Lights in the boiler rooms inconsistent testimony


Richard Brown

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Hello there.

Having read through a number of threads I was intrigued by David Brown's claims that Barrett’s testimony may be confused/wrong. I have read through the four men who were down in the boiler rooms (Cavell, Hendrickson, Barrett and Beauchamp) and am inclined to agree that there is some issues with these testimonies. I am not sure if this has been discussed before (it is possible David or others have discussed this before, or that it has already been heavily covered, but I could not find it on the forum and have not seen it anywhere else) so I thought I would raise what I see as being the biggest inconsistency/issue with their testimony. The time the lights in the boiler rooms went out for. Both Barrett and Cavell claim it was only a few minutes, but I find that hard to believe. I understand that time is very difficult to measure, so I am not claiming that these people lied (well read on, and I do sort of), rather they are confused/bending the truth.

The first thing is the assumption I have made, which if wrong pulls the whole argument to pieces. This is that the boiler room lights all went out and came back on again at the same time. Indeed, I think the evidence points to this fact. It is of course possible that they went out/came on again at different times, or that they went out a number of times. It seems to me most likely they all went at the same time, read on to see why. What I don’t understand though is the reasons why the lights went out at all, perhaps someone else does.

Anyway, on to the testimony! Cavell claims that he was in the bunker in boiler room No. 4. He climbs out and sees the stop signal on the boilers, and that the dampers had not been put in. This would indicate that he was in the bunker for a very short period of time. Interestingly he claims the lights went out as soon as he climbed out, indicating that in No 4 boiler room the lights went out pretty much straight after the impact. Using the above assumption, the lights in boiler room No. 5 and perhaps 6 may have also gone out at this time. Cavell then claims he went onto E deck and found passengers running along wet. Now I find it very hard to believe that what appears to be minutes after the impact there would be wet passengers running through the corridor. I would therefore either put this time point as much later (Boxhall went down to the front and saw no flooding early on in the sinking) or suggests the passengers were not wet. He now claims that he went straight to get lights from the engine room, returned to the boiler room only to find the lights back on there. The order was given to draw the fires. He claims that the fires were partly drawn when he got down there. Pretty much straight away water starts to come in (the firemen are still drawing the fires and we know from Beauchamp this shouldn’t take much more than 15 mins, assuming enough men were present). We also know from Dillon that he noticed some water coming into No. 4 just before he was ordered on deck, 1 hr 40 mins after the accident. This would place Cavell’s return at around 1 hr 20 mins after the accident (if Dillon is keeping good time, and the fires were drawn as fast as Beauchamp claimed). What was Cavell doing between leaving No. 4 apparently minutes after hitting the iceberg and apparently returning around 1 hr 40 mins later? I therefore find it very hard to accept Cavell’s suggestion that the lights were out for just a couple of minutes, as I do not believe he was in a position to say that.

Onto Dillon. He went forward around 30 mins after the sinking and at no time does he report the lights were out. Of course he may have omitted this fact, but taking it at face value, it would appear the lights went out soon after striking the berg and were on again 30 mins later in boiler room 1 (if they went out there) and on in 4 in at least 40 mins to 1 hr (the time he probably gets into boiler room 4). Dillon said that the order to draw the fires was only passed along when he got into stokehold (probably boiler room) 2. Comparing Cavell with Dillon, the time this order arrived at boiler room 4 would have probably been around 10-15 mins before Cavell arrived in the room, putting it, if we believe water was coming in at this time as Cavell reports and we believe Dillon’s timings, at around 1 hr 25 mins after hitting the iceberg, or at around 1:05am.

Okay, back to the lights. Hendrickson is next. He claims to have spent some time on deck looking at the iceberg, then looking down the stairwell. He then heads off to report this. It is not clear what time this is. He meets Hesketh who tells him to get a light. Now if we believe Barrett, Hesketh vanishes after around 10 to 15 mins after the accident. This is supported by the fact that Barrett claims he jumps into No. 5 with Hesketh. 10 mins later he orders Barrett back into No. 6. Barrett returns almost immediately to find Hesketh gone. It seems unlikely Hesketh would be just standing on E deck, waiting for someone to come along. It is therefore likely that this is the time that Hendrickson bumps into him. This would also indicate that the lights had already gone out at this time, again supporting Cavell’s testimony that the lights went out early. Hendrickson then heads to the engine room to get lights. He states he had difficulty getting back past the steerage passengers, which supports Cavell’s sighting of them early on (though none are reported as wet), although it is probably around 30 mins into the sinking. Interestingly, Hendrickson states he got the lamps that were ready, indicating that lamps had been prepared already suggesting the lights in the boiler rooms had been gone for some time at this point. He also notices the engine room doors are closed, putting his time in the engine room at most 30 mins after collision (according to Dillon). He goes to No. 6, suggesting that Hesketh wanted light down there, indicating the lights had gone when he left that room. Again this supports the lights going out pretty much straight after the collision (unless he sat around in No. 6 for some time). Upon finding it flooding, Hendrickson moves back into boiler room 5. The lights are still out in here, as he is ordered to light his lamp and look at the gauges. The gauges are clearly at a level to start drawing the fires as this is what Hendrickson is ordered to do. He was then ordered to get some more men, headed to the forecastle and grabbed some firemen before reporting the bulge in No. 2 tank to the engine room. The fact his deck was dry suggests that Cavell was exaggerating/mixing up the time he was on E deck when he claims he sees wet passengers. Hendrickson estimates this took 45 mins. If the lights went out early, and Hendrickson found the lights in boiler room 5 still out, then it seems likely that the lights were out for at least 30 mins.

