Implications of flooding of BR4


Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,597
984
388
65
The other thread titled "Grounding of the Titanic" reminded me of something that I have often wondered about.

While there is no doubt that with the hull breach caused by the "main collision" extending to the forward part of BR5 would have definitely sunk the Titanic, did flooding of Boiler Room 4 affect the timescale or pattern of the sinking process? Putting the question another way, if BR4 had not separately flooded, would the Titanic have sunk any differently?

In his article "Where did that water come from?" Sam Halpern analyses the flooding of Boiler Room 4 and postulates that the early theory that the Titanic had ridden over a shelf like projection of the iceberg that resulted in damage to the double bottom under BR4 is very unlikely. If I have understood right, Sam feels that such a 'grounding' of the still moving and turning ship would have caused very extensive damage both forward and aft of BR4 with rapid flooding and risk of the Titanic capsizing. As it was, Sam believes that a small spur of the iceberg uninvolved in the earlier part of the collision opened up a tiny seam in the double bottom under BR4 as it passed and the resultant slow but steady flooding became obvious around 01:10 am and was bad enough to overcome local pumping efforts.

Considering that the Titanic was between 4 and 5 degrees down by the head at the time and the bulkhead between BR5 and BR4 had not yet been overtopped, how much did the separate flooding of BR4 contribute to the timescale of the sinking, if at all?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Cam Houseman

Member
Jul 14, 2020
2,214
531
188
16
Maryland, USA
In his article "Where did that water come from?" Sam Halpern analyses the flooding of Boiler Room 4 and postulates that the early theory that the Titanic had ridden over a shelf like projection of the iceberg that resulted in damage to the double bottom under BR4 is very unlikely. If I have understood right, Sam feels that such a 'grounding' of the still moving and turning ship would have caused very extensive damage both forward and aft of BR4 with rapid flooding and risk of the Titanic capsizing. As it was, Sam believes that a small spur of the iceberg uninvolved in the earlier part of the collision opened up a tiny seam in the double bottom under BR4 as it passed and the resultant slow but steady flooding became obvious around 01:10 am and was bad enough to overcome local pumping efforts.
I've always wondered, what are the chances of it being Boiler Room 4 instead of Br. No. 6 or something, or the Firemen's passage? If it was a piece jutting out, would it have hit the underside of the forward boiler rooms?
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
This is an issue which will likely fall into the realm of the probable as opposed to what we can know. There's all kinds of information concerning the extent of the flooding and how quickly it happened from the forepeak going all the way back to the small breech in Boiler Room 5.

Boiler Room 4 is a somewhat different animal which, if I recall correctly, involved water being observed coming up through the grates even though the bulkhead at the time had not been over topped.

IF this is correct, you have a couple of possibilities here, one of which would involve a small breech at the time of the accident. A very small breech. One so small that in all the confusion, nobody paid any special notice was paid to it.

Another possibility is that as the ship settled and the stresses began to build which led to the failure of the hull girder, seams began to split or damage previously unnoticed was aggravated during the sinking. Don't forget that long before the ship broke up, noises were heard...and mentioned by....the ships baker which pointed to things starting to break well before the hull itself gave up the ghost.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,597
984
388
65
I've always wondered, what are the chances of it being Boiler Room 4 instead of Br. No. 6 or something, or the Firemen's passage? If it was a piece jutting out, would it have hit the underside of the forward boiler rooms?
We have to remember that when the first impact with the iceberg occurred, the Titanic was moving forward and turning to port at the same time. Even though Murdoch gave that 'Hard a port!' order at some stage after the initial impact, the inertia from the first hard-a-starboard order would still have been in effect while the berg passed the ship. That being the case, different areas of the ship would make contact (or not) with different parts of the berg and so IMO it is probable that a small spur of the iceberg that was not involved in the initial impact and continued bumping and scraping right up to BR5 still managed to cause slight damage to the double bottom under BR4.
IF this is correct, you have a couple of possibilities here, one of which would involve a small breech at the time of the accident. A very small breech.
Yes, I believe in Sam's opinion that it was a very small breach in the floor of Boiler Room 4 that caused that compartment to flood.
Another possibility is that as the ship settled and the stresses began to build which led to the failure of the hull girder, seams began to split or damage previously unnoticed was aggravated during the sinking.
With respect and IMO, I think that is unlikely, I believe that any additional (post-impact) anatomical damage to the ship occurred during the final plunge and not before.

But the reasons apart, the fact remains that BR4 started flooding nearly an hour and a half after the first impact and the rate of flooding was slower than further forward. Therefore, it must have been a separate event and if so, I would like to know if it altered the dynamics caused by the "main" impact.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
>>With respect and IMO, I think that is unlikely, I believe that any additional (post-impact) anatomical damage to the ship occurred during the final plunge and not before.<<

Maybe and maybe not. We know absolutely that the catastrophic failure happened in the final moments, but there were signs of problems long before that.

