NEWS FLASH TITANIC STILL AFLOAT


May 9, 2001
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Going against all known probability, what if boiler room 6 would not have completely flooded?

That is my beginning presumption.
Now I'd like to hear from everyone as to what would likely have happened that night, and in the days afterward. Picture the situation, Titanic adrift with the first 4 compartments flooded and boiler room 6 flooding, but under control. Lets try to be specific as to exact events and times. This is to allow for a fuller understanding of what was the mode of rescue for a large liner at that time in the middle of the ocean. My motivation is that too often I've accepted the reported actions of the crew that night as rather disorganized or negligent. I'd like to know what they were hoping to accomplish by sending up rockets, sending out distress calls by wireless, and keeping the power on, etc.
What if all this effort had actually paid off?
What if they had managed to keep the ship afloat barely?
What next?
These questions are very important to me:

1. How long could she have stayed adrift before she ran out of fuel and supplies?
Assuming that when the pumps failed BR 6 would flood completely and cause her to sink.

2. What would happen to the passengers in the next 48 hours or so?
Remember that many are at sea in lifeboats.

3. How many ships would eventually have arrived and when?
And what help could they provide?

4. Where does a flooded liner go to from here?
Does she wait for tugs to come to her?
Does she try to make steam herself?

5. What kind of repairs could be made, with enough time, at sea without having to be moved?

6. What are the new dangers that threaten her survival as she is adrift and down by the bow?

7. Lastly, if the ship is evacuated, who stays aboard and why?

I hope these questions can be answered. I also hope they will give rise to even more questions and new ideas.

Thanks,
Yuri
 
Jan 5, 2001
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<FONT COLOR="119911">1. 1. How long could she have stayed adrift before she ran out of fuel and supplies?

The ship would at have not burned more than 125 tons in that situation, giving her something like three weeks. (If you check the 'Titanic's proposed coal consumption' thread, the figures are there.).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I would think thatat 125 tons of coal a day over a period of three weeks, the food would run out long befor the fuel did.

The point to distress signals of any kind is to get help, and there were certainly enough ships responding at the time this actually happened. What would have followed next isn't much of a stretch of the imagination. Passengers and probably any un-needed crew would have been transferred to rescue vessels. Those crew remaining would have been those essential to the operation of the ship and the attempt at salvage which would almost certainly have followed.

Making way on their own would have been extremely risky as any hydrostatic pressure along the hull would have forced water in at a faster rate. I suspect the ship would have been towed to whatever harbour they decided on, perhaps even stern first to minimize this problem.

The problem on where to go from there would have been one of getting the ship to a port with water deep enough to handle her and shipyard facilities which were capable of providing the services needed to make the Titanic seaworthy again. Some reasonable candidates would have been Halifax, Boston, or New York. After that, it would have been a trip back to Belfast and the only drydock in the world then capable of taking so large a vessel. Depending on how much damage was done to the bottom of the ship as well as the side, a decision would have to be made as to whether repairs would have been economically justifiable.

I don't know that any repairs could have been made at sea at all where it really mattered. Damage control was nowhere close to being as well developed then as it is now. Any attempt to put even a temporary patch on the openings in the hull, whether from the inside or the outside would have required trained divers and all the equipment and tools that go along with the deal

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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I wonder if I can determine how many vessels would have eventually arrived at her side if she had not sank that morning? We know that by 8 am both Carpathia and Californian were present. But what if she had lasted past noon on the 15th. How many ships would have been there to see her go down?

(Can you imagine the pictures that would have been snapped the next morning from the other ships?!!)

I don't think Carpathia would have sailed for New York with over 700 Titanic passengers aboard if there were other ships on site. Wouldn't Capt. Rostron have rather coordinated with the other captains to ensure that each rescue vessel received its fair share according to each vessel's capacity?

