FIRE IN COAL BUNKER

coal eater

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bunker doors did not have cotnact with coal fire at all. there must beenn other reason why doors bursted whe water filled the bunker fully
 

Tim Aldrich

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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.
David, I hadn't thought of that.

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.
Thanks for the compliment. I don't know anything about Titanic that isn't already known so it's nice to be able to participate every now and again.
 

Tim Aldrich

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Robby mentioned the annealing (softening) and hardening of steel. That got me thinking. I'm still at work and my lunch break is over but I will post the things rattling around in my head later. I think they're things to consider as we discuss this coal bunker fire.
 
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Tim Aldrich

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Buckle in, get a pint and visit the head. I'm going to be writing a lot. As usual, take everything with a grain of salt. These are just the thoughts in the head of a mechanic who likes to learn. I'm a "Jack of all trades, master of none". I'm not much of a writer so please excuse any rambling that may veer off track, poor grammar etc. Corrections/additions are welcome. I'm not so proud that I can't accept someone telling me I'm talking out of my fantail. The following is a great simplification of steel and it's processes. I encourage you to research further.

  1. Mild steel. I can't provide a source for this (sorry), but I do remember it. My immediate thought is that the reference came from a documentary and that it seems like something Parks Stephenson may have mentioned. Just not sure. Titanic (the Olympic Class in general) was made from, what we call today, "mild steel". My opinion is that hot rolled A36, commonly known as "structural steel" would be similar to what Titanic was made out of. Big lumps of steel made by the Siemens-Martin process that have been run (hot) through a series of rolling mills into the desired shapes.
  2. Hardening of Mild steel. Despite being referred to as "carbon steel", mild steel generally has a rather low carbon content. Low carbon content doesn't really allow mild steel to be hardened. Not like one could expect from a tool steel such as O1 (oil hardening) or W1 (water hardening). Tool steels have a higher carbon content than mild steels. However, mild steel will harden somewhat when heated to critical temperature (typically a low red or cherry red, whenever it loses its magnetism) and is then quenched. I have done this. Yes, I have permission. I made the video. The book mentioned in the video is "The Complete Practical Machinist" by Joshua Rose, first published in 1876. The "redneck" hardness test involves a file. If a file cuts the steel, it's "soft". If a file skates off without removing any metal, the steel is "hard". I have no way of testing on the Rockwell scale. The greater level of hardness steel attains, the more brittle it becomes.
  3. Annealing steel (making it soft) involves, again, heating the piece to critical temperature but, instead of quenching it, it should be left to cool as slowly as possible. Once cool the steel can be cut with files, chisels, saws etc with ease.
  4. Case hardening. Some tools are made from cheap mild steel and then case hardened to improve their durability. This involves packing the work in a carbon-rich medium (charcoal as an example), and then performing a lengthy heating & quenching process. The hardened surface is very, very thin. Maybe .004" (.10mm) if left to sit in the furnace for six or so hours. The aforementioned description is an over-simplification.
How does all of this relate to a coal bunker fire on an ocean liner? Well, the materials for one thing. The ribs, plates, maybe the rivets (around just the bunkers, need clarification here) all made of mild steel. Mild steel can attain a certain level of hardness (low), but only if it's quenched after reaching critical temperature. Now, we really can't be certain how big this coal fire was or how much water was dumped on it. Did someone see a cherry red bulkhead and hose it down (hardening) or was the bulkhead cherry red and, by the time the fire was out, just hot and had cooled slowly (annealing)? Was the bulkhead hosed down at all? If the bulkhead was warped/dimpled as stated in the inquiry evidence, it certainly got hot enough to be distorted, but if the steel had cooled slowly it certainly wouldn't have been brittle. It would have had the same (roughly) properties it had when it left the rolling mill. Did the expansion/distortion of the steel bulkhead affect any of the riveted joints?

One of the wrenches I can throw into the works is case hardening. Coal=carbon. If that coal bunker fire had been going since Belfast, if the steel got hot enough over those days and the steel had been hosed down (quenching) while it was still red, the steel may have had been case hardened to quite a depth. Plenty of time for the steel to absorb carbon from the coal. Therefore becoming harder, and more brittle, than designed. Personally, I don't think that happened. If the crew had been playing hoses on things, I doubt they could have quenched anything. A big chunk of steel, once heated to red, will retain heat for quite awhile, but the window for hardening with a quench is fairly narrow. But, maybe the fire was big enough to heat a large enough surface to red, and they had enough water available that it was possible. We just don't know.

What we do know is that there were mild steel bulkheads, there was a fire, there was a lot of carbon and there was water. These are some of the things that popped into my head when I first watched the "evil coal fire" documentary. The first thing I thought was "Sounds like someone never took a junior high shop class." but that's not a fair statement. This coal bunker fire seems fairly simple. Hot steel, distortion, a list to port but there are just so many different variables at play.
 
