Oil Slick on the Surface?


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Aaron_2016

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Does anyone know if large amounts of oil had spilt out of the Titanic after she sank? I recall reading newspaper accounts from passing ships which mentioned oil seen amongst the wreckage. The Californian searched the area. They said - "All we could see there were some boxes and coats and a few empty boats and what looked like oil on the water." Was this oil from the Titanic's oil tanks, and do you believe the Inquiry should have discussed this because the oil tanks were located in the lower decks beside the main engines? Did these oil tanks burst when the ship broke in two, or when the ship imploded, causing the oil to rise to the surface?




oiltanks.PNG


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Harland Duzen

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I have heard of someone else (paraphrasing here) saying there was a "Scummy... Reddish Rust" in the water.

I also (Possibly) recall someone mentioning a lot of coffee beans floating around in the water which might explain the weird colour in the water?
 
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Aaron_2016

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Could the reddish substance floating have been pieces of cork? Major Peuchen said - "There was a very large quantity of floating cork. I am at a loss to understand where it came from. There were a great many chairs in the water; all the steamer chairs were floating, and pieces of wreckage; but there was a particularly large quantity of cork." Could the Californian and other passing ships have mistaken the cork for an oil slick, especially if it appeared as a dark shadow on the water from a distance? Curious to know if the oil tanks on the Titanic are intact.


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Henry Sincic

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If there was oil on the surface of the water, the survivors from the water would've known for sure. It would've gotten in their eyes and smothered them in the water.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Perhaps the oil tanks were damaged by the implosion when the stern reached a certain depth. This might have allowed enough time for the small number of survivors to be rescued before the oil resurfaced? I recall one body was recovered a few days later covered in a black substance, possibly oil or coal soot.


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Mark Baber

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do you believe the Inquiry should have discussed this
I'm not sure the leak of a relatively small amount of oil would have been related to the mission of either Inquiry. Their focus was much narrower than this Message Board's and while we might wish that they had addressed other subjects than they did, that wasn't their job.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Now I know what you're all thinking - as the Titanic was a British ship, it surely carried huge quantities of oil for frying the fish & chips which were served to all Classes at every mealtime. Not so, I'm afraid, as in those far-off times they used beef dripping or pork lard rather than oil for frying. Loaded with cholesterol but boy, those chips tasted SO much better! :)
 
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Rob Lawes

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Not so, I'm afraid, as in those far-off times they used beef dripping or pork lard rather than oil for frying. Loaded with cholesterol but boy, those chips tasted SO much better!

Oh yes indeed. The Black Country Living Museum just outside Dudley in the West Midlands has a period authentic Chippy that serves only fish and chips fried in dripping. Oh sweet Mary and all her little pixies they are the best fish and chips ever.
 
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Stephen Carey

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The oil tanks on Titanic were vegetable oil (for the cylinders) and mineral oil for the sumps. As the main engines were open sump and the ship broke in half taking the forward lp cylinders with it, then that's probably what the oil was. It would have been a light mineral oil and nothing like the fuel oil of an oil-burner.
The cork? Possibly from lifejackets, though I believe they were kapok, so more likely to have been the insulation on the fridge rooms, which were down aft on 08-deck (Titanica plans), which would have burst asunder when the upper deck tore off shortly after disappearing underwater.
 

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Dave Gittins

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The lifebelts were definitely made of cork, as prescribed by the Board of Trade. The cork seen on the water may have been insulation.
 
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Keith H

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Could the reddish substance floating have been pieces of cork? Major Peuchen said - "There was a very large quantity of floating cork. I am at a loss to understand where it came from. There were a great many chairs in the water; all the steamer chairs were floating, and pieces of wreckage; but there was a particularly large quantity of cork." Could the Californian and other passing ships have mistaken the cork for an oil slick, especially if it appeared as a dark shadow on the water from a distance? Curious to know if the oil tanks on the Titanic are intact.


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I suspect the cork was used as insulation material in between the cabin and superstructure panelling and the outer metal sides of the ship to give thermal insulation from outside temperatures.
 

Scott Mills

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Without looking, I recall reading at some point that the corking most likely came from Titanic's freezers and cold storage located in the area of the break in the hull. The article I was reading was making the case that with the benefit of hindsight, this should have been an indicator to the engineers at Harland and Wolfe that Titanic had, in fact, split during the sinking.

