SS Leviathan of New York


Status
Not open for further replies.
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
Although separate from the main issue of this private forum, the Leviathan’s structural calamities are very interesting to me and I hope that the many ‘techies’ in this forum enjoy reading the following correspondent’s report.


Board of Trade Surveyor’s Office
Canute Road
Southampton

14th January 1930

(stamped Board of Trade Registry 15 Jan 1930)

s.s. “Leviathan” of New York, 59957 tons gross.
Casualty

Sir,

On the morning of Saturday, the 14th December last, the Owners’ representatives received a radio message from the Master stating that the vessel had been damaged by heavy weather and requesting a survey immediately on arrival.

About 11:30 a.m., that morning I visited the vessel in the company of the Principal Ship Surveyor, who happened to be in port at that time, the Owners’ representatives, the Staff Captain, Chief Engineer, Underwriters Surveyor and a Surveyor to the American Bureau (who was a passenger on the vessel). I inspected the damage, which extended from the top of the steerstrake at “C” deck to the upper edge of the side scuttle below “D” deck and situated at the after end of the forward funnel casing and immediately below the forward expansion joint (see sketches attached).

Careful inspection failed to discover signs of straining on the port side or elsewhere.

Several methods of temporary repair were explored, but were abandoned, because of the time involved, as the Owners had made all arrangements for getting the passengers on board the following day and were anxious to sail the vessel at the schedule time on the Monday following. Finally, it was decided to fit three heavy girders in “D” ‘tween decks, together with doublings on the fractured “D” deck stringer plate, as being the most effective method of repair under the circumstances. In my opinion, the work could have been completed on Monday and thus enable the vessel to sail on the p.m. tide at the latest, but the repairers would not guarantee to finish before Tuesday evening. On Sunday morning, the work was so well advanced that it became evident that it could be completed by about 8.0 a.m. on Monday morning. It was then found that the arrangements had been altered to placing the passengers on board Monday evening for sailing on Tuesday a.m. On Monday afternoon I inspected the completed repairs, and found that alterations had been made in the disposition of the girders and that heavy channel bars had been fitted on “C” deck in lieu of plate doublings. The alterations in my opinion were not quite so satisfactory as the original arrangement, but were accepted under the circumstances.

As I head heard that there was some intention of trying to run the vessel for two more trips before making permanent repairs, I interviewed the master and the English representatives of the Owners, and told them that the present repairs were only agreed to, in order to allow the vessel to reach her home port, and on the understanding that the vessel would be “nursed” on the voyage. To this the Captain agreed, and signified his intention of taking a southerly “fine weather” course at reduced speed. Asked if further repairs would be asked for if the vessel returned to this port in her present condition, I said that I could not conceive the possibility of the USA Authorities allowing her to return unless permanently repaired, but if they did, no undertaking could be given now, but the matter would be dealt with on its merits on further survey.

The vessel left Southampton on the 17th December, and arrived safely in New York on the 24th, thus taking 1 day longer on the voyage than usual.

I understand that the permanent repairs are now being carried out and will occupt about three months. It will be remembered that the “Majestic”, which is practically a sister vessel, sustained somewhat similar damage in 1924, though in that case the fracture took place on the corresponding deck below the midship expansion joint, and a little later a slight fracture similarly situated developed on the “Leviathan”. The White Star Line wisely increased the strength of “B” deck over a considerable length, extending beyond the forward funnel casing. In the case of the “Leviathan” however, the repairs were local, and the present accident justifies the action taken with the “Majestic”.

From enquiries I have made, it seems evident that these vessels experience considerable twisting stresses, particularly with following seas and it is significant that the fractures have occurred in way of expansion joints in the decks and sides above, and at the corners of the funnel casings. While it is not expected that the superstructure should take any material stress of the main structure, it is unfortunate, I think, that the positions of the expansion joints should coincide with the weakest portion of the strength deck.

