The Gangway Door on D-Deck


Derek Gullon

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Hey folks, been a long while since I've had the moments to check in,and and very happy to have found so much new information to sift through.

I do have one question with respect to the models we have re the foundering; How much effect would the gangway doors being open have on the flooding and final condition of Titanic? As per M. Lightoller's testimony in New York;

"Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Earlier, and before I realized that there was any danger, I told off the boatswain to take some men - I didn't say how many, leaving the man to use his own judgment, to go down below and open the gangway doors in order that some boats could come alongside and be filled to their utmost capacity. He complied with the order,

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and, so far as I know, went down below, and I did not see him afterwards. That took away a number of men, and we detailed two men for each boat and two men for lowering down."
- extracted from US Inquiry

And second,somewhat unrelated, was there a door from the passageways within the fourth funnel to the outside world? And if so, where was it located?
 

Arun Vajpey

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I have read that the gangway door on D-deck (starboard side?) was opened sometime after the collision to assist passenger loading into lifeboats, but never used. So does that mean it was left open and later forgotten about in the general confusion? If so, how much would that large opening contributed to accelerated flooding of the Titanic in terms of time after the sea reached the lip of the doorway?
 

Charles

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It was the door on the port side and this was open very late in the sinking. Lifeboat No. 6 passed that door when lowered and no one ever mentioned it!
No much effect on the sinking.

Yea it looked kinda weird... The realistic real time Honor and Glory sinking though cleared it though.
 

Robby House

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Was it opened "late in the sinking?" My research shows that the port side D-Deck gangway door was opened to assist Lifeboat 6 as it descended down the falls to the sea. Lifeboat 6 was reportedly the 2nd boat to make contact with the sea on that side of the ship which, relatively speaking was early on. There were still 6 regular lifeboats to be lowered as well as the two port side collapsible boats. (No. 8 was the 1st portside boat launched then 4 which was lowered to A Deck where it remained for a while eventually watching No. 6 actually become the 2nd boat to make it down before resuming being lowered just beating No. 2 lifeboat to the water.) To my knowledge no survivor testimony exists from the survivors of No. 6 recording having received help from crew members working from the Gangway door so if there was a problem from earlier it had gotten resolved by the time they passed the doorway. It's likely that when No. 6 Lifeboat became level with the D-Deck Gangway door there was still several feet, maybe even a couple yards from the door and sea level. Such uneventfulness could have been a factor behind the lack of anything noteworthy mentioned about the door during the sinking.

The portside D-Deck Gangway door opening has long interested my curiosity as to how it contributed to Titanic's foundering. Many seem to discount any significance the opening contributed to the flooding on board. I've always figured that with the original damage to Titanic's hull calculated at around 12 square feet, surely the ingress of water this doorway would eventually allow inside could easily match that if not surpass it!

Ingress into the port side from this location could also help to explain how the ship eventually erases it's starboard list and develop[s a pronounced list to port before sinking.


It was the door on the port side and this was open very late in the sinking. Lifeboat No. 6 passed that door when lowered and no one ever mentioned it!
No much effect on the sinking.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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The portside D-Deck Gangway door opening has long interested my curiosity as to how it contributed to Titanic's foundering. Many seem to discount any significance the opening contributed to the flooding on board. I've always figured that with the original damage to Titanic's hull calculated at around 12 square feet, surely the ingress of water this doorway would eventually allow inside could easily match that if not surpass it!
I have thought on the same lines. I am not certain at what time that door was opened but from what I have read I thought that it might be around 01:00 am, which is not 'very late'. As regards the effect the open door had on the sinking, I am certain that the original ice damage was more than enough to cause the Titanic to sink anyway and the gangway door would have made no difference in that eventuality. But what I'd be interested in knowing is whether the sudden increase in the rate of flooding through that door played any part in the time the ship took to sink; in other words by what time factor, if any, did that open gangway door accelerate the sinking process?

Most people seem to dismiss the role that open door could have played but I am not totally convinced.
 
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Was it opened "late in the sinking?" My research shows that the port side D-Deck gangway door was opened to assist Lifeboat 6 as it descended down the falls to the sea.
To my knowledge no survivor testimony exists from the survivors of No. 6 recording having received help from crew members working from the Gangway door so if there was a problem from earlier it had gotten resolved by the time they passed the doorway. It's likely that when No. 6 Lifeboat became level with the D-Deck Gangway door there was still several feet, maybe even a couple yards from the door and sea level.