Charles Joughin mentioned the following


6049. You say that you heard this sound of buckling or crackling. Was it loud; could anybody in the ship hear it?
- You could have heard it, but you did not really know what it was. It was not an explosion or anything like that. It was like as if the iron was parting.

6050. Like the breaking of metal?
- Yes.

In fairness, this happened late in the sinking when things started to snowball on them, but there would have been warning signs before that to indicate that the hull was in trouble.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,597
984
388
65
In fairness, this happened late in the sinking when things started to snowball on them, but there would have been warning signs before that to indicate that the hull was in trouble.
OK, we'll agree to have rather different views the cause of flooding of Boiler Room 4. But the object of my original OP was not how the flooding of BR4 occurred, but the implications of that flooding - if any - on the dynamics of the overall sinking process of the Titanic. In other words, IF Boiler Room 4 had not started to flood the way that it did - whatever the cause - would the Titanic have sunk any differently?

(PS: As I also said, with the main hull breach extending to include the first 2 feet of the forward part of BR5, the Titanic would have sunk anyway. Period. That part is not being questioned.)
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
If BR 4 had flooded at the same rate as the rest- Titanic would have sunk with less then a bow-down attitude. That being the case, the water plane would have been longer and consequently - the possibility of her main strength members breaking less possible. This would have been because less of the hull would have been unsupported by the sea. i.e. - she may have sunk intact.
For what it is worth , a hole in the bottom shell plating would not have flooded BR4.
Titanic was virtually flat bottomed.
In way of Boiler Room 4, the bottom was double. The space between the outer and inner bottom was about 4' 6" deep and and transverse framed by deep floors at 3 ft intervals. If as suggested , ice acted upward on the outer bottom, it would have done so long before it was directly under Boiler Room 4.
If for some reason it did not do so until it was under BR 4, it would simply have sprung a few rivets in the seams between the frames and water would have entered the WT Double Bottom space below the inner bottom.
On the other hand, the water seen in BR4 must have gained access to the space between the inner bottom and the boiler room floor plates. It could only do so above the margin plate of the bilges, through the ship side or by over-topping WT bulkhead "F". Excuse sketch:
boiler room.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: 4 users

Incony

Member
Mar 11, 2020
105
47
73
The supposition for any water ingress is that water comes in to a space where there was not any of unmanageable amount before... the implication is, that ALL the watertight compartments were not tested to such a degree that they were watertight... but that the water ingress in any before the collision were manageable.. therein is the question, since just because a water ingress is manageable does not mean it is watertight.. and that is really the question that would need answering before one thinks what happened.. since the implication is, the water tightness was not.. and so the smallest increase in any ingress due to damage, suddenly makes it unmanageable.. ? on its own of manageable consequence, but not when other areas are so compromised too. ? then there is the supposition that ice actually broke into the hull , and not simply bent it sufficiently to allow water ingress through popped rivets.. and bent hull plates.. ? a bent plate can leak through parted seams the rivets still holding the plates together even.. i don't hold with any opinion the Titanic was watertight, anywhere, since it was never tested to be so.. and once launched any leaks were " manageable " it wasn't brought back onto dry dock again to have leaks fixed.. because? they were manageable.. ? the ice collision did not have to break the hull to increase water ingress , it just had to deform places, that perhaps were not even leaking before that.. The hull was not designed to suffer impact, in that no one took such a structure as an iceberg and collided it with the hull, to see what the possibilities were.. before they launched the ship. ? that's why it sank.. because no one knew what could happen. to try and suppose what the actual leaks were at any time and the consequence is really a lottery... like trying to guess what the winning numbers are, by knowing only the numbers, not how they are drawn.. until they are. ? Did the hull split here or there, did it not split but bend here, or there.. just because one can decide where water came in, does not say where it came from.. other than outside the hull. to the inside.. and certainly the ice was not the only cause of it coming in anywhere already... because no one knew for certain... it was manageable... until it wasn't.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
The supposition for any water ingress is that water comes in to a space where there was not any of unmanageable amount before... the implication is, that ALL the watertight compartments were not tested to such a degree that they were watertight... but that the water ingress in any before the collision were manageable.. therein is the question, since just because a water ingress is manageable does not mean it is watertight.. and that is really the question that would need answering before one thinks what happened.. since the implication is, the water tightness was not.. and so the smallest increase in any ingress due to damage, suddenly makes it unmanageable.. ? on its own of manageable consequence, but not when other areas are so compromised too. ? then there is the supposition that ice actually broke into the hull , and not simply bent it sufficiently to allow water ingress through popped rivets.. and bent hull plates.. ? a bent plate can leak through parted seams the rivets still holding the plates together even.. i don't hold with any opinion the Titanic was watertight, anywhere, since it was never tested to be so.. and once launched any leaks were " manageable " it wasn't brought back onto dry dock again to have leaks fixed.. because? they were manageable.. ? the ice collision did not have to break the hull to increase water ingress , it just had to deform places, that perhaps were not even leaking before that.. The hull was not designed to suffer impact, in that no one took such a structure as an iceberg and collided it with the hull, to see what the possibilities were.. before they launched the ship. ? that's why it sank.. because no one knew what could happen. to try and suppose what the actual leaks were at any time and the consequence is really a lottery... like trying to guess what the winning numbers are, by knowing only the numbers, not how they are drawn.. until they are. ? Did the hull split here or there, did it not split but bend here, or there.. just because one can decide where water came in, does not say where it came from.. other than outside the hull. to the inside.. and certainly the ice was not the only cause of it coming in anywhere already... because no one knew for certain... it was manageable... until it wasn't.
A ship's hull is constantly being tested - by the sea. Saltwater pressure is 64 lb/ cubic ft at 1 foot below the surface and was 34 times that around the bottom of Titanic. Additionally, all WT bulkheads and floors were subjected to water test under the supervision of a Government Surveyor.
Very seldom did properly constructed ships leak.
Every morning, the Carpenter sound all the ship's compartments and recorder their contents. Any abnormal water content would be investigated and any excess water pumped out. in most cases, excess water was from a leaking pipe or simply condensation.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 3 users

