FIRE IN COAL BUNKER

Rancor

Member
Jun 23, 2017
247
134
53
Apologies if I've missed something obvious but I've just read Dilley's testimony and can only find one mention of the fire in a bunker, and he doesn't state where it was. Have I missed it or is there another source where he speaks about it?
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
It was not. All who were working to clear out the coal bunker were back at their stations. Dilley was not telling the truth, quite simple.
Also it is not true what you state about the list, Beesley noticed it much earlier and it was talk at the table when he had lunch.
How much did the ship list with only one or two bunkers on the starboard side empty?
"All who were working to clear out the coal bunker were back at their stations" - Is there a source which states that all the men went back to their stations before the collision?

Beesley said he felt the ship listing to port when he had lunch. He said - "I had noticed this before." but he did not state further what he meant by that. Was it a full day earlier or simply half an hour earlier, we will never know.

.
 

Rob Lawes

Member
Jun 13, 2012
1,060
588
143
England
Does anyone know how much water would accumulate if the hose was left on from April 2nd to April 14th and where all that water drained out, or did it fill up the boiler room underneath the floor plates? Also were the ship's pumps used to filter out all that water from the fire hose?
A modern ships fire house, depending on the type of nozzle, at a standard fire main pressure of 145 Psi, kicks out between 70 and 100 metric tons of water an hour. My best estimate for a canvas style fire house and open brass nozzle of the Titanic era would be somewhere between 20 and 30 metric tons per hour. No doubt the rate of flow could be controlled at the valve.

How much water that was in 12 days is 20x24x12 = 5760 to 30x24x12 = 8640. So a hell of a lot of water.

As to where all the water went, I would say it drained into the bilge system below the floor plates from where it was pumped away by the ships bilge pumps.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
Apologies if I've missed something obvious but I've just read Dilley's testimony and can only find one mention of the fire in a bunker, and he doesn't state where it was. Have I missed it or is there another source where he speaks about it?
Dilley's account is available in message 18 on first page. He said the bunker was on fire in number 6 - presumably he was referring to boiler room number 6.


.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,236
539
183
Germany
"All who were working to clear out the coal bunker were back at their stations" - Is there a source which states that all the men went back to their stations before the collision?
.
Trimmer Dillon helped to clear out the bunker, he belonged to the 8 to 12 watch as Barrett did (Dilley was the same watch with Hendrickson 4 to 8).
As we know Dillon was in the main engine room at the time of the collision. He belonged to the crew for BR 1 but as the boilers were not lit and the coal bunker was cleared out, he was working in the main engine room.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,236
539
183
Germany
Apologies if I've missed something obvious but I've just read Dilley's testimony and can only find one mention of the fire in a bunker, and he doesn't state where it was. Have I missed it or is there another source where he speaks about it?
It was for example in the memoriam book "The sinking of the Titanic and great sea disasters" where he mentioned bunker 6 as well as in the Newspaper New York Press.
There are also some newspaper account by an unnamed officer in the New York Tribune mentioning stokeholds 9 & 10 and that the fire was out on Saturday afternoon.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rancor

Rob Lawes

Member
Jun 13, 2012
1,060
588
143
England
The various numbers and conventions used by the crew to identify the stokeholds can lead to confusion.

I noticed in his UK inquiry testimony Barrett at one point states the ship was open to the see from the 3rd stokehold. This obviously refers to the third bunker from the forward end. The newspaper clippings shown in previous posts also show crew members talking about bunkers 2 and 3.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Robby House

Robby House

Member
Jun 9, 2016
64
10
18
47
Kathleen, GA
Barrett said the fire was extinguished in boiler room 5 on Saturday, yet Dilley said the fire was still raging in boiler room 6 on Sunday. We can gather quite easily that more than one bunker was on fire. Since the port list was only noticeable on Sunday "nearly all afternoon" - Mr. Chambers, and not on Saturday or Sunday morning, so we can safely gather that the emptying of one single bunker was not enough to make the ship list over to a noticeable degree, but the emptying of two (or more) bunkers was. For all we know, three bunkers were on fire on the starboard side.


