Paul Rogers

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Whilst reading through Dave Bryceson's book "The Titanic Disaster" which lists newspaper reports in the British National press in 1912, I came across some strange reports... I realise that most newspaper reports at that time could, and should, be taken with a pinch of salt, but I wondered what everyone else's thoughts were.

There are at least two reports of explosions during the sinking, at two completely different times; as follows: (The Times, 19th April, 1912.)

FIRST REPORT:

Emilio Portaluppi stated that he was first awakened by the explosion of one of the ship's boilers. (Yeah, right!) But then Edward Beane also declared that 15 minutes after striking the iceberg, there was an explosion in the engine room, which was followed a few minutes afterwards by a second explosion.

SECOND REPORT:

During the final moments, Col. Gracie allegedly said: "After sinking with the ship it appeared to me as if I was propelled by some great force through the water. This might have been occasioned by explosions under the water..." Also, George Brayton (Brereton?) stated that shortly before the ship sank there was an explosion which made the ship tremble from stem to stern.

I suppose the latter "explosions" may have been mistaken for the break-up of the ship as she sank. But the former examples are confusing. Are these just examples of tabloid journalism or land-lubber confusion? Or could an explosion have occurred shortly after the collision? And if so, what possible culprits are there, as it couldn't have been a boiler - could it?

Look forward to people's thoughts.

Regards,
Paul.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I'd chalk the confusing stuff up to landlubber confusion and yellow journalist delusion. (Anything for a good story, and the more dramatic, the better.) With steam vented out by the time the cold water reached the boilers, there would be no thermal shock to cause a boiler casing fracture and explosion.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Paul Rogers

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Thanks Mike. Those were my thoughts too. It makes one wonder how the newspapermen of the time, (and today come to think of it!), got away with these stories. Anything to sell the paper, I guess.

Regards,
Paul.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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The newsies had some interesting problems to face, not the least of which was an obligation to their editors to produce a story for publication. That was, after all, their bread and butter.

Unfortunately, reliable information was hard to come by, confusion reigned supreme, and there was no shortage of people willing to make stuff up whether they were in a position to know anything or not. Even when actual witnesses became available, it didn't stand to reason that most of them knew or understood what they were looking at. Almost none of them...even among the surviving crew...were trained observers, and some had a vested interest to be "creative" with the facts.

Not that any of this bothered the contemporary media. That some, like The New York Times, managed to get it right and continued trying to do so was nothing short of a miricle.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Cal Haines

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There are a number of reports of explosions at about the time of the breakup. Lightoller, for example, was trapped by suction against a vent but saved by a blast that blew him free. Some in the boats reported sounds like cannon fire, etc.. These reports were written off by the experts of the day as the engines and such ripping loose and crashing into the bow (which didn't happen).

We know for certain that some boilers were still under pressure at the time of the breakup since the lights remained on until the very last. In all likelihood one or two of the boilers in boiler-room #2 were used to provide the steam for the dynamos. The aft ends of those boilers can be seen in the hulk of the bow and they have no obvious signs of failure or explosion.

The commonly held belief that Titanic's boilers would blow up if under pressure when flooded is, in my humble opinion, mythology. I am not aware of a single documented case of a Scotch Marine boiler exploding due to the flooding of a boiler room--and lots of ships with that type of boiler were torpedoed during the World Wars. Nor have I ever seen flooding listed as a cause for explosions in this type of boiler in any marine engineering text or article.

Cal
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Cal --

I believe you should repeat the post regarding boiler explosions at regular intervals. The myth that boilers would explode is so pervasive that we all succumb to it. (Yes, I admit to feeding this particular myth in my book.) The number of ships torpedoed during both World Wars should have put this one to bed...

However, we cannot overlook that the people who manned those boilers did fear explosions. The great Sultana disaster was only a half century in the past at the time of Titanic. Most living engineers knew of similar disasters with older, less well-built equipment.

-- David G. Brown
 

Remco Hillen

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Hello,

Ok, I admit, it's a bit late; but here goes:
happy.gif


I have a artical somewhere in which the writer says that not the Scotch boilers exploded-as Cal mentioned-, but that rupturing steam pipes made the rumbling sound.

If anyone is interested, I can post some pieces of it.
I don't know if the writer still agrees with his artical, it's written about 1 year ago.

Regards,
Remco
 
Jul 9, 2000
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That rumbling would have come from a lot of things. Steam lines rupturing when the ship broke up, along with metal breaking up, lines snapping, anything not nailed to the deck cascading forward when the ship tilted up....plenty of sources....the cecophany of noise would have been unbeleivable!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Sam Brannigan

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With reference to Cal's remark about Lightoller, can anyone explain where the blast of hot air that released him from the vent came from?

