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Fireman's Passageway WTD's and other miscellany...

Discussion in 'Technical Construction Design' started by Robby House, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    Hey everyone. I've got another one to throw at you guys related to the aft end of the Fireman's Passageway or tunnel that ran along the center of Titanic's Tank Top in the bow. I've included another snip-it of the deck plans provided from this website to help ask the following questions:

    (1) Was the port and starboard doors that open into the sort of "foyer" area at the aft end of the Fireman's tunnel of passage from Hold 3 considered water tight? The plans indicate they are swinging doors like that found in one's house. It would seem to me that they probably are not.

    (2) Why have two watertight doors so close to one another at the aft end of the Fireman's passageway? Wouldn't just one have done the trick? If it were me I'd have considered either having just the one located in WTB D. Of course if Hold 3's two swinging doors are not watertight then it might make more sense to have the WTD at the aft in of the Fireman's Tunnel "Foyer" (I'm calling it for lack of another name that I'm aware of.) if we had only one WTD to install.

    As usual I look forward to any responses and/or thoughts.


    Robby House
    Kathleen, GA Tanktop Bow Plans.png
  2. They were watertight (as far as I know). The WTD were placed as the space could have been also used for storage of coal and the doors would have keep open. (The doors were closed when it was used for baggage.)
    2 WTD were needed to keep BR 6 and the Firemenstunnel dry in case of damage at Hold No. 3 (and the doors were open).
  3. I also believe they were watertight, but I also recall seeing on a drawing for Britannic that these two doors were listed as dust proof doors, not WTDs. They provided access to the reserve coal bunker.
  4. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Here's a question about this area that I've long been trying to work out. How far inboard was the bulkhead of the bottom fwd end of the firemans passage? We have testimony that water was seen falling in on the floor of the passageway at the foot of the stairs. From the curve of the bow at this point it looks as if there is a gap between the hull and the bulkhead of the firemans passage meaning that the iceberg impact damage in this area was substantial.
  5. Bulkheads do not have to be straight across the beam of a vessel. It is permissible to "jog" them to allow for machinery, etc. Jogs can be transverse within a compartment, but also vertical from one deck to another. The bow of Titanic with its firemen's tunnel stretched the jogging concept almost to the breaking point. From a watertight compartmentalization standpoint\ the tunnel is a "jog" of bulkhead B that goes aft through bulkhead bulkhead C. It continues aft to a vestibule of four doors. The side and after walls of this vestibule are a jog out of bulkhead D The forward wall of the vestibule is part of bulkhead B.

    The interior of the vestibule is part of hold #3. The two coal passing doors were not watertight according to the symbols used on the plans. There was no reason for them to be anything but dustproof because the vestibule was part of the coal bunkers in hold #3. They are drawn on the plan using the symbols for vertically-hinged watertight doors.

    The forward watertight door (marked with the two triangles apex-to-apex) of the vestibule closed of bulkhead B at the tank top and orlop levels. Llikewise, after watertight door closed off bulkhead D. If hold #3 flooded, so would the vestibule. But those two watertight doors would have contained water within the vestibule and prevented it from flowing aft to boiler room #6 or forward into hold #1. The walls of the tunnel confined the water from entering hold #2. Neither watertight door in the vestibule could have been eliminated without compromising the watertight integrity of holds #3 and #1.

    There is a stair tower containing two circular ladders for the black gang to go to and from thiere quarters. On the tank top and orlop levels this tower is walled off much like the horizontal fireman's passage. Below G deck it is aft of bulkhead B. At G deck it moves forward of thiat bulkhead and is open to the crew berthing areas over hold #1. This arrangement is what makes the stair tower and firemen's tunnel part of hold #1. Water could rise up in that hold until it overtopped G deck when it would tumble down and flood the circular ladders and tunnel.

    Quite obviously the vestibule could have become a death trap when the watertight doors were closed. So, an escape ladder was provided leading upward to safety.

