The Rate of Flooding Observed


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Jan 31, 2001
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Let me start off by saying that I know the Titanic had watertight doors and bulkheads to slow or prevent flooding. But it seems to me that the ship was sinking incredibly fast to begin with, and then seems to have decreased in the rate of sinking, then increased greatly again.

I would appreciate it if someone would tell me as to whether or not the Titanic's flooding did temporarily slow. Because from what I've heard about the rate of flooding in the first hour or so after the collision, it appears that the ship would have gone down much faster (i.e: passengers claiming to have water in their floors only 5 minutes or so after the collision).

Thanks.

-B.W.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Yes, the rate of flooding slowed after a spell. Something like an hour or so into the sinking, the ship reached a near state of equalibrium, but the problem was that the watertight bulkheads didn't go quite high enough.

Because of this, water was able to flow forward first to fill compartments not already flooded, then back along passageways, into other spaces and down trunks and accesses to fill the compartments aft. As the weight added on, slowly at first, it then accelerated until it overwhelmed the boyancy of the ship.

Hope this helps.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Hello Michael,

Thanks for clearing that up. I had always thought there was a time when flooding had slowed.

Thanks.

-B.W.
 
May 5, 2001
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BRANDON,

It should be also noted that there was the report of a coal fire that was burning for days that may have weakened the bulkhead in the compartment, I believe it was the 5th and when the water was up high enough in the compartment just forward of that one, the bulkhead gave way which will explain why The Titanic took a sudden lurch forward at one point.

Regards,
Bill
 
Jan 5, 2001
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At which point did Titanic take a sudden lurch forward, apart from 2.17 a.m.?

The frequent report of the bulkhead between boiler room 5 and 6 collapsing is given, that it collapsed at 12.45 a.m. according to many books; but if the bulkhead ever collapsed, an unlikely scenario even with slight fire damage, as there were the bunker bulkheads next to it as well, then the ship would have gone down till her bow was submerged to the forward B-deck superstructure, with boiler room 5 full of water, as the British enquiry revealed. Therefore they concluded it was a collapse of a coalbunker door, leading to slight flooding at 12.45 a.m., but boiler room 5 was totally flooded by, say, 1.40 a.m., submerging the foredecks.
 

Cal Haines

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Bill wrote:
It should be also noted that there was the report of a coal fire that was burning for days that may have weakened the bulkhead in the compartment, I believe it was the 5th and when the water was up high enough in the compartment just forward of that one, the bulkhead gave way which will explain why The Titanic took a sudden lurch forward at one point

<FONT COLOR="119911">Mark wrote:
The frequent report of the bulkhead between boiler room 5 and 6 collapsing is given, that it collapsed at 12.45 a.m. according to many books; but if the bulkhead ever collapsed, an unlikely scenario even with slight fire damage, as there were the bunker bulkheads next to it as well, then the ship would have gone down till her bow was submerged to the forward B-deck superstructure, with boiler room 5 full of water, as the British enquiry revealed. Therefore they concluded it was a collapse of a coalbunker door, leading to slight flooding at 12.45 a.m., but boiler room 5 was totally flooded by, say, 1.40 a.m., submerging the foredecks

Hi Bill,

As Mark has said, it is very unlikely that the bulkhead failed. This was recently discussed in detail in the thread Abandoning Ship in the technical section. Also Boiler Room Damage & Flooding Testimony in the technical archive.

The bunker fire was probably no big deal. It was a relatively common occurrence--a hazard of using coal for fuel. It was not a raging inferno, but rather a nasty-smelling inconvenience. If they had wanted to, they probably could have put the fire out much sooner than they did, but they apparently choose to burn up the coal from the bunker by feeding it into nearby furnaces. (The time that the fire was out works out just about right if the coal was simply shoveled into the furnaces of stokeholds #9 and #10.) The fire was first noticed while Titanic was sailing from Belfast to Southampton. Apparently no attempt was made to put the fire out while Titanic was at Southampton.

One thing that you will hear is that the bunker fire was so hot that the bulkhead was glowing red. This appears to have very little historical basis. See my post Fireman John Dilley testimony?? in the passengers & crew archive. There is another version of that thread with a title similar to "Bunker Fire and New York Fireboats" but I can't locate it.

I'd be happy to discuss either of theses issues again if you are interested.

Mark, I don't know where the 12:45 a.m. time for the "collapse" comes from, but it does not make much sense. Our only witness to the flooding in BR#5 is Barrett, and he apparently went directly from the boiler room to the boats and escaped in one of the last boats, boat #13, launched about 1:40. At the time he left the boiler room there was water on E-deck. Morgan Ford is working on an analysis of the flooding from the bunker. Last I heard, he was coming up with a maximum of about 7 feet of water in BR#5, as an immediate result of water rushing out of the forward bunkers. From there, it would continue to flood via the "hole" in the forward bunker and from above, once the water on E-deck flowed aft of bulkhead "E". This appears to have happened in that general time frame, as Wheat reported water flowing down the stairs from E-deck into the Turkish Bath, above BR#4, before he went to the boats.

Cal
 
Jan 5, 2001
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<FONT COLOR="ff0000">Cal wrote: I don't know where the 12:45 a.m. time for the "collapse" comes from, but it does not make much sense. Our only witness to the flooding in BR#5 is Barrett, and he apparently went directly from the boiler room to the boats and escaped in one of the last boats, boat #13, launched about 1:40. At the time he left the boiler room there was water on E-deck. Morgan Ford is working on an analysis of the flooding from the bunker. Last I heard, he was coming up with a maximum of about 7 feet of water in BR#5, as an immediate result of water rushing out of the forward bunkers. From there, it would continue to flood via the "hole" in the forward bunker and from above, once the water on E-deck flowed aft of bulkhead "E". This appears to have happened in that general time frame, as Wheat reported water flowing down the stairs from E-deck into the Turkish Bath, above BR#4, before he went to the boats.

If memory serves, it had stated in the British report that the event happened after one hour; other than that, it is always reported without thought.

Glad you did a worthy post on the matter, I always don't have enough time.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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As for the bunker fire, did it not only last two days? I thought it was extinguished by the crew on 12 April. With all the Edwardian era ocean liners being powered with tons and tons of coal, all ships likely ran into this problem at one time or another. Why would this weaken a bulkhead?

-B.W.
 
Jan 31, 2001
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Thanks for the link, Mark. That was an interesting document. Fireman Hendrickson seemed to fully deny that a coal bunker fire was a common event.

-B.W.
 
May 5, 2001
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Cal Wrote:
One thing that you will hear is that the bunker fire was so hot that the bulkhead was glowing red. This appears to have very little historical basis. See my post Fireman John Dilley testimony?? in the passengers & crew archive. There is another version of that thread with a title similar to "Bunker Fire and New York Fireboats" but I can't locate it.

Okay, let's just surmise for a second that the glowing red bulkhead was true, wouldn't that adequately weaken it to the point to where enough water pressure could cause collapse of said bulkhead?

Trust me here, I am not saying you're wrong, I am just asking....Why?, because I do not know, my information comes from books I have gleaned through.

Regards,
Bill
 
Jan 31, 2001
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That document stated that after the glowing red bulkhead had cooled down, it was dented inward and scrapped. They (the firemen) then simply rubbed oil on it. How would the red-hotness cause it to dent? Did it like sort of melt? If this is the case, then I can see how it would have been weakened.

-B.W.
 

Cal Haines

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Bill wrote:
... let's just surmise for a second that the glowing red bulkhead was true, wouldn't that adequately weaken it to the point to where enough water pressure could cause collapse of said bulkhead?

Dr. Tim Foecke, a PHd Metallurgist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has studied this issue in depth. His work included computer simulations of the heating and cooling of the bulkhead structure, based on an assumption that "cherry red" metal was seen. I don't believe that he has published his research into the bunker fire as of yet. Here are some quotes from his posts on the subject:


Quote:

We have done simulations of the effect of thermal strains induced in the
bulkhead clamped on all four sides by a point-source fire in the center
along the floor. Those strains were sufficient to cause the bulkhead to
warp between 4 and 6 inches in the center. Variability comes from
uncertainty in determining the temperature of the steel, which was
reported to be "cherry red" hot.

Pyrometry of steel at that temperature places it at the edge of the
austenitizing regime, so the bulkhead could have experienced a very long
time high temperature anneal, which would coarsen the grains and drive
impurities to grain boundaries, both of which would decrease the toughness
of the steel and make it less able to hold a load. ...

alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic: Fires on Titanic, 04-05-1998






Quote:

... You can heat the bulkhead plate with a coal fire to the observed
"cherry red" temperature till the cows come home and NOT affect it's
fracture properties appreciably nor its strength.

... We modeled the effect of the fire on applying thermal expansion
stresses on the rivets and joints, and it applies a stress less than 1/10
of the strength of either. ...

alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic: A crack in the hull, 05-04-1999





Here is a link to Dr. Foecke's metallurgy page. It includes a article on his research into Titanic's hull steel, addressing the "brittle steel" theory.
http://www.metallurgy.nist.gov/webpages/TFoecke/titanic/titanic.html

<FONT COLOR="119911">Brandon wrote:
That document stated that after the glowing red bulkhead had cooled down, it was dented inward and scrapped. They (the firemen) then simply rubbed oil on it. How would the red-hotness cause it to dent? Did it like sort of melt? If this is the case, then I can see how it would have been weakened.

First let me reiterate, nobody (at least that I am aware of) saw the bulkhead glowing red--all that Hendrickson said was that you could see where the bulkhead had been hot.

The bending of the metal was not due to it's melting--coal fires do not get hot enough to melt steel under these conditions, a major problem being a lack of oxygen. When sheet metal is heated it expands. Unless the entire sheet is heated and cooled very evenly it will buckle and warp. In this case, the bulkhead plates were held in place by heavy framing, guaranteeing that they could neither heat nor cool evenly and increasing the tendency to buckle.

Cal
 
M

Matt Pereira

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I know this is a old post but i just desided to make a comment but i have a friend and some relatives that worked in a steel shop that made anything steel or iron from the boilers for ships and trains, down to replacing the bearings on the train wheels. And they like always have told me steel when heated up if cooled off in water very quickly it will harden the steel and increase its strength. Now i doubt that would work in titanics case if the cold water hit the hot bunker if the fire wasnt put out. Steel wasnt the same then as it is now
 
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