Hull and Watertight doors


Dec 2, 2000
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Not quite sure what you mean there. If you mean should they have had longitudinal subdivision, that much was discussed by the Mersey Wreck Commission. Harland & Wolff...if Wilding's testimony is any indication...didn't think very highly of the scheme because of the problems with assymetric flooding that would be caused.

What that boils down to is that if you confine the flooding to one side, you risk a substantial list which would make launching the lifeboats on one side impossible if the damage taken turned out to be non-survivable.
 
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Tom Pappas

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If the damage to Titanic had been confined to the starboard half of the ship, the buoyancy remaining in the port half would have allowed her to float indefinitely (albeit with a pronounced list).

I have read for many a year all this stuff about asymmetric flooding being a liability, insofar as it complicates lifeboat operations. But what these arguments invariably ignore is the fact that counter-flooding can be employed to negate any list (always provided, of course, that the ship doesn't capsize first - see: RMS Lusitania).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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And assuming the ship has the ability to counterflood effectively. Do we know this to be the case?

>>If the damage to Titanic had been confined to the starboard half of the ship, the buoyancy remaining in the port half would have allowed her to float indefinitely (albeit with a pronounced list).<<

Maybe. Unfortunately, we don't know for sure the exact nature and extent of the damage, beyond knowing it was enough to send her plunging to the bottom.
 
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Tom Pappas

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we don't know for sure the exact nature and extent of the damage

Yes, Mikey. That's why I employed the conditional clause If the damage to Titanic had been confined to the starboard half of the ship.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Does anyone have good data on the exact location of ALL the watertight doors on the Titanic? Looking at the British Inquiry report http://www.titanicinquiry.org/BOTInq/BOTReport/BOTRep01.html , there appears to be several errors and inconsistencies. Under the detailed description of the watertight compartments, they list the number of doors in each bulkhead by deck. For the F to E deck level, they list 1 door at bulkhead D, 1 at E, 2 at G, 2 at J, 2 at K, 1 at M, and 1 at N. These don't show fit the plans that I've seen. For example, they don't list any doors at bulkhead H on this deck (deck F). However, bulkhead H separated the 3rd class dinning saloon, and deck plans show 2 doors there, one to port and one to starboard of the central stairs that lead up to E deck which makes sense. Also, they don't list any doors at bulkhead F, yet deck plans show 2 doors on starboard side leading from the swimming bath area in one compartment to the Turkish bath area in the next compartment, which also makes sense. If there were doors near the bow on this deck level as listed in the report would they not be at bulkheads C and D (rather than at D and E as list in the report) to allow communication between all the permanent 3rd class space in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th compartments? These single WTDs don't show on any of the plans. The same table in the report also lists 2 doors on the E to D deck level at bulkhead J. Yet bulkhead J did not extend above E deck so there could not be any doors to even talk about there. They also talk about the lower part bulkhead C being doubled into a cofferdam. Where does this show up on any of the plans? Or the WTD on the Orlop deck at bulkhead N?

If anyone has the correct data concerning the watertight doors on the Titanic, and their exact locations on a per deck per bulkhead basis, it would be greatly appreciated. In fact, it would be a great service to show and highlight (in red color perhaps) the location of all WTDs on the Titanic deck plans listed on this site.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Tom -- I have to disagree that the a longitudinal bulkheading system would have kept Titanic afloat. The metacentric height of the ship was not sufficiently high enough for that. With the starboard side flooded, the ship would have rolled enough to induce secondary downflooding through ports, ventilators, etc. This is a strong reason for not including longitudinal subdivision in passenger ships. They are not like military craft which have decks that can be made watertight as well as the bulkheads.

And, specifically in Titanic's case, counterflooding to reduce the inevitable starboard list that would have resulted from longitudinal subdivision would have resulted in exactly the same pattern of flooding as existed without those dividers.

What's the gain? The ship sinks either way.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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David,

Do you have the numbers to back up your assertion? There were, after all, eleven (full width) compartments out of sixteen contributing to keeping her upright: the peak tank probably didn't matter one way or the other, so the only ones that would have experienced asymmetric flooding are the cargo holds and BR#6, all of which were narrower (most of them a lot narrower) than the big ones amidships. My gut feel is that the loss of buoyancy on one side of these four compartments wouldn't have heeled her over enough to produce the effect you suggest.
 

Cal Haines

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Samuel,

You have apparently discovered some errors in the table at TIP. The E-F entries for bulkheads E through K appear to be moved up one row and there is an extra entry in the E-D column at bulkhead K. Here is a scan of the table from a facsimile of the report:

76327.gif


Most plans that are out there seem to come from material that H&W released to the press. They have numerous errors. For example, the WTD in bulkhead D on F deck is missing from most plans. I was at the aft end of the port-side passage athwart the squash court.

