A lot of those smudges were tricks of the light and developmental anomalies which were common in the photography of the era and still are even today. You can see them on other period liners which were photographed under similar conditions and from similar angles.

The one on the Titanic which is alleged to be "The smoking gun" is in the region of the cargo hold. Nobody complained about conflagrations there either, and I suspect that a few irritated passengers might have said something about it if there was!
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Very well put Michael.

Senan Molony is to be congratulated on successfully pulling the wool over the eyes of TV commissioning editors, among others. The UK’s Channel More4 scheduled his purported ‘new evidence’ no less than three times in as many weeks, and I’m sure it’s still lurking out there. The Titanic continues to hold the position of that ship about which the most tendentious baloney has been written, spoken and depicted, and Mr Molony’s entertaining peregrination is no exception to this rule.

Had he taken the trouble to look at the vessel’s profile plan (he is an ‘expert’, after all), he would have noticed there was a centreline bunkering hatch in way of his newfound black patch on the hull plating. That black patch could have been attributable to such as coal dust, abrasions from the loading skips, or a touch up paint job consequent thereupon. Instead, as others have exhaustively pointed out, he opportunistically translates his precious patch downwards and afterwards on the profile to make it coincident with a bunker fire.

Furthermore, he asserts the vessel was speeded up because she was running short of coal; this, regardless of the basic principle that for every increment of speed there is a consequent exponential increase in fuel consumption – a characteristically ‘Irish’ solution to the vessel’s predicament, would one not agree?

And again furthermore, he seeks to sensationalise the fact that most of the crew engaged in Belfast left the ship in Southampton. I hesitate to disabuse him of his standpoint, but the Belfast-Southampton passage was a Home Trade (Eng 4) ‘Run’ paid off in Southampton – and Runners, by both definition and inclination, are loath to sign on voyage Articles (ENG 1).

Mercenary sensationalising of the Titanic casualty is nothing new; it started with Walter Lord and culminated, climactically, with James Cameron’s purple depicture. This present 'expert’s' attempted latter-day hatchet job on the management of the White Star Line has only served to highlight his coruscating ineptitude when it comes to the detail of maritime matters.
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My Grandfather was a member of the Titanic crew on that fateful day, I have just been watching a TV programme on National Graphics regarding a problem that was covered up by the owners of White Star Line and the Investigation in" Army" Hall"
A photo album recently found Revelling a 30ft mark on the outside of the hull; leading to the revelation that the Titanic had a serious fire in No. 5 coal bunker when it left Ireland bound for Southhampton, this fire was known by the officers and of course, the firemen who had to shovel the burning coal into the boilers as the only way of keeping it under control, however, the incredible heat of 1800 degrees+ was enough to actually buckle and crack the Bulkhead plate in that area, consequently contributing to the failure to hold back the water, A surviving fireman told the truth of this episode and was ignored by the investigators { made up mostly of high-ups in White Star Line }
It is thought that if those plates had not given the way the Titanic could have stayed afloat for maybe another 2 hours, enabling most people to have been saved by the closest rescue ship.

Thomas Krom

Good day to you,

Firstly I would like to mention a few things regarding this.




Firstly, the “burn mark” in the now infamous picture is more then 30 feet away from the coal bunker in question and is located near the post office on G-deck. To quote the talented historian Dan Parkes:

“Another critical flaw in the documentary is that it does not discuss how no other Titanic photographs - and there are many - of her sea trials and maiden voyage show this same mark. This cannot be dismissed easily; if such a mark existed on the hull as clearly as it does in the Kempster photograph then we must expect to see it in all other photographs of this area. However, there are none.”

Secondly, the fireman in question was leading fireman Frederick Barret who testified at the inquires did not say the bulkhead broke open, he said the non-watertight door of the coal bunker broke open due the pressure of tons and tons of water behind it. He claimed the following during the inquiries:

At the American inquiry (TIP | United States Senate Inquiry | Day 18 | Testimony of Frederick Barrett (Leading Fireman, SS Titanic)):

Q. This tear went a couple of feet past the bulkhead in No. 5. How were you able to keep the water from reaching? - A. It never came above the plates, until all at once I saw a wave of green foam come tearing through between the boilers and I jumped for the escape ladder.

Q. Was there any indication of any explosion of a boiler? - A. There was a knocking noise, but no explosion, only when the ship was sinking a volume of smoke came up.