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Rancor

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Jun 23, 2017
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All very good points above but I fear without further penetration of the wreck we may continue going around in circles wondering whether the bulkhead failed due to fire damage, failed due to water pressure alone, didn't fail at all and a bunker door failed or a mix-up with a ballast main caused the flooding of BR5. I think until someone manages to get a ROV or similar into the areas in question we are going to struggle to come to a definitive conclusion.

Now if you will excuse me I'm off to continue reading the 'Captain Lord - guilty as charged' thread, I'm about a third of the way through the 140 pages of posts and am looking forward to the conclusion the bridge officer types have no doubt come to. ;)
 
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Robby House

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

View attachment 41086

A bunker door on a smaller steamship.

View attachment 41087

View attachment 41088

View attachment 41089

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.
Well, you know my opinion as to the overall soundness of Bulkhead E which no doubt probably was slightly compromised to a degree, but I don't believe enough to lead to some sort of catastrophic failure. What interests me is just how these doors would have appeared as ingress from the sea steadily accumulated inside Coal Bunker W. These depictions of the bunker access hatch doors to the coal bunker doesn't exactly look all that water tight...they look like as soon as the water level would have reached these hatch doors there likely would have been a decent trickle of water that would leak around the edges of these hatch plates with the leak likely growing into a healthy spray of increasing pressure as the bunker collected greater amounts of sea water. I wonder exactly how high the water level inside Coal Bunker W had reached before its hatch(es) gave way? My guess would be if it didn't fail before that is, that the water collecting inside Coal Bunker W reached a high enough level at which point it simply crested over the passageway corridor used to facilitate movement between Boiler Rooms 5 & 6 at which point it would stabilize with any further ingress simply pouring into Coal Bunker V (port side coal bunker of Stokehold 9 in Boiler Room 5). Still, it would seem to me that during the build up to the hatch doors finally giving way, you would have seen all manner of water spraying out from around the metal plate that seems to be what the hatch door was composed of.

Below: Did flooding inside of Coal Bunker W reach above the passageway between BR 5 & 6 where it began flooding Coal Bunker V or did the hatch door give way before cresting the passageway which divided the two bunkers within Stokehold 9 of Boiler Room 5?
CoalBunker W.png
 

Robby House

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Jun 9, 2016
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Buckle in, get a pint and visit the head. I'm going to be writing a lot. As usual, take everything with a grain of salt. These are just the thoughts in the head of a mechanic who likes to learn. I'm a "Jack of all trades, master of none". I'm not much of a writer so please excuse any rambling that may veer off track, poor grammar etc. Corrections/additions are welcome. I'm not so proud that I can't accept someone telling me I'm talking out of my fantail. The following is a great simplification of steel and it's processes. I encourage you to research further.

  1. Mild steel. I can't provide a source for this (sorry), but I do remember it. My immediate thought is that the reference came from a documentary and that it seems like something Parks Stephenson may have mentioned. Just not sure. Titanic (the Olympic Class in general) was made from, what we call today, "mild steel". My opinion is that hot rolled A36, commonly known as "structural steel" would be similar to what Titanic was made out of. Big lumps of steel made by the Siemens-Martin process that have been run (hot) through a series of rolling mills into the desired shapes.
  2. Hardening of Mild steel. Despite being referred to as "carbon steel", mild steel generally has a rather low carbon content. Low carbon content doesn't really allow mild steel to be hardened. Not like one could expect from a tool steel such as O1 (oil hardening) or W1 (water hardening). Tool steels have a higher carbon content than mild steels. However, mild steel will harden somewhat when heated to critical temperature (typically a low red or cherry red, whenever it loses its magnetism) and is then quenched. I have done this. Yes, I have permission. I made the video. The book mentioned in the video is "The Complete Practical Machinist" by Joshua Rose, first published in 1876. The "redneck" hardness test involves a file. If a file cuts the steel, it's "soft". If a file skates off without removing any metal, the steel is "hard". I have no way of testing on the Rockwell scale. The greater level of hardness steel attains, the more brittle it becomes.
  3. Annealing steel (making it soft) involves, again, heating the piece to critical temperature but, instead of quenching it, it should be left to cool as slowly as possible. Once cool the steel can be cut with files, chisels, saws etc with ease.
  4. Case hardening. Some tools are made from cheap mild steel and then case hardened to improve their durability. This involves packing the work in a carbon-rich medium (charcoal as an example), and then performing a lengthy heating & quenching process. The hardened surface is very, very thin. Maybe .004" (.10mm) if left to sit in the furnace for six or so hours. The aforementioned description is an over-simplification.
How does all of this relate to a coal bunker fire on an ocean liner? Well, the materials for one thing. The ribs, plates, maybe the rivets (around just the bunkers, need clarification here) all made of mild steel. Mild steel can attain a certain level of hardness (low), but only if it's quenched after reaching critical temperature. Now, we really can't be certain how big this coal fire was or how much water was dumped on it. Did someone see a cherry red bulkhead and hose it down (hardening) or was the bulkhead cherry red and, by the time the fire was out, just hot and had cooled slowly (annealing)? Was the bulkhead hosed down at all? If the bulkhead was warped/dimpled as stated in the inquiry evidence, it certainly got hot enough to be distorted, but if the steel had cooled slowly it certainly wouldn't have been brittle. It would have had the same (roughly) properties it had when it left the rolling mill. Did the expansion/distortion of the steel bulkhead affect any of the riveted joints?

