Steve, as I noted to Colin, if you wish to post here, you need to register your own account. This only takes a few minutes. Not trying to be excessively harsh or anything like that, but we do like to know who we're talking to. Regarding the hole you mentioned, this is known in nautical parlance as a hawspipe and it's through this that the anchor chain passes. The one right on the stem is, to my understanding, the hawspipe for the cable that was used for the emergency anchor.
Offhand, I don't know if this anchor was ever used by any of the Olympic class liners.
Hi, Steven is gone and responding to this question is Colin. I know what the hawspipe was for, but I don't understand why it was installed on Olympic and Titanic. It would have been extremely awkward to use,and on top of that it would look rather ugly for a third anchor to be sticking out on the front!
That emergency anchor was a BOT requirement, and this 15 1/2 tonne beast was actually stored on a recess on the main deck all the way up on the forepeak. A decidedly awkward place to keep the thing, but as I understand it, it was fitted to satisfy Board of Trade requirements. I don't think they actually expected to use it, and I agree that rigging this thing would have been a really clumsy exercise.
Anchors rigged in the very stem of a ship are hardly uncommon. You can see the arrangement on some cruise ships and especially on warships.
The heavy wire hawser that was passed through that hawsepipe also had two secondary purposes. The first of these, which would seem to be what it was used for more than anything else, was as a tow line. In the photos of the Titanic's passage down the Lagan from the builder's yard, the tug at the lead has the ship's head through this hawser. This hawser was also intended for use in mooring the ship at a buoy in locations such as the Mersey.