At the British inquiry (TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Day 3 | Testimony of Frederick Barrett, cont.):

2064. (The Commissioner.) It was suggested to me that it was a bunker bulkhead that gave way, and that the water rushed from the bunker. (To the Witness.) Do you think that is possible?

- It would be possible, because there are watertight compartments inside the bunker. There is a watertight compartment going through the centre of the bunker.

2065. Was the bunker door shut?

- I dropped the bunker door.

2066. (The Solicitor-General.) I think there are the elements of a little confusion over this. The bulkhead runs across the ship from the starboard side to the port side, does it not?

- Yes.

2067. Is there a coal bunker on either side of the bulkhead on the starboard side?

- There is a watertight compartment running right through the centre of the bunker.

2068. There is the watertight bulkhead?

- Yes.

2069. (The Commissioner.) But the bunker is partly on one side of the watertight bulkhead and partly on the other?

- Yes.

2070. And the watertight bulkhead goes through the middle of the bunker?

- Yes.

2071. And then across the ship?

- Yes.

2072. (The Solicitor-General.) If you imagine this box is the bunker and that is the starboard skin of the ship, the watertight bulkhead runs through it like that does it not, down the middle?

- Yes.

2073. And you were on the after-side of this No. 5?

- I was in No. 6 when we shipped it; I was on the after-side of the bulkhead later.

2074. You cannot tell what part of the watertight bulkhead it was which gave way?

- No.

2075. But it was your impression that something gave way and the water came in with a rush?

- Yes.

Thirdly, coal combusts/burns is 750 degrees Fahrenheit /399 Degrees Celsius, not 1800 degrees Fahrenheit+. And the steel used on the Titanic would require a fire of 900 degrees Fahrenheit to become red hot. Chief fireman Charles Hendrickson said the following about it the visible damage (TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Day 5 | Testimony of Charles Hendrickson, cont.) :

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.

5249. It was damaged, at any rate?

- Yes, warped.

5250. 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.

5251. To give it its ordinary appearance?

- Yes.

5252. 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.

According to the talented historian Samuel Helpfern a test was once carried out to test the strength of the steel, he wrote the following about it:

“Spontaneous ignition of coal in a bunker usually begins deep down where the coal absorbs oxygen and gives off hydrogen, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and some aerosols under rising temperatures. With no real draft of air in the bunker, coal will ignite and smolder at about 750°F. Since the bulkhead was riveted tight around its edges to angle iron which was riveted to the hull and decks, thermal expansion caused by heat from the fire would cause the bulkhead plate to bulge outward to relieve the stress. After cooling back to room temperatures, it would remain somewhat dented as observed. But to get that bulkhead, which was made of mild steel, to glow red hot, would take a temperature of about 900°F or more from a fire being fed with a good draft of air. Despite the drama that some subsequent newspaper accounts wanted people to believe, it certainly was not a raging blaze that was completely out of control. Metallurgical analysis on bulkhead plate similar to that used on Titanic was heated to about 1,200°F so that it became red hot. The plate was bounded to other pieces modeling the shell and floor plates by riveting it to angle iron pieces which in turn were riveted to the other pieces. The results showed the bulkhead plate had distorted by about 6 inches, and the rivets holding the plate would only have been stressed to only 10%-20% of their failure load. Even if the bulkhead was first heated red hot and then cooled down by sea water or water from a fire hose, it would not affect the low temperature properties of the bulkhead. The conclusion of modern day forensics is that the bunker fire would not have weakened the watertight bulkhead sufficiently to cause it to collapse.”

Fifthly, I want to report the subject of the coal fire has been heavily sensationalized by the press and even one historian who got of the tracks a few times with his claims. Most of these claims are not well researched and are just assumptions by the “best seamen ashore”.

I hope this clears some things out of the way.

Yours sincerely,

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Jim Currie

Hello Thomas...good , detailed answer.

If anyone simply considered how steel was made, they would know that this is a load of nonsense.
The emchanics were... only wet coal when loaded can result in spontaneous combustion. Conbustion can only exist with the aid of oxygen. The oxygen for spontaneous combustion comes from water...H2O.
A ship's bulkhead is constructed in such a way that the bulkhead plates are strengthened by increased in scantings (thickness) at the base...in the evnt of a compartment flooding - the deeper the flood water in the compartment , the greater the pressure the base of the bulkhead. In addition, if the space is open to the sea, then the water in it is the same pressure as the sea water outside. In the case of Titanic...if I remember... the presure would have been about 0.8 short tons / square foot.
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Thanks, Thomas it does clarify some aspects of the report, however, it comes down to one lot of experts arguing against another equally expert points of view, at the end of the day there is still no hard and fast decision that satisfies me completely., one other item, no mention is given as to the MARK on the ships side and the point of impact of the iceberg!!
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Thomas Krom

I mentioned however during the first point that the spot on the picture is located more then a 100 feet away from the coal bunker in question where the fire was.


