Open Portholes Flood Titanic?


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Aaron_2016

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I believe the iceberg damage began to flood the ship and caused her to settle low in the water and may have dipped open portholes below the waterline, flooding the ship from various positions, possibly fore and aft and this may have greatly affected the speed and angle of the ship as she went down. I understand survivors opened their portholes to see what they had struck while others opened them to get fresh air as the strong smell of fresh paint and varnish in their confined cabins may have been unbearable. They may have been open for the kitchen staff, and also across E-deck as Mr. Joughin was asked: Q - On E deck are the portholes in practice opened from time to time? A - "Very, very often we keep them open the whole of the passage."

Looking at photos of the wreck it appears the glass windows have remained for the most part intact. I think a closer study of her hull may reveal how many portholes were open when she sank.



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Titanic in Southampton - Windows open on C-deck.
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Olympic - Windows open on various decks

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The port list would cause the port side cabins to flood first if windows were left open or slightly ajar. It may have contributed to the list or flooded compartments further aft. Would be interesting to see a detailed view of the hull (both sides) to see how many windows are open.


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Harland Duzen

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While plausible, the problem is that any Portholes being open could be argued were forced open upon the bow's impact with the sea floor.

Also, it's not a good idea to use the Olympic photos as they were taken in summer when it was naturally hot as someone else mentioned (hence the captain and officers wearing white uniforms to keep cool).
 
A

Aaron_2016

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The glass appears intact in most of the portholes that I could find, which might suggest a moderate impact with the seafloor as the wreck landed with perhaps some forward momentum that pushed it forward at an angle as it touched the sea floor and slid forward, creating a softer impact and digging her bow into the sand.



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I think the portholes could only be manually opened with an inside handle or bolt that had to be turned. The portholes on the pieces of wreckage that tore off when she broke in two appear intact and are closed. I think if the dramatic breaking up of the ship was not enough to pop open those portholes then the impact with the sea floor might also have not been enough force to pop them open as most of the porthole windows in the photos above are intact and closed.

I recall a previous debate in which someone said the portholes could not be opened as they were sealed and bolted. The photos of the Olympic were merely for reference to show that the windows could indeed be opened and to see if these windows are open on the wreck. I recall survivor Mrs. Shelley said there was a problem with the heating boiler in 2nd class and she said the passengers complained that the heat was too intense in their cabins and they had to speak to the purser about it. This may have led to more portholes being opened, especially if the purser had advised them to do it.


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Kyle Naber

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Now this is a great question, Aaron. I've forgotten about testimony of the scent complaints of the fresh paint. In fact, this is what sank the Britannic. She was designed to take a blow like she had, but because of the open portholes by the nurses, it sank at a much quicker pace than anticipated. But I think there's a different story with Titanic. To me, it feels natural to turn off a light and close a window, if left open, when I leave a room. If I had opened a porthole for a few minutes of fresh air for the scent, I would naturally close it and flip the light switch to go up on deck to see what all the commotion was about.
 

Harland Duzen

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Don't forget, many passengers at first thought it was just a drill or even a stunt by White Star to further enforce Titanic to be unsinkable (as done by the media) so many excepted to come back and go back to sleep.

I can't remember, but didn't Lucy Duff Gordon OR Helen Bishop leave their heater on in their cabin excepting to return?
 

Rob Lawes

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I've never heard any survivor testimony claiming they though it was a stunt before.

I believe a number of passengers were initially told the evacuation was a precaution.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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Now this is a great question, Aaron. I've forgotten about testimony of the scent complaints of the fresh paint. In fact, this is what sank the Britannic.........

Mr. Stengel - "Another passenger said that the ice came into his porthole. His porthole was open." Q - Was there comment because of the fact that the port hole was open; was there any special comment on that fact? Q - "He just wanted air. He said, "I left my port hole open for air."

When the passengers left their cabins the stewards were ordered to lock the doors to prevent looting. I recall some passengers who wanted to return to their cabins to get their coats or valuables and they found their doors had been locked and one lady was upset because she left her little dog inside her cabin. I think the passengers were fully expecting to return and may have left their lights on and portholes slightly ajar, especially if they had asked the stewards to open them previously and the passengers did not know how to close and seal them tightly again. Survivors said the ship was fully lit up and observed each string of porthole lights dipping below the waterline. This could suggest that the stewards locked the doors and did not switch off the lights inside each cabin. 3rd class were used to gas lights back home and I'm not sure how they liked the new idea of electricity. They may have kept their lights on below decks because they did not want to touch the electric switch, but more likely when they gathered in the 3rd class corridors the area became so congested with people trying to get up, that I doubt many would have attempted to turn back to go back to their cabins to turn off their lights. I think that is why the ship was seen to be fully lit up as she went down.


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Harland Duzen

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I've never heard any survivor testimony claiming they though it was a stunt before.