Barrett said the fire hose was used the entire time. Yet he also said the iceberg damage inside the bunker was - "Just the very same as an ordinary fire hose would come in." For all we know the fire hose was inside bunker in boiler room 6 and was pouring into the adjacent bunker through the damaged wall.

Does anyone know how much water would accumulate if the hose was left on from April 2nd to April 14th and where all that water drained out, or did it fill up the boiler room underneath the floor plates? Also were the ship's pumps used to filter out all that water from the fire hose?


View attachment 41072

What if the fire had bulged the wall beside the forward watertight door in boiler room 6 outside the fireman's passage and prevented it from closing? Would the water rush forward and flood the forward holds? Could this explain why the water rose so slowly in boiler room 6 because it was rushing through the jammed door and into the forward holds?

.

I have assumed that the ship's bilge pumps would have had to handle the accumulation of water from use of the water hoses said to be employed in the crew's endeavors to get rid of the coal fire in Coal Bunker W (Forward Boiler Room 5) and I'm almost certain was also the case in Coal Bunker Y (Aft Boiler Room 6). This makes me wonder about the floor of these Coal Bunkers. Was it the same as the rest of the Boiler Rooms being made up of the Stoke Hold plates. Was this flooring level water proof? I get the impression that they were not based on testimony about Boiler Room 4 when later on in the sinking process water was seen rising above the stokehold plates ostensibly from racking damage which must have allowed a slow leak that took a while to fill the 2 foot spacing between the Tank Top and Stokehold plates. If this is indeed the case then it brings into question how Coal Bunker W in the forward starboard side of Boiler Room 5 was able to fill up to the extent it apparently did reach before the hatch door gave way to such an extent many thought that Bulkhead E had actually given way. If it wasn't watertight (the stokehold flooring in Coal Bunker W) then what was preventing it from simply filling the 2 foot spacing between the Tank Top and the Stokehold Plate flooring of Boiler Room 5?

Also I'm pretty sure there was absolutely NO Coal Fire in Coal Bunker little b.

Coal Bunker Discussion.png
 

Robby House

Member
Jun 9, 2016
64
10
18
47
Kathleen, GA
The various numbers and conventions used by the crew to identify the stokeholds can lead to confusion.

I noticed in his UK inquiry testimony Barrett at one point states the ship was open to the see from the 3rd stokehold. This obviously refers to the third bunker from the forward end. The newspaper clippings shown in previous posts also show crew members talking about bunkers 2 and 3.
I know. It drives me crazy which is why I try and take care to identify exactly which Coal Bunker belonging to which Stokehold in which Boiler Room I'm talking about.
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
In 1910 the crew of the freight steamer Maude had to battle a coal bunker fire which burned for 5 days. I noticed the article said 'The speed of the vessel was increased'. It has been speculated that the Titanic increased her speed presumably because the fire was consuming the coal and they had to use it before the fire had consumed it inside the bunker.


Is there a similarity between this vessel's bunker fire and the Titanic?

coalfire1910.png


coalfire1910a.png


.
 

Harland Duzen

Member
Jan 14, 2017
1,517
559
123
I don't think that was the case, as Titanic (despite the coal strike) had coal for 2 extra days of travel according to Bruce Ismay's account / conversation from Engineer Joseph Bell.
 

Robby House

Member
Jun 9, 2016
64
10
18
47
Kathleen, GA
It was for example in the memoriam book "The sinking of the Titanic and great sea disasters" where he mentioned bunker 6 as well as in the Newspaper New York Press.
There are also some newspaper account by an unnamed officer in the New York Tribune mentioning stokeholds 9 & 10 and that the fire was out on Saturday afternoon.
So I guess we can presume by "Bunker 6" he meant Boiler Room 6 and for Stokehold 9 & 10 he was referring to the forward Coal Bunkers of Boiler Room 5 and the aft Coal Bunkers of Boiler Room 6 respectively.
 