If that was the case then no one in No. 6 ever mentioned it?No orders to Hichens and Fleet about stopping on D Deck, no orders to the crew lowering the boat to stop it there, no one in the boat every mentioned a open door or any order.
Lightoller was clear that the order he gave was to open the E Deck Gangway door forward on the port side.

Lifeboat 6 was reportedly the 2nd boat to make contact with the sea on that side of the ship which, relatively speaking was early on. There were still 6 regular lifeboats to be lowered as well as the two port side collapsible boats. (No. 8 was the 1st portside boat launched then 4 which was lowered to A Deck where it remained for a while eventually watching No. 6 actually become the 2nd boat to make it down before resuming being lowered just beating No. 2 lifeboat to the water.)

Boat No. 4 was planned to be the first one to be loaded and launched. It was lowered to A Deck but it could not be loaded from there as the windows were still closed.
No. 6 was loaded and launched as the first one on the port side (I do not see how boat No. 8 was loaded and lowered before No. 6. No. 6 was lowered while the ship had a list to starboard, No. 8 with a list to port).


The port side D-Deck Gangway door opening has long interested my curiosity as to how it contributed to Titanic's foundering.

No much effect. The water inside was about level when the door was at water lever. (There were no pressure differences.)


Ingress into the port side from this location could also help to explain how the ship eventually erases it's starboard list and develop[s a pronounced list to port before sinking.

The list to port had been already present before the water ever reached the open door.
 

Charles

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did that open gangway door accelerate the sinking process?

Since the Titanic had already taken a port list before as Ioannis said, the port list would've been effected, but yes, much more water would've entered in the ship at an angle.

this was open very late in the sinking. Lifeboat No. 6 passed that door when lowered and no one ever mentioned it

It is true that there are no survivors to mention the D Deck Entry open, but Lightoller also didn't mean the E Deck door either. He said he simply wanted any Gangway door opened. So maybe after checking E Deck, the Boatswain probably headed aft for the D Deck doors, which probably also gave away. By the time the D Deck door wouldve been opened, it was probably 1:25
 
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It is true that there are no survivors to mention the D Deck Entry open, but Lightoller also didn't mean the E Deck door either. He said he simply wanted any Gangway door opened.

Lightoller was speaking about E Deck.

13902. About where you are pointing now? - Yes, there are two doors one above and one below on the starboard side, but there is only one on E deck on the port side. The other gangway doors are here.
13903. In the afterpart? - Yes.
13903a. What deck do those gangway doors open from? - E deck.
13904. Were your orders general, or did they refer to one set of gangway doors in particular? - General.
13907. If the boat was down by the head, the opening of those doors on E deck in the forward part of the ship would open her very close to the water, would it not? - Yes.
13908. When you gave the order, had you got in mind that the ship was tending to go down by the head, or had not you yet noticed it? - I cannot say that I had noticed it particularly.
13909. Of course, you know now the water was rising up to E deck? - Yes, of course it was.
13916. (The Solicitor-General.) As a matter of accuracy, is that open on to the floor of E deck or d deck? - E deck.
13917. (Sir Robert Finlay.) I am told there is also a gangway on D deck forward? - On the starboard side.

I do not give much what he wrote in his biography years later however there he mentioned "and open the port lower-deck gangway door, which was abreast of No. 2 hatch.”
 

Charles

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I should've researched that up before about his Inquiry testimony- but here's this


*NEW THEORY


At around 12:40 AM, the water line outside was almost under E Deck. Inside, water is trickling through the very front stairwell near the bostwick gate at the front. Boatswain Alfred Nichols and his seamen open the door, not knowing that the door is partially submerged. Water wades in and steerage passengers around panic and race up Scotland road on the other side, which is beginning to flood because of the water. Seaman John Poingdestre notices that the wall in his cabin collapses and he rushes out of the cabin to go back up.
Boatswain Alfred Nichols and the other seamen attempt to close the door but cannot due to the force of water that happened to come in. The first few lifeboats (7 to 6) leave as the water becomes up to the group's waist. They wade through the water to port as the port list becomes noticeable and as boat 8 leaves. At about the same time, Lead Fireman Fredrick Barrett gets into Scotland Road as Boiler Room 5 is engulfed.
As Nichols and the seamen group begin up Scotland road, the water comes up their shoulders and paddle until they reach the grand staircase on E Deck. The water is shallow here since the water is trickling down to F Deck.