I believe a number of passengers were initially told the evacuation was a precaution.
I didn't mean literally, but with the media and gossip of the time giving the illusion of Titanic being unsinkable and even most of the crew being unaware of the ship being in any danger, I confident at least ONE person might have had the thought flash though their mind.
 

Rob Lawes

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Ah I see, possibly, but I'm not sure that the passengers would have thought like that. You've got rich people, friend of presidents and so on. I doubt they would imagine they would be hauled out of their suites for the sake of a stunt.

I would however imagine that there would have been a Lot of 'huffing' and accusations of over caution in those early moments.
 
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A porthole is the actual opening in the steel, although by convention the word may be applied to the glass and covers associated with it. A portlight has a glass pane blocking rain and wind, but allowing vision out or light to enter. A deadlight is a metal cover which protects against breaking seas in heavy weather.

The porthole is typically made of bronze and held in place with a ring of bolts. The portlight glass (sometimes called the "lens") has a ring of similar bronze and is hinged top or bottom to open inward. Two or more thumbscrew "dogs" hold it closed. The deadlight may be hinged light the portlight, or it can be a separate piece. It is also held in place by dogs.

A deadlight may also be a fixed pane of glass in a door that does not open.

The construction of portlights is such that they will not "pop open" even under great abuse. The bronze rim fits a circular ridge in the porthole and the dogs are 1/2-inch or more in diameter.

Open ports can allow considerable downflooding as a ship sinks. There have been cases in which water entering through ports was the ultimate cause of the loss of a vessel. This is why the size, construction, and placement of portholes on passenger vessels is tightly controlled by law.

Paint of 1912 was a far different concoction than today. Water-based coatings were unknown and only old-fashioned oil based paints were available. These relied on turpentine, linseed oil, white lead and other such chemicals. As they cured, the old-fashioned paints gave off an unmistakable, cloying odor that did cause some people to exhibit asthma-like symptoms, runny or itchy eyes, etc. It is hard to imagine anyone sleeping in a freshly-painted cabin without the porthole open for air circulation. But, not all of the paint in Titanic was "fresh" in terms of odors. Much of it would have been applied earlier in construction and, thus, had time to cure out.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Kyle Naber

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I think that is why the ship was seen to be fully lit up as she went down.
In my opinion, this was an exaggeration. Considering the sheer darkness of that night, any source of light would seem very bright compared to the environment around them. Certainly the boat deck and A deck would have been fully lighted, but down where the cabins were, I think it would have been more sparingly lit up.
 
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Aaron_2016

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I recall Ruth Becker said: "All the lights were on in the Titanic and she was a beautiful sight."


Mrs Ryerson said:

"I could see all the portholes open and water washing in, and the decks still lighted."

Q - When you went down into the water, from the boat, did you notice anything about the portholes in the side of the ship?
A - Yes, a great many were open.

Q - Did you notice anything in particular about the portholes on the water?
A - Yes, the water was washing in the portholes, and later I think some of the square windows seemed to be open, and you could see in the cabin and see the water washing in and the gold furniture and decorations, and I remember noticing you could look far in, it was brilliantly lighted, which deck I couldn’t tell.

Q - Did you notice any of the lines of portholes disappear after you got in the boat?
A - Yes, she was sinking very rapidly then, we saw two lines and then we saw only one; it was very brilliantly lighted and you could see very distinctly.


Mr. Beesley described the ship brilliantly lighted and watched her porthole lights dip below the sea.

".....hundreds of portholes, all her saloons and other rooms brilliant with light............and the beauty of her lights, and all these taken in themselves were intensely beautiful........the rows of porthole lights along her side in dotted lines, row above row. The sea level and the rows of lights should have been parallel, should never have met, and now they met at an angle inside the black hull of the ship......the Titanic had sunk by the head until the lowest portholes in the bows were under the sea, and the portholes in the stern were lifted above the normal height.......The lights still shone with the same brilliance, but not so many of them. Many were now below the surface. I have often wondered since whether they continued to light up the cabins when the portholes were under water; they may have done so."

4th officer Boxhall got into a boat near the bridge on the port side. He was given orders to row towards the gangway door on the starboard side. He said there was great difficulty rowing along the port side towards the stern as there was suction. I think the suction may have been caused by open portholes that were pulling his boat towards the side of the ship, She listed more to port and this may have been the result of open portholes on the port side.


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robert warren

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While its true some portholes were open,some of them by curious passengers who tried to see out their cabins after the collision,I find it hard to believe that so many would have been open. It was something like 32 degrees out that night, so there would have been no reason to open a porthole all the way,unless some people liked sleeping in an icebox. However the picture of the ship at Southampton does not offer any proof of open portholes during the sinking.This was taken on a nice warm day so open portholes would have been common. Until the 14th, the weather was pleasant and having fresh air would have been welcomed.In the Britannic's case there were a lot of open portholes because of the warm climate of the Greek Isles.