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

Mar 22, 2003
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I found it. It was sketch of Britannic at the forward tank top level. The doors leading into No.3 hold from the vestibule area are labeled DPDs for dust proof doors. The only WTDs in the vestibule area are the two drop down doors located at the ship's centerline, one leading into the tunnel and the other into BR 6.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>"Just inboard of the shell in cargo hold no. 2 was a longitudinal bulkhead to the firemen's passage." <<

He was referring to the starboard side wall of the firemen's tunnel.

The entrance to the firemen's tunnel at the bottom of the spiral staircases is shown below.
Impact aft of Blkhd B.gif
 
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Jim Currie

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No direct connection between side wall of tunnel and ship side for transfer of force.Sam. The tunnel itself was a form longitudinal tubular girder mounted on the ship's 'back-bone'..the keel plate and braced transversely by no less than 3 WT Bulkheads,,,B.,C. and D Forward end, middle and aft end. At the forward end, the hull frame spacing was reduced to 2' 06". All in all, that area at the forward end of the tunnel was possibly the stiffest as far as strength was concerned.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Good job on the drawing, Sam. I note your dotted red line. Is this to indicate a sort of "thrust vector" for the force of the ship riding on the ice?

The possibility of crush damage disrupting the watertight integrity of the tunnel cannot be 100% discounted. Nor can the possibility that some water got into the tunnel during the seconds between impact and when all of the WT doors fully closed. But, my reading of Hendrickson's testimony doesn't fit either situation. He seems to describe a rather large flow, not water sloshing forward as the bow trimmed down. He looked down the stair tower about change of watch, some 15 to 20 minutes after impact. If ice damage caused what Hendrickson saw, then it must have been delayed damage, else the tunnel would have been rather filled with water which is not what he saw.

Water will not generally flow backwards through an undamaged bilge pump. But, water does seek its own level. So, if bilge suctions in two compartments are open and connected to the same bilge main ("pipe"), then water will flow from the most flooded into the least flooded of those compartments until the levels in both are the same. This sort of flow is sometimes called "gravitation." So, it was possible for mishandling of the pumping system to have caused flooding of an otherwise dry (or nearly dry) compartment.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Robby House

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So I'm going to deduce the reason Harland & Wolf was "prejudiced" against keeping stores of coal close to any given watertight door was due to concern that chunks of coal could find their way into the door sills becoming an obstruction to their being successfully closed during emergencies?

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.
 

B-rad

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That is correct. But since coal had to be transferred via the reserve bunker through the aft fireman annex (nice term btw) into boiler room 6, they needed on forward also.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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This is what Hendrickson saw about 10 Minutes after the collision.

4854. You were going to turn in? - I was going to turn in and the same man, Ford, came back and said there was water coming in down below, that is down the spiral staircase.
4855. Did you look down the staircase? - Yes.
4856. Did you see the water? - I saw the water rushing in.

4864. Now where you saw the water coming - you saw it coming from aft, forward into the bottom of the spiral staircase? - From the starboard side.
4866. You were looking down on the port side of the staircase? - Yes, and saw the water rushing in from the starboard side at the bottom.

4870. The water which you saw rushing down there could not have come from forward, could it, because there is a bulkhead across? - It came from the ship's side I am telling you, the starboard side.
4871. You could not see where it was coming in, but you saw it coming from the starboard side? - I saw it coming from the ship's side.

Nothing to do with wrong use of pumps (for which there is 0 evidence). Also no researcher (I know) ever claimed the iceberg penetrated the hull and damaged the wall of the tunnel (at the British Inquiry it was Naval Architect Wilding who mentioned it but also pointed out that he did not see how this was done).
 

Robby House

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Curiously, how would a pump work on board a ship like Titanic? I mean I guess there are various intake valves located in any given compartment? Is there some sort of grill over them to prevent debris from getting sucked in and clogging the system? Can these valves that function as intake also be made to channel water back in or are there special pipes for each kind of direction sort of like arteries and veins?
 

Jim Currie

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Hello David.

There is absolutely no way, an iceberg could have penetrated the ship's side or bottom at a draft below 6 feet.