Cam Houseman

Member
Jul 14, 2020
2,214
531
188
16
Maryland, USA
If BR 4 had flooded at the same rate as the rest- Titanic would have sunk with less then a bow-down attitude. That being the case, the water plane would have been longer and consequently - the possibility of her main strength members breaking less possible. This would have been because less of the hull would have been unsupported by the sea. i.e. - she may have sunk intact.
Hm, so more like the 2012 Mini Series low angle?


A small theory. What if when Shephard broke his leg, they ever closed the manhole up. So when Br. 5 flooded, the water went down that manhole and aft into Boiler Room No. 4 where others were opened, and simply travelled upwards?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,597
984
388
65
I don't have the technical know-how to calculate the volume of water entering BR4 but these are discussed in detail in Sam's paper. As I understand from that, although the flooding of BR4 was keeping just above the pumping efforts, it was still too small (compared with the overall flooding) to have made a significant difference to the dynamics of the sinking.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Dec 27, 2017
76
53
48
Isle of Man
Cam, the manhole was in the boiler room floor plates, not the tank top. Thus any any water entering would have just run up against the next WT bulkheads aft and forward. WT bulkheads started at the tank top as that was a watertight deck. There was no way for water to communicate between the spaces under each boiler room floor plate. I hope that makes sense.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users

Incony

Member
Mar 11, 2020
105
47
73
A ship's hull is constantly being tested - by the sea. Saltwater pressure is 64 lb/ cubic ft at 1 foot below the surface and was 34 times that around the bottom of Titanic. Additionally, all WT bulkheads and floors were subjected to water test under the supervision of a Government Surveyor.
Very seldom did properly constructed ships leak.
Every morning, the Carpenter sound all the ship's compartments and recorder their contents. Any abnormal water content would be investigated and any excess water pumped out. in most cases, excess water was from a leaking pipe or simply condensation.
"Very seldom did properly constructed ships leak." and i say yes they did, or one one would not need someone to sound the sealed hull compartment sections. . further i already think, that once inside the ship, water would find its way much further than where it started from.. and so what was entering boiler rooms was doing so on a much broader scale as of now even, given all the years of investigating the puncture points, NO ONE can be certain how many there were.. just the biggest ones and where they were approximately, and if you cant be certain, you dont know that a properly constructed ship doesnt leak. , since you cannot be certain it was properly constructed even... in 1912.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
"Very seldom did properly constructed ships leak." and i say yes they did, or one one would not need someone to sound the sealed hull compartment sections. . further i already think, that once inside the ship, water would find its way much further than where it started from.. and so what was entering boiler rooms was doing so on a much broader scale as of now even, given all the years of investigating the puncture points, NO ONE can be certain how many there were.. just the biggest ones and where they were approximately, and if you cant be certain, you dont know that a properly constructed ship doesnt leak. , since you cannot be certain it was properly constructed even... in 1912.
I don't know what you did for a living, Incony, but I am sure we would all be the wiser if you would qualify your rebuttal concerning my observation that seldom properly constructed ships leaked. Explain to us how a properly constructed ship leaked. Explain how a steel WT Bulkhead was proved watertight and how, despite that, water found its way through it
Before you do so, I suggest you find a good technical ship construction manual published around 1910 ( the boom time for shipbuilding) and learn how a rivetted ship was made watertight
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,597
984
388
65
WT bulkheads started at the tank top as that was a watertight deck. There was no way for water to communicate between the spaces under each boiler room floor plate
Thanks for that post. I am guessing that what you have said in the above quote explains what I had presumed the reason why the water accumulating under the stokehold plates of BR4 remained there and not run into the space under BR5 despite the dip at the bow. It was 'piling-up' against the WT bulkhead between BR4 and BR5 and in time showed up above the floor plates at the forward part of BR4. I believe that is what the second illustration in Sam Halpern's article depicts, where the water appeared to be stopped by the "bunker bulkhead".