Beauchamp does not report the lights going out. However, he is a bit of a conundrum. Reading his testimony you would believe that he did his bit in the engine room, got on deck, loaded a lifeboat, lowered it and rowed away in 1 hr. However boat no 13 is thought to have left the ship around 2 hr after hitting the iceberg. There is then 1 hr of time that is missing, although that was probably spent wandering around. Anyway, he drew the fires and left No. 6 around 15-20 mins after the collision. How is this reconcilable with boiler room 4 going out so early? Although it seems incredible that anyone could miss the lights going out, the fact the Hesketh ordered Hendrickson to take lamps to boiler room 6 fairly early on (from Barrett’s testimony), appears to support the fact that they did and Beauchamp missed it. However, I am twisting this to fit my theory, which any good researcher will tell you is not good. Basically, Beauchamp is not of much use as far as lights go.

Finally onto Barrett’s testimony. I will start with what I find the hardest to understand with him. He claims the lights went out in boiler room No 5, he sent some firemen to get lamps, while he waited at the entrance to No. 5. The firemen returned and he went down and found the lights back on. Fine, all that apparently took 10 mins. However, we have Hendrickson meeting Hesketh in the same passageway (although it is a long passageway). He tells Hendrickson to get lights, which he does. He then returns to No 6 carrying lights. He finds it flooded, so he heads to No. 5. He doesn’t meet anyone who says give me those lights or anything (Barrett is apparently standing in the corridor waiting for firemen to return with lamps, although he may have gone to the engine room with them and waited there). He then heads down, and, as he is ordered to light them and read the steam gauge, he must find the lights still out in No. 5. He is then sent to find some firemen. Here we have Barrett, who arrives before the lights go out and comes back 10 mins (apparently) later to find them on. In the meantime Hendrickson has met Hesketh, gone to the engine room, gone to boiler room No. 6, gone to boiler room No. 5, lit the lamps, read the gauges and started to draw the fires, before leaving. He doesn’t meet Barrett anywhere. It seems impossible that he did that in the 10 mins Barrett was gone. Hence I think Barrett was away from the boiler room for a lot longer. Now Cavell and he both agree the lights were off for a few mins. However, as I pointed out above, Cavell was away from his boiler room for a lot longer than he claims. It is also interesting that Barrett claims that he was sent to get more men for boiler room No. 5, but so was Hendrickson. Indeed, both of their stories are very similar. Both went to Boiler room No. 6 to find it flooded, both went to No.5 with lamps, both went to get more firemen. As far as I can see it, one of them has things confused, and even seems to be copying parts of the others story. I do not think it is possible that both of them did this. Who do we believe? Well, Hendrickson appears to find Hesketh soon after the collision, fitting with Cavell’s testimony that the lights went out soon after the collision. Barretts testimony also goes against Beauchamps with regards to the extent of the flooding in boiler room 6. I would therefore fall on Hendrickson’s explanation of events, although of course that doesn’t mean he is more right than Barratt. Alternatively we believe Barratt, but that makes pretty much everything Hendrickson said wrong (unless of course he met Barrett and not Hesketh on E deck). However, it is still hard to reconcile Barrett with Hendrickson as far as the lights in boiler room No.5 go. Even if we believe both, Barrett must have been away a lot longer than he claims.