    -- David G. Brown
  6. B-rad

    B-rad Member

    The automatic watertight doors started at watertight bulkhead D, almost 200ft from the bow, at the end of the fireman's tunnel, before entering a tiny corridor to boiler room 6. The next door was located at the end of this corridor at the entrance of boiler room 6. Fireman Charles Hendrickson would explain:

    4874. There are two bulkheads?
    • Yes, about 6 feet apart. There is one here, and the other is about 6 feet away from it.
    4875. It is marked there "coffer-dam watertight" - do you know what that means?
    • No.
    4876. When you get down to the bottom of this staircase this tunnel runs amidships straight aft?
    • Yes, straight aft.
    4877. Amidships?
    • Yes.
    4878. Then do you go some little way before you come to the first watertight door?
    • Yes.
    4879. Then you go through that and you go about the same distance before you come to the next one?
    • No, they are about 6 feet apart, those two watertight doors.
    4880. Are those two watertight doors both close up against the stokehold?
    • Yes.
    4881. Till you get there you do not have a watertight door before?
    • No, we get down through the tunnel leading to the stokehold.

    During the limitation of liability hearings, Harland & Wolff ship designer Edward Wilding would comment as to why there were two doors located in this area:

    We have a very strong prejudice at Harland & Wolff's to having a watertight door actually adjacent to coal, which has to be worked during the voyage. No. 3 hold was used as a. reserve bunker. In order to maintain the intactness of this D bulkhead, which is at the after end and yet enable coal to be got out of it at sea a watertight box was built over the after end of the pipe tunnel, having ordinary non-watertight doors opening into the reserve bunkers and having "a watertight door on the after side opening into the stoke hole. So that, if necessary, reserve coal, when being worked out with the reserve bunker nearly full, did not come in contact directly with the watertight door.
  7. B-rad

    B-rad Member

    From what I remember ( I will try to look this up, but May be some1 else will b4 me. ) it's 3ft. At first they thought this was punctured but I believe it was Roy Mengot who came up with a much better theory. Aka it flooded due to bars in the cargo hold or something. Again I will have to look more into this again.
  8. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    Hmmmmm, interesting. I'd have thought if they were indeed watertight, the symbol would be the same sort of opposing triangle configuration that is used to mark those water tight doors be it at tank top level or on the decks above. Also what is the name of that small foyer or annex like room at the end of the fireman's passageway that has caused myself such curiosity? I'm calling it the "Fireman's Annex" in my illustration.

    Hold 3 access doors.png See attached doodle.)

  9. >>the symbol would be the same sort of opposing triangle configuration<<

    Those symbols are used to indicate either a drop down door or a sliding door.
  10. B-rad

    B-rad Member

    There was no reason for these doors to be watertight as there were two watertight doors keeping the water from entering anything. Old watertight doors would stay open due to coal & debris, so in order to avoid this coal Bunkers were not built to empty onto watertight doors. Even if coal was in the door between the fireman's annex & boiler room 6 the other door (forward) would keep that compartment dry.
  11. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    Before I go any further the reason I'm curious about the watertight status of these two swinging doors to Hold 3 was my own attempts to explore how the fireman's passageway began to flood after an abbreviated period of time after impact with the ice. Of course the foil in that idea is the watertight door of Bulkhead D. This door would have to somehow be compromised to let any water that may or may not be pouring through the two coaling doors leading into Hold 3's surplus coal stores. I guess since they swing outwards they would be under immense pressure to pop out once enough water pressure was brought to bear against them from Hold 3. I know that the source of water pouring into the passageway was identified as coming from the forward end of the passageway but I thought it was worth looking into. Regarding the Fireman's Passageway flooding I totally reject any notion that a giant spur of the iceberg somehow penetrated through the double bottom but I am having difficulty understanding the various theories as to how water started making its way into this area of the ship. However, interestingly enough from this same publication it was pointed out that the forward end of Titanic's hull (if I'm reading this correctly) did not have the same double bottom construction as the tank top level did not extend from "stem to stern" like is seen throughout the ships boiler rooms, holds, engine and equipment rooms, etc.

