Stress Fracture Possibility Or Not

Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina

I'm glad I bought those books from Barnes and Noble to bone up on the more arcane aspects of Naval Architecture. It seems I'm going to need it.

Mark, are you referring to "Titanic, Safety, Speed, and Sacrifice?" I have that one myself. BTW, I think it was Hitchens who said that the bow had come around two points.

As to your experience in the boat, I believe you saw an example of "advance" which is the distance travelled by the ship's centre of gravity in the original direction of motion once the rudder is put over. The sideswipe theory so long in vogue doesn't account for this...and a lot of other hard facts about how ships handle...which is why we have such a problem with it.

David and Parks have put a lot on the line by making their theory public, and some of the resistance they encountered is not much of a surprise. Call me an optimist but IMO, I think it's going to win out in general terms if only because it's so easily demonstrated. Hell, all one has to do is read Knight's Modern Seamanship to understand what they are trying to say and I have.

Michael H. Standart
Jan 5, 2001
<FONT COLOR="ff0000">You seem to be up on the Olympic and Hawke thing. Is there any mention of Olympics wake catching up to her or the Hawkes wake catching up with her. This wake thing interests me. The more I mull over the idea of the stern hitting the ice shelf first the more I am intrigued by it. But the more I think it sounds foolish.

Not really a mention of the wake, but of suction.

I have got TSS&S.

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">I think I am getting it now. I meant to say that I realize that the water came up in Boiler Room 4. I am very interested in why you think the double bottom was so severly damage. I think that this could be key to both Capt Dave and my theory. I guess that is why I like it so much.

Well, several reasons I can explain in more detail later at some point. One consideration was the simple lack of feeling during impact, barely noticeable.

I had considered for one thing (and I am probably making a complete fool of myself saying this - as a landlubber!) the sheer momentum/mass of the ship's 50-52,000 displacement tons going 22 knots smashing the iceberg just transmitted so much energy, enough at least to lift the Washington monument itself fourteen times in one second, that if the double bottom was contacting the iceshelf/ledge it really took the punishment, absorbing the energy and crumpling all up (I haven't quite given this thought enough). When I say 'crumpling all up' I don't mean so literally, but in the sense of plates, longitudinals, etc. really deforming shape. This was so severe the double bottom didn't function as intended in a grounding by keeping the ship above dry, but did allow water above (through stress fracture, or whatever possibily). It absorbed energy and crumpled - perhaps like a crumple zone - making the impact seem to less severe to those in the ship not on the tanktop or in the boiler rooms in that area.


Best regards,


Erik Wood

Apr 10, 2001
Actually Dave Brown has come up with a crumple zone type of thing on his own. I have never really considered that force of the impact and the fact that it wasn't really felt. This is definitly something for me to be looking into. This is all very interesting.

At your conveinence I would appreicate any further problems you may have with my theory the way I explained it and any other thoughts that you may have.

Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
Mark, trust me, we're not laughing!

The energies you mentioned were known and discussed back in 1912 at the U.S. Senate investigation. The same thing happened to the QE2 back in 1992 when she ran over that submerged rock off of Martha's Vineyard. Hardly anyone noticed it at the point of collision except as rumbling and heavy vibrations. In fact, some of the passangers thought so little of it that they were more concerned about getting to the casino! Still, the grounding made a hell of a mess of the ship's bottom in the area of contact. Specifically, a series of intermittant gashes were found up to seventy four feet long and three inches wide between the bow and the midships section. (See page 161 of QE2 by Captain Ronald Warwick for these details.)

Michael H. Standart
Dec 4, 2000
In science, every hypothesis must be tested before it can be discarded. And, it is often necessary to test hypotheses that appear obviously false just to be sure that they are false. Occasionally, the truth is not intuitively obvious.

That's why I encourge serious discourse on ideas like the one proposed by Capt. Erik that the stern first touched the ice and not the bow. While there is no direct physical evidence of this...and the testimony is in apparent contradiction...we may learn something by testing Erik's most recent suggestion.

I have also been wondering about the possibility that the first hard impact was not up near the stem, but farther back on the hull. In fact, I've been considering the possibility that the hull grounded on the ice shelf under hold #3. If that happened, contact forward of this contact spot was likely sideways and above the turn of the bilge. Contact aft would have been primarily of a grounding nature with damage mostly to the bottom. The reason for this conjecture...and it is pure that I wanted to see if it were possible to create damage farther aft than has previously been suggested. This was an attempt to create an explanation of the flooding upward through the deck of boiler room #4 as a direct result of the accident. I am not "sold" on this hypothesis, but using it allows me to examine events from a new perspective. In the end, I believe I will still come back to a more conventional version of events, but with increased insight. Or, put a different way, even though this hypothesis is probably wrong, I will learn something.

Mark's discussion of the kinetic energy involved in a collision between Titanic and an iceberg echoes my thinking of almost four years ago while I was writing my book, "Last Log." There is no evidence...either in testimony or in the physical appearance of the wreck...that the topsides of the hull crumpled enough to absorb the energy involved in the traditional sideswipe collision. I started examining my own experiences in much smaller boats for parallels to explain the lack of damage to Titanic. At the time I was deliberately beaching a small echo-tour boat. Beaching, of course, is just an intentional grounding. And, the sounds and rumbling of those beachings were eerily reminiscent of testimony about Titanic's accident from survivors. Please check pages 80 to 100 of my book for full details as to why I believe Titanic's accident was primarily a grounding and not a sideswipe.

Grounding on the ice must have crumpled Titanic's double bottom. Evidence from groundings of QE2 and the Exxon Valdez gives us some indication of what must have happened to Titanic. Although I have never considered the double bottom as a "crumple zone," Mark is correct in saying that the bending and twisting of steel below the tank top would have lessened the sensation of impact felt by passengers to some extent.

-- David G. Brown

Cal Haines

Dec 2, 2000
Tucson, AZ USA
Hi Guys,

I think the explanation for the water in boiler room #4 is pretty simple: it came down from ABOVE! It only appeared to come up from below. Wheat saw water come DOWN the stairs into the Turkish bath, right above BR#4. That water probably started draining down into the bunkers, etc., and finally filled up the space under the floor plates, at which time it APPEARED to rise up from below.

I forget who the trimmer was who reports the water, but he left BR#4 about that time and went topside, finding most of the boats gone; this was pretty late in the day. Wheat saw the water in the Turkish bath earlier. There were waste pipes and probably steam pipes penetrating G-deck above #4. The water would have come down around them. Until the water rose above the plates they had no reason to be pumping the bilge in #4. The probably had the pump(s) in #4 working against the bilge main to help de-water forward. The engineers in #4 probably figured out what was happening pretty quickly, but for some reason forgot to tell the trimmer.

Jan 5, 2001
Well, I am glad I said that thought now! Regarding Erik's theory, I will do a post later. However, in this post I respond to one point.

David G. Brown wrote: <FONT COLOR="ff0000">There is no evidence...either in testimony or in the physical appearance of the wreck...that the topsides of the hull crumpled enough to absorb the energy involved in the traditional sideswipe collision.

I am not sure this will help or not, but Olympic's topsides' condition during the later stages of her life and how they coped is covered in my book. Please note that the below quote is almost verbatim from my book, and therefore if you did want to use such information, I will supply the actual wording of the survey.:


In fact, between 1926 and 1931 the condition of the areas was monitored; the port side showed ‘no apparent change’ in either 1927 or 1929 and even in 1930 there was not a great difference, despite the fact that the ship had been in service for four years on the hostile Atlantic and must have travelled over 300,000 miles since 1926, although it was apparent that the condition was slowly worsening. The starboard side was in somewhat better condition, despite being the first area of trouble detected; and in fact when it came to repair the ship, the vast majority of the affected areas only needed welding, about one-tenth being fitted with doublers.
On February 5th 1931 Surveyor Alfred J. Daniel wrote: ‘it is generally agreed that the material in the topsides is over-fatigued and whilst the repairs have certainly improved the structural strength…it is quite probable’ that further trouble would occur in severe weather conditions. In the event, there were no further problems. He wrote, ‘in the light of practical considerations derived from serious and extensive structural failure in the Majestic and Leviathan I do not anticipate any sudden disastrous failure…’ He recommended that her certificate be issued for only six months, but it was later extended for the full year when the repairs were found adequate. ‘It must be recognised that we have nothing parallel to this trouble in any but the largest vessels afloat,’ he noted; ‘…ship defects reveal themselves with age. The Mauretania, Aquitania and Berengaria are still standing up well to their work, but the first two are smaller than the Olympic and none of them has had such hard service… It is largely for this reason that the ship (Olympic) is the first to give trouble.’

