about 30 seconds for the doors to close from the time the switch is first closed. It was during those 30 seconds that Barrett and Heskieth made their way into BR 5.

If you look at what Beauchamp claimed he did after leaving the BR, you will see that his timing of events makes little sense when compared to the overall sequence of events that took place that night. Beauchamp says he went up the escape and came out on deck [that would be E deck], walked "right along aft up the companionway up to the boat deck." Then, using his words, "went aft on to the boat deck, and across to the starboard side, and stood on the deck of the ship by the boat and one foot on the boat and one foot on the lifeboat [No. 13], like that, and helped the ladies and children in that were there, and the order was given by the officer then, 'Lower away the boat, that will do.'" So he left BR 6 and went to the boat deck about 20 minutes after the collision, went aft on the starboard side to where boat 13 was then helpped load the boat? They didn't start uncovering the boats until about 20 minutes after the collision. And boat 13 was not loaded from the boat deck. It was loaded from A deck.

Perhaps Beauchamp's recollection of what took place in BR 6 cleared up a bit when he was contacted by Walter Lord when Lord was collecting information directly from survivors for his ANTR book. A much different story is painted as to what happened to him in BR 6 that night. I don't think Lord would have taken too much artistic license in how he described what BR 6 was like or what Beauchamp had done.

As far as steam blowing off from the 1st funnel, if they did not have time to disconnect the steam lines from the 4 boilers in BR 6 from the two main lines connecting them up with those in BR 5, then the preasure in all those boilers, BR 5 and 6, would be the same. We know that feedwater in the boilers in BR 5 was boiling off to the point where the water level went below the gauges before the fires were draw in that boiler section. That excess steam had to go somewhere.

As I said in another post, for other eye witnesses to have witnessed water come up the stairs leading down to the mail room at the various levels reported at the times they said, BR 6 had to have flooded quite rapidly. Otherwise the trim of the ship would have settled to something on the order of 1.5 degrees (based on flooding in the 1st four compartments only). Another thing to consider is that the lights went out in the stokeholds not long after Barrett came back from seeing water half up the sides of the boilers down in BR 6. Beauchamp never mentions the lights going out while pulling fires in BR 6. We know from Olliver that when he was down in the engine room delivering a message to Bell, he noticed through the opened WTD that it was dark in the stokehold. Before getting there, when first going to the engine room, he said stokers were coming out of the stokehold from the escapes onto E deck, which fits perfectly with Barrett's story of the sequence of events that took place down below. We also know that Olliver, after waiting about 2-3 minutes for a reply from Bell, was back on the bridge jbefore all hands were called out, when C/O Wilde ordered him to find the boatswain and tell him to call out all hands to uncover the boats. We also know from Lightoller that Wilde told him that all hands had been called when he first came on deck after being called out by Boxhall. And we know from Boxhall, Lightoller and Pitman, that they were called out about 20 minutes after the collision. Put this all in reverse, it can be seen that the stokeholds were in the dark about 15 minutes after the collision, which means that Barrett seeing water half up boiler faces in BR 6 about 10 minutes after the collision fits the overall picture.
 

Rob Lawes

Member
Having gone back and read Beauchamp's testimony again, I think I've miss read it and that in many ways it matches Barrets testimony more than we give it credit.

One issue is the Stop lamp and if it appeared before or after the collision. Beauchamp was asked "immediately after the shock was any order given?" he wasn't asked if the order came before or after but the questioner specifically asks him on what happened after the collision. If the order was given before then perhaps Beauchamp would have corrected the questioner but maybe also the order came before the collision but Beauchamp was never asked about it. Either way, both Barret and Beauchamp confirm the order to stop was given.

As for the flooding, Barret states that the water came from two feet above the stoke hold plates in the area where he was standing.

1876. (The Solicitor-General.) We will get it by degrees, my Lord. (To the Witness.) About two feet from above where your feet were?
- Yes.

1877. On the starboard side?
- Yes.

Now if you look at what Beauchamp says:

671. Did you see any water?
- Water was coming in on the plates when we were drawing the fires.

672. What do you mean by "the plates"?
- The plates of the stokehold where you stand.

672a. (The Commissioner.) You mean where the stokers were standing?
- Yes.