So what could Barrett have been doing before he returned to No.5 to find the lights on? Now I enter the realm of fantasy, but I have one idea. Early on in the sinking a group of firemen went onto the boat deck only to be ordered back below by an officer. Is it possible Barrett was among these? That may explain why he is trying to cover it up (although these men may have been going to their lifeboat stations, making it not such a bad thing). The only piece of evidence to support this is that he heads to A deck rather than the boat deck when he comes topside for the final time. Why would he do this? There is probably an innocent reason, but is it possible that he was afraid he would be ordered down again. Perhaps after being ordered down, he went forward to wait, only to be ordered (perhaps by Hendrickson) to go to boiler room 5 to help draw the boilers. This is all surmise, something I thought I would throw in here, but dont let it detract from the above points for which there is better evidence.

In conclusion here is what I am suggesting. The lights went out all three boiler rooms in the first few minutes of hitting the iceberg. Cavell leaves and wanders off somewhere. Beauchamp see water coming in, rushes to draw the fires and escapes, perhaps not noticing the lights going. Barrett jumps aft into Boiler room 5. It is now that the lights go out (perhaps he is confused?). Barrett heads off and disappears for quite some time. Hesketh heads up, perhaps 15 mins after hitting the berg, and bumps into Hendrickson, telling him to get a light and take it to No. 6. Perhaps he wants to operate the pumps etc down there now the boilers are safe. Reports that the boiler room lights are out are already in the engine room as Hendrickson finds lamps ready there and men getting more ready. This is at most 30 mins after the accident, as the watertight doors are still closed. Hendrickson returns to find boiler room 6 flooding. He heads to Boiler room No. 5 and reads the gauges. He then heads up to get other men from the forecastle before heading off to the boats. Meanwhile, the lights come back on in the boiler rooms. They have been out for anything up to 30 mins or more. Barrett (wherever he has been) heads back to the boiler room 5. The bulkhead (or whatever) goes and water pours in. Barrett flees. Around this time Cavell heads back to No. 4 where Dillon is also waiting. Water comes in and Cavell flees up onto E deck and to the boats. Dillon then leaves via the engine room and remains on the ship.

Anyway, that is my reasoning at present, that the lights were out for anything up to 30 mins or maybe more. Of course the lights could have all gone at different times, boiler room 4 first, then perhaps 6 and finally 5 (or 6 and 5 together). I find it much more likely that it was all three boiler rooms at the same time. Also, there is a lot of maybes and perhaps in there, but I think there are some interesting points that could be discussed (if this is not already old ground and I am not way off the mark).
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hello Richard.

A few points that need to be considered here.

The first is that inconsistencies are to be expected. You see this show up all over the place, including the collision sequence itself, who was where when lifeboats were launched, what time did certain events take place, etc.

The second point is to remember here is that many of these testimonies were taken weeks after the events took place. What someone remembers weeks later can be far different from what they may have said if asked within hours of the event itself. In some cases, details become confused as to when someone thought they saw something, especially if they went back to the same location more than once.

In considering all of this, the big danger is when we make assumptions. For example, Hesketh ordering Hendrickson to get lamps and take them down to BR 6. Where is it that Hendrickson said he was told to take them down to specifically to BR 6? Another assumption is how long Cavell was in the bunker before he dug himself out. He said that all the coal fell around him, and that he "had a job to get out myself." That doesn't sound like it took just a few minutes to me. He also did not say the dampers were not shut. He was asked, "Did you notice - had the dampers been put in by the time you got down?" His answer was "No," he did not notice that. And why should he? But he did recall that the illuminated telegraph showed STOP, something that would be hard to miss.

There actually is more consistencies than inconsistencies when I go over all these individually. And then other place to look for consistencies or inconsistencies is when someone testified before different inquiries, like Barrett, plus other supporting evidence like what Barrett told Beesley while he was in boat #13.

Regarding your main assumption, about the boiler room lights all going out and coming back on again at the same time, I tend to agree. Apparently a breaker opened that put all the stokeholds in the dark. It seems this happened shortly after the trimmers and firemen were sent up between 10 and 15 minutes after the collision. When Olliver was sent down to deliver a note from Smith to Bell he notice they were coming out of the stokehold from the escapes on E deck. That is supported by Barrett who said that order came shortly after he and Sephard returned to BR 5, just before the lights went out. Olliver, meanwhile is now down in the engine room waiting for a response from Bell and noticed that it was dark in BR 1 through a partially opened WTD. When returns topside it is just in time for all hands being called out to uncover the boats, which we know from Boxhall and Lightoller, was about 20 minutes after the accident. Dillon was ordered forward about 1/2 hour after the accident to open up all the WTDs as far forward into BR 4. (He also implied that the WTD in the engine room into the stokeholds had already been partially raised so they can go under it.) His timing estimates seem to be fairly reliable because he mentioned being ordered up from below 1 hr 40 min after the collision. That would be at 1:20. That time can be confirmed by two other individuals, Greaser Scott and fireman Threlfall.

