Oil Slick on the Surface?


Aaron_2016

Former Member
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?




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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?
 

Aaron_2016

Former Member
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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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.
 

Aaron_2016

Former Member
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

Moderator
Member
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.
 
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

Member
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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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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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

Member
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

Member
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.

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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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