The key here is that he says "water was coming in on the plates". The subsequent lines with regards to the water should not be read as where the water was coming from but the water level in the compartment at the time.

Beauchamp also claims that there was damage to the starboard aft bunker in BR6 which would tally with the damage that extended into the fwd bunker on the starboard side of BR5. Again, he states that the water was coming through the door and over the plates which again suggests the damage was above the level of the stoke hold plates not below them.

When he says the water was coming from under the stokehold plates I think that was the water level within the compartment i.e. that by the time the order was given to leave the compartment the water had risen to the above the stoke hold plates. Given that Barret states the plates were 6 feet above the level of the tank tops (or does he mean keel) then two feet above the stoke hold plates would make a total of 8 feet which again matches Barrets claim to having seen that level in BR6 when he returned to it.
 
From what I see, putting his 1912 testimony together with what Walter Lord later wrote, Beauchamp was first working in BR. 6 and then later in BR. 5 which he left shortly before Barrett finding his way to lifeboat No. 13.

Regarding BR. 6, Barrett left it when the water was flooding in, but it seems that Beauchamp stood there. It would be interesting to know his exact position. The ship took a 5° list to starboard, so if Beauchamp was standing on the port side the water level there would be less then on the starboard side.
 

Scott Mills

Member
The most problematic point in this sequence is the 5 minutes, which came from Beauchamp, for the WTDs to drop. We know that Murdoch was seen at the WTD switch just as the ship struck ice. We also know from 3 separate sources that Murdoch told Capt. Smith that he closed the doors within a minute after Titanic stuck, when Smith came out onto the bridge. We also know that it took about 30 seconds for the doors to close from the time the switch is first closed. It was during those 30 seconds that Barrett and Heskieth made their way into BR 5.

Sam, I agree! That part is problematic. However it is partially supported by Scott's testimony. Scott does not say that it took 5 minutes, but he does say there was a delay. He claims (as I've pointed out in the other thread) that the crash came and he had time to see the stop orders come to the engine room--after the crash which also supports Beauchamp--and to see the greasers respond to those orders.

Then he says the doors started closing, without warning (which also backs Beauchamp's version of events).

I have just myself started scouring through the evidence, so perhaps you know more about this than I. How many people survived that actually claimed or testified to seeing the WTDs close? I can think of 4. Barret, Beauchamp, Dillion and Scott. Of those four all but one have somewhat matching stories and Barret isn't among them.

And knowing what QM Rowe and Boxhall testify to, the testimony of those below doesn't quite match. Why this is would be pure speculation on my part, but as I see it there are two alternatives:

1. Either Boxhall and Rowe or Scott, Dillion and Beauchamp do not remember correctly.
2.One group or the other is lying. And if this is the case, one group stands out as having a greater motivation as far as doing any lying goes.

Perhaps Beauchamp's recollection of what took place in BR 6 cleared up a bit when he was contacted by Walter Lord when Lord was collecting information directly from survivors for his ANTR book. A much different story is painted as to what happened to him in BR 6 that night. I don't think Lord would have taken too much artistic license in how he described what BR 6 was like or what Beauchamp had done.

Now see, I did not know about this. Unfortunately, working with memory myself, I find it difficult to put more trust in recollections from 1950 than in accounts given directly after the disaster. You have way too much time to re-articulate what actually happened and form new memories. We need look no farther than Titanic survivors--particularly the ones that suddenly recalled seeing the ship break after the wreck was found in 1985.

You do make some very good points about the lights, and the flooding. I don't know enough about Titanic's design to really comment here, and perhaps this is where someone like David could chime in. Something for me to think about, certainly.

What I can say, as drawn for your book, is there is evidence of Andrews and Smith discussing flooding in the first 3 compartments some 15 minutes after the collision.

We also have to deal with three important considerations, at least as I see it.

1. Why does Beauchamp's story, at least parts of it, match so well (at least the beginning of it) with the witness accounts of those in the engine room? Why doesn't Barret's?
2. The scene that Barret describes just could not have happened the way that he claims given the testimony of those who saw the stop orders reach the engine room, which then had to be sent on to the stoke holds from the engine room, and witnessed the automatic doors closing.
3. Barret's testimony paints quite a dramatic scene in BR6. How is it that the only other survivor from that boiler room doesn't also paint a highly dramatic scene? You would imagine if things happened as quickly and catastrophically as Barret makes them out, that any one else present wouldn't be likely to remember it so incredibly differently?