Here it's worth noting that Olympic had had twenty years of virtually solid service. Aquitania was out of war service much of 1916 and nearly all 1917, if I remember; Berengaria was practically idle from 1914 to 1919 or 1920, I expect. Olympic carried over 200,000 people during the war service for example between 1915 and 1919, uninterrupted accept for refits, heavily loaded and driven hard, but Aquitania was the closest to her, at 145,000 - and Mauretania only did 80,000 people per Humphrey Jordan. Mauretania is really much smaller so not in the same class.

Best regards,


Erik Wood

Apr 10, 2001
Hey fellas,

The more I think about my new thoughts the more I dislike them. However, one of the good things about being underway is that you usually have a Chief Engineer with a Engineering and Naval Architecture degree from some academy. Which I do. He seems to agree with Marks thoughts on the double bottom as a crumple zone. I recall running the Holiday aground off Saint Lucia. I didn't even feel it. It wasn't until a flooding alarm went off and that I wasn't going any further that I realized I made a boo boo. Now we where going so slow that it didn't really cause any damage.

My Chief thinks that at 22 knots (he did some fancy computation that I couldn't understand) if the ship didn't have to run up on top of but just ran over a ice shelf it could probably take a majority of the double bottom completely off or rip large holes in it. It would depend on the strength of the steel as well as whether the tanks were full or empty. The way I see it Capt. Dave this is your chance to make a good argument for your thoughts that the ship was riding high.

Mark, how much fuel could be saved if she rode empty meaning no or very little ballast.

The bad thing is that he doesn't support my wake idea an exact quote would be " Woody where you smoking your crack pipe when you came up with that??" Needless to say the Chief and I are good buddies. He doesn't think there is enough time for the engines to stop the ship to slow down enough for the wake to catch up. That disheartens me but I will keep working on it.

So as of right now I am sticking with my orgianl theory not the one I made above.

The stern touching bottom first aids my cause but the research that I have had a chance to do just doesn't support it. I am going to keep trying. But the more I talk to myself and a couple of others the more I think the reason that Boiler Room 5 was spared was because of the pivot point. The second shudder that Hart and others describe must be the aft section of the ship coming across the underwater shelf. That will require further research which at the moment I don't have time to complete.

Looks like I was right about the weather (no thanks to NOAA or the Coast Guard Broadcasts) so this trip is over early (damn tropical storms always spoiling my fun). Looks like the company lost somemore money. On a more personal note. I have been getting a lot of flack from my officers because I plug in my laptop on the bridge so that I can email and talk to you folks. They say that I am "addicted". Call it what you want.

Jan 5, 2001
(Erik, just seen your above 1.58 p.m. post. I'll reply a bit after this one...)

Cal Wrote:

I think the explanation for the water in boiler room #4 is pretty simple: it came down from ABOVE! It only appeared to come up from below. Wheat saw water come DOWN the stairs into the Turkish bath, right above BR#4. That water probably started draining down into the bunkers, etc., and finally filled up the space under the floor plates, at which time it APPEARED to rise up from below.

I forget who the trimmer was who reports the water, but he left BR#4 about that time and went topside, finding most of the boats gone; this was pretty late in the day. Wheat saw the water in the Turkish bath earlier. There were waste pipes and probably steam pipes penetrating G-deck above #4. The water would have come down around them. Until the water rose above the plates they had no reason to be pumping the bilge in #4. The probably had the pump(s) in #4 working against the bilge main to help de-water forward. The engineers in #4 probably figured out what was happening pretty quickly, but for some reason forgot to tell the trimmer

Wheat said lots on the matter:


10868. Is your name Joseph Thomas Wheat? - Yes.
10869. Were you assistant Second Steward? - Yes, assistant Second Steward.
The Commissioner: Does that mean a second-class steward?
10870. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) Does that mean a second-class steward or not? - No.
10871. Just tell me who your superiors are in your own department? - The Chief Steward, the Second Steward, and the Purser.
10872. And you would come fourth, as it were? - Well, after the pursers; there are a number of them, quite a number of pursers abroad.
10873. You mean the purser rating, I see. Putting aside the purser rating, you have the chief steward and the second steward? - Yes.
10874. Was the chief steward saved? - No.
10875. Was the second steward saved? - No.
10876. At the time when the accident happened were you in your bunk? - No, just about to turn in.
10877. You were just going to turn in? - Yes.
10878. Did you hear the collision? - Yes, I heard a noise.
10879. As you judged it at, the time, what did you think it was? - Well, I thought she had cast one of her propeller blades. It sounded to me like that.
10880. Have you been on a ship where that has happened? - Yes.
10881. And you thought it was that? - Yes, I thought it was the same thing.
10882. We must find out where your room was? - On F deck down by the Turkish bath.
10883. Is it the port or starboard side? - Port side.
10884. I see "Turkish Bath Attendants" and I see "Second Steward" marked. Those are on the side of the ship? - Yes, on the outside.
10885. Then I see on the inside, "Two assistant second stewards"? - Yes.
10886. That is your room? - Yes.
10887. You had a mate in your room with you? - Yes.
10888. Was be in the room with you at the time? - Yes, he was in his bunk.
10889. You roused him, I think, did you not? - Yes.
10890. Did he get up and find out what was the matter? - Yes. I asked him if he had heard any noise, and he said "No."
10891. What deck did you go to? - To E deck.
10892. That would be the deck immediately above you? - Yes.
10893. And what did you learn when you got to E deck? - Well, I met the night watchman. I think his name was Johnson. He told she was making water badly forward.
10894. Was that man Johnson saved? - Yes.
10895. I think we have had him here as a witness; he is a Scotsman, is he not? - Yes.
10896. You met Johnson? - Yes.
10897. And he told you she was making water forward? - Yes.
10898. Did you go forward yourself? - Yes, I went forward myself.
10899. On the E deck? - Yes, forward on E deck.
10900. And what did you find when you went forward on the E deck? - I went down to the Post Office room, which is down on G. You will find a stairway leading from E down to the Post Office and baggage room.
10901. I want to trace this because I understand this is only a few minutes after the accident? - Ten minutes or a quarter of an hour.
10902. You were on E deck. You go forward? - Yes.
10903. And you go down as low as G deck? - Yes.
10904. Now will you tell me again which is the stairway by which you go down from E deck? - The first stairway leads down to the squash racquet court and then continues on down to the Post Office and baggage room.
10905. Is the stairway immediately aft of the squash racquet court? - No, forward of the squash racquet court.
10906. I thought forward of the squash racquet court was a bunker head? - When you go down to the squash racquet court you turn to the right to got to the squash racquet court.
10907. Is it the stairway which, when you got to G deck brings you close to the Post Office? - Yes
10908. You went down that stairway? - Yes.
10909. And you think it was about ten minutes or a quarter of an hour after you had felt the collision? - About that, I should think.
10910. Now will you tell us what you found when you got down to G deck? - I saw the mail men dragging bags of mail up, which I took to be the registered mail. The water was already on that deck.
10911. It was already on G deck? - Yes
10912. Did you get down to the actual level of G deck? - Yes, I was on G deck.
10913. You were standing there? - Yes.
10914. Was there water where you were standing? - No, it was just snaking up the stairs then, just making G deck.
10915. You mean coming up from below, the Orlop deck, to G? - Yes.
10916. Is there a stairway which goes down again from G deck to the below? - Yes, but that is behind those stairs. You turn round again to get down the stairs.
10917. I want you to tell us where you saw the water coming up as you say just making G deck? - It was almost flush with G deck when I got on it.
10918. Do you mean where this stairway is which leads down? - Yes.
The Solicitor-General: Your Lordship has that, no doubt.
The Commissioner: I have. This means that the water In this part of the boat had risen above the Orlop deck.
10919. (The Solicitor-General.) So I follow, at that part. Your Lordship observes this is the compartment of the ship which is immediately in front of the No. 6 section. No. 6 boiler section is the compartment next aft. (To the Witness.) Did you spend long enough there to se whether the water was rising rapidly or slowly? - Yes, it was rising rapidly.
10920. Did the water actually reach the deck you were standing on, G deck, while you were there? - Yes, it was just on G deck.
10921. Just reaching it? - Yes; it was over G deck before I left; it covered G deck.
10922. Then what did you do? Where did you go? - I went upstairs to E deck again and went down to F deck to close the bulkhead doors on F deck by the Turkish baths. There are two bulkhead doors there.
10923. And did you close them? - Yes.
10924. Did you do that alone, or did somebody help you? - I closed the inside one myself, and then to close the other we had to go on top and turn that one with a key. Mr. Dodd an Crosby, the Turkish bath attendant, helped me.
10925. Is Mr. Dodd the second steward? - Yes.
10926. Now we will first identify the two doors. They are on F deck, are they not? - Yes.
10927. I see just in line with the Turkish baths on my plan two watertight doors marked. One is a watertight door which is nearly amidships and the other is a watertight door more on the starboard side? - Well, they are both on the starboard side.
10928. Yes, they are; quite right. Which was the one you closed first? - The inside one.
10929. The one nearer amidships? - Yes.
10930. And that one you closed unaided? - Yes.
10931. Then did you pass at once to the other one which is on the outside? - Yes.
10932. And that one you were helped to close? - That was closed from E deck.
10933. It had to be closed from the deck above? - Yes, they are closed with a key.
10934. Did you go up to the deck above and help to close it? - Yes.
10935. Now at the time when you closed the first of those watertight doors on F deck, the one that you closed unaided, was there any water on F deck as far as you saw? - No.
10936. You told us you thought it was about 10 minutes or a quarter-of an hour before you went down and saw the water rising? - Yes.
10937. Could you give us some idea, how long after that was, or should you say that you closed these watertight doors by the Turkish baths? - I do not suppose it would be more than five or six minutes.
10938. Then you were a few minutes down looking at the water? - Yes.
10939. When you say you closed these doors, do you mean you did this out of your own idea? - Yes.
10940. Or had an order been given? - No, I did it on my own.
10941. As far as you know up to that time, had any order been given about closing watertight doors? - No. I heard none.
10942. What was the next thing after that? - After the bulkhead doors I proceeded up the stairs on to C deck. I had to pass D first, and before I got to C, Mr. McElroy was looking over the banisters.
10943. Is Mr. McElroy the purser? - Yes. He saw me coming and told me to get the men up and get all lifebelts and all passengers.
10944. What do you mean by getting the men up? - Most of them were down below at the time.
10945. By the men, do you mean the crew? - Yes, our own department.
10946. You would be one of the superiors responsible for a lot of the stewards? - Yes.
10947. You were to got them up? - Yes.
10948. Did you pass the word round? - Yes.
10949. You went to the stewards quarters? - Yes.
10950. And gave these orders? - Yes.
10951. And did the stewards turn out? - Yes, they seemed nearly all out when I got down there.
10952. They were nearly all out already? - Yes.
10953. What was the next thing? - They were all round the decks getting the lifebelts on the passengers, and getting warm clothing on them, which took, I should think, about half-an-hour. Then we got the word to put all women and children on to A deck on the port side.
10954. I want to get it in order. At some time you returned to your own room, did you not? - Yes, that may have been before I went to the glory holes. .
10955. Try and get it in order for me, because I think you saw some water when you went to your own room? - That was later on.
10956. Very well, tell it us in the right order. - It was I think, about ten minutes or a quarter to 1 when I got the order from Mr. McElroy again to get all the men to the boats - to their stations.
10956a. That is all your stewards? - Yes.
10957. Did you that order along? - Yes, for as many men as I could see there; and then I went down below again and went down to my own quarters. I think you will find there were about six or eight rooms down our quarters, the Turkish bath attendants.
10958. There is a cluster of rooms on F deck there? - Yes. I went and saw if all the people were out of those rooms first, and as I was coming up there was water running down off E deck on to F deck down our section.
10959. Water running down off E deck to F deck? - Yes.
10960. That is, from the higher to the lower? - It had come from E deck and was running down on to F.
10961. Can you tell us where it was you found this water falling from E deck to F deck? - It was running down the stairway.
10962. Is that the stairway near your quarters? - Yes, the only stairway down there.
10963. (The Commissioner.) In great quantities? - No, not very much.
The Solicitor-General: Let us be sure I have the stairway which you are speaking of.
The Commissioner: Is he saying there was water running from D to E deck?
The Solicitor-General: No, my Lord, he has not said so yet; and I do not think he says so at all.
The Commissioner: From E to F?
The Solicitor-General: Yes. Your Lordship has the plan of E and F deck.
The Commissioner: I have.
The Solicitor-General: Will your Lordship look at the plan of F deck at the place where his own quarters were. It is the room marked "Assistant Second Steward." Now, next to that, immediately level with that is a stairway.
The Commissioner: Yes, going up to E deck.
10964. (The Solicitor-General.) If you trace it on the corresponding plan of E deck you see it again. (To the Witness.) Was that stairway which is opposite your quarters where the water was coming down? - Yes.
The Commissioner: Then it was it coming down from E deck towards F deck down the stairway?
The Solicitor-General: Yes.
The Commissioner: But not in quantities?
10965. (The Solicitor-General.) I want to see what he says. (To the Witness.) Was there a stream of water, or was it merely trickling? - It was more than trickling, and it was not exactly a stream. It was more than trickling, though.
10966. Was it continuing to fall? - Yes.
10967. When you were there? - Yes.
10968. (The Commissioner.) What time was this? - I should think it would be about a quarter or ten minutes to 1.
10969. A little more than an hour after the collision? - Yes, about an hour, I should think.