One of the wrenches I can throw into the works is case hardening. Coal=carbon. If that coal bunker fire had been going since Belfast, if the steel got hot enough over those days and the steel had been hosed down (quenching) while it was still red, the steel may have had been case hardened to quite a depth. Plenty of time for the steel to absorb carbon from the coal. Therefore becoming harder, and more brittle, than designed. Personally, I don't think that happened. If the crew had been playing hoses on things, I doubt they could have quenched anything. A big chunk of steel, once heated to red, will retain heat for quite awhile, but the window for hardening with a quench is fairly narrow. But, maybe the fire was big enough to heat a large enough surface to red, and they had enough water available that it was possible. We just don't know.

What we do know is that there were mild steel bulkheads, there was a fire, there was a lot of carbon and there was water. These are some of the things that popped into my head when I first watched the "evil coal fire" documentary. The first thing I thought was "Sounds like someone never took a junior high shop class." but that's not a fair statement. This coal bunker fire seems fairly simple. Hot steel, distortion, a list to port but there are just so many different variables at play.
Excellent presentation! You did a far better job of explaining how heat affects steel than my poor attempt in #97. I've picked up some Blacksmithing skills over the past few years from my father who's a bit of a blacksmith enthusiast/hobbyist so I understand some of the basics. So if indeed there was this terrific raging fire which turned sections of Bulkhead E a dull or even bright red hue and was then quickly quenched with cold water flowing through the nozzle of a fire hose the steel will harden more so than it was before with possibly the greatest vulnerability in the case of it functioning as a major Bulkhead on Titanic being that the metal tends to become more brittle. However you make the point which I wasn't fully cognizant about that with mild steel's lower carbon content there is less hardening vis-a-vis quenching as a steel's carbon content at the molecular level plays a big part in heat treated steel hardening when quenched or rapidly cooled using oil or even room temperature water, etc. So if Bulkhead E or even the other sides of Coal Bunker W was red hot prior to being suddenly quenched using a fire hose we may consider that possible damage from the steel's hardening caused from the quenching process is likely not as bad as it could be where a higher carbon steel used in the construction of Titanic's bulkheads. At the other end of the spectrum, if the Coal Fire had caused portions of Bulkhead E to achieve a red hot state but was allowed to cool without the aid of water which would take longer the steel would tend to be softer but I don't know that poses a big problem for it's function as a Bulkhead necessarily. In fact I tend to think if I had to choose between two extremes of the steel being too hard and brittle or a bit softer, I'd chose the latter for sure. When we use the word "softer" that doesn't mean the steel is like the consistency of a wet lasagna noodle etc. It's plenty hard enough to function as a major bulkhead or to form some type of partition wall, etc. Feel free to correct anything I may be confused about.

Good Post!

Robby

PS- You mention the possibility of carbon from the coal itself possibly raising he carbon content of the mild steet during its red hot state...but I would tend to think said steel would been to be pretty darn near a liquid state before carbon could more evenly and homogenously (if that's not a misuse of the word not to mention bad spelling) become evenly distributed throughout the steel if that makes any sense.
 
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A

Aaron_2016

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Well, you know my opinion as to the overall soundness of Bulkhead E which no doubt probably was slightly compromised to a degree, but I don't believe enough to lead to some sort of catastrophic failure. What interests me is just how these doors would have appeared as ingress from the sea steadily accumulated inside Coal Bunker W. These depictions of the bunker access hatch doors to the coal bunker doesn't exactly look all that water tight...they look like as soon as the water level would have reached these hatch doors there likely would have been a decent trickle of water that would leak around the edges of these hatch plates with the leak likely growing into a healthy spray of increasing pressure as the bunker collected greater amounts of sea water. I wonder exactly how high the water level inside Coal Bunker W had reached before its hatch(es) gave way? My guess would be if it didn't fail before that is, that the water collecting inside Coal Bunker W reached a high enough level at which point it simply crested over the passageway corridor used to facilitate movement between Boiler Rooms 5 & 6 at which point it would stabilize with any further ingress simply pouring into Coal Bunker V (port side coal bunker of Stokehold 9 in Boiler Room 5). Still, it would seem to me that during the build up to the hatch doors finally giving way, you would have seen all manner of water spraying out from around the metal plate that seems to be what the hatch door was composed of.]

I understand the ship was also bending by the weight in the bow or the sagging in the middle. Perhaps this helped the wall to fracture?



shiphogging.png



Fred Barrett was asked if the water came into the bunker rapidly.


Q - And water was coming into the stokehold?
A - No, only into the bunker.

Q - And did you find water coming in in that bunker?
A - Yes, pouring in the bunker.

Q - Was it coming in rapidly?
A - Yes.

However he then downplayed it and said it was not coming in as fast as the water in boiler room 5.