Got to go right now. I'll try and post more later.
 

Richard Brown

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Hello Sam,

Thank you for reading and replying. I understand there will be inconsistencies and the these were weeks afterwards, but thank you for helping me to retain that perspective. I was just trying to sort it out in my head and put it down here. I know full well that I am no were near as well read as yourself and others.

Also, thank you with what is a much clearer argument for the lights all going out at once. That time of 20 mins therefore puts Henrickson in the engine room before this time as well (rather than the 30 mins I suggested from Dillon).

As for Hendrickson being ordered into No. 6, no he does not state that. However, that is where he goes. Either he was told to go there, or he knows Hesketh works there and assumed that is where he wanted him to go. I would be surprised if Hesketh was not clear in his order. But it is indeed an asumption that I probably shouldn't make. However, Barrett states that Hesketh was not in boiler room 5 when the lights went out. Where was he and how did he know the lights were out? Was he back in no 6? Again, I guess this is an assumption, but seeing as how Hendrickson headed down to 6, and it was Hesketh who told him to get the light it seems to make sense that Hesketh was in 6 the time the lights went out.

Ahh, you read Cavell differently to me. I read it as 'no, the dampers were not down'. I can see that it probably meant 'no, I did not notice'. However, I don't think that is a very clear question/answer, and one can read into it to supports ones own theories (dangerous teritory I know).

That is good though. If we take your interpretation (which perhaps fits with the fact that the lights went out so how could he see if the dampers were down), it means the lights went out after 10 - 15mins, and all accounts support each other in that respect. I can also perhaps see that what Cavell meant by partly drawn was that they either took a long time to draw the fires or that he was intrupted soon after he started to draw them. He may therefore have come back much earlier than I suggested he did. It is also not clear how long it took until he heard the order to draw the fires. If it was ordered in the couple of mins that Cavell was away, then it took nearly 2 hrs to clear the fires (and they were not all done by the time he left). Is this reasonable time to take to draw the fires? Beauchamp claims it took 10 - 15 mins. Though of course we do not know if there were enough men for each boiler as there was in No.6. If he was ordered much later (the testimony seems to imply immeadiate, but I guess that is again somewhat create interpretation on my part), then I guess he could have just been sitting around down there waiting.

The lights were then out for sometime then, at least 5 to 10 mins. Possibly longer.

Hmm, this is very interesting. I look forward to your future posts. I am certainly enjoying reliving these men/womens experiences (well, enjoy is perhaps the wrong word, perhaps fascinated!), though I spend a lot of time thinking of all the questions I would ask. I am also enjoying playing at dectective, although clearly a very poor one at the moment.

Oh, and one more thing. Is it not interesting that Hesketh orders Shepherd to return to his post? Or is it that Hesketh orders Barrett back to his post and Shepherd just so happens to be heading back at the same time? I guess Shepherd told Hesketh to tell the men to go back. Why did Hesketh remain in No 5? Although he has gone when Barrett returns. Did he rush off to the engine room to report? Perhaps he and Shepherd confered for a bit. Did he then return to boiler room 6/met Barrett and found/was told the lights had gone out? Is it then that he told Hendrickson to get them, he couldn't at that time see the water level. Hmm, interesting. Where does he vanish off to then? Perhaps he is not needed in 5 anymore and heads to the engine room to help the engineers in the other sections. This would certainly fit the time scale better. It doesn't explain how Hendrickson beat Barrett back to No. 5 though. Again, I am infering, perhaps to much. It is not elementary my dear Watson.
 
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Hi Richard Brown.
I thank you for your most detailed and exacting account dated Saturday 4th April. Whereas members have reminded writers that memories play tricks with time. It is only by careful analysis of Inquiry Testimonies , being the nearest to truth that we can get, that a realisation of fact emerges subject to time and motion calculation. I am trying to do a similar presentation with regard to the bunker fire. We can find so many inconsistences creating so many branches of thought that confusion abounds.
You have created an interesting paper.
I thank all who provide valid information. GORDON
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Richard.

Just checking a few notes I made some time ago.

The Engineering department crew, which included the engineers, firemen, leading firemen, trimmers, and greasers, were divided into three watch sections. They worked 4 hours on and 8 hours off, every day. The head of each watch section was a Second Engineer who was assisted by an Assistant Second Engineer. The 8 to 12 shift was lead by Hesketh (a Junior 2nd Eng.) and assisted by Shepherd (a Junior Assist. 2nd Eng.). Normally, the 2nd Eng. was in charge of the engine rooms and the Assist. 2nd Eng. was in charge of the boiler rooms. There were also 5 leading firemen on duty during a watch, one in each boiler room (BR2-BR6), who made sure all the orders were carried out by the men working there.