Surely this vent was linked to one of the forward boiler rooms which would have been completely flooded by the time he was trapped, or is there something new for me to learn about how the Titanic was designed?

Just a thought!

Regards

Sam
 

Remco Hillen

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Just some quotes that I though would be interesting..


Quote:

The mains for the dynamos were still in use when the Titanic started to break in half. They could be unattended for around 1/2 an hour without being stoked, hence the fireman more than likely took off!






Quote:

The rumbling was the rupturing of the steam mains to the dynamos from the #2 boiler room.






Quote:

The pressurized steam will exit to the points of least resistance, i.e. blowing out bulkhead doors and shooting coal and ash right up through the boilers and out the uptakes, through the funnels.






Quote:

The auxiliary dynamos would go on in the instance of the main dynamos failing, hence the lights flickering on one last time before the mains for the auxiliary dynamos also gave way to the ship breaking.





As I have little knowledge of all the machinery down there, I have no idea if it's all true or possible.
Maybe somebody with some more knowledge then me can give his thoughts about these quotes.

Regards,
Remco
 
M

Morgan Eric Ford

Guest
Where are these quotes from?

The last one is a bit misleading. Both the main and emergency dynamos were steam driven. If the steam lines were rupturing as the ship broke up, there wouldn't be steam for either set.

I don't think there was a provision for automatically starting the emergency ones. Ther'e some evidence that the mergency dynamos were started early on in the sinkking.
 

Erik Wood

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As romantic as I find steam on ships it is the most annoyingly painstakingly, troublesome thing I have ever dealt with. With the acception of my in laws.

Erik
 

Cal Haines

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IIRC, some sections of steam piping that showed evidence of rupturing were found in the debris field. I would not be surprised to find that they had blown during the stresses of the breakup, as the forces tried to pull them apart.

The emergency dynamos were on line at the time of the breakup. Ranger testified to this. It was also SOP to have one of the emergency dynamos on line at night, IIRC

The boilers would indeed provide steam for the dynamos for an extended period with no attention. It's unknown if the stokers took advantage of this fact, or if some of them died tending the boilers.

Cal
 

Remco Hillen

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These quotes come from a message that was posted on another messageboard about a year ago, I sometimes save interesting posts.

As this thread goes about explosions during the sinking, I thought these quotes about rupturing steampipes would be interesting, as it hadn't been mentioned before.
The rest of the post doesn't contain really new things.

Regards,
Remco
 
Jul 9, 2000
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What explosion? Nobody reported any such until during the breakup and after the ship sank and the latter is easily understood when you account for the ferocious force of the air filled compartments in the stern section imploding.

And why would there be any doubts that the iceberg could have sunk the ship all by it's lonesome? Icebergs have been doing that for centuries and still do. German submarines were not that long ranged at the time and mines are typically used only in reletively shallow waters.

Oh...one other thing, Germany and Great Britain were not at war at the time. They had no reason to carry out such a highly visible and provocative action.
 
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I wanted to say, I saw on Discovery Channel the other day, that they think the underwater explosions were trapped air in the refrigeration plant imploding underwater.
 
J

John Meeks

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Apart from the fact that a German U-Boat of that vintage would have been most unlikely to have been skulking around with criminal intent in that part of the N. Atlantic in 1912, I find it quite inconceivable that it would even consider attacking a merchant vessel like Titanic.

Neither Britain or America were at war with Germany, and whilst the British Royal Family might have been a little 'worried about cousin Willi"...they were the same family! It took the cascading events of 1914, stemming from the asassination of Ferdinand to finally push the great powers (somewhat reluctantly - but inevitably...)into war.

With all due respect, I tend to feel that all talk of German torpedoes in the old girl is preposterous.

Sure, there would be explosions when she went down...bulkheads collapsing, boilers 'letting go', etc. etc. - they all make a hell of a bang !

But, a torpedo....nah!

Regards,

John M
 

Matthew Lips

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Huh? Is this Titanic or Brittanic or Lusitania that we are talking about here? Or some combination of all three?? Even when there was a war on, the middle of the Atlantic was not seeded with mines.

Or is it April 1st already?
 

Leona Nolan

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Dec 17, 2002
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Got to agree with the experts Smith
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These kind of theories seems to pop up every now and then but when discussed the ides behind the theories seem to collapse - much like this one really
happy.gif
 

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