Q - Let us understand it. You said that the bunker in No. 5 had got some water coming into it?
A - Yes; but the hole was not so big in that section as it was in No. 6 section. By the time the water had got there she had stopped.

Q - Could you tell us from what level it was coming in? The same as the other?
A - Two feet above the plates.

Q - This tear went a couple of feet past the bulkhead in No. 5. How were you able to keep the water from reaching (interrupted)
A - "It never came above the plates, until all at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through between the boilers and I jumped for the escape ladder."


He was asked what exactly he did just prior to that sudden rush of water. It appears they were attending to the pumps. Perhaps the valve was not closed and the water rushed in by accident?


15 minutes before the sudden rush.


Q - Did you stay below?
A - Yes.
Q - With Mr. Harvey?
A - Yes.
Q - Then what was the next order?
A - He asked me to lift the manhole plate off.
Q - Where was the manhole plate?
A - On the starboard side of No. 5 section.
Q - When the plate was in position what was it? Closed?
A - It is something you lift up to get at the valves. I do not know what valves it is. It is just like a hole in this table. You lift it off to get to the valves to turn on the pumps or something.
Q - Is it in the floor?
A - Yes.
Q - And did you do that for him?
A - Yes.
Q - That would leave a hole in the floor?
A - Yes.
Q - And what happened then?
A - Mr. Shepherd was walking across in a hurry to do something and then fell down the hole and broke his leg.
Q - He did not notice the manhole plate had been lifted?
A - No.
Q - He broke his leg?
A - Yes.
Q - What did you do with him?
A - We lifted him up and carried him into the pump room, me and Mr. Harvey.
Q - Is that the pump room in No. 5?
A - Yes.
Q - At this time, in this No. 5, was it easy to see?
A - No, all the water which had been thrown on the furnaces when they were pulled out was making the stokehold thick with steam.
Q - And then you attended to Mr. Shepherd as best you could. Did you stay there after that?
A - Just about a quarter of an hour after that.
Q - And during that quarter of an hour did No. 5 keep free from water?
A - Yes.
Q - Then tell us what happened at the end of a quarter of an hour?
A - A rush of water came through the pass - the forward end.
Q - You say the forward end of the pass. What is the pass?
A - It is a space between the boilers where we walk through.
Q - There are boilers on either side of it?
A - Yes.
Q - From which direction did this water come?
A - From the forward end.
Q - And this pass that you walk through, is that at the same level as the plates?
A - Yes.
Q - The same level as where you were standing?
A - Yes.
Q - Supposing that the bulkhead which is the fore-end of No. 5 had given way, would water come through it and through this pass?
A - Yes.
Q - Do you know yourself where it was the water came from, whether it had got through the bulkhead or not?
A - I did not stop to look.
Q - Now, when it came through this pass between the boilers, did it come with a rush?
A - Yes.
Q - I suppose he means by that as if something had given way. / 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 - 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.


.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello there.

If transverse WT Bulkhead E had failed due to heat, then it would have also failed in its intention.
2018-05-31 001 2018-05-31 001.jpg

The fire would never have been "raging". In reality, it would have been smouldering due to lack of oxygen. Heat from it would have initially been transferred to the relatively thin bulkhead plating between the much heavier section, vertical stiffeners to become distorted... "dinged"... between the stiffeners. The bulkhead would never have failed.
 

Robby House

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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?
Hello there.

If transverse WT Bulkhead E had failed due to heat, then it would have also failed in its intention.
View attachment 41152
The fire would never have been "raging". In reality, it would have been smouldering due to lack of oxygen. Heat from it would have initially been transferred to the relatively thin bulkhead plating between the much heavier section, vertical stiffeners to become distorted... "dinged"... between the stiffeners. The bulkhead would never have failed.

Indeed it was the bulkhead's network of "vertical stiffeners" that I thought was well illustrated in that Graphic of Coal Bunker W that was more than enough to totally dismiss any notion I may have had of the possibility of WTB E's failure during the sinking process. I just don't see it as remotely possible. The abrupt eruption of "green foamy water" Barret described had to have come from Coal Bunker W when her bunker doors simply couldn't hold back any more of the flooding water's pressure and its hatch blew causing him to get out of Dodge really quick without trying to find out what had happened.


cbw2.3.png
 
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Jim Currie

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The water pressure on the bunker door would have increased by 64 lbs/ Cu ft for every foot of depth above the sill of the bunker door. If the gash in the bunker-side shell plating was at the same height as in BR 6, then it was 2 feet above the boiler room floor plating. When the water rose to that level, the pressure in the inside of the bunker door was 128 lbs./squ, ft.
Once the water level rose above the point of ingress, the water pressure would have immediately jumped. This was because there would be an ever-increasing equalization of the external sea pressure at a depth of 34 feet and internal floodwater pressure. That's what probably blew the doors big time.
 