10970. (The Solicitor-General.) Supposing the watertight doors in F deck had been shut, as you shut the two you know about , this water could not have come back along F deck , could it? - No.
10971. But of course there are no watertight doors on E deck? - There is one right forward on E deck alleyway.
10972. There is one? - Yes.
10973. But the bulkheads as a whole do not go up to E deck? - No.
Sir Robert Finlay: I think two bulkheads do go up to E deck.
10974. (The Solicitor-General.) In a sense you are right, and in a sense, I am right. What I mean is you cannot, on E deck, shut the door. I said the bulkheads do not come up to E deck. What I meant was, the top of the bulkhead is the floor of E deck? - You mean of the F deck bulkheads?
10975. I want you to help us about the water. You saw water that was apparently coming from E deck and falling down the stairway into F? - Yes.
10976. But you did not find water backing along F deck? - No.
10977. There are watertight doors on F deck, and you had shut two of them yourself? - Yes, I thought the water had come up the stairway leading down to the Post Office, and then ran along E deck, and then down on to F.
10978. And, of course, if the watertight doors on F deck forward of that had not been closed then water could have made its way along F deck, and would not have had to mount the E deck, and then return to F deck? -Yes, it would.
The Commissioner: Is the suggested explanation that F deck, forward of the watertight doors which he had shut were by this time full of water, and that the water had risen up to E deck, Is that the idea?
The Solicitor-General: That is the idea, my Lord.
The Witness: No, my Lord; in the section forward of the bulkheads where I shut the doors, I do not think there was water there at all.
10979. Then we are agreed. Where did the water come from, that you saw falling down the stairway between E deck and F deck? - I think that had come from the Post Office stairway.
10980. (The Solicitor-General.) That is right forward? - Yes, and there is no bulkhead between the stairway and those stairs on E deck.
10981. I want to follow your idea; I think I do. You had already seen water in the stairway by the Post Office? - Yes.
10982. And that is on G deck? - Yes.
10983. And is there a stairway which mounts from that place near the Squash Racquet Court up to F deck, and from there up to E deck? - Yes.
10984. And assuming that the water rose high enough, is there anything there to prevent it from rising as high as E deck? - No.
10985. But supposing that the water rose there as far as F deck, it could not run aft on F deck, because you had closed the watertight doors? - It would come up the stairway. But the watertight doors are not near the Post Office.
10986. I know they are not? - The watertight doors are further aft.
10987. I quite follow? - There is nothing to stop the water from coming up to F deck.
10988. What I want to see is why it did not come along F deck? - Because the bulkheads were there.
10989. Because of the bulkheads, and because the watertight doors in the bulkheads were shut? - Yes, but there are no bulkheads forward by the Post Office.
10990. No, but there is a bulkhead between the place where the post office is and where your quarters are? - Yes, there are two bulkheads:
The Solicitor-General: I think your Lordship's suggestion is the one the witness means to make.
The Commissioner: What is that?
The Solicitor-General: That the water did rise in that stairway till it got to E deck, and that it then passed aft and fell into F deck.
The Commissioner: That is what he means?
10992. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes. (To the Witness.) You saw this water coming down from E to F. Were you there long enough to be able to tell us whether it was increasing in flow, or whether it was coming the same as it started? - No, I did not wait to see.
10993. You were only there a minute or two, I suppose? - Yes.
10994. Did you find any people in the quarters you had gone to search, or had they all left? - They had all left.
10995. They had all turned out? -Yes.
10996. And did you return then to F deck? - Yes, to the working alley way.
10997. And did you go up this stairway, down which this water was coming? - No, I went further aft than that.
10998. You went further aft, and then went up another stairway? - Yes, I came up the stairs out of my room; water was coming there, but that was different from F deck, and then went through the emergency door on to F deck, the working alleyway. You will find "Emergency Door" right at the top of the stairs.
10999. We do. Was that emergency door open or closed? - Open.
11000. So that you did, if I follow you rightly, mount the stairs down which this water was coming? - Oh, yes.
11001. Then, when you got to E deck, the top of these stairs, you could tell whether the water was coming in along E deck or not? - Yes.
11002. Was it? - It was coming from forward.
11003. From forward, along E deck? - Yes.
11004. Was it coming along that working alleyway? - No.
11005. Then where was it coming? - From the starboard side. The working alleyway was quite dry.
11006. (The Commissioner.) Was there a list by this time? - No, I did not notice any list.
11007. (The Solicitor-General.) I want to trace that water. You saw it coming from forward, aft? - Yes.
11007a. The passage way which runs across? - Yes.
11008. Along, not the working alleyway, but the other alleyway, that is, on the starboard side? - Yes.
11009. And then in order to fall down those stairs, it would have to turn a corner, would it not? - Yes.
11010. The passage way which runs across? - Yes.
11011. And then fall down those stairs? - Yes.
11012. When you got up to E deck was there a continuous stream of water doing that? - Yes, but it was not very much.
11013. (The Commissioner.) Give we an idea of quantity, because I do not know what "very much" means? - Well, it would cover the stairs; just enough to cover them,
11014. Do you mean to may &frac12; of an inch or something like that? - Yes, something like that.
11015. And was it going down the stairs quickly, or merely trickling down? - No, it was running rather quickly.
11016. (The Solicitor-General.) You came up those stairs? - Yes.
11017. Give us an idea in this way; you must have met something? - Yes.
11018. Did it go over the top of you boots? - Not over the tops of my boots; over my instep.
The Commissioner: Where was he when the water came over his boots?
The Solicitor-General: He mounts up the stairs down which the water is coming.
The Commissioner: Yes.
11019. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) Is that where the water reached up to your instep? - Yes.
11020. (The Commissioner.) Not up the stairs? - Coming up the stairs, yes.
11021. That is a good deal more than &frac12; of an inch; do you mean to say that the water on the stairs trickling down or coming down the stairs was so deep that it reached up to the top of your boots? - No, I did not say that.
11022. I thought you said it came over your instep? - It had run from the top of the stairs over the tops of my boots.
11023. (The Solicitor-General.) Do not use that word instep, because different people mean different things by it. Take the ordinary heel of an ordinary boot. You were probably wearing heels? - Yes.
11024. Would it come to the top of the heel? - About the top of the heel of my boot.
The Commissioner: I am sorry to trouble you, but when you have finished asking questions, will you explain to me what you understand his evidence to mean, with a pointer on that plan.
The Solicitor-General: Yes, my Lord: I will do my best. I think I can do it up to this point now, if your Lordship desires.
The Commissioner: Well, it will assist me if you will do that, if you will take the pointer and point me out on the plan the locality of the watertight doors that were closed, and then show me in what direction he means to indicate the water was coming.
The Solicitor-General: I see here, marked on the plan "Squash Racquet," and your Lordship see there is a stair (pointing to the plan on the wall.)
The Commissioner: Tell me what deck you are pointing to.
11025. (The Solicitor-General.) I will. Your Lordship sees there is a stairway indicated by a number of ticks . I am now putting the end of this pointer on the level of the Orlop deck. As I follow the witness, that is the lowest deck to which he went in his description. He says he saw water rising in this compartment at that point up those stairs. (To the Witness.) Is that right? - Yes.
The Commissioner: Climbing up those stairs?
11026. (The Solicitor-General.) Mounting up those stairs. He had come to it, so he says, from his room, by coming down a couple of flights of stairs down here. He says the water was rising as he stood there, and that it reached as far as G deck. (To the Witness.) Is that right? - Yes.
The Solicitor-General: That is to say it ran up to that point while he was standing there.
The Commissioner: What deck is that?
The Solicitor-General: That is G deck.
The Commissioner: That is the deck above the Orlop deck?
The Solicitor-General: Yes. Then he says be went on his own motion aft in order to shut two watertight doors which are on F deck, that is to say, which shut off this space. The watertight doors, as I follow, are somewhere back here.
The Commissioner: Which is the bulkhead in which they are placed?
The Solicitor-General: I think it is this bulkhead, and I think it will be found, if my friends are following on this plan, that that is the place.
11027. (The Commissioner - To the Witness.) Can you follow this plan? - I cannot see where the bulkheads are. (The position was indicated to the Witness.)? - Yes, I think it will be there.
11028. (The Solicitor-General.) there is a first-class entrance immediately after? - Yes, it is just forward of the first-class entrance.
11029. Then he came back along F deck to the point where the pointer is now, and the thing he shuts is a thing which in this diagram is marked with a thick black line. He shuts two of them, and then he says after that there were these orders given.
The Commissioner: Where does that bulkhead stop?
The Solicitor-General: That is the top of it, so that the floor above him, as your Lordship sees, is E deck, and the floor on which he would be standing when he shuts the doors is F deck.
The Commissioner: Yes.
The Solicitor-General: Then he says after some orders he returns to his own quarters, which are on the other side of the ship, and when he got to his own quarters, which are on F deck, he found that water was falling down the stairway, which led from E deck to F deck. Perhaps the witness will tell me whereabouts the stairway would be.
The Commissioner: I do not quite understand where that water came from that was coming down the stairs. How did it get up?
The Solicitor-General: It was coming from E deck. What I understand the witness to have said is, that he thinks that it the water, which he had observed coming from the Orlop deck to G deck, continued to mount up that staircase there up to F deck, and then up to E deck, there would be nothing to prevent it running along E deck and falling down that stairway which led to F deck.
The Commissioner: I see. Then the forward part of the ship, forward of the bulkhead in which he closed the watertight doors, must have been full of water at that time. Is that so, Sir John?
11030. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) Would that be so, do you think? - There is another partition between the mail room and the bulkheads that I closed. That has no bulkhead doors at all; it is just plain.
The Commissioner: Take D bulkhead, marked on the F deck. If you trace that D bulkhead upwards towards the port side of the ship, you come to the watertight door.