Come on now, I want to hear from more people! :)
Thanks for the comments Mark and Michael.
Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Well, with only 47 passenger accomadations, the Californian couldn't have taken that many. I think a lot of people would have ended up going over to other ships arriving on the scene such as the Birma, Mount Temple, Parisian and the Frankfurt. As first on the scene, I think that Captain Rostron would have been the one to co-ordinate the rescue-transfer efforts in concert with Titanic.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
May 9, 2001
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I agree Michael, I think Capt. Rostron would be the logical choice to take charge if and when Titanic eventually foundered. But until it did, I'm sure Capt. Smith would have reserved authority over the transfer of his passengers. So long as he had a ship under him to command.

I believe Capt. Smith would likely have transfered himself over to the Carpathia when the end was at hand for Titanic, had she held out that long. Let me make a quick count of the ships that could have arrived by noon on the 15th.
Carpathia
Californian
Mount Temple
Parisian

How far away were the Birma and Frankfurt and Olympic?

Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Birma; 70 miles at 11:50pm, 14 April
Mount Temple;50 miles at the time of the CQD. She was roadblocked by the icefield along the western edge.
The Olympic's position at 11:24pm New York time was 40 degrees 12 minutes north by 61 degrees 18 minutes west. I'm not certain how far this was offhand.

Source; US Senate Inquiry transcript. In the appendix, it has a list of the ships that responded and where they were.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Offhand, I believe the Oympic was roughly 500 miles away.

Another interesting scenario raised by Michaels point about the potential difficulty of bringing Titanic back to port, and the question of shoring her up for such a journey, is what if it became absolutely imperative that some work had to be done before anyone could even think of moving her?

To take this scenario to it's ultimate conclusion, how long would it have taken for an experienced salvage/shipbuilding team to reach the Titanic in mid-ocean, and would their efforts have been futile?

I have no idea what the weather was like in the weeks following April 15th 1912 in the North Atlantic, but if she had survived the night, how possible is it that she would have survived in the long run? Surely the ships in attendance would not be able to wait around too long after all the passengers and crew had been transferred. Would they have just left her to get back on schedule, or would White Star have made representations to the other shipping lines to make sure their ships remained to ensure the survival of their flagship.

This is an extremely thought provoking thread!

Regards

Sam
 
May 9, 2001
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In the time it would take for the right sized ships and equipment to arrive to repair her, she would have drifted a long way. By the time any significant repairs could be made, if at all, to allow her to make steam on her own, she would almost have drifted back to England I think.

What odds would anyone give Titanic for surviving a moderate storm in her stricken condition and being adrift? I'd give her 10:1 for making it. Not so good I think. I don't see how her hull and frame could remain intact through a storm with all that dead weight up front.

Yuri

Michael, thanks for the reference to the Inquiry. Thats the source I was looking for.
Yuri
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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I think that it would have taken a lot more then shoring to get her ready for any kind of movment. I would agree with Yuri about Smith. Smith would be running the show. It wouldn't be until the ship sank that Rostrom or somebody else would really take charge. The passengers are Smiths responsiblity and nobody elses. Even once they are in the water. Until they step aboard another ship they are Smiths problem.

Erik
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Yuri, glad I could help. On the question of shoring, I think the point that would have rendered the whole thing moot is that while the bulkheads were watertight up to a certain deck, the decks were not. Water would still be free to work it's way up through ladderwells, hatches, ductwork, and so on through the passageways and down into adjacent sections.

IF a salvage operation could have been attempted, I think it would have been awhile befor anything dedicated to the task could have arrived on the scene. Several days at least. There was little then which could move faster then one of the big mail steamers.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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If the ship's fuel could last for three weeks, she had only to make 2 knots to get to New York in that time. Halifax is even nearer. Surely two knots wouldn't be too bad a strain?
 

Erik Wood

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It wouldn't be the strain at two knots. There is no way the ship could have kept a straight course. You could turn the rudder all you want but it won't do any good with out a good amount of free water moving past it.