Robby House

Member
Jun 9, 2016
64
10
18
47
Kathleen, GA
I had a question that is probably too buried in one of my last replies to this conversation thread that I'm curious about and wanted answered. Regarding the Coal Bunkers found throughout Titanic's 6 Boiler Rooms, were its floors waterproof? I'm not sure if the flooring found inside these Bunkers were the same as was found throughout the rest of the Boiler Room were the stokers and trimmers primarily worked. I guess my next question is was the stokehold flooring found in the Boiler Rooms waterproof? I get the impression that they were not based on testimony about Boiler Room 4 when later on in the sinking process water was seen rising above the stokehold plates ostensibly from racking damage which must have allowed a slow ingress of water in which apparently must have took a while to fill the 2 foot spacing between the Tank Top and Stokehold plate flooring. If this is indeed the case and the insides of the Coal Bunkers are also of the same flooring then it brings into question how Coal Bunker W in the forward starboard side of Boiler Room 5 was able to fill up to the extent it apparently did reach before the hatch door gave way to such an extent many thought that Bulkhead E had actually given way. If it wasn't watertight (the stokehold flooring in Coal Bunker W) then what was preventing it from simply filling the 2 foot spacing between the Tank Top and the Stokehold Plate flooring of Boiler Room 5? In such a case I would think water flowing into Coal Bunker W likely wouldn't necessarily reach a high enough level inside that bunker as the water would simply drain through the stokehold plate flooring and flood the rest of the Compartment through that route.

BELOW: Was the floor inside Titanic's Coal Bunkers waterproof?
CORRECTION.png
 
Last edited:
Mar 18, 2008
2,236
539
183
Germany
So I guess we can presume by "Bunker 6" he meant Boiler Room 6 and for Stokehold 9 & 10 he was referring to the forward Coal Bunkers of Boiler Room 5 and the aft Coal Bunkers of Boiler Room 6 respectively.
Yes, as did bunker 5 refers to BR 5. Somewhere there was also mention coal bunker 10 which refers to the forward coal bunker of BR 5 which is in Stokehold 10.
Sometimes it gets however confusing especially when stokehold is used as the same word as for boiler room.
 

Tim Aldrich

Member
Jan 26, 2018
83
57
28
Wisconsin
I took these photos aboard the Nomadic. A hypothical scenario. If her bunkers were on fire for 12 days and the seams were almost melting, would it cause the plating or the braces to appear "red hot" and "dented" and "warped" in the same manner as making tools in a blacksmith?

.
Aaron, "red" hot starts around 1100-1200F (600-650C). I doubt any bunker bulkheads could get to red hot easily (maybe after twelve days though) as there simply wouldn't be enough oxygen available. Using your blacksmith analogy, a blacksmith uses a blower of some sort to get more oxygen into the fire. More oxygen, more heat. As for denting and warping, again it's just steel doing what steel does. Put heat to steel (pretty much everything expands with heat) and it will expand. If just one local area in a bulkhead is getting all the heat, the plate is, pretty much, going to expand in that one spot. That spot will probably also distort the most since the steel is hot and, if it would get to at least a red heat, will be softer. The distortion won't go away once the steel cools.

Hope that answered some questions.

Edit: I forgot to mention the "melting seams" part. Steel is going to start melting at about "yellow heat" and that's 2000F (1100C). If that was going on there would be a whole lot more trouble than just a smoldering coal fire.
 
Dec 4, 2000
3,226
480
213
Robby -- I haven't seen the iron plans for Titanic's bunkers so I don't know for certain the construction of the bunker soles. What few I've seen from the era had coal resting on what was the "tank top" of Titanic. It was also common practice to load a foot or two of coal into the bottom of the bunker which was not counted in the available fuel. This coal served two purposes. One, it kept the actual fuel up and away from any errant bilge water. And, the extra coal allowed for an upward flow of air through the lumps to help carry away the "fire damp, or methane gas which was well known to be explosive in 1912. Some designs of the period show air vents at the base of the bunker to facilitate venting that dangerous gas.