The Solicitor-General: Yes, my Lord.
The Commissioner: Was that shut or open?
The Solicitor-General: I do not know at all. I do not know whether the witness can tell.
The Commissioner: If that was shut, then, as I understand, water would not get into the space E and F on that deck; but if it was open, then the water would come into both those spaces.
The Solicitor-General: Might I just ask Mr. Wheat to look at the plan?
11031. (The Commissioner.) Then it would come into the space between D and E, and then mount and get on to E deck and begin trickling down the stairs. (To the Witness.) Had she ever a list to starboard, as far as you know? - No, my Lord.
The Attorney-General: There has been no evidence of that yet.
The Commissioner: Because I do not understand the alleyway on the port side being dry.
11032. (The Solicitor-General.) I might ask him this to clear it up. (To the Witness.) You have evidently the design of the thing in your head. As far as you know supposing that water began to rise in that alleyway that you spoke of near the mail room, is there anything to stop it from rising from the Orlop deck to G, from G to F, and from F to E.
11033. It is merely a question of whether there is sufficient water to rise? - Yes.
11034. Is there any watertight door that could be shut to prevent that? - No.
11035. So, as far as the stairway is concerned, it is open for the water to rise. Is there anything which would prevent water, if it got into the stairway on F deck from running aft on the F deck? - Yes, there is an iron bulkhead there.
11036. (The Commissioner.) Is that the bulkhead in which there are no doors? - Yes. We have no doors. I do not know whether there are any doors down below, but there are none in our department.
11037. (The Solicitor-General.) None on F deck? - No.
11038. So that it is a continuous partition at that point? - Yes, as far as our deck is concerned.
The Commissioner: I do not know, Sir Robert, whether you could explain it.
Sir Robert Finlay: I understand that what the witness suggests is that the water rose forward of this bulkhead D till it got to the level of E deck. It could not get through this bulkhead, therefore it rose vertically till it got to E deck, and then ran along E deck and then down.
The Commissioner: I understand that, but does not it follow from that, that all the part of the ship which was forward of the point where the water was rising was full of water?
Sir Robert Finlay: Not necessarily all, my Lord; it is highly probable.
The Commissioner: I do not see what part of it could not be full.
Sir Robert Finlay: What I mean is, if the water was coming in forward of this bulkhead, getting into that division, it would rise.
The Commissioner: As I suggest?
Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, and then over the top of the bulkhead, along E, and down the staircase.
The Commissioner: And that is what I understand him to mean.
Sir Robert Finlay: That is my impression.
The Commissioner: Whether it is right or not, I do not know. I think you are right in a way. I mean, it does not follow that the forward compartments were necessarily full, although no doubt they would be it the vessel was holed at that part.
Sir Robert Finlay: Exactly.
The Commissioner: If she had a tear right along, opening those parts, those parts would be full as well.
Sir Robert Finlay: They would be full on their own account, so to speak. I think the evidence does show she was ripped up; at least it suggests so far, that there was a rip up on the starboard side for a very considerable way.
The Commissioner: Yes, and right from forward, along.
Sir Robert Finlay: From forward. The same thing would in all probability have been going on the forward compartments.
The Commissioner: Yes.
Sir Robert Finlay: What the witness describes would have taken place even if this compartment only had been open.
The Commissioner: Yes, I think I understand it now.
11039. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) Have you a copy of the plan before you? - Yes.
11040. Look at the plan of F deck for a moment, will you? - Yes.
11041. Will you look at where "Squash Racquet Court" is marked? - Yes.
11042. Now, I think the stairway which you are talking about is a stairway on the starboard side of that squash racquet court? - Yes the starboard side.
11043. Now, what I would like you to explain, if you will, is this: Imagine yourself on F deck, standing on F deck at that point. Is there any watertight door at that level? - No.
11044. At that place? - No.
11045. It is a solid bulkhead without any openings in it? - There in an opening for the stairway to go down.
11046. Apart from the stairway? - There is nothing else.
11047. Just look at the plan for a moment, because I cannot help seeing in that line, just a little an the port side, "W. T. D."
The Commissioner: That is the one I was asking about.
11048. (The Solicitor-General.) That is what I want to follow - on the port side of the squash racquet court? - That would be in the third-class; either the third-class or one of the fidleys.
11049. It is marked in our plan as being between the squash racket court and the place "Linen"? - There is no bulkhead door down the squash racket court.
11050. You know all about it, and we want to know about it? - There is no bulkhead door there.
11051. "W. T. D." is marked here (pointing on the plan)? - That must be the other side of the bulkhead. There is nothing down there.
The Solicitor-General: Sir Robert has suggested to me on the large plan what appears to be the true explanation. I am still speaking of bulkhead D, as shown on the plan of deck F. If one carries one's eye along that bulkhead, from starboard to port side, it runs for a distance straight across the ship, and then it takes a right-angled turn and runs a little to the rear of the squash racquet court.
The Commissioner: Yes, then it turns back again.
The Solicitor-General: It turns back again, and it turns back again under the stairs.
The Commissioner: That is to say, those stairs indicated close to the word "Squash" are really stairs which start from this F level and mount up to the E level, so that the bulkhead runs under those stairs at the side.
Sir Robert Finlay: At the side?
The Solicitor-General: At the side and then under them.
Sir Robert Finlay: Immediately aft of the stairs.
The Solicitor-General: Immediately aft of them, and then takes a turn under them when those stairs have reached the next deck.
Sir Robert Finlay: Yes, that is to say, on the port side of the stairs.
The Solicitor-General: Then, still tracing out the bulkhead. Immediately following that there is a watertight door shown. which Sir Robert thinks must have been shut, and I gather it is a watertight door which would normally separate the third-class from the first-class?
The Witness: No.
The Commissioner: You notice there is a watertight door also in the bulkhead that starts from C?
The Solicitor-General: There is, my Lord, in the same line, according to this plan.
The Commissioner: Therefore you have a watertight door which, if opened, would have let the water into the space between C and D, and you have another watertight door which if opened would have let the water into the space between D and E?
The Solicitor-General: Yes. Where this theory breaks down is, that the witness does not take the view that there is a watertight door there.
The Commissioner: Do you mean down by the Squash Racquet Court?
11052. Yes, There is no watertight, door there.
The Commissioner: Which is right, the witness or the plan?
11053. (The Solicitor-General.) We can only take the witness for the moment. (To the Witness.) Supposing you were coming up by those stairs from G deck round the side of the Squash Racquet Court, mounting up; you know those stairs which are immediately on the after side of the Squash Racquet Court, you see them there on the plan.? - Yes.
11054. Supposing that you had got on F deck there, not up the stairs but on F deck - let me show you where I mean (indicating the position on the small plan.)
Sir Robert Finlay: My Lord, we have a larger plan here. I do not know whether you Lordship would like to look at it.
The Commissioner: I think I should. (Sir Robert Finlay handed the plan and explained it to the Commissioner.)
The Attorney-General: Is your Lordship satisfied?
The Commissioner: I think I know where the bulkhead door is. There is a door in the bulkhead at the bottom of the ship. There is none in the Orlop deck. The bulkhead as it rises into the Orlop deck has no doorway. When
the bulkhead rises on to G deck it has no doorway in it at all; but when it rises on to F deck it has this doorway which you find in the plan in the D bulkhead by the linen room.
The Attorney-General: Between the linen room and the squash racquet court on the port side.
The Commissioner: Yes. Now that is the first open passage that there is in that bulkhead, after of course you leave the automatic door in the bottom of the ship. The door at the bottom of the ship would have been closed when the button was pressed?
The Attorney-General: Certainly.
The Commissioner: And you would have had then, with this particular bulkhead, a complete wall from the bottom of the ship, until you come to that watertight door which is by the linen closet?
The Attorney-General: Yes.
The Commissioner: And it that was shut - we do not know yet whether it was shut or not - we would have to get the water over the top of the bulkhead?
Sir Robert Finlay: That is it.
The Commissioner: In order that the water should find its way to the place where he saw it trickling down?
The Attorney-General: That is right.
11055. (The Solicitor-General - To the Witness.) You were a first-class steward? - Yes.
11056. You had nothing to do with the third-class? - No.
11057. Forward of this bulkhead, my Lord has been speaking about, it is third-class, is it not, on tile port side? - On A deck?
11058. On F deck? - I do not know of any door.
11059. I am not asking about any door. I say forward of the bulkhead is third-class? - Yes.
11060. Then you know nothing about that? - No.
11061. Your business is aft of that? - Yes.
11062. Whether there is a watertight door there or not, was there at that time when you were there any opening there? - No.
11063. You are sure of that? - Yes.
The Solicitor-General: I think your Lordship will find the watertight door shut from the third-class side.
The Commissioner: If there was no opening there it means the door was shut.
11064. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes, it is the same thing. (To the Witness.) When you got up on to E deck did you see anything of any third-class passengers? - There were a few there, five or six, I should say.
11065. Where were they coming from? - They were coming from forward aft.
11066. Were they men? - Yes
11067. Were the carrying their baggage with them? - They were carrying and dragging boxes and bags.
11068. Were they making their way aft towards the top deck? - Towards aft.
11069. Tell us shortly where you went? - From E deck up on to B deck up the service stairs.
11070. Tell us what happened there? - There I met Mr. Latimer an the B deck.
11071. He is your chief - the Chief Steward? - Yes, and he had - his big coat on with a life belt over it, and I told him to take his big coat off and put the lifebelt under it or his big coat would be no use to him. Then I went along forward and up the forward stairway up on to the boat deck and there I saw they were just filling No. 9 boat, starboard.
The Solicitor-General: I do not think we have heard anything about No. 9.
The Commissioner: I think this will a convenient time to adjourn.

The British report concluded:


No. 4 boiler-room. - One hour and 40 minutes after collision water was coming in forward, in No. 4 boiler-room, from underneath the floor in the forward part, in small quantities. The men remained in that stokehold till ordered on deck.

Dillon said:


3794. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) Having gone into No. 4 boiler room, did you go back through the open watertight doors, or what did you do then? - I did nothing then; I just knocked about.
3795. You afterwards went on deck? - Yes.
3796. How did you go up? Did you go back through the way you had come? - Yes, through the engine-room.
3797. And when you went back those watertight doors were still open, were they? - Yes.
3798. (The Commissioner.) Were you ordered to open those doors? - Yes.
3799. By whom? - The chief engineer.
3800. And what did you open them for? - To allow the engineers to get forward to their duties, the valves and the pumps.
3801. Then am I to understand that the order had come from the bridge to close all the watertight doors, and that they were closed, and that afterwards the chief engineer ordered you to open the doors? - Yes, my Lord.
The Attorney-General: What he said was that they were closed automatically from the bridge.
The Commissioner: Yes, he said they were ordered to be closed from the bridge; they were in fact closed from the bridge
The Attorney-General: Yes, my Lord.
The Commissioner: And although they were closed from the bridge you, under the orders of the chief engineer, opened them? - Yes, my Lord.
3803. Sufficiently to allow you to get under the door? - Yes, my Lord.
Mr. Laing: They have to be released from the bridge; they have to telephone to the bridge and get the catch or clutch on the bridge released so as to allow them to be opened.
3804. (The Commissioner.) That is so, is it? You could only open them with the concurrence of the people on the bridge? - We opened them by hand.
3805. It is suggested to me - I do not know how it is - that you cannot open them by hand unless some catch or something of the kind is operated on the bridge to allow you to do so.
The Attorney-General: That would be done by the chief engineer; he would telephone up, I expect.
The Commissioner: The chief engineer would probably telephone up and get the man on the bridge to work the apparatus so that these doors could be opened.
3806. (Mr. Raymond Asquith.) You have told us that you came back through those watertight compartments again to the engine-room. Did you remain in the engine-room some little time? - No.
3807. What did you do then? - We got the order, "All hands on deck; put your life-preservers on."
3808. Was there a clock in the engine-room? - Yes.
3809. Did you notice what time it was you got that order? - I noticed the clock, but I did not take any particular notice what time it was. The clock was put back about 20 minutes, I think.
3810. Can you give us any idea of how long it was after the ship had struck that you got the order to go on deck? - Yes.
3811. About how long was it? - An hour and 40 minutes.
3812. That would make it about 1 o'clock? - No.
3813. After that - a quarter past one? - Yes.
3814. Did you go up on to the boat deck? - No.
3815. Where did you go? - I kept on the well deck.
3816. Did you see any water before you went up in any of the boiler rooms or the engine-room? - Yes, there was water coming in forward.
3817. The furthest point forward you reached was No. 4 boiler section? - Yes.
3818. Was it coming in there? - Yes.
3819. Where was it coming in? - Coming from underneath.
3820. From underneath the floor? - Yes.
3821. And from what part of the floor, the forward part or the after part? - The forward part.
3822. Did it come in large quantities or only small quantities? - Small quantities.
3823. Was there any depth of water standing on the floor? - No.
3824. Do you mean the floor was just damp? - That is all.
3825. And it seemed to be coming through the floor? - Yes.
3826. Did you see any coming through the side of the ship at all? - I never noticed.
3827. Was there any water anywhere else in any other sections? - No.
3828. Then you got this order about a quarter past one and you went up on deck; you say the well deck. Did you see any passengers on the well deck? - Yes.

Cavell said:


4248. When you got back to No. 4, do you remember hearing an order being given? - Yes.
4249. What was it? - Draw fires.
4250. Is that any part of a trimmer's work as a rule? - In an emergency.
4251. In an emergency you would do it, of course? - Yes.
4252. And did you lend a hand to draw the fires in No. 4? - Yes.
4253. And were they drawn? - Partly drawn.
4254. What would there be - 30 furnaces? - Yes.
4255. Were the firemen there helping to draw, too? - Yes.
4256. You say they were only partly drawn? - Yes.
4257. What happened then? - The water started coming up over her stokehold plates.
4258. In No. 4? - Yes.
4259. Did that happen gradually or did it happen suddenly? - It came gradually.
4260. The water - you moved your hand, you raised it; did it seem to come up from below? - Yes.
4261. As far as you saw in No. 4, did any water come in from the side of the ship? - Not so far as I saw.
4262. When the water came up through the plates what was done then? - We stopped as long as we could.
4263. That is right? - And then I thought to myself it was time I went to the escape ladder.
4264. They were still drawing the fires, these men, were they? - Yes.
4265. How high did the water get above the plates they were standing on? How much water were they standing in before they left? - About a foot.
4266. Working up to their knees? - Yes.
4267. Scraping the cinders out? - Yes.
4268. Just one other thing. When you were in No. 4 , as you have described, did you see anything of the engineers coming in through the emergency door behind? - No.
4269. You did not notice that? - No.
4270. Through the watertight door? - No.
4271. You know what I am referring to, Cavell, do not you? - Yes.
4272. There was a watertight door behind and a watertight door before you? - Yes.
4273. As far as you knew, and as far as you observed, was the watertight door which was abaft of you raised at all? - No, Sir.
4274. Not as far as you know? - No, Sir.
4275. Of course, there would be a lot of steam in No. 4, would not there? - Yes.
The Commissioner: Are you suggesting that the door was open?
The Solicitor-General: My Lord, we have evidence that it was. The last witness said he opened it.
The Commissioner: Which door are you talking about? You are talking about the door between 4 and 5?
The Solicitor-General: I was not, my Lord, with great respect. If I said No. 5 I made a mistake. I said there were two doors, one in front of him, and one behind him
The Commissioner: The one in front of him was not open.
4276. (The Solicitor-General.) I know, my Lord. I wanted to draw his attention to the difference. (To the Witness.) Just to be quite clear, I am talking, you know, about the one? - Through the passage between the bars.
4277. As far as you know that was not opened when you were there? - I cannot say that.
4278. (The Commissioner.) You mean to say that you do not know? - I do not know.
The Commissioner: That is all it comes to.
4279. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes, my Lord. (To the Witness.) There would be a lot of steam, would not there? - There would.
4280. And were all the men there working as fast as they could? - Yes.

Page 108

4281. This watertight door is in a sort of tunnel, is it not? - Yes.
4282. You say you worked as long as you could, and then you came up the emergency ladder? - Yes.
4283. Where did you go? - I came down again.
4284. What, down into No. 4 again? - Yes.
4285. Why did you do that? - Because I could see nobody about in the alleyway.
4286. (The Commissioner.) Why did you go back? - I thought it was all right, my Lord.
4287. (The Solicitor-General.) You got up again as far as the alleyway; you found nobody in the alleyway; you thought it was all right and went down again? - Yes.
4288. Did anybody else do that with you? - No.
4289. When you came down again from the alleyway to No. 4, were there any other men in No. 4, or had they all gone? - I could not see any.
4290. Was the water the same height, or was it still rising? - I could not say. I never went right to the bottom.
4291. Then you came down, and I suppose you went up again? - Yes.
4292. When you got into the alleyway where did you go? - I went along on to the boat deck.


What I am really asking is two questions which will allow us to establish the water’s entry into boiler room 4:

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">A) How long would it take water to seep through from above, where Wheat observed it?
B) Could it be possible that water was coming from above and below?

Regarding A), if you refer to the earlier report about Britannic’s condition, I stated the following which is a similar purpose:


4. I believe, aside from the starboard explosion damage being the prime cause of the list, that the subsequent water on E-deck, for example, of course remained on the starboard side but seeped below decks gradually, and as the portholes went further under and water pressure increased, with the ship listing 20 degrees or so to starboard the water will of course accumulate there and perhaps worsen the list…
…………… 7. As we know the engines were re-started at 8.45 a.m. as Captain Bartlett still believed the ship could be beached, I believe that the foredecks were still above water, otherwise it would be obvious he was driving the ship underwater. This tells us that the forward six watertight compartments still weren't completely flooded, but it would be good for further research to tell us the effect of water accumuating, for example, along E-deck starboard/forward.

By the latter part of the remark, I am making one point that although plentiful water was likely on decks E and F, to starboard, it could not have got into the boiler rooms in significant quantities or the engineers would surely have stopped the engines, which were going full ahead and continued revolving even after the bow had gone well underwater.

Best regards,

Jan 5, 2001
<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Mark, how much fuel could be saved if she rode empty meaning no or very little ballast.

Well, to be quite honest it is hard to compute. White Star didn’t have any such figure that I know of, but I believe it could have saved quite a bit of fuel by not having the full ballast (I believe 5,700 tons ballast could be carried) — that’s quite a saving. Olympic sailed heavily loaded during her war service and needed 347,000 tons of coal for 184,000 miles = 1.89 tons of coal per mile. Assuming she made an average of 22 knots, then this is much higher than figures for her peacetime service; you are aware that I am of the personal opinion that there was a plentiful supply of coal on Titanic, and the figures I have are stated in my book, viz. (assuming normal service conditions):


I hope this is of use. I give a very detailed explanation in my appendix stating why I believe she had plenty of coal, occupying five full A4 pages, much in small print. Unfortunately, it would be hard to state all here.

Best regards,


Erik Wood

Apr 10, 2001

Where can I get your book?? I would love to purchase it. Let me know and I will buy it gladly. I wonder why you think Titanic was loaded with coal. I assume by what you said you mean she carried a full compliment of coal. Or do you mean that she had more the enough to comoplete the voyage??

Somemore thoughts on the whole subject will be forth coming this afternoon as soon as I get to my hotel.

Jan 5, 2001
<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Where can I get your book?? I would love to purchase it. Let me know and I will buy it gladly. I wonder why you think Titanic was loaded with coal. I assume by what you said you mean she carried a full compliment of coal. Or do you mean that she had more the enough to comoplete the voyage??

Well, it's finished but I am still waiting for the publisher to give the go-ahead. After that point, I do not know how long it will take. Perhaps sometime next year, I really don't know as yet.

I know she didn't carry a full complement of coal. Her maximum capacity as I understand it was 7,350 tons including reserves. She carried 5,892 tons, which was NEARLY 20% MORE THAN OLYMPIC HAD. I'll only give my assumptions briefly.

To start with, Olympic burned 3,540 tons of coal on her entire maiden trip out of the 4,800 tons or so carried - arriving with 1,300 tons in reserve. It is unfortunate to give her as a comparison but she is the closest.

1,880 tons from Belfast and 4,427 tons from Southampton vessels were in Titanic's bunkers when she sailed; 6,307 tons. (THEREFORE HER MAIN BUNKERS ARE FULL AND THE RESERVE BUNKER ONLY HAS ANY FREE SPACE.) Taking away the 415 tons she used in port gives 5,892 tons when she departed, as Clarke noted. Therefore I reject the figure of 5,400 tons when she departed and 4,900 tons available to burn. Rather, assuming a 10% reserve gives 5,303 tons of coal available to burn. Recalling Olympic's consumption, going at the SAME RATE AS OLYMPIC SHE WOULD HAVE ARRIVED IN NEW YORK WITH 1,763 TONS OF COAL REMAINING - AN AMPLE RESERVE. Therefore I do not believe there was a lack of coal. Rather, all White Star's figures point to the opposite and Bruce Ismay himself said there was two days worth of coal if they had reached New York; Ismay said there was a plentiful coal supply, EVEN though he was trying to dispel the rumour that the ship had been proceeding hell-bent across the ocean. It was in Ismay's interest to say there had been a coal shortage if indeed there had been - but he says the opposite. Hardly a good idea, especially if it wasn't true. Lightoller whitewashed it, and wasn't questioned as it was known the ship had departed right after the coal strike.

I explain it in detail in the appendice in my book, but here gives a few ideas.

In addition, using White Star's own consumption figures I have worked-out that the maximum possible burn could have been 4,843 tons, still leaving an ample reserve - 1,049 tons. The table is thus:


Best regards,

Dec 4, 2000
Two ideas are being discussed with which I have some involvement.

First the ballast/speed run. My thoughts on this are based on the chicanery still performed to boost the apparent speed of new vessels. Titanic's load was deliberately kept low for the trip by carrying a minimal amount of fuel (more on this later), cargo, and passengers. The speed run planned for Monday was really a publicity stunt and not any sort of attempt to set a record. On Sunday the engineers brought the required boilers on line and, in my unsupported opinion, reduced ballast throughout the ship to whatever minimal amount was felt safe. If I am right about the "stunt" planned for Monday, they would also have trimmed the ship higher by the bow than is normal.

A "light" ship trimmed bow-high that has a rising Titanic...would be ideally suited for running aground at high speed. No matter where the first impact occurred, the steel bottom would strike at a small angle. Because of the shallow angle, the bottom would tend to slide and rise over the underwater obstacle rather than crash against it. And, there was lots of water around to act as a lubricant. This all adds up to the rather extraordinarily soft impact of the 22+ knot accident.

As far as the speed stunt goes, I believe (but cannot prove) that the plan was to run for one hour at an engine RPM that would give 24+ knots. I am guessing the speed run would have begun with a whistle blast so that the rich and famous could time the event with their own pocket watches. One hour later, there would have been a second whistle blast. The taffrail log would have been read at the instant of both blasts, probably by one or two wealthy gentlemen invited by Captain Smith specifically for the task.

Here's where the stunt borders on charlatanism. Titanic was heading west, so was steaming into a current with a nominal speed of about 1.5 knots. The taffrail log would have recorded both the distance the ship steamed through the water during the hour test and the distance the current moved in that same hour. In effect, the reading would be a combined result of the ship's speed and the current. Let's do some hypothetical math:

Ship Speed 24.5 knots
Current + 1.5 knots

Log Speed 26.0 knots

Looks like Titanic was just as fast as Mauretania, doesn't it? And, that's just what the rich men who participated in the reading of the log would have told reporters in New York. How could anyone argue with J.J. Astor if he said, "We did 26 knots, I measured the speed myself." And, what newspaper would not have printed such an exciting quote?

The truth, of course, is exactly the opposite. Titanic's actual speed over the ground would have been slowed by the current:

Ship's Speed 24.5 knots
Current - 1.5 knots

Real Speed 23.0 knots

The beauty part of this stunt is that Bruce Ismay/White Star would never have had to lie about Titanic's speed. The rich and famous would have done the lying for the company. Astor and the others would probably never have known they had been duped. And, newspapers then (as now) have never been known to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Now, regarding the fuel -- Titanic had plenty for the maiden voyage as planned at departure. This includes Monday's speed stunt. Somewhere along the line, however, things got out of hand. My guess is that Bruce Ismay did not understand the mathematics of the stunt and began to believe that Titanic really could do 26 knots. The proof of that is the Monday, April 15, 1912 edition of the New York times in which a shipping announcement says that Titanic would arrive at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday April 16. To make that arrival time good, the ship would have had to maintain roughly 26 knots from "the corner" where it departed the great circle route for the rhumb line to New York.

(Question: If Bruce Ismay did not cause the paper to publish that arrival time, who did? The previously published arrival time had been a day later, on Wednesday.)

Aside from the fact that the ship could not have achieved Mauretania's speed, just trying to make New York by Tuesday afternoon would have burned coal at a prodigious rate. Fuel use by ships is not linear. It goes up almost geometrically. That's why I believe Captain Smith was concerned about the amount of coal aboard Titanic. He had plenty to make the voyage as planned...but not to perform circus stunts.

Smith had another concern. A short burst of high RPMs would probably have done little harm to the engines. Sustained running at more than their "red line" would have been another story. High speed has always meant quick death for engines. Ismay was apparently a bit of an autocrat, but Smith was an expert at handling his irascible boss. The captain knew that a direct confrontation was to be avoided. (Telling Ismay that he was nuts about making 26 knots was not the proper way to handle that man.) Instead, Smith would have created a reason for slowing down...and the ship's known light load of coal was plausible. I can almost hear Smith saying, "We can't make New York at this speed, we'll have to check 'er back."

-- David G. Brown
Jan 5, 2001
The following detail may be of use when discussing Titanic’s proposed speed. According to a letter by Superintendent Engineer Blake to Messrs Ismay, Imrie & Co., 30 James Street Liverpool, written at Southampton Docks and dated July 6th 1911, which accompanied Chief Engineer Bell’s report of Olympic’s performance;


The cracks in the (engine) bedplate are nothing of a serious nature, and the American Line had the same experience with the ‘Philadelphia.’ Similar patches to those we are putting on now were fitted and no trouble has since been experienced, nor have the cracks extended.

Might not these modifications have been added to Titanic before her maiden voyage, if the attempt was really to be made, in addition to re-worked propellers?

Bell also noted that the boilers and engines ‘worked very well’ without trouble at all, while the boiler room telegraphs worked satisfactorily, the reciprocating engines specifically performing ‘exceptionally well’ and the turbine not giving ‘the slightest trouble’ at all. In fact, according to his report much of the whole new ship’s equipment, telegraphs, watertight doors, electric engine, refrigerating space, etc., were ‘exceptionally good.’

One point, David, is which source states the current was 1.5 knots? Indications I have seem to give a maximum of one-knot, although I have seen the 1.5 knot figure cited several times.

Best regards,

Jan 5, 2001
BTW, regarding the framing of Lusitania’s hull, does anybody have the figures for — the thickness of the hull plating; the distance apart of the framing (at bow, stern, amidships) and stress in tons per square inch on her bridge deck sheer strake? Just one point I was thinking about, as well as examining Olympic’s structure recently.
Dec 4, 2000
Mark -- I've used the maximum current speed that is generally accepted as possible. That "cooks" the numbers a bit, I admit. However, my numbers are just for illustration and not reality. I'm just trying to point out how Ismay could have accomplished a publicity coup using a ship that was demonstrably slower than its competition. I suspect that the "real" numbers would have been lower, but still close enough to the magic 26 knots for Ismay's purpose.

I admit that I am delving into the unrecorded motivations of a dead man. There can be no absolute proof of the validity of my assumptions (or their falseness) because Ismay cannot speak from his grave. So, I am resorting to a Sherlock Holmes technique. At one point the great detective advised Dr. Watson that when all of the logical possibilities have been removed, what remains -- no matter how illogical -- must be the truth.

Ismay probably did want Titanic to be faster than Olympic on its maiden voyage. And, I'm sure the same would have been true of Britannic vs Titanic. It is still common among even ferry operators to want their newest purchase to be the "biggest, best, and fastest." However, there was no profit motive in being faster than Olympic. The public really would not have cared, since the fastest of the White Star ships was still no better than the third fastest North Atlantic liner. And, it was physically impossible for Titanic to have won the Blue Ribband. So, what remained for Ismay to accomplish?

Engine bed cracks are never minor. Even if repaired, they are always considered "suspect" by surveyors and insurers. The suspicion does not lie in the cracks themselves, but in the underlying reasons for the cracks. Something was under-engineered or improperly built. And, that something is probably still at work on the overall fabric of the ship. Will it show up next year...or never? Since there is no way of knowing the answer, even repaired cracks remain suspicious for the life of the vessel.

-- David G. Brown
Jan 5, 2001
<FONT COLOR="ff0000">I'm just trying to point out how Ismay could have accomplished a publicity coup using a ship that was demonstrably slower than its competition.

Yes, I realise that. As for the 4 p.m. arrival notice, that has always puzzled me as it could surely have only been sent from the ship - and by Ismay seems a plausible idea, as you pointed out.

Taking the ship *roughly* 1,080 miles from New York at 11.40, perhaps a bit further, means that if she maintained 23.25 knots over the ground (the maximum I think can be taken), she would have got to New York in about 46.5 hours = 10.30 Tuesday = 8.40 Tuesday, if New York time was really 1hr 50 min behind, as judging by the wireless logs. The exact time is really irrelevant for this discussion, but as you pointed out 26 knots would have been needed to get in at 4 p.m. Tuesday., impossible for Titanic to maintain.

<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Engine bed cracks are never minor. Even if repaired, they are always considered "suspect" by surveyors and insurers. The suspicion does not lie in the cracks themselves, but in the underlying reasons for the cracks. Something was under-engineered or improperly built. And, that something is probably still at work on the overall fabric of the ship. Will it show up next year...or never? Since there is no way of knowing the answer, even repaired cracks remain suspicious for the life of the vessel.

Well, all I can say in the company's defence is that the Superintendent Engineer did not seem too concerned (his letter went into more detail about the piping system and praise for the ship). As far as I know the cracks did not re-appear, but it seems that the bedplates, once patched, were also strengthened; I presume this would have prevented/eliminated the defect. To my knowledge nothing happened in Titanic or Britannic. I can well understand the worry in what had caused the cracks, as the underlying cause might never show as you said.

Best regards,

Dec 4, 2000
Mark -- Something about cracks that slide rule engineers (as opposed to operating blokes) don't like to face is that cracks may be a ship's way of taking its correct shape. I've known vessels on which repairs could not be made permanent. Yet, the structure was more than strong enough for the job. Not being a slide rule type, I'm not competent to say why this occurs, just that I have seen it.

Having done surveys of smaller vessels, however, I read the information about Olympic in a different light. The job of a surveyor is to point out problems, but not to put an otherwise safe vessel on the beach. Often, this requires a careful use of language that discloses the problem without setting off unnecessary alarms. My "take" on the recorded information regarding Olympic is that the hull was still in serviceable condition, but showing its age.

Olympic's hull was probably not what condemned the ship, but rather its Edwardian interior. This is material for another thread, but the concept of a highly class structured vessel based on immigrants was blown apart by World War I and the closing of the American frontier in 1919. Olympic's accommodations were built for a lifestyle that did not exist in the age of flappers, jazz, movies, and women smoking.

-- David G. Brown
Jan 5, 2001
<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Olympic's hull was probably not what condemned the ship, but rather its Edwardian interior. This is material for another thread, but the concept of a highly class structured vessel based on immigrants was blown apart by World War I and the closing of the American frontier in 1919. Olympic's accommodations were built for a lifestyle that did not exist in the age of flappers, jazz, movies, and women smoking.

I agree with the hull being good condition. Thomas Ward noted it was 'excellent' in 1936, twenty-six years after launch. I think it was really the depression and lack of traffic that did her and even some newer ships in; even in March 1935 she was insured for another year for &pound;740,000 - I think her planned cruising schedule was just cancelled for that reason, as Aquitania came back in that very month with 170 passengers.
Jan 5, 2001

I’ll be on a research trip sometime next week, when I’ll likely have the chance to look further into Olympic’s repair records. Is there anything specific you can think of which might help with your theory? If so, then I’ll look if I am able to, but I can’t promise anything. I’m also checking the records of Aquitania and Berengaria (the former I may write a work on, a very great liner) so should get some more good info. Unfortunately, with present circumstances I am having to limit my trips. Fortunately, I don’t work again till September 10th 2001. Petrol costing nearly &pound;4 a gallon (about $6 or $7 roughly?) doesn’t help either.

Best regards,


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