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Robby House

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Excellent! So your calculations are based on Coal Bunker W filling with water from the starboard side shell plating all the way to the corridor wall that was part of the passageway between Boiler Room's 5 & 6 right? It's generally agreed that the aft most open seam or compromised seam of Titanic's starboard side shell plating ended approximately 1½ - 2 feet aft of Bulkhead E at an estimated height of some 2 feet above the Tanktop flooring found in the Coal Bunker (Based on earlier research I feel comfortable saying that the Coal Bunkers didn't have the same Stokehold Plate flooring which on average was two feet above the TankTop surface of the Boiler Rooms used for what I can only conjecture would be to provide a level working space what with the contouring of the hull, especially in those forward Boiler Rooms.
Below is my concept for how things rapidly deteriorated once the Bunker Hatch Door(s) gave way in CBW. Let me know what you think.

Coal Bunker Gives Way....PNG
 

Kas01

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What would the mean height be from the firing deck (the stokehold plate) to the center firing doors of the boilers? Might be a good place to start figuring out how quickly the dampers needed to be shut before the boiler blowdowns could start, assuming the berg struck relatively uniformly across all of the affected compartments.
 
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If you study Barrett's testimony, he never said that the bunker door gave way. He didn't say the bulkhead collapsed. All of those notions were presented to him in the form of questions. The leading stoker agreed that under the conditions specified in the questions, water would pour into boiler room #5. But, Barrett never said that was what took place.

Let's start with the injury to engineer Shepherd. What Barrett says tells us a lot about conditions in boiler room #5 just before the rush of water that forced him to go up an escape ladder to Scotland Road.

2030. And what happened then?
- Mr. Shepherd was walking across in a hurry to do something and then fell down the hole and broke his leg.
2031. He did not notice the manhole plate had been lifted?
- No.
2032. He broke his leg?
- Yes.
2033. What did you do with him?
- We lifted him up and carried him into the pump room, me and Mr. Harvey.
2034. Is that the pump room in No. 5?
- Yes.
2035. At this time, in this No. 5, was it easy to see?
- No, all the water which had been thrown on the furnaces when they were pulled out was making the stokehold thick with steam.
2036. And then you attended to Mr. Shepherd as best you could. Did you stay there after that?
- Just about a quarter of an hour after that.
2037. And during that quarter of an hour did No. 5 keep free from water?
- Yes.

According to Barrett, there was no water in boiler room #5 when Shepherd fell into the manhole. The compartment was dry. It must have been dry all the way down to the tank top level. If not, the manhole would never have been opened. In other testimony Barrett said the engineers wanted that hole open to do work on the plumbing under the stoker plates, presumable the bilge pump system. We don't know what they were doing, but we can say without hesitation that any work would have been impossible had that space been filled with 28-degree sea water.

Elsewhere, we learn from Beauchamp's testimony that the bunkers were apparently not watertight at the base where they landed on the tank top deck. This man stayed in boiler room #6 for 20 minutes or so after impact on the iceberg raking down the fires to make the boilers safe. As he finished his work he noticed water coming out of the bunker behind him. So, if the bunker in boiler room #5 were filling up as conventional wisdom claims, why did it not leak out into the space between the stoker plates and tank top? If water could leak into the bunker in #6, then it surely could have leaked out of the one in #5.

2038. Then tell us what happened at the end of a quarter of an hour?
- A rush of water came through the pass - the forward end.
2039. You say the forward end of the pass. What is the pass?
- It is a space between the boilers where we walk through.
2040. There are boilers on either side of it?
- Yes.
2041. From which direction did this water come?
- From the forward end.
2042. And this pass that you walk through, is that at the same level as the plates?
- Yes.
2043. The same level as where you were standing?
- Yes.

No question Barrett saw water come through boiler room #5 in a "rush." He was never asked to explain his rather enigmatic description of that event. One thing certain, however, is that Barrett did not mention any bulkheads failing or bunker doors flying open under the weight of the water. Read it over 20 and you'll not find a word of such events. You won't, that is, until you read the question which came next. In a court of law there is no doubt that witness Barrett was being "lead," by the questions making his answers irrelevant.

2044. Supposing that the bulkhead which is the fore-end of No. 5 had given way, would water come through it and through this pass?
- Yes.

To fully put "paid" to the myth that Barrett said something collapsed, in the next question he plainly admits that he didn't stop to look back. He skedaddled, eventually onto Scotland Road.

2045. Do you know yourself where it was the water came from, whether it had got through the bulkhead or not?
- I did not stop to look.

Robby's drawing just above is quite good at depicting the conventional story. But there are problems. While I admit not having acess to the exact location of the bunker doors vis-a-vis the furnaces, I doubt those doors aligned with any of the "passes" mentioned by Barrett. Too inefficient. Better plan would have been to center them on boilers for ease of moving coal into the furnaces. The second problem is the location of Barrett and Hesketh on the drawing. Barrett makes no mention of being doused by that "rush" of water. Not one word. Surely a man working in an overheated, steamy boiler room would have remembered above all else being hit by freezing water. Not one word. I'm suspicious.