The strengthening arrangement in the vicinity of the Firemen/Pipe Tunnel was almost over-kill and was so for the very reason that ship's tended to run aground bow therefore, that area right back to where the bottom starts to flatten out received special attention. Hence the extremely deep transverse framing and the ever reduce frame spacing forward of WTB 'C'...at the mid length of the tunnel.

Tank tops and decks were continued right our to meet the hull plating. The deep floors... transverse bottom frames... were about 5' 06" high at WTB C and rose to a height of 6'06" at WTB 'B'. The plate keel and associated strength members extended right forward to Frame + 126 where it met the stem bar. That's where the round of bilges would begin and the bottom would start to flatten-out. That whole area was almost rigid.

There's no way on God's earth that I can see how water got into that tunnel unless it was from initial inundation. The forward well of the tunnel was about 10 feet away from the ship's side at its nearest point.

Robby,

Most ship's bilge and tank emptying pumps have what is called a non-return valve... in the US a flapper valve. This allows the pump to suck water from and area but prevents it flowing back during the inactive stroke. At the suction end of the pipe, in the tank there is a thing called a 'strum box' ... simply strainer to prevent ingress of 'lumps'.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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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."
The above from naval architect William Garzke, posted earlier by Ioannis, to me appears to be the only rational explanation for what Henderickson saw at the bottom of the staircase. You can see the starboard side of this access trunk in the diagram I posted above next to the starboard side spiral staircase. (The view is looking aft so the starboard side is on the left.) This point was immediately behind WTD B in Hold 2. The only double-bottom protection in that space is the tanks shown.
 
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Robby House

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Okay, I want make sure I'm picturing this correctly. So WTB B makes up the forward most wall of the Fireman's Tunnel/Staircase...(at least from the Tanktop level to G-Deck before the bulkhead's aft jogging job). When Titanic impacts the ice, the force of impact exerted against WTB B cause it thrust "inboard" in the opposite direction towards the port side. The rivets that connected the tunnel/stairs to this bulkhead where compromised enough to allow ingress once flooding in Hold 2 reached the level of damage on the opposite side of the wall. I've included a crude hand doodle to describe my interpretation of architect William Garzke's theory. Just making sure I follow correctly.

Robby

PS- Exactly what and where is the access trunk? I'm not sure I follow this description. Are the talking about the spiral staircase leading down to the TankTop level?

FIREMANS PASSAGE.PNG


The above from naval architect William Garzke, posted earlier by Ioannis, to me appears to be the only rational explanation for what Henderickson saw at the bottom of the staircase. You can see the starboard side of this access trunk in the diagram I posted above next to the starboard side spiral staircase. (The view is looking aft so the starboard side is on the left.) This point was immediately behind WTD B in Hold 2. The only double-bottom protection in that space is the tanks shown.
formed the forward-most wall of the Fireman's passageway (at least for the first few decks before jogging aft) or more specifically the spiral staircase leading to the Fireman's passageway. When Titanic makes contact with the iceberg, the impact against WTB B sort of jars or juts it in the direction of the portside (kind of at a 90 degree angle juxtapostion to the fireman's passageway. Along the steam of where the Tunnel is physically attached to WTB B the force of the impact is sufficient enough to The impact is sufficient enough to have effected a seam opening somewhere along where the fireman's tunnel is physically attached against WTB B.

The above from naval architect William Garzke, posted earlier by Ioannis, to me appears to be the only rational explanation for what Henderickson saw at the bottom of the staircase. You can see the starboard side of this access trunk in the diagram I posted above next to the starboard side spiral staircase. (The view is looking aft so the starboard side is on the left.) This point was immediately behind WTD B in Hold 2. The only double-bottom protection in that space is the tanks shown.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Robby -- check Sam's cross section drawing above. Note that the outboard margin plates of the tanks are almost normal to the hull, but angle sharply inboard toward as the go upward to meet the tank top which supports the firemen's tunnel. Any thrust diagonally upward -- such as from a grounding -- would be transferred along these margin plates to the structure above. Lots of things could result. The structure could have been strong enough to resist any loss of integrity from the iceberg. Or, at the opposite end of the scale the tunnel could have been ruptured right along toward bulkhead D. And, there are as many possibilities in between to account for just about any theory of how water got into the tunnel.

The place of maximum vulnerability is the stair tower encasing the two spiral ladders. These ladders were set about halfway outboard P&S of the tunnel walls, probably to give maximum room for men entering and exiting the ladders during change of watch. It is the outermost area of the stair toward which is most likely to have failed in Garzke's scenario.

One "fooler" in Sam's drawing is the shape of the iceberg. I'm not saying that Sam was incorrect about that, just we don't know anything about the face presented to Titanic.. For Garzke's idea to work best it the thrust from the iceberg has to be virtually in line with the margin plates. The conventional sideswipe would prevent the sort of damage he envisions. A true grounding on the bottom would lessen the force transmitted to the stair tower and make Garzke's idea less plausible. But, we don't know the shape of the berg at the area of the hull in way of that tower. So, all we can do is add Garzke's concept to the pile of plausible possibilities.

My view is that the description of the flooding is of relatively new ingress. The tunnel is not filled and it is possible to see water running under force. Neither of these would be visible nearly 20 minutes after impact on the iceberg simply because the area should have been flooded to deeply. There would have been some swirls on the surface, but otherwise the situation would have been a lot less exciting than what Hendrickson described. This is one case where less obvious ingress indicates greater damage done earlier than spurting water done close to the time of its discovery.

Something else. While Hendrickson gives an exciting account of that water, it does not seem to be comin in under 30-odd feet of head pressure. I've not fought a leak that deep in a hull. My experience with a fitting one-third that deep tells me that a 1.5-inch opening will teach the hardest bitten seaman how to pray faster than a convent full of nuns. Gob smacked is the only term you can use in public.

I'm also intrigued by Hendrickson meeting engineer Hesketh not in the boiler room, but somewhere near the head of Scotland Road on E Deck. Given that boilers needed to be made safe and fires to be raked, it seems odd that an engineer would be so far from the critical action. And, when Hesketh made his report it was as if the engineer already knew about the flooding. Instead of asking to be guided to the flooding, instead the engineer told Hendrickson to go get lamps for the boiler rooms which were dark because of a power failure.

To understand the Hesketh/Hendrickson interaction, we have to delve into possible motives for the engineer's lack of interest in the flooding of the tunnel and his overriding need for oil lamps.

Darkened boiler rooms are difficult to dangerous places to work. So, lamps would be a necessity. But, why would an engineer have gone to E deck to find men to fetch them? He could -- and probably should -- have delegated a leading stoker to do that job. However, of far more importance would have been operation of the valves controlling the bilge pump intakes. Duplicates of valves down on the tank top level were placed on E deck. This allowed them to be opened or closed even if the compartmant were flooded. Adjusting these valves would normally be done under the direct supervision of an officer.

There were two 3 1/2 inch suctions in the tunnel.

My addition to the pile of plausible possibilities is that somehow a wrong valve was opened and water gravitated into the tunnel through the bilge piping system. Hesketh wasn't worried because he had either taken care of the problem or know about it was was about to have his working party close that valve.

-- David G. Brown


PS -- At this point in the discussion somebody always asks about a rupture of the FW tank whichstradled the tunnel in way of bulkhead C. As far as I know, nobody tasted the floodwater to find out if it was sweet or salt.
 

Jim Currie

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Has anyone ever thought that the water possibly poured down the spiral staircase on the starboard side then across to the port side? If you read Hendickson's evidence carefully, you will find that it was probably quite a time before he saw that water at the bottom of the tunnel. He described it as seeming to pour out of the tunnel and flow across from starboard to port. However he also said, and I quote:

"894. Was it coming hard? A: - Yes, it was more than rushing in; it was falling in.

If it was falling in then it was coming from a point above the forward entrance to the tunnel The only place that could have been was through a door on G deck just aft of the No. 1 hatch cover. In the intact condition, G Deck was a mere 5 feet above the waterline.
We know for sure when it was at the level of the top of No.1 hatch coaming on G deck before midnight because when Lookout Lee came down out of the Crow's Nest. the water was pouring out of No.1 hatchway and across the deck of the firemen's accommodation.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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Hendrickson was on G deck when he looked down that staircase. The leading firemen's quarters where he came out of were on the port side just forward of the stairs. This was about 10 minutes after the ship struck. David asked why Hesketh was on E deck when Hendrickson arrived? The answer comes from Barrett:

1970. Now tell us what happened after that. We have come back to No. 5, and you say they were attending to the pumps there. What was the next thing that happened? - They rang through from the engine room to send all the stokers up and me to remain there.