At the time of the accident, Hesketh was in BR 6 and happened to be talking to Barrett as you know. There was a good reason for him to be there at that time, but that is not important to this discussion. After his escape into No. 5 with Barrett through the WTD before it closed, the first order of business for him was to quickly assess the damage and start to get things under control. He knew BR 6 was flooding, and was told that BR 5 was taking in some water as well. The next information we have is that about 10 minutes after the collision Hesketh gave an order for "all hands stand by your stations" which was for the men to stand by the fires. You can imagine all the confusion that was going on down there at that time. In BR 5 there were 10 firemen, 4 trimmers, and a leading fireman assigned to that section. Hesketh apparently did not remain there after giving that order but went up the escape to go aft to the engine room, which is normally were he stood watch, and where he would expect to find C/E Bell. Shepherd with Barrett decided to return to BR 6 to see what was happening there, saw the water was already half the height of the boilers, and went back to BR 5 where they found Wilson and Harvey, who were actually off duty at the time, now down in BR 5 working on the pumps. The next thing we find is that a phone call came from the engine room, probably Hesketh after talking to Bell, to send all the stokers up. That is what Olliver witnessed as he came along the alleyway to the engine room to deliver his note to Bell from Capt. Smith. It was then that the lights had gone out in the stokeholds. We have direct evidence that BRs 1, 4 and 5 were dark, and probably all the others as well since the lights in all the boiler rooms are run on two common circuits. It appears that both must have tripped causing the all the lights to go out in all 6 BRs. The engine rooms were on different circuits, and therefore not affected. Someone must have called the engine room to report that the lights went out, and Hesketh apparently came up to the alleyway where the stokers who were previously released had congregated to have them get lamps from the store room to take down to the stokeholds. This would also be the time that Cavell was told to get lamps having made it out of BR 4 by now. That is also where Hesketh met Hendrickson coming along and told him to take some men and get some lamps and "take them down below." We also know that Barrett was sent up to fetch lamps as well and found a few guys in the alleyway and ordered them to get lamps for BR 5. When they came back the lights were on again and that is when they noticed the water level was low in the boilers, and he was told to get some men down to draw the fires. When Cavell came back with lamps he too said the lights had already come back on. Hendrickson, realizing he could not get down into BR 6, now comes down into BR 5 with the lamps that he personally carried, and was told to light them and put them up by the gauges. My guess is that they wanted them put there just in case the lights were to go out again. As soon as he does that, Shepherd ordered him to start drawing fires, but them Harvey sends him to get some men, just like Barrett was ordered to. Unlike Barrett, Hendrickson did not go back down to BR 5. Meanwhile Cavell was drafted to draw fires in BR 4.

The lights could not have been out much more than 10 minutes because they apparently came back on before any of the lamps were really needed. If they went out between 10-15 minutes after the collision, they were back on by 20-25 minutes after the collision. Once they came back on, is when Dillon was ordered to open all the WTDs going forward from the engine room. Dillon said he heard orders to keep steam up at first, but then heard the order passed along to start drawing fires. He got only as far as BR 2 when he heard that order given. So it seems to me that 1/2 hour after the collision is when men were being drafted to go back down to start pulling fires out of those boilers not need to run the dynamo engines or the pumps.

How long it took to rake the fires out? According to Barrett it would took about 20 minutes for 15 men to draw fires out of 30 furnaces in BR 5. That is about 10 minutes per furnace per man. Each double ended boiler had 3 furnaces per face. You can take it from there.
 

Richard Brown

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Interesting, I will digest that and perhaps come back with more questions. The one I have at the moment is that Beauchamp claimed to have drawn the fires, and did not notice the water level. He suggested this would take 15 mins. Even if it was as fast as 10 mins, that would put him leaving at the same time as Barrett suggested he entered. I think Beauchamp would have been struggling to do anything if there was 8 feet of water in the room (or hear any orders either). Someones timings must be out (or Barrett is exagerating the amount of flooding). Either Beauchamp did it in say a couple of mins (rather than the 15 he claimed it should take) or Barrett returned around 15 to 20 mins later. However, the lights were out 20 mins later so he must have returned before that (if he was to get back to BR5 in time for the lights to go out). Also, Beauchamp claims that it took a couple of mins for the order to start drawing fires. It is only now that water starts coming in on the plates. That seems very slow for it to be 8 feet under only 10 mins later. Then Beauchamps timings must be horribly out. For it to work, Beauchamp must have drawn the fires in around 5 mins, Barrett returned after 10 mins and the lights went out just after that. If Shepherd gave the order to draw fires in 6, and then he is in 5 within 10 mins, Beauchamp must have his timings completely out.

