Stairs for boarding


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Tracey McIntire

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I just saw a Titanic model at the "Titanic Science" exhibit in Richmond, VA. It had a small set of stairs on the hull on the starboard side of the ship under the wing bridge at about E deck level. It looks like these might have been removable stairs for boarding purposes--perhaps to let the pilot on board? I've never seen them depicted on any other model or drawing of Titanic. Can anyone shed any light on what they were?

Thank you!
Tracey M.
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Tracy,

The device you describe is an 'accommodation ladder', so called because it served the accommodation rather than the weather decks.

The rigging of an accommodation ladder would be too cumbersome a process solely to embark a pilot; pilots usually passed via a vertical pilot ladder (what else!) suspended from some entrance convenient for the bridge.

Normally access to the vessel was by level gangways from the passenger terminals or from tenders but when a vessel was alongside an open quay or was put out to the buoys it became necessary to rig an accommodation ladder; in the latter case to facilitate embarkation from small boats or sometimes from pontoons which were brought alongside to embark passengers and work baggage etc. As described, your accommodation ladder seems to serve the third class entrance below the bridge wing.

A prerequisite would be that the entrance was provided with a bracket below the shell door; there would also have to be a davit to take the trimming purchase at some point further aft above the free end. These should show up on a detailed profile/rig plan. (In ships with considerable deadweight capacity it was also necessary to trim the ladder to the prevailing freeboard. There were extension lengths which could be fitted if she was 'flying light'.

The ladder as you describe it would presumably be worked by the forward deck crane(s). There must have been some provision for stowing it in the welldeck when not in use. This should show up on a detailed general arrangement plan. Obviously it could be rigged either port or starboard.

There should be some photographic evidence about, showing accommodation ladders in use, at this or other entrances.

In modern ships, accommodation ladders are designed with patent self-trimming treads and when trimmed level they can be secured for passage in a recess along the ship's side at embarkation level.

Noel
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Per the BOT final report, page 17--

Accommodation Ladder.--One teak accommodation ladder was provided, and could be worked on either side of the ship in the gangway door opposite the second class entrance on the upper deck (E). It had a folding platform and portable stanchions, hand rope, etc. The ladder extended to within 3 ft. 6 in. of the vessel's light draft, and was stowed overhead in the entrance abreast the forward second class main staircase. Its lower end was arranged so as to be raised and lowered from a davit immediately above.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Tracey McIntire

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Thank you, David and Noel! I guess most model makers do not choose to depict the ladder. I'll have to take a look at some photos to see if I can see it--perhaps some of Father Browne's.

Tracey M.
 
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