Slowing Titanic's flooding...

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Jason White

Guest
First off, greetings everyone. Now that I've finished my introduction on another thread, I'd like to pose my first question. Here goes. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the Titanic was capable of opening hatches or something of the sort near her stern. I believe it said they were located near the keel, though I could be wrong. If this is true would it have allowed the ship to sink on an even keel? If so, how much time do you think this would have bought for the passengers? I know this is a highly hypothetical question but I would think many questions about the Titanic do fall under the 'what-if' category.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Jason, for all practical intents and purposes, the Titanic did sink on an even keel. That's what makes her odd man out among shipping casualties in that she went nose down without taking on a very signifigent list to either side. The occasional list was enough to become a nuiscence when launching some of the lifeboats, but not so much as to make launching impossible. Serious instablity didn't really set in until close to the end. By this time, all the boats except for the two remaining collapsibles were safely away.

I think you may be thinking of the hypothosis that had the ship had all her watertight doors left open, that she would have settled more evenly and lasted longer. In fact, if you've seen Titanic, Answers From The Abyss, then you would have seen this very thoroughly and publicly refuted using engineers models by way of tank tests which demonstrated that

a)Floodwaters would have reached the dynamos and caused power failure an hour earlier then actually happened in the real world.
b)Free surface action would have caused the ship to become progressively more unstable much earlier on then actually happened in the real world until,
c)The ship capsizes and sinks half hour earlier then she did in the actual event.

Closing the watertight doors and keeping them closed bought them precious time to get more people off the ship.

If you want to read up on this and more "what if's", go to This Section of Roy Mengot's The Wreck of the RMS Titanic.
 
J

Jason White

Guest
Ahh...I see. Thanks for clearing that up for me. That's what I get for reading Pellegrino (sp?). For shame on me. As I said, the whole story of Titanic's sinking fascinates me but I really don't know much of the nuts and bolt details behind the story. Oh well, read and learn right?
happy.gif
Anyway, much thanks for the follow up info, it should prove quite interesting.

"No matter where you go, there you are"
 
Apr 24, 2003
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People in boat 4 mentioned open D-deck portholes
allowing the water to flow inside.
Does anyone know more about open portholes or even open doors that would have accelerated the flooding? If I remember exactly, Marjorie Newell Robb mentioned that, at the end, she heard the boom of fast flowing water in the gangways.
(although she was in boat 6, outside the ship)
But from where did all the water come? Maybe through the open cargo hatches?
Did the negligence of not closing some portholes or doors accelerated the sinking strong?

Cordially
Manuel
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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This is actually a question that has been raised in more then one technical circle's including mine. However recently it has been put on the back burner. I doubt that any open port holes or gangway doors played a major role in the time it took the ship to sink. Mainly because the ship sank on an even keel.

But I would be interested to hear from Mark Chrinside and Scott Andrews on the subject.
 
Jul 11, 2001
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Hi Guys, Considering that the temperature had been dropping all evening I would doubt too many portholes were open by that time. Survivors reported that many people retreated to the indoors due to the cold early in the evening.

Dave Smith
 

Jeremy Lee

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Jun 12, 2003
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Wasn't it said that Andrews went around smashing doors down to check if the portholes were closed or not? And Mrs. Spedden seeing an porthole flood? I remember reading it from somewhere, but cannot be too sure.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I thought I had posted this before, but I guess I was not successful in getting it uploaded. So here goes again:

It is my understanding that some portholes below the bulkhead deck were of the Utley ventilating kind which allowed air to enter but were closed automatically if the sea reached the level of the porthole. [see article by Scott Andrews at http://titanic-model.com/db/db-01/db_05.html, and also the article by Mark Chirnside on Olympic's heating, lighting and ventilation system at
http://titanic-model.com/oly_vhl.shtml]. Open portholes above this deck may indeed accelerate flooding if the waterlevel goes above the bulkhead deck. Since the number of compartments exceeded the floodable length curve for the Titanic that night, portholes left open or not would not have changed the end result. How much longer the ship may have remained afloat if everything that could have been closed were closed is interesting speculation. But I tend to agree with Capt. Erik Wood, it probably did not make too much of a difference.

By the way, another area that may have been a concern is the coaling ports near the top of F deck and just how watertight were they. Although the watertight bulkheads on the Olympic and Titanic did not go too high up, they were relatively closely spaced to protect the coal ports. [see http://www.skibstekniskselskab.dk/download/WMTC/C8(D29).pdf]
 
Oct 15, 2011
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New as I am to this forum, there is a question about controlled flooding that has puzzled me for some time. The key watertight compartment was the 5th; complete flooding of it and the adjacent 4 forward ones led to the bow sinking low enough for water to breach the bulkheads and flow into compartment 6 and so on, dooming the ship - the ice cube tray scenario.

My question: could the watertight doors from compartment 5 on to the stern have been used in a manner similar to dam flood control gates? Could the flooding of the 5th compartment and further back not have been contolled or slowed to such an extent that breaching the watertight bulkheads between compartments 4 and 5 might not have occurred at all, possibly saving the ship, or if not, taken considerably more time allowing Carpathia to reach the Titanic long before the ship sank?

I read somewhere (admittedly a long time ago) that it had been calculated that the flooding of the first four compartments would bring the water level to approximately 2 feet from the top of the bulkhead. It stands to reason, therefore, that keeping #5 as empty as possible for as long as possible would seem the logical course of action.