Oh, and here is a key bit of info. Would Hendrickson have been able to see that BR6 was underwater if the lights were still out? If not, then does that suggest by the time he got there the lights were back on? However, I suppose he may have just put his foot into the water and decided not to continue. Oh, and I see that the fact that he left the other men to get the lamps clearly supports Hesketh ordering a number of men to get lamps, as you suggest.

I don't know why I think Shepherd was the senior man. I have always had the impression. Thank you for clearing that up for me.

I do like all these little stories, esp from the bowels of the ship (which a lot of the movies tend to ignore). All these different position people had, all with roles to play. Fascinating, even when the ship was not sinking. Now you have roused my curiosity, why was Hesketh in BR6?
 

Richard Brown

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Sorry, Beauchamp is not very clear about where the water level was. He said it was coming in on the plates, then he said it was coming up from under the floor, then he said it was coming in from the bunker over the plates. It is not clear whether the 6 feet below him was already flooded (distance between plates and tank top right?). My interpretation of this is that the water was coming in below the plates. The easiest way of getting up onto the plates was for the water to come up through the coal bunker (whose depth was down below the level of the plates). Hence why Beauchamp said it was coming in through the bunker. How do we reconcile this with Barretts claim it was coming in two feet above the plates.

However, if this interpretation of Beauchamp is right, then there was around 6 feet of water in the compartment when he noticed it, a few mins after hitting the berg. That means he must have got out of the room very fast (as it would only take a few more minutes to be 6 more feet up and thus be getting to the level Barrett suggested it was when he returned).
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Richard.

An insight into Beauchamp's ability to estimate the passage of time can be seen here:
668a. (The Commissioner.) How soon do you suppose after the order to “Stop” came from the bridge did the watertight doors close? - In less than five minutes.

Considering Murdoch was seen at the WTD switch as the ship was first making contact with the berg (see Olliver), and considering it takes only 30 seconds for the doors to drop once the switch is thrown, 5 minutes seems an awfully long time. If he were to have said in less than 1 or 2 minutes, I would tend to believe him.

By the way, the stokehold plates were 5' 7.5'' above the tank top. The bunkers did not go below the level of the tank tank top. Beauchamp was in Stokehold 10 at the aft end of BR 6, but he doesn't say which side, port or starboard, his assigned boiler was at. The ship started to take a slight list to starboard within minutes of the impact, but he claims that water was coming out of the bunker door and spilling over the plates.
 

Richard Brown

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Hi Sam,

That is the same stokehold as Barrett though right? Although Barrett may have been standing closer to the starboard hull. But water coming through the bunker (which extends below the plates) indicates that the water was entering BR6 below the plates right? That is how it would appear to come out of the bunker. Or where there holes in the plates that water could come out of? That is the only way to reconile what he said. Unless he couldnt see water coming from the hull (if he was far enough away). If the water was coming in the side above the plates and he didnt notice, it couldnt have been very forceful. If that is the case, then I guess it would flow down below the plates and give the impression that it was coming out of the bunker further port.

I do tend to agree that Beauchamp timings must be very far off, and he could have been in there for only a matter on minutes after hitting the berg. Indeed, if water was coming up through the bunker, it would suggest (to me) that the whole of the tank top area of BR6 was flooded (nearly 6' of it) and so the water was coming in very fast.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>Would Hendrickson have been able to see that BR6 was underwater if the lights were still out? <<

No. By time Hendrickson came back with the lamps, the lights were back on.

>>However, if this interpretation of Beauchamp is right, then there was around 6 feet of water in the compartment when he noticed it, a few mins after hitting the berg. <<

For Beauchamp to see water coming through the bunker door, the water had to be at that time about 6 feet over the tank top at the aft end of BR 6 while he was pulling fires out of the furnaces. Even forgetting about Barrett, from Olliver's description, we know that the stokehold were in the dark before all hands were called out, which came about 20 minutes after the collision, after he returned from seeing Bell in the engine room. Beauchamp had to have abandoned BR 6 before the lights going out, and Barrett had to have been back there after he left and before the lights went went out. I doubt Beauchamp remained more than 10 minutes before he went up the escape, nor did he get all the fires pulled.

According to Walter Lord, the water was waste deep when Beauchamp went for the escape. Unfortunately, we don't know where Lord got that from, but we do know he was in contact with Beauchamp at some point. Unfortunately, the only written record that still exists of their correspondence, has nothing of any useful value that can be used.
 