Though as I recall the "undocumented" changes to the Britannic's expansion joints may have indicated that Harland and Wolfe was actually secretly aware that Titanic's hull had most like broken at the second expansion joint. Any instance at the BoT inquiry to the contrary would then, I suppose, be more about preserving the "image" of the workmanship.

Though frankly, I never have understood why this would be the case. These ships were not designed around sustaining the stresses Titanic's hull was under as she foundered, and I have trouble understanding why there would ever be the expectation that the hulls should survive these stresses intact.

Edit:

RE: Oil

I assume the oil in those tanks was used specifically for the purposes of lubrication and that everything else on Titanic, including the electrical plant, was steam driven. Is this correct?
 
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>>Though as I recall the "undocumented" changes to the Britannic's expansion joints may have indicated that Harland and Wolfe was actually secretly aware that Titanic's hull had most like broken at the second expansion joint.<<

The alternations on Britannic had nothing to do with the sinking of the Titanic. The aft expansion joint on Titanic had also nothing to do with the break up, it even did not went thought the main hull only on the upper (lighter decks).

I would recommend the article by Mark Chirnside.
Mark Chirnside's Reception Room: Olympic, Titanic & Britannic: Olympic's Expansion Joints - Titanic
 

Scott Mills

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I wouldn't disagree with that, but it does not mean that the engineers did not suspect that the expansion joint was the issue, especially since they were probably aware of stress fracturing along Olympic's expansion joints. In the end, you should read my comments as pure conjecture other than I do believe that, again given our hindsight, the large amount of cork spotted in the water after the wreck should have been an indicator that Titanic had split.

Edit

Quoting the article you linked:

It is important to emphasize that Titanic’s expansion joints did not cause the ship’s hull to break apart. They did not penetrate the strength deck or sheer strake, as they were intended to relieve stresses in the superstructure. The superstructure plating near an expansion joint would not be under tension stress, which would only be acting on the strength deck below (the uppermost part of the hull girder). However, that tends to create a slight stress concentration point. If the hull girder gets stressed by tension to the point of failing then the initial failure has to begin somewhere. Areas in close proximity to the joints would therefore be more likely to experience failure as opposed to elsewhere along the sheer strake, regardless of whether the ship initially broke ‘bottom up’ or ‘top down’.

According to the article you linked, it is fair to say that the expansion joint was not the cause of Titanic's split; however, because they acted as a focal point for stress on the hull. Therefore, any break in the hull would likely start near one of these expansion joints regardless of whether it broke from the keel up or from the superstructure down.

Given that, I do not think it is fair to say that the expansion joint "had nothing to do" with the breakup. While it was not the cause, if we take this article at face value, it at least shares responsibility with other variables for the location of the break.
 

Stephen Carey

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Without looking, I recall reading at some point that the corking most likely came from Titanic's freezers and cold storage located in the area of the break in the hull. The article I was reading was making the case that with the benefit of hindsight, this should have been an indicator to the engineers at Harland and Wolfe that Titanic had, in fact, split during the sinking.

Though as I recall the "undocumented" changes to the Britannic's expansion joints may have indicated that Harland and Wolfe was actually secretly aware that Titanic's hull had most like broken at the second expansion joint. Any instance at the BoT inquiry to the contrary would then, I suppose, be more about preserving the "image" of the workmanship.

Though frankly, I never have understood why this would be the case. These ships were not designed around sustaining the stresses Titanic's hull was under as she foundered, and I have trouble understanding why there would ever be the expectation that the hulls should survive these stresses intact.

Edit:

RE: Oil

I assume the oil in those tanks was used specifically for the purposes of lubrication and that everything else on Titanic, including the electrical plant, was steam driven. Is this correct?

I attached a drawing extract of where the freezers were in my reply above - they are aft of the turbine room, so well clear of the break in the hull. More an indication of a massive breakup of the after part of the ship as she sank. I'd never seen this cork observation before, otherwise it would have triggered my brain before this!
I also mentioned what the oil was for in my reply, and yes - everything in Titanic was steam driven, with no fuel oil whatsoever. Even the auxiliary/emergency generators were steam driven. There was probably a dribble of lamp oil somewhere in a locker near the bridge...