The only theory I have seen that mentions the watertight doors being open is the "all or nothing" approach - what would have happened if ALL the watertight doors were left open and the ship allowed to flood evenly? (We already know what happened when all the doors were left closed). The test of that scenario led to an even settling and sudden, catastrophic capsizing and plunge. But to my knowledge, no one has ever calculated the effect of allowing the flooding of the 5th compartment to be contolled by ONLY allowing the watertight doors astern to be kept open, even if only by a thin crack to allow the water to rise no higher than the watertight door sill. I suppose this sort of calculation would require the sort of differential calculus that I struggled with all those years ago!
 
Jan 29, 2001
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Many years ago Bill Sauder (ET member) did a wonderful experiment on this matter. With a plexiglass model of Titanic's watertight compartments, and a model of Carpathia, also, realizing the known distance of Carpathia and her running speed, the 16 compartments were evenly flooded, however to no avail. If I remember correctly, the actual sinking time bettered that than a controlled flooding founder. Remembering that Thomas Andrews was aboard, I feel the ship was thereby given the best of chances for remaining afloat until the "Little Cunarder" had arrived.

Michael Cundiff
NV, USA
 
Oct 15, 2011
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I remember seeing that experiment, but it did not address the scenario that I have presented. I am not talking about flooding all 16 compartments evenly; I am suggesting keeping the watertight doors between compartments 4 and 5 closed, and keeping all compartments aft of 5 open, or at least, slightly opened so that the rate of flooding of compartment #5 would be considerably slower, thereby lengthening the amount of time it would take for the bow to sink low enough for the water flowing in from the damaged forward compartments to cross over the bulkhead between compartments 4 and 5 to increase the flooding rate aft.

It would take some very complex differential equations involving rates of flooding, rates of flow through doors only slightly opened, and rates of pumping out the water to determine whether this could have saved the ship, or at least bought more time. But it should, I think, have been a consideration since it would have slowed the flooding of the 5th compartment, and possibly bought enough time to staunch the flow from damage in the 5th compartment if the water level were not able to increase too quickly above the level of the door sills as water had to flood up to that level in each additional compartment moving aft.

If the pumps in boiler room 6 were keeping the water at bay for its sustained damage, and there was no further damage aft, then opening the doors to the undamaged compartments even slightly from the flooding 5th compartment would lessen the rate of sinking and possibly reach a point of stasis between pumping and flooding if the more powerful aft pumps were able to be brought into use before the water flow from the damaged first four compartments increased the rate of flooding of compartment 5.

Of course, once the bulkhead between compartments 4 and 5 had been breached, the full flow rate of flooding would ultimately sink the ship.

Perhaps, by the time Andrews had assessed the damage, the bulkhead between compartments 4 and 5 had already been breached. If the ship made 14 feet of water in 10 minutes, then it would only take 25 minutes after the collision for the water to flood to a depth of 36 feet in the damaged compartments. Perhaps my theory could have worked, but ultimately it would have had to have been implemented almost immediately after the collision - an unlikely idea before the damage had been completely assessed.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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The ship probably would have already been two thirds underwater by the time they had worked out those calculations! ;-)

The truth is that a situation like the one the Titanic faced when she hit the iceberg was not thought of, and when Andrews did the inspection, all he and the crew would have seen was a LOT of water flooding in. We have the benefit of hindsight.

Interesting theory though.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>It would take some very complex differential equations involving rates of flooding, rates of flow through doors only slightly opened, and rates of pumping out the water to determine whether this could have saved the ship, or at least bought more time.<<

The problem is, they didn't really have time for any of that. They did in fact try to hold the line at Boiler Room Five since they already knew that once it was lost, the ships stability and bouyancy would rapidly go into the negetive.

Even if they had people around capable of doing the skull sweat...and they probably did...the really big problem is that the level of damage control training and resources which we take for granted as being availble today simply did not exist.
 
May 1, 2010
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>>It would take some very complex differential equations involving rates of flooding, rates of flow through doors only slightly opened, and rates of pumping out the water to determine whether this could have saved the ship, or at least bought more time.<<
Nope, no time for any of that.
Really, the Titanic did a pretty darn good job of staying afloat as long as she did, no thanks to anyone except her designers. After all, this WAS 1912, and she really was a technological wonder for the time.
I enjoy speculating how she compares to other wrecks, and how she would so in the scenarios that sent them to the bottom. (yeah, I know, wrong thread) Especially the Lusitania torpedo hit, and the hit amidships to the Andrea Doria by the Stockholm. (I think she would have taken that shot and not foundered, as the A.D. did some forty-something years later)
I guess that if there is a point here it is that disaster or not, she was built pretty darn well. Of course there were compromises regarding compartmentalization say, compared with a warship but that is as normal now as it was then....It was a very lucky shot for the berg, and a very unlucky shot for the Titanic. One hundred years later, it is unanimous that people would never consider ANY ship unsinkable, but at least now we have the technology to save everyone should anything happen. They had 2-1/2 hours to get off safely after all, more time than the one man on board gave her to live.
 

ADeblois

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Mar 18, 2012
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I recently hit upon an idea related to Titanic's catastrophic flooding.

My question is: Couldn't Captain Smith have ordered the aft spaces near the stern counter-flooded to reduce the water ingress forward, to buy more time for lowering the lifeboats? I think this could theoretically be possible, because this could have brought Titanic more on an even keel reducing the seawater pressure on the forward bulkheads, as well as leveling the water level inside each of the flooded compartments. The logic being that it would take longer to flood each compartment. The ship would have probably still foundered, but Titanic could have stayed afloat longer, perhaps long enough for Carpathia to arrive and help to rescue passengers.
 

Jake Peterson

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Mar 11, 2012
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You mean, like opening the Watertight doors, and having it flood evenly, or are you saying that they should somehow pump more water in the stern, pulling the bow up?