-The end is probably a little after 1:30 AM, about the time the name on the bow was submerged and the forward well deck was flooding. As the boatswain was on D Deck Reception on the port side, he and the seamen must've been out of breath, and once they got their breath back, opened the door, and retreated out of the sight of Lightoller

This may be to over dramatic, but it's the only theory to explain why they were never seen again and the E Deck AND D Deck door was opened.
 
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Nichols was reported by other survivors (I think Barrett mentioned him in a newspaper interview at the Boat Deck when he got into No. 13 on A Deck). There are reports of ABs working on the last collapsible so it is very unlikely "they were never seen again". I think it is like the same myth that the engineers and stokers died at their post (Scott saw about 8 of the engineers on deck and Dillon mentioned Bell himself too).

The E Deck door was most likely never opened. I have not seen any evidence which speak for it that it was open. By the time Nichols and his men went on E Deck, there was already water there. Lightoller stated he send them down when he was working at boat No. 6.

13906. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) Can you help us when it was that you gave this order to the boatswain? I mean, can you give it us by reference to boats. Was it before you had lowered No. 4 to the a deck or after? - I think it was after and whilst I was working at No. 6 boat.

That was after the order to fill the boats was given. Poingdestre had the experience with the flooding of his room much earlier as when he returned on deck he heard the order given to fill the boats.

2874. Where did you go to then? - I was going up on to the boat deck to go towards my own boat, and I heard the Captain pass the remark, "Start putting the women and children in the boats," and then I went to my boat, No. 12.
 

Arun Vajpey

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It depends on how many survivors other than Lightoller heard when ( and if) the Second Officer gave the order to "Big Neck" Nicholls and his men to go and open the D-Deck gangway door. Can the comments that "they were never seen again" actually mean that Lightoller never saw them again? Lightoller pretty much remained on the forward port side of the boat deck and perhaps did not venture below B-deck afterwards. If that was the case, it is possible that he did not notice that Nichols and the others were back on the boat decks but others, like Barrett, did. If they were helping out elsewhere, Lightoller might have missed them in the general confusion and later assumed that they were lost in the vicinity of the D-door gangway door.
 

Charles

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Lightoller stated he send them down when he was working at boat No. 6.

Okay, so that means that this scenario happened at about 1:10 AM, which makes more sense now.

Can the comments that "they were never seen again" actually mean that Lightoller never saw them again?

Thats exactly what I was thinking.

this was open very late in the sinking

I know I am late on quoting your post, but if it was so late, then who opened the door? Also, the water would've reached the door by 1:40


I just realized that Dorothy Gibson saw water on the F Deck landing of the Grand Staircase on her way up. She got off in Lifeboat 7.

I dont have a theory any more.... :p
 

Arun Vajpey

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Here is an article I wrote a while back.

Whatever Happened to Big Neck Nichols?
I read that article a few weeks ago and found it interesting because I have always wondered what really happened to Nichols and his men. Based on the information available, I am trying to reconstruct the scenario but a few things have to be considered first in my opinion.
  • Lightoller was "working on" Lifeboat #6 when he is supposed to have given that order to Nichols to go down and open the gangway door on D-deck on the port side. Even if #6 was launched at 1:10 am, Lightoller would have started working on it several minutes earlier - instructing the crew what to do, fitting it to the davits, supervising passengers boarding etc. Therefore, depending on at what stage he gave the order to Nichols, this could have been at 01:05 or even a few minutes earlier.
  • The same thing would be true with Nichols and Lifeboat #1. When Symons saw him helping Murdoch to 'direct operations' with #1, it might have been as early as 12:55 am. Considering that there was some delay with the boarding and launching of that cutter, this is very likely. Therefore, Nichols would have time to be in the vicinity of #1 on the starboard side at around 12:55 am (and be seen by Symons) and then be taking orders from Lightoller near #6 on the port side some 10 minutes later.
  • Most importantly, did Lightoller know the identities of the six (if that is the right number) men that Nichols took with him to open the D-deck gangway door? Given the situation at the time, I would have thought this unlikely. Nichols probably picked 6 men he knew at random and went below to carry out the order. If that was the case, how did Lightoller know that he never saw any of them again? Or, if that that was the conjecture made at the enquiry, how could they have known? One or more of those six sailors could easily have been working right alongside Lightoller later on and he would not have been any wiser. It is just that he probably did not see Nichols again, perfectly understandable in the increasing noise and confusion that must have been prevalent on the boat deck after 01:15 am. Also, Lightoller was around that time still undecided about launching of Lifeboat #4 and so might have been going to A-deck to check, I which case it would have been quite easy to miss Nichols if the latter was helping out elsewhere.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Continuing from above B-rad, I respectfully question your interpretation of quoted statements made by other crewmen about Nichols' whereabouts in your article.