While I put the matter forward with some diffidence, I am of the opinion that racking or twisting stresses are responsible for more structural defects than are credited to them.* I have seen a large barque blown ashore on a hard sandy beach and broken in two by the alternating wave stresses due to the differences of buoyancy at the wave crests and hollows. The effect could be clearly seen by the “see-saw” action of the masts, until the after portion of the hull fell over on one side and the forward portion on the other.

Cases of tramp steamer decks and sides buckled, buckling in hold side stringers and working at the side stringer brackets, all appear to be due to these stresses, and I have been unable to satisfactorily account for them otherwise.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant,

(Signed) FW Daniel
Senior Ship Surveyor.

The Principal Officer,
S&SW DISTRICT

Forwarded.

(signed) WH Whittle
Principal Officer,
S&SW DISTRICT

The Assistant Secretary,
Mercantile Marine Department.

* Lines underlined in pencil with side note “I agree” and initialled -possibly WW
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
Interesting. Have you found anything similar in regards the Berengaria/Imperator? (I wouldn't be surprised if such exists. These particular ships seemed to have a lot of such problems.)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
Michael,

I've found loads about Berengaria. I'll post a scan of my notes on her record: but to whet the appetite, by 1930 her watertight bulkheads seem in places to have been on the verge of collapse! She suffered loosened rivets, fractured hull plating, leaks, pitting of her tank top, badly leaking stern frame scraphs, a troublesome afterpeak...

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
Apologies for these pictures being in separate parts, but there’s the 35 KB limit:

your_image.gif

your_image.gif

your_image.gif



Mark.
 

Erik Wood

Member
Aug 24, 2000
3,519
15
313
Mark,

Actually I think you struck a gold mine. You may have just given me a key to a treasure chest that I didn't know exsisted.

Erik
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
Mark, it looks like the system didn't like your pictures. I'd love to see your notes and sources on the Limperator...uh...Imperator/Berengaria. I just hope you can post them here. If not, I suppose you could put everything in an attatchment and e-mail the lot to the rest of us. I promise I'll put it in my <FONT COLOR="ff0000">"SUICIDE BEFORE READING" file as I know it impacts on research your doing.

FWIW, I'm sure the ship's excessive topweight had to have had some negetive influance on the structure that had to carry it, and the rugged conditions of the North Atlantic couldn't have helped. I'm also wondering if some of the cures were not worse in some respects then the disease. (What was it? 6000 tons of concrete poured into the double bottom to keep the thing from rolling over? Good Gawd!)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
Well, you might try typing them instead of posting photos. (Or better yet, transcribing them into a folder on your computer.)
wink.gif


Intriguing stuff here BTW. Looks like those WTDs and their fittings were in pretty grim shape by 1930.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
Berengaria doesn't seem in good shape, but from what I've heard Leviathan seems to have been worse. However, as an American vessel she is not on the British records that I have got access to.

By 1937, my notes speak of repairs to the stern castings as the scraphs were leaking again. There are some other minor problems as well, but by this time constant electrical fires are breaking out and mechanical systems breaking down. When she was scrapped in 1938, it was more like necessity owing to her condition, not necessarily the economic outlook, it seems.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
Mark, correct me if I'm mistaken, but weren't electrical fires a problem with all of the ships of this class? I'm not sure where I saw it, but I seem to recall it was more then a passing nuisence on the Majestic too.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
If I recall, Leviathan was given new wiring in her refitting of 1922/23. Other than that, the other two retained their original one-way German wiring.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
One thought, though: I wonder whether any such event was anticipated before it happened? Leviathan was ageing, but her failure - even in heavyb seas - was horrific.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 5, 2001
2,358
248
338
Erik,

I was reviewing this thread recently and read your post:

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Actually I think you struck a gold mine. You may have just given me a key to a treasure chest that I didn't know exsisted.

I was wondering what the gold mine is?

smile.gif


Best,

Mark.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Similar threads

Similar threads