Here is a scan of the tank top drawing from The Shipbuilder showing the coffer dam area.

76328.gif


The double doors were fore and aft of the small area between the forward coal bunkers of BR#6. The plan shows only the aft door. Note also the two manual WTD's into the P&S reserve coal bunkers. These two doors are not included in the BOT table.

There is another bulkhead that most people are not aware of, it is on the aft side of the F.W. (Freshwater) Tank that appears in the middle of the fireman's tunnel. It extended up to the orlop deck.

The actual plans used to build the bulkheads are available. I have had the opportunity to check the BOT table against the bulkhead plans; except as noted above, I have found the (attached) table to be correct.

Cal
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Tom -- Titanic started into a "death roll" very early after the accident. It was noted by Captain Smith on the clinometer (Hichens' "commutator") and by several of the crew and passengers. No other damaged large passenger vessel that I can find has recovered from an initial list during flooding--except Titanic.

Initially, the water in rapidly-flooding hold #3 was confined to one side of the ship by the firemen's tunnel. This structure acted as a sort of coffer dam blocking water from filling the whole compartment. It is only after water overtopped that structure that Titanic began to level out. Had the water been trapped with no way to fill the other side, the result would not have been beneficial for the passengers who survived in the lifeboats sent down the port side.

Longitudinal bulkheads exacerbate list of a damaged ship. In most cases, it is secondary flooding that takes down ships. Secondary flooding comes when listing takes ports, hatches, doorways and other openings below the surface of the sea. This is one of the primary reasons for not building longitudinal bulkheads. It was known in 1912 and it is still accepted today.

But, in my mind the bulkhead "thing" is totally overrated. Nobody saw the famous ice cube tray flooding in action. The concept of water pouring over top of the bulkheads came from the White Star Line representative at the BOT inquiry and was promoted by Lord Mersey who got Wilding to admit only that such was possible. The fact is, nobody saw water pouring down into any compartments prior to the very end of the evening. All of the descriptions of flooding are from the bottom up. For instance, water that entered boiler room #4 did not come over top of the bulkhead, but up through the tank top deck.

-- David G. Brown
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Elijah Baker in his book "Introduction to Steel Shipbuilding" (McGraw-Hill) states the following on page 134:

"Watertight longitudinal centerline bulkheads are a real danger to the normal merchant vessel and, as a consequense are no longer fitted..."

Baker cites sinking of the "Empress of Ireland" with the loss of 1,000 lives as an example.

"...owing to the flooding of one engine room after she was in a collision. Having one side of a vessel flooded and the other side intact sets up a heeling moment that, if greater than the vessel's righting moment, causes the shp to capsize..."

Baker goes on to explain why longitudinal bulkheads may prove satisfactory in naval vessels which have a great deal more subdivision than civilian ships.

--David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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"Having one side of a vessel flooded and the other side intact sets up a heeling moment that, if greater than the vessel's righting moment, causes the ship to capsize..." I understand the principle, and acknowledge the list caused by asymmetric flooding of CH3. But the numbers I asked about are Titanic's heeling and righting moments, which would answer Baker's conditional.

...the result would not have been beneficial for the passengers who survived in the lifeboats sent down the port side. No argument - but if the ship isn't sinking, why would you want to launch lifeboats?
 
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Tom Pappas

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I don't know. It depends on the moments alluded to in David's quote of Baker. We DO know that if longitudinal bulkheads had been in place, the loss of buoyancy would have been half that experienced in the event. That would have kept the bow afloat. But if the ship listed far enough, all bulkheads (transverse and longitudinal) would have become moot.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Looking at the subdivision of the Mauretania and Lusitania, which did have longitudinal subdivisions, only those compartments in middle of the ship were so protected. And it has been seen by events that passenger ships with longitudinal subdivisions are much more prone to loose stability and capsize, including the Lusitania. Consider also the Andrea Doria. She took on such a bad list that the lifeboats on its port side could not be launched. Luckily for most passengers, other ships came to the rescue before the Doria completely rolled over and sank.

The titanic, however, never did develope a very bad list. And all but those two collapsible boats strapped on top of the officer's quarters were able to be launched. Too bad it didn't have enough boats for all on board.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Cal, thanks for correct information on the location of the watertight doors on the Titanic. The plans from the May 26, 1911 "Engineering" http://copperas.com/titanic/
show more WTD locations than those in the "Shipbuilder" publication. However, they too don't show them all.