    For the record I tend to agree that they probably were not waterproof otherwise I would think some care would have been made to denote this in the ship's plans. But maybe I am wrong. Having said that and reading differing opinions on the subject it appears as though we really don't know for 100% certain what the true answer is. In reading up on the subject from various publications which touch on the subject I'll submit a portion of text from you (David Brown) and Parks Stephenson's White Paper on the Grounding of Titanic presented to the Marine Forensic Panel chartered by The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers on 31May01. In Appendix III of this work on page 3 under the Fireman's Passage portion:

    "Most descriptions of the Firemen's Passage overlook the attached vestibule at the forward end of boiler room #6. This unusual space was in effect a 17th watertight compartment on the tank top level


    (Fig. 2)[/URL]. It had the dubious distinction of containing the most watertight doors of any compartment: four. The forward end of the vestibule was protected against flooding of the firemen's passage by the automatic watertight door already mentioned in bulkhead "D." There was an identical vertical sliding door at the after end of the vestibule that separated it from boiler room #6. Two manual watertight doors were also located in this tiny compartment. These were conventional hinged doors that led into the two reserve coal bunker spaces in hold #3. These bunker spaces were located to port and starboard of the firemen's passage, hence the need for two doors. A fifth opening in the vestibule was an escape tower that led to the upper side of F deck."

    Just some food for thought.

    Thanks for the feedback!


  12. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    A little bit of input.

    The access doors to the spare bunkers were not watertight. Apart from the obvious breathing and visibility problems..these doors would dust tight because coal dust in an enclosed space is an explosion hazard. For ease of use... i.e. men barrowing coal from the bunker to where it was needed...the doors would be designed to be swung open and hooked back. However, if the hull in way of the spare coal bunker failed for any reason, sea water at pressure would enter the space aft of WTB B.
    All apertures through a WT bulkhead had to be themselves , water tight. Thus the WT door at the end of the tunnel. However. the swinging doors on each side of the tunnel compromised the watertightness of Bulkhead D so the vestibule between D and the entry to boiler room 6 had to be designed to maintain watertight integrity of the thwartship subdivision. Hence two WT doors in close proximity
  13. No matter what type of door the double triangles indicated, they were not vertically-hinged doors which is what is indicated for the two doors into the bunker sections of hold #3. Making the man doors into bunkerage beneath hold #3 watertight would not have made the ship one whit safer in the event of water enteering in hold #3 because there was no longitudinal bulkhead dividing that compartment. The firemen's tunnel only divided the bunker space. Above the orlop hold #3 was a single compartment from a damage control standpoint. Once water in that space overtopped the firemen's tunnel it would fill the entire compartment. So, there would have been no benefit to making those doors watertight.

    (Note -- unlike some researchers I have changed my mind about many details of Titanic's sinking over the years as new information has become available. I'd rather admit and correct a mistake than try to hide it.)

    The two doors clearly marked as watertight closures, however, were integral with the ship's compartmentalization. They closed of bulkheads B and D and would have been vital in either keeping the damaged ship afloat or slowing its rate of sinking. One thing certain, if the forward door of that vestibule worked correctly (and there is no evidence it did not), then water could not have entered the firemen's tunnel from hold #3. The tunnel should have remained dry.

    I have never accepted the idea that a dagger of ice cut into the tunnel and caused the flooding. Ice is simply too soft to have punched through the outer shell plating and retained enough integrity to rip open the tunnel. However, twisting and racking of the hull as it rode over the iceberg might have strained the tunnel enough to compromise its watertight integrity. Even that I doubt simply because of the timing when the flooding was discovered. That took place when stokers and trimmers started down for their "midnight" change of watch about 20 minutes after impact. Leading stoker Hendrickson noted it pouring out of the forward end of the tunnel and into the stair tower. Considering that the ship was trimming by the bow, water pouring forward would be expected no matter where it came from. However, it does seem to me that Hendrickson described a point of ingress hidden from his view because it was aft of the stairwell inside the tunnel itself.

    The late Roy Mengot suggested this was water pouring down the stair tower from G deck While that definitely happened at some point, I do not see Mengot's flooding in Hendrickson's words. I suspicion some other mischief was at work.

    -- David G. Brown
  14. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    Ahhhh! Yes, I had surmised that perhaps the vestibule became necessary as a result of those two port and starboard swinging doors...especially if they were not water tight and could imperil the operation and safety of Boiler Room 6.



  15. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    Could this "other mischief" be the result of an egregious mistake the crew might have made in activating the wrong valve of the ship's bilge pump network in which water was pumped from a flooded compartment only to be released in the Fireman's Passage? I find the prospects for mistakes like these plentiful when one considers that with this being a newer crew working a new ship there probably weren't very many men on board that had any level of expertise on the matter. Of course this is pure conjecture on my part, but I did find what you wrote about the Bilge Pumps very interesting in your book. If anything else I make me curious how the system is structurally laid out in the ship. Where are the valves, how exactly does the pump work and where is the water drawn in from, etc?

    Regarding the water tight status of the coal passage doors, I wasn't so much concerned with keeping water to one side of Hold 3 which as you said would completely fill up once the water reached above the top of the Fireman's Passageway and started pouring over into the other side but rather keeping any possible flooding within Hold 3 and no further. Rather the designers likely were indeed concerned about the exposure to peril these two doors represented and as such the vestibule was made with a water tight door to contain any possible flooding from Hold 3 should it ever become flooded.

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  16. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    A bilge pump is exactly what it says. I can think of only two places a bilge pump could discharge. Overboard or into another bilge. I can't think of any reason why they would discharge into the firemans passage.
  17. Robby House

    Robby House Member

    You'll have to excuse my total ignorance on this subject. When we read of various crew members busy trying to manage the "pumps" to "dewater" flooded portions of the ship's various flooding compartments is there a separate pumping system at play here that's different from the bilge pumps?

  18. No, only in the fantasy world of Mr. Brown!
    Also Mr. Brown again quote survivors wrong. Hendrickson stated it was leading stoker Ford who told him that the water was entering the firemens passage. Hendrickson went down to have a look himself (he saw water entering from the starboard side) that was close to 10 Minutes after the collision.
    It is not true that it was during the watch change. Stoker Harry Oliver belonged to the 12-4 watch. After the collision he went to bed and it was someone else who told him about the water in the staircase which leads to the firemen's tunnel. That was even before the call for the watch change came.

    How the tunnel was damaged was explained by naval expert Garzke (which makes more sense than anything else); "Just inboard of the shell in cargo hold no. 2 was a longitudinal bulkhead to the firemen's passage. This bulkhead was jogged outboard for the access trunk from the crew space above. When the collision came the outer strakes of the transverse bulkhead were thrust inboard. The riveted connections between the longitudinal bulkhead and the main transverse bulkhead were compromised so that rivets failed and a seam was pried open, allowing water to flow in. This is what stoker Charles Hendrickson saw when he was in this access trunk after the collision."
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Here's another wee bit of input.

    1st Officer Murdoch closed the WT doors. It would take some time for these doors to become sealed. During this time, water was gushing through the ship's starboard side, forward into the forepeak tank, number 1 hold, number 2 hold , starboard side of the spare coal bunker and into the starboard sides of boiler rooms 6 and 5.
    Before the doors finally sealed shut, a considerable amount of seawater must have gained entry to boiler room 6. and the starboard side of the spare coal bunker. Because the ship was tipping by the head and listing to starboard, the trapped water began flowing forward through the Firemen's Tunnel. This water was what was seen at the bottom of the spiral staircase.

    Those who saw water issuing from the forward end of the tunnel did not say how much or how fast.
  20. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member


    I'm curious about the information...

    "Just inboard of the shell in cargo hold no. 2 was a longitudinal bulkhead to the firemen's passage."

    Have you any indication concerning where this bulkhead was? A longitudinal bulkhead runs fore and aft. and as far as the published plans show, there was only the tank margin plate doing that in Holds 1 and 2. They certainly did not connert with the tunnel.