Erik
 
May 9, 2001
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I'm not sure Titanic could run at only 2 knots. Does anyone know what her minimum speed was?

Let me ask this question to our maritime experts:
Why couldn't Titanic just tie herself up to a couple of moderate sized vessels, like Carpathia, on either side of the bow and thus gain enough added buoyancy to stay afloat?

Finally, it took the Mackey-Bennet 4 days to reach the wreckage site to recover bodies. The Mackey-Bennet came from Halifax which was the closest port. So its safe to assume that any heavy-duty rescue ship with workers, cranes, divers, and a cargo hold full of ping-pong balls would have taken at least 5 to 7 days to reach the drifting Titanic. I don't think she would have been able to hold out that long with 4 compartments flooded and the 5th and 6th held intact only by pumps. My gut tells me she would have ran into trouble within a couple of days, either getting swamped by a storm, or the pumps malfunction and break.

Could a ship the size of Olympic have tied up to Titanic and kept her afloat, even if boiler room 6 were to finally flood completely?

Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Yuri, I'll take a stab at this one. It is extremely unusual for ships to "nest" together at sea, and I've never heard of it being done in heavy seas. (The hulls banging together would eventually tear both apart!) Warships do it all the time in harbour, and I've known of one incident mentioned in All Hands magazine of two destroyers nesting in the Indian Ocean to so the crews could celebrate Christmas togeather. Not much of a problem there as thanks to the winter monsoon cycle, the waters there are usually a flat calm.

Having said that much, this is not to my knowledge a common practice in the merchent marine, especially with large vessels. This sort of manuever takes some very expert ship handling. While theoretically possible from a technical standpoint, I can't see any captain in his right mind tying up to a ship in a sinking condition. Besides, I have to wonder what the Olympic could have done. It's not as if these ships had external connections so they could add the pumps of one to the efforts of the other. Even if they could, the pumps on the Olympic were no different from those on the Titanic. 1700 tons per hour. That's it. The Titanic flooded at a far faster rate.

As to one or two acting as floats to the one in trouble....forget it. All they could tie up with would be their own mooring lines. Assuming they didn't break, the weight of the one sinking vessel would only drag the others down with her.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Yuri,

It was impossible for Titanic to move at only two knots on her engines, I believe. Slow speed ahead was 30 r.p.m. without the turbine = 8 or 9 knots. But Republic was towed at 3 knots if I recall.
 

Erik Wood

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I would have to agree with Michaels thoughts. I have never really seen to merchant ships nest together in open sea and I can count on one hand the amount of times I have seen it done in port to vessels that are still operating. The commonly "raft" older vessels waiting to be sold.

Not only would require some expert ship handling skills but it would require a captain with a lot of gots to moor up to a sinking ship. I wouldn't do it. Maybe if the ship was grounded and I was a smaller ship that could fit, but other then that no way jose. Especially back then, when they didn't have bow thrusters and such it would have been hard to manuver it into place.

Erik
 
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I thought the following would be of interest, showing severe damage but controlled flooding by both pumps and watertight compartments. Even if some of it may be temporary.

7306.jpg


Best regards,

Mark.
 
May 9, 2001
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Ok here's the summary of answers that have been posted by everone, along with some of my personal opinions.
The original questions were:

1.How long could she have stayed adrift before she ran out of fuel and supplies?

Answer: Regarding her coal, up to three weeks if she was only consuming coal to power the ship's systems and not using her engines to provide forward motion.
She would more likely run out of food and water before that, but if the passengers were evacutaed leaving only a small crew, then the food and water would hold out much longer.
So all in all, Titanic could have drifted on pumps for three weeks, or maybe a little longer before she would have to be abandoned.

2. What would happen to the passengers in the next 48 hours or so?

Answer: By noon the next day it seems safe to assume that enough ships would have responded to Titanic's distress calls to have allowed all passengers and crew to evacuate the ship. This would no doubt have been a difficult task. Sending all the first class passengers in Titanic's lifeboats over to other ships, then returning to be loaded with the second class passengers. After making several trips from Titanic to the nearby rescue ships, only Titanic's engineers, sailors, officers and other essential crewmen would be left aboard her. Then the rescue ships would begin to leave for New York to deliver the evacuated passengers to their destination.