Where was Barrett? The only place where he could have stayed dry is somewhere above he water spewing into the compartment. There were a lot of stairways and platforms in each boiler room. Could he have been "up there" somewhere? That would explain why he saw a "rush" of water, didn't get wet, and was the only man to escape alive from boiler room #5. This may sound fantastic, but read the BOT's final report about the placement of valve controls on the E-deck level so they could be operated even if the compartment were completely flooded. The engineers were working on the pumps.

Where was Barrett? What was he doing? Why did the BOT inquiry spend so much time speculating about failing bulkheads and bunker doors instead of asking these two simple questions?

-- David G. Brown
 

Robby House

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Regarding the location of Coal Bunker W's hatch doors, as you suggested they are simply a guesstimation of sorts...placed there to make sense of the details we have today to work with. Indeed if I'd designed the Coal Bunkers I'd probably have put two hatch doors on Coal Bunker W centered to the two opposite Scotch Boilers and would have designed a 3 hatch door configuration for Coal Bunker V, again locating them roughly centered on the three remaining Boilers. I figured any good recreation should probably show the probability that a hatch door must have been located facing one of those "passes" or spaced between the 5 Boilers to show how a torrent of bottled up sea water that had finally freed itself from the confines of CB-W might have worked to best explain Barrett's description of events. I guess I'm not sure exactly what you're proposing as an alternative. Could you elaborate further?

"Elsewhere, we learn from Beauchamp's testimony that the bunkers were apparently not watertight at the base where they landed on the tank top deck. This man stayed in boiler room #6 for 20 minutes or so after impact on the iceberg raking down the fires to make the boilers safe. As he finished his work he noticed water coming out of the bunker behind him. So, if the bunker in boiler room #5 were filling up as conventional wisdom claims, why did it not leak out into the space between the stoker plates and tank top? If water could leak into the bunker in #6, then it surely could have leaked out of the one in #5."

It's very plausible that perhaps the Coal Bunkers found throughout Titanic's Boiler Rooms indeed were not waterproof at the base in which case, yes you would have seen the accumulation of water between the Tank Top and the Stoke Hold plate flooring in Boiler Room 6 and 5 and so on. However I'm not sure I understand how he "noticed water coming out of the bunker behind him..." in Boiler Room 6. My understanding about Boiler Room 6 was that it got it pretty bad insofar as damage to her starboard side shell plating. As such I envision a stream of quasi-geyser like high pressure water rocketing forth Boiler Room 6 making the casual detection of "water coming out of the bunker" seemingly difficult to notice or detect and/or determine its source (did it come from Coal Bunker Y or little b or was it from the massive torrents of sea pouring into the Boiler Room because of that unfortunate visit with the iceberg that occurred earlier?) So said leaking water coming out of Boiler Room 6's Coal Bunkers (we're not sure which one he may have been referring to) would be flowing into the rest of BR6 below the Stokehold Plate flooring if the Coal Bunkers were not watertight. The only way to note this would be if he had somehow lifted a plate up somewhere to be able to see if this was the case....again a task make all the more harder by the shit-ton of North Atlantic sea water blasting into the Compartment from the ice impact damage. I don't know...I guess I don't get a lot of warm fuzzies with that theory for the most part. Perhaps I'm missing something or not picturing something correctly? Perhaps Beauchamp's assumptions about the Coal Bunker's watertight soundness at the base were simply wrong? It sure with the pumps would make better sense if indeed they were watertight at the base but you assert that if there had been flooding above the Tank Top/below the Stokehold PLate flooring in BR5 that it would have been seen and commented on and that furthermore it would also likely have made the task of doing whatever in the hell it was that Barrett and Harvey were attempting on the floor in Boiler Room 5 much more difficult is what you're getting at right?

Dammit...just when I think I'm square on how something likely happened I'm instead more confused than before! I feel like I have more to say but need some rest so Im sending this forward now.
 
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Rancor

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If you study Barrett's testimony, he never said that the bunker door gave way. He didn't say the bulkhead collapsed. All of those notions were presented to him in the form of questions. The leading stoker agreed that under the conditions specified in the questions, water would pour into boiler room #5. But, Barrett never said that was what took place.

Let's start with the injury to engineer Shepherd. What Barrett says tells us a lot about conditions in boiler room #5 just before the rush of water that forced him to go up an escape ladder to Scotland Road.

2030. And what happened then?
- Mr. Shepherd was walking across in a hurry to do something and then fell down the hole and broke his leg.
2031. He did not notice the manhole plate had been lifted?
- No.
2032. He broke his leg?
- Yes.
2033. What did you do with him?
- We lifted him up and carried him into the pump room, me and Mr. Harvey.
2034. Is that the pump room in No. 5?
- Yes.
2035. At this time, in this No. 5, was it easy to see?
- No, all the water which had been thrown on the furnaces when they were pulled out was making the stokehold thick with steam.
2036. And then you attended to Mr. Shepherd as best you could. Did you stay there after that?
- Just about a quarter of an hour after that.
2037. And during that quarter of an hour did No. 5 keep free from water?
- Yes.

According to Barrett, there was no water in boiler room #5 when Shepherd fell into the manhole. The compartment was dry. It must have been dry all the way down to the tank top level. If not, the manhole would never have been opened. In other testimony Barrett said the engineers wanted that hole open to do work on the plumbing under the stoker plates, presumable the bilge pump system. We don't know what they were doing, but we can say without hesitation that any work would have been impossible had that space been filled with 28-degree sea water.

Elsewhere, we learn from Beauchamp's testimony that the bunkers were apparently not watertight at the base where they landed on the tank top deck. This man stayed in boiler room #6 for 20 minutes or so after impact on the iceberg raking down the fires to make the boilers safe. As he finished his work he noticed water coming out of the bunker behind him. So, if the bunker in boiler room #5 were filling up as conventional wisdom claims, why did it not leak out into the space between the stoker plates and tank top? If water could leak into the bunker in #6, then it surely could have leaked out of the one in #5.

2038. Then tell us what happened at the end of a quarter of an hour?
- A rush of water came through the pass - the forward end.
2039. You say the forward end of the pass. What is the pass?
- It is a space between the boilers where we walk through.
2040. There are boilers on either side of it?
- Yes.
2041. From which direction did this water come?
- From the forward end.
2042. And this pass that you walk through, is that at the same level as the plates?
- Yes.
2043. The same level as where you were standing?
- Yes.

No question Barrett saw water come through boiler room #5 in a "rush." He was never asked to explain his rather enigmatic description of that event. One thing certain, however, is that Barrett did not mention any bulkheads failing or bunker doors flying open under the weight of the water. Read it over 20 and you'll not find a word of such events. You won't, that is, until you read the question which came next. In a court of law there is no doubt that witness Barrett was being "lead," by the questions making his answers irrelevant.

2044. Supposing that the bulkhead which is the fore-end of No. 5 had given way, would water come through it and through this pass?
- Yes.

To fully put "paid" to the myth that Barrett said something collapsed, in the next question he plainly admits that he didn't stop to look back. He skedaddled, eventually onto Scotland Road.

2045. Do you know yourself where it was the water came from, whether it had got through the bulkhead or not?
- I did not stop to look.

Robby's drawing just above is quite good at depicting the conventional story. But there are problems. While I admit not having acess to the exact location of the bunker doors vis-a-vis the furnaces, I doubt those doors aligned with any of the "passes" mentioned by Barrett. Too inefficient. Better plan would have been to center them on boilers for ease of moving coal into the furnaces. The second problem is the location of Barrett and Hesketh on the drawing. Barrett makes no mention of being doused by that "rush" of water. Not one word. Surely a man working in an overheated, steamy boiler room would have remembered above all else being hit by freezing water. Not one word. I'm suspicious.

Where was Barrett? The only place where he could have stayed dry is somewhere above he water spewing into the compartment. There were a lot of stairways and platforms in each boiler room. Could he have been "up there" somewhere? That would explain why he saw a "rush" of water, didn't get wet, and was the only man to escape alive from boiler room #5. This may sound fantastic, but read the BOT's final report about the placement of valve controls on the E-deck level so they could be operated even if the compartment were completely flooded. The engineers were working on the pumps.

Where was Barrett? What was he doing? Why did the BOT inquiry spend so much time speculating about failing bulkheads and bunker doors instead of asking these two simple questions?

-- David G. Brown
Barrett and Beauchamp differ here. According to one boiler room 6 flooded immediately, the other reckons it was a slow and steady affair with time to draw the furnaces. One must be in error.

Without wishing to draw any conclusions if you place Beauchamp in the forward end of BR5 his testimony lines up nicely with Barrett. Drew the fires in an orderly manner while water leaked around the flooding bunker door and onto the plates.
 
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A

Aaron_2016

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Where was Barrett? The only place where he could have stayed dry is somewhere above he water spewing into the compartment. There were a lot of stairways and platforms in each boiler room. Could he have been "up there" somewhere? That would explain why he saw a "rush" of water, didn't get wet, and was the only man to escape alive from boiler room #5. This may sound fantastic, but read the BOT's final report about the placement of valve controls on the E-deck level so they could be operated even if the compartment were completely flooded. The engineers were working on the pumps.

Where was Barrett? What was he doing? Why did the BOT inquiry spend so much time speculating about failing bulkheads and bunker doors instead of asking these two simple questions?

-- David G. Brown

Any ideas what Barrett was referring to here?


Q - This tear went a couple of feet past the bulkhead in No. 5. How were you able to keep the water from reaching (interrupted)
A - A. It never came above the plates, until all at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through between the boilers and I jumped for the escape ladder.

The next question was:

Q - Was there any indication of any explosion of a boiler?
A - There was a knocking noise, but no explosion, only when the ship was sinking a volume of smoke came up.


Was that question referring to the cause of the rush of water and Barrett said there was no explosion but there was a knocking noise just before the rush of water came in, or was he referring to what happened much later when the ship went down and broke in two? I have always interpreted that he was referring to the bunker door / wall and the "knocking noise" was the result of the door /wall failing and the water rushing into boiler room 5 with green foam tearing through. e.g.


Bulkhead wall collapses - Barrett rushes up ladder.




.
 
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When you say "Coal Deposit No. 5" I'm assuming you're talking about the reported coal fire that had been burning in the forward stokehold on the starboard side of Boiler Room 5 right? More specifically I think this is better described as the starboard side of Stokehold #9 right? I count 11 stokeholds in total with each boiler room containing 2 stokeholds with 5 double ended Scotch boilers that these serviced save Boiler Room #1 which had 4 single sided or ended Scotch boilers. Since each stokehold was divided by the watertight bulkhead doors that separated each Boiler Room at the Tank Top level I guess it becomes more important to state either "port" or "starboard" side when discussing a particular item or event concerning Titanic's stokeholds right?
Hello there,
The information about the fire in coal bunker nber. 5 starboard side, came to me from Woods Hole Institute about 1987. Recently the latest data informed precisely about this fire, it was hidden for many years at least for me. But fire was bigger than I supposed. Anyway many thanks for your information. I'm not a specialist but I'm conected with Titanic in many special ways since 1966, when I was 12 years old. i found a fireman named John Alexander Podestá, same last name as me. He survived and died in Southampton in 1963.
 

Robby House

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Jun 9, 2016
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Kathleen, GA
Any ideas what Barrett was referring to here?


Q - This tear went a couple of feet past the bulkhead in No. 5. How were you able to keep the water from reaching (interrupted)
A - A. It never came above the plates, until all at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through between the boilers and I jumped for the escape ladder.

The next question was:

Q - Was there any indication of any explosion of a boiler?
A - There was a knocking noise, but no explosion, only when the ship was sinking a volume of smoke came up.


Was that question referring to the cause of the rush of water and Barrett said there was no explosion but there was a knocking noise just before the rush of water came in, or was he referring to what happened much later when the ship went down and broke in two? I have always interpreted that he was referring to the bunker door / wall and the "knocking noise" was the result of the door /wall failing and the water rushing into boiler room 5 with green foam tearing through. e.g.


Bulkhead wall collapses - Barrett rushes up ladder.




.
Yeah, I'm totally at a loss as to what he means with his answer of "...it never came above the plates until all at once I saw a wave of green foam tearing through...." I guess he's talking about stokehold plates but there were no stokehold plates inside any of the Coal Bunkers. Or could he have maybe been talking about the condition of Boiler Room 5 after the mystery deluge of water that occurs and the water has time to seep down through the stokehold plates to settle on top of the TankTop and after all that water finds its way to the lowest point still hasn't risen above the stokehold plate flooring of BR5? I believe the methane induced Oracle of Delphi could give more clearer answers than a lot of the survivor testimony availed to us from both US and UK Inquiries. I mean Damn!
 

Robby House

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Jun 9, 2016
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Kathleen, GA
Barrett and Beauchamp differ here. According to one boiler room 6 flooded immediately, the other reckons it was a slow and steady affair with time to draw the furnaces. One must be in error.

Without wishing to draw any conclusions if you place Beauchamp in the forward end of BR5 his testimony lines up nicely with Barrett. Drew the fires in an orderly manner while water leaked around the flooding bunker door and onto the plates.
I think there's sufficient evidence to suggest that flooding in Boiler Room 6 occurred fairly rapidly. I picture frantic firemen like Beauchamp simply raking out as much hot coal as possible straight onto the Stokehold floors which when mixed with the ingress spewing through open or damaged shell plating on the starboard side along BR6 would have effectively turned Boiler Room 6 into a much larger version of the Turkish Bath located a deck or two above! I'm highly dubious that Beauchamp was in any kind of position to notice water flowing from Boiler Room 6's Coal Bunkers into the 2 foot spacing between the Tank Top and the Stokehold Plate flooring found throughout the rest of BR6. I mean the more I think about it, the more improbable that possibility sounds. First he'd have to somehow remove one of the manhole plate covers in order to determine if water was coming from any of the Coal Bunkers. Furthermore if indeed there was water accumulating on top of the TankTop below the Stokehold Plate flooring in BR6 how can he be certain as to where this water is coming from? It's just as likely if not more probable its coming from the flooding along the starboard side damaged shell plating than anything else.

I think the evidence better supports the probability that the Coal Bunkers found throughout Titanic's Boiler Rooms were indeed watertight at the base at least (meaning where the retaining wall of these bunkers met with the Tank-top.) This notion is further supported by the facts we just confirmed about Boiler Room 5...that being there was no sign of water accumulation below the Boiler Room's Stokehold Plate flooring prior to the big deluge which would have occurred if these Bunkers weren't watertight. There...I thought it all out now and feel better.

PS- David, I guess I don't find the absence of Barrett indicating he might have gotten his hair wet during the sudden deluge of water incident as anything revealing or suspicious...especially given how notoriously unhelpful much of the testimonies tended to be when attempting to piece together a highly detailed sequencing of events. But that's just me and my gut feeling.
 
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