The Bow Porthole thing

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Cody Gentry

Member
Alright, alright. I could name, identify, and specify near to everything about Titanic and it's ill fated voyage, but there is one thing in all my years I have never been enlightened about and I have been WONDERING for years. I feared I would sound stupid for such a question, but here it is. What EXACTLY is the purpose of that bulbous hole just located at the top of the very front bow, at the VERY front of the ship?
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
It's a hole for the cable of the big central anchor, which can still be seen stowed on the foredeck. This anchor used a wire cable rather than chain and getting it ready for use involved threading the cable through the hole and hoisting the anchor out with the little crane on the foredeck. This would only be done in dire emergency and I wouldn't like to have to do it. The anchor weighed about 15 tons. I think the arrangement was unseamanlike.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>I think the arrangement was unseamanlike.<<

To say nothing of clumsy in the extreme. In a real emergency, I wouldn't bet any money that they would have had time to rig and deploy the thing.

One of my ships...the USS Comstock...was very nearly driven onto the rocks by high winds while at anchorage off the southern side of Grand Cayman Island. The only reason it didn't happen was because we had a second anchor which could be dropped as quickly as the deck gang could get out to the forecastle and release it.

No rigging needed.
 
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Alexander John Cooley

Guest
You can see a picture of the cable before it was reeled in sticking out of that very spot in Titanic The ship magnificent Vol 1. Which that book is really heavy so watch out my friend.
 
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Colin Renner

Member
Was that anchor tested in the sea trials, or used at any other time?
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
I can't find a specific reference to it being tested, though the side anchors were tested during sea trials. Given the lack of time and the complications of using the gear, I suspect it was never tested or used.

As usual, I'm open to correction.
 
Steven Hall

Steven Hall

Member
149713
 
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Adam Baxter

Member
Dave, Michael, Steve, et al.

I've been away from this forum for some time but upon returning and reading your post with regards to the 'central' anchor reminded me why I enjoy this place so much - the fountain of knowledge and attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
The 'Central Anchor' was deployed through that hole which is called a 'hawspipe'. It was possibly part of the ship's emergency ocean towing system. There would have been an extremely large (50mm dia.?) wire stowed on a giant reel under Titanic's forecastle head.
In an emergency, the wire would be deployed at first exactly the way Dave Gittings described. The towing vessel (usually another ship)would then pass his emergency towing wire or similar to Titanic.
Titanic's crew would attach the towing ship's tow-line to Titanic's anchor.
Titanic's bow crane would then lift the anchor over the side. The towing vessel would position herself ahead of Titanic and start winding in her tow line.
At the same time; Titanic would pay-out her wire with the anchor attached.

When the anchor was suspended approximately half-way between the two ships, all would be made fast ready for the tow. The anchor would act as a counter spring weight to the towing wire and prevent it becoming taught and breaking during bad weather when Titanic was under tow and the both vessels were pitching, rolling and heaving in a seaway.
The distance between the vessels would be upward of quarter of a mile.

In years to come, every British merchant ship carried one of these wires for that very purpose. They became known as 'Insurance Wires'.

Perhaps this shows what I mean:

Untitled copy2
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Colin,

You wrote:

"Was that anchor tested in the sea trials, or used at any other time?".

I understand Titanic anchored in Belfast Lough and also off the south of Ireland. At first to disembark non-essential personnel and the second time to embark passengers.

Such a test as actually deploying the anchors would not be carried out. It would have to have been a practical test and due to the varying quality of holding ground would not be realistic.

Anchors were normally subjected to a 'hammer test' by BoT inspectors at periodic intervals throughout the age of a ship. This consisted of suspending each anchor from a crane ashore or in drydock and hitting it all over with a heavy hammer. If the sound of the blows 'rang true' then the anchor was sound. A dull sound usually indicated a fracture in the metal casting.

Normally such tests would be carried out by the anchor manufacturer as would tests on the anchor chain manufacturer. Possibly, appropriate test certificates would have been issued.
 
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Colin Renner

Member
It's an interesting mental image! Almost comical! Lots of irish men banging away at the anchors with hammers. But anyway, Jim, you said that "A dull sound usually indicated a fracture in the metal casting". If that's the case would the people pull a liberty bell and try to fix it or send it back to the manufacturer to be melted back down and recycled?
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
" If that's the case would the people pull a liberty bell and try to fix it or send it back to the manufacturer to be melted back down and recycled?"

Has a certain 'ring of truth' to it!
 
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Colin Renner

Member
Oh-ha ha! I have a feeling that there will be a running gag for bells now.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
I would expect that the anchor would be replaced by one that was sound. The last thing a ship needs is a hook that might come apart on them for want of an adaquate repair job.
 
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