Sorry you disagree about the location of the fire in bunker "b." The character count limit on posts prevented me from putting all the evidence in one looooong and probably exceedingly dull message. But, there's more, including the testimony of stoker Beauchamp which indicate Barrett was in boiler room #6 for some minutes after the ship struck. More on that in a later post.

Tim -- that bunker door through which the burning coal was extricated was a whopping big opening. Lots of oxygen could get inside, especially considering the ventilation necessary to remove methane gas. Both Hendrickson and Barrett describe a hot fire. Was it hot enough to heat the bulkhead "red hot?" Who can say? But, even if not red hot, the eyewitness testimony indicates the bulkhead was raised above the kindling temperature of coal. This is why the fire could not have been in "W" which lay against the same steel as bulkhead "Y." Or, it could not have been in "W" without removing the coal from "Y" if for no other reason than the safety of the ship.

And, Our Tim's explanation (above) for the "dinging" of the steel puts him in good academic standing. His words mirror exactly the scenario Dr. Foecke described to me several years ago.

-- David G. Brown
 
  • Like
Reactions: Robby House

Robby House

Member
Jun 9, 2016
64
10
18
47
Kathleen, GA
For the sake of argument, let's say that a 15 x 5 foot section of Bulkhead E had been subjected to sustained temperatures in the 1200°F range for a few days before finally being extinguished...this patch of bulkhead has a few knocks, peeled paint, and to look at it from a distance you can see a slight warping which had occurred during the coal fire. To what extent is the affected steel (the 15x5 foot section) compromised?

It's interesting that Aaron mentioned blacksmithing as it's a hobby I've picked up about a year ago. I know that heated steel to that once you get steel to that "red hot" temperature and allow it to cool on its own slowly the molecular composition of the steel gets softer whereas quenching it in oil or room temperature water quickly cools it which tends to harden the steel but at the same time can possibly make it susceptible to breaking if it's too hard. I tend to think if it was allowed to cool on its own that a slightly softer steel really wouldn't pose that big a problem as opposed to whether or not it was quickly cooled down quenched with water which could harden the steel but also make it susceptible to fracture and breakage.

I don't know why, but for some reason I'm not all that impressed by claims that the Bulkhead was significantly weakened by the coal bunker fire and based on everything in the record I have no reason to think at any point prior to the final evacuation of Boiler Room 5 that Bulkhead E suffered a catastrophic failure of any kind. I'm not saying it was something that White Star Line should have ignored as they probably would want to get it looked at once back in at South Hampton to determine if repairs were in order or not. Like I said before, bad WTB E or not, the fact that Boiler Room 6 and the 4 WTC's forward that compartment were flooded meant the ship was doomed either way.

So based on the information gathered from today's findings here's what I've got with respect to how the Coal Bunker floors worked. I'm happy that more than likely the Coal Bunkers simply had the Tank Top for the floor level as it supports the buildup of water leading to the eventual rupture of the bunker's hatch door some time later.
COAL BUNKERS.png
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
.....let's say that a 15 x 5 foot section of Bulkhead E had been subjected to sustained temperatures in the 1200°F range for a few days before finally being extinguished...this patch of bulkhead has a few knocks, peeled paint, and to look at it from a distance you can see a slight warping which had occurred during the coal fire. To what extent is the affected steel (the 15x5 foot section) compromised?

Here is a timeline I think might reveal the extent of the damage.


Belfast - Fire in boiler room 5 coal bunker.

Hendrickson - "I heard it commenced at Belfast....You could see where it had been red hot. All the paint and everything was off. It was dented a bit....Yes, warped.....I just brushed it off and got some black oil and rubbed over it."

