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

Robby House

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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?

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.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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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?
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."
 

Jim Currie

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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.
 

Jim Currie

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Ioannis.

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.
 

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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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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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.
 
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.
 
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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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