3. How many ships would eventually have arrived and when?

Answer: Up to 8 ships within the first 8-10 hours, possibly more over time. Carpathia and Californian would have been the first two on site by 8 am. Olympic may have arrived within 36 to 48 hours.

4. Where does a flooded liner go to from here?

Answer: The nearest port is Halifax, but Titanic would really need to go back to Belfast for repairs. Since it is almost impossible for other ships to tie up to Titanic directly in mid ocean, and since there really was no equipment available onsite to allow for significant repairs to Titanic for at least a week, it must be assumed that Titanic's best chance would have been to be towed to Halifax. This task would likely not have been successful though as metal fatigue, pump malfunction and weather were all factors working against Titanic. It thus seems very likely that she would have eventually foundered on the way to Halifax while under tow.

5. What kind of repairs could be made, with enough time, at sea without having to be moved?

Answer: With enough time, perhaps a week to 10 days, welding and riviting equipment may have made it to Titanic along with technicians and workers. One possible plan might be to use metal plating from other parts of the ship to extend the watertight bulkheads up to "C" deck. And then to send down skin divers to survey the damage to the hull. Perhaps some of the tears could be stuffed with rubber or something to semi-seal up those compartments which would allow the crew to rig up fire hoses and several small pumps,...Oh who knows what they might have tried. The bottom line is that no type of repair other than crude patches and band-aids could have been done while drifting at sea. No matter how much time Titanic had.

6. What are the new dangers that threaten her survival as she is adrift and down by the bow?

Answer: Pump failure for any reason! Pretty much anything that would put increased strain on the hull like waves or forward motion.

7. Lastly, if the ship is evacuated, who stays aboard and why?

Answer: The captain and officers stay along with all the sailors, engineers, mechanics, carpenter, and enough stewards, cooks and medical personell to support the people who stay aboard. These people would also probably stay, Bruce Ismay, Thomas Andrews and his staff, and Phillips and Bride. Who did I forget?


This has been a very interesting discussion topic. Thanks to everyone for contributing. If there are any other comments or ideas that haven't been presented yet, post them. The discussion doesn't have to end, but I'm going away for the weekend and won't be able to reply.
So thanks again everyone, have a good weekend, see you next Monday.

Yuri
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Well, I think Ismay would have been evacuated as there would be nothing he could do to contribute to any attempt to salvage the ship. He was neither a sailor nor an engineer, and I would tend to see his presence as a liability! He could best be put to use on another ship...one with a wireless...to make business arrangements in regards salvage and the transport of passengers to New York.

One question goes begging; did specialised salvage vessels even exist back then? I'm not aware of any, although several navies, including the Royal Navy, had depot ships which might have some useful equipment. I think you can forget riveting anything together at sea though, and welding was in it's infancy back then.

Uh...skin divers in the North Atalntic??? In 28-32 degree water? I think not.
wink.gif
Technical divers yes, in those big heavy suits with the big brass helmets...but the support equipment for that isn't all that easy to move around.

Extending watertight bulkheads up a deck or two? Not that simple really. These were pretty beefy structures and had to be. This sort of specialised modification requires the facilties of a shipyard. The idea of using at hand material to stuff into cracks, rips, and small openings in the hull sounds more credible.

IMO, given just how primitive damage control was back then, anything they attempted would have been in the realm of improvisation done on the fly to deal with problems as they were discovered. That's how the U.S. Navy learned damage control during World War Two...the hard way!

Erik, I'm not so sure I'd be anxious to get too close to a grounded vessel either, depending on what it was grounded on! Sandy bottom, or the rocks of Cape Horn or the Cape of No...I mean Good Hope?
mad.gif


Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

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