The stokers went up the escapes onto E deck. That is where Hesketh would have found them because,

1987. Now what happened after that? - The lights went out.

It must have been soon after when Henderickson arrived.

 

Robby House

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Brad Payne's excellent work titled Titanic's Vertical & Lateral Watertight Doors indicates that the two swinging doors leading from the Fireman's Vestibule into Cargo Hold #3 was indeed NOT watertight. An Analysis of Titanic's Vertical and Lateral Watertight Doors I had originally asked the question when looking into the possible sources of ingress seen by the crew at the bottom of the spiral staircase leading from the Fireman's quarters to the tunnel at TankTop Level. Of course even with water flooding the vestibule area through these non-watertight swinging doors, the flooding would have been been contained within this room as there was another watertight door that prevented water from entering the actual tunnel from vestibule. So the ingress seen within the tunnel's staircase well came from another source unless the WTD at the aft end of the tunnel was prevented from fully closing due to some obstruction.

Good stuff!

Robby
 

Robby House

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Brad Payne's piece titled Titanic's Vertical & Lateral Watertight Doors indicates that they were no watertight. Pretty interesting read I thought.

Robby


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).
 
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White Star Line wanted a way for the black gang to go to and from their quarters without coming into direct contact third class passengers. The tunnel at tank top level was the solution. However, it created a new set of problems. The circular stairs leading to the firemen's quarters on decks D, E, F, and G had to be made watertight despite a bulkhead jog on the G deck level.

Putting on their most creative hats, the design group at H&W made the firemen's tunnel a part of the stairway. Since the stairs were inside the 2nd compartment, the tunnel also became part of that compartment (hold #1) as well. So, thanks to the tunnel, part of hold #1 extends aft right through holds #2 and #3.

The WTD at the forward end of the vestibule is in line with bulkhead D, but it actually closes off Bulkhead B and, in effect, makes the firemen's tunnel part of hold #1.

There are two man doors (not watertight) leading from the vestibule into the coal bunker space beneath hold #3. This arrangement makes the vestibule a part of the hold.

The WTD at the after end of the vestibule closes off bulkhead D.

Closing the WTDs in an emergency could have trapped men either in the bunkers of hold #3 or the vestibule. So, an escape ladder was provided. It climbed up to E deck at the head of Scotland Road.

The tunnel could flood in three ways: 1.) damage from impact on the berg; 2.) gravitation of water from a flooded compartment via open bilge pump suction; or, 3.) water overtopping bulkhead B on deck G or above.

Damage from the ice seems unlikely as the tunnel was located about three feet inboard of the ships outer skin. So, #1 can probably be ruled out.

The second source has sunk many an unwary ship. Bilge pipes let water flow either way. If a suction is open to a flooded compartment, and then one is opened on the same pipe to a dry compartment, water will gravitate into the dry one. Foot valves can solve this problem. I don't know British regulations, but in the U.S. certain classes of passenger vessels were effectively prevented from using them until the mid-1980s due to fears the valves would not open when required in an emergency.

Water overtopping bulkhead B is a viable possibility except for timing. Water was not discovered coming into the tunnel until a bit less than 20 minutes after impact on the berg. That's when the watch off watch black gang began going below to relieve their counterparts on duty. Lookout Lee did not see members of the black gang bringing their kit up from flooded berthing spaces until about 45 minutes after impact.

In any event, flooding in the tunnel would have had no impact on either holds #2 or #3. The passage was water-tight through those compartments.

-- David G. Brown
 

Jane Smith

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The fireman's tunnel is in the center on the tank top. So is the fireman's tunnel surrounded by cargo holds? Or is it just by itself?

Also, where I wrote the word "Hull" in blue, is that the side of the ship?


The areas I circled in red, I don’t know if those are cargo holds or just empty spaces.
 

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Mar 22, 2003
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Area in red was part of the reserve coal bunker, cargo hold No. 3. The hull of th vessel tapered around the bottom. The area directly under the red area you circled was part of the double bottom.