Indeed when Barret was being questioned he was asked, more or less, how anyone who didn't make it through that WTD could have possibly survived given his account. To which Barret did not have an answer. I mean really, if you were there and survived this without making it out that WTD you certainly would have a very exciting story to tell and not one that was:

So water starting coming up through the floor, after some time had past after the collision, so we decided to leave up the escape ladder.

Rob,

As per your question earlier about the stoke indicators, one that we already answered, I did notice this today re-reading Scott's account.

5804. No, a little red-coloured glass which shows when the engines are stopped?
- I hardly follow you.

5805. We were told that when the engines are stopped -
- Oh, that is in the stokehold. We know inside when the engines are stopped; that is in the stokehold; that is when they ring up separate from the telegraph. That is a little thing about so big to show when the engine is stopped. That is rung by one of the engineers in the engine room.
 

Scott Mills

Member
Having gone back and read Beauchamp's testimony again, I think I've miss read it and that in many ways it matches Barrets testimony more than we give it credit.

Rob,

Let me go back and read Beauchamp's testimony again before I give you a more complete response. I will say your reading of his testimony sounds reasonable.

On the surface I see two issues though. From my recollection of Beachamp's testimony, you really have to stretch it to try and get him to not be saying that the stop order came after the collision.

When you put all of his statements together, including when he heard the "shut the dampers" order, it seems (again from my recollection) that he is definitively saying these orders came after the "crash like thunder."

The second thing is, if we concede that Beauchamp and Barret are describing the same damage, it appears far less catastrophic in Beauchamp's story. As David put it, Beauchamp's story paints the damage as an annoyance whereas Barret paints it as the immediate and total inundation of the BR with the sea.


*edit

I am editing my original post in lieu of making another one (somehow this seems like a waste of space to me!) First regarding the damage, Beauchamp is pushed for details and he says the following:

671. Did you see any water?
- Water was coming in on the plates when we were drawing the fires.

672. What do you mean by "the plates"?
- The plates of the stokehold where you stand.

672a. (The Commissioner.) You mean where the stokers were standing?
- Yes.

673. What happened then?
- The water was just coming above the plates then.

Line 673 could be read as the water level was just coming above the plates, not necessarily falling on them as per Barret's testimony. Also, very important are lines 672 and 672a, which pretty clearly imply that the "plates" being discussed are the ones on which the stokers are standing and not the Titanic's outer skin.

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.

Two important things that I see here, first is that Beauchamp says "yes" when asked if water was coming "through the floor." Secondly, we have this:


www.abratis.de/sources/pictures/pic/blue/orlop.gif

Beauchamp is explicitly saying that the water is coming through the bunker door. If we look at the blueprint we can see that this implies damage far forward of where Barret puts it. Indeed, in this account there seems to be no damage at all to BR6, but rather the foremost bunker.

As to whether or not Beauchamp was really in BR5 (as I think he told Walter Lord) I'm afraid I have to side with David here. First, there is no explanation of how he came to be working in a stoke hold he was not scheduled to work in before the collision. Second his testimony matches far too well, ironically, with Barret's. Particularly the part where Barret is describing how he and the engineer simultaneously give the order to shut the dampers. This is exactly what Beauchamp hears.

Furthermore, Barret himself says that Beauchamp was in BR6 when Barret left, that Beauchamp was the only survivor besides Barret himself from that boiler room, and that Barret had no clue how Beauchamp could possibly have survived.

And, Rob, regarding the order of things, after re-reading Beauchamp's testimony I will stick to what I said originally. It seems that you need to really force Beauchamp's testimony to interpret it as saying that the stop order and the door closing came prior or simultaneously with the collision. But that's just my perspective.

Sam,

One more question for you, or really a request. Can you tell me specifically which flooding you are referencing? Just glancing at the ship plans I notice that all of the flooding I associate with early reports, like in the squash court and the post office occurs in an area forward of BR6.
 
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