If the Titanic had made it to Halifax...

Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
Imagine that the collision played out as it did, but a number of other liners reached the Titanic when she was seriously flooded but not in immediate danger of structural collapse. Buoyancy is ascertained and it is decided to tow her to Halifax.

What would have happened then? The natural idea would be to get the Titanic back to Belfast but how easy would it have been to pump her out and patch her to be towed back across the Atlantic? - it would have taken more than Olympic's wooden patching after the Hawke collision and the journey would be far longer and more treacherous. What if work needed to be done on a possibly damaged double bottom? The damage caused by catastrophic seawater ingress to the ship's interiors would have been horrendous to repair.

Would she have been towed by tugs, other liners? Would it have been financially viable (H&W were wizards but this was no Suevic) or would White Star have written her off to be broken up in Canada, especially after discovering stress damage to the hull due to sagging after she began to fill?
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
For this scenario I'm going to assume a scenario where the forepeak, No. 1 and No. 2 cargo holds are breached but the No. 3 cargo hold and the forward boiler rooms are unscathed. Three compartments. Serious but survivable damage.

Halifax was a busy port in its own right and would have had ship repair facilities with skilled workers, so there would have been hope.

H&W could have had teams of experts sent out to inspect damage and supervise temporary repairs.

There was no dry dock big enough to accommodate her in Halifax, but a coffer dam could have been built around the damaged part of the hull and temporary repairs made.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
For this scenario I'm going to assume a scenario where the forepeak, No. 1 and No. 2 cargo holds are breached but the No. 3 cargo hold and the forward boiler rooms are unscathed. Three compartments. Serious but survivable damage.

Halifax was a busy port in its own right and would have had ship repair facilities with skilled workers, so there would have been hope.

H&W could have had teams of experts sent out to inspect damage and supervise temporary repairs.

There was no dry dock big enough to accommodate her in Halifax, but a coffer dam could have been built around the damaged part of the hull and temporary repairs made.
Okay, but imagine it's the full five compartments with water and some minor flooding further aft in boiler toom 4 by the time she is stabilised and towed slowly to port in fine weather. I suppose the obvious thing to do would be pump her dry then patch her up internally for the short term - I just wonder if the overall structural damage, warping and weakening of the keel and major areas of shell plating would have led to H&W writing her off?
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
As built, she couldn't possibly have floated with five (and a bit) compartments flooded.

For this alternate scenario to work we'd have to assume a maximum of four forward compartments flooded.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
As built, she couldn't possibly have floated with five (and a bit) compartments flooded.

For this alternate scenario to work we'd have to assume a maximum of four forward compartments flooded.
Fair enough, although I would argue that she couldn't float unaided with 5 compartments flooded. Even with four gone, there would be some pretty serious stress and sagging on the way to Halifax. I assume external pumps would be required to drain water as the access manholes and equipment would be too flooded to access - I wonder how long that would take, and it leads to further questions...how long to get her seaworthy to return to Belfast, and how long before she would re-enter service? What a huge project and logistical nightmare it would have been.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Our Edwardian ancestors were still pretty good engineers and problem solvers. This wouldn't have been beyond them.

In Halifax, divers would have gone down, made an examination and made a report. A coffer dam could have been built around the damaged parts on the starboard bow. Some temporary caulking and plating fitted in situ, supervised by H&W men brought over specially for the task. Finally, the ship sent would be sent back to Belfast for permanent repairs.

Some Titanic books and documentaries have been a wee bit guilty of portraying Halifax as a kind of sleepy, fishing port. It really wasn't. It was a decent sized port and had fully modern facilities, so some repairs could have been made there.

I highly doubt WSL would have entertained any notions of writing off without firm evidence of massive, catastrophic damage. They would have been determined to get their ship back into service and would have paid through the nose for big repairs to have been made.
 