Except for Senan Molony (who is the historian I mentioned before who got of the tracks a few times with his claims) , there is no historian who acknowledges that the coal fire was fatal. Some historians even speculated it saved the ship from capsizing due the removal of the coal of the bunker. As I mentioned before from the talented historian Dan Parkes:
“Another critical flaw in the documentary is that it does not discuss how no other Titanic photographs - and there are many - of her sea trials and maiden voyage show this same mark. This cannot be dismissed easily; if such a mark existed on the hull as clearly as it does in the Kempster photograph then we must expect to see it in all other photographs of this area. However, there are none.”

The coal fire has been heavily sensasinated by the press around the world with a lot of inaccurate claims and just myths and misconceptions all together. And not just the press but the most of the Titanic documentaries are filled with misconceptions and false information. I recommend reading more into it here in what was falsely claimed:

The most notable example for me is that it claimed that Thomas Andrews Jr believed the ship would surived the damage, this is absolutely false. He already told captain Smith below decks that the ship was unable to stay afloat at around 12:10/12:15 and he stayed below to estimate how long she would have. Between 12:20 to 12:27 he told him the ship had a hour to a hour and a half at that point in time.
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Lydia Maria : Realtor to the Stars
Iceberg absolved? Fire may have sunk Titanic.
Did a coal fire sink the Titanic?
Huge fire ripped through Titanic before it struck iceberg, fresh evidence suggests.
Titanic may not have been sunk by an iceberg after all.
New Titanic documentary claims ship sank due to fire.

First it was brittle steel. Then it was a weakly designed hull. Then it was bad rivets. And list goes on and on.

Despite this documentary giving the impression that something new has been discovered, the bunker fire theory is really old stuff that is now being regurgitated for consumption by those who refuse to believe the real cause of the sinking. Again we hear claims that the ship would have, or may have, survived many hours more so that most, if not all, could have been saved if it were not for some hidden defect or other event that was intentionally covered up by the owners and builders. Worse yet, no real evidence is offered to prove anything. The only new thing that came up is an apparent dark mark on the starboard side of the vessel's hull that appeared in a couple of photographs that somehow they managed to link to what was called a "raging fire" that was going on in one of the ship's coal bunkers. Yet simple observation by anyone vaguely familiar with the ship's design will note that the location of that mark, under the area of the well deck and certainly above the ship's waterline (around the level of those G deck portholes), was nowhere near where that bunker was located. That bunker where the fire was burning was about 100 feet aft and about 25 feet below the waterline from where that mark was. It would have been on the starboard side under the area of the ship's 1st funnel.

So the burning bunker is yet again being blamed for the ship's demise. They even got experts in material science to agree that the bulkhead could have been weakened enough by the fire to cause it to collapse under head of seawater. Of course, nobody bothered to explain how such a fire could have reached the temperature needed to actually become red hot without some forced draft of air becoming available, or bother to actually test a riveted model of the bulkhead made with mild steel to see what its state would become after the fire was put out the day before the iceberg collision. Something that had already been done by forensic experts some years ago. Furthermore, it was implied that the ship was not allowed to slow down despite receiving ice warnings because they needed get that bunker emptied fast and therefore needed to feed the furnaces as fast as they can with the burning coal that they were extracting from the burning bunker to quickly get that fire out. And again, we heard that falsehood come up about the ship being short of coal because of the coal strike, and somehow if they slowed down they may have run out of coal. Or did I heard that wrong?

Well another documentary to win the ratings game, exploiting the popularity of name "Titanic".

By the way, if anyone is interested, the story of this burning bunker was addressed in the multi-authored book, Report Into the Loss of the SS Titanic - A Centennial Reappraisal. The section dealing with the bunker fire was covered in Chapter 6 and is available for viewing, with referenced endnotes, here: http://www.titanicology.com/Titanica/FireDownBelow.pdf.
Thanks Sam...I always wait until I see your most accurate analysis.