Drinking water

Scott R. Andrews

Former Member
Just to clarify: often, the term "distiller" gets used interchangeably with "evaporator", but these were in fact two different devices. The three evaporators used on the Titanic desalinated sea water by distillation, which is what tends to cause the confusion in nomenclature. The fresh water distillers, on the other hand, were basically small condensers with a charcoal filter in their bases, and an open atmospheric connection which promoted aeration of the condensate being collected within. There were two of these devices, both located against the WTB in the forward portion of the starboard condenser discharge recess.

Condensate obtained from evaporators is ideal for make-up boiler feed purposes, being almost completely deaerated. (Oxygen and other atmospheric gases dissolved in feed water is the main culprit in corrosion of the interior surfaces of boilers, and in the premature failure of furnaces and tubes in Scotch boilers.) However, for the same reason, even though the raw condensate from an evaporator is safe to consume, it is completely unpalatable as drinking water, having vile taste. To create drinkable water, the aeration and charcoal filtering provided by the distillers -- but most especially the aeration -- are necessary to producing palatable fresh water for drinking purposes.

Regards,
Scott Andrews
 
On the night of the 14th, Lightoller told the carpenter to look after the fresh water tanks, as they might be in danger of freezing. What was the carpenter supposed to do? Was there a method of heating the tanks, such as steam pipes running through them?
 
Hi Tom,

According to Bruce Beveridge, Lightoller was not speaking of the main fresh water tanks themselves, but the fill pipes on the aft end of No. 3 funnel feeding the gravity tanks. If the weather was cold enough, they had to bleed the water out and turn off the pump to keep the water from freezing in them. There was enough water in the gravity tanks topside to keep the supply through the night. During the day, they would put the pumps back on line to replenish the gravity tanks.
 
I know, that the Titanic had big water tanks-enought to supply the steam engines, the crew and the passengers of the Titanic with foodwater.
But I wonder myself how the Titanic got enought fresh-water to supply the swimming bath, the scullerys, the
Galleys and the toilets with fresh water. In addition, the Titanic water needed for hygiene (to example
to clean hands or for showers etc.) and to clean the deck(s).
 
Most likely from the sea water by distilling it by heat.

I had a curious incident on the ship on which I served.
I was getting a drink from one of the many drinking fountains on the ship.
I was also filling the top of a shoe polish wax tin with the cold water for a "spit shine".
This was less than an ounce.
As far as I knew, everyone was doing this.
But .......A Chief Petty Officer, who was passing by reprimanded me for this.
When I told him why I was doing this, he told me "If you want water for shining your shoes, you get it from the head ! "
I don't know if he was just kidding me or not, but if you are just a very young and very new Second Class Petty Officer (as I was at the time), you don't talk back to an old Chief Petty Officer. LOL
So I just said, "Yes sir, I'll be sure to remember that in the future ."

Which brings up a question. Maybe some Navy Person can answer.On a Navy ship, would the water supply be different for the drinking fountains from the water for the showers, lavatories and toilets in the head ?
 
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Rob Lawes

Member
Which brings up a question. Maybe some Navy Person can answer.On a Navy ship, would the water supply be different for the drinking fountains from the water for the showers, lavatories and toilets in the head ?

Not on any ship I ever served on. The fresh water tanks supplied all of the ships services except in an emergency when 3 heads onboard were equipped with a salt water flush toilet.
 
Not on any ship I ever served on. The fresh water tanks supplied all of the ships services except in an emergency when 3 heads onboard were equipped with a salt water flush toilet.

Rob, thanks for the reply -

That answers my question , which was probably standard on any ship. I do remember that there was a mention that all the toilets always used salt water for flushing.

There were faucets in some sinks in the head for both fresh and salt water. I think they used salt water for "swabbing the decks" ?

That "drinking fountain incident" always remains in my memory as rather curious.
I wonder why that Chief made those remarks ?
I will have to admit I was a rather naive person in my younger days.
I thought he was serious. LOL
I think you would "waste" more water just taking a drink than that little bit in the shoe polish tin lid. LOL

Another bit of trivia.
Many years later we spent a few days at Long Beach in Hotel Queen Mary in one of the former First Class Cabins.
The bath tubs still had the original handles.
Cold Fresh Water
Hot Fresh Water
Cold Salt Water
Hot Salt Water
Of course, they were just connected to the regular supply.
No salt water.

Moderator's note: Edited to remove material responding to a message moved to a different discussion. MAB
 
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Not on any ship I ever served on. The fresh water tanks supplied all of the ships services except in an emergency when 3 heads onboard were equipped with a salt water flush toilet.
Rob, thanks again.

This was the routine on the ship on which I served most of my sea duty.
September to March : Tied up to a pier at NAS North Island, San Diego , CA, USA
March to September: Tied up to anchor at bay at Iwakuni, Japan
Seaplane operations at both locations
One "R & R" trip to Hong Kong

And I don't know how the sewage and water supply was handled at both locations. :-(
 
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Rob Lawes

Member
Hi Robert.

On our frigates we had a sewage treatment plant that turned that waste back into something a bit more ocean friendly. Apparently, according to the engineers who dealt with it, if the ship was fitted with a UV treatment system we could have drank the treated water.

We had our own chlorination equipment for adding to the fresh water we made.

Grey water (water from the showers and basins) was pumped directly over the side unless we were in a port that didn't allow that then we could store it and it would be taken away by tanker.

We created fresh water using a process known as Reverse Osmosis which is just a posh way of saying filtration.

The Frigates I served on carried 30 tons of fresh water which sounds like a lot but it had to do everything and if we couldn't make any it was about enough for 48 hours before severe restrictions were in force.

The best ship I served on for Fresh Water was a survey ship called HMS Echo. Her job was to act as a depot ship for a flotilla of minesweepers so as a result we carried 150 tons of water to be used by a free of just 60. I could have stood in the shower for a week and we would never have run out.
 
Hi Rob -

Once again many thanks for the replies and all the interesting nformation .

My Rating was as an Electronics Technician and more specifically on the ship's surface search and air search radar so I knew nothing about the means for the water supply as you have described. Or much of anything else on the ship other than those in your own "Specialty Rating" , of which there were many.
The ships on which I served on were:
USS Sicily (CVE-118) About 6 months. Small Escort Type Aircraft Carrier. Marine Squadron of Corsair type aircraft. (1170 officers and enlisted men )
USS Kenneth Whiting (AV-14) About 2 1/2 years. Large Seaplane Tender. Patrol type seaplanes . The ship acted as control tower and repair and maintenance base , quarters for aircraft crew in addition to regular ship's complement. (113 officers, 964 enlisted men)
The first year of my enlistment was taken up in Recruit Training (11 weeks) and Electronics Training (36 weeks) with Leave periods in between each year.
So as you can read, my Naval experience was very short and very limited in comparison with yours.
One of the interesting things you learn on this website are just how different are the Naval experiences of those of other members who post on this website.

Cheers,
Robert
 
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