Symons: With regard to launching of Lifeboat #3 at 12:55 am, Symons merely said that he was acting on the instructions of Murdoch and Nichols regarding assisting passengers into the boat. If that boat was launched at 12:55 am, those instructions must have been given before they started loading the boat, probably sometime between 12:45 and 12:50 am. That does not mean that Symons was stating that he actually saw Nichols when #3 was launched at 12:55 am; it would have been 5 to 10 minutes earlier.
Continuing from the above conjecture, Nichols would have had time to go to #1 after he had gone those instructions and started to assist Murdoch around 12:52 to 12:53 am. Symons would have dome likewise a few minutes later after loading of # 3 was completed and this time seen Nichols with Murdoch. That would have been just before 01:00 hours, and Murdoch made the decision to lower the still underfilled # 1 while Nichols went over to the port side, where he met Lightoller working on #6 and ordered Nichols to open the D-deck Gangway doors. These timeframes might seem small but in an escalating situation like the one they crew of the Titanic by then found themselves in, people tend to multitask very quickly and often quite correctly.

Johnstone: With regard to Johnstone's statement about Nichols' instruction to keep an eye on the star, yes, I believe it could have happened before #2 was launched, probably several minutes before. That is why Boxhall does not mention the boatswain, probably because the Fourth Officer was (as you say) busy firing the distress rockets at the time and went to # 2 only after Nichols had left the scene. Johnstone does not appear to say that he saw Nichols near # 2 when it was launched, another factor that suggests that the star order must have come earlier, probably as much as 10 minutes earlier.

Barrett / "Mr Harvey": Barrett on the other hand, states (at the US enquiry) that when he got to the boat deck, a lifeboat (#13) was hanging by the davits and the boatswain ordered him onto the boat to pull an oar. Barrett complied and #13 was launched almost immediately, around 01:40. Barrett therefore told the US Enquiry definitely saw Nichols near #13 just before it was launched but did not mention the man at the British hearing. I do not know the reason but we have to consider the fact that the US Enquiry was held immediately after the survivors reached New York with little or no time for Corporate embellishment. But for the British Investigation several days later on the other hand.........

Beuchamp: I don't think his statements regarding launching of #13 are relevant to Nichols' whereabouts and his eventual fate. Beauchamp was on the boat deck with the "unknown officer" (Murdoch? Wilde? Moody?) to whom even Barrett alluded to. But Barrett clearly states that he knew Nichols and had sailed with him before.

Littlejohn: I agree that Littlejohn would have known Nichols by sight but as you say, if the former was on the boat deck early on during the loading of (mostly 1st Class) passengers into #13, he would not have known that Nichols was on A-deck where Barrett saw him at the time of the lifeboat's launching, by which time lots of 3rd Class passengers had got in too.

Rule: This is the statement that makes things slightly awkward. Since # 15 was launched so soon after #13, one has to assume that the "someone" giving orders on A-deck to fill #15 was in fact Boatswain Nichols. As Rule was also on the Olympic, one assumes that he should have known Nichols by sight, but is it possible that being a bathroom steward on a huge ship with loads of crew, he was not familiar with the boatswain? It is unlikely but possible. But Rule does say that the officer on the boat deck was Murdoch, who gave the "order from above" to lower away. In that case, we have to assume that Fireman Beauchamp did not know Murdoch; Barrett, although he knew the First Officer, could not see him from his vantage point on A-deck and in the noise probably failed to identify Murdoch's Scottish accent. The other possibility is that the "unknown officer" was in fact Moody (Reginald Lee's statement).