The reason that I did the OP was because BR4 of the Titanic was the most aft part of hull breach by the collision and so closest to the midsection of the ship. I just wondered if its flooding could have affected the Titanic's transverse stability. The volume of the water was probably not large enough for that to happen?
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,527
1,811
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
As it was, Sam believes that a small spur of the iceberg uninvolved in the earlier part of the collision opened up a tiny seam in the double bottom under BR4 as it passed and the resultant slow but steady flooding became obvious around 01:10 am and was bad enough to overcome local pumping efforts.
Just to correct what you wrote Arun, I believe that the flooding in BR 4 occurred from the side by a small opened seam that was above the tank top of the double bottom thereby allowing water to flow into the area between the tank top and stokehold plates.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 5 users

Stephen Carey

Member
Apr 25, 2016
185
104
108
Philippines
If BR 4 had flooded at the same rate as the rest- Titanic would have sunk with less then a bow-down attitude. That being the case, the water plane would have been longer and consequently - the possibility of her main strength members breaking less possible. This would have been because less of the hull would have been unsupported by the sea. i.e. - she may have sunk intact.
For what it is worth , a hole in the bottom shell plating would not have flooded BR4.
Titanic was virtually flat bottomed.
In way of Boiler Room 4, the bottom was double. The space between the outer and inner bottom was about 4' 6" deep and and transverse framed by deep floors at 3 ft intervals. If as suggested , ice acted upward on the outer bottom, it would have done so long before it was directly under Boiler Room 4.
If for some reason it did not do so until it was under BR 4, it would simply have sprung a few rivets in the seams between the frames and water would have entered the WT Double Bottom space below the inner bottom.
On the other hand, the water seen in BR4 must have gained access to the space between the inner bottom and the boiler room floor plates. It could only do so above the margin plate of the bilges, through the ship side or by over-topping WT bulkhead "F". Excuse sketch:
View attachment 77466
I have also had those thoughts re the DB as the tanks are WT and the only way for water ingress - assuming the tank top was undamaged - would be through the sounding pipes under outside water pressure, which would be evident as they project above the plates. Perhaps the berg clipped the hull just at the margin plate as you say. I doubt it had much effect on the rate of sinking - she was on her way...
 

Stephen Carey

Member
Apr 25, 2016
185
104
108
Philippines
Hm, so more like the 2012 Mini Series low angle?


A small theory. What if when Shephard broke his leg, they ever closed the manhole up. So when Br. 5 flooded, the water went down that manhole and aft into Boiler Room No. 4 where others were opened, and simply travelled upwards?
That wasn't a manhole Cam, it was an access plate to get under the floor plates on to the tank top, and ships are still like that today. Often valves were under the floor plates in ships I sailed in in the 60s; they were a pain, and it took the Japanese to poke them through the plates so you could get at them!
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Cam Houseman

Member
Jul 14, 2020
2,214
531
188
16
Maryland, USA
That wasn't a manhole Cam, it was an access plate to get under the floor plates on to the tank top, and ships are still like that today. Often valves were under the floor plates in ships I sailed in in the 60s; they were a pain, and it took the Japanese to poke them through the plates so you could get at them!
Gotcha, thank you!

I wonder when Double bottomed ships were first thought of, and were "used in the field."
 
Nov 14, 2005
2,309
1,204
308
Gotcha, thank you!

I wonder when Double bottomed ships were first thought of, and were "used in the field."
According to the article below the first was the Great Eastern. Whether thats true or not I don't know. Archaeologists know that humans have been using for boats for at least 6000 years maybe longer. One would think in all that time somebody before didn't try it out. But who knows? What I did find surprising looking this up was that double hulls weren't required for oil tankers until after 1990 because of the Alaska disaster. You can make what you will of the article below. Cheers.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads