The HOLE


Jamie Bryant

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What exactly is the accepted damage sustained by Titanic. I've personally believed over the years that the damage consisted of a series of small holes which breached five compartments totalling 12sq ft of damage. However countless documentaries have gone on about 10ft gashes, and the Brunel docu, which provoked the "Outclassed" thread, even said 50ft gash. So which one is it ?
What we can be sure of though is Murdoch's port around saved many lives.

J.B
 

Jason D. Tiller

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"So which one is it ?"

12 square feet of damage was what the Titanic suffered. During the 1998 expedition, RMS Titanic Inc., surveyed the damaged area with sonar and that's what they came up with.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Echosounding of the bow was done on-line via the Discovery Channel web site. The man who did the echosounds, Paul Matthias, posted on the DC site that they found MORE of the same type of openings on the port side than on the starboard. Somehow, however, when the ecosounding information got on TV only the starboard side damage was reported and it was conveniently about the same size as Wilding's famous 12 square feet. If the Matthias posts were accurate, then the most logical assumption is that the damage found was not from the iceberg since striking of the starboard bow would not have produced damage to the port side. I reported this on page 108 of my book, "Last Log."

Nate Robison tried to reach Matthias to straighten this out a couple of years ago, but was rebuffed. The original posting has been removed from the web site as of the last time that I checked.

-- David G. Brown
 

Erik Wood

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It has been generally accepted that the 12 square feet that everybody discuss's is in relation to the outer skin of the vessel and not the inner watertight subdivisions.

It is futher generally accepted that the 12 square feet is the direct cause of the foundering. Wasn't Titanic designed to withstand four flooding compartments??

So in theory, if Titanic suffered outward damage within the first four compartments she would have remained afloat (ship wasn't foundering), so at some point after that water must have been allowed to progress aft (cause of foundering). Do that math as it relates to time to sinking and weight, you come up with roughly 12 square feet.

Odd isn't it???
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Hi Erik!

These days I find myself generally suspicious of anything that's been generally accepted. However, please don't think I'm some sort of conspiracy theorist.

Don't forget the collapse of the bulkhead between boiler rooms 6 and 5, weakened by not only the concussion, but also by the coal bunker fire; then, there was the water rising from *under* the floor in boiler room 4. Bad news all around.

Best wishes!

Roy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>These days I find myself generally suspicious of anything that's been generally accepted.<<

A wise idea. With Titanic, what you think you see isn't always what you really get.

>>Don't forget the collapse of the bulkhead between boiler rooms 6 and 5, weakened by not only the concussion, but also by the coal bunker fire;<<

I wouldn't put too much stock in that thing about the bunker fire. A lot has been made out of it but what is the actual evidence that this seriously weakened the bulkhead? This wasn't some raging inferno, but a smouldering fire that got going as a consequence of spontaneous combustion. This was a fairly common problem on coal fired steamships and was handled by the usual back breaking means of shoveling coal from the bunkers into the boilers then being extinguished when they reached it. A bear of a job but more an annoyance then any real threat.

Readers may wish to check out Coal Bunker Fire by Cal Haines for more insights on that. Be sure to note the sources he uses as well as his commentary on it. It blows away a lot of myths.
 

Paul Lee

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I seriously doubt that the bulkhead between 5 and 6 boiler room collapsed - Lord Mersey agreed that it was probably the bunker door, which had been closed to contain the flow of water into room 5.

In another thread, I detailed how I worked out how much water would have been contained in the bunker at the time the door would have burst open; the resultant flood would have seemed like the bulkhead broke, and filling the boiler room with at least a couple of feet (and probably more) of water.

Cheers

Paul
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http://www.paullee.com
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I seriously doubt that the bulkhead between 5 and 6 boiler room collapsed <<

Depends on what your idea of "collapse" happens to be. We don't need to have some scenerio where it looks like The Dam's A Bustin' Open. All it would take is a weak spot, a few rivets shearing off and/or enough distortion to open up some seams to add up to a real problem. The space would have flooded with impressive speed if something like that had gone down.

But you're right: It could have been the bunker door.
wink.gif
 
Feb 24, 2004
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Hi, Michael!

Great to talk to you! And thank you for the link to Cal Haines' page. :)

Here's the passage that led to my earlier post:


5246 The bulkhead forms part of the bunker - the side? - Yes, you could see where the bulkhead had been red hot.

You looked at the side after the coal had been taken out? - Yes.

5248 What condition was it in? - You could see where it had been red hot; all the paint and everything was off. It was dented a bit.

It was damaged, at any rate? - Yes, warped.

Was much notice taken of it. Was any attempt made to do anything with it? - I just brushed it off and got some black oil and rubbed over it.

To give it its ordinary appearance? - Yes.

You are not a professional expert and would not be able to express an opinion as to whether that had any effect on the collision? - I could not say that.

**********

>>A lot has been made out of it but what is the actual evidence that this seriously weakened the bulkhead?

I suppose the real question is whether the fire seriously weakened the bulkhead, or whether it merely compromised it to the point where any further damage might have taken things to the "next level" of damage.

>>This wasn't some raging inferno, but a smouldering fire that got going as a consequence of spontaneous combustion.

I've never been under the impression there was any raging inferno; yet, according to Hendrickson, it was hot enough to turn the steel red, warp it some and scorch off all the paint.

>>This was a fairly common problem on coal fired steamships...

Some people say yes, others no. Hendrickson said no.

>>A bear of a job but more an annoyance then any real threat.

Can we agree that big system failures are rarely the result of a single, catastrophic failure, but rather a series of small failures that combine in a sequence that gradually overwhelms the system?

Now, what about that water coming up from under the floor in boiler room 4? '-)

Best wishes!

Roy
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Can we agree that big system failures are rarely the result of a single, catastrophic failure, but rather a series of small failures that combine in a sequence that gradually overwhelms the system?<<

On general principle, yes. On the specifics, I would have to say "Please present testable evidence that it happened that way and/or had the impact claimed." The weakened bulkhead thing was not mooted in 1912. That may be because it wasn't all that well understood, but I tend to be skeptical of that. While the science of metallurgy was not as advanced, these people understood quite a bit and learned the lessons we take for granted.

>>I suppose the real question is whether the fire seriously weakened the bulkhead, or whether it merely compromised it to the point where any further damage might have taken things to the "next level" of damage.<<

It can't be ruled out 100% but I rather doubt it.

>>You are not a professional expert and would not be able to express an opinion as to whether that had any effect on the collision? - I could not say that.<<

I'm afraid that the one questioning Hendrikson was putting the cart befor the horse with this one. The bulkhead would never have had any effect on the collision. It would have been the other way around.

>>Some people say yes, others no. Hendrickson said no.<<

Hendrikson was mistaken, though if he hadn't seen this a lot, I can see where he might have come to that conclusion.

>>Now, what about that water coming up from under the floor in boiler room 4? '-) <<

Consider the possibility of progressive structural failure. Not really new ground as the modeling of the Titanic's break up shows in general terms that it was possible given the stress imposed on the structure by the water weight being taken in. In my opinion however, it didn't go quite far enough. Depending on the nature of the damage, you're also looking at damage to framing as well as the hull plating, all of which served to carry the load. When it couldn't, something else had to. Eventually, it would reach the point where more rivets give, more plates break or sheer away, and water get's into places where it wasn't getting into befor.
 

Erik Wood

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Generally speaking at 500 degree's F steal starts to bend, stretch and move. Could the bunker fire have played a role in the failure (note the word) of on of the bulkheads. Of course, it is possible. The question is, as it relates to the fire anyway, is did the fire do enough damage to cause the entire structre to collapse. The answer is no. That is why I used the word "failure".

Collapse implies that the entire structure turned into paper and fell apart, this would have catastrophic results on the rest of the structure. Failure means that the bulkhead was no longer doing what it was designed to do, which was hold back water. There is no doubt what so ever that the bulkhead failed. Why/how is open for debate and a debate that I have not spent much time discussing. My interst is only in that it failed causing water ingress into another compartment.

I doubt highly that the fire itself played a large role in allowing water to progress aft. I do however believe that it might have played a part (very very very very small part). As someone else mentioned, this kind of failure (now speaking of water ingressing into boiler room 5) is culmination of several if not hundreds of other events.
 
Jun 10, 2004
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Dave Brown wrote:

The man who did the echosounds, Paul Matthias, posted on the DC site that they found MORE of the same type of openings on the port side than on the starboard. Somehow, however, when the ecosounding information got on TV only the starboard side damage was reported and it was conveniently about the same size as Wilding's famous 12 square feet..

There appear to be various ways of interpreting this:

1. Matthias's method didn't work - he wasn't really measuring anything, he was just getting garbled signals that he interpreted as hull damage;

2. that there really was damage to both port and starboard, but much of this damage was due to impact of the bow with the sea bed;

3. that there really was damage to both sides of the bow that was collision related, in which case the nature of the collision could be discussed.

What seems to be the most likely explanation?

BTW, I understood the 12 square feet to have arisen from knowing the water pressure under the hull and estimates of the amount of water flooded into the ship in the first ten or 15 minutes. The area can then be calculated from a standard equation (Bernouilli's Equation I believe). If you calculate how much water will flood through a single 1 inch rivet hole in the bottom of a hull with a draft of 32 feet, it's amasing the answer you get! I got an answer of 25 tonnes per hour, but that seems implausibly high so I suspect I bungled the physical units somehow. Would value some further discussion of these points.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Malcolm,
I believe you're right in what you saying - the continuity equation for fluids will give you values, and I worked them out many years ago. However, there is a fudge factor involved to account for the loss in flow due to viscous/drag forces encountered in the opening of the hull. This fudge factor can be anything between 0 (no flow) and 1 (full flow). Obviously the answer is somewhere between these two!

When doing fluid and aircraft dynamics at University, we occasionally saw these fiddle factors to map the calculated answer to the observed value.

For instance, for an aircraft,
drag force = 0.5*p*S*C*V
where p = density of the medium in which you pass
S = area impinging upon the medium (ie the front of the aircraft)
V = velocity
C = drag coefficient (the fiddle factor!)

Paul
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http://www.paullee.com
 
Jun 10, 2004
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Just thinking on a bit about this issue of The Hole, I am surprised by how little damage would have allowed the flooding observed. The initial rate of flooding was estimated (by whom? not sure) at 7 tonnes per second, which is about 25,000 tonnes per hour. If my above calculation is correct about the single rivet hole, then we are looking at the equivalent of about 1,000 sprung rivets along the bottom or bilge of the ship - not much out of the million or so rivets in the bottom of the hull. In dry-dock, the damage might not have been all that noticeable. Just a heaving of the structure, such as to cause slight loosening of joints and rivets, without any obvious "gaping hole", would have provided the sea the necessary chance. The real problem was that the damage was spread over such a length of the ship, rather than that it was all that serious in any one area, or so it would seem.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi again Malcolm,
I did a bit of back-of-the-envelope style calculations and found out that, for the damage you specified, the jet of water would havea velocity of about 14 metres per second!

Paul
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http://www.paullee.com
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Paul, Malcolm:
According to Fred Barrett, when "the side opened up" 2 feet above the floor plates in BR No. 6 he was knocked off his feet by the rushing water. That would be a depth of about 25 ft below the waterline. At that depth the jet of water would have an initial velocity of about 12 meters per second. I believe your number Paul was for the draft depth of 34 feet at the bottom of the ship. In any case, the inflow of water had a great rush to it in the few openings that there were. It was not a slow leak by any means.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam and I have so many pleasant arguments in the air that I hate to chime in on Barrett and boiler room #6.

However, I must point out that there were two survivors of that compartment. Both said they were standing in the after starboard corner (stokehold #10) when the ship struck on the berg. One man (Barrett) said water came in and knocked him from his feet. The other man (Beauchamp) said that no water entered until after he and the others raked down their fires and stood around waiting to be sent on deck.

Barrett's testimony about where he stood is internally conflicted. That is, he claimed that he and Engineer Hesketh escaped into boiler room #5. Presumably, so did Engineer Shepherd, although Barrett never mentioned him in the escape portion of his narrative. However, all three men would have known from first-hand experience that boiler room #6 was flooding catastrophically if Barrett's narrative was true.

Barrett then had these same men conveniently forget the rather significant fact of boiler room #6 being uninhabitable due to cold sea water. Some minutes later he said that Hesketh ordered him and Shepherd back into boiler room #6. This would suppose amnesia on Hesketh's part about the condition of that space--if Barrett's story was true. But, it was collective amnesia. Shepherd, who was in charge of boiler room #6, was equally forgetful. And, Barrett was apparently so obedient that he never objected to being sent into a flooded compartment.

The alternative, of course, is to assume that Beauchamp was correct. The side of boiler room #6 never opened to the sea, or at least not in the manner described by Barrett. Boiler room #6 remained functionally dry for at least 30 minutes after the iceberg. Barrett must have been somewhere else. Moving Barrett restores the mental capacities of everyone involved.

But, where was Barrett? The answer is one compartment forward. He and Hesketh were in the spare coal bunker beneath hold #3. They escaped aft through the vestibule at the end of the firemen's tunnel and into boiler room #6. A comparison of testimony from Barrett and Beauchamps about the moments immediately following the closing of the watertight doors shows the two men described the same events. Barrett was in the same compartment as Beauchamp who was in stokehold #10 of boiler room #6.

What does this say about the flooding numbers and times? All of the so-called "scientific" studies in the public media follow the line that the first five compartments were opened by the iceberg: peak tank, hold #1, hold #2, hold #3, and boiler room #6. They also claim that a small gash extended into boiler room #5.

This flooding pattern is completely unsupported by any evidence other than Barrett's self-destructive testimony. Nor does it match the testimony given by First Officer Lightoller during the U.S. inquiry. He told Senator Smith that the damage consisted of the peak tank and the three holds. Lightoller knew that direct ingress of water from ice damage stopped at bulkhead D at the head of boiler room #6. So did Beauchamp.

The flooding condition described by Wilding, Bedford & Hackett, Garzke et. al., and every TV documentary since is bogus. Wilding's "10 minute" condition did not obtain for a full 30 minutes after impact. He ignored the 20 minutes that Beauchamp toiled pulling down the fires of boiler room #6. Otherwise, Wilding could not get his flooding calculations to match the results desired by Lord Mersey--and Wilding admitted that in testimony. So, Wilding added flooding until he got what was desired, and from that calculated his famous 12 square feet.

Lord Mersey made it seem as if flooding through Wilding's 12 square feet of damage reached the fatal stage in just 10 minutes after impact despite sworn testimony to the contrary. Wilding later said (New York limitation of liability hearings) he used a duration of 40 minutes for his calculations of the aggregate size of the damage. According to his London testimony, the end of that 40 minute time period was when water started overtopping bulkhead B, beginning the "ice cube tray" flooding of the ship. Based on Wilding's own words, however, the clock was against either the 10 or 40 minute scenario.

By the way, the "ice cube tray" type of flooding over top of the bulkheads is equally bogus. It was invented in a question by the representative of the White Star Line at the hearings, Robert Finlay. He asked if water would flood over top of the bulkheads and Wilding answered that it could. There are no witnesses who saw water overtopping bulkheads in the manner typically ascribed to the sinking until the ship was in the final stages of foundering.

Wilding estimated the ship had no more than 1 hour 15 minutes to live after water overtopped bulkhead B. That event came at the end of his 40 minute time period. Forty minutes after impact would have been 12:20 a.m. No eyewitnesses reported flooding over the top of bulkhead B that early.

Another curiosity: adding his predicted remaining life of 1 hour and 15 minutes produces 1:35 a.m. as the moment when the ship disappeared off the surface of the Atlantic. This is a full 45 minutes earlier than the accepted time for the foundering of 2:20 a.m.

Nobody ever asked Wilding what happened during those 45 minutes. However, if the "missing" 20 minutes are added into Wilding's timetable, his calculations stopped at 1:55 a.m. And, that is significant because it indicates that Wilding not only knew about the breakup, but used the time Titanic's hull split as the stopping point for his calculations.

Evidence from the stopped timepices of several men indicates that the breakup began at about 1:50 to 1:55 a.m. Ship's barber Weichman and postal clerk March's stopped pocketwatches both agree to this. While March died, Weichman survived and from his description we can place his entering the water as the forward end of the boat deck submerged. This is approximately the same time as the breakup began.

Wilding was forced to stop is calculations at the moment the hull split. Until then, it was a closed container which behaved as a damaged ship and Wilding had formulae for that condition. Once the hull split, Titanic was effectively so much wreckage on the surface. There are no formulae for calculating the flooding of such a ship in such a badly damaged condition.

Now, back to Barrett. Why would he have been in the starboard bunker of hold #3 with the engineer who had overall responsibility for the boiler rooms? They men weren't holding a tea party in that cold, dank space. Some overriding concern must have caused them to visit an empty bunker.

This brings up the issue of the bunker fire that plauged Titanic until somtime Saturday afternoon. Where was it? None of the survivors said the exact location. Rather, it was pinned into boiler room #5 by the inquisitors questions. But, the questioners wrongly assumed Barrett went from boiler room #6 into #5 (see above).

The fiery bunker burned for several days, long enough to cause deformation of the steel in the bulkhead. There was an anecdotal referece to the metal being "red hot," although that could just have been the natural rust red which heated metal takes in a moist environment. The key piece of information is that only one bunker was involved, but witnesses described the deformation on both sides.

If the bunker had been starboard "W" in stokehold #9 at the forward end of boiler room #5, then the deformed bulkhead must have been E. On the other side of E was the bunker starboard "Y" serving stokehold #10 in boiler room #6. Logically, a fire hot enough to distort steel would raise concerns over igniting coal in the adjoining bunker. But, no such concerns were evidenced during the hearings. At a minimum it would have been prudent to cool the adjoining bunker with sea water in much the same manner as the burning bunker was treated.

The fact that the fire did not raise concerns over an adjoining bunker strongly suggests that there was no danger. And, that would indicate the adjoining bunker was empty. Bunker starboard "b" at the head of boiler room #6 fits this description precisely.

Titanic's load of bunker coal at the start of the voyage was 5,892 tons, per the BOT Report of Survey prior to the ship's departure. This was about 700 tons less than the 6,141 ton capacity of the bunkers in the six boiler rooms. There would have been no reason to have stored coal in the reserve bunker of hold #3. Additionally, the trouble of carrying it aft by wheelbarrow would have argued against putting coal there. So, it is highly unlikely any was stored in the starboard bunker space of hold #3.

But, Hesketh and Barrett were in that empty bunker at 11:40 p.m. The steel of bulkhead D was the reason. There is testimony the side facing into boiler room #6 had already been oiled for protection from rust. It is reasonable to assume that similar steps were being taken to protect the other side as well.

Barrett recalled seeing water spray through the opening inside a bunker at the head end of a boiler room. It was likely boiler room #6. And, his observation quickly caused Beauchamp to be put to work pulling red-hot coals out of his furnaces. Damage to a bulkhead in a ship that has lost watertight integrity is serious business, especially in a compartment filled with hot, pressurized boilers. It was widely believed in 1912 that cold sea water striking a hot boiler might cause a devastating explosion.

Both Barrett's and Beauchamp's testimonies indicate the coals were raked down within moments of impact. This was far too soon for a decision to have come from the engine room. It was most likely local initiative on the part of either Hesketh or Shepherd (or both) in reaction to visible damage to bulkhead D.

Water was entering boiler room #6. Beauchamp testified that water came out of bunker starboard "Y" while he was waiting to be sent on deck. It was just a skim, but it indicates that during the first roughly 30 minutes after impact boiler room #6 had filled to the height of the stoker plates, 2 feet above the tank top. One source for this water would have been the opening described by Barrett at the forward end of the compartment.

Bulkhead D stopped being watertight (whatever that might suggest) about 30 minutes after the berg passed astern. That was a good 10 minutes after Beauchamp was sent on deck and Shepherd and Barrett went into boiler room #5. It was the loss of the integrity of bulkhead D which marked the visible change of Titanic from a damaged ship to a sinking ship.

It is curious to note how the repetition of an error gives it the patina of correctness. The original flooding pattern and numbers created for the BOT final report were historically incorrect. But, they were accepted as "fact" by modern researchers who dutifully went about describing the emperor's new clothes. By now it may be too late to correct the situation.

-- David G. Brown
 

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