Based on all this, my own conjecture of Alfred Nichols' movements and whereabouts are as follows:
  • 12:45 ~ 12:50 am: Nichols sees Symons, instructs the Lookout to help with the loading of Lifeboat #3 and himself goes forward towards Lifeboat #1 to help Murdoch. #3 launched at 12:55 am.
  • 12:55 ~ 01:00 am: Having completed helping with loading of #3 as instructed, Symons too arrives at #1 to see Nichols working with Murdoch. Symons probably took Nichols' place while the latter crossed over to the port side to the vicinity of Lifeboat #6, arriving there a few minutes after 01:00 am. Around 01:05 Lightoller instructs Nichols to take 6 men and go to D-deck and open the gangway door on the port side. Lightoller launches #6 at 01:10 am.
  • 1:10 am: Nichols has picked his men and they go down to D-deck and open the Gangway door. That would be accomplished by 01:15 am, at which time the sea was still some way below lower lip of the doorway. Since they were not told to wait there, Nichols and the others make their way back to the boat deck. By then Lightoller, having completed launching of #6, had probably gone down to A-deck to check on proceedings with Lifeboat #4, and so Nichols does not see him.
  • 01:20 ~ 1:30 am: Nichols and his six men disperse, helping out wherever required in the gradually increasing melee. At some point Nichols encounters Johnstone and (probably) learning that the latter was ordered to Lifeboat #2, issues the "star order". Then Nichols proceeds to the starboard side aft and after assessing the situation, decides to go down to A-deck level to help out with the loading of Lifeboat #13.
  • 01:30 ~ 01:40 am: #13 is being loaded initially from the boat deck by Murdoch or Moody with Beuchamp helping out. Littlejohn is also there. After some First Class passengers are loaded, the boat is lowered to A-deck where Nichols supervises loading of a lot of Third Class passengers. Barrett arrives just as the loading is complete and Nichols orders the Leading Fireman into the boat and 'take an oar'. In the general crowded confusion Littlejohn, already in the lifeboat, does not notice that Nichols is directing operations on the boat deck. #13 is launched at 01:40 am.
  • 01:40 ~ 01:45 am: The officer on the boat deck aft on the starboard side (Moody or Murdoch) had started loading Lifeboat #15 immediately afterwards, with Rule as one of the crew helping. Rule does not recognise the officer, who tells him to go down to A-deck to help to load more people from there. Rule complies and upon arrival on A-deck sees Nichols (but does not know him by sight) now sending out scouts to find women and children to load into #15 when it is lowered onto the A-deck. This is done rapidly and #15 is lowered at 01:45 am, almost on top of the struggling #13 on the water.
  • 01:45 am: Meanwhile, Johnstone, who received the 'star order' from Nichols some 10 minutes earlier, is in #6 just as Boxhall arrives to take charge of the boat. #6 is launched at 01:45 am.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Sorry people, there are 2 embarrassing typo errors above:

01:30 ~ 01:40: I meant Littlejohn does not notice that Nichols, whom he knows by sight, is directing operations on the A-deck.
01:45:
I meant Boxhall arrives to take charge of #2 of course.
 

B-rad

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Continuing from above B-rad, I respectfully question your interpretation of quoted statements made by other crewmen about Nichols' whereabouts in your article.

Great analysis and re-evaluation. I'm just happy someone read the article (lol- you never know who actually reads anything when its posted). I'm not finding the bit about Barrett telling the US inquiry about Nichols. Perhaps I am missing it (wouldn't be the first time). If you could point it out, I'd much appreciate it. Beauchamp's testimony was to show that the orders were coming from an officer on the boat deck not A deck. If Moody did show up on A deck, I believe it was probably later after the boats were lowered to A deck- more research needed though before I set those beliefs into stone. (perhaps Moody was lowered in the boat to A deck...? )

Again, great job. I will have to re-read it again, when I get more time!
 

Arun Vajpey

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I'm not finding the bit about Barrett telling the US inquiry about Nichols. Perhaps I am missing it (wouldn't be the first time). If you could point it out, I'd much appreciate it.
Sorry for making this unclear. That bit was only partly from your article but I have read elsewhere (cannot recall where but I think it was in a criticism about the TV programme "Saving The Titanic") that Barrett did allude to seeing Nichols in the US enquiry but his statements to the British investigation had some notable differences.

One thing though. If Lightoller did give that order and Nichols carried it out, who should have had the responsibility of remembering that there was a great big door open on D-deck level which would accelerate the flooding when the lower lip reached the sea level? And at what stage did this happen - I am guessing around 01:45 am but might be way off. Ioannis says that it was opened "very late" in the sinking, which seems unlikely since by then that part of D-deck would already be below the waterline.

More interestingly, if we assume that the door was opened at around 01:15 am and Boat #6 launched at 01:10 am did not see it, is there the possibility that it was not opened at all?
 

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