Mike Stevens

Mike Stevens

Member
Case in point: The Guion Line's (Liverpool and Great Western Steamship Company) steamer Arizona. The Arizona was an iron hulled steamer built in 1879 in Scotland and similar to the White Star Line's Germanic. On November 7th, 1879 on the voyage east from New York to Liverpool she struck an iceberg, described as "three peaks around 80 feet in height" in the same area where the Titanic struck her berg - an area known as "berg alley". Because of a lack of lookouts on the bow, the berg was not spotted until it was seen by the officers on the bridge. By that time it was too late to avoid, and the Arizona rammed the berg at full speed (15 knots) dead ahead. The bow crushed and absorbed the impact, just as your car is designed to crush and absorb the energy of a frontal impact. The Arizona was deemed to be not in danger of sinking, and proceeded at a reduced speed to St. Johns Newfoundland. There a temporary wooden bow was fitted, leaks were calked shut, and the Arizona then sailed back to Scotland where the builders replace the bow with a new iron one. The ship was eventually sold to the US government as an Army transport ship and finally scrapped in 1926. She had been a model for the later Inman Line's "City of..." liners, and was considered posh at the time of her launch, with a domed dining room, a pedal powered organ, and onboard library. Onboard were a number of cats (undoubtedly for ratting purposes) and were advertised as "sanitary house cats for the amusement of passengers. Guion Line's used the iceberg collision and the fact nobody was hurt or injured for great publicity as to the "strength and safety of the ship" resulting in sold out voyages. But the Guion Line was too small to effectively compete with Cunard or White Star, and by 1894 with no money to build competitive ships, the company ceased to exist. I'm sure had the Arizona sideswiped the berg as did Titanic, it may have been not such a happy ending. The ship had no radio, and as there were no passing ships when the collision happened, the Arizona may have become just another number in that long list of 19th century ships that left port and were never heard from again. And that is why we have the "Bon Voyage" parties - so many ships just disappeared that people wanted one last social event with their friends, fearing that they would never see them again.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
Five or more and she sinks. That's what the cold equations pointed to, pumps or not, and you don't get past the cold unfeeling equations. The pumps themselves were only capable of fighting a short holding action and that's it. At a maximum capacity of 1200 tons per hour, there was no way they could not be overwhelmed in very short order, and they were.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
Five or more and she sinks. That's what the cold equations pointed to, pumps or not, and you don't get past the cold unfeeling equations. The pumps themselves were only capable of fighting a short holding action and that's it. At a maximum capacity of 1200 tons per hour, there was no way they could not be overwhelmed in very short order, and they were.
Yes. Thomas Andrews came to that conclusion within 20 to 30 mins the night it happened. Math can be brutal. Cheers.
 
Sam Brannigan

Sam Brannigan

Member
Agreed, left to her own devices. But this scenario imagines that several ships made it to the Titanic in time to tie up to her and add their buoyancy before she reached the tipping point, say at about 12.30-12.45am. In effect you would have a seriously damaged and flooded ship with all of the stresses involved on the overall structure but calm seas and slow progress to Halifax.

I suppose the question is, at what time during the sinking did the damage to the Titanic turn her into a complete write-off?
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Agreed, left to her own devices. But this scenario imagines that several ships made it to the Titanic in time to tie up to her and add their buoyancy before she reached the tipping point, say at about 12.30-12.45am. In effect you would have a seriously damaged and flooded ship with all of the stresses involved on the overall structure but calm seas and slow progress to Halifax.

I suppose the question is, at what time during the sinking did the damage to the Titanic turn her into a complete write-off?
I really don't think that would have been considered safe at all. Rostron of the Carpathia and Moore of the Mount Temple would also have had the safety of their own passengers to consider.

Also, the weather took a turn for the worse on April 15th/16 IIRC.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
I suppose the question is, at what time during the sinking did the damage to the Titanic turn her into a complete write-off?

As soon as steel crunched ice.

The only ship within the 12-to-20-mile zone was the Californian and the only way she gets there under the best of conditions would have been in time to watch the Titanic sink.
And nobody would be tying up to a sinking ship in an attempt to keep it afloat, especially one as large as an Olympic class liner.
 
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