If I have it correct, the Titanic had 12 drop down WTDs on the Tank Top level. The 1st two were at bulkhead D (one shutting off entry to BR6 (the 5th compartment)and the other shutting off the fireman's tunnel leading to the 2nd compartment). Not identified, but shown on the plans, are 2 hand operated WTDs leading into compartment 4 from the vestibule area that would be sealed off by the two automatic drop doors.
The other 10 WTDs at this level were at bulkheads E, F, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, and O as shown in most plans. [There was no "I" labeled bulkhead.]

On the Orlop deck aft, there was a WTD at bulkhead N allowing access to the refrigerated cargo. I assume this was located on the port side of the center line there.
On G deck there were no WTDs.
On F deck there were 10 WTDs. The 1st WTD at bulkhead C and 2nd WTD at bulkhead D, both allowing access through the corridor along the port side of the hatchs and squash court. The next 2 WTDs were on the starboard side of bulkhead F allowing access from the swimming bath area to the Turkish bath spaces. The next 2 WTDs were on bulkhead H port and starboard of the middle staircase allowing access between both parts of the 3rd class dinning room. The next two WTDs were at bulkhead J port and starboard sides allowing access between the 3rd class dinning rooms and 3rd class galley. Then we have 1 WTD at bulkhead M and another WTD at bulkhead N allowing access through the corridor on the port side through 2nd class space.

On E deck we have a total of 9 WTDs. The 1st two WTDs at bulkhead K and the next 2 WTDs at bulkhead L allowed access through the port and starboard corridors that ran along the sides of the engine room casing. The next 2 WTDs at bulkhead M allowed access through the corridors along the port and starboard sides of the adjacent compartments there. And the 2 WTDs at bulkhead N allowed access through the port and starboard corridors of the adjacent compartments over there. Finally, there was a WTD at bulkhead O along the port side corridor in that location.

Sam
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Tom -- I don't need to prove anything with numbers because the verdict was "in" on longitudinal subdivision even in Titanic's day. It's for warships, not passenger liners. The safest subdivision for commercial ships has always been transverse so as not to load the ship asymmetrically. Insofar as possible, this maintains level decks necessary for evacuating passengers.

It is easy to forget that the purpose of subdivision is not to keep the ship afloat. It is designed to keep the ship operational in terms of the lifeboats and other lifesaving devices long enough to evacuate everyone safely. Trying to make a ship unsinkable is a true fool's errand. But, Titanic is proof that keeping the lifeboat davits operational on both sides saves lives. How many people were saved by the eight portside boats that would not have been launched had Titanic's starboard list continued?

An argument can be made that the compartments of Titanic were too long. Short compartments would do better to contain the flooding. However, the size of the boilers and engines dictated the length of the compartments. There seems to have been little choice left to the designers on that aspect of the ship.

Despite some potential weaknesses, Titanic's bulkheads and watertight doors seem to have performed their proper funtion. They did not make the ship "unsinkable," but they did buy time for the launching of lifeboats.

Could the bulkheads have done a better job? I think not because it does not appear that subdivision was Titanic's fatal flaw. This is another of those myths surrounding the ship. Until Titanic had taken on an unsurvivable amount of water, the flooding came up through the bottom and not over top of the bulkheads. Look at Dillon's testimony about boiler room #4 with water over top of the stoker plates. The time frame puts that occurrance before boiler room #5 was flooded. The water in #4 came up, not over and down. Better subdivision--longitudinal or transverse--would not have prevented what Dillon saw happen.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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I don't need to prove anything with numbers... No one is asking you to "prove" anything. The question was, and remains, "would longitudinal bulkheads have prevented the sinking?" You seem to be avoiding the issue.

[Longitudinal subdivision is] for warships, not passenger liners. - unless they're fitted out as quasi-warships (e.g., Lusy and Maury).

How many people were saved by the eight portside boats that would not have been launched had Titanic's starboard list continued? I don't see the relevance of that statistic. Of more interest to our hypothetical: how many people would have been saved if Titanic's trim had stopped ten minutes after the collision?

Better subdivision--longitudinal or transverse--would not have prevented what Dillon saw happen. Sure it would. Because by cutting in half the amount of water entering the ship, the forces that caused the damage would have been ameliorated.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>unless they're fitted out as quasi-warships (e.g., Lusy and Maury). <<

And which didn't do the Lusitania a helluva lot of good...did it? She ate a torpedo that was borderline obsolecent even by the standards of the day and for all that protection and subdivision, she sank in only 18 minutes.

Would longitudinal bulkheads have prevented the Titanic's sinking? Maybe. It's a distant possibility, but I wouldn't count on it.
 

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