Barrett - "It was fire.....The hose was going all the time.....It was damaged from the bottom. The bottom of the watertight compartment was dinged aft and the other part was dinged forward."....."The chief engineer, Mr. Bell, gave me orders: “Builder’s men wanted to inspect that bulkhead.”

12 days after fighting the fire and removing the coal the bunker in boiler room 5 is finally empty, but Dilley reports that there is a fire in boiler room 6 coal bunker and that it was out of control and still burning on Sunday.

Sunday - Noticeable list to port "nearly all afternoon" - Mr. Chambers.

Sunday night - Collision with iceberg.

Damage is assessed but Chief Engineer Bell is confident the pumps will keep her afloat.

Ismay - "I then went down below, I think it was, where I met Mr. Bell, the chief engineer, who was in the main companionway. I asked if he thought the ship was seriously damaged, and he said he thought she was, but was quite satisfied the pumps would keep her afloat."

Jones - "I thought they were only sending us away for an hour or so, until they got squared up again. Until they got her pumped out."

Crawford - "The captain told me to get in the boat and row toward that light. He told us to row for the light and to land the people there and come back to the ship. We pulled until daybreak and we could not catch the ship."

3rd officer Pitman
"I expected to get back to the ship again, perhaps two or three hours afterwards....I quite thought we would have to return to the ship again, perhaps at daylight. My idea was that if any wind sprang up we should drift away from the ship and have a job to get back again."

A strange rumble or muffled thud is heard below decks. Fred Barrett is in boiler room 5 - "It never came above the plates, until all at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through.....There was a knocking noise, but no explosion."

Q - Now, when it came through this pass between the boilers, did it come with a rush?
A - Yes.

The Commissioner: I suppose he means by that as if something had given way.
Q - Do you hear my Lord’s question? He is asking whether, when you said that, you got the impression that something had given way?
A - That was my idea.

Q- (The Commissioner.) Something that had been holding the water back gave way?
A - That is my idea, my Lord.

Q - So it came with a rush? How fast did it fall?
A - I never stopped to look. I went up the ladder. Mr. Harvey told me to go up.

Q - Could it have been a bunker bulkhead that gave way, do you think?
A - I have no idea on that, but that is the bunker that was holding the water back.

Q - It was the bunker that was holding the water back?
A - Yes.

Q - (The Commissioner.) It was suggested to me that it was a bunker bulkhead that gave way, and that the water rushed from the bunker. Do you think that is possible?
A - It would be possible, because there are watertight compartments inside the bunker. There is a watertight compartment going through the centre of the bunker.


coalfire1.png



The ship settles down much more rapidly and sinks.


Olliver - "Myself, I thought they were like bulkheads giving in."
Pitman - "I thought they were like bulkheads giving in."
Mellors - "We were trying to fix up a collapsible boat when she gave the first signs of going under. There seemed to be a tremble run through the whole of the ship and the next thing we heard were loud reports inside which I think were the watertight doors giving way and before you could say Jack Robinson there seemed to be mountains of water rushing through the doors."




.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

coal eater

Member
Mar 1, 2018
123
16
18
do we know how these bunker doors were designed/constructed? any examples? in my opinion the doors probably were operated by switch that once pushed it allowed to open the doors and shovel the coal,pulled back the doors can be locked again.

how big the bunker doors were and why boiler room 5 was flooded so rapidly?
 
A

Aaron_2016

Guest
My understanding is the bunker doors were simply a metal slate that could be manually pulled up and down by a chain. e.g.

bunker011.png


A bunker door on a smaller steamship.

bunker1.png


bunker3.png


bunker2.png


If the fire was out of control at the bottom then perhaps the bunker door itself was weakened and bent and burst out, or possibly the rivets that secured the brackets and secured the door in place were weakened by the fire and the weight of water caused the brackets to burst out and the door flew out with a wall of water behind it.
 
Last edited by a moderator: