FIRE IN COAL BUNKER

Rancor

Member
Jun 23, 2017
251
143
53
David said: "It is a schematic drawing, not a builders plan or an iron plan."
This is from the builders plan David:
View attachment 41179
By the way, the bunker bulkheads were not constructed to be watertight as in the sense of watertight bulkhead. They even had very small drain holes cut in them at the bottom to allow any water buildup at the bottom of the bunker that may accumulate from whatever reason to drain out onto the tank top under the stokehold plates. You can see them in the above builder's drawing. But what Beauchamp described was water filling a bunker quite rapidly that was coming through the bunker door and spilling out over the plates near him.


Beauchamp was very poor in estimating time durations when asked about things weeks after the events took place. For example:
668a. (The Commissioner.) How soon do you suppose after the order to “Stop” came from the bridge did the watertight doors close? - In less than five minutes.
But 1/O Murdoch was seen at the WTD control switch as the ship was striking the iceberg. Those doors drop closed in less than 30 seconds.
Excellent information there thanks Samuel, and Ioannis as well. Good primary sources.

May I ask your thoughts on the matter Samuel? Specifically how quickly boiler room 6 flooded and the location and movements of Beauchamp?
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
628
107
53
How many knew about the coal bunker fire in Belfast and Southampton? Then given a seaworthy certificate?

I can only think must of came from the senior level management of H&W and White Star?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,877
578
183
Funchal. Madeira
The ridiculous story about how the bunker fire in some way contributed to the end of Titanic is a classic example of researchers either unable to, or unwilling to, understand the evidence. In his evidence, Fred Barratt specifically mentioned the word bulkhead in conjunction with the word watertight. Anyone with a modest understanding of Ship Construction would never have associated these with the ship's side or with non-watertight bulkheads.


"
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
628
107
53
As for the coal bunker fire. One can see the ship still has outstanding work to compete and was not ready for her maiden crossing by the 10th April. Titanic has already had one delay set back from the Olympic collision with HMS Hawke. Where the original date from 20th March 1912 changed to the 10th April. I wander at this point why the 20th March to!
As the two ships where built side by side and the knell laid down for the Olympic three and half months before Titanic. One would think that the Titanic maiden crossing follows on by three and half months later on! Then the Olympic broken propeller blade 24th February which resulted in the ship returning to back Belfast. Where one can see more time is wasted on Titanic due to the shuffle of using the only one dry dock suitable for the two ships. Why didn't they added on a few more days for the completion of Titanic? Surely you think somebody at this point must of relies the ship was never be ready by the 10th to! Had they missed the golden opportunity to delay the ship by a further month! After all wants a month later? I may be wise here. That would given them plenty of time to finish the ship and to remove the coal bunker fire!
Or was there financial reasons?
 

Bob_Read

Member
May 9, 2019
243
90
28
USA
There may have been minor items which needed some attention but nothing to my knowledge which would put the ship in any jeopardy. The ship was certified by the Board of Trade Surveyor Clarke as being approved to sail. Why wait?
 

mitfrc

Member
Jan 3, 2017
184
145
53
36
New England
As for the coal bunker fire. One can see the ship still has outstanding work to compete and was not ready for her maiden crossing by the 10th April. Titanic has already had one delay set back from the Olympic collision with HMS Hawke. Where the original date from 20th March 1912 changed to the 10th April. I wander at this point why the 20th March to!
As the two ships where built side by side and the knell laid down for the Olympic three and half months before Titanic. One would think that the Titanic maiden crossing follows on by three and half months later on! Then the Olympic broken propeller blade 24th February which resulted in the ship returning to back Belfast. Where one can see more time is wasted on Titanic due to the shuffle of using the only one dry dock suitable for the two ships. Why didn't they added on a few more days for the completion of Titanic? Surely you think somebody at this point must of relies the ship was never be ready by the 10th to! Had they missed the golden opportunity to delay the ship by a further month! After all wants a month later? I may be wise here. That would given them plenty of time to finish the ship and to remove the coal bunker fire!
Or was there financial reasons?

The ship was ready. Punchlist items outstanding were of a kind you can only work through with data from actual revenue operations. This is normal for breaking in a new piece of heavy machinery and the Titanic was about a hundred such items working in unison.

As for the coal bunker fire.... Steel transfers heat very well and there was an amazing infinite sink on the other side of the plating. A great deal of the heat would have conducted into the ocean and in fact the ocean’s thermal enthalpy would have been continuously cooling the metal far more effectively than the fire was heating it (heat transfer is a function of density and water is much denser than air), so the idea of damage to the hull is absurd. A casual knowledge of naval architecture clearly shows that damage to the bulkhead was irrelevant.

The coal fire at worst either contributed to the bulkhead failure and cost the ship a few minutes, or it helped keep the ship afloat by keeping her from capsizing due to the port list. Or it did nothing at all.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
628
107
53
First I do not believe the coal bunker fire was the course for the loss of Titanic.
The point I am trying make who knew of the fire before maiden crossing and took the decision to release the ship with the bunker fire.
The following names come to mind.
Directors of W S L and H&W.
B Ismay for sure with others may be too. W Pirrie and T Andrews for H&W.
Captain Smith, Chief officer H Wilde, Chief engineer J. Bell with other engineers too, with firemen and trimmers.
It is the Directors of the company that hold the ace cards and not the senior officers, and have the sweeping power to override their decisions!
I am quite sure J. Bell been a true engineer would of know the bunker fire was not right and needed sorting out before sailing.
Therefore It can only be the Directors have taken that risk and gamble decision to release the ship.
As for why the Board of Trade inspector Maurice Clarke gave the ship a seaworthy certificate! I come to his defence.
First, he was under staffed to give the ship a full inspection and focus on what he thought was essential to the safety of the ship. Like only two lifeboats were inspected. Certainty did not have time to inspect all lifeboats.
Second, how would of he know there was a bunker fire in progress? If he had gone down to the coal bunkers he would soon meet a wall of silence of all who knew, as they had been told to KEEP THIER MOUTH SHUT!
Third, as from an eye point of view what is the give way of such a fire is in progress?
I cannot prove it was the or just one Director whom gave the go ahead? But saying that, name me any company Directors who has made a cockup that will comes clean and owns up?
B. Ismay was not a popular Chairman know as bombastic and arrogant a man who took quick decisions without thinking of all angles first before making his mind up!
I wander to if Thomas Andrews who seem to of made very little effort in saving his own life, and felt the guilt of releasing the ship with the coal bunker fire, and thought the only decent thing to do was to go down with the ship. As he would of know that an inquiry followed on with some rather difficult and uncomfortable awkward questions to be asked!
 

Bob_Read

Member
May 9, 2019
243
90
28
USA
Bunker fires were fairly common and their management was routine. They put Titanic’s fire out as a matter of routine without emergency procedures. I can’t think of a single example where a bunker fire resulted in a catastrophic event. It was a situation to be managed but not one that would rise to the level of seriousness where a voyage would be delayed or canceled.
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
628
107
53
I still think it was wrong to release a brand new ship with a coal bunker fire. As far I am concerned it show the shipyard has not completed the work to a full working condition. Would you except a brand new vehicle partly on fire?
The odd coal bunker fires did a cure when in services and deal with. I cannot name another brand new ships leaving a shipyard on fire. If that was the case it show a poor management from the shipping company for receiving a ship in that state.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
284
116
43
Glasgow, Scotland
Not to my knowledge. What would he say, “Never mind.” ?
That's perfectly true but surely if Mr Molony is serious about his theory then he should at least have some kind of response to a detailed criticism of his work ?

Unfortunately a lot of people seem to have been taken in by this ridiculous "bunker fire theory" since that documentary and extensive newspaper coverage it received. Thankfully the authors of "Fire & Ice" have tried hard to counter it.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,877
578
183
Funchal. Madeira
I still think it was wrong to release a brand new ship with a coal bunker fire. As far I am concerned it show the shipyard has not completed the work to a full working condition. Would you except a brand new vehicle partly on fire?
The odd coal bunker fires did a cure when in services and deal with. I cannot name another brand new ships leaving a shipyard on fire. If that was the case it show a poor management from the shipping company for receiving a ship in that state.
Mike, the bunker fire was caused by spontaneous combustion of the coal. The coal was not loaded into the bunker while on fire, the process takes quite a while and localised warmth is needed. Such warmth would not take place in the bunkers until the boiler rooms were up and running. Unless the boilers had been lit for a few days before the day of the trials, it is highly unlikely that spontaneous combustion would have taken place before the ship left harbour in Ireland.
 

Bob_Read

Member
May 9, 2019
243
90
28
USA
Hi Seumas: I suspect that Mr. Molony’s TV “special” accomplished what he thought it would. I don’t think a serious research breakthrough was even remotely on his mind. Hence, no need to respond to a serious challenge.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,877
578
183
Funchal. Madeira
Jim, just out of curiosity, did you ever actually experience a coal bunker fire during your time at sea ?
No, Seamus. By the time I went to sea, the large percentage of deep-sea ships were oil fire triple and quadruple expansion or MVs. Although up until the late 50s, there were quite a few coal burners around. Even when I was Harbour Master on the west coats at the turn of this century, we had a coal burning Puffer or two visit.
However, we did carry coal cargo in some ships and there were very strict rules laid down for the prevention of Spontaneous Combustion or methane incidents. The first of these Rules came into being under BoT Circular 1919/1641.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Seumas

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
628
107
53
I would like to thrown another angle in. Back to square one, what was the bulkhead designed for in the first place! to hold back water or fire?
No doubt H&W have calculation the correct pressure on the bulkhead would l hold back and probably added on a bit more to be sure.
But have they calculated for fire damage? Quite frankly the only way we known for sure is to build a full size bunker using the same steel and put it to test as in the Titanic. So have we got an millionaire out there to put the theory to bed what damage that may occur!
There is a lot of talk on what damage to the steel plate may occur, but there is no mention of the stress that might be place on the rivets holding the bunker together!
There is talk of water been used on the bunker fire. Where is it possible to pour water into the coal bunker?
 
Mar 22, 2003
5,311
713
273
Chicago, IL, USA
As was written in the centennial book:

Metallurgical analysis on bulkhead plate similar to that used on Titanic was heated to about 1,200°F so that it became red hot. The plate was bounded to other pieces modeling the shell and floor plates by riveting it to angle iron pieces which in turn were riveted to the other pieces. The results showed the bulkhead plate had distorted by about 6 inches, and the rivets holding the plate would only have been stressed to only 10%-20% of their failure load. Even if the bulkhead was first heated red hot and then cooled down by sea water or water from a fire hose, it would not affect the low temperature properties of the bulkhead. The conclusion of modern day forensics is that the bunker fire would not have weakened the watertight bulkhead sufficiently to cause it to collapse.



Dr. Tim Foecke, Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board, July 18, 2003, http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/cgi-bin/discus/show.cgi?tpc=5919&post=96005#POST96005; and Jennifer McCarty & Tim Foecke, What Really Sank The Titanic, Citadel Press, 2008, pp. 175-180.