Richard Brown

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I would guess it would be less than 10 mins before he got out. If Barrett went back around this time to find it 8 feet under water, Beauchamp would have to leave long before (even if the water was waist high). We have a rough estimate I guess. The water was approximatly 14 feet up by 10 mins. To get to 6 foot (approx plate level) it would take around 4 mins. So the order to pull fires must have been given before that, so within mins of hitting (nevermind the 5 mins to close the watertight doors). Indeed, if we believe Beauchump left 15 mins after hitting, and lets say it was waist high or about 3 feet, then the total was 9 feet in 15 mins which is a lot slower. I wonder how these two values would affect flooding calculations and time until the ship would sink etc (as they would indicate different rates of entry of water).

Oh, and I meant does the fact Hendrickson saw BR6 flooded indicate the lights are one, as in I am trying to find evidence they were on when he went there (rather than inferring from other peoples experiences)
 
Mar 22, 2003
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First, let me correct what I wrote in my post 2409 above. The stokehold plates were 2' 7.5'' above the tank top, NOT 5' 7.5''. For Beauchamp to see water coming through the bunker door, the water had to be at that time about 3 feet over the tank top in the bunker at the aft end of BR 6, NOT 6 ft as I wrote above. (The tank top was 5 ft above the ship's keel.)

>>I wonder how these two values would affect flooding calculations and time until the ship would sink etc (as they would indicate different rates of entry of water). <<

Richard.

Looking at the waterline at 45 minutes past collision, the ship had to be down by the head a little over 2.5°. It was the time when a wooden bulkhead gave way in the seaman's quarters which was located aft of bulkhead B on E deck. To get trimmed to that angle, 13,500 tons of sea water had to have entered the ship by that time. If the flooding were confined only to the first four compartments, the ship would have trimmed only to 1.5° and taken in only 6,600 tons of water. At 45 minutes, with 13,500 tons intake, it turns out that BR 6 accounted for a little more than 35% of that total, for an initial flooding rate of almost 110 tons per minute. Using the dimensions of that section and a permeability of 85% for these spaces, it can be shown that the initial rise of water above the tank top would be at a rate of about 1 foot/second in that compartment.

Non of this has to do with any of the testimonies from Barrett, Beauchamp, Henderickson, Cavell, Dillon, or anyone else that worked down below. It's based solely on trim Vs. time calculation based on flooding seen on E deck forward 45 minutes after the collision.

By the way, Wilding assumed 16,000 tons entered the ship in 40 minutes which led to his famous 12 sq. ft. number. I believe that was a little overestimated.

Anyway, in 10 minutes, the water level in BR 6 would be about 10 ft over the tanks, or about 7.5 ft over the plates on the ship's centerline based on these calculations.
 

Richard Brown

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Nice, those calculations look good. Thanks!

OK, I am satisfied that Beauchamp has probably significantly overestimated how long it took to do things. That is also is why he didn't see the lights go out. He was probably down there for a very short period of time. Odd he would claim to have drawn the fires as normal when he clearly did not (if it took 15 to 20 mins, which is also how long Barrett said it took to draw them in BR5, where I think he had more firemen than normal).

And I am also happy with Cavells testimony, although I wish that 'no' for that question was a little clearer. Taking 10-15 mins to get out of a coal bunker suggests that he was pretty badly buired. It is a wonder he was not suffocated in there. Indeed, I do find it quite hard to believe that he was in there for that long.

This leads me to question whether the lights went out as late as 10 mins+ after the collision. In fact, I think that the whole process was quicker. I would think that Beauchamp only spent a minute or two raking fires, and Heskeths order was earlier than the 10 mins Barrett suggests. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest the lights went out between 5 and 10 mins. Boxhall reports hearing the steam coming off between 5 and 10 mins upon returning to the bridge. Indeed, would it not make sense that this would also be the time to send the firemen up? I assume they went up because the engineers did not know how bad things were and so got them out of the way (in case the ship sank in 10 mins). The fact an officer ordered them back down again perhaps indicates there was some confusion between the engine room and the bridge. Would that make sense? Oh, and would they have any reason to purposely put the lights out? If this idea is right, they were out for at least 15 mins or so.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Some good questions Richard. We know the dampers were shut at the time of the collision. We also know the engines were moved ahead again for a very short while after. My guess is that the engineers would not know if they would need steam for propulsion again until the bridge informed them otherwise. (There was no 'Finished with Engines' order on the engine order telegraphs of Titanic.) What is not clear is how many sections were told to send the men up. They needed steam kept up in BR 2 at least to run the dynamo engines and the pumps. When they said to send the men up I believe that meant up the escapes to the alleyway on E deck, not to the boat deck at that point in time. There were many men in the 8 to 12 watch that congregated in the alleyway. My guess is that they were told to go up and hang around near the escapes in case they were needed below, to either stoke the fires again or draw them out. I believe that the firemen who came up onto the boat deck early were those who came up from the firemen's quarters under the forecastle which was flooding. But I could be wrong on that.
 

Richard Brown

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Why would they send the firemen up to E deck? If you thought you would need them to rack fires or to stoke them back up again surely you would keep the men in the boiler rooms. In fact they would probably be better in the boiler rooms than in the E deck hallway (where they would impeade the movement of engineers and passengers).

This is what then leads me to think the lights going out may have something to do with getting them out of the boiler rooms. If you are about to plunge the room into darkness (except the fires) you probably want as few men down there as you can. Otherwise the engineers will have a harder time doing their jobs. So maybe the lights going out were deliberate (rather than accidental)

Oh, and would the steam coming off be just from boiler room 6 (and perhaps 5)? Or does it have to come off all the boiler rooms in one go (as far as I know those two use funnel 1, the one Boxhall would have heard). It could be that the early steam coming off was just from those two boiler rooms. This would prob fit with Cavell, as I think it was some time (over 1hr) after the collision that he started drawing fires.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>If you are about to plunge the room into darkness (except the fires) you probably want as few men down there as you can. <<

About to plunge the rooms into darkness? Why would anybody in their right mind do that on purpose? You cannot be serious?

I think your suggestion in a post above about getting men out of the way if they were not immediately needed is the likely explanation for sending them up in the first place. The boiler rooms were very crowded to begin with, and if you are going to uncover things like manholes to get at the bilge system the less people around the better. Bad enough Shepherd found out the hard way about how dangerous it could be.

The E deck alleyway was relatively wide. If you wanted them to be close by in case you decided to draw fires, or whatever, that is the place for them to be at.

As far as steam blowing off, I believe Norman Chambers recalled steam was blowing off from a single pipe on the forward funnel when he came up on deck with his wife, and it was very difficult to speak to anyone up there at the time. He mentioned the pipe on the starboard side, but those steam blowoff pipes were located forward and aft on the centerline. The forward side from BR 6, and the aft side from BR 5. I also though that someone said that steam was blowing off from the other funnels as well. That could be. The safeties could be opened manually to relieve pressure if need be.
 

Richard Brown

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I was only wondering whether there might be a reason to turn out the lights. Such as to vent the steam or to turn on something else (which may need hooking up) or some such thing. It just seems a bit of a coincidence that as soon as the men are sent up the lights go out. I am just covering it as a possibility.
 
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The blackout of the boiler rooms is an oddity in the overall story. Noplace else had a blackout until the ship was coming apart. Why did the boiler rooms go dark?

I've thought that it might have been wet cables, but that should only have affected boiler room #6. Why were the others darkened? Perhaps...and I don't know for certain...but, perhaps the blackout resulted when certain circuits were switched from the main dynamos to the emergency generators. This would have been a prudent thing to do. Could it be that someone got the sequence of switching wrong?

-- David G. Brown
 
Mar 22, 2003
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David,

I'll have to double check on this, but I thought the emergency lighting that was run off the emergency dynamos was totally separate from the main lighting. And I understand that the emergency dynamos were running every night from sundown to sunup. My other question is did the stokeholds go pitch dark, or was there some emergency lights going which provided enough to see how to get to the escapes? How else could they send Barrett up for lamps unless they all carried search lights ([Brit] torches) with them just in case.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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OK, here is the description:
quote:

Emergency Circuit. - A separate and distinct installation was fitted in all parts of the vessel, deriving current from the two 30 kilowatt sets above mentioned, so that in the event of the current from the main dynamos being unavailable an independent supply was obtainable. Connected to the emergency circuit above were 500 incandescent lamps fitted throughout all passenger, crew and machinery compartments, at the end of passages, and near stairways, also on the Boat deck, to enable anyone to find their way from one part of the ship to the other. The following were also connected to the emergency circuit by means of change-over switches: - Five arc lamps, seven cargo and gangway lanterns, Marconi apparatus, mast, side and stern lights, and all lights on bridge, including those for captain’s, navigating and chart rooms, wheel house, telegraphs and Morse signalling lanterns, and four electrically-driven boat winches. These latter, situated on the Boat deck, were each capable of lifting a load of 15 cwt. at a speed of 100 ft. per minute.

The ship carried a total of 10,000 incandescent lamps ranging from 16 to 100 candle power. 500 of those, that's only 5%, were on the emergency circuit.

So it seems that the blackout down below probably was in the main lighting circuits, and there may have been enough light to move about from the emergency circuit without killing oneself. Now what